« Prev John 12:20-26 Next »

John 12:20-26

20. Low there were some Greeks among these who had come up to worship at the feast. 21. These therefore went to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, Sir, we wish to see Jesus. 22. Philip cometh and telleth, Andrew, and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, when the Son of man must be glorified. 24. Verily, verily, I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat, having fallen into the ground, die, it remaineth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25. He who loveth his soul shall destroy it; and he who hateth his soul in this world shall keep it to eternal life. 26. If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my servant be. And if any man shall serve me, my Father will honor him.

 

20. Now there were some Greeks. I do not think that they were Gentiles or uncircumcised, because immediately afterwards it follows that they came to worship. Now it was strictly prohibited by the Roman laws, and severely punished by the Proconsuls and other magistrates, if any person was discovered to have left the worship of his native country and passed over to, the Jewish religion. But Jews, who were scattered throughout Asia and Greece, were allowed to cross the sea for the purpose of offering sacrifices in the temple. Besides, the Jews were not permitted to associate with them in the solemn worship of God, because they thought that the temple, and the sacrifices, and themselves, would in that way be polluted. But though they were the descendants of Jews, yet as they resided at a great distance beyond the sea, we need not wonder that the Evangelist introduces them as strangers and unacquainted with the occurrences which took place at that time in Jerusalem and in places adjacent. The meaning therefore is, that Christ was received as King, not only by the inhabitants of Judea, who had come from villages and towns to the feast, but that the report had also reached men who lived beyond the sea, and who had come from distant countries.

To worship. They might have done this also in their own country; but John describes here solemn worship, which was accompanied by sacrifices. For though religion and the fear of God were not confined to the temple, yet in no other place were they permitted to offer sacrifices to God, nor had they any where else the Ark of the Testimony, which was the token of the presence of God. Every man worshipped God daily at his own house in a spiritual manner; but the saints under the Law were likewise bound to make profession of outward worship and obedience, 1818     “De service et obeissance exterieure.” such as was prescribed by Moses, by appearing in the temple in the presence of God. Such was the design for which the feasts were appointed. And if those men undertook so long a journey at great expense, with great inconvenience, and not without personal risk, that they might not treat with indifference the external profession of their piety, what apology can we now offer, if we do not testify, in our own houses, that we worship the true God? The worship which belonged to the Law has indeed come to an end; but the Lord has left to his Church Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and public prayer, that in those exercises believers may be employed. If we despise them, therefore. it proves that our desire of godliness is excessively cold.

21. These men therefore went to Philip. It is an indication of reverence, that they do not address Christ, but are desirous to obtain access through Philip; for reverence always begets modesty. The inference which the Papists draw from this, that we ought to call on departed saints, 1919     “Les saincts trespassez.” that they may be our advocates with Christ and with the Father, is so ridiculous that it does not need refutation. The Greeks address Philip, while he is present; and, pray, where is the resemblance to those who address their prayers to departed saints, from whom they are separated? 2020     “Qui addressant leurs oraisons aux saincts trespassez, desquels ils sont separez.” But such are the fruits of human presumption, when it has once permitted itself to go beyond the limits of the word of God. Invocation of the saints has been rashly fabricated by the Papists out of their own brain; and now, in order to shelter themselves under a false pretense borrowed from the word of God, they corrupt the Scripture, and tear it to pieces, and do not scruple to expose it to shameful taunts.

23. The hour is come. Many explain this as referring to the death of Christ, because by it the glory of Christ was manifested; so that, in their opinion, Christ now declares that the time of his death is at hand. But I rather view it as referring to the publication of the gospel; as if he had said, that the knowledge of him would soon be spread through every region of the world. Thus he wished to meet the astonishment which his death might excite in his disciples; for he shows that there is no reason why their courage should fail, because the doctrine of the’ gospel will nevertheless be proclaimed throughout the whole world. Again, that this contemplation of his glow may not soon afterwards vanish, when he shall be condemned to death, hung on the cross, and finally buried. he gives them early information and warning that the ignominy of his death is no obstruction to his glory. For this purpose he employs a most appropriate comparison.

24. Unless a grain of wheat having fallen into the ground, die, it remaineth alone. If a grain of wheat do not die or putrefy, it continues to be dry and unfruitful; but the death of the seed has the beneficial effect of quickening it, that it may yield fruit. In short, Christ compares his death to sowing, which appears to tend to the destruction of the wheat, but yet is the cause of far more abundant increase. Though this admonition was especially necessary at that time, yet it is of continual use in the Church. And, first, we ought to begin with the Head. That dreadful appearance of disgrace and cursing, which appears in the death of Christ, not only obscures his glory, but removes it altogether from our view. We must not, therefore, confine our attention to his death alone, but must likewise consider the fruit which has been yielded by his glorious resurrection. 2121     “Sa resurrection glorieuse.” Thus there will be nothing to prevent his glory from being every where displayed. From him we must next come to the members; for not only do we think that we perish in death, but our life also is a sort of continual death, (Colossians 3:3.) We shall therefore be undone, unless we be supported by that consolation which Paul holds out:

if our outward man decays, the inward man is renewed
from day to day, (2 Corinthians 4:16.)

When, therefore, the godly are distressed by various afflictions, when they are pressed hard by the difficulties of their situation, when they suffer hunger, or nakedness, or disease, when they are assailed by reproaches, when it appears as if they would every hour be almost overwhelmed by death, let them unceasingly consider that this is a sowing which, in due time, will yield fruit.

25. He who loveth his soul shall destroy it. To doctrine Christ joins exhortation; for if we must die in order that we may bring forth fruit, we ought patiently to permit God to mortify us. But as he draws a contrast between the love of life and the hatred of lit, we ought to understand what it is to love and hate life. He who, under the influence of immoderate desire of the present life, cannot leave the world but by constraint, is said to love life; but he who, despising life, advances courageously to death, is said to hate life. Not that we ought absolutely to hate life, which is justly reckoned to be one of the highest of God’s blessings; but because believers ought cheerfully to lay it down, when it retards them from approaching to Christ; just as a man, when he wishes to make haste in any matter, would shake off from his shoulders a heavy and disagreeable burden. In short, to love this life is not in itself wrong, provided that we only pass through it as pilgrims, keeping our eyes always fixed on our object. For the true limit of loving life, is, when we continue in it as long as it pleases God, and when we are prepared to leave it as soon as he shall order us, or — to express it in a single word — when we carry it, as it were, in our hands, and offer it to God as a sacrifice. Whoever carries his attachment to the present life beyond this limit, destroys his life; that is, he consigns it to everlasting ruin. For the word destroy (ἀπολέσει) does not signify to lose, or to sustain the loss of something valuable, but to devote it to destruction.

His soul. It frequently happens that the word ψυχή, soul, is put for life. Some consider it as denoting, in this passage, the seat of the affections; as if Christ had said, “tie who too much indulges the (desires of his flesh destroys his soul.” But that is a forced interpretation, and the other is more natural, that he who disregards his own life takes the best method of enjoying it eternally.

In this world. To make the meaning still more clear, the phrase in this world, which is but once expressed, ought to be twice repeated, so that the meaning may be, “They do not take the proper method of preserving their life who love it in this world, but, on the other hand, they truly know how to preserve their life who despise it in this world.” And, indeed, whoever is attached to the world does, of his own accord, deprive himself of the heavenly life, of which we cannot be heirs in any other way than by being strangers and foreigners in the world. The consequence is, that the more anxious any person is about his own safety, the farther does he remove himself from the kingdom of God, that is, from the true life.

He who hateth his soul 2222     “Qui odit animam suam.” — “Qui hait sa vie;” — “he who hateth his life.” I have already suggested that this expression is used comparatively; because we ought to despise life, so far as it hinders us from living to God; for if meditation on the heavenly life were the prevailing sentiment in our hearts:. the world would have no influence in detaining us. Hence, too, we obtain a reply to an objection that might be urged. “Many persons, through despair, or for other reasons, and chiefly from weariness of life, kill themselves; and yet we will not say that such persons provide for their own safety, while others are hurried to death by ambition, who also rush down to ruin.” 2323     “Lesquels se precipitent bas a une ruine eternelle par leur ambition;” — “who throw themselves down to eternal ruin by their ambition.” But here Christ speaks expressly of that hatred or contempt of this fading life, which believers derive: from the contemplation of a better life. Consequently, whoever does not look to heaven, has not yet learned in what way life must be preserved. Besides, this latter clause was added by Christ, in order to strike terror into those who are too desirous of the earthly life; for if we are overwhelmed by the love of the world, so that we cannot easily forget it, it is impossible for us to go to heaven. But since the Son of God 2424     “Le Fils de Dieu.” arouses us so violently, it would be the height of folly to sleep a mortal sleep.

26. If any, man serve me. That death may not be exceedingly bitter and disagreeable to us, Christ invites us by his example to submit to it cheerfully; and certainly we shall be ashamed to refuse the honor of being his disciples. But on no other condition does he admit us into their number, except that we follow the path which he points out. He leads the way to us to suffer death. The bitterness of death is therefore mitigated, and is in some measure rendered agreeable, when we have in common with the Son of God the condition of submitting to it. So far is it from being proper that we should shrink from Christ on account of the cross, that we ought rather to desire death for his sake. To the same purpose. pose is the statement which immediately follows:

And where I am, there shall also my servant be. For he demands that his servants should not refuse to submit to death, to which they see him go before them as an example; for it is not right that; the servant should have any thing separate from his lord.. The future tense, shall be, (ἔσται) is put for let him be, according to the custom of the Hebrew language. Others regard it as a consolation, as if Christ promised to those who should not be unwilling to die along with him, that they would be partakers of his resurrection. But the former view, as I have said, is more probable; for he afterwards adds the consolation, that the Father will not leave without reward the servants of Christ who shall have been his companions both in life and in death.


« Prev John 12:20-26 Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |