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§ 260. The Heathens with Christ. (John, xii., 20, seq.)

Among the hosts of visiters at the feast there were not a few heathens who had come to the knowledge of Jehovah as the true God, and were accustomed to worship statedly at Jerusalem; perhaps proselytes of the gate.692692   This may be inferred from the use of ἀναβαινόντων (v. 20). Christ’s triumphal entry693693   There appears to be a discrepancy between John and the other Evangelists, if the facts related by him in xii., 20, seq., took place after Christ’s entry, on the same day, and if Christ retired from the public immediately after his last warning to the Jews. On this supposition time could not have been afforded for the transactions we have already introduced in this interval from the synoptical Gospels. But it is evident from John’s own narrative that Christ found many followers just after his entry, and that this led even his enemies to be cautious. It may be inferred, therefore, that Christ made use of the great impression produced by his appearance, and did not immediately withdraw himself. The chasm in John is well filled by the other Gospels, and with matter precisely suited to the time. John’s main object was to give (as he alone could) the last discourses of Jesus with his disciples; and for this reason, probably, he omitted several features of Christ’s public labours. Two hypotheses are possible: (1) Christ’s conversation with the Greeks took place several days after his entry, and just before the end of his public labours; thereby leaving ample space for the transactions recorded in the synoptical Gospels; (2) or it took place on the day of his entry, and was occasioned by the sensation produced by that event; leaving a few days before his retirement, in which interval the events recorded in the synoptical Gospels occurred. These John did not mention; but, after giving a brief summary of Christ’s final warning to the Jews, hastened on to his last discourses with the disciples. and ministry attracted their attention, and all that they heard found a point of contact in their awakened religious longings. Not venturing to address him personally, they sought the mediation of one of his disciples.694694   Philip does not take at once the bold step of presenting the heathen to Christ: he tells Andrew, and then both together tell Jesus. Thus naturally does John relate it. Seeing in these individual cases a prefiguring of the great results, in the moral regeneration of mankind and the diffusion of the kingdom of God, that 376were to flow from his own sufferings, he said, “The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” (The man Jesus, exalted to glory in heaven by his sufferings; the glorified one, who was to reveal himself in his influences upon mankind; especially in the invisible workings of his Divine power for the spread of the Divine kingdom.) The necessity of his death is next set forth. The seed-corn “abideth alone” unless it is thrown into the earth; but when it dies, it brings forth fruit: so the Divine life, so long as Jesus remained upon earth in personal form, was confined to himself; but when the earthly shell was cast off, the way was open for the diffusion of the Divine life among all mankind. As yet the disciples themselves were wholly dependent upon his personal appearance; and, therefore, he said that He alone, as the Son of Man, was yet in possession of this Divine life. And as He was to be glorified through sufferings, so he told his disciples that the happiness and glory destined for them was to be secured only by self-denial. “He that loveth his life (makes the earthly life his chief good) shall lose it (the true life); but he that hateth his life in this world (i. e., deems it valueless in comparison with the interests of His kingdom), shall keep it unto life eternal.”

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