|« Prev||John V. 1-47.||Next »|
Jesus Heals on the Sabbath Day and Defends His Act.
(at Feast-Time at Jerusalem, Probably the Passover.)
D John V. 1–47.
d 1 After these things there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [Though every feast in the Jewish calendar has found some one to advocate its claim to be this unnamed feast, yet the vast majority of commentators choose either the feast of Purim, which came in March, or the Passover, which came in April. Older commentators pretty unanimously regarded it as the Passover, while the later school favor the feast of Purim. John iv. 35 locates Jesus in Samaria in December, and John vi. 4 finds him on the shores of Galilee just before a Passover. If, then, this was the feast of Purim, the Passover of John vi. 4 was the second in Jesus' ministry, and that ministry lasted but two years and a fraction. But if the feast here mentioned was a Passover, then the one at John vi. 4 would be the third Passover, and the ministry of Jesus lasted three years and a fraction. Since, then, the length of Jesus' ministry is largely to be determined by what the feast was, it becomes important for us to fix the feast, if possible. That it was not Purim the following arguments may be urged. 1. Purim was not a 193Mosaic feast, but one established by human laws; hence Jesus would not be likely to observe it. True, we find him at the feast of Dedication, which was also of human origin, but he did not “go up” to attend it; he appears to have attended because he was already in Jerusalem (John x. 22). 2. Here the pregnant juxtaposition of “feast” and “went up” indicates that Jesus was drawn to Jerusalem by this feast, but Purim was celebrated by the Jews everywhere, and did not require that any one should go to Jerusalem, as did the three great festivals—Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. 3. It was kept in a boisterous, riotous manner, and was therefore not such a feast as Jesus would honor. 4. It came early in the year, when the weather was too rigorous and inclement for sick people to frequent porticos. 5. It did not include a Sabbath Day. 6. As Purim was just a month before the Passover, Jesus would hardly have returned to Galilee before the Passover (John vi. 4) unless he intended to miss the Passover, which he would hardly do for the sake of attending Purim in Jerusalem. Those contending that it was not the Passover, present several arguments, which we note and answer as follows: 1. Since John gives the name of other Passovers, he would have named this also, had it been one. But the conclusion is inferential, and not logical; and the answer is to be twofold: first, perhaps John did give the name by prefixing the article to it, and calling it “the feast,” for being the oldest—older than the law and the Sabbath—and most important of all feasts, it was rightly called by pre-eminence “the feast.” Since the Sinaitic manuscript gives the article, and calls it “the feast,” the manuscript authority for and against this reading is pretty evenly balanced. Second, if John did not name it, there is probably this reason for his silence. Where he names the feast elsewhere it is thought that the incidents narrated take color from, or have some references to, the particular festal occasion which is named; but here there is no such local color, and failure to name the feast prevents mistaken attempts to find such local color. 2. Again it is objected that if this is a different Passover from John vi. 4, then John skips 194 a year in the life of Jesus. He probably does so skip, and this is not strange when the supplemental nature of his Gospel is considered. In favor of its being the Passover we submit two points: 1. Daniel seems to forecast the ministry of the Messiah as lasting one-half of a week of years ( Dan. ix. 27). 2. It fits better in the chronological arrangement, for in the next scene we find the disciples plucking grain, and the Sabbath question is still at full heat. But the harvest season opens with the Passover.] 2 Now there is [the present tense is used, for while the city was destroyed, the pool evidently still existed.] in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew [i. e., in Aramaic, a dialect of the classic Hebrew, in which the Old Testament was written, and the language then in use in Palestine] Bethesda, having five porches [It had five covered porticos, probably erected for the accommodation of the sick, whence it is called Bethesda, i. e., “house of mercy.” Dr. Barclay thinks that this pool is buried in the rubbish of the Kedron valley. Dr. Robinson suggested that it might be the Fountain of the Virgin, which is found in a cavern under the east side of Ophel, a little north of midway between the southeast corner of the temple wall and the Pool of Siloam. Though this pool's claim has been objected to because of its inaccessibility—for it lies thirty feet below the surface of the valley and forty feet back under the mountain, and is approached by two flights of steps numbering in all twenty-six—yet it has three distinct features which make its claim exceed those of any other known pool in the temple neighborhood: 1. It is fed by an intermittent spring, whose ebbing and flowing at intervals of several hours, would cause the troubled waters called for in verse 7. 2. It has a superstition connected with it kindred to that which crept into the text at verse 4, but the Mohammedans have changed the angel into a dragon; when the dragon is awake he swallows or stops the water, but when he sleeps the water flows! 3. The modern Jerusalem Jews believe in the special healing properties of this fountain. “Every day,” says Conder, “crowds of both sexes go down 195to the spring, and, entering the dark archway, descend the steps, and await the fitful troubling of the waters, which rise suddenly and immerse them, fully clothed, nearly up to the neck.” But Nehemiah's description of the walls seems to locate the sheep gate near the middle or northern portion of the temple area, and too far north for the Virgin's fountain to be described as near it, unless John's sheep gate differs from that of Nehemiah.] 3 In these lay a great multitude of them that were sick, blind, halt, withered. [The rest of verse 3 and all of verse 4, as given in the King James version, were probably added as a marginal explanatory gloss early in the second century, and from thence gradually became incorporated in the text. John's failure to mention that the pool was thought to have medicinal qualities tempted transcribers to add a few marginal words in the nature of comments.] 5 And a certain man was there, who had been thirty and eight years in his infirmity. [It is not said that he had spent all these years beside the pool, nor is it likely that he had. The time is given to mark the inveteracy of the disease, and to show the pathos of his situation. The facts that he had a bed, and that his healing was demonstrated by his walking, argue that his disease was either rheumatism, or some form of paralysis.] 6 When Jesus saw him lying, and knew [By divine intuition, just as he also knew the lives of Nathanael and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well] that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wouldest thou be made whole? [By this question Jesus aroused the man from the apathy of despair, awakening him to hope and effort. Moreover, Jesus only healed as men consented to his healing.] 7 The sick man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. [The man's lack of healing was not due to want of interest, but to want of means. The lower flight of ten steps leading to the Virgin's pool is only four and half feet wide, and the pool itself is but twenty-one feet and nine inches by nine feet 196in breadth at its widest part. A half-dozen selfish men rushing down this narrow passage, and filling the small space in the pool, would easily crowd out one who was friendless and more than usually helpless.] 8 Jesus saith unto him, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. [The bed was the light mattress or pallet of the poor elsewhere noted, which could be easily rolled up and carried under the arm.] 9 And straightway the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked. [Christ spoke, the man obeyed, and by the obedience of faith was made whole.] Now it was the sabbath on that day. [There was apparently nothing urgent in the sick man's condition which made an immediate cure necessary; but Jesus healed because it was the Sabbath, that he might thereby draw such an issue between himself and the Jewish rulers as would afford opportunity for him to present his divine claims to them in the clearest and most forceful manner. He healed on the sabbath, that he might assert divine relations to the Sabbath, and by so doing bring about a disputation which would enable him to develop before them his divine relations to the Father.] 10 So the Jews [That is, the Jewish rulers. John frequently uses the term with this restricted meaning (John i. 19; vii. 13; ix. 22; xviii. 12, 14). The man was officially stopped and questioned] said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed. [They would have cited in proof of their assertion Ex. xxxi. 13; Num. xv. 35; Jer. xvii. 21–23; Neh. xiii. 19. Alford and Schaff both assert that the man broke the Mosaic law; but this position is not well taken. Jesus would not have ordered the sabbath to be broken, for he came to fulfill and not to break the law. At no time did he break the sabbath or countenance its violation, as some able thinkers are erroneously led to suppose. In this case a man lying on his bed, away from home, is suddenly healed. Under such circumstances Jewish tradition said that he must either spend the rest of the day watching his bed, or else he must go off and leave it to be stolen. But He who rightfully interpreted the law of 197his own devising, and who knew that “the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath,” ordered the healed one to carry his bed along home with him. The modern notions that this constituted a breach of the Mosaic sabbath doubtless arose from the nature of the accompanying justification given by Jesus, which fails to assert that the law has not been broken, but seems almost to admit that it has. Nothing, however, can be argued against Jesus on this score. A man may be able to justify an act in a dozen different ways, and may choose to rest content in justifying himself in only one way. Such is the case here. Elsewhere we shall find that Jesus was careful to show that his sabbatic actions were strictly legal; but in this case, that he might bring his divine claims plainly before the rulers, he ignored the question as to the human legality of his act that he might present without confusion its divine legality. Hence he used only one order or method of justification; viz.: an appeal to his divine rights as exhibited in the habits of his Father. It was the divine and not the human in Jesus which wrought this miracle, so Jesus causes the whole controversy to turn on the divine rights, that he may use the occasion for an elaborate discussion of his divine claims and the proofs by which they are sustained.] 11 But he answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. [The man very naturally shifts the burden of responsibility. If he was violating the sabbath, he had been ordered to do it by one who had alone empowered him to do it. Of himself he would not and could not have done it.] 12 They asked him, Who is the man that said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? [By using the word “man” they suggest the contrast between human authority and divine law. They were more concerned about the law than about mercy.] 13 But he that was healed knew not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in the place. [Jesus, not wishing to unduly excite the multitude by his presence, had passed on.] 14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the 198 temple [possibly he was there offering sacrifices in thanksgiving for his recovery, in the spirit of Ps. lxvi. 13, 14, but it is as likely that he was there merely enjoying the sights and privileges from which he had so long been excluded], and siad unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee. [Many human ills are directly traceable to sin, and this one appears to have been so; for death is the wages of sin, and sickness is partial payment. It is a solemn thought that sin can produce worse conditions than even this case, where it found its victim in youth, and left him a withered old man, bed-ridden, helpless, and friendless.] 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole. [There was evidently no unworthy motive in his action; for, as Chrysostom observes, he did not report it that it was Jesus who made him break the sabbath to condemn Jesus; on the contrary, he said it was Jesus who made him whole, so honoring Christ. Feeling (as any Jew would have felt) that he ought to clear himself before the rulers of his people, the man, no doubt, honestly thought that the name and authority of the great Prophet of Nazareth would end all question as to the conduct of both Healer and healed. If so, he was sadly mistaken.] 16 And for this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus [Literally, pursued, or hunted Jesus. This is John's first plain declaration of open hostility to Jesus, though he has already implied it. From this point the blood red line of conspiracy against the life of Jesus runs through this Gospel], because he did these things on the sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh even until now, and I work. [The dual nature of Jesus permitted both a divine and human attitude toward the sabbath. We have shown that Jesus chose to assert his divine attitude, for in no other matter did these Jews have clearer distinction as to the difference between divine and human right than in this matter of sabbath observance. If Jesus was a mere man, their ideas of law clearly condemned him; but if Jesus were indeed God, their knowledge of divine conduct in the whole realm of nature 199clearly justified him, and the miracle asserted his divine control in nature's realm. While God rested from creation on the sabbath, nothing can be clearer than that in works of sustenance, reproduction, healing and providence, God has never rested, and never made distinctions between the days of our week. In the light of the gospel we find also that his redemptive work has never ceased and, considering the part which Jesus was even then accomplishing in this field of labor, his words, “and I work,” are full of meaning.] 18 For this cause therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only brake the sabbath [Not only violated, but denied its authority over his divine nature], but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. [They rightly interpreted Jesus as asserting relationship to God differing from that sustained by others, as expressed in some few passages in the Old Testament, where God is spoken of as a Father to the people generally; i. e., their Creator. No man could claim such unity of nature as would exempt him from the obligation of the fourth commandment. Had they misunderstood Jesus in this all-important point, how quickly would he have corrected them, for he could not have been less righteous than Paul and Barnabas—Acts xiv. 11–15 .] 19 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them. [His answer is a connected address, the theme being his own character, mission, authority, and credentials as the Son of God. It is the Christology of Jesus, and instead of being a retraction of the claim to divinity which the Jews accused him of making, it is a complete and amplified reassertion of it, so that Luther fitly called it “a sublime apology, which makes the matter worse.” Jesus first declares his relations to the Father (vs. 19–23), which are set forth in four divisions, each of which is introduced by the word “for;” viz.: 1. Unity of action. 2. Unity of love, counsel, and plan. 3. Unity in life-impartation. 4. Unity in judgment, resulting in unity of honor. This last division formed a turning-point in the discourse. Since there is there unity of honor, it is important that men should honor Jesus, 200and also otherwise sustain right relationships to him, and Jesus therefore, to enlighten the Jews as to their duty toward him, proceeds to set forth his relations to men (vs. 23–30), which he also gives in four divisions, closely correlative to his four statements as to the Father, thus: 1. Right to receive divine honor from men. 2. Authority to execute life and death judgment over men. 3. Power of life-impartation as to men, and that both spiritually and literally. 4. All Jesus' relationships to man to be sustained and executed according to the will and plan or mission of God. But since all these various relationships grow out of his divine nature, Jesus next submits the credentials which establish his claim to such a nature (vs. 31–39). These also are given in four divisions; namely: 1. Testimony of the Baptist. 2. Testimony of the Father. 3. Jesus' own works and ministry. 4. Testimony of Scripture. Or we may regard Jesus as asserting that the Father testifies to the Son's divinity in four different ways; that is, “God is properly the sole and original testifier, and all others are his signatures and seals.” The discourse then closes with an application of its truth to the Jewish auditors (vs. 40–47). They are told that all this truth is lost on them because of their own fourfold sinful condition, which is thus stated: 1. Want of will to come to Christ. 2. Want of real love toward God, or desire for his honor. 3. Love for the honor of men, rather than the honor of God. 4. Want of real faith in the Mosaic writings], Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing: for what things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner. [The Jews regarded Jesus as claiming equality with God in a vain-glorious, honor-seeking spirit; but Jesus restates himself, so as to show that the claim is really a renunciation or abdication of all independent greatness—as having an equality exercised in absolute subservience (Isa. xlii. 1; Phil. iii. 6–9). They had accused him as a human being acting contrary to the law of the Father. But he declares himself to be a divine being, so united to the Father as to have no will or action apart from the Father, a condition the resultant of which is 201not weakness and insufficiency, but the strength and perfection arising from an absolute and indissoluble union with the Father—the glory of divinity. Chrysostom remarks, “Just as when we say, it is impossible for God to do wrong, we do not impute to him any weakness, but confess in him an unutterable power, so also when Christ saith, 'I can of mine own self do nothing,' the meaning is that it is impossible—my nature admits not—that I should do anything contrary to the Father.” Jesus asserts his equality with the Father in such a way as not to depreciate the dignity and glory of the Father.] 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and greater works than these will he show him, that ye may marvel. [The words here indicate that the love of the Father towards the Son was source of revelation, and that the revelation was progressive. Love constrained the Father to reveal, and love in turn constrained the Son to act according to the revelation. Moreover, this unity of love would be evidenced by greater works in the future, of which two are enumerated; namely, resurrection and judgment, the former being at first spiritually and afterwards literally outlined. The Father would show these works to the Son by causing him to do them; there would be no separate act of the Father so that the works would be twice performed. These works would produce faith in those of right spirit. But among such hardened hearts as those whom Jesus addressed they would only produce wonder and consternation. Those who withheld the tribute of faith should pay that of amazement. Putting the statements of verses 19 and 20 together, we find that the Son knows all that the Father does, and likewise does all that the Father does, and in like manner. There could be no higher assertion or equality than this; in fact, it asserts identity rather than equality. But the equality is not the result of conquest, nor was it one of power opposed to power, but is freely given and accorded by reason of love.] 21 For as the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom he will. [Since the verbs in this 202 verse are in the present tense, and since Jesus is not known to have raised the physically dead before this time, it is rightly taken that he her speaks only of raising the spiritually dead, our miserable existence in sin being often spoken of in Scripture as a death from which we must be revived (Eph. ii. 1, 5; Col. ii. 13; Rev. iii. 1). The use of the word “will” likewise indicates a spiritual resurrection, for Christ exercised a discrimination in such resurrections; but the final, literal resurrection is without discrimination. See the word “all” in verse 28. The meaning, therefore, is that as the Father performs physical resurrections, so the Son (for the present) performs spiritual resurrections (to be followed by physical resurrections). Jesus later gave those at Jerusalem a sign of his power to literally raise the dead by the resurrection of Lazarus. Resurrection is bestowed or withheld according to Jesus' will, but his will is not arbitrarily exercised. He visits those who receive him, and revives those who believe him. If the Son possessed right of concurrent action on these lofty planes, concurrent use of the sabbath was a small matter indeed.] 22 For neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgment unto the Son. [That is to say, the Father does not act in judgment without the Son, nor the Son without the Father, for in no work is either isolated from the other. Resurrection is nearly always associated with judgment, and in this instance it is in reviving that the judgment is manifested or executed. (See verse 29 also.) Note that judgment begins in this world—John ix. 39]; 23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. [“Even as” means in the same manner and in equal degrees. The prerogative of judgment was committed unto Jesus that men might behold his true majesty. If this verse does not teach us to worship Jesus as God, language can not teach it, for God gives not his glory unto another (Isa. xlii. 8), nor could he, by reason of his very nature, arbitrarily will such honor to one whose character and nature were unworthy of it. In these words Jesus exposed the ruinous attitude assumed by the Jews in seeking to slay him.] 203He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father that sent him. [Honor paid to the Father pertains or belongs to his nature and character. But the Son is the manifestation of that nature and character (John xiv. 7–11; Heb. i. 3). Therefore to fail to honor the Son is to fail to honor the Father. Experience shows it to be the rule that only those who honor Jesus take pains to honor the Father.] 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life. And cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life. [Eternal life is a present gift, just as condemnation is a present condition (John iii. 18). To “hear” means in this case to receive and obey, so that eternal life is conditioned upon a knowledge of the revelation of the Father and Son, and a right use of that knowledge. Those who have learned of and obey Jesus have already escaped or avoided the judgment—Rom. viii. 1.] 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. [The “hath passed” of verse 24 and the “now is” of this verse show that Jesus is, thus far, primarily speaking of a present and hence a spiritual resurrection, or regeneration. Christianity, or the dispensation of regeneration, was to formally begin at Pentecost, but it was already present in a preliminary form in the teaching of Jesus, for those who hearkened to it were counted as already redeemed. Yet the spiritual condition of even the apostles was at that time such that the hour of grace is spoken of as more future than present—more “coming” than “at hand.”] 26 For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself [Not only an independent life, such as man does not possess (Acts ii. 27, 28), but a life which is a source of life to others. This regenerating power completed Jesus' official status as judge, so that wherever he awarded life, he could at the same time bestow it]; 27 and he gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man. [We can see several reasons, 204humanly speaking, why the humanity of Jesus should be made a ground for committing the judgment of the races of men to him: 1. Jesus having experienced our infirmities and temptations, we can feel sure of his sympathy (Heb. iv. 15, 16). 2. Jesus, partaking of the nature of both God and man, is, because of his unique nature, the only fit daysman or umpire between them (Job ix. 33). Possibly we may regard it as a reward of humility—Phil. ii. 8, 9.] 28 Marvel not at this [Jesus seems to here answer the surprised expression of their faces by enlarging his statements]: for the hour cometh, in the which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, 29 and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment. [We have here the future, literal, and final resurrection (Dan. xii. 2); a scene of such stupendous grandeur as to overshadow all the marvelous in all that Christ shall have previously done.] 30 I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is righteous; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. [Jesus here reasserts his dependence upon the Father, not as a bare repetition of his relationship to the Father, but for the purpose of developing his relationship to men as based on or growing out of this relationship to the Father. The Jews, as they listened to him, were conscious that he was even then judging and passing sentence of condemnation upon them. Jesus does not deny the correctness of this view, but shows that, because of his relationship or dependence upon the Father, they are getting perfect justice, for: 1. His judgment was free from all personal bias and selfish retaliation, and was, 2. Positively perfect, being wholly inspired by the Father's will.] 31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. 32 It is another [i. e., the Father; for similar reference, see John viii. 50–54] that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. [These two verses form, as noted, a transition in the discourse. 205In them Jesus passes from discussing himself and the divine and human phases of his nature and office to take up the evidences which attest him, first asserting that the truth of what he has said does not rest solely on his own veracity. There is here an indirect reference to that clause of the Jewish law which required two witnesses. See John viii. 14–18. But the saying is deeply spiritual. Since Jesus did nothing of himself, his very testimony was not his own, but was the Father's who sent him, and was therefore absolutely true in the consciousness of Jesus. If Jesus had testified independently of the Father—had it been possible—it would have been in the nature of the case contrary to that consensus of the divine will which forms the truth.] 33 Ye have sent unto John [this shows that Jesus was addressing the rulers—John i. 19 ], and he hath borne witness unto the truth. [John had witnessed the truth concerning the Messiahship of Jesus. Some think that the pronoun “another” in verse 32 refers to John also, but by the present tense “witnesseth” of that verse, and the past tense “hath borne witness” of this verse, the ever-abiding testimony of the Father is contrasted with the finished testimony of John, who is now silenced by imprisonment.] 34 But the witness which I receive is not from man: howbeit I say these things, that ye may be saved. [In the light of John i. 6, 7, it sounds strange to hear Jesus thus renounce the testimony of the Baptist. But the phrase, “is not from man,” is the Hebrew negative, meaning not from man alone. Jesus therefore meant to accept it, as he in the next breath did that of Moses, as prophetic—as the testimony of the Father spoken through a human medium; but meant to reject it as a merely human testimony, such as it was in the view of these Jews who denied in their hearts that John was a prophet. This mission of Jesus was not to be proved by uninspired testimony, for uninspired man can not testify of God from lack of full and adequate knowledge (Matt. xi. 27; xvi. 17). And yet if the Jews were willing to accept such testimony, Jesus in kindness would permit it, that by any fair means they might believe and be saved.] 35 He was the lamp that burneth and shineth; and ye were willing to rejoice for a 206season in his light. [They were willing, like children, to play in John's light without stopping to seriously consider its meaning, but when he bore testimony to Christ they blasphemed him—Luke vii. 33.] 36 But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. [By “greater witness” Jesus means testimony which is more convincing. All divine testimony is of equal veracity, but some it is more obviously convincing. The less the testimony savors of humanity, and the more purely divine it appears, the more convincing it is (I. John v. 9). The term “works” is not to be confined to miracles, for the word “accomplish” indicates a wider meaning. The entire Messianic mission or redemptive work which ended with our Lord's words, “It is finished” (John xvii. 4; xix. 30), and which is indicated in this very discourse in verse 20, and outlined by referring to spiritual judgment and regeneration, should be included. Christ's transforming grace still witnesses to Jew and Gentile that the Father sent him, for it it manifests the love of God (John iii. 16 ). The Father did not send the Son to merely work miracles, but to redeem the world.] 37 And the Father that sent me, he hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him ye believe not. [The testimony of the Father was given in three forms: 1. By direct or audible voice and the visible sending of the Spirit—as at Jesus' baptism. 2. By revelations, through the medium of prophets and angels gathered and preserved in the Old Testament Scriptures. 3. Through the Son and his works. Jesus here asserts that all testimony of the first kind had failed to reach the Jewish rulers; that the testimony of the second kind has been utterly lost upon them, for they failed to see its accordance with the testimony of the third kind which he was even then exhibiting to them, neither had it taught them to expect a personal Saviour.] 39 Ye 207search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; 40 and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. [“Hillel used to say, More law, more life. . . . He who has gotten himself words of law has gotten himself the life of the world to come” (Talmud). In their zeal for the Scriptures the Jews had counted every letter of them, expecting to find life in the laws and precepts, but failed to find Him of whom the Scriptures spoke in figure, type and prophecy. In their reverence for the Book they failed to see that it was a mere means intended to acquaint them with him through whom life was to come. Hence, as Canon Cook suggests, there is deep pathos in the co-ordination “and—and.” The verses give us three points worthy of deepest reflection: 1. Protestantism may love the Book and show a martyr's loyalty to it, and yet fail utterly to render any acceptable love or loyalty toward the Being revealed in the Book. 2. Criticism, both higher and lower, may submit every text to microscopic investigation, and yet be as blind as the ancient Pharisees to its true meaning. It is profoundly true that the things of the Spirit are spiritually discerned (I. Cor. ii. 14), and that pride of literary culture, and the self-worship of intellectualism tend to spiritual blindness. It seems to come upon such a visitation from God, as in the case of Elymas ( Matt. xi. 25; xv. 14; Luke viii. 10; Eph. iv. 17, 18; Isa. v. 21). 3. Though free will is meant to be man's crowning glory, yet it may result in his shame and ruin.] 41 I receive not glory from men. [Jesus here shows that his rebuke of their disbelief does not spring from personal pique or disappointed ambition. He came seeking faith that he might save, not honor that he might be glorified, and honor paid to him is by him transferred to God (Phil. ii. 10, 11), just as honor paid to the true Christian is transferred to Christ.] 42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in yourselves. [He speaks as the Searcher of hearts (John i. 47–50; ii. 24, 25). Knowing them absolutely, he found them to be self-worshipers, devoid 208of that love Godward which begets belief, and lacking in their natures that which would enable them to understand him and his spirit, no matter what evidence was submitted to them.] 43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. [Some think that this is spoken primarily of a pre-eminently great antichrist who is yet to come and deceive many of the Jews, and who, as Stier thinks, shall be such an incarnation of Satan as Jesus was of God (Rev. xiii. 1–9). But they have already received many false christs with joy. According to Schudt, as quoted by Bengel, there have been sixty-four antichrists who have misled the Jews. Among them Bar Cocheba led 24,000 to ruin, including Akiba, the President of the Sanhedrim. False christs come in their own name—for their own honor—and make no war on bosom sins, but upon earthly enemies; but Jesus came not to manifest himself, but his Father.] 44 How can ye believe, who receive glory one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not? [The question was as to their believing Jesus to be the Messiah. Expecting one who would bring great honor to themselves by his triumphs over his foes, and seeing nothing of this kind to be expected from Jesus, they could not believe him to be the Messiah.] 45 Think not that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, on whom ye have set your hope. [Jesus here assumes that the Jews gave enough credence to his words to fear that he might hereafter appear as their accuser. But Jesus designs to appear rather as Advocate than as Prosecutor (I. John ii. 1). It was their fault that he was not their Advocate.] 46 For if ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? [In these verses Jesus explicitly endorses the Mosaic authorship and authenticity of the Pentateuch, and sets forth one purpose for which Moses wrote it. Jesus was the essential subject of the law and prophets (Luke xxiv. 27, 44–46 Rom. xvi. 25, 26). 209The emphasis is on “his writings” and “my words.” They professed to reverence Moses and to receive his writings, while they openly despised Jesus and repudiated his words as fast as he spoke them. The phrase “wrote concerning me” is not to be restricted to Deut. xviii. 15–18. Moses wrote symbolically of Jesus through his entire work, as Bengel tersely puts it, “Everywhere!” The Epistle to the Hebrews is a partial elaboration of the Christology of Moses. But there is doubtless a depth of meaning in the Pentateuch which has never yet been fully fathomed, for there is a fullness in Scripture greatly exceeding the popular conception. Moreover, the Old and New Testaments are so linked together that to reject one is eventually to reject the other, or to read it with veiled eyes— II. Cor. iii. 15.]
|« Prev||John V. 1-47.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version