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John 12:34-36

34. The multitude answered, We have heard from the law, that Christ remaineth for ever; and how sayest thou, that the Son of man must be lifted up.? Who is that Son of man? 35. Jesus therefore said to them, Yet a little while you have the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; for he who walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things spoke Jesus, and went away, and hid himself from them.

 

34. We have heard from the law. Their intention undoubtedly was, to carp malignantly at the words of Christ; and therefore their malice blinds them, so that they perceive nothing amidst the clearest light. They say that Jesus ought not to be regarded as the Christ, because he said that he would die, while the Law ascribes perpetuity to the Messiah; as if both statements had not been expressly made in the Law that Christ will die, and that afterwards his kingdom will flourish to the end of the world. But they seize on the second clause, and make it a ground of calumny. The origin of their error was, that they judged of the splendor of Messiah’s kingdom according to their carnal views; in consequence of which, they reject Christ because he does not correspond to their foolish notion. Under the term the Law they embrace also the Prophets, and the present tense — remaineth — -is used, agreeably to the Hebrew idiom, instead of the future tense, will remain

Who is that Son of man? This is a reproachful question, as if that short refutation vanquished Christ so completely that he had nothing more to say. 2727     “Comme si Christ demeuroit confus, sans avoir plus que dire.” This shows how haughty their ignorance was; for it is as if they had said, “Go now, and boast that thou art the Christ, since thine own confession proves that thou hast nothing to do with the Messiah.”

35. Yet a little while the light is with you. Though in this reply the Lord gently admonishes them, yet at the same time he reproves them sharply; for he charges them with shutting their eyes against the light, and at the same time threatens that ere long the light will be taken away from them. When he says that yet a little while there is some remaining light, he confirms what he had already said about his death; for though by the light he does not mean his bodily presence, but his Gospel, yet he alludes to his departure; as if he had said, When I shall have gone away, I will not cease to be the light, and thus my glory will not be diminished through your darkness. When he says that the light is with them, he indirectly reproves them for closing their eyes and shutting out the light; and thus he declares that they do not deserve an answer to their objection, because of their own accord they seek an opportunity of falling into error.

Walk while you have the light lest darkness overtake you. This statement, that the light does not continue to shine on them but for a little while, Applies equally to all unbelievers; for Scripture promises that to the children of God the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2) will rise, and will never go down.

The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor the moon by night, but the Lord shall be your everlasting light,
(Isaiah 60:19.)

But all ought to walk cautiously, because contempt of the light is followed by darkness. This, too, is the reason why night so thick and dark sat down on the world for many centuries. It was because there were few who deigned to walk in the brightness of heavenly wisdom; for Christ enlightens us by his Gospel, in order that we may follow the way of salvation, which he points out to us. For this reason, they who do not avail themselves of the grace of God extinguish, as far as lies in their power, the light which is offered to them.

And he who walketh in darkness knoweth not where he goeth. To strike them with still deeper alarm, he reminds them how wretched is the condition of those who, being destitute of light, do nothing but wander throughout the whole course of, their life. For they cannot move a step without the risk of falling or even of destruction. But now Christ declares that we are in darkness, unless he shine upon us. Hence infer what is the value of the sagacity of the human mind, when it is the sole guide and instructor, apart from Christ.

36. Believe in the light. He exhorts them to retain by faith the possession of the light, for he gives the appellation, children of light, to those who, like true heirs, enjoy it to the end.

These things spoke Jesus. We might have wondered why he withdrew himself from them, when they were so eager to receive him; but from the other Evangelists it may easily be inferred that what is here said relates to adversaries, who burned with envy on account of the godly zeal of good and sincere disciples. For the strangers, who had gone out to meet Christ, followed him even to the temple, where he met with the saints and with the multitude of the inhabitants of the town.


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