John 12

CHAPTER XII.

Jesus sups at the house of Lazarus, and Mary anoints his feet,

1-3.

Judas Iscariot finds fault, and reproves her, 4-6.

Jesus vindicates Mary and reproves Judas, 7, 8.

The chief priests consult to put Lazarus to death, because that

through him many believed on Jesus, 9-11.

He enters Jerusalem in triumph; the people meet him, and the

Pharisees are troubled, 12-19.

Greeks inquire after Jesus, 20-22.

Our Lord's discourse on the subject, 23-26.

Speaks of his passion, and is answered by a voice from heaven,

27, 28.

The people are astonished at the voice, and Jesus explains it

to them, and foretells his death, 29-33.

They question him concerning the perpetuity of the Messiah, and

he instructs them, 34-36.

Many believe not; and in them the saying of Isaiah is fulfilled,

37-41.

Some of the chief rulers believe, but are afraid to confess him,

42, 43.

He proclaims himself the light of the world, and shows the

danger of rejecting his words, 44-50.

NOTES ON CHAP. XII.

Verse 1. Six days before the Passover] Reckoning the day of the

Passover to be the last of the six. Our Lord came on our Sabbath,

the first day of the Jewish week, to Bethany, where he supped; and

on the next day he made his public entry into Jerusalem:

Joh 12:12. Calmet thinks that this was about two months after

the resurrection of Lazarus, on the 9th of Nisan, (March 29,) in

the thirty-sixth year of our Lord's age. It has been observed

before-that Calmet adds three years to the common account.

Verse 3. Then took Mary a pound of ointment]

See Clarke on Mt 26:7;

see also Clarke "Mr 14:3". It does not seem the most likely

that this was the same transaction with that mentioned above. Some

think that this was, notwithstanding that before is said to have

been at the house of Simon the leper. The arguments, pro and con,

are largely stated in the notes at the end of Mt. 26,

See Clarke on Mt 26:75.

to which I beg leave to refer the reader.

Verse 5. Three hundred pence] Or denarii: about 9. 13s.

9d. of our money; reckoning the denarius at 7 3/4d. One of my

MSS. of the Vulgate (a MS. of the 14th century) reads, cccc

denarii.

Verse 6. Not that HE cared for the poor] There should be a

particular emphasis laid on the word he, as the evangelist studies

to show the most determined detestation to his conduct.

And bare what was put therein.] Or rather, as some eminent

critics contend, And stole what was put in it. This seems the

proper meaning of εβασταζεν; and in this sense it is used,

Joh 20:15:

If thou hast STOLEN him away-εισυεβαστασαςαυτον. In the same

sense the word is used by Josephus, Ant. b. xii. c. 5, s 4; where

speaking of the pillage of the temple by Antiochus, he says, τα

σκευητουθεουβαστασαι, He carried off, or STOLE, also the

vessels of the Lord. See also Ant. b. viii. c. 2, s. 2, where the

harlot says before Solomon, concerning her child, βαστασασαδε

τουμονεκτωνγονατωνπροςαυτηνμεταφερει-She STOLE away my child

out of my bosom, and removed it to herself. And Ibid. b. ix. c. 4,

s. 5, speaking of the ten lepers that went into the Syrian camp,

he says, finding the Syrians fled, They entered into the camp, and

ate, and drank; and, having STOLEN away (εβαστασαν) garments, and

much gold, they hid them without the camp. See the objections to

this translation answered by Kypke, and the translation itself

vindicated. See also Pearce in loc., Wakefield, Toup. Em. ad Suid.

p. iii. p. 203. If stealing were not intended by the evangelist,

the word itself must be considered as superfluous; for, when we

are told that he had the bag, we need not be informed that he had

what was in it. But the apostle says he was a thief; and because

he was a thief, and had the common purse in his power, therefore

he stole as much as he conveniently could, without subjecting

himself to detection. And, as he saw that the death of Christ was

at hand, he wished to secure a provision for himself, before he

left the company of the apostles. I see that several copies of the

old Itala version understood the word in this sense, and therefore

have translated the word by auferebat, exportabat-took away,

carried away. Jerome, who professed to mend this version, has in

this place (as well as in many others) marred is, by rendering

εβασταζεν, by portabat.

The γλωσσοκομον, which we translate bag, meant originally the

little box, or sheath, in which the tongues or reeds used for

pipes were carried; and thus it is interpreted by Pollux in his

Onomasticon; and this is agreeable to the etymology of the word.

The Greek word is used in Hebrew letters by the Talmudists to

signify a purse, scrip, chest, coffer, &c. As our Lord and his

disciples lived on charity, a bag or scrip was provided to carry

those pious donations by which they were supported. And Judas was

steward and treasurer to this holy company.

Verse 7. Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she

kept this.] Several MSS. and versions read thus:-αφεςαυτηνινα

ειςτηνημεραντουενταφιασμουμουτηρηση-Let her alone, THAT she

may keep it to the day of my embalming. This is the reading of

BDLQ, four others, Arabic, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, later

Syriac in the margin, Slavonic, Vulgate, all the Itala but one;

Nonnus, Ambrosius, Gaudentius, and Augustin. This reading, which

has the approbation of Mill, Bengel, Griesbach, Pearce, and

others, intimates that only a part of the ointment was then used,

and that the rest was kept till the time that the women came to

embalm the body of Jesus: Lu 24:1. See the notes on

Mt 26:12, 13.

Verse 9. Much people of the Jews] John, who was a Galilean,

often gives the title of Jews to those who were inhabitants of

Jerusalem.

Verse 10. Consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death.]

As long as he lived they saw an incontestable proof of the Divine

power of Christ; therefore they wished to put him to death,

because many of the Jews, who came to see him through curiosity,

became converts to Christ through his testimony. How blind were

these men not to perceive that he who had raised him, after he had

been dead four days, could raise him again though they had slain

him a thousand times?

Verse 12. On the next day] On what we call Monday.

Verse 13. Took branches] See Clarke on Mt 21:1, &c.,

and Mr 11:1-6, where this transaction is largely explained.

Verse 16. Then remembered they, &c.] After the ascension of

Christ, the disciples saw the meaning of many prophecies which

referred to Christ, and applied them to him, which they had not

fully comprehended before. Indeed it is only in the light of the

new covenant, that the old is to be fully understood.

Verse 17. When he called] It appears that these people, who had

seen him raise Lazarus from the dead, were publishing abroad the

miracle, which increased the popularity of Christ, and the envy of

the Pharisees.

Verse 19. Ye prevail nothing] Either by your threatening or

excommunications.

The world is gone after him.] The whole mass of the people are

becoming his disciples. This is a very common form of expression

among the Jews, and simply answers to the French, tout le monde,

and to the English, every body-the bulk of the people. Many MSS.,

versions, and fathers, add ολος, the WHOLE world. As our Lord's

converts were rapidly increasing, the Pharisees thought it

necessary to execute without delay what they had purposed at their

first council. See Joh 11:53.

Verse 20. Certain Greeks] There are three opinions concerning

these: 1. That they were proselytes of the gate or covenant, who

came up to worship the true God at this feast. 2. That they were

real Jews, who lived in Grecian provinces, and spoke the Greek

language. 3. That they were mere Gentiles, who never knew the true

God: and hearing of the fame of the temple, or the miracles of our

Lord, came to offer sacrifices to Jehovah, and to worship him

according to the manner of the people of that land. This was not

an unfrequent case: many of the Gentiles, Romans, and others, were

in the habit of sending sacrifices to the temple at Jerusalem. Of

these opinions the reader may choose; but the first seems best

founded.

Verse 21. The same came therefore to Philip] Some suppose that

these Gentiles were of Phoenicia or Syria, or perhaps inhabitants

of Decapolis, near to the lake of Gennesareth and Bethsaida; and

therefore they addressed themselves to Philip, who was of the

latter city, and probably known to them. The later Syriac calls

them Arameans or Syrians. The Vulgate, and several copies of the

Itala, call them Gentiles.

Sir, we would see Jesus.] We have heard much concerning him, and

we wish to see the person of whom we have heard such strange

things. The final salvation of the soul often originates, under

God, in a principle of simple curiosity. Many have only wished to

se or hear a man who speaks much of Jesus, his miracles, and his

mercies; and in hearing have felt the powers of the world to come,

and have become genuine converts to the truths of the Gospel.

Verse 22. Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.] How pleasing to God is

this union, when the ministers of his Gospel agree and unite

together to bring souls to Christ. But where self-love prevails,

and the honour that comes from God is not sought, this union never

exists. Bigotry often ruins every generous sentiment among the

different denominations of the people of God.

Verse 23. The hour is come, that the Son of man, &c.] The time

is just at hand in which the Gospel shall be preached to all

nations, the middle wall of partition broken down, and Jews and

Gentiles united in one fold. But this could not be till after his

death and resurrection, as the succeeding verse teaches. The

disciples were the first fruits of the Jews; these Greeks, the

first fruits of the Gentiles.

Verse 24. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die]

Our Lord compares himself to a grain of wheat; his death, to a

grain sown and decomposed in the ground; his resurrection, to

the blade which springs up from the dead grain; which grain, thus

dying, brings forth an abundance of fruit. I must die to be

glorified; and, unless I am glorified, I can not establish a

glorious Church of Jews and Gentiles upon earth. In comparing

himself thus to a grain of wheat, our Lord shows us:-

1. The cause of his death-the order of God, who had rated the

redemption of the world at this price; as in nature he had

attached the multiplication of the corn to the death or

decomposition of the grain.

2. The end of his death-the redemption of a lost world; the

justification, sanctification, and glorification of men: as the

multiplication of the corn is the end for which the grain is sown

and dies.

3. The mystery of his death, which we must credit without being

able fully to comprehend, as we believe the dead grain multiplies

itself, and we are nourished by that multiplication, without being

able to comprehend how it is done. The greatest philosopher that

ever existed could not tell how one grain became thirty, sixty, a

hundred, or a thousand-how it vegetated in the earth-how earth,

air, and water, its component parts, could assume such a form and

consistence, emit such odours, or produce such tastes. Nor can the

wisest man on earth tell how the bodies of animals are nourished

by this produce of the ground; how wheat, for instance, is

assimilated to the very nature of the bodies that receive it,

and how it becomes flesh and blood, nerves, sinews, bones, &c. All

we can say is, the thing is so; and it has pleased God that is

should be so, and not otherwise. So there are many things in the

person, death, and sacrifice of Christ, which we can neither

explain nor comprehend. All we should say here is, It is by this

means that the world was redeemed-through this sacrifice men are

saved: it has pleased God that it should be so, and not otherwise.

Some say: "Our Lord spoke this according to the philosophy of

those days, which was by no means correct." But, I would ask, has

ever a more correct philosophy on this point appeared? Is it not a

physical truth that the whole body of the grain dies, is converted

into fine earth, which forms the first nourishment of the embryo

plant, and prepares it to receive a grosser support from the

surrounding soil; and that nothing lives but the germ, which was

included in this body, and which must die also, if it did not

receive, from the death or putrefaction of the body of the grain,

nourishment, so as to enable it to unfold itself? Though the body

of our Lord died, there was still the germ, the quickening power

of the Divinity, which re-animated that body, and stamped the

atonement with infinite merit. Thus the merit was multiplied; and,

through the death of that one person, the man Christ Jesus united

to the eternal WORD, salvation was procured for the whole world.

Never was a simile more appropriate, nor an illustration more

happy or successful.

Verse 25. He that loveth his life] See Clarke on Mt 10:39;

and see Clarke "Lu 14:26".

I am about to give up my life for the salvation of men; but I

shall speedily receive it back with everlasting honour, by my

resurrection from the dead. In this I should be imitated by my

disciples, who should, when called to it, lay down their lives for

the truth; and, if they do, they shall receive them again with

everlasting honour.

Verse 26. If any man serve me] Christ is a master in a twofold

sense: 1. To instruct men. 2. To employ and appoint them their

work. He who wishes to serve Christ must become: 1. His disciple

or scholar, that he may be taught: 2. His servant, that he may

be employed by and obey his master. To such a person a twofold

promise is given: 1. He shall be with Christ, in eternal

fellowship with him; and 2. He shall be honoured by the Lord: he

shall have an abundant recompense in glory; but how great, eye

hath not seen, ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of

man to conceive.

How similar to this is the saying of Creeshna (an incarnation of

the supreme God, according to the Hindoo theology) to his disciple

Arjoon! "If one whose ways were ever so evil serve me alone, he

soon becometh of a virtuous spirit, is as respectable as the just

man, and obtaineth eternal happiness. Consider this world as a

finite and joyless place, and serve me. Be of my mind, my

servant, my adorer, and bow down before me. Unite thy soul

unto me, make me thy asylum, and thou shalt go unto me." And

again: "I am extremely dear to the wise man, and he is dear to

me-I esteem the wise man even as myself, because his devout spirit

dependeth upon me alone as his ultimate resource." Bhagvat Geeta,

pp. 71 and 82.

The rabbins have an extravagant saying, viz. "God is more

concerned for the honour of the just man than for his own."

Verse 27. Now is my soul troubled] Our blessed Lord took upon

him our weaknesses, that he might sanctify them to us. As a man he

was troubled at the prospect of a violent death. Nature abhors

death: God has implanted that abhorrence in nature, that it might

become a principle of self preservation; and it is to this that we

owe all that prudence and caution by which we avoid danger. When

we see Jesus working miracles which demonstrate his omnipotence,

we should be led to conclude that he was not man were it not for

such passages as these. The reader must ever remember that it was

essentially necessary that he should be man; for, without being

such, he could hot have died for the sin of the world.

And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour] καιτι

ειπωπατερσωσονμεεκτηςωραςταυτης. which may be paraphrased

thus: And why should I say, Father, save me from this hour? when

for this cause I am come to this hour. The common version makes

our blessed Lord contradict himself here, by not attending to the

proper punctuation of the passage, and by translating the particle

τι what, instead of why or how. The sense of our Lord's

words is this: "When a man feels a fear of a sudden or violent

death, it is natural to him to cry out, Father, save me from this

death! for he hopes that the glory of God and his welfare may be

accomplished some other way, less dreadful to his nature: but why

should I say so, seeing for this very purpose, that I might die

this violent death for the sins of mankind, I am come into the

world, and have almost arrived at the hour of my crucifixion."

Verse 28. Father, glorify thy name.] By the name of God is to be

understood himself, in all his attributes: his wisdom, truth,

mercy, justice, holiness, &c., which were all more abundantly

glorified by Christ's death and resurrection, (i.e. shown forth in

their own excellence,) than they had ever been before. Christ

teaches here a lesson of submission to the Divine will. Do with me

what thou wilt, so that glory may redound to thy name. Some MSS.

read, Father, glorify my name: others, glorify thy Son.

Then came there a voice from heaven, &c.] The following is a

literal translation of Calmet's note on this passage, which he has

taken from Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and others: "I have

accomplished my eternal designs on thee. I have sent thee into the

world to make an atonement for the sin of the world, and to

satisfy my offended justice. I will finish my work. Thou shalt

shed thy blood upon the cross. My glory is interested in the

consummation of thy sacrifice. But, in procuring my own glory, I

shall procure thine. Thy life and thy death glorify me: I have

glorified thee by the miracles which have accompanied thy mission;

and I will continue to glorify thee at thy death, by unexampled

prodigies, and thy resurrection shall be the completion of thy

glory and of thy elevation."

Christ was glorified: 1st. By the prodigies which happened at

his death. 2. In his resurrection. 3. In his ascension, and

sitting at the right hand of God. 4. In the descent of the Holy

Ghost on the apostles. and 5. In the astonishing success with

which the Gospel was accompanied, and by which the kingdom of

Christ has been established in the world. 2Co 2:14.

Verse 29. The people-said that it thundered: others-an angel

spake to him.] Bishop Pearce says, Probably there was thunder as

well as a voice, as in Ex 19:16, 17, and some persons, who were

at a small distance, might hear the thunder without hearing the

voice; while others heard the voice too; and these last said, "An

angel hath spoken to him."

Wetstein supposes that the voice was in the language then in use

among the Jews; which the Greeks, not understanding, took for

thunder; the others, the Jews, who did understand it, said it

was the voice of an angel. In Re 6:1, the voice of one of the

living creatures is compared to thunder; and in Re 10:3, the

voice of an angel is compared to seven thunders. The voice

mentioned was probably very loud, which some heard distinctly,

others indistinctly; hence the variety of opinion.

Verse 30. This voice came not because of me, but for your

sakes.] Probably meaning those Greeks who had been brought to

him by Philip and Andrew. The Jews had frequent opportunities of

seeing his miracles, and of being convinced that he was the

Messiah; but these Greeks, who were to be a first fruits of the

Gentiles, had never any such opportunity. For their sakes,

therefore, to confirm them in the faith, this miraculous voice

appears to have come from heaven.

Verse 31. Now is the judgment of this world] The judgment spoken

of in this place is applied by some to the punishment which was

about to fall on the Jewish people for rejecting Christ. And the

ruler or prince, οαρχων, of this world, is understood to be

Satan, who had blinded the eyes of the Jews, and hardened

their hearts, that they might not believe on the Son of God; but

his kingdom, not only among the Jews, but in all the world, was

about to be destroyed by the abolition of idolatry and the

vocation of the Gentiles.

The epithet sar ha-olam, prince of this world, is

repeatedly applied to the devil, or to Samael, who is termed the

angel of death. The Jews fabled that, into the hands of this

chief, God had delivered all the nations of the earth, except

the Israelites. See Lightfoot. The words are understood by others

as addressed to these believing Greeks, and to have the following

meaning, which is extremely different from the other. "In a short

time (four or five days afterwards) ye shall see what sort of a

judgment this world passes. I, who am its ruler and prince,

shall be cast out, shall be condemned by my own creatures, as an

impious and wicked person. But do not be discouraged: though I be

lifted up on the cross, and die like a malefactor, nevertheless I

will draw all men unto myself. The Gospel of Christ crucified

shall be the grand agent, in the hand of the Most High, of the

conversion and salvation of a ruined world." But see on

Joh 14:30; 16:11.

Verse 32. I-will draw all men unto me.] After I shall have died

and risen again, by the preaching of my word and the influence of

my Spirit, I shall attract and illuminate both Jews and Gentiles.

It was one of the peculiar characteristics of the Messiah, that

unto him should the gathering of the people be, Ge 49:10. And

probably our Lord refers to the prophecy, Isa 11:10, which

peculiarly belonged to the Gentiles: "There shall be a root of

Jesse which shall stand for an ENSIGN of the people, to it shall

the GENTILES seek, and his rest shall be glorious." There is an

allusion here to the ensigns or colours of commanders of

regiments, elevated on high places, on long poles, that the people

might see where the pavilion of their general was, and so flock to

his standard.

Instead of παντας, the Codex Bezae, another, several versions,

and many of the fathers, read παντα, all men, or all things: so

the Anglo-Saxon, [A.S.], I will draw all things to myself. But

παντα may be here the accusative singular, and signify all men.

The ancients fabled that Jupiter had a chain of gold, which he

could at any time let down from heaven, and by it draw the earth

and all its inhabitants to himself. See a fine passage to this

effect in Homer, Iliad viii. ver. 18-27.

ειδαγεπειρησασθεθεοιιναειδετεπαντες

σειρηνχρυσειηνεξουρανοθενκρεμασαντες

παντεςδεξαπτεσθεθεοιπασαιτεθεαιναικτλ

"Now prove me: let ye down the golden chain

From heaven, and pull at its inferior links,

Both goddesses and gods: but me your king,

Supreme in wisdom, ye shall never draw

To earth from heaven, strive with me as ye may.

But I, if willing to exert my power,

The earth itself, itself the sea, and you,

Will lift with ease together, and will wind

The chain around the spiry summit sharp

Of the Olympian, that all things upheaved

Shall hang in the mid heaven. So much am I,

Alone, superior both to gods and men.

COWPER.

By this chain the poets pointed out the union between heaven and

earth; or, in other words, the government of the universe by the

extensive chain of causes and effects. It was termed golden,

to point out, not only the beneficence of the Divine Providence,

but also that infinite philanthropy of God by which he influences

and by which he attracts all mankind to himself. It was possibly

in allusion to this that our Lord spoke the above words. Should it

be objected that it is inconsistent with the gravity of the

subject, and the dignity of our Lord, to allude to the fable of a

heathen poet, I answer: 1. The moral is excellent, and, applied to

this purpose, expresses beautifully our Lord's gracious design in

dying for the world, viz. That men might be united to himself, and

drawn up into heaven. 2. It is no more inconsistent with the

gravity of the subject, and his dignity, for our blessed Lord to

allude to Homer, than it was for St. Paul to quote Aratus and

Cleanthes, Ac 17:28, and

Epimenides, Tit 1:12; for

he spoke by the same Spirit.

So justice was sometimes represented under the emblem of a

golden chain, and in some cases such a chain was constructed,

one end attached to the emperor's apartment, and the other hanging

within reach; that if any person were oppressed he might come and

lay hold on the chain, and by shaking it give the king notice that

he was oppressed, and thus claim protection from the fountain of

justice and power. In the Jehangeer Nameh, a curious account of

this kind is given, which is as follows. The first order which

Jehangeer issued on his accession to the throne (which was A.H.

1014, answering to A.D. 1605) was for the construction of the

GOLDEN CHAIN of Justice. It was made of pure gold, and measured

thirty yards in length, consisting of sixty links, and weighing,

in the whole, four Hindostany maunds (about four hundred pounds

avoirdupois.) One end of the chain was suspended from the royal

bastion of the fortress of Agra, and the other fastened in the

ground near the side of the river. The intention of this was, that

if the officers of the courts of law were partial in their

decisions, or dilatory in the administration of justice, the

injured parties might come themselves to this chain, and, making a

noise by shaking the links of it, give notice that they were

waiting to represent their grievances to his majesty. Hist. of

Hindostan, p. 96, Calcutta, 1788. Such a communication, prayer and

faith establish between the most just and most merciful GOD, and

the wretched and oppressed children of men. "And I, if I be lifted

up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." O thou that hearest

prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come! Ps 65:2.

Verse 34. We have heard out of the law] That is, out of the

sacred writings. The words here are quoted from Ps 110:4; but the

Jews called every part of the sacred writings by the name, The

Law, in opposition to the words or sayings of the scribes.

See Clarke on Joh 10:34.

That Christ abideth for ever] There was no part of the law nor

of the Scripture that said the Messiah should not die; but there

are several passages that say as expressly as they can that Christ

must die, and die for the sin of the world too. See especially

Isa 53:1, &c.; Da 9:24, 27. But as there were several passages

that spoke of the perpetuity of his reign, as Isa 9:7;

Eze 37:25; Da 7:14, they probably confounded the one with

the other, and thus drew the conclusion, The Messiah cannot die;

for the Scripture hath said, his throne, kingdom, and reign shall

be eternal. The prophets, as well as the evangelists and apostles,

speak sometimes of the Divine, sometimes of the human nature of

Christ: when they speak of the former, they show forth its glory,

excellence, omnipotence, omniscience, and eternity; when they

speak of the latter, they show forth its humiliations,

afflictions, sufferings, and death. And those who do not make the

proper distinction between the two natures of Christ, the human

and the Divine, will ever make blunders as well as the Jews. It is

only on the ground of two natures in Christ that the Scriptures

which speak of him, either in the Old or New Testament, can be

possibly understood. No position in the Gospel is plainer than

this, God was manifest in the flesh.

Verse 35. Yet a little while is the light with you.] In answer

to their objection, our Lord compares himself to a light, which

was about to disappear for a short time, and afterwards to shine

forth with more abundant lustre; but not to their comfort, if they

continued to reject its present beamings. He exhorts them to

follow this light while it was among them. The Christ shall abide

for ever, it is true; but he will not always be visible. When he

shall depart from you, ye shall be left in the thickest darkness;

in impenitence and hardness of heart. Then shall ye wish to see

one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it,

Lu 17:22. Then shall ye seek me, but shall not find me,

Joh 7:34. For the kingdom of God shall be taken from

you, and given to the Gentiles, Mt 21:43. If ye believe not in

me now, ye shall then wish ye had done it, when wishing shall be

for ever fruitless.

Instead of μεθυμων, with you, ενυμιν, among you, is the

reading of BDL, seventeen others; Coptic, Gothic, Slavonic,

Vulgate, Itala; Cyril, Nonnus, and Victorinus. Griesbach has

received it into the text. The meaning of both is nearly the same.

Lest darkness come upon you] Ye have a good part of your journey

yet to go: ye cannot travel safely but in the daylight-that light

is almost gone-run, that the darkness overtake you not, or in it

ye shall stumble, fall, and perish!

Reader, is thy journey near an end? There may be but a very

little time remaining to thee. O, run, fly to Christ, lest the

darkness of death overtake thee, before thy soul have found

redemption in his blood!

Verse 36. Children of light] Let the light, the truth of Christ,

so dwell in and work by you that ye may be all light in the Lord:

that as truly as a child is the produce of his own parent, and

partakes of his nature, so ye may be children of the light, having

nothing in you but truth and righteousness.

Did hide himself from them.] Either by rendering himself

invisible, or by suddenly mingling with the crowd, so that they

could not perceive him. See Joh 8:59. Probably it means no more

than that he withdrew from them, and went to Bethany, as was his

custom a little before his crucifixion; and concealed himself

there during the night, and taught publicly every day in the

temple. It was in the night season that they endeavoured to seize

upon him, in the absence of the multitude.

Verse 37. Yet they believed not on him] Though the miracles were

wrought for this very purpose, that they might believe in Christ,

and escape the coming wrath, and every evidence given that Jesus

was the Messiah, yet they did not believe; but they were blinded

by their passions, and obstinately hardened their hearts against

the truth.

Verse 38. That the saying of Esaias] Or, Thus the word of Isaiah

was fulfilled. So I think ινα (commonly rendered that) should be

translated. For it certainly does not mean the end the Pharisees

had in view by not believing; nor the end which the prophet had in

view in predicting the incredulity of the Jews; but simply, such a

thing was spoken by the prophet, concerning the Jews of his own

time, and it had its literal fulfilment in those of our Lord's

time.

Our report] The testimony of the prophets, concerning the

person, office, sufferings, death, and sacrifice of the Messiah.

See Isa 53:1, &c.

The arm of the Lord] The power, strength, and miracles of

Christ.

Verse 39. Therefore they could not believe] Why? Because they

did not believe the report of the prophets concerning Christ;

therefore they credited not the miracles which he wrought as a

proof that he was the person foretold by the prophets, and

promised to their fathers. Having thus resisted the report of the

prophets, and the evidence of Christ's own miracles, God gave them

up to the darkness and hardness of their own hearts, so that they

continued to reject every overture of Divine mercy; and God

refused to heal their national wound, but, on the contrary,

commissioned the Romans against them, so that their political

existence was totally destroyed.

The prophecy of Isaiah was neither the cause nor the motive of

their unbelief: it was a simple prediction, which imposed no

necessity on them to resist the offers of mercy. They might have

believed, notwithstanding the prediction, for such kinds of

prophecies always include a tacit condition; they may believe, if

they properly use the light and power which God has given them.

Such prophecies also are of a general application-they will always

suit somebody, for in every age persons will be found who resist

the grace and Spirit of God like these disobedient Jews. However,

it appears that this prediction belonged especially to these

rejecters and crucifiers of Christ; and if the prophecy was

infallible in its execution, with respect to them, it was not

because of the prediction that they continued in unbelief, but

because of their own voluntary obstinacy; and God foreseeing this,

foretold it by the prophet. Should I say that, they could not

believe, means, they would not believe, I should perhaps offend a

generation of his children; and yet I am pretty certain the words

should be so understood. However, that I may put myself under

cover from all suspicion of perverting the meaning of a text which

seems to some to be spoken in favour of that awful doctrine of

unconditional reprobation, the very father of it shall interpret

the text for me. Thus then saith St. AUGUSTIN: Quare autem non

POTERANT, si a me quaeratur, cito respondeo; Quia NOLEBANT: MALAM

quippe eorum VOLUNTATEM praevidit Deus, et per prophetam

praenunciavit. "If I be asked why they COULD not believe? I

immediately answer, Because THEY WOULD NOT. And God, having

foreseen their BAD WILL, foretold it by the prophet." Aug. Tract.

53, in Joan.

Verse 40. And I should heal them.] This verse is taken from

Isa 6:9, and, perhaps, refers more to the judgments that should

fall upon them as a nation, which God was determined should not be

averted, than it does to their eternal state. To suppose that the

text meant that God was unwilling that they should turn unto him,

lest he should be obliged to save them, is an insupportable

blasphemy.

Verse 41. When he saw his glory] Isa 6:1, &c.

I saw Jehovah, said the prophet, sitting upon a throne, high and

lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the

seraphim; and one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy,

is Jehovah, God of hosts; the whole earth shall be full of his

glory! It appears evident, from this passage, that the glory which

the prophet saw was the glory of Jehovah: John, therefore, saying

here that it was the glory of Jesus, shows that he considered

Jesus to be Jehovah. See Bishop Pearce. Two MSS. and a few

versions have θεου, and τουθεουαυτου, the glory of God, or of

his God.

Verse 42. Among the chief rulers-many believed on him] We only

know the names of two of them, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea.

But-they did not confess him] Or it: they were as yet weak in

the faith, and could not bear the reproach of the cross of Christ.

Besides, the principal rulers had determined to excommunicate

every person who acknowledged Christ for the Messiah; see

Joh 9:22.

Verse 43. They loved the praise of men] δοξαν, the glory or

honour that cometh from men.

How common are these four obstacles of faith! says Quesnel: 1.

Too great a regard to men. 2. Riches and temporal advantages. 3.

The fear of disgrace. 4. The love of the praise of men. Abundance

of persons persuade themselves that they love God more than the

world, till some trying occasion fully convinces them of their

mistake. It is a very great misfortune for a person not to know

himself but by his falls; but it is the greatest of all not to

rise again after he has fallen. This is generally occasioned by

the love of the praise of men, because in their account it is more

shameful to rise again than it was to fall at first.

Verse 44. Jesus cried and said] This is our Lord's concluding

discourse to this wicked people: probably this and the following

verses should be understood as a part of the discourse which was

left off at the 36th verse. Joh 12:36

Jesus cried-he spoke these words aloud, and showed his earnest

desire for their salvation.

Believeth not on me, (only,) but on him that sent me.] Here he

asserts again his indivisible unity with the Father:-he who

believes on the Son believes on the Father: he who hath seen the

Son hath seen the Father: he who honours the Son honours the

Father. Though it was for asserting this (his oneness with God)

that they were going to crucify him, yet he retracts nothing of

what he had spoken, but strongly reasserts it, in the very jaws of

death!

Verse 46. I am come a light into the world] Probably referring

to what his forerunner had said, Joh 1:5. Before the coming of

this Saviour, this sun of righteousness, into the world, all was

darkness: at his rising the darkness is dispersed; but it only

profits those whose eyes are open to receive the rays of this sun

of righteousness. See on Joh 1:5; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5.

Verse 47. And believe not] καιμηφυλαξη, And keep them not,

is the reading of ABL, seven others; Syriac, Wheelock's Persian,

two of the Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, AEthiopic, Armenian, later

Syriac, Vulgate, six of the Itala, and some of the fathers.

A man must hear the words of Christ in order to believe them;

and he must believe, in order to keep them; and he must keep

them in order to his salvation.

I judge him not] I need not do it: the words of Moses and the

prophets judge and condemn him. See the notes on Joh 3:17; 5:45.

Verse 48. The word that I have spoken-shall judge him] Ye shall

be judged according to my doctrine: the maxims which ye have heard

from my mouth shall be those on which ye shall be tried in the

great day; and ye shall be condemned or acquitted according as ye

have believed or obeyed them, or according as ye have despised and

violated them, See this proved, Mt 25:35, &c.

Verse 49. For I have not spoken of myself] I have not spoken for

my secular interest: I have not aimed at making any gain of you: I

have not set up myself as your teachers in general do, to be

supported by my disciples, and to be credited on my own testimony.

I have taught you, not the things of men, but the deep,

everlasting truths of God. As his envoy, I came to you; and his

truth only I proclaim.

Gave me a commandment] Or, commission. So I understand the

original word, εντολη. Christ, as the Messiah, received his

commission from God; what he should command-every thing that

related to the formation and establishment of the Christian

institution: and what he should speak-all his private

conversations with his disciples or others, he, as man, commanded

and spoke through the constant inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 50. I know that this commandment is life everlasting]

These words of our Lord are similar to that saying in St. John's

first epistle, 1Jo 5:11, 12.

This is the record, that God hath given unto us eternal life,

and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life. God's

commandment or commission is, Preach salvation to a lost world,

and give thyself a ransom for all; and whosoever believeth on thee

shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Every word of Christ,

properly credited, and carefully applied, leads to peace and

happiness here, and to glory hereafter. What an amiable view of

the Gospel of the grace of God does this give us? It is a system

of eternal life, Divinely calculated to answer every important

purpose to dying, miserable man. This sacred truth Jesus witnessed

with his last breath. He began his public ministry proclaiming the

kingdom of God; and he now finishes it by asserting that the whole

commission is eternal life; and, having attested this, he went out

of the temple, and retired to Bethany.

THE public work of our Lord was now done; and the remnant of his

time, previously to his crucifixion, he spent in teaching his

disciples-instructing them in the nature of his kingdom, his

intercession, and the mission of the Holy Spirit; and in that

heavenly life which all true believers live with the Father,

through faith in the Son, by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Many

persons are liberal in their condemnation of the Jews, because

they did not believe on the Son of God; and doubtless their

unbelief has merited and received the most signal punishment. But

those who condemn them do not reflect that they are probably

committing the same sort of transgression, in circumstances which

heighten the iniquity of their sin. Will it avail any man, that he

has believed that Christ has come in the flesh to destroy the

works of the devil, who does not come unto him that he may have

life, but continues to live under the power and guilt of sin?

Paradoxical as it may seem, it is nevertheless possible, for a man

to credit the four evangelists, and yet live and die an infidel,

as far as his own salvation is concerned. Reader, it is possible

to hold the truth in unrighteousness. Pray to God that this may

not be thy condemnation. For a farther improvement of the

principal subjects of this chapter, see the notes on verses 24,

32, and 39. Joh 12:24, 32, 39

Copyright information for Clarke