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Ver. 1. Then Jesus, six days before the passover , etc.] Or “before the six days of the passover”; not as designing the days of that feast, for they were seven; but as reckoning so many days back from it, that is, before the sixth day from the ensuing passover: if there were six complete days between this and the passover, as this way of speaking seems to imply; then this must be the day before the Jewish sabbath, and this is more likely, than that Christ should travel on the sabbath day: but if this was the sixth day before it, it was their sabbath day, and so at the going out of it in the evening, a supper was made for him, which with the Jews on that night, was a plentiful one; for they remembered the sabbath in its going out, as well as in its coming in f536 , and this was to prevent grief at the going out of it: so some days before the passover, the lamb was separated from the flock, and kept up till the fourteenth day, ( Exodus 12:3,6) particularly it may be observed, that seven days before the day of atonement, the high priest was separated from his own house, and had to the chamber Palhedrin f537 ; and much such a space of time there was, between the day of the great atonement by Christ, and his unction by Mary; which is said to be against the day of his burial, which being the same day with his sufferings, was the great day of atonement: at this time Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead ; the last clause is left out in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions: whom he raised from the dead ; that is, “Jesus”, as the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions express; and the Ethiopic version adds, “in Bethany”. This was the town of Lazarus; here he lived, and here he died, and here he was raised from the dead; and here he continued and dwelt, after his resurrection; and hither Christ came to see him, and the rest of the family, though he knew he exposed himself to danger in so doing.
Ver. 2. There they made him a supper , etc.] At Bethany, in the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary; by whose order, and at whose charge it was prepared for him; and not in the house of Simon the leper, which was four days after this, ( Matthew 26:2,6). And Martha served ; who was always a busy, active, and stirring woman; and this she did, to testify her love to Christ, and great respect for him; otherwise, as she was a person of substance, she had servants enough to wait at table: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him ; and ate, and drank, and conversed; by which it appeared, that he was really risen from the dead, and was in a good state of health.
Ver. 3. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard very costly , etc.] Worth three hundred pence, according to Judas’s estimation of it. This Mary was the other sister of Lazarus; (see Gill on “ Matthew 26:7”), (see Gill on “ Mark 14:3”), concerning the nature and value of this ointment: and anointed the feet of Jesus ; as he lay upon the bed or couch, at supper: and wiped his feet with her hair ; (see Gill on “ Luke 7:38”). And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment ; (see Song of Solomon 1:3,12); ointment of spikenard was very odoriferous: this may be an emblem of the sweet savour of Christ, in the ministration of the Gospel, throughout the whole world.
Ver. 4. Then saith one of his disciples , etc.] Who had no true love for his master, was an hypocrite, and a covetous person: Judas Iscariot ; so called, to distinguish him from another Judas, an apostle; (see Gill on “ Matthew 10:4”). Simon’s [son] ; this is omitted in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; (see Gill on “ John 13:2”); which should betray him ; and so he did; this was pre-determined by God, foretold in prophecy, and foreknown by Christ; and is observed here, to show the temper and character of the man.
Ver. 5. Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence , etc.] Meaning Roman pence, one of which is, of the value of our money, seven pence halfpenny; so that three hundred pence amount to nine pounds seven shillings and six pence: and given to the poor ? this was his pretence, and with which he covered himself; his uneasiness was, because it was not sold, and the money put into his hands, as appears by what follows.
Ver. 6. This he said, not that he cared for the poor , etc.] He had no affection for them, and was unconcerned about them, and took no care of them to feed and clothe them; he was no ways solicitous for their support, refreshment, and more comfortable living: but because he was a thief ; to his master, and purloined the money he was intrusted with by him, and put it to his own use: and had the bag, and bare what put therein ; the word rendered a “bag”, is adopted by the Rabbinical Jews, into their language; and is sometimes read “Gloskema”, and at other times “Dloskema”, and is used by them for different things; sometimes for a bier, or coffin, in which the dead was buried, which sense can have no place here; sometimes for a chest, or coffer f539 ; and so the Septuagint use the Greek word, in ( 2 Chronicles 24:8,10,11), for the chest into which the people put their collection; and it may be so interpreted here, and so Nonnus renders it; it may signify the chest or coffer, which Judas had the care of, the keys of which were in his hands, and whatever were to be put into it, he bore, or carried thither: and it is also used by the Jewish writers, for a purse f540 ; it is asked, “what is “Dloskema?” says Rabbah bar Samuel, ybsd aqylj , “the purse of old men”;” or such as ancient men use; and this is the signification of it here: it may be the same with the “Loculi” of the Romans, and so the Vulgate Latin renders it here; which were different from a chest, or coffer, being moveable, and to be carried about, and which were carried by servants, as well as the purse f541 . Judas had the purse, into which was put whatsoever was ministered to Christ, for the common supply of him and his disciples, and for the relief of the poor.
Ver. 7. Then said Jesus, let her alone , etc.] Do not disturb her in what she does, or hinder her, or blame her for it: against the day of my burial hath she kept this ; this ointment, which she now poured on Christ; it was usual to embalm the dead with ointments and spices: Christ suggests, that the time of his death and burial were nigh, and that this woman had kept this ointment till now, for such a purpose; and whereas she would not be able to make use of it at the time of his interment, she had embalmed his body with it now, beforehand; though without any knowledge of his death, or any such intention and design in her, but the Holy Ghost so directing her: for this is not to be understood of her keeping any part of it till that time, which it does not appear she did.
Ver. 8. For the poor always ye have with you , etc.] And so would not want opportunities of showing a regard to them, which Christ always recommended; nor does he here in the least discourage an industrious and affectionate concern for them: the words seem to be a sort of prophecy, that there would be always poor persons in the churches of Christ, to be taken care of and provided for; (see Gill on “ Matthew 26:11”); and yet the Jews suppose cases, in which the collectors of alms may have no poor to distribute to, and direct what they shall do in such cases f542 : but me ye have not always ; meaning, with respect to his corporeal presence, which would be quickly withdrawn from them, when there would be no more an opportunity of showing him personal respect, in such a way.
Ver. 9. Much of the people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there , etc.] That is, many of the Jews that dwelt at Jerusalem, knew that Jesus was at Bethany; for it being but two miles from Jerusalem, the report of his being come soon reached thither: and they came from Jerusalem to Bethany, not for Jesus’ sake only ; to see him, and hear him, and observe what he said and did: but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead ; that is, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, as the Alexandrian copy, and the Ethiopic version express it; for it equally excited their curiosity, to see the person that had been dead, and was raised from the dead, as to see him who raised him: and it is very likely before they had no opportunity of seeing him; it may be he did not appear publicly before, but kept himself retired; but now Jesus being come, he showed himself openly; which the Jerusalem Jews being informed of, induced them to come to see both the one and the other.
Ver. 10. But the chief priests , etc.] With the rest of the sanhedrim: consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death ; as well as Jesus, and that for no other crime, but because he was raised from the dead by him; which shows what consciences these men had, and how horribly wicked they were; that they stopped at nothing, whereby they might satisfy their malice and envy, and secure their worldly interests and advantages.
Ver. 11. Because that by reason of him , etc.] Of the miracle which was wrought upon him, in raising him from the dead, of which he was a living and an abiding witness: many of the Jews went away ; not from Jerusalem only, but from the chief priests and Pharisees, and the rest of the Jews, that combined against Christ; they withdrew themselves from their party, and deserted them: and believed on Jesus ; as the Messiah; so that they found their interest was decreasing and weakening every day, and that those on the side of Christ were increasing; and this they could not bear, and therefore consulted to take away the life of Lazarus, as well as Jesus; who they imagined, as long as he lived, would be a means of inducing persons to believe in Jesus as the Messiah: whereas if he was dead, the fact would be forgotten, or be more easily denied.
Ver. 12. On the next day, much people that were come to the feast , etc.] Of the passover; and they were much people indeed, that came yearly to this feast, from all parts of the nation; for all the males in Israel, were obliged to appear at this time; and though the women were not obliged, yet multitudes of them came, and the fame of Jesus might bring the more; add to which, that there was now a general expectation of the Messiah’s coming, which brought the Jews from all parts of the world, to Jerusalem; so that this might be called indeed, ˆykw[m jsp , “a crowded passover”: and though the following account is a stretching it too far, yet it may serve to illustrate this matter: “would you desire to know what multitudes were at Jerusalem of the priests, you may know, as it is written, ( 1 Kings 8:63), and the tradition is, that an ox was offered for twenty four, and a sheep for eleven. — King Agrippa sought to know what was the number of the multitude, which were in Jerusalem; he said to the priests, lay by for me one kidney of every passover lamb; they laid by for him six hundred thousand pair of kidneys, double the number of those that came out of Egypt: and there is never a passover lamb, but there are more than ten numbered for it f543 , etc.”
Now the day following the supper at Bethany, and which seems to be the first day of the week, this multitude of people, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem ; from Bethany, which was soon known, it being so near.
Ver. 13. Took branches of palm trees , etc.] The Ethiopic version adds, “and young shoots from Jerusalem”; these grew in great plenty, on one part of the Mount of Olives, that next to Bethany, from whence that town had its name; for it signifies the house of dates, the fruit of the palm tree; (see Gill on “ Matthew 21:17”). And as that tree was a sign of joy and victory, they carried branches of it in their hands, as they met the King Messiah, who was about to make his public entrance into Jerusalem, in triumph; and where by his sufferings and death, he should gain the victory over sin, Satan, the world, and death; and lay a solid foundation for joy and peace, to all that believe in him: the Jews say f544 , “if a man takes ˆyyab , (the very Greek word here used,) palm tree branches in his hands, we know that he is victorious.”
The Persic version reads, “branches of olives”. And went forth to meet him, and cried ; when they came up to him, and as he passed by them: Hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord ; (see Gill on “ Matthew 21:9”).
Ver. 14. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass , etc.] Which he sent his disciples for, to a neighbouring village, and they brought to him: sat thereon, as it is written ; in ( Zechariah 9:9) though some part of the words seems to be taken out of ( Isaiah 62:11); (see Gill on “ Matthew 21:5”); and so Nonnus paraphrases it here, “that it might be fulfilled which Esaias said”.
Ver. 16. These things understood not his disciples at the first , etc.] Or “at that time”, as the Syriac and Persic versions render it; or “on that day”, as the Ethiopic version; they did not then know the sense of that prophecy, nor that the things which were now doing were a fulfilling of it: but when Jesus was glorified ; was raised front the dead, and ascended to heaven, and was set down at the right hand of God, crowned with glory and honour; and when having received the promise of the Father, the Holy Ghost, and his gifts, he poured them forth in a very plenteous and extraordinary manner upon them; whereby their minds were greatly illuminated, and they had a very distinct knowledge of the Scriptures of the Old Testament; and saw clearly how they severally had their accomplishment in Christ: then remembered they that these things were written of him ; in the prophecies of the Old Testament; and [that] they had done these things unto him ; both the disciples and the multitude, or that these things were done to him; such as bringing the ass to him, laying their clothes on it, and setting him upon it, attending him with shoutings and hosannas to the city of Jerusalem, etc.
Ver. 17. The people therefore that was with him , etc.] The Jews, that came from Jerusalem to Bethany, to comfort the two sisters of Lazarus upon his death, who believed in Christ; and others of the town of Bethany, who with them were along with Christ: when he called Lazarus out of his grave ; saying, Lazarus, come forth: and raised him from the dead ; to life: bare record : to the Jews at Jerusalem, and to the people that came out of the several countries, of the truth of that fact; declaring, that they were eye and ear witnesses of the whole, and that it was a truth that might be depended on.
Ver. 18. For this cause the people also met him , etc.] This was a principal reason, among others, which induced them to set out in the manner they did, with palm tree branches in their hands, and accost him as the king of Israel, when they met him, and hosanna’d him into the city: for that they heard that he had done this miracle ; the witnesses were so many, and the proofs they gave so strong, that they firmly believed it: and this being a most amazing miracle, and which exceeded even any of the same kind; Jairus’s daughter was but just dead, and the widow of Nain’s son was not buried, when they were raised, but Lazarus had been dead and buried four days; it made a very strong impression upon the minds of the people, and engaged their attention to him, and belief in him.
Ver. 19. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves , etc.] Either when assembled in their own private houses, or in the sanhedrim; or as they stood together in the streets, seeing Jesus pass by in such pomp, and such a multitude with him: perceive ye how ye prevail nothing ? the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions read, “we prevail nothing”, so Nonnus; the sense is the same; suggesting, that all their wise schemes and crafty councils signified nothing; the commands they enjoined the people not to follow him, or to apprehend him, or to show them where he was, were disregarded; their threatenings to put out of the synagogue such as should confess him, were taken no notice of; their promises of reward were slighted; their examples were not followed; and all their artifice and cunning, backed with power and authority, did not succeed: behold, the world is gone after him ; the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, “the whole world”, and so Nonnus; the Persic version, “all the people”; that is, a very great number of people; for they could not mean, that all the inhabitants of the world, or every individual of mankind were followers of him, and became his disciples, nor even all in their own land; they themselves, with multitudes more of the same complexion, were an exception to this: but they speak in the common dialect of that nation, of which take two or three instances; “it happened to a certain high priest, that he went out of the sanctuary, hyrtb aml[ ylwk ylza wwhw , “and the whole world went after him”; and when they saw Shemaiah and Abtalion, they left him, and went after them f545 .”
And again f546 , “R. Aba proclaimed, whoever seeks riches, and whoever seeks the way of life in the world to come, let him come and study in the law, and aml[ ylwk , “the whole world” will gather together to him.”
Once more f547 , “Jonathan said to David, ( 1 Samuel 23:17): “Thou shall be king over Israel, and I will be next to thee”; what is the meaning of this? perhaps Jonathan the son of Saul saw aml[ , “the world” draw after David.”
Ver. 20. And there were certain Greeks , etc.] “Hellenes”, so called, from Hellen, a king of that name, as Pliny says These were not Graecizing Jews, or Jews that dwelt in Greece, and spoke the Greek language; for they were called not Hellenes, but Hellenists; but these were, as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions render it, Gentiles; and were either mere Gentiles, and yet devout and religious men, who were allowed to offer sacrifice, and to worship, in the court of the Gentiles; or they were proselytes, either of righteousness, and so were circumcised, and had a right to eat of the passover, as well as to worship at it; or of the gate, and so being uncircumcised, might not eat of the passover, yet might worship at it; which latter seems to be the case, by what follows: for these were among them, that came up to worship at the feast ; of the passover, which was near at hand: these were among those, that went forth to meet Jesus, and that attended him to Jerusalem, who were come up out of the country to this feast; and these came along with them to worship at it, to offer their sacrifices, and join in prayer, though they might not eat of the passover.
Ver. 21. The same came therefore to Philip , etc.] Who might know him; they might have been some of his neighbours formerly, for that Philip’s parents, though Jews, dwelt among Greeks, seems probable, from the name given to him, which is a Greek one; some have thought, that these Greeks were Syrophoenicians, who dwelt upon the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and were not far off from Galilee, and from Bethsaida, the native place of Philip, and is therefore mentioned as follows: which was of Bethsaida of Galilee ; (see Gill on “ John 1:44”). This place may be interpreted, “the house of hunting”, or “of fishing”; for it is not easy to say which it has its name from, since adyx , “saida”, signifies both hunting and fishing: and seeing it was in or near the tribe of Naphtali, where was plenty of deer, and a wilderness was near it, where might be wild beasts, it might be so called from hunting: and as it was situated near the lake of Gennesaret, it might have its name from the fishing trade used in it; for Peter and Andrew, who were of it, were both fishermen: but it is yet more difficult to determine, whether this is the same with, or different from the Bethsaida Josephus speaks of, as rebuilt by Philip, and called by him Julius, after the name of Caesar’s daughter, as I have observed in (see Gill on “ Luke 9:10”), (see Gill on “ John 1:44”); since this was in Galilee, of which Herod Antipas was tetrarch, and where Philip could have no power to rebuild places, and change their names; and besides, the city, which he repaired, and called Julian, according to Josephus was in lower Gaulonitis, and therefore must be different, unless that, or any part of it, can be thought to be the same with Galilee: wherefore the learned Reland thinks, that there were two Bethsaidas, and which seems very probable; and it is likely, that this is here purposely called Bethsaida of Galilee, to distinguish it from the other, which, by some persons, might still be called Bethsaida, though it had got a new name. Moreover, this Bethsaida is mentioned in other places along with Capernaum and Chorazin, ( Matthew 11:21,23), which were in Galilee. And Epiphanius says f552 , that Bethsaida and Capernaum were not far distant one from another: and according to Jerom f553 , Chorazin was but two miles from Capernaum; and who elsewhere says f554 , that Capernaum, Tiberias, Bethsaida, and Chorazin, were situated on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret. It is said to be fifty six miles from Jerusalem: and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus ; that is, they entreated him, that he would introduce them into the company of Jesus; they wanted to be admitted into his presence, to have some discourse and conversation with him; and what might make them the more desirous of it, was the miracle he had lately wrought in raising Lazarus from the dead; as also the uncommon manner of his entering into Jerusalem, which they saw; and which shows, that it was not a bare sight of his person they meant, but the enjoyment of his company, for a while; and this favour they ask of Philip, with great respect to him, and in a very polite way, and yet with great sincerity, and strong affection, and earnest importunity; and was a pledge and presage of the future conversion of the Gentiles, when the Jews would be rejected. And it may be observed, that sensible sinners are very desirous of having a spiritual sight of Christ, of the glories of his person, and the fulness of his grace, and to see their interest in him, and to have communion and fellowship with him: he is all in all to them; no object so delightful, and satisfying to them as he is; and they never see him, but they receive something from him, and are made more like unto him.
Ver. 22. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew , etc.] The request the Greeks made to him, and this he did, that he might have his advice in this matter; and that not only because he might be a senior man as well as apostle, but because he was of the same town, and might know these men as well as Philip: and again, Andrew and Philip told Jesus ; after they had consulted together, whether it was proper or not, to move this thing to their master; since he had forbid them going in the way of the Gentiles, they agreed to acquaint him with it, that he might do his pleasure.
Ver. 23. And Jesus answered them , etc.] Not directly and particularly; he did not in plain terms signify what was his will, whether these Greeks should be admitted or not; and yet expressed himself in such a manner as shows he was not averse to it, but was pleased with it, and takes notice of it, as an evidence of the near approach of his glorification: saying, the hour is come, that the son of man should be glorified ; by rising from the dead, ascending to heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, and from thence pouring forth the Spirit upon his disciples, who should go and preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, as well as Jews; and which would issue in the conversion of many of them, and so in his glory, of which the coming of these Greeks was an earnest. But he intimates, in the next verse, that he must first die.
Ver. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you , etc.] This is a certain truth in nature, Christ was about to assert; and what he signifies by it would be a certain fact, and which he mentions, that his death might not be a stumbling block to his disciples, or any objection to his glorification; but was rather to be considered as a means of it, and necessary in order to it: except a corn of wheat fall into the ground ; or is sown in the earth; for sowing with the Jews is expressed by the falling of the seed into the earth; (see Gill on “ Matthew 13:4”); and is a very fit phrase to set forth the death of Christ by, who fell a sacrifice to justice by the hands of men: and die ; or is corrupted, and putrefies; and which is done in three days time in moist land, but is longer in dry ground ere it perishes f555 : and a corn of wheat is almost the only seed, that being cast into the earth, does die; and therefore is very aptly used by Christ: it abideth alone ; a mere single corn as it is: but if it die ; if it wastes, consumes, and rots, as it does, being cast into the earth, in the time before mentioned: it bringeth forth much fruit ; it shoots out, and rises above ground, and appears in blade, and stalk, and ear, and produces many corns or grains of wheat; all which our Lord intends should be accommodated to himself, and to his death, and the fruits of it. He compares himself to a corn of wheat; to wheat, for the choiceness and excellency of it above all other grain, he being the chiefest among ten thousand, angels or men; and for the purity and cleanness of it, he being, even in his human nature, pure, and free from sin; and for its fruitfulness, he being fruitful in himself, and the cause of all fruitfulness in his people; and for its usefulness for food, he being the bread of life, and the finest of the wheat: and whereas the wheat must be threshed, and ground, and sifted, and kneaded, and baked, before it is fit for food; all this may express the sufferings and death of Christ, in order to be proper food for the faith of his people: and Christ here compares himself to a single corn of wheat, because he was of little account among men, and but little or nothing was expected by them from him; and chiefly because he was alone in the salvation of his people. The death of Christ is signified by the falling of the corn of wheat into the ground, and dying, and shows that Christ’s death was not accidental, but designed; it was determined in the counsels and purposes of God, and intended for his glory and the redemption of men; even as wheat falls out of the hands of the sower, not casually, but on purpose, that it may die and spring up again, and produce an increase: and also, that the death of Christ was voluntary, both on his Father’s part, and on his own; and was real, and not in appearance only, and yet was but for a short time; as the corn of wheat that dies, soon revives again, and is quickly above ground, so Christ, though he really died, did not long continue under the power of death, but rose again the third day, and now lives for ever. Moreover, Christ intimates by this simile, that if he had not died, he should have been alone; not without his Father, and the blessed Spirit; nor without the holy and elect angels, but without any of the sons of men, who all fell and died in Adam; and had not Christ died, none of them would have lived; none of them could have been justified; nor could their sins have been expiated; nor would any of them have been regenerated: Christ must have been without them in heaven; wherefore he chose rather to die for them, that they might be for ever with him, than be alone in the human nature. And he further observes hereby, that his death would be productive of much fruit; which may be understood both of a large harvest of souls, that should be saved, among Jews, and Gentiles, and especially the latter; and of the blessings of grace, as redemption, justification, peace, pardon, and eternal life, that should follow upon it.
Ver. 25. He that loveth his life shall lose it , etc.] The sense is, that whoever is so in love with this present temporal life, as to be anxiously careful of it, and takes all precautions to secure it; and rather than to expose it to any danger, chooses to deny the faith of Christ, and desert his cause and interest; as such an one shall not long enjoy this life, so he shall come short of an eternal one: and he that hateth his life in this world : on the other hand, whoever seems careless about it, and not to consult the safety of it, but is unconcerned about it; yea, as if he was throwing it away, as of no great moment and significancy, rather than do anything to preserve it, which would be scandalous to himself, and be dishonourable to his Lord and master; he shall keep it unto life eternal : he shall be preserved in his temporal life, in a remarkable manner, until he has done the will and work of God, notwithstanding all attempts upon it; and he shall appear to have that spiritual life, which is the beginning and pledge of, and which springs up unto, and issues in eternal life; and that he shall enjoy in the world to come.
This Christ said to let his disciples and followers know, that they must suffer and die, as well as he, though not on the same account, and for the self-same reasons; and that their sufferings and death in his cause, and for his Gospel, would turn to their advantage.
Ver. 26. If any man serve, me , etc.] Or is willing to be a servant of Christ, and to be esteemed as such; let him follow me ; as in the exercise of the graces of love, humility, patience, self-denial, and resignation of will to the will of God, and in the discharge of every duty, walking as he walked, so in a way of suffering; for as the master, so the servants, as the head, so the members, through many tribulations, must enter the kingdom; to which he encourages by the following things: and where I am ; in heaven, as he now was, as the Son of God; or “where I shall be”, as the Syriac and Persic versions render it, even as man, in the human nature, when raised from the dead: there shall also my servant be ; when he has done his work, and the place is prepared for him, and he for that, and where he shall ever abide; and as a further encouragement, he adds, if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour ; by accepting his service, affording him his gracious presence here, and by giving him eternal glory hereafter, to which he has called him.
Ver. 27. Now is my soul troubled , etc.] At the hardness and unbelief of the Jews, and the rejection of them, when the Gentiles would be called, and converted, by which he would be glorified: and at the conduct and carriage of his disciples to him, he had a foreknowledge of; at the betraying of him by one, and the denial of him by another, and the flight of them all from him; and at the devil, and the furious and violent attack he knew he would make upon him, though he had obliged him to leave him, when he assaulted him before, and knew he could find nothing in him now, and that as God, he was able to destroy him; but this was to be done by him, as man, and by lying too: he was in his human soul troubled at the thoughts of his death, though it was his Father’s will, and he had agreed to it, and was for the salvation of his people, his heart was so much set upon; yet it was terrible to the human nature, and especially as attended with the wrath of God; at the apprehensions of which, his soul was exceedingly troubled; not as about to fall on him on his own personal account, but as being the surety of his people, and as having their sins upon him to satisfy angry and injured justice for: and what shall I say ? this question he puts, as being in the utmost distress, and difficulty, as if he knew not what to say; and yet not as advising with his disciples, what was to be said or done in his case; but is rather used to introduce another question, as the following words may be formed: shall I say, father, save me from this hour ? as requesting his Father, that he might be strengthened under his sufferings and death, and carried through them, and out of them; or rather as deprecating them, desiring the cup might pass from him, as he afterwards did; and then the sense is, shall I put up such a petition to my Father, to save me from sorrows, sufferings, and death? no, I will not: the human nature through frailty might prompt him to it, and he be just going to do it, when he corrects himself, saying; but for this cause came I unto this hour : this hour or time of sorrow and suffering was appointed for him; it was fixed in the covenant of grace, and Christ had agreed to it; he was sent into this world, and he came into it, on account of this hour; and was preserved hitherto for this purpose; and was now come to Jerusalem, and was there at this instant, for that very reason, namely, to suffer and die. And since this was the case, he would not put up such a petition to his Father, but the following one.
Ver 28. Father, glorify thy name , etc.] The perfections of his nature, particularly his justice and holiness, meaning in himself; by his sufferings and death; intimating hereby, that his Father’s glory was what he had in view, and that the securing of that would give him an infinite pleasure amidst all his sorrows. The Arabic version, and Nonnus, read “glorify thy Son”, as in ( John 17:1), and the Ethiopic version takes in both, “glorify thy name, and thy Son”: and indeed, what glorifies the one, glorifies the other; (see John 13:31,32). Then came there a voice from heaven ; as at his baptism and transfiguration, and which came from the Father, and was an articulate one, and what the Jews call “Bath Kol”, or “the daughter of the voice”: [saying], I have both, glorified [it] ; meaning in the incarnation, ministry, obedience and miracles of Christ; and particularly in that late one in raising Lazarus from the dead: and will glorify [it] again ; by supporting him under, and carrying him through his sufferings and death, and by raising him from the dead, and setting him at his own right hand.
Ver. 29. The people therefore that stood by and heard [it] , etc.] Some more confusedly, who were farthest off; others more distinctly, who were nearer: the first of these, said that it thundered ; as it used to do when “Bath Kol” was heard, which, as the Jews say f556 , “is a voice that comes out of heaven proceeding from the midst of another voice,” as thunder; wherefore some took this for thunder, and others for the voice of an angel out of the thunder: others said, an angel spoke to him ; these being nearer, perceived it was an articulate voice, which expressed certain distinct words, which they thought were delivered by an angel; for the Jews had a mighty notion of the discourse and conversation of angels with men, which their doctors pretended to understand; particularly R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, a Rabbi, who was living at this time, had learned their speech, and was well versed in it f557 .
Ver. 30. Jesus answered and said , etc.] To the people that stood by, and were disputing among themselves about what they heard, whether it was thunder, or the voice of an angel: this voice came not because of me ; at least not only and chiefly; it was not so much in answer to his prayer, or in order to comfort him under the apprehensions he had of his sufferings and death, or to assure him of his future glorification, though all this was true: but for your sakes ; to convince them that he was the Messiah, and engage them to believe in him, or to leave them without excuse; since not only miracles were wrought before their eyes, but with their ears they heard God speaking to him, and which is the rule that they themselves prescribe; for according to them, no man is to be hearkened to, though he should do as many signs and wonders as Moses, the son of Amram, unless they hear with their ears, that the Lord speaks to him as he did to Moses f558 .
Ver. 31. Now is the judgment of this world , etc.] That is, in a very short time will be the judgment either of the Jewish world, when that shall be reproved, convinced, and condemned for their sin of rejecting Christ, and crucifying him, by the Spirit, in the ministration of the Gospel; and they still continuing in their impenitence and unbelief, in process of time wrath will come upon them, upon their nation, city, and temple, to the uttermost; or of the Gentile world, when there shall be a discrimination, and separation made in it, of the chosen of God, who shall be called by special grace, and with the converted and believing Jews, shall form a Gospel church state, separate from the world of the ungodly; or of the world of God’s elect among Jews and Gentiles, whose cause, being undertook by Christ, he will now vindicate it, and redeem them from sin and Satan, who have usurped a power and dominion over them: hence it follows, now shall the prince of this world be cast out . The phrase, µlw[h rç , “the prince of the world”, is much used by Jewish writers f559 , by whom an angel is meant; and they seem to design the angel of death, which is the devil: and it is certain, that he is here intended, and is so called, not because he has any legal power and authority over the world; but because he has usurped a dominion over it, and has great power and efficacy in the hearts of the children of disobedience, who yield a voluntary subjection to him, as if he was their proper lord and sovereign: now the time was at hand, when he should be cast out of the empire of the world he had assumed, and out of the temples of the Gentiles, and out of the hearts of God’s elect among them.
Ver. 32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth , etc.] The death of Christ is here signified by his being “lifted up from the earth”, in allusion to the lifting up of the brazen serpent on the pole; and shows, that his death would not be natural, but violent, and would be public, and not private; and fitly expresses his mediation between God, and men, being lifted up between the heavens and the earth; and points out the death of the cross, as is intimated in the next verse: and the “if” here does not suppose that his death, and the manner of it, were uncertain, for it was determined by God, agreed to by himself, predicted in the Scriptures, signified by types, and foretold by himself, and was necessary for the salvation of his people; but it designs the time of his drawing persons to himself, which is afterwards expressed, and may be rendered, “when I am lifted up”, as it is by the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions: now when this will be, Christ says, I will draw all men to me ; which is not to be understood of the concourse of people about him, when on the cross, some for him, and others against him, some to bewail him, and others to reproach him; but rather of the gathering of the elect to him, and in him, as their head and representative, when he was crucified for them; or of the collection of them, through the ministry of the apostles, and of their being brought to believe on him for eternal life and salvation: and this drawing of them to him, in consequence of his death, supposes distance from him, want of power, and will, to came to him, and the efficacious grace of God to bring them, though without any force and compulsion; and this is to be understood not of every individual of human nature; for all are not drawn to Christ, or enabled to come to him, and believe in him. There were many of the Jews who would not, and did not come to him for life; and who instead of being drawn to him in this sense, when lifted up on the cross, vilified and reproached him; moreover, in the preceding verse, “a world” is spoken of, whose judgment, or condemnation, was now come; and besides, there was at this time a multitude of souls in hell, who could not, nor never will be, drawn to Christ; and a greater number still there will be at the last day, who, instead of drawing to him in this gracious way and manner, will be bid to depart from him, as having been workers of iniquity. Christ died indeed for all men who are drawn unto him; but this is not true of all men, that are, were, or shall be in the world. Add to this, that the word “men” is not in the text, it is only pantav , “all”: Beza’s most ancient copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version read panta , “all things”; and by “all” are meant, all the elect of God, all the children of God, “that were scattered abroad”; the Persic version reads, “I will draw my friends to me”; it designs some of all sorts of men, of every state, condition, age, sex, and nation, Gentiles as well as Jews, and especially the former; which agrees with the ancient prophecy, ( Genesis 49:10), and with the context, and the occasion of the words, which was the desire of the Greeks, that were come to the feast, to see Jesus; and which was a specimen of the large numbers of them, that should be drawn to Christ, through the preaching of the Gospel, after his death: the Jews say, that in the time to come, or in the days of the Messiah, all the proselytes shall be µyrwrg , “drawn”, shall freely become proselytes f560 . The allusion here, is to the setting up of a standard or ensign, to gather persons together. Christ’s cross is the standard, his love is the banner, and he himself is the ensign, which draw souls to himself, and engage them to enlist themselves under him, and become his volunteers in the day his power; (see Isaiah 11:10).
Ver. 33. This he said , etc.] These are the words of the evangelist, interpreting the design of Christ in the above words, thereby signifying what death he should die ; the phrase of being lifted up from the earth, not only signified his death, but the kind, or manner of it, that it should be by crucifixion; a person crucified being stretched forth upon a cross, and that erected, was lifted up between earth and heaven.
Ver. 34. The people answered him , etc.] Not the Greeks, but the Jews, and these not such as were friends to Christ, but cavillers at him: we have heard out of the law ; not the five books of Moses, but the Prophets, and Hagiographa; even all the books of the Old Testament are called the law; (see Gill on “ John 10:34”); that Christ abideth for ever ; referring to those places which speak of the perpetuity of his priesthood and the everlasting duration of his kingdom, ( <19B004> Psalm 110:4 45:6 72:17 89:36,37 Daniel 2:44 7:13,14), in which last text express mention is made of the son of man, and that and the first may be more especially respected; from whence it appears, that these passages were understood of the Messiah by the ancient Jews: they knew he was designed in ( <19B004> Psalm 110:4). He is David’s Lord that was bid to sit at the right hand of Jehovah, after he was raised from the dead, and had ascended on high; whose Gospel went forth with power, and whose people, by it, were made willing to submit to him, to his righteousness, and the sceptre of his kingdom; and who also is a priest for ever; and which is appealed to as a proof of the nature, kind, and duration of Christ’s priesthood, ( Hebrews 5:6 7:17); and so it may be observed it is expressly applied to him by Jewish writers: in ( Zechariah 4:14) it is said “these are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth”; of which this interpretation is given f561 . “These are Aaron and the Messiah; and it would not be known which of them is (most) beloved, but that he says, ( <19B004> Psalm 110:4), “the Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, thou art a priest for ever”; from whence it is manifest that the Messiah is more beloved than Aaron the righteous priest.”
And so another of them f562 , speaking of Melchizedek, says, “this is that which is written ( <19B004> Psalm 110:4), “the Lord hath sworn”, etc. who is this? this is he that is just, and having salvation, the King Messiah, as it is said, ( Zechariah 9:9).”
So the 45th Psalm is understood by them of the Messiah; the King, in ( Psalm 45:1), is by Ben Melech, said to be the King Messiah; ( Psalm 45:2) is thus paraphrased by the Targum, “thy beauty, O King Messiah, is more excellent than the children of men.”
And Aben Ezra observes, that this Psalm is either concerning David, or the Messiah his son, whose name is David, ( Ezekiel 37:25) f563 ; and the passage in ( Psalm 72:17) is frequently interpreted of the Messiah and his name, and is brought as a proof of the antiquity of it f564 ; and ( Psalm 89:36) is also applied to him; and as for ( Daniel 7:13), that is by many, both ancient and modern Jews, explained of the Messiah and since then they understood these passages of him, it is easy to observe from whence they took this notion that the Messiah should abide for ever; but then they should have observed out of the same law, or Holy Scriptures, that the Messiah was to be stricken and cut off, was to be brought to the dust of death, and to pour out his soul unto death; all which is consistent with his abiding for ever, in his person and office; for though according to the said writings, he was to die and be buried, yet he was not to see corruption; he was to rise again, ascend on high, sit at the right hand of God, and rule till all his enemies became his footstool; his sufferings were to be in the way, and in order to his entrance into the glory that should always abide. The Jews have entertained a notion that Messiah the son of David shall not die, and they lay down this as a rule, that if anyone sets up for a Messiah, and does not prosper, but is slain, it is a plain case he is not the Messiah; so all the wise men at first thought that Ben Coziba was the Messiah, but when he was slain it was known to them that he was not f566 . And upon this principle these Jews confront the Messiahship of Jesus, saying, and how sayest thou, the son of man must be lifted up ? for it seems Christ used the phrase the son of man in his discourse, though John has not recorded it; he attending to his sense, and not to his express words. The Jews rightly understood him, that by the son of man he meant the Messiah, and by his being lifted up, his death; but they did not understand, how the Messiah could die, and yet abide for ever; and therefore since he intended himself by the son of man, they concluded he talked very inconsistent with the Scriptures, and with the character he assumed, and ask very pertly, who is this son of man ? is there any other son of man besides the Messiah? and can the son of man, that is the Messiah, be lifted up, or die, who is to abide for ever? and if thou art to be lifted up, or die, thou art not the Messiah or Daniel’s son of man, whose kingdom is everlasting: but how come the Jews themselves to say, that the days of the Messiah, according to some, are but forty years, according to others seventy, according to others, three hundred and sixty five f567 ? yea, they say, he shall be as other men, marry, have children, and then die f568 . And how comes it to pass that Messiah ben Joseph shall be slain f569 ? the truth of the matter is this, they having lost the true sense of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, and observing some that seem to differ, and which they know not how to reconcile, have fancied two Messiahs, the one that will be much distressed and be overcome and be slain; the other, who will be potent and victorious.
Ver. 35. Then Jesus said unto them , etc.] Not directly answering to their questions, but suggests to them their ignorance and stupidity, amidst so much light, that was about them: yet a little while is the light with you : meaning either himself, the light of the world, ( John 8:12 12:46), who was to be but a very little while longer with them, a few days more, and he was to go away from them by death, and be seen and heard no more by them: or the Gospel, which, though that was to continue somewhat longer, it being, after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, to be preached to the Jews, both in Judea, and in other parts of the world; yet that would be but for a little while, as the event has shown; for the Jews rejecting the Gospel, and putting it away from them, the apostles, as they were ordered, turned to the Gentiles, ( Acts 13:46,47); walk while ye have the light : that is, as it is explained in ( John 12:36), “believe ye in the light”: which the Persic version adds here, and leaves out there: and the sense is, believe in the Messiah, and in his Gospel; embrace him and that, and walk on in him, and worthy of him and of his Gospel, as children of the light: lest darkness come upon you ; suddenly, at an unawares; either a greater degree of the darkness of ignorance and unbelief; even a judicial blindness and stupidity, which did seize on that people, and continues upon them to this day; or the darkness of afflictions, calamities, and distress, and which have come upon them to the uttermost, to the destruction of their temple, city, and nation; or else a worse darkness, even blackness of darkness, outer darkness in hell, where are weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. For he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth ; he cannot see his way, nor the stumbling blocks that lie in it, and the dangers he is exposed unto; nor does he know where it leads, and what is the end of it; and just so it is with a man in a state of unregeneracy, and more especially under judicial blindness: he is not aware of the pits and snares that lie in his way, or of the dark mountains on which he stumbles; and though destruction and misery are in his ways, he knows not that he is going thereunto.
Ver. 36. While ye have light, believe in the light , etc.] Receive the Messiah, and credit the Gospel revelation; this is an explanation of the exhortation in the preceding verse: that ye may be the children of the light ; that is, that they might appear to be such who are enlightened persons; and such are truly so, who are made light in the Lord, or who are enlightened by the Spirit of God to see their own sinfulness, impotency, and unrighteousness, and their need of Christ, and his righteousness and strength, and of salvation by him; and who are made meet, by the grace of God, to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; and which is made manifest by believing in Christ, and walking on in him, as they have received him, and by walking honestly, as in the daytime, and circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, for such walk as children of the light. These things spake Jesus, and departed ; from those Jews, as being unworthy of any further conversation with him; and from Jerusalem, very likely to Bethany, whither he frequently retired, especially at night, during the few days before the passover: and did hide himself from them : for his safety, for he knew that they were irritated by what he said, and would seek to lay hold upon him, and deliver him to the sanhedrim; and whereas his hour was not yet fully come, there were a few more sands in the glass to run, he provided for his security, by absconding from them; and this was an emblem of his wholly removing from them, and leaving them, and their house, desolate; and it is very likely that from this time forward they saw him no more as ministering the word unto them; and also of his taking his Gospel from them in a little time, and of his hiding the things of it from them, which respected himself, and salvation by him.
Ver. 37. But though he had done so many miracles before them , etc.] Openly, and in the presence of them; meaning those miracles which were done at Jerusalem, as those which brought Nicodemus to him, and to an acknowledgment of him as a teacher sent from God; and particularly the cure of the lame man at Bethesda’s pool, the giving sight to the man that was born blind, by anointing his eyes with clay, and sending him to wash in the Pool of Siloam, and the raising Lazarus from the dead at Bethany, which was within two miles of Jerusalem, in the presence of many of them who were come there to comfort Martha and Mary. Yet they believed not on him ; the miracles done by Christ before their eyes, which they could not deny, nor disprove, and were so many, and so great, were aggravations of their unbelief; and such indeed is the nature of that sin, and so deeply rooted is it, that the most powerful means, and mighty works, will not bring a person to believe in Christ, without the powerful and efficacious grace of God.
Ver. 38. That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled , etc.] For though this was not the end of these men in disbelieving Christ, that the words of Isaiah might be fulfilled, yet hereby they were eventually fulfilled; and though the predictions of the prophet had no such influence on the wills of these men, as to lay upon them a coactive necessity, or force them to do, or to answer to the things foretold; yet they were to have, and had an infallible event or completion, otherwise the foreknowledge of God, and the authority of the prophetic writings, could not be maintained: which he spake in ( Isaiah 53:1); Lord, who hath believed our report ? which words the prophet delivered by way of complaint to God the Father; not so much with respect to his own time, and the men of it, as to the times of Christ, and his apostles, whom he represents; for the whole chapter is a prophecy of the Messiah, and suggests, that in those times there would be but few that would believe the report made in the ministry of the Gospel, concerning the Messiah, his person, office, and grace; though so true in itself, and so much confirmed by miracles, and mighty deeds; the reason of which, he intimates, would be his outward mean appearance in the world; and which, it is certain, was the true reason, God denying the influence of his powerful and special grace, as follows: and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ? meaning either the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, and which was bid from the wise and prudent; or the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who is the power of God, by whom he made the heavens and the earth, and upholds them in their being, and by whom he has redeemed and saved his people; and who was not revealed neither to them in the ministry of the word, nor in them the hope of glory: or the Holy Spirit is meant, the finger of God, by whom these surprising miracles were done; and yet he did not exert himself in these persons, in the special operations of his grace; or the powerful and efficacious grace of God itself is designed, which was not put forth, and did not attend the report of the Gospel, and therefore it was not believed.
Ver. 39. Therefore they could not believe , etc.] God had determined to leave them to the blindness and hardness of their hearts, and to deny them his grace, which only could cure them of it, and enable them to believe: he had foretold this in prophecy, and they were manifestly the persons spoken of; and therefore considering the decrees of God, the predictions of the prophet, and the hardness of their hearts, they were left unto, it was morally impossible they should believe, because that Esaias said again , in ( Isaiah 6:9,10).
Ver. 40. He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart , etc.] It is of no great moment, whether the he, who is said to blind and harden, be God or Christ, or whether the words be rendered, “it hath blinded”, etc. that is, malice or wickedness; or whether they be read impersonally, “their eyes are blinded”, etc. since God or Christ blind and harden not by any positive act, but by leaving and giving men up to the blindness and hardness of their hearts, and denying them the grace which could only cure them, and which they are not obliged to give; and which was the case of these Jews, so as never to be converted, or be turned even by external repentance and reformation, that they might be healed in a national way, and be preserved from national ruin, as it follows, that they should not see with their eyes , etc.] (see Gill on “ Matthew 13:14”), (see Gill on “ Matthew 13:15”). The Syriac and Persic versions read, “they have blinded their eyes”, etc.
Ver. 41. These things said Esaias , etc.] Concerning the blinding and hardening of the Jews: when he saw his glory, and spake of him ; when he saw, in a visionary way, the glory of the Messiah in the temple, and the angels covering their faces with their wings at the sight of him; and when he spake of him as the King, the Lord of hosts, whom he had seen, ( Isaiah 6:1-10), from whence it is clear that he had respect to the Jews in the times of the Messiah. The prophet says in ( Isaiah 6:1) that he “saw the Lord”: the Targumist renders it, “I saw”, yyd arqy ta , “the glory of Jehovah”; and in ( Isaiah 6:5) he says, “mine eyes have seen the King”, Jehovah, Zebaot, the Lord of hosts; which the Chaldee paraphrase renders, “mine eyes have seen”, rqy ta , “the glory” of the Shekinah, the King of the world, the Lord of hosts. Agreeably to which our Lord says here, that he saw his glory, the glory of his majesty, the glory of his divine nature, the train of his divine perfections, filling the temple of the human nature; and he spoke of him as the true Jehovah, the Lord of hosts; and which therefore is a very clear and strong proof of the proper divinity of Christ. And it may be observed from hence, that such persons who have a true, spiritual, and saving sight of Christ, of the glory of his person, and the fulness of his grace, cannot but be speaking of him to others, either in private, or in public, as Isaiah here did, and as the church in ( Song of Solomon 5:10- 16); and as the apostles of Christ, ( John 1:1,4 1 John 1:1,2); and indeed, should they hold their peace, the stones would cry out; such must, and will speak of his glory in his temple, ( Psalm 29:9 145:4-7,11,12).
Ver. 42. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also , etc.] These were the members of the Jewish sanhedrim, as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and others: many believed on him ; that he was the Messiah, though they did not believe in him in a spiritual and saving manner, as their Redeemer and Saviour, only in their minds, being convicted by his miracles, gave an assent unto him, as the promised Messiah. The two persons just mentioned may be thought truly to have believed in Christ; but the many here spoken of seem to have had only an historical faith in him, as appears by what follows: but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him ; as they ought to have done, and as they would have done, if their faith had been right; for where with the heart men believe in Christ to righteousness, there, with the mouth, confession is made to salvation; and between a non-confession of Christ, and a denying him, is no medium; and Christ interprets the one to be the same with the other; (see Romans 10:9,10 Matthew 10:32,33); and this they did not do, because of the Pharisees, who were the inveterate and implacable enemies of Christ, and were the prevailing party in the sanhedrim: wherefore these chief rulers, though many, were afraid of them, lest they should be put out of the synagogue ; for they had made a decree in the sanhedrim, that whoever confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, should be cast out; and they had put it into execution upon the man born blind, whose eyes Christ opened, for speaking in favour of his benefactor; and this had struck terror in the minds, not only of the common people; but of the chief rulers themselves; for it was looked upon as a very dreadful thing to be put out of the synagogue; (see Gill on “ John 9:22”).
Ver. 43. For they loved the praise of men , etc.] To be in the esteem of men, to have their applause, and receive honour from them: more than the praise of God ; than either to receive honour from him, and be praised by him, or to praise and glorify him. By confessing Christ they knew they should run the risk of losing their places of honour and profit, and of falling under the disgrace and contempt of men; and therefore they chose rather not to confess Christ, than by so doing to glorify God, and please him, and be praised by him, as all the faithful professors of Christ will be at the last day; for then every such an one will have praise of God, and it will be said, well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.
Ver. 44. Jesus cried and said , etc.] Upon this occasion, on account of the prevailing hardness and unbelief of the Jewish nation, and the nonconfession of him by those who did believe him to be the Messiah. He cried with a loud voice, that he might be heard, and his audience left inexcusable; it denotes the concern of his mind, the vehemence of his spirit, and that openness and freedom in which he discharged his ministry, by showing the nature, excellency, and usefulness of believing in him, and the dangerous consequences of unbelief: he that believeth on me, believeth not on me ; which is not to be understood simply and absolutely, for this would be a contradiction in terms: they that believe in Christ, do believe in him, and they do right to believe in him; Christ is the object of faith; he is proposed as such in the Gospel; and it is his Father’s will, and his own advice, that his people should believe in him: but then those that truly believe in him, do not believe in him as a mere man, but as God, as the Son of God; and not as separate from, or to the exclusion of his Father: nor do they believe in him as a new, or another God, but as the one God with the Father, and the Spirit; for he and his Father are one: nor do they believe in him “only”; and so the Arabic version reads; but in God the Father also: nor does their faith rest in him, but it proceeds through him, as the Mediator unto God; (see 1 Peter 1:21). Besides, he is here to be considered in his office capacity, as being sent of God; and he that believes on him as the sent of God, does not so much believe on him, as on the sender of him, as follows: but on him that sent me ; just as whatever honour or dishonour are done to an ambassador, sent by an earthly king to a foreign court, are not so much done to the ambassador that is sent, as to the king that sends him; for what is done to him, is all one as if it was personally done to his prince: so he that despises Christ, despises him that sent him; and he that receives Christ, receives him that sent him; and he that believes on Christ, believes on him that sent him; (see Luke 10:16 Matthew 10:40).
Ver. 45. And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me .] Not with bodily eyes, for there were many that saw Christ, who never saw the Father: they saw Christ as a mere man, and were offended at the meanness of his outward appearance; they saw nothing divine in him, nor the glory of the Father through him; but with the eyes of the understanding, whoever saw or perceived the glory of Christ in his miracles, saw the glory of God in them also, for the Father that dwelt in him did the works, ( John 2:11 11:40 14:10), and whoever truly sees Christ with an eye of faith, sees his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, as the brightness of his Father’s glory, as having the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him, the same perfections as in the Father; so that he that hath seen the one, hath seen the other also, ( John 14:9).
Ver. 46. I am come a light into the world , etc.] And even as the light of it, being the sun of righteousness, that was to arise, and now was risen, to enlighten men with the light of the living; (see John 3:19 8:12); that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness ; God’s elect themselves, whilst in a state of unregeneracy and unbelief, are in darkness; when Christ shines in upon them, and infuses the light of faith into them, they are no longer in darkness; the darkness is past, at least in a great measure, and the true light shines; in which they see light, see glory and grace of Christ, and the invisible realities of another world: nor do they continue in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief; but walk in the light of truth, faith, and holiness, until the perfect day comes, when all the shadows of remaining darkness will flee away.
Ver. 47. And if any man hear my words and believe not , etc.] Men may hear the Gospel of Christ, and not understand it; and they may understand it literally and grammatically, though not spiritually and experimentally, and not believe it; not so much as give credit or an assent to the truth of it, but reject and deny it; for though faith comes by hearing to some, it does not come to all: some receive no profit by hearing it, because it is not mixed with faith by them. The Alexandrian copy, and all the Oriental versions, and also Nonnus, read the last clause thus, “and keep [them] not”; or does not observe them, is negligent of them, and shows no regard, and yields not the obedience of faith to them; the sense is the same. I judge him not ; I do not accuse him to the Father, nor do I condemn him, nor shall I take vengeance on him for so doing; meaning, that he should do none of these things now, though hereafter he will be a swift witness against him, and will convict and condemn him, and pass sentence on him, and execute it: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world . Christ, at his first coming, came not under the character of a judge, but a Saviour; wherefore suitable to his character, and the end of his coming, he would not accuse, condemn, or judge any man, even the greatest unbelievers in him, and despisers of him, but would leave them to another day, when righteous judgment shall take place.
Ver. 48. He that rejecteth me , etc.] As the Messiah, with abhorrence and contempt, as many among the Jews did, who would not have him to reign over them, but sought to put him to death: and receiveth not my words ; the doctrines of the Gospel, but disbelieves them, and denies them to be true, looking upon them as the doctrines of a mere man, and an impostor: hath one that judgeth him ; let not such an one think that he shall escape righteous judgment; though Christ does not judge him now, there is one that judges him, yea, even now; and declares, that he that believeth not shall be damned, and that he is condemned already: the word that I have spoken unto you, the same shall judge him in the last day ; according to the different dispensations wicked men are under in this world, will be the rule of their judgment hereafter: such who are only under the law of nature, will be judged according to that, that will accuse them, convict them, and condemn them: such who have been under the law of Moses, or the written law, will be arraigned, proved, and pronounced guilty, and punished by, and according to that law; and such who have been under the Gospel dispensation, and have been favoured with the revelation of the Gospel, but have condemned and denied it, that will judge them at the last day. The judge will act by its present declaration, and according to that proceed, as it stands in ( Mark 16:16). It will rise up in judgment against such persons, and be an aggravation of their condemnation.
Ver. 49. For I have not spoken of myself , etc.] As man, or as separate from his Father; his doctrine was not human, but divine, and therefore a rejection of it cannot escape notice at the future judgment: but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak ; Christ, as man, had his mission, and commission, and his instructions from his Father to preach the Gospel unto men; he was anointed for it by the Holy Ghost; he was enjoined the preaching of it by his Father, and the several doctrines he published were delivered him by him; (see John 8:28 17:8).
Ver. 50. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting , etc.] By “his commandment” is not meant the law; that indeed is often styled the commandment; and it is the commandment of God; and many excellent things are said of it; and among the rest it is called “life”, ( Deuteronomy 30:15), but not everlasting life: it only promised a continuation of natural life to man, on condition of obedience to it; more than this it did not promise to Adam, in innocence; and what it promised to the obedient Israelites, was only a prolongation of natural life in the land which God gave unto them: but it neither promises, nor gives spiritual life to the fallen sons of Adam; it leaves men as it finds them, dead in trespasses and sins; and cannot communicate either a life of sanctification, or of justification to them; nor does it so much as give them any hopes of life, or show where it is to be had; nor is everlasting life to be obtained by the works of it: justification is not by the works of the law; nor salvation by works of righteousness done by men; and consequently eternal life is never to be attained unto by obedience to the commands of the law: it is so far from being in this sense life everlasting, that it is the ministration of condemnation and death. But the Gospel is here meant, and is called a commandment; not that it has the nature of a law, or consists of precepts, as the law does; but because it is by the commandment of the everlasting God published by Christ, and his apostles. Christ, as appears from the preceding verse, had a commandment from his Father, what he should say and speak; now, not the doctrine he delivered was the commandment itself, but it was a commandment of the Father that he should deliver that doctrine; besides, the word “commandment” sometimes signifies no other than a doctrine, as in ( Psalm 19:8 1 John 2:7); and the sense is, that the doctrine of the Gospel, which Christ had in commission from the Father to preach, is life everlasting; and is so called, because it is a means of quickening sinners with a spiritual life, which issues in an eternal one; it is the savour of life unto life, and the Spirit which giveth life, and is the ministration of it; and it is a means of implanting the graces of the Spirit of God in the heart, which sprung up unto everlasting life; and of bringing souls to the knowledge of Christ, which is the beginning, pledge, and earnest of eternal life: and besides all this, it gives an account of the nature of eternal life; it directs the way unto it, which is by Christ, and describes the persons who shall enjoy it; showing, that their title to it is the righteousness of Christ, and their meetness for it the regenerating grace of the Spirit; and that all that believe in Christ shall have it: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me so I speak ; and no otherwise, and therefore ought to be received, and not rejected.
This is to be understood not of what Christ spoke in common conversation, but in the ministry of the word, even of the doctrines of the Gospel, which were given him by his Father, and which he knew were agreeable to his mind and will, and to his council and covenant, and to everything done and agreed therein, to which he was privy: these he delivered as he received them, and both as to matter and manner, as it was his Father’s will and pleasure he should: he preached the righteousness of God, and hid it not; he declared his faithfulness, and his salvation, and concealed not his lovingkindness and truth, ( Psalm 40:9,10). Now, though it is a sufficient ground of faith to receive and believe the doctrines of the Gospel, because Christ has spoken them, who is truth itself; yet it is a further confirmation of them, that they are what his Father, the God of truth, said unto him: and his delivering them as he had them from him, is an instance of his faithfulness to him that sent him; and should be imitated by his ministers, who ought to declare the whole counsel of God, and keep back nothing they have received from Christ, and which may be profitable to the souls of men.