J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 6.)
Thus the Lord had declared their general position in His absence, declared it that as a time of trial they might not be disturbed when it arose. The friendship to Him He had stated, and His joy to be in them, and their joy full. The hatred of the world He had stated, but the reason of it also. He was now more precise, for He had more to communicate. They would be rejected by their religious companions and ecclesiastical authority. This was more definite trial than viewing it as the general hatred of the world, which knew not the Father nor Him. The Church (that is, as Jews) were to hate them and reject them. Their excommunication was as a matter of course. But being ignorant of the Father and the Son they would think they were doing God service in killing them. They were not to be surprised at them. They had been told before, and were to be mindful of them as confirming the truth of their expectations. They were to expect no relentings, for murderers by conscience are surely unrelenting, as it is the power of Satan; not inconvertible, as we know in Paul.
279 The Lord having been with them had not told them these things. It was not concealment, but they were not so while His power was present. Whatever He might suffer He exercised control over Satan; but now that it was matter of faith, His glory, He being rejected, the principle (of sufferance to death) was brought in, and they must expect it in that sense (that is, by present power) unsustained. He had been with them, and there had been occasion for none of these cautions or warnings. He was there to guide, help and secure; but now He went His way to Him that sent Him, and none's eyes were carried forward, or to where He was going. So did selfishness of sorrow, feeling, prevail. But they were filled with the fact of their own desolation. Yet it was not rest to Himself He sought, though it were so. He had made Himself the Servant of His Father's will and their blessing. But He told them the truth. It might seem a humiliating thing to all He had been to them. It was a justifiable thing to them. He should go away. Strange, yet brilliant and blessed mercy! What things has our Lord provided for us, even the presence of the Holy Ghost, His witness! If He went, He would send Him to them. The presence of the Holy Ghost, then, was the greater. The thing which made up was greater than the loss of Jesus, that being which He revealed and declared, but His presence in the consequent blessings was a greater thing. The world was to be against them, and the Church was to be against them; but this was their great link with every blessing, the great distinctive witness of God's portion, their portion. Therefore in the opposition of all the inheritance as contrasted with the world (on God's part), not the temple made with hands, but the presence of God by the Spirit, their portion the conscious witnesses of the divine power. That was gone as a thing made with hands; and they had that which was abiding in the power of its revelation (compare 2 Cor. 3:11 and Acts 7).
The distinction of their place here is very important. The world rejected, but the Spirit "will convict," and though made "out of the synagogues," the Spirit with them witnessed the glory. This latter, and all the fulness of moral truth connected with it, God's glory being always consistent with His character, they could not be told now, because death had not come in, and they had not that Spirit of life in which they could understand both the glory and the death. For there are two distinct things, the testimony of the Spirit to the world, and its taking and showing things to them of the fulness of Christ, as the Spirit of truth. The latter they were for the most part incapable of now. The promise is explicit and precise. He, the Comforter, the Advocate, shall convince it of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. You will observe it is the marked presence of a Person who does these things: "Having come he will convict."
280 If we are put out of the synagogue, note, we become temples. Were it not, difficult indeed would be our lot.
He, coming, shall convince the world about sin, etc. This is His office. He does not speak of effectual result, though of course there was such. About sin, indeed, in this, that "they believe not on me." It was not merely sinfulness or transgressions; both might have been charged naturally, and by the law; but their very state, their whole state with God. The former, sunk under the bright coming of Jesus from God the Father, were forgotten in this abounding act of love. This proved the manner of God's dealings with the world; not then, that is, in the presenting of Jesus to it. God was in Christ reconciling, and not imputing. They saw no beauty in it or Him. He was despised and rejected of men. They esteemed Him not. Thus was the accumulated evidence of their utter and desperate alienation of mind brought out. They were sin, and nothing else; for where all beauty was they saw none; where God was manifested in the flesh He was not known; when He came to His own in the way of personal grace they received Him not, but hated and rejected Him. This is the great argument, the argument of sin to the world. Here is the ground on which it stands before God, howsoever besides it may have transgressed, as indeed they had. They believe not on Jesus; that is the whole matter, the summing up of all, the concentrating and exhibition of all; enmity against God most displayed in grace; enmity to death; the slave of Satan. Here sin was triumphant, most utterly so, as far as it could be in its weakness and destructiveness in the death of Christ the Lord. But not believing was the same thing as to position.
281 Then of "righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more." To the world there would be no evidence of righteousness in the death of Christ, but the contrary; nor even outwardly in the act of vicarious suffering. To the world it was the triumph of unrighteousness. And not only so, but the apparent utter dereliction or failure of God in upholding that which was righteous. The righteous One was put down by man apparently, and deserted by God. His own word was, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" Indeed, the full tide of the effects of unrighteousness, judicial and moral, all set in and flowed into and over the soul of Christ. If He bowed in His love under the triumphant effects of moral unrighteousness, led of the great head of it, Satan, his hour and the power of darkness, He had to bow at the same moment, instead of finding vindication under the judgment, as the unrighteous One (though righteous), at the hands of His God. It was the full resulting exhibition of the power (but weakness) of unrighteousness in the hands of Satan, left (in order to the full result of divine glory and vindication) to come to its height of evil; the utter rejection of sin by the Father, even when laid on the Person of His beloved Son, where if anywhere it might be passed by. In a word, while the cross established in the Person of Jesus the most perfect righteousness on the part of Man, as may be seen in the minutest contrast with the first Adam, and the most perfect vindication of God in the same act, as may be also seen in it, there appeared the most total failure to own or vindicate this; it seemed left helplessly in the power of unrighteousness. But indeed vindication there would neither have been it, or given it its force; nor would it have given it its righteous reward. Righteousness to death was needed, and righteousness under apparent rejection, to show the full force of its reception at the right hand of God, the right hand of the Father, the Majesty on high itself.
It was God's righteousness illustrated in the Son that was to be shown; and though in Man, in whom it was to be wrought out, it had no adequate witness of glory but at the right hand of the Father. And hence as to this the intrinsic importance of the position of Christ to the Church before His return: "I go to my Father, and ye see me no more." He was alone in this, alone in righteousness. Even His disciples forsook Him, and fled; or denied Him, and stood afar off. None even outwardly stood by Him, or were able to drink the cup; that is, then, or be so baptised. And though the coming of the Lord will be the time of His joy in being glorified in His saints, their being glorified with Him, yet the reward of righteousness was in His acceptance of the Father, His glory vindicated and adequately shown, and only so in His sitting down on the Father's throne. This is a blessed and glorious thought. He, speaking of Him as a Man, owned and vindicated the Father throughout, and sits down accordingly on His throne in righteousness. And righteousness in its fullest, highest sense was here, as between the Father and the Son; that is, the suffering Jesus shown, but shown in the glory of God. See chapter 13:31, 32.
282 The world is convinced of righteousness and its perfection, then, in the suffering Jesus being at the right hand of the Father, the Majesty on high, in righteousness. Vindicatingly and effectually He was alone. Then He, and none else, sits, and righteousness is demonstrated. It would not have been done so here, though as to actual righteousness He might have been at any time vindicated; but righteousness in man would not have been wrought out in its fulness, nor God glorified in it, and love and divine counsel so ordered for His glory. Left in the world to be seen of those (however gracious to them) who rejected or forsook Him would not have been righteousness. And the present glory of the Saviour is the full, personal witness of righteousness. Though alone in it in death it morally extended to the Father. Here it was effected, declared, and known; of course, only to those to whom, by the Spirit sent down, it was witnessed; though it was the testimony in love, declared to the world which had rejected Him, the unrighteous world. Besides, there was a righteousness in death which was more than intrinsic; it was vindicating God, and therefore God vindicated it. It was not merely that which was just (in Him as Man), but that which fully justified God in character; and therefore God justified it, when it was done, at His right hand. As regarded Man, the righteous One was rejected, and therefore they saw Him no more. But the righteousness, all that God was, was vindicated, was brought into light from evil, and He went to the throne due to Him, accepted of the Father, and it due to Him.
283 I do not speak of the continual tendency towards it, or the trial through which the Lord passed anticipative of His death, but abstractedly. The Lord's righteousness upon earth was natural righteousness, perfect consistency with what was required of God, Adam righteousness. Therefore this extended not to God. Therefore He says, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but One, that is God." As He says, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee." So in Psalm 16; the Lord expressing His portion as Man in His mind or spirit, doubtless, when He said, "Why callest," etc.: "Thou hast said unto Jehovah" (He here owned this place before the Father), "Thou art my Lord; my goodness reacheth not to thee." This was the humiliation of Jesus. Now this righteousness seemed altogether lost; for He was not only despised and rejected of men, but so as to be esteemed smitten, stricken of God, and afflicted; and no witness to man of the contrary. But the ascension to the throne of the Father showed a goodness that extended to God there. For indeed God had been perfectly glorified in the death of Him, the Lord, the Head of a righteousness which had its place there, as Adam was naturally excluded from God; He re-admitted, having suffered for sin, to the Father's throne. And here was the extent and effect of righteousness, and here our place and acceptance with God, whatever our actual condition. And this is the abounding glory of the gospel. He was seen no more. The world was righteously deprived of Him. Righteousness then, note, was evinced, not in seeing the Lord in the glory (that is the glory of grace), but in Jesus at the right hand of the Father, and seen no more. It is a present portion, and equivalent to the throne of God. But enough thus far.
"Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." The same way judgment is known in principle as passed, because the head of the system is judged. The Prince of believers is on high; seen no more even by them; and their righteousness therefore was not merely associated with Him on earth in such order of righteousness (as indeed they could not), but by faith, as not seen, with Him whose righteousness reached to God's throne, to the acceptance of the Father. "Therefore doth my Father love," as God was glorified. The prince of the world, so proved previously, was judged; and so judgment was proved; this world as such judged in its head. Thus it was convicted of judgment, sin, and righteousness; set on quite a new ground, even the rejection of Jesus on earth; His reception to previous glory with the Father in heaven in His throne; but herein the setting aside the whole system, proved to be under the power of the apostate enemy of righteousness, of God, by the death of Christ; judged in the rejection of Jesus, in His resurrection proving who was rejected. Hence the reception of Jesus graciously when He reappears is not that righteousness of faith which has its place and portion with the Father in the Father's house; for it does not know Jesus there. But this is the Church's righteousness and portion, and it has fellowship therefore with the Father and with His Son Jesus by virtue of the Spirit so revealing the Lord; a greater portion, a portion of faith; therefore not rest, but which reaches to the righteousness of the Father's throne.
284 Then as to the conflict as to the world in which they are conversant, though there is no judgment now, wrong judgment proceedeth, and though in the world while Jesus was at the right hand of the Father, and hence though knowing righteousness in conflict, yet kept steady and in comfort, knowing by proof of the Spirit sent down, the prince of this world, even the enemy to be judged. It was "this world" which hated them, but the prince of it was judged. It all hinged round the great truth of the absolute rejection of Jesus by a led world, Jew and Gentile; known, and the reception to the Father known, by the sending down of the Spirit. Thus far was testimony to the world, and so was expressed now as subjects of it; but the glory of risen and glorified hopes nothing but the Spirit could understand. They could not bear what followed upon death now, and all the mystery of the wisdom which was to be opened in His rejection, exaltation, and the hope of the Church in that, and position of the Jew. It could not consort with present thoughts and hopes of faith.
The gift of the Spirit would open it out, and show the bearing on the world, in love gathering into the glory. But when the Spirit was come He would guide them into all truth. This was given as to disciples, not to the world. Here He is primarily called the Spirit of truth. This is one great official character that it has; the same Spirit, but having this farther office towards them, to guide them into all the truth; for He shall not speak from Himself, as conversant on the earth, when He is spoken of officially as the Son there, and therefore of present things; but what He shall hear; that is, as communicating the counsels of God. He shall communicate, the counsels as from on high from God. Of the Son it was said, because of fellowship, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen," as one with the Father, the Son of Man "who is in heaven"; but He, because of revelation as from them in whom the fellowship was, "that which he shall hear"; "and he shall shew you things," or the things, "to come." All the truth seems contrasted with the conviction of the world upon the elementary principles of what had taken place in Christ; that is, evinced in that. But He should guide into all truth, that is, the disciples. What He heard: this was His revelation from heaven. He spoke them (that is, on earth). What He should hear: it was open revelation; it was not as Christ, measuring ability, but "whatever he shall hear"; for He does it ministerially, Christ the Lord ministering suitable revelations; as heard He shall speak. Compare Matthew 10:27, and with equal force. So [Matthew] 10:19, 20. "Whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak." It was a measured and specific communication, though no measure in Him acting ministerially. What He heard He spake, and consequently the disciples. It was not discretion, like Christ. He came to make a revelation, and consequently to declare what He was given to reveal, as so ministerial, to the perfectness and perfect counsels of God, in gift. The Spirit is supreme in this; that is, in revelation ministerial. So accordingly we, as by command; our silence but little of the Spirit.
285 But there is another difference. There is no limit now, all the glory being Christ's, but the measure of His communication, for He is the word (of life), treasured in the Scripture. Actually He communicates it by the Spirit, according to the counsels of God and ministration of the Father. Whatever is to be said for the profit of the Church He speaks from that source, revelation chiefly also, in one sense, but knowledge, doctrine, or reproof may take its place; but properly revelation of the mind of God from above, as now between us and Him. And besides these He shall declare to you things to come. This may be by speaking, but not, I think, necessary.
But besides revealing the matter of our present association with God, and testifying to it as from God, that is, "whatsoever he shall hear," He will also show us the coming things. Now this may be the whole extent further of the things to come, the scene before us; but it is not ta mellonta simply; that is, the things of the dispensation to come as contrasted with the present, the ta enestota; but, though including them, not as a distinct dispensation, but the things coming as contrasted with the present associations with God. And this is the special portion of the Church of God. He speaks simply present things. He declares to you "things to come," though all this be in the Church. So Abraham: "Shall I hide?" So the disciples: "I have called you friends." And here I think we are led into the word prophecy, the latter being the specific character of it, but the whole coming as used under this. I say, underneath this, for prophecy is but the utterance and expression of the portion of the Church, and of God's mind in it; and this explains to one this word generally.
286 The general office of the Spirit is then declared, in which all these are comprehended, but the general object specifically stated: "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." In revelation of, in declaring, things to come, He glorifies Christ, for He is declaring Christ's things. But in this there is no separation from the Father, for it is as "all things that the Father hath" are Christ's. He says "receive of mine"; and this unity of possession, as in all else, is the very blessing of the Church; for were it not so (as indeed it must) in receiving or hearing of Christ's things it might not have known or received the Father's; but in knowing, spiritually knowing, His we know the Father's. So we shall know the Father's glory in the day when He appears, for He shall appear in it. This then is the great subject of the Spirit's operation; it glorifies Christ; it is "of mine," "whatsoever things are mine," as between Him and the Father; but we know "in detail," though the Spirit searcheth all things, and shall not till that day know all, that is, collectaneously as known, but in part, and so prophesy in part "of mine," and the Spirit communicatively and ministerially receives (which note) and declares. He searches all.
Having stated the circumstances connected with the blessing of the Comforter, He proceeds to speak of what concerns His own Person. He was not going to die, so to speak, but to go to His Father; and because He was going to His Father, He was about to be unseen by them soon. Yet "a little while, and ye shall not see me; and again a little while, and ye shall see me." This of the disciples too. This was true in a partial, momentary illustration on His resurrection; for though He had not gone to the Father He was there because He went to Him, being raised by the glory of the Father, and it showed the real, personal seeing of Him. It would be but the visibility of Christ was reinstated in the resurrection, and at any moment He might appear; and His appearance and appearableness had its date from then (which note). He was not dead and buried merely, but He went to the Father, and therefore they saw Him no more; and in a little while they would see Him again, being risen again. He was that Son of Man, that risen security of the mercies of David, the Second Adam who was to appear. His actual manifestation was the form and pledge of this, and therefore verified their hopes. They were begotten again to a living hope, though the great result and reality to be brought out of blessing was the day in which, after a little while, He should appear to their joy.
287 Thus then, as regards the Remnant, it had accomplishment, or rather exhibition, in His being seen after His resurrection. For this was not to all the people, but [only to] witnesses chosen before of God. As to them, their sorrow was turned into joy; they knew and saw the risen Jesus. As regards the nation, and the results, the Man that was to be born into the world was to be when the world to come should be, or introduce it however. And here we get the force, I think, of the birth of the Man Child. He was born to the hope and knowledge of the Church and Remnant when Jesus was raised, and appeared to the Jewish believing few; visibly so born. But as regards the nation He would not be till the day of His appearing; as they say in that day, beholding His glory, "Unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given." And so as regards the world subordinately, and as they were in sorrow now; and then at the resurrection of Jesus their sorrow was turned into joy. So of the people in that day, they will be in the "tribulation," but forget the trouble for the abundance of joy when the Son is given to them. They recognise that the Child was born to them, coming in by faith, even as the Gentiles did, who, seeing the glory and the Lord, had to be taught faith: "I am Jesus," that One that was slain. But the whole was the personal presence of Jesus to the Jewish body, now known only in a Remnant, for they had rejected Him; and then indeed a Remnant not made a nation, they had sorrow in knowing His rejection by the nation. So in the latter day the sorrow of faith as to who He was. But He would see them again, and their heart would rejoice, and none be able to take it away, for Jesus gave it.
288 The Church was built upon this joy, for it was by those who had seen Jesus. It was taught to wait for it; for that on which it was so founded was not seen. Hence its ambiguous position. We have the joy of known and seen resurrection, and glory; now the grief of an absent Saviour and the joy of hope of seeing Him; yea, and being with Him in the glory; then its joy fulfilled.
"And in that day ye shall ask me nothing." The knowledge of the Son in resurrection puts them, in the knowledge of Him, into the use of new appointed relationship towards the Father. They were not to ask of Christ present, as strangers to the Father, but as knowing His place with them, and His place with the Father, "determined the Son of God with power," and their relationship with the Father by virtue of Him, they were to ask the Father in His name, and He would give. They could ask the Son from human knowledge of Him. They had never so seen the Father in Him, that by knowledge of the Son they could ask the Father for that they needed. Nor would it be merely at His persuasion of the Father, for the Father Himself loved them, but by virtue of their union with and the prevailing name of the Son. In and by Him they could so ask. He had spoken to them in parables. He had opened out to them the various ways of relationship, and shown it as the portion of the children, and what that portion was (in parables). But now He could declare Him boldly. He would cause them to know Him.
This would be fully developed when He Himself manifested the Father's glory. But it is not confined to this, because the Church is made cognisant of it by her spiritual perception of Christ as the Son in the glory, the Father being revealed by the Spirit; that is, in the Son, and all the glory of Christ testifying of this. He does not say, therefore, come out from the Father. This they had not really understood. They had believed His mission of God.
He then, in verse 28, describes the positive revelation. There were two things in utter contrast: the world and the Father. They could not unite. He left the Father, to come into the world; and left it, to go to Him. This relationship with the Father by the knowledge of the Son: in future in manifested glory and communion (which note); for 1 John 1 shall be true then; now, by the testimony and revelation of the Spirit, of His oneness with the Father, and revelation of Him; and our oneness with Him, and the Father's love to us. So Christ does not ask the Father about us, but we loving Christ, the Father, His love centring on Him, loves us. They had believed that He came out from God, acknowledging Him.
289 But there was a further point: "I came forth from the Father." They had not understood the personal relationship. As the Son of the living God in the world they had owned, being given to own, Him; but they had not understood of Him as the Son with the Father, and coming forth from the Father. This was the great revelation of the Spirit, as it would be of the glory. When He, being gone back into the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, He in spirit could "shew them plainly of the Father." The work being accomplished, and He, in His come glory among the Jews, being rejected, the full glory could be brought out. The shining through of any of this was the occasion of the rejection of Him in the other. Verse 28 is the declaration of the great leading truth which was behind all His dispensed manifestation. But their minds had not as yet really received it; for although they saw divine knowledge in His perception of and answering what their minds were working on, and giving this explicit answer as to being seen no more, etc., or that on which it was founded, they did not fathom the real revelation in it, the revelation of Person and mission; His Person antecedent to mission, His own glory and His Father's, and all flowing from this.
"Now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb," but their perception went no further (not having the Spirit) than in this, "We believe that thou camest forth from God." This the Lord had already acknowledged as that which introduced them into the love of the Father. But into that love as yet they did not enter. It is the fruit of the perception of the Spirit; that is, as known. The whole showed the need of the Spirit in setting in the relationship. So consequently, "because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts," etc.; and here our Lord was thrown upon this very truth. He was not to be associated with them in His own glory, but delivered up; and of them He must say, "Do ye now believe?" As they said, "Now we believe." How little they knew themselves, or without the Spirit could go through the trial of faith, or think that the flesh could go through the death of the flesh! He was thrown alone upon this personal relationship with the Father, and its truth proved the power of death was to come in, and they be scattered, the sustaining power of Him in life being gone, every man to his own. There was no power of vital fellowship with Jesus in His Sonship, and then man's support is natural, he goes "to his own." How true this is!
290 But where was Christ's "own"? Nowhere here. He had none. He was left alone, and to be alone; only this thus declared, "I am not alone" (this great truth He had been speaking of to them); "the Father is with me." When they were left alone (so far as regards the world) they would have this comfort of seeing Him so, but with this difference therefore, that He had overcome it alone in the conflict. In Him, though for profit's sake put through the conflict, they had peace. They could be of good courage, the world was overcome. Amen. Be of good cheer, glad to be in one which is the victory of Jesus. We can say Jesus is with us; the Son, He hath overcome for us.
The point of verse 32 is Jesus being completely thrown on the truth which He was disclosing, before the former truth was, so to speak, setting aside (though not before God). But the disciples were not beyond it, and the Lord therefore was thrown upon the intrinsic power of this, that alone in the trial He might receive, as having suffered through it, others into accepted, adopted fellowship of the blessing as the risen Lord, "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."
But let us follow the text. Here was the failure of all fleshly association even with Christ, because Christ relinquished the ground on which it was held by either suffering to take a better inheritance for them with Him, they wholly failing, so that there was none but He in it. But the Father was with Him; this was the consolation; and He gave them the same: "In me ye shall have peace; in the world tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome," etc. It was said to set them on this ground: "in me." He was out of the world, and they in it. He turned out of it, so they would have tribulation in it. His comfort was in the presence of One not seen to the world, where He seemed to be alone. In Him they would have the same. He had overcome. Thus His statement made the moral passing through of the suffering of His lonely death and rejection; and on this ground He speaks in what follows.
291 I have been struck particularly with the evidence in John that the whole course of the Lord's ministry (that is, beginning with chapter 4, where we have seen it publicly commence) leaves the Jews aside, as blinded, reprobate, and unbelieving. It is true that chapter 10 begins the direct revelation of the election; but the Lord Jesus (being here as Son of Man and Son of God, not as Messiah to the nation, beginning with Samaria, but teaching neither there nor at Jerusalem men should worship the Father) always treats the Jews as in a hopeless state of reprobacy, fulfils His testimony, giving proof of it by His works, till they accomplished their iniquity by His death, till (as it is expressed) His hour was come, and thus is the means of gathering many; but all through the Jews are treated in His dealings with them with the utmost severity.
He judges none, for He was not sent for that, and He always honours His Father (His true and highest honour as Man here for Him, He was the Son), not Himself; speaking His words, and doing His works. Also He states (without minding the stumbling-block therefore) the strongest truths in the bluntest manner, so as to offend them; for their time was really past. See chapters 5:42, 43 and 6:43, 44, 61, 62, 65; chap. 7:6, 7, 18, 19, 28, 33, 34; chap. 8:14, 15, 19, 23-26, 28, 38, 41-44, 47, 55; specially here, because here they are put in proof by the word, as in chapter 9 by the works. Note, He proposes Himself in both as the Light of the world; closes chapter 8 with the assertion of His being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, "I AM," and chapter 9 with receiving the worship of him who had eyes to see, as Son of God.
In chapter 9 the Lord has no intercourse with the Jews; they are convicted, by the effect of His works, of blindness, utter blindness, as pretending to see; and the Lord only draws the conclusion that He was come into the world for judgment (though not to judge). How sad an evidence all these chapters afford! After this, the Residue of true sheep, the purpose of God, power of resurrection, and so His glory (as has been seen) as Son of God, and thereafter as King of Israel and Head of the Gentiles, are manifested; and then, as Priest, in voluntary humiliation of love, having all glory as come from and going to God, and having all things in His hand; that is, His glory and service during this economy on high. Afterwards He teaches His disciples their position in His absence; but all this was after saying to the Jewish wise men, "Your sin remaineth." And here I note the manner in which, while the various glory of the Lord (the only true One) is made apparent, they are tested as already opposed, and therefore reprobate; chap. 10:26. This point is stated distinctly in contrast with the sheep, who heard His voice, whom He called and saved.
292 Chapter 16. We get Him [the Spirit of truth] going onward in this work. It is not remembrance and present truth, but all truth and things to come; all truth while Jesus is on high (for He hears, being down here), and His future glory. In all He glorifies Jesus, taking of His, and showing it; but all the Father has is His, so that He says of His, the unbounded inheritance of the Father's glory.
Note the character of the difference of the two sendings of the blessed Spirit in John 14, and 15, 16. In the first, as often noted, the Father sends in His Name. It is their comfort and sustaining; One who comes instead of the One they were losing; leads them into all truth; all the truth, excellent and heavenly things; would bring Christ to them in Spirit, so that they would not be comfortless. He would bring all things to their remembrance which they had heard of Him while here, and teach them all things. He would stay with them, which Christ could not; and be in them, which Christ as then present could not.
When Christ sends Him from the Father it is more in testimony: "He shall testify of me," the glorified Man; would guide them into all the truth; show them things to come; bring down heavenly things, what He heard, when come down here; and show them things to come down here: the double testimony, take the things of a glorified Christ, and show them to them; and all that the Father had was His. Heavenly truth, prophetic truth, and the glory possessed by Christ, that is, all that the Father had; these are the three subjects of testimony; chapter 15:26, 27, gives the double subject of testimony generally, testifying of Christ exalted in glory, and bringing to remembrance all that He had said to them on earth.
293 Note, too, how markedly He is spoken of as down here. Whatsoever He hears, that shall He speak. He is in the place of a servant in the apostles, as Christ was; only it was not incarnation, of course; but He was hearing, and speaking down here. But chapter 15:26, 27, gives His business down here, verse 27 depending on chapter 14:26. But chapter 15:26, 27, makes it much more personal and blessed, and engaged their personal affections in their testimony. This would not apply to Paul, of course. He only speaks of His humiliation as part of the immense scheme of truth and of grace.
We have seen the 4th of John bring the Lord into Galilee a second time in the way of life-giving power to one ready to perish. This is pursued in chapter 5 in this way, that all means or ordinances are unavailable for healing, because they suppose the power which the disease of sin has taken away. Christ then heals by life-giving power. He gives the power needed; and the impotent man carries the bed he was couched on. At the same time the miracle is wrought on the Sabbath, setting aside the seal of Jewish covenant, on the ground of the Father and the Son working in grace, as observed heretofore; and then the full development of life-giving power is gone into, life out of death; not merely healing; but the full bearing of this comes out, truth as wrought in Christ so as to deliver from judgment; for life-giving and judgment were both confided to Him; the latter exclusively, to secure His honour from all. This is more than intercepting death, though that be the power of life; it is life in Himself, and that according to the glory of His Person. It characterises what He introduces in place of Judaism, but is eternal in its nature, and connected with the glory of His Person, though His official place, too; for, though Son of God, it is as Man He is manifested such here, and in that character judgment confided to Him. The end of the chapter contains testimonies which left the unbelievers without excuse. Assurance here is connected with not coming into judgment. The life-giving power of the Son of God being exercised, it is not in order to bring into judgment.
294 Chapter 6 is much more historical, chapter 5 being rather power connected with His Person. But of chapter 6 I have spoken; only here I judge, the tossing on the sea, though general in principle, and the portion of the saints during the whole time of His absence, but it applies to their circumstances on earth and, I doubt not, to His return to His disciples there; that is, the Residue; just as His miracle was for the poor of Israel. The doctrine of the chapter replaces this by another portion. Christ is here the object of faith, not acting in life-giving power.
Chapter 7. After bringing out the positive truth of the glory of Christ's Person, and Himself (in humanity and death) the object of faith and the true nourishment of the Church, death being the drink of life to it; having given Christ as the true manna, and the substitute of the paschal feast; chapter 7 considers the nation, as His brethren after the flesh, quite set aside, as having its portion with the world. The time for Christ to show Himself to the world was not come. The true Feast of Tabernacles for Israel, He presents Himself as sent of the Father. If there was the moral disposition to do His will he would know of the doctrine. All is uncertainty and confusion in the people, the Jews (that is, those of Judaea) astonished at the position He held, wondering what the rulers were about. Had they owned Him to be the Christ?
At last they send to take Him; but Christ announces His leaving them in a quite different way, and going where they could not come. Not only the Jews are set aside, but He is returning into a new sphere of existence, where they could not be. They would remain in their confusion; and, Christ going to the Father who had sent Him, they could not be there. But the Jews rejected, and Christ absent, the Holy Ghost would be given as a river flowing forth from him who had it. Instead of the manna and the waters of Rephidim, it would be Christ and His flesh and blood; and waters, not drunk, but flowing from the belly of him who drank of Christ. This flowing of the Holy Ghost would take the place of [the] rest of tabernacles realised by Christ's presence, when He shows Himself to the world. It is more than drinking in the desert, it is the Holy Ghost taking the place of Christ's presence in the Feast of Tabernacles.
295 In chapter 8 realities are brought out in the strongest and fullest manner, still beginning with reference to the Jews, but bringing out still further the full glory of the Lord Jesus; for chapters 6 and 7 were, so to speak, administrative; that is, what was so among the Jews surpassed with what Christ was; and so indeed chapter 5. Here the character of the law is brought out, as taken out of the hand of man, and placed in the hand of God, using it to the conscience. But then Christ is not come to judge, though He could, because He would do so in reference to Him whence He came and whither He went. He is the light of life, and whoever followed Him would not walk in darkness, but have that; and He was showing the law to be universally condemnatory, the light of the world.
The Jews are shown to be of their father the devil. All is shown in its true spiritual character in this chapter; and Christ not only presents Himself as Son, Son of the Father [showing], that sin made slaves, and the law held them in this position, but that the Son would make them free of the house, as the truth would deliver them from bondage. But things being pressed to the full bringing out of truth, the Lord not only mounts up to promise before the law, but to him who by election was before promise: "Before Abraham was, I am." The Jews, fully aware of the import of such a phrase, again take up stones to stone Him. Thus the divine Redeemer and Shepherd of Israel was cast out, after the full bringing out of who He was.
In chapter 9, His sheep follow Him, to have part with the Son of God. The words of Christ, which revealed God His Father, had been rejected, and they would have killed Him, because they revealed God. But He worked the works of Him that sent Him while it was called day. Here also the Jewish position, in contrast with the light of God, is brought out. They saw the retributive justice of God in the blindness of this poor man. It was his parents' sin, or his own foreseen.
It was really nothing of the kind. To Christ it was the occasion of the working of divine power, to give sight to the blind. And such was the real state of things. Really blind by nature, it was God's work to give sight. This in itself set aside the whole Jewish system. God was working in divine power to one incapable by nature, instead of ordering justice according to conduct. But the manner is notable. He puts upon his eyes what was doubtless a figure of His human nature, and when the power of the Spirit through the word is added he sees clearly. The Holy Ghost taught that He was the sent of the Father. The apostle himself gives the word which solves the meaning of this remarkable act of Christ, the bearing of which is stamped with the clearest evidence.
296 The Sabbath Day, sign of the old covenant, again comes up. The evidence of the divine power sufficed for him who had received his sight. The reasoning of the others on these forms betrayed them. Yet they have, through the parents, complete evidence of the reality of the miracle. But the sheep, clearly enlightened, is cast out, to have share with the Son of God, whom he knew already as hearing the word of God. He believes, and worships. (Lord, give us thus to own Him, who has gone through all things for our sakes, and to know that the opening of our eyes is His work.)
This position is fully unfolded by the Lord in what follows [chap. 10], where He unfolds the course of the Shepherd, His real position, as to Jews, as to Gentiles; the electing love of God; rising up from His obedient entrance by the door Himself to His unity with the Father, including His passing through death, as taking a new place in taking life again, thus perfectly pleasing the Father, whose ways and glory needed this; and death out of love to the sheep, for whom He would so give His life.
In all He stands alone. All Jewish pretension to it (even on this ground as shepherd of Israel) was false, and to plunder the sheep. He proves them unreasonable on their own ground; appeals (if they do not believe His words) to His works, and leaves them entirely, after they had twice sought to stone Him. This closed the setting in testimony before them God thus manifested in Him, the revelation of His Father, who they said was their God; for His being in the Father, and the Father in Him, this was the truth brought out to them.
The rest is preparation for His death, with the proof of what He would have been as a present blessing and glory, had He been received. The Father renders Him this testimony as needed before He goes. We may remark the Jews treated as unbelievers, to whom no room for the testimony He had given remained (chap. 10:25).
Chapter 11. As regards the Jews, we have the proof that He could have brought back (as to power) all the saints departed (I say "as to power," because He who knew man knew expiation was needed); in fact, it is the revelation of life in Christ, the Son of God, according to the form in which He held it, as to its effect. He has it in Himself He is it. As Christ was the power of resurrection and life-giving, the Jews are the instruments of death, and that against Him; but indeed accomplishing God's counsels unknown to themselves.
297 In chapter 12 we have first, it seems, the picture of the Remnant, beloved of God, and attached to the Lord, and that in principle in all times up to Christ's death; its true, but lowest, form in Martha. She serves willingly, even away from home, at the supper they make Him. In Lazarus we have the saints departed being brought to life again; in Mary, who had sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word, another kind of devotedness, so to speak; her heart, attached to Him, enters into the circumstances in which He is. She anticipates His death, and attaches herself to Him as so leaving the world, yet in an affection yet looking at Him in connection with His ties here. She anoints His body for the burial. It is not Christ on high. It is, in the highest and anticipative sense, looking on the pierced One, and mourning; highest, because it is not after, as leaving a friend in doing it, but her heart entering into His devotedness in doing it. The Lord accepts this as opportune, and Himself insists on His going away. They remained here. One of His disciples betrays for money, even a thief. The Jews' hatred is open and violent. The secret of His thoughts and purpose of His heart was really with her who had sat at His feet. The Life-giver, the Son of God, was to die.
Next, He enters in as King-Messiah. The next step is His glory as Son of Man. The hour was come (for the Greeks demanded Him) that the Son of Man should be glorified. But if the Son of God here below, the Life-giver, must die, the Remnant only associating themselves with Him, so He to whom the glory belonged must too. Messiah, Son of Man, if it were not to abide alone, must die. There was something deeper than Jewish royal glory. If He had to say to man, and the glory connected in God's counsels with it, He must die. Full moral glory must be given in man to God; and in spirit these also would be with Him, must follow Him in this. Still, He deeply feels what it is, but in perfect grace and submission looks to His Father, who replies by the double glory of raising as Lazarus, and raising to the better resurrection; and thus the Lord sees the world judged, and His lifting up on the cross the point of gathering to all. For if the cross be ignominy and death it is lifting up above the world, above every creature and everything in it, to attract or to deter. It is not heaven; but it is not earth, it is perfection before God in respect of evil; the highest thing, we may suppose, unless it be the enjoyment of God Himself, regard to whom, and that absolutely, it supposes.
298 For a while Jesus was still here as light. But in fact the Jews were blinded. They loved the praise of men. Christ revealed the Father, and the perfectness of the word which He spake would be the ground of judgment in that day. Still the Lord, rejected and cast out down here, was to go and to take His true place, that place which belonged to His nature, and His place before the Father, which shone through all His intercourse with the Jews when walking down here, the rejected Christ, the Son of David also.
But [chap. 13] His disciples are the abiding object of His affections, His own which were in the world. In this His true, though new, place as Man, He does not cease to love them, and in the presence of the work of Satan (which, through one of them, was to bring about His final rejection and death, as to what was here below, but in the consciousness that the Father had confided all to Him the Son, that He came from God, and went to God) He, in the perfect humility of love, sets about the service of His disciples according to their need in this world, in order to have a part with Him before His Father on high. It is not now His death entered into by a Remnant which surrounded [Him] with affection and testimony to His present power; His departure from earthly acceptance and glory, the setting sun of His earthly acceptance and place, with the bright rays of what it would have been had man had the heart to taste and accept it; but the full power of evil in Satan's influence in the wicked heart of man, in contrast with the full nature and official glory of the Son of God; and then His love to His disciples continuing as in that place, and to associate them with Himself as in it.
Having all things from the Father, and Himself coming from God, and going to God, and they to have part with Him, He passes out of the scenes where, in the midst of them, He would have been Son of David and Son of Man, surrounded by His elect and even risen saints, into His own proper place with His Father and God. This is the proper key to all this part of the word. With this in view, He shows them the continued exercise of His tender love: their Servant, to wash their feet; they were every whit clean, personally, by the power of the word, but whose feet yet touched the world; and then shows them their part with Him also in the exercise of the same ministry of love. For here it is not question of atonement, but of service. The same in mission; he that received His messenger received Him; still thus identifying the disciples with Himself.
299 That His cup might be full, one of them was to betray Him. The closest friendship in grace, the one to whom the sop of intimacy is given, is the ground and occasion, bears the fruit of the worst wickedness. Where Satan has possession of the springs of the will, there the heart is given up to his power, not as seeking an object, but hardening against even natural feelings; for every man would not betray his friend with a kiss. But this brought on the full translation of Jesus to His new, but rightful and perfect, place.
Note here, it is not in contrast with the Jews merely, but with His own familiar friend, betrayed on earth by him. He really was One who came from God, and went to God, and to whom the Father had committed all things.
Now He enters morally into it: "Now is the Son of Man glorified." This is remarkable. He was going to be glorified outwardly, but in Man; in Him who had fully (without sin) taken his place, heir of all his sorrows, and the counsels of God as to him; was not merely the object of these, but was to be the vessel of all that could glorify God. He had the glorious place of perfectly glorifying God in the most adverse and difficult circumstances, and made good His character in the midst of sin, which was opposed to it. And, as it could not have been otherwise, truth, holiness, justice, love, majesty, Christ gives Himself to bring out, gives Himself up: a glorious place for man, where the wondrous counsels of God have set Him; God thus is glorified in Him; then, as necessary consequence, and justice itself, God glorifies Him (as to position and outward glory) in Himself.
Nor is it merely hereafter in display, but a present, necessary consequence as to Christ Himself. Thus He enters into His new (and, as Son of God, old) and rightful place. God is glorified. He does not say the Father; it is "God is glorified," and thus in us through Him. Christ was necessarily alone here in now accomplishing it. The disciples could not follow Him now; yet (glorious thought!) they will follow Him; it is our place. Our present place is to be on earth for one another what He was for us. All human attempt to pass that way ends in failure and dishonour; as the ark was to go first, and then when it was a dry way because the ark had gone down into it, we pass Jordan as truly as the ark.
300 This evidently puts Christ out of the present scene; and on this ground chapter 14 proceeds. He could not rest here with them, but He goes to prepare a place for them in His Father's house; and He would come again, not to be with them as to the Jews and the world, but to take them to be with Him. But then they had seen and known where He was going, and the way; for He was going to the Father, and they had seen Him in Him, and He Himself was the way. But this was not all. Not only would He (chap. 13) purify them for communion, but He would, when ascended on high, obtain the Holy Ghost for those who obeyed Him, so that they would know He was in the Father, this full place of divine personal glory; and, further, their own union with Himself, so that they should be as near as possible to the Father, they in Him, and He in them. This was the effect of the presence of the Holy Ghost.
But there was yet this further: He would not leave them, even down here, deprived of comfort and alone. He would come to them in a spiritual sense. If they really loved Him (for they were troubled at His going away), they would keep His commandments. The Father would love them. This was an immediate affection, which they knew not yet; and Christ would manifest Himself to them; the double effect of walking in His ways. Judas asks how it could be that He should manifest Himself to them, and not to the world. The answer was, If a man walk according to Christ, the Father and He would come and abide with him. This was their present portion down here, till they abode in the Father's house on high. The Holy Ghost Himself would teach them all things, and bring all to their remembrance that Jesus said. He went away, indeed, but He left peace with them. He gave His own peace. Blessed portion here below! So that, if He placed them with Himself before the Father, according to the place He took, He left them also the place which He had with the Father on earth, the place of perfect peace, whatever He met with on earth.
Further, they were entitled to have joy in His joy; that is, to rejoice because He Himself was happy, not merely because He had made them so; a high and blessed privilege, showing how He would have one even in heart with Himself.
301 This quite closed the series of revelations which treated of the transition from earthly, Jewish relationships, or risen with His disciples on earth, to His place with the Father in right of His Person, and in divine counsel, giving the revelation of their condition in His absence in respect of this, both as regards His Person and the presence of the Holy Ghost; their future portion and present peace, meanwhile. Though there could yet be some communications, it would not be much, for the prince of this world now came: for Satan is such; for the rejection of the Son has shown it. He had nothing in Christ, but His passing through the sphere of his power in death was that the world might know that He loved the Father, and obeyed to the end. The world, alas! would have hoped something from Satan's power to stop this witness to God. How often does it! But in Christ all this power of evil was truly the occasion of the full and perfect proof of love to the Father, and obedience to Him. Here the Lord closes His relationship with the world. "Arise," says He, "let us go hence."
What follows is a developed doctrinal discourse founded on all these truths. We may remark the parallel between verse 7 and verse 37 of chapter 13; Peter could no more know the bearing of that (typical) purification, necessary to have a part with Christ, in His real, now as Man realising, relationship with the Father, than go by the way of death, which proved Christ's moral and perfect competency for it, into the Father's presence; competency for the glory of God, for He had perfectly glorified Him there where God needed it, in a new way (so to speak), and where man must do it. What a wonderful mystery! for who should obey for man but man, or could? for it would not have been according to the exigencies of God as regards man, nor of man under sin towards God. But Christ was Man obedient under sin, and with the perfect feelings He ought to have towards and before God there, and death, and Satan's power indeed, too.
Chapter 15 takes up the fact of the two great positions of Christ as setting aside the old or Jewish state. Christ Himself was the True Vine. Israel had been but the outward form. Note, all is on earth here. The disciples were already of it. But then it is in principle also the system continued on earth in its responsibilities. This might have been fully realised if the Jerusalem form of administration had continued. It is always true in principle of the Church viewed as on earth: fruit (whatever the gift) is derived from communion. They were to have Christ's place in testimony on earth, not as servants, but as friends who had His mind; that is, all He had received of His Father; that is, as down here on earth, perfect in His prophetic place among the Jews, come in by the door, though one with the Father, and speaking from Him. They were to be united among themselves, have this spirit in common which He had had towards them. All the means of true and full fruit-bearing in their position on earth are gone into. Their place in this was association with Him, and obedience, and disposing thus of all power in supplication.
302 Then He provides for their own proper joy also in this position. They would be persecuted, as He had been. Blessed privilege! But the Father not known, and He hated without a cause. The personal testimony of Jesus had left them without excuse. Had the old vine not rejected this last, this one proper, full testimony of the Father Himself, they might have remained in their position. Much, many, and various sins God could have pardoned in government; but they had hated the Father manifested in grace, and the Son (who had manifested Him) present in grace, so that the breach was irreparable, and they must be left in their sin. And so it was written in their law. Thus the old vine was wholly set aside.
But there was another, of whom He had spoken already, who was to replace Himself; the Comforter, whom He would send from the Father (for now He takes His place on high), who would bear witness, and they also, as regards all His life here. Hence their entire rejection by the old vine as an ecclesiastical system, and that even in their blindness in thinking to serve God, as (they supposed) they knew Him according to the old system. But it was total ignorance of the Father and Him, the true, full, only real revelation of God (who was their God), the truth and perfect light which had now only really come into the world; the rest having been only really provisional.
The Lord had now told them what concerned their relationship with the old system, so that it would be a confirmation of their faith when it arrived. His presence with them (supporting all Himself) had rendered it necessary while He was with them. But they were still too exclusively occupied with the old, and their own circumstances, as left down here. None had his soul lifted up to enquire of what a God who was acting, and was not surely frustrated by the evil of His enemies, was going to do when Jesus was going. If (apparently by the wickedness of His enemies) He left, and all link was broken off down here, surely larger purposes of God were to be accomplished.
303 We may remark here that, as up to His rejection He had put in contrast His revelation of the Father and the Jewish order, now He is the True Vine, instead of the old one; and the Holy Ghost reveals Him, while He puts them in immediate relationship with the Father. We may remark that chapter 14 speaks particularly of the personal relationship of the Lord with His disciples in connection with His absence; the effect that this had upon them, and how both as to His having them ultimately with Him, and how He would be with them meanwhile, how they would enjoy it; the Comforter He would obtain, and the like; and this also in connection with His Person, what they had really had in Him when He was present, and how that bore on their association with Him even that He was going.
The other grand element, then, dependent upon the breaking of the connection of the Lord with the old vine (at least, of His apparent place in connection with it), was the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Ghost whom He would send, and that in connection with His going up on high. The effect and sphere of His presence was entirely above and independent of the Jewish question. He dealt with the world of which Christ was now the exalted Head. He took totally other ground than the law and the Jews. He demonstrated the sin of the world, and that because they believed not on Him. His presence was the consequence of the Son's being rejected, and by the fact brought them in guilty. It demonstrated righteousness, because it showed Jesus above, received of the Father, and taken from the world who would not have Him, to see Him no more. Awful effect of the justice of God the Father! But judgment was not executed on the world, but its prince was judged; for Satan was proved to be that; but he had committed himself to the utmost in the death of the Lamb (and He being raised up and glorified), fatally for ever committed himself; he was judged; and the triumphant presence of the Spirit proved it.
304 Besides this effect of His presence, He would guide the disciples, and show them things to come; and, further, take of Christ's (and all that the Father had was His), and show it to them. Truth, prophecy, and the full glory of Christ was their portion under His teaching. Yet, further, Christ's absence was but for a time. He was not cut off, but going to the Father; and as this was really what was about to be accomplished they would see Him in a little while. This is a general principle. He was not lost, but soon to be here again; true for testimony on His resurrection, and finally at His return. Further, He placed them in immediate relationship with the Father. They should not ask Him, as if they could not go to God themselves; but being thoroughly associated with the efficacy of His work, and the acceptance of His Person, would go to the Father in His name, who loved them as attached to Him.
The Lord, in fine, speaks plainly as to His whole position, quite independent of the Jews. He came forth from the Father, and came into the world; and again, left the world, and went to the Father. The disciples perceive the plainness of His answer to their thoughts, but not its force, saying, Thou camest out from God. Nor had they, necessarily, the force to follow Him in the death which was His way to return. They would be scattered each to his own. All would be broken up by His rejection and smiting, and He left alone (but the Father was with Him); but in Him they would have peace; in the world, tribulation. It was a natural enemy, but overcome.