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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 8 - Verse 56

Verse 56. Your father Abraham. The testimony of Abraham is adduced by Jesus because the Jews considered it to be a signal honour to be his descendants, Joh 8:39. As they regarded the sayings and deeds of Abraham as peculiarly illustrious and worthy of their imitation, so they were bound, in consistency, to listen to what he had said of the Messiah.

Rejoiced. This word includes the notion of desire as well as rejoicing. It denotes that act when, impelled with strong desire for an object, we leap forward toward its attainment with joy; and it expresses —

1st. The fact that this was an object that filled the heart of Abraham with joy; and

2nd. That he earnestly desired to see it. We have no single word which expresses the meaning of the original.

In Mt 5:12 it is rendered "be exceeding glad."

To see. Rather, he earnestly and joyfully desired that he might see. To see here means to have a view or distinct conceptions of. It does not imply that Abraham expected that the Messiah would appear during his life, but that he might have a representation of, or a clear description and foresight of the times of the Messiah.

My day. The day of the Messiah. The word "day," here, is used to denote the time, the appearance, the advent, and the manner of life of the Messiah. Lu 17:26: "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." See Joh 9:4; Mt 11:12. The day of judgment is also called the day of the Son of man, because it will be a remarkable time of his manifestation. Or perhaps in both those cases it is called HIS day because he will act the most conspicuous part; his person and work will characterize the times; as we speak of the days of Noah, &c., because he was the most conspicuous person of the age.

He saw it. See Heb 11:13: "These all died in faith, not having received (obtained the fulfillment of) the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them," &c. Though Abraham was not permitted to live to see the times of the Messiah, yet he was permitted to have prophetic view of him, and also of the design of his coming; for,

1st. God foretold his advent clearly to him, Ge 12:3; 18:18 Comp. Ga 3:16: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ."

2nd. Abraham was permitted to have a view of the death of the Messiah as a sacrifice for sin, represented by the command to offer Isaac, Ge 22:1-13. Comp. Heb 11:19. The death of the Messiah as a sacrifice for the sins of men was that which characterized his work— which distinguished his times and his advent, and this was represented to Abraham clearly by the command to offer his son. From this arose the proverb among the Jews (Ge 22:14), "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen," or it shall be provided for; a proverb evidently referring to the offering of the Messiah on the mount for the sins of men. By this event Abraham was impressively told that a parent would not be required to offer in sacrifice his sons for the sins of his soul—a thing which has often been done by heathen; but that God would provide a victim, and in due time an offering would be made for the world.

Was glad. Was glad in view of the promise, and that he was permitted so distinctly to see it represented. If the father of the faithful rejoiced so much to see him afar off, how should we rejoice that he has come; that we are not required to look into a distant futurity, but know that he has appeared; that we may learn clearly the manner of his coming, his doctrine, and the design of his death! Well might the eyes of a patriarch rejoice to be permitted to look in any manner on the sublime and glorious scene of the Son of God dying for the sins of men. And our chief honour and happiness is to contemplate the amazing scene of man's redemption, where the Saviour groaned and died to save a lost and ruined race.

{a} "he saw it and was glad" Ge 22:13,14; Heb 11:13

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