The Gospels

(Volume 5 of the Numerical Bible: The Fifth Pentateuch of the Bible)

F. W. Grant.


Division 2. (John 2:23 — 17.)

Eternal life as communicated and dependent.

The second division of the Gospel comprises the larger portion of the book. In it we have as the thread upon which its precious truths are strung, eternal life as communicated to men, with its accompaniments and implications for the possessor of it, when now it is known in its abundant blessedness (John 10:10).

It is divided into four parts: in the first of which the life and all that accompanies it are seen as individual blessings simply, as in new birth, and the living water springing up within the soul; in the second, they are seen in relation to the scene around, as quickening out of a world lying under judgment, and the living waters pouring out for the refreshment of others. The third part is of a larger character, and has three different portions: (1) the soul is brought to God and is at liberty, — has the freedom of the house of God; (2) it belongs to the Shepherd's flock, outside the fold, and follows Him who saves and leads it into His abundant pastures; (3) it has life in resurrection-power, death abolished for it, and the Son of God glorified thereby. The fourth part, in the Lord's last discourse with His disciples, gives the furnishing for the way through a world out of which He is gone, but as expecting His return to receive us to Himself.

The relation of these things to one another, with the unity and harmony of their presentation in the Gospel, can only be considered as we take them up in detail.

Subdivision 1. (John 2:23 — 4.)

As individual blessing.

The first subdivision, then, speaks of eternal life and its accompaniments as individual blessing. This is naturally the first thing to be considered, before we look at the relationships into which we are brought by the reception of this divine gift. The beginning of all is new birth, which we have in the first section, made known to us by the Lord Himself in His words to Nicodemus. This is a field much traversed and by the feet of many combatants; nor must we shun a conflict upon the issue of which, as will be evident, so much depends. We are here at one of those beginnings from which such different roads open that much will depend for us upon our not missing the right way.

The second section gives us the Baptist's final testimony, both in work and word; in which, in utter despair of man, he puts us into the hand of the Heavenly Guide, to be led on where he as of the earth cannot conduct us.

Upon which the third section carries us on, in the Lord's words to the Samaritan woman, to realize what life is in the Spirit; and here a Gentile scene opens, and fields are seen white to the harvest, while Israel rejects Him whom the faith of the Samaritans recognizes as the "Saviour of the world."

The fourth section, however, as an appendix to this, reminds us by a sign again wrought in Israel — nay, in Cana, the scene of the first miracle — that God has not cast away His people of old, and shows how in their distress they will seek to Christ at last, and find His grace still ready to receive them. Here the first subdivision manifestly closes.

Section 1. (John 2:23 — 3:21.)

The beginning in new birth.

1. Before we look at new birth itself, we must realize man's need of it; and this is shown us in the most striking way, — not in the case of those who openly refuse Christ, but on the contrary in that of those who accredit His claim. The miracles he did at Jerusalem at the passover wrought, we are told, conviction in many minds. They believed in His name": the words used in the first chapter as to those to whom He gave authority to become children of God; yet here no such result follows, but the reverse. "Jesus did not commit Himself to them: because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for He knew what was in man."

It was a natural work then, this conviction: sincere enough, but merely intellectual; the result of a reasoning process, leading to a correct conclusion, but with no vital change in the men themselves. They were convinced; they were not converted. Their judgment was formed upon evidence strong enough, but not derived from any glory they had seen in Him. It is not said therefore of these, as of those in the first chapter, that they "received Him." Christ had not gained admittance at the door of their hearts. It was still the light shining in darkness: He had still no beauty that they should desire Him. They had no imperative need, that should demand Him. Alas, here was in reality the deepest and most fundamental need, which nothing that was in man, or of man therefore could meet at all. Death could not produce life; and with the Lord's knowledge of what is in man, He can trust nothing that is from him. This need can only be met from a Source outside of man: he to whom Jesus can trust Himself can only be a man new born.

This brings us to Nicodemus and the Lord's teaching as to new birth. The circumstances are to be noted under which he comes, with a caution which shows his apprehension of the danger for himself, and which shows therefore his earnestness in coming. His history afterwards, as the evangelist gives us the means of tracing it, confirms both these things as true of him. In the cleansing of the temple the first note had sounded of a conflict whose end (from any human point of view) it was not hard to foresee. The chiefs of the priesthood were implicated in that desecration of the house of God which the young prophet of Galilee had so denounced and broken in upon: a man who had risen up unsanctioned by the leaders of the people, of whom Nicodemus himself was one. Yet at such a juncture he risks reputation and abases his Pharisaic pride to come as an enquirer to the despised Nazarene.

He comes with the distinct acknowledgement that He is a teacher come from God; and that on the same warrant of the signs wrought by Him, which those before had grounded their faith upon, — a faith which He had discredited and set aside. But there was a hunger in the heart of Nicodemus which was not in theirs, and which brought him to the feet of Jesus; and none were ever rejected there. Yet the Lord meets him with an abruptness and peremptoriness which we do not expect from the grace which characterized Him. Putting side by side with this His manner with the Samaritan woman afterwards, it is striking to see the difference. To her was the assurance of God's readiness to give (if she but asked Him for it) living water; the token of a love she had not known nor sought to know. To him the conditions, strange and impracticable as we know they seemed, upon which alone one could see the Kingdom of God: a shut door, as it might seem, in the face of the real seeker; while she who sought not was to be wooed and won for Him. And this was, no doubt, one reason for the difference; and which makes for Nicodemus, instead of against him. Won he was: his heart drawn, and ready to receive the truth as made known to him, even to face the unwelcome, if it were but truth; and the Lord treats him accordingly.

But there is another side to it in the fact of the Pharisaism that yet cleaves to him, and which knows nothing of the lost condition of man as man. Yet to this he must be brought, stripped of every remnant of his own righteousness, and clothed even with the spotted robe of shame in which she at the well listened in wonder to hear of what God could be, even for her. Grace itself, with Nicodemus, must humble before it can exalt, must teach the worthlessness of man that all God's glory may shine out for him. The Pharisee must renounce his many years, laboriously built up claim on God, and go back behind infancy itself, to a nothingness which would be shelter to his dishonor if it were only that, there to lie down helpless at the mere pleasure of God to save or to destroy! "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the Kingdom of God;" and who then by his own will was born at the first? So is man born again: "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

The Kingdom of God was that which the prophets had announced, and for which all Israel waited. We must not think of it in the form it has now taken, the King away, and its administration in the hands of men. We must think of it as established by power at the coming of the Lord, when for Israel a remnant alone will enter it, whose character Isaiah explicitly declares (Isa. 4:2-4). For "in that day shall the Branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy: even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem; when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughter of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning." Then follows the account of the glory of Jerusalem in millennial days.

It is certain therefore that, when Israel enters the Kingdom, every one will be born again that does so; and it should be clear that this is what a Jew like Nicodemus would expect, and had right to expect, if taught of the prophets. Of the Christian form of the Kingdom he could know nothing, and could be expected to know nothing; for it was not yet revealed. Nor could the Lord's words even apply to the present time, in which all the parables declare a mingled condition of things, tares and wheat together, wise and foolish virgins. On the other hand, for us, in the perfected form of it, it will, of course, apply in the fullest way; but of all this Nicodemus could as yet know nothing: so that the Lord's expression of wonder, "Art thou the teacher of Israel and knowest not these things?" forbids all direct reference in this way, and the passage in Ezekiel 36 from which He takes the words that presently follow are a positive prediction of Israel's entering the Kingdom in this manner.

This, if true, has an important bearing upon the meaning of new birth which we shall presently consider. The principle of man's need of it for blessing at any time remains, of course, unaffected. Man is man, naturally the same all through his history; and "as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." God also remains the same, and the need of renewal, therefore, to be with Him.

Nicodemus is confounded at the thought of such a change as the Lord speaks of. It is not simply the application to Israel over which he stumbles, though this would be, of course, an additional mystery; but as to the thing in itself, how can it be possible? he asks: "How can a man be born when-he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?" That is naturally impossible; but he has no explanation of it: what spiritual change can there be, so complete, so radical, so entirely beyond man to accomplish, as would be implied in a new birth?

The Lord reaffirms what he has said in the same solemn and emphatic manner; but now with explanations which go to the heart of the matter: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." Then He states the need of it: That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew."

In considering this it is natural to think first of the need, before we consider how God's grace has met it. It is evident that when the Lord is declaring the need of man's being born again, the words that declare it must have in view what man is as fallen. Thus, if with Muller and Weiss we interpreted "that which is born of the flesh is flesh" as meaning that "the corporeal birth produces only the corporeal sensuous part," one would suppose this to be as true if man had never fallen; that is, supposing that man naturally has nothing but this; and what follows would affirm, as in contrast with the sensuous part, that the spirit of man was a product of new birth; or else "that which is born of the Spirit" would refer to creation and not to new creation.

But we may confidently maintain, on the one hand that new birth is spoken of — that it is the Lord's subject here; and also that man every where has spirit, as well as soul and body, — that is, the sensuous part. Nay, spirit is in man the very seat of personality, as of all human knowledge (1 Cor. 2:11), and that by which naturally men are the "offspring of God" (Acts 17:28), as the "Father of spirits" (Heb. 12:9). New birth does not create a personality, or make a man out of a mere bestial creature.

If, then, "that which is born of the Spirit" speaks, as it certainly does, of the product of new birth, "that which is born of the flesh" covers all that man is naturally; and that he thus is only "flesh" is the effect of the fall. "Flesh" is not a new element of personality: it is strictly and evidently a degradation of it, a fallen condition. Spirit and soul are in men still, and yet these are but "flesh" after all: sunk into it, penetrated by it, so that in this way it has come to have a "mind," a "will," independent and away from God, "lusts" therefore (John 1:13; Rom. 8:6-7) of a heart unsatisfied. God and the unseen having ceased to be a reality for the soul, or at most having become a dread reality, the visible, the tangible, the sensible, possess and control it. Man is therefore flesh and only flesh.

In looking at the other side of what is here, the new birth of the Spirit, we have to remember what the trespass-offering teaches us, that God in restoring never merely restores. He does not reconstitute humanity as it was in Adam, but brings in Christ and makes Him the type of a new humanity, another order of manhood. This is according to a definite law of progress which runs through creation, and to which new creation conforms. According to this at each step in advance we find not the higher developing out of the lower: the plant out of the mineral, the animal out of the vegetable, man out of the animal; but a higher principle brought in and made by stooping to it to raise the lower. Thus life does not develop out of the inanimate, the crystal is not the budding of an organization, though it may be a prophecy of it. That life is only from life is admitted by men of science generally as far as observation and experiment can determine. Life then is a new principle which by union with it raises up the inorganic. In the animal again, the soul is not developed out of the life principle, but unites with and raises it up similarly to a higher level. In man spirit unites itself to soul. After the failure of man we may expect a new development after the same manner, by the union of a higher with a lower nature, and thus the formation of a "new man."

Of the "last Adam," however, we do not hear as yet, although we shall before the Gospel is concluded. At present we have only the new birth itself and its product a "spirit" nature. "Except one be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

Water and Spirit combine to effect this wondrous transformation. What are these two that can thus unite for such a purpose? "Of all ancient writers," says Hooker, "there is not one to be named who ever expounded the text otherwise than as implying external baptism." Among moderns also this is by far the most common view; although some would take water as simply a symbol of purification. Those who make it baptism apply it mostly to Christian baptism, but some to John's and some to proselyte baptism. The "washing (or bath) of regeneration" (Titus 3:5) and the two baptisms of water and the Spirit are naturally taken to support this view. But the baptism of the Spirit is not in order to new birth, as the Lord's words after His resurrection clearly prove. He says to the disciples: "For John verily baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:5). But certainly it was not at Pentecost, to which the Lord's words refer, that they were born again; and as certainly, therefore, when they were born again, they had not received this baptism. Thus, plausible as it may look at first, water and the Spirit cannot be united in this way.

But moreover Christian baptism was not as yet instituted, and the Lord could have expressed no astonishment at a Jewish teacher like Nicodemus being ignorant of such value attaching to it as would be thus expressed in the words we are considering. As for John's baptism, his own words are against any thought of this. His "I baptize with water" not only contrasts his baptism with that of the Spirit, but deprecates the very thought of water as capable of having so great significance.

As a symbol of purification we come nearer to the truth of it; but here the apostle helps us further with his statement that "Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word" (Eph. 5:25-26), and Peter adds that we are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever. … And this is the word," he goes on, "which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:23-25). Thus it is by the word of the gospel, and not by the word that sanctifies baptismal water, as some have dreamed, that this wondrous change is effected. And if we have difficulty in understanding how the Spirit should unite with the water of baptism to accomplish a spiritual work for which water is plainly incompetent, it is on the other just as easy to see that the Spirit does unite with the Word for this purpose. "For our gospel came unto you," says the apostle to the Thessalonians, not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance" (1 Thess. 5). Thus, by the Spirit and the Word, comes in new birth.

The apostle John under the figure of "living water" speaks of the Spirit in the believer (John 7:37-39). We can understand it clearly by this united action of the Spirit and the Word. If Christ by the Word purifies His church, the Spirit is necessary to make the Word effectual. As has been said by another, the Word without the Spirit is merely rationalism; the Spirit without the Word — the claim of that — would be fanaticism. Water is the Word; the Spirit with the Word the "living water." In the Lord's words to Nicodemus we have the bringing of the two together; and then, as "that which is born of the flesh is flesh," so "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. A fleshly nature is the product of the natural birth; a spiritual nature is the product of the new. It is only the Spirit that is spoken of here; but elsewhere we are reminded that "his seed" — the incorruptible seed, of which Peter speaks, — "abideth in" the one born again (1 John 3:9); and James in another but similar figure speaks of the "engrafted word" (James 1:21), by which, as the word of truth also, God has begotten us (ver. 18).

All this speaks but one language. We see that in the children of God there is implanted a nature in moral likeness to God, — in this sense, a divine nature. The full doctrine of it will develop as we go on: the co-existence of the flesh with it in the believer, the meaning of this, the hindrance resulting, the power over it, all this we shall have to look at elsewhere. So much is clear, that the believer is a true child of God as begotten of Him, and recipient of His nature: and this is what new birth implies.

The words "water" and "spirit" are, no doubt, from Ezekiel 36:25-26, which describes the divine preparation of Israel for the Kingdom; but the Lord makes them stronger than the prophet, who does not use the expression "born again." "A new spirit" also is not the same as "spirit" from the Spirit. Yet the prophet's words should have made a teacher of Israel recognize the import of the Lord's words in relation to that change, so complete and so essential, which the people must undergo in order to enter upon the long desired inheritance.

For us also the parabolic mode of speech employed should be no difficulty, constantly as He uses it to convey spiritual truth. The exercise needed for its apprehension He never seems to desire to avoid; for by it that apprehension is made more real, full and heartfelt. As spoken to a Jewish teacher, the words are perfectly natural; as his ignorance of their meaning shows his want of understanding of Israel's true condition and his own. Marvel it was indeed to her teachers that the people of God should need to be born again; but that need, so real and great, could only be met by the power of the unseen Spirit working in a way uncontrollable, as invisible to man, however plain the effects of it. It was the sovereign grace of God, therefore, which worked and must work, free as the wind, and if grace to Israel, could not be confined to Israel: we all have the same need, and are debtors to it alike.

2. But we have another need, and as imperative, which the Lord goes on to put beside the former. If men must be born again, the Son of man too must be lifted up that they may have eternal life. Death must minister to us as well as life: that which was against us must be put on our side; and then the full reality of His gift will be manifested, — not merely life, but eternal life.

Nicodemus can only express his bewilderment: "How can these things be?" he asks. The Lord asks in turn how he can be the teacher of Israel, and yet not know them. Then He affirms His own knowledge, from which He speaks, not with the uncertainty of their traditional teachers. Yet Israel received not His witness, even when He spoke of things upon earth, where what He said could in many ways be tested. New birth was a thing in this way sufficiently within their knowledge: for the work of the Spirit in men had a voice if they could hear it, and the prophets also had borne witness to it. Now if still they believed not, how would they believe if He spoke of heavenly things? of a sphere as to which they would have no witness but His own? For it was plain that there was no one — He is speaking of accessible witness only, as is manifest, not of Enoch or Elijah or the spirits of the dead — no one who had ascended up to heaven, to give any confirmation. His own witness must stand alone. He, the Son of man, had been in heaven; from heaven He had come down; still, by the mystery of His nature, the One who is in heaven. The divine-human Person comes out distinctly here, the One always in heaven, though a man on earth: of no created being could such a thing be said. And here at once comes in the witness of heavenly things; which, alas, Israel would reject, as we know they rejected Him who bore the witness, and of whom the witness was.

But that rejection itself was controlled of God to work out His purpose, and to this immediately therefore the Lord now goes on: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so also must the Son of man be lifted up, that every one who believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life." Here the Cross is spoken of in its full character, as it clearly would be where the divine purpose is in view as here. Men indeed might lift up the Son of man (John 8:28); and man's sinful act could not work out the righteousness of God; but that lifting up in the divine ordering was to be for us the token of wrath endured, of curse taken and removed: for "cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree." (See Deut. notes, p. 585). This answers, according to the type which the Lord brings forward, to the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness, which healed, by looking to it simply, the serpent's bite. And Christ being made a curse for us, by faith in Him the power of sin in us is overcome, the poison of the serpent is done away for us. "In the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin" — a sin-offering — He has put away sin for us in that which condemns it in us: we are justified, and set upon God's side as to it. The Cross is salvation for us in this double character, as penalty owned, and penalty removed; which in result turns our eyes away from ourselves to Him who is henceforth to fill them.

The penalty borne for the believer, there can be for him no perdition. The application of the brazen serpent here seems fully to confirm the reading "shall not perish," omitted though it be by some of the earliest MSS. The having eternal life goes beyond the simple removal of death, and beyond the type, while it gives us the connection with the Lord's theme with Nicodemus. For, if "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," the possession of the divine nature implies of necessity eternal life. That which is divine is that which is truly "eternal:" not simply unending when begun, but which had no beginning, and thus can have no end. The sacrificial work of Christ is here affirmed as the basis of this priceless gift to men, which in the moment of faith becomes assured to him who has this.

For this the Son of man must be lifted up: atonement must be made, and made by One in the nature of him who sinned; thus capable as man of taking the penalty upon man, and affirming the righteousness of God in it as bowing to it. Righteousness, the first necessity, is therefore met: the righteousness of God is put upon the side of the sinner who believes, as the apostle Paul will show us elsewhere. The ground of blessing is laid for all who will accept it.

But that is the human side; and God, if that be all, is the recipient only. His righteousness is declared, true; but that is not an adequate manifestation of Himself, and God is fully manifested in the gospel. Hence the Lord goes on to that most precious, most familiar statement of it in the Bible: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

Here we are at the heart of the matter. We have not now the conditions emphasized upon which divine mercy can come to us, though still it remains true that such conditions there are and must be, if God abide faithful to His own nature, as He must. But here we have the moving cause of our salvation, the activity of that nature: "God loved," for "God is love." Then He loved whom? the Jew? the better class among men? those that love Him? No: but the "world," and not even "the world of the elect," as some would put it, but (as what follows should make plain) the world at large, the great world of His creatures, though now estranged from Him. Loved them, then, how much? how can we find measure for this love of His? Here is the measure of it: He "so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son; that every one who believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

Divine love has thus sought men with an earnestness and seriousness which can only be questioned by questioning the true dignity of Him who has come so far on God's part, to give us the assurance of it. And to Him all the ages witness, who is Himself above them all, the unique phenomenon in human history, of all God's miracles the crowning one.

But if God's love has come out in such a manner, the rejection of it is as fatal as the acceptance is fraught with blessing. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" "He that believeth not is judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the Only-begotten Son of God." But not for judgment, but for salvation, did God send His Son. That the Redeemer will in fact be the Judge of men (John 5:22-23, 27) is something very different from this, nay, opposite to it.

3. But light is come into the world, and the light makes everything manifest. Here is the judgment, that men do not desire manifestation when their deeds are evil, but love the darkness which conceals them. By turning from the light, they show that they know where the light is — that it bears witness to the conscience, although they are not in it so as to get the good of it. The practises of truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest as being wrought in God.

Here, for the present, Nicodemus and the Lord part. The Pharisee is yet hindered by his Pharisaism, and these parting words seem words for his conscience, governed as he is so much by the people among whom he is. His name bears the same equivocal stamp with his character as yet. It may be "victory of the people" or "one who conquers the people:" which it will be with him is yet in the balance. But in a darker night than the present he is to come forth at last as conqueror, not conquered. His soul will have passed out of the shadow, just when the light might seem to have failed it. For him, as for many, "it shall come to pass that at eventime it shall be light."*

{*The similarity and the contrast between Nicodemus and Nicolaos, from whom come the Nicolaitans of Revelation (Rev. 2) is to be noted. The Nicolaitans are conquerors of the people (of God); Nicodemus, of the populace. God has a laos, but not a demos.}

Section 2. (John 3:22-36.)

John's final testimony: the contrast between himself and Christ.

We have now the final testimony of John to Christ, with the contrast, drawn by John himself, between them. He, though a "burning and a shining light," as the Lord declares, is earthy, and must pale before the orb of day. But there is no sorrow to him in this: the friend of the Bridegroom only "rejoices greatly because of the Bridegroom's voice," and his testimony at the close rings out in such a manner that many take the latter part of it to be that of the Evangelist rather than the Baptist. But this does not seem, at least, to be marked out for us in any decisive way, and our own thoughts as to what might or might not transcend the intelligence of one in his position do not seem a sufficient authorization.

We find at the beginning here Jesus with his disciples in the country of Judea, and baptizing, — although we are presently assured that personally the Lord did not baptize, but His disciples only (John 4:2). We have nowhere else an account of such baptizing, which we naturally conclude to have been of a similar character to that of John, which is immediately mentioned. It is a confirming witness of the truth that John was proclaiming, as we may gather also from Mark 1:15. Baptism is in the New Testament always to death; Christian baptism to Christ's death (Rom. 6:3); and to take one's place in death is a profession of repentance. Death is the sentence from God under which man has come through sin, and thus those baptized by John confessed in it the sins which had brought them there (Matt. 3:6). In such a position they awaited the forgiveness which He who was coming after John would bestow. Now He had come, and His own proper ministry began, as is clear, beyond John's baptism. Yet He could through His disciples confirm the truth of this, while taking care to keep His own place apart.

John also continued baptizing, keeping his place as forerunner, and was now in Aenon, "abounding in springs," near to Salim, or Shalem, "peace." The names are as significant in this case as in all other in the word of God. Question arose here, we are told, between John's disciples and a Jew, about purifying. Of the nature of this, and of how little answer there might be, we may judge from the Lord's words with Nicodemus; and the want of settlement of such a question would be likely to bring up the further one of the new Teacher who had appeared; and the disciples come to John thereupon, with the announcement that He to whom he had borne witness was now Himself baptizing, and men were flocking to Him.

John had, in fact, raised questions which he could not settle: we may say that it was of the very essence of his mission, that it should be so. Jesus alone was to satisfy the expectations that had been aroused by John; and in him the spirit of the past ages found embodiment, pointing on beyond themselves. John, therefore, takes occasion by all this that has arisen to speak once more and decisively of his own relationship to Christ.

A man can receive nothing, he says, except what has been given him from heaven. For one satisfied with the will of God there is abiding contentment: for, let things go as they may, God still rules all. How blessed to realize that which keeps the heart at peace unfailingly — bids one be still and know than He is God.

He had said he was not the Christ, but His fore-runner; and in the crowds that were flocking to the new Teacher he but saw that the bride was for the Bridegroom, not for himself, who was but the Bridegroom's friend. Did they grieve for him? he joyed with rejoicing — joyed exceedingly, in the Bridegroom's voice; though it meant for himself necessarily decrease, with the increase of that Other.

Was He not necessarily supreme? He who had come from heaven, and bare witness thus of heavenly things with direct personal knowledge of them, such as none that were of the earth could have. Value Him at His worth, what were these crowds that were coming to Him? It seemed, in fact, as if none were receiving His testimony. But those who did so, found therein the truth of God as to all His promises and in all His ways: he could set to his seal that God is true. For God was giving, through Him whom He had sent, free utterance to His own heart. In contrast with the fragmentary communications of former times, He was not now giving His Spirit by measure. Nay, here was the Son Himself, the Beloved of the Father, with all things given by this love into His hand: His words, therefore, are the full heart of God made known.

Faith in Him is, then, the one necessity: he that believeth on Him has eternal life; but he that is not subject to the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him. Eternal life or no life; eternal life or wrath abiding: these then are the alternatives.

Thus John sends his disciples to Jesus.

Section 3. (John 4:1-42.)

Life in the Spirit.

We have now to follow the Lord outside of Judea and even of Galilee, to find more receptive hearts in Samaria than in either of these, and His own heart freer than yet in Israel. A significant time it is, and all the more for its exceptional character, even in John's Gospel. Samaria, spite of the claim put forth to "our father Jacob," is really Gentile, though with a tinge of Israelitish blood which was worse than valueless, the fruit of mixed marriages forbidden and abhorred. The woman wonders that a Jew should ask but a drink of water from a Samaritan. Yet the spirit of the Lord, escaping from the oppressive self-righteousness of Jewish Pharisaism, finds room to expand in hostile Samaria; and here it is that He is fed with more than common food, and has before Him a view of whitening harvest-fields which we do not hear of elsewhere.

This connects clearly with the Lord's theme with the woman of Sychar, of living water springing up within the soul, which the evangelist, as we have seen, interprets elsewhere of the Spirit to be received in a new way after Jesus should be glorified (John 7:38-39). Thus we are, in fact, on a line of truth characteristically Christian and Gentile; the Lord looking forward, as is plain, and speaking in the parabolic manner usual with Him in such connection; and yet so as to convey as much as could be conveyed of the blessing with which His heart overflows — of that abundant life which He is come to communicate (John 10:10).

1. (1) The Lord Himself calls and prepares the messenger by whom He is going to reach the men of Sychar. Such a messenger He chooses! But it is not exceptional with Him to take up the beggar from the dunghill, so that, as we know, the publicans and sinners followed Him habitually. But here was one not following, but sought out, — a weary and jaded, not conscience-stricken sinner, whose wakening into life is a story which has wakened how many others! May God in His goodness tell it out once more, so that it may still be fresh in repetition, and some like her be attracted by it yet.

How suited that it is in His withdrawal for awhile from the self-righteous legalism of the Pharisees that the Lord comes into Samaria, to sow a new field with the Word of life! He withdraws even, as it would seem, from that baptism of disciples in which He has been rather accrediting John's testimony than giving voice to His own. John's voice was now hushed in prison, and his rejection had broken up that partial re-establishment of divine relationship with the people at large which the multitudes flocking around him might seem to have effected. It was gone, that dream of pious hearts in Israel: the shepherd was smitten and the sheep were scattered. And though the Chief Shepherd still remained, the open gathering was for the time given up, save of immediate followers needed for the maintenance and carrying on of the divine testimony, until it could be resumed on other ground.

With His back thus turned for the time upon Jerusalem, and His face turned toward Galilee, the place connected, typically at least, with Israel's restoration in the latter days, the two days, testimony in Samaria comes into its place morally, as a picture of the present interval of divine grace to the Gentiles. We shall find, in fact, when we come to the healing of the nobleman's son in Capernaum, that we have in this a real foreshadow of Israel's restoration when this interval is at an end. All is therefore in complete harmony.

We find, therefore, the Lord now at Sychar ("purchased") which took its name from the piece of land purchased by Jacob from the sons of Hamor, and given to Joseph, who was buried there. All that Jacob had purchased, therefore, (though he meant it otherwise,) and all that he could give to his best-loved son, was the place of a grave: a good place in which to speak of another gift and another purchase, free to all who desired and sought it, a spring of life instead of a place of death, and of which Jacob's spring could be at once the type, and (what all types must be) the instructive contrast also. To this spring, which as we learn directly was not free-flowing but shut up in a well, the Lord came, a wearied man, and sat Him down there.

It was the sixth hour, under a noon-tide sun, and there a Samaritan woman came to draw water.

She too was weary, as her words presently indicate; alone, as He was alone, but only to make the essential contrast greater: she in the sin that isolates necessarily, shamefully, condemningly; He in the unique glory of His Person, of His quest, of His estrangement from the spirit of a world, in which were yet the objects that in love He sought. They were at opposite extremes, — in opposite paths, — and yet they met; not of her will or care, nor knew she what was before her; on His part, of the love which had in it its own necessity: "He must needs pass through Samaria."

Samaria had its name from the city which was its capital, "conservative," as it may be freely rendered, but in the interests of division. Alas, this went much further than they knew, and was but the expression of a deeper alienation, which could be healed only by Him who should cast Himself into the breach of human revolt from God, and bring back from it. "Give Me to drink" is here the first word of reconciliation, to the woman's wonder. "How dost Thou, being a Jew, ask drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria?" At once He brings before her God whom she knew not, and Himself in some way identified with the "gift of God" of which He speaks. Had she known, she would have taken the place of the needy one, which she truly was, and have sought of Him as having power and grace. He would not have refused her: He would have given her living water.

She does not understand, and His words are veiled as yet, for the water of such a springing well as that by which they were was in common phraseology "living" water. But this from Him in some mysterious way, with no visible means of drawing from that deep well, but as a "gift of God" telling out Him she had not known, in a way how different from her imaginings. The evident intention in all this, however much the terms may be discussed, is to make God in His love shine into her darkened soul, and to draw her by that love to Himself as the representative of God there for need on her part. Her wonder rises, and her eyes are fixed upon Him. She would learn from Himself, who is He? greater than her father Jacob, as it would seem, who himself depended with all his household upon this well alone! And still He draws her on, as He speaks now of the gift that He will give, not such water as she is thinking of; from the well there: "Every one who drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall thirst no more for ever; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a spring of water springing up unto eternal life."

A marvellous advance, and a great miracle surely. Eternal life she knows in some sense. It is not a mere endless condition, but the life of the blessed. And this water, a perennial spring of refreshment within the man himself, springs up to eternal life! How her eyes would brighten and enlarge and fix themselves upon the wondrous Speaker! And yet she seems still to have grasped how little of that of which He is speaking: "Sir," she says, "give me this water, that I thirst not, nor come hither to draw."

Dull she is, indeed; and little, we may think, has been gained so far. After all, she is thinking still of bodily thirst and of literal water. Yet instructive it is to see the Lord's way of dealing with such an one. The enigmatic language, — common indeed among the children of the East, yet evidently misunderstood, and left at last without such explanation as (it would be natural to say) a soul like this would require: it is plain that it is not so much the mind as it is the heart at which He is aiming; grace and truth are found in it all, and in this order: both together, and yet grace leading and characterizing; dealing with the heart even before the conscience, which is never indeed forgotten, yet never attacked. How different the manner in all this from that with Nicodemus, a man with so many things in his favor compared with the woman here, and yet with whom the appeal to the conscience is so earnest, so immediate, so seemingly abrupt. Yet after all, the underlying principle is the same, and the very thing which at first seems against Nicodemus is, in reality, in his favor. The woman had yet to be drawn; the teacher of Israel with all his Pharisaism and stiff prejudice, was yet already drawn: the latter could bear to have the conscience searched as the other at first could not.

Another thing, however, to be taken into account is just this Pharisaism of the one, while the other, though her conscience needed also to be wakened by the truth, had no false refuge under which to hide itself, and which had to be torn away. Here the advantage was on the side of the woman, the evil of whose life made it a simpler thing to turn away from it all than it was for Nicodemus with his pseudo-saintly one. Hence the one comes quickly into blessing; the other struggles and is held back.

But let us look now, apart from all question of the dealing with the woman's soul, at the truth which is brought before us here. The living water is interpreted for us in the seventh chapter as spoken of "the Spirit which they that believed on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified." We have, of course, no reason to interpret the same figure differently here from there: so that the living water speaks of the Holy Spirit as come down from heaven, the characteristic of the present or Church-period. The Lord therefore is anticipating a then future time, and hence, no doubt, we find a certain reserve as to the way in which it is spoken of, the veil being more lifted as the time of the fulfilment draws nearer. The figure combines what in the statement as to new birth we had separately, the water and the Spirit. The water as the Word is that through which the Spirit of God works, and the Spirit is thus the life of the Word. The figure of the "spring" gives additional force to this, and especially with the addition "springing up." Power, freshness continually maintained, are in the spring; and the spring springs up — or "leaps," a strong expression — "unto eternal life."

What is the connection here between the spring — the Spirit of God in the believer — and the life? It is not surely merely an endless flow that is intended by the expression. Nor is it that the presence of the Spirit of God in the believer is needed for the commencement of life in the soul. Unhappily there is a lack of knowledge among Christians as to the true character of that gift of the Spirit which is characteristic of Christianity. We shall have it all fully brought out by the Lord Himself in His closing words to His disciples in the present Gospel. Here all this is anticipated, as already said, in these pregnant figures; and we must therefore anticipate what is there said, sufficiently to understand what is here before us. It should take little to convince us that the gift of the Spirit, that indwelling which the Lord promises His disciples there (John 14:17) — "He shall be in you," — did not precede life in their case, nor bring it by this personal indwelling, but followed it. They were already in possession of life when the Lord promised this, and of eternal life, for there is no other spiritual life: it is eternal life or no life (see John 6:53-54). He declares also that it is eternal life to know the Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He had sent (John 17:3), that He had manifested the Father's name to them, and they had received His words, and believed that the Father had sent Him (6, 8). Thus they had eternal life already, when this promise was given. It could not be for them the result of a gift which was to come afterwards.

The indwelling of the Spirit necessarily supposes a house in which He could dwell; and it is not until new birth that such a house is formed. Christ received by the soul must be the foundation of it; and where Christ is, the Spirit of Christ can be. He witnesses to Christ, and thus the living waters begin to rise up in the soul, which shall henceforth be its perpetual satisfaction.

But how then "unto eternal life"? The water (the Word) and the Spirit have united to produce the life already. The gushing spring of living water has the same elements. The life is in the water; the Spirit is in the Word; but now it is the Spirit personally present, the Divine Witness Himself in permanence. Here all figures must fail to express the fulness of the blessing, infinite as the glorious Person. But it is plain that if eternal life is the product of the Word through the Spirit in the soul, then the satisfying fulness now must be in result to produce the abundance of the life itself in practical experience and power: the spring leaps up unto eternal life. Here eternal life is an experience, an application of "life" which we are all accustomed to distinguish from "life" as vital power, — the life we live from the life by which we live. But this is eternal life; and, as another has said, "to be complete, it must pour itself into the objective eternity: the eternal rests not till it comes to eternity."

After all, as interpreted by experience, the promise may seem too large. "Shall thirst no more for ever": what an assurance this is! But how little oftentimes does it seem to justify itself in actual realization. Here comes in the sad reminder for us of how we with our unbelief limit the glorious largeness of the divine promises, and often seem bent upon making falsehood of eternal Truth. Christ speaks according to the fulness of the gift bestowed. As to our enjoyment of it, it is always conditional upon the way in which faith entertains it. We are not to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption." But Christ is not going to draw in, in His picture of the Christian, things which are only blots and disfigurements. Alas for the unchristianity of Christians! but the shame of it is all our own. Eternal life is in us derived and dependent, needing the constant ministry of divine grace to maintain it in its manifestation in us, to develop and perfect it according to God. The full perfection of it is set before us to provoke our longing after it, and the boldness of faith to claim it from God. We are not to expect that it will be realized without the activity of faith and the diligent use of what God has given us as means to its attainment.

(2) Let us go back now to the woman. Attracted, wondering, faith in this mysterious Speaker beginning to awaken in her soul, she asks for this gift, pledged to her for the asking. "Sir," she says, "give me this water, that I thirst not, nor come hither to draw." She asks, but indeed knows not the gift of God, nor who it is that says to her, "Give Me to drink." But divine grace that is at work with her will not leave her thus, nor despise the day of small things which is nevertheless that work begun. Her heart is touched, desire awakened, her soul turning towards God; now she must have her conscience reached, that she may realize what her need is and find the satisfaction of it. But with what a gentle hand does He touch the sore that He is going to heal! the worse the sore the more gentle must be the handling. As if He would have her but bring another to share the gift for which she has asked, He says, "Go call thy husband and come hither." At once her life is bare before her. She shrinks and would cover it: "I have no husband." True, He says: I know it: "thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly."

So it is out. Put into few brief words, no lingering upon it, no upbraiding with it, there it yet lies before her in the light, never to be covered up again. He knows it, has known it, knew it when approaching her at first He had told her of God as she had never known Him. Now it is out, it seems like a confession He has made for her who had not courage to make it for herself. Said plainly indeed, yet not severely, but gently, pitifully, the words are like a pleading for her, a revelation of Himself. Is she not glad to be with Him upon these terms? nothing kept back, as indeed nothing could be kept back, from Him?

(3) "Sir," she says, "I perceive that Thou art a prophet:" that is her seal set to the truth of His words; and then, with that desire which He has awakened, to be (as even she, it seems, may be,) with God — therefore to be right with God, to approach Him in His own way, she puts the question of questions for a Samaritan: Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that Jerusalem is the place where one must needs worship."

It surely is not a putting off from her the first question of her sins. Had He not, with full knowledge of them, yet encouraged her to seek from God that gift of His, which she could see better now that He as the representative of God could offer to her? And in drawing near to God was there not a provision for sin, of His own establishment? Little she knew about the meaning of that yet. Little, as yet, did His own disciples know, even though the Baptist had pointed to the "Lamb of God." Was there not, however, in her heart something beginning which could make her better understand about that spring within the heart, of living water? And here was One who could resolve her doubts, and give her questions a divine answer! He does; but in a way how different from her expectations, when He sets aside both Gerizim and Jerusalem! To her the poor Samaritan, He makes known what those in closest companionship with Himself were as yet not prepared for. Yet He does not leave the question of Samaritan worship unsettled either; rather it assumes a more serious character: but first He tells her of the transcendent hour at hand which should abolish all outside worship and let men into the sanctuary of God, as children to worship the Father. What a revelation to this woman of shameful life, to whom just a moment before that life had been shown out without a remnant of a veil to hide it! Yet who among the mere children of men was better fitted than she, upon any title in himself, to draw near? And, if God were showing grace, to whom rather than to such as she would that grace manifest itself in more glory?

And now it was the Father seeking worshippers. Could it be kept back, the spring of happiness which in her also was beginning to well up, interpreting that former perplexing figure, and already seeking outflow? True, she had worshipped she knew not what; coldly, indifferently, or with spasms of dread in the gloom of the supernatural. And all the while in Israel, though even there the mass might know it as little as she, was the river of salvation. "Salvation" was "of the Jews": a stream which as yet indeed ran low and narrow between its banks, which the lowly and the thirsty alone knew of, but which was there: soon to burst forth in copious refreshment; salvation, by which men came to know God! And the hour was coming, and now was, — how that announcement must have woke the echoes in her heart! — when the true worshippers (not righteous, not self-approved, yet true) — when the true Worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father was seeking such to worship Him in the only way in which God, as a Spirit, could be acceptably worshipped.

Yes, she knew it, or, at least, approved it as He spake it, but too wonderful it seemed; the rush of many thoughts too great. Then as she yet believed not for joy and wondered, the cry arose in her heart for the full Interpreter of all, Messias! was He at hand? Then indeed would all perplexity be ended, all anxiety at rest: "when He is come," she says, "He will tell us all things."

And He who saw divinely all her heart, as He had seen her life, — seen the craving of her heart, seeking the good that came not, saw His work was done. For her there was but one satisfying good remaining: One for whom now the joy that had arisen in her soul waited as its justification, whom the expected longing of her heart forewitnessed as at hand: Messias, the Christ. There was but one thing more to do: and with His own heart full (as presently He bears witness that it is) yet with the quiet of that supreme contentment in His words, He completes her blessedness: —

"I that speak to thee am HE."

Thus is the living water reached for her, if not yet the Spirit of God had come to be the indwelling Spring of it within her. Doctrinally, the connection of the whole is plain; as indeed the Lord's words carry us on to the day of an opened sanctuary and of Christian worship. Without this the fulness of life in the Spirit could not be expressed, the living water could not spring up. We see clearly also how anticipative, how Christian, in the truth contained in it, the Gospel of John is. We shall notice this more and more as we go on in it.

2. The stream of blessing widens: the woman becomes the messenger of Christ, to tell out in the city the blessedness she has received. The Man who had told her all things that she ever did is One to whom she can freely invite others. She has left her water-pot behind to carry the news of living water; and her tale procures many listeners who come out of the city to find the One who has lighted up with His love this heart so dark.

Meanwhile His disciples have come back from the city, where they had gone to buy provisions, and find Him refreshed and independent of the food. In answer to their astonishment, He tells them that His food is to do the will of Him that sent Him and to finish His work. And then He speaks to them of fields that He sees already ripening to a spiritual harvest, and of the common joy of sower and of reaper. In fact, they were to enter into the labors of previous generations, of the prophets who had prepared the way for them, Himself above all the unwearied Worker for the salvation of men. Israel might reject Him, and His labor seem vain in this respect, but here, outside of Israel, He sees the incoming of the Gentiles, while the tardy fields of Judea yet showed no sign.

Of this the Samaritans here are now the first-fruits, and there follow two days of fruitful testimony, in which at their solicitation He abides with them; many believing through the woman's witness to Him, and yet more through His own word; while their faith owns Him as the Saviour, not of Israel only, but of the world. All this shows plainly what is foreshadowed here.

Section 4. (John 4:43-54)

Israel's need bared and met with mercy.

But John, while he shows us characteristically a Christ outside of Judaism, and the precious truths which are now enjoyed in Christianity, always reminds us that God has not given up His purposes as to Israel, which are delayed but not forfeited by their unbelief. We have seen this in the first division of the book, in the miracle at Cana, where the delay of blessing in their case is accounted for, but as soon as the empty forms of purification are made real (the water fills the water-pots), then the wine, the good wine, is found in them. Now the Lord is found at Cana again, having left the white fields of Samaria for Galilee, and another miracle is wrought, though the subject of it is at Capernaum, not Cana. Judea has rejected Him, but Galilee seems ready to receive Him, and now in the courtier who comes to Him at Cana we find a plain picture of Israel, courtier of the world as she has long been. His condition, as the Lord characterizes it, is just what hers has been: "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." But he is in need: his son at the point of death in Capernaum, the city of lost opportunities, to be brought down to hades for its rejection of Christ; death facing him, he turns to Christ as his only hope, and finds the gracious answer of peace and deliverance: "Go, thy son liveth." He believes, departs, and finds it as the Lord has said to him. His son is raised up, and his whole house is brought to faith with him.

It is a simple story; and thus will Israel in her extremity be brought to God. Capernaum will come to Cana, the "village of consolation" be restored to its name upon the ground of "purchase," Christ manifesting forth His glory. And the time is not far distant now.

This rounds off to a complete end, as is evident, the first subdivision of this central portion of the book.

Subdivision 2. (John 5 — 8:1.)

Eternal Life as separating from a World under Death.

The second subdivision continues the subject of the first, eternal life as communicated to men, and dependent, a life of faith and communion; but this is now looked at as distinguishing and separating from the world, from its character and portion. As in the last subdivision also, the Spirit of God is seen as giving the life its power and fulness, and even under the same image as before, the living water; but it is now not simply rising up within and refreshing the one in whom it is, but overflowing to others also, "rivers of living water." This is naturally a third section; the first shows the life as quickening by the voice of the Son of God, who is at the same time the Judge of men; and the quickening is thus an acquittal by the Judge, a sentence of righteousness. The second shows us the life of faith with its sustenance, and communion resulting. The three sections together form evidently once more a complete whole.

Section 1. (John 5.)

Quickening by the sovereign grace of Christ; righteousness attaching to it.

The first section has been already briefly characterized. We find in it, more clearly than in what has preceded, an incident taken from one of the Lord's abundant miracles, and made an object lesson from which the teaching following it is drawn. Yet the truth given goes beyond the illustrative object, as is necessarily the case in one way or other with all typical or parabolic teaching: a thing which needs to be at once fully realized, and guarded from the abuse which has been often made of it. We shall have help given as to this in all this part of John.

1. The impotent man as healed by Christ is the object lesson of this chapter. The background of this is the story of Bethesda with its own impotence to heal such a case as his, spite of the angelic intervention, which made the pool a "house of mercy," but with conditions with which the man here before us could not comply. The nature of the disease forbade his availing himself of the proffered remedy.

A "feast of the Jews" brings up the Lord again to Jerusalem. We are not even told what feast it was, and the language seems plainly to tell us why, sufficiently striking as it is, even in John's Gospel, where alone it is found. A "feast of the Jews," as such, we are outside of here, even though it was the occasion of the Lord's visit; which, indeed, as all this Jerusalem ministry, only served to expose the hollowness of what was going on there, and along with this the powerlessness of the law itself as a remedy for man's condition. This last is surely the main point here: it brings us at once to what Bethesda shows us, — a truth which sets aside all help in the old covenant, and shuts one up to the grace of God alone.

Bethesda immediately comes into view with its porches filled with the sick, who are waiting for the visitation of that miraculous power which at a certain season troubled the water. Then for the moment there is healing virtue for the one who can first step in: there is the condition, the only one; whatever the virulence of the disease, it may be cured, if only one can get into the pool; but for impotence there is no healing possible.

In the midst of this multitude our eyes are fixed upon one man who lies there vainly seeking help. For thirty and eight years the disease that has fastened upon him has rendered him helpless; and there he lies in the presence of a remedy which for him is none. Others may be healed, not he. He is not able to step into the pool; he has none to put him in. The desperateness of this condition engages the heart and hand of Jesus on his behalf; he is not put into the pool; but he hears the omnipotent word which heals him, and in a moment rises up, takes up the bed he lies upon and walks.

As all these miracles are types of spiritual healing, we cannot be wrong in interpreting this of such. Moreover, the connection in this case between sin and helplessness is plain from our Lord's words to this man afterwards (ver. 14). It is a general truth which the Lord affirms that "he that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin" (John 8:34, R.V.); and none can break this bondage but the Redeemer of men. All modes of healing man's disease, short of the power and grace of Christ Himself, do but by their failure make its obduracy more manifest, and the need of Christ. And for this the law was given — not of God's choice, but of man's choice — to demonstrate against his unbelief man's utter helplessness. For all modes of man's devising are but law in principle, and men can imagine no other: it must be man's work or God's grace. Of the impossibility of its being the former Bethesda speaks to us.

The law, indeed, as given the first time, — pure law and nothing else, — had nothing remedial in its nature, and as under it Israel stood not at all, so none could expect to stand. The first tables of the covenant were broken at the foot of the mount by the hand of him who had just brought them down, and nothing remained of it but penalty.

But this was not the sufficient trial of man, for the very reason that in it as yet there was nothing remedial. We recognize without much difficulty that we are sinners, and that God must show mercy, while yet we cannot give up the legal principle. We need forgiveness, — need help, — need abatement of the severity of pure law: that is readily owned; but to give up all possibility — all need, therefore — of human work, man's pride and conscience unite in an earnest struggle against such a complete setting aside of responsibility, as he imagines it, — such an acknowledgement of complete failure in responsibility as it really means. Thus arise the various schemes of amalgamation of law and grace with which the religious systems of men abound; all of which the second giving of the law anticipated and has set aside, while it has shown how alone such a scheme could satisfy the requirements of the divine character.

The standard of responsibility never can be lowered, whether actually or virtually. The same tables of the covenant that had been broken are restored. The mercy of God may blot out the past, and allow a new beginning, but never an alteration of the terms (if they are to be legal terms) of final acceptance. Thus with the declaration made this second time, that God is "gracious and merciful, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin," it is no less positively maintained that He "can by no means clear the guilty." "When the wicked man turneth from his wickedness, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive"; but it must be "that which is lawful and right," — nothing less. But that is the very thing which is so hopeless.

If God can accept less, how much less? where can one stop? with the best that one can do? A careless soul may treat that carelessly; but who ever has done really the best one could? Will He take less still? These thoughts are only inventions of the enemy, and of which the word of God knows nothing. But then the whole scheme breaks down at that very point.

This Bethesda witnesses: at the place of sheep, whether gate or pool (the doubt about what it is may be itself significant), the "house of mercy" rears its five pillars, clinging still to the number of responsibility, with no help for the impotent such as is this man, for thirty-eight years afflicted for his sin, as Israel for theirs wandered in the wilderness an equal time, until "that evil generation" had perished from among them. No thought could there have been of help in the pool at all, if that heavenly influence had not troubled the water. But for him it is still in vain — vain as the troubling of law by grace, which in a legal system is always that, two contradictory principles being at work in it. From the typical point of view, however, the case of the impotent man is no exception; yet how many as with him think of it as such, are "coming," but always ineffectually, and looking for help, whether from man or God, to get into the pool.

How new an experience comes with the voice of Jesus. "Wilt thou be made whole?" Yet he begins to talk about the pool. Why not? Must it not be of God, when the angel comes down into it? And the law: is it not of God? was it not "given by the disposition of angels"? And we would even have Christ but a servant of Moses, a means of enabling us to keep the law; or One giving virtue to sacramental ordinances, always with man's aid in some way to perfect them. But Jesus passes by the pool altogether, making whole at once by His word. The thirty-eight years of impotence are ended in a moment: the man rises and walks.

2. Conflict begins on the part of the fleshly religionists who know neither their own need nor the grace of God. We have seen the image of law in the pool, and the grace and power of Christ manifested in contrast with it. We shall find in what follows how fully in accordance with this is the truth that is now to come before us. The healed man in obedience to the Lord's word takes up his bed.; and that day was the Sabbath. The Jews naturally object that he is violating the law; and his answer throws the entire responsibility for this upon the One who healed him. He knows not even who He is, He has got lost from him among the throng: so that the miracle itself seems to have had no right effect upon him; and this is confirmed by what shortly follows, when the Lord, finding him in the temple, warns him not to bring on himself again by sin a judgment which would increase in severity. The result is that he goes and tells the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole.

Thereupon the anger of the Jews flames out against Jesus because He has done these things on the Sabbath. It was for them the sign of that covenant to which they held, and which they did not discern had gone so fatally against them. The Lord in answer takes the highest ground here. True, He works on and knows no rest in His labor of love. He was in communion with His Father, who worked on and knew none. How could He rest — how could they wish God to have His rest, with men in the misery into which sin had brought them? Had they given Him His rest, of whom He had complained that they had made Him to serve with their sins, and wearied Him with their iniquities? (Isa. 43:24.) But then where were they with reference to this covenant of law of which the Sabbaths were the sign, and which had gone so terribly against them?

It was indeed the highest ground that He could take, Himself not with the people in their sin and failure, universal as it was, nor under its penalty, but working in the pity of His Father towards them in those divine works which manifested Him as all that He claimed to be. What could they give as answer? Nothing but, alas, the vindictive animosity of their pride so humbled, sin so unanswerably charged against them! Yet how had He charged? Nay, it was not He, whose works of mercy besought them rather to take shelter under the wings that brooded over them. They flung from them the appeal. Of Him, the Son of the Father, in their midst, they will not permit themselves to face the possibility, and as the only alternative must persecute Him to the death for claiming it.

3. They are in fact forced to a decision; and He will not leave them, therefore, without the distinct revelation of the glory that is His. This follows consequently immediately, with an overwhelming argument against their unbelief. The effect seems to have been for the time the silencing of His accusers, although their enmity is not removed, and we find it at His next visit to Jerusalem bursting out in a more determined effort to get Him into their hands.

(1) They might have misunderstood Him as to His unique claim to have God for His Father; although no Israelite would have ventured to speak of God after that manner. That God was a Father to Israel meant something very different, as they rightly conceived, though faith might have found in it an encouragement to draw nearer to Him than in fact there was ability for. But the Lord leaves them no room to doubt in what follows now of the high and exclusive way in which He declares himself the Son of God. Even the refusal of the possibility of an independent will with Him in what He did, was itself a claim of the highest kind that could be made, consistent with the unity of the Godhead. It is true, also, that the unity of which he speaks here is a practical, ethical one, and not a unity of essence; but it goes so far as to lead up to this. He does not either for a moment forget the manhood that He has taken. The Father "shows" Him; He "sees what the Father does" and does in like manner; but who beside the Eternal Son could speak of doing "in like manner" to the Father? even to raising up the dead and quickening them?

The threefold "verily, verily," — the strong form of affirmation which only John records — naturally divides what is here said into three parts; the first of which declares this practical unity. So perfect is it that He can do nothing of Himself; there is a moral impossibility of His doing anything that is not the expression of the Father's mind. He sees the Father's doing, and does in like manner whatever the Father does. Omniscience and omnipotence are involved in this, and yet in One who is in the place of dependence, but to whom, in the love He has to Him, the Father shows all things that He does. The One who is able to see all that God sees: who is He?

Thus what had startled the Jews — the recent miracle — was but a small thing in comparison of what would indeed awaken their wonder. The Father, they acknowledged, raised the dead and quickened them*: true, and the Son quickens whom He will. But this involves power in His hands as Judge: for to bring up really from the dead those to whom death, as with men in general, is by divine sentence, means judicial power to reverse that sentence. This leads on to a most important consequence, as we shall see directly. In fact, the Father judges no one, but has committed all (final, definitive) judgment to the Son, giving Him honor such as belongs to the Father Himself; and indeed, necessarily, he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father either: for He has sent Him. Such is the unity of the Son with the Father. It is a unity in Godhead; or else we are taught to give to a creature the honor due to God alone.

{* Raising the dead without quickening might be, as in the case of Samuel: to make them really alive is a further and greater thing.}

(2) Such then is the glory of the One they are challenging He is the divine Judge of all: the Lord of life and death. Hence follows the blessed consequence: "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 is passed out of death into life." Thus with the possession of eternal life comes deliverance not merely from condemnation, as the common version renders it, but from judgment itself; the very reception of life is an acquittal: the Judge has spoken, and there is no more judgment needing to be reached.

Eternal life is thus marked by bowing to the word of Christ, which is the accrediting of Him who sent Him; and so He says when speaking to the Father at an after-time: "This is life eternal, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (ch. 17:3). On the other hand, those are dead who "having the understanding darkened, are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness" — or "hardness" — "of their hearts" (Eph. 4:18). This, alas, is not the exceptional condition of a few among men, but of the Gentiles, the "nations," says the apostle; and Israel is no better. "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." It is God alone who can break through a barrier of this kind, and bring "out of death into life."

(3) Life then is the fundamental necessity, the first thing needed by the soul: there is no middle state, as is evident, between life and death. We have to learn, and it may be only very gradually, as the child born into the world learns, what life is as the condition into which we have come; but without the life itself we could not have even the most rudimentary experience. We live the life, because we have the life whereby we live: if we do not distinguish in the spiritual realm, as we have to do in the natural, these two things from one another, all will be in confusion with us.

Life for the dead is resurrection-life; and the Lord now asserts the power of resurrection to be in His hands in a double way, spiritual and physical. He speaks as the Incarnate Word, and does not go back to the time of His pre-existence. He speaks of what shall be, but what is already begun, and of Himself as the Son of God among men, distinguishing between the "hour" of the spiritual and the "hour" of the physical renewal. The one had come already, though in its full blessedness as in Christianity, it had yet to come. The dead were already hearing the voice of the Son of God, and to every one that heard it it was life. Nor was there any distinction between the life as then given, and the life as it would be given: it was in either case an impartation of the life that was in Himself, as Source of it for men. For as the Father had life in Himself, so had He given to the Son to have life in Himself: "given," according to the divine counsel, to Him who was to be the "Last Adam," the Head of the new humanity; but thus to have it in Himself as the Father had it in Himself, as the Source from which others might derive it.

Let us clearly understand what is taught us here. The life in Him is of course eternal life: we understand why it is eternal; that which is in the Father and in the Son must be so. It is not simply because it will never end, but because also it never began: it always was and it always will be; that is eternity in the full sense of eternity.

It is not eternal life because it has come through death and is beyond it: in the Father, it never came through death; as divine life it never can be touched by it. It begins in us, and in us is in character a resurrection life; but that is not why it is eternal life, but it is eternal because it is divine.

It is life in us also: that is distinctly declared. Quickening is the impartation of life: except it were life in us, it would not be our being made to live at all. It is not Christ's having it in Himself that constitutes the difference between Him and those to whom He imparts it, but that He has it as the Father has it, is the perpetual Source and Fountain of it to others. We have it always in dependence — always in Him; were it possible to be cut off from Him, all would be at an end for us, but that does not mean that it is not in us, which it is positively asserted to be. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you": that on the one side; on the other, "he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life" (John 6:53-54). Thus it is eternal life or no life, and it is of "life in you" — therefore eternal life in you — that He is speaking throughout. Otherwise it would be still true as to the one who had eaten the flesh of the Son of man, that there was no life in him. And again in His first epistle John says, "Every one that hateth His brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15): words that would have no force except from the fact that the Christian has eternal life abiding in him.

Notice that expression, "abiding in him": it naturally refers us to what we have in the Gospel afterwards, where the Lord figures under a vine and its branches the relation of His people to Himself. Here the branch abiding in the vine is the condition of the vine in its life, which is its sap, abiding in the branch. This the Lord follows up with His "ye in Me and I in you" as the condition of fruit-bearing. So in the epistle, the life abiding in the professing Christian is tested by the fruit; the abiding of the life being maintained by the constant active inflow of the fulness that is in Christ into the lives of His people.

That our life is in Christ, then, — or as John rather puts it, in the Son, — is in no wise in opposition to its being in us also, as communicated, dependent life. Such it always is, and always will be. Our ability to define or give it rightful expression is feeble enough; even natural life has never been successfully defined; in cleaving closely to the inspired language we shall find a safeguard to our thoughts which will at the same time help them to legitimate expansion.

If the Father has given to the Son to have life in Himself in the same way that the Father has, the natural corollary to this is that "He hath given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is Son of man." The giving of life we have already seen in fact to imply such authority, inasmuch as it is at the same time a freeing from judgment; that is, from coming personally into it. A giving account of ourselves there will surely be, and a judgment of works, but not a judgment by works or according to works. That is the judgment of the "great white throne" (Rev. 20:12-13), and in it no fallen creature could ever stand. Even the psalmist cries: "Enter not into judgment with Thy servant: for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified" (Ps. 143:2). The confusion that exists among Christians in such a matter as this is as lamentable as it is inexcusable: for Scripture has made it as plain as can be, that, raised or changed into His image in glory, all the saints of the present and the past shall at Christ's coming be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and to be ever with Him. When He comes to judge even the living, we shall be with Him, and with Him "the saints shall judge the world." The judgment of the dead before the great white throne is separated from this by an interval of a thousand years: a broad enough division, surely. But the indifference to prophecy, and even to the subject of the Lord's coming itself, has had its sad recompense in the loss of knowledge of things of fundamental importance to Christianity itself.

Judgment, all final judgment, is in the hands of Christ alone: for the tender and beautiful reason, "because He is Son of man." By a Man perfect in manhood, who has known even the weakness of it, as that title, "Son of man" indicates, — by One who "gave His flesh for the life of the world" — shall the world be judged. What assurance this gives of the most perfect consideration for creature frailty, of all circumstances that can be pleaded, in the judgment executed!

Lastly, physical resurrection is also in His hand: "The hour is coming in which all that are in the tombs shall hear His voice and shall come forth" — the hour for each and all, but which does not necessarily imply the same hour for each and all: which we are assured by many another scripture that in fact it will not be. "Every man in his own order," says the apostle: "Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's, at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:23). There is no confusion. "Each" will be "in his own rank," as it would be better rendered; and each rank will come forth at its appointed time; only "they that are Christ's, at His coming."

Time is not specified in the Lord's words here; for time does not affect the question of authority, and it is of the authority given to Him that He is speaking. But the "life" and "judgment" which are in His hands to dispense characterize respectively two contrasted resurrections. "They that have done good "come forth" to a resurrection of life; and they that have done evil to a resurrection of judgment." In either case death is seen in its merely provisional character: for the full carrying out of God's purpose it must disappear. Man apart from the body is not man as God made him; and therefore not what His dealings contemplate. Life, on the one hand, claims the body of the saint; as judgment, on the other hand, the body of the sinner. It is for the "deeds done in the body" men are to receive; and it is in the body that they are to receive it. And it is noticeable that the saint here, as well as the sinner, is characterized by his "doings." Although life is a "gift," and not a reward, yet the fruits of that life, brought forth by the renewed man, are recognized in the resurrection. The holiness of God is seen in result to have been maintained by His grace, as it is manifested in the judgment of evil.

4. Thus the Lord has in the presence of His enemies, soon to be as criminals before His judgment-seat, revealed His personal glory as the Son of the Father, with the authority belonging to Him as Man, come in the purpose of divine love among men. He proceeds to reprove them for their unbelief, in view of the witness that had been given to Him in so many ways. The character of His own testimony; the testimony of His forerunner; the supernatural works which accredited Him on the Father's part; the Father's own testimony; the Scriptures accepted by themselves: all united to put His claims beyond the power of all the cavils of unbelief to affect. And He then proceeds to point out the nature of the unbelief itself which they manifested, what it proceeded from, what it would lead to, and leaves them in the hands of Moses, whom they so trusted, yet who was their real accuser before God. It is a crushing reply, which for the present seems to stagger and confound them, so that we hear of nothing from them more, until after another period of labor in Galilee, He returns at the feast of tabernacles to Jerusalem.

(1) He returns to speak of that practical oneness which he had with the Father, which forbade Him doing anything simply of Himself. As a consequence, no independent will of His own perverted His judgment. He judged as He heard: that is, according to the real facts of the case. This perfect simplicity made His word to be indeed the word of God, and to have a character far removed from that of others. Thus it had to be confessed, "Never man spake like this Man." It was indeed the most signal witness to Him. Yet it stood not alone: it would have been an anomaly had it done so, and the word of the law, "the testimony of two is true," would have rendered it invalid. If He bore witness regarding Himself, though perfectly qualified to do so, it would not by itself be valid: which is clearly the meaning of the law. The testimony of one man might be true — absolutely; just as true in itself as that of two. But it would not be true in the same way to others: it would need confirmation. The Lord appeals therefore to another testimony — His Father's. This confirmed His own in such a way as that there could not be any more testimony needed. And, in fact, all the testimony of which He speaks here resolves itself into these.

(2) John's testimony He refers to: a merciful concession to the need of man, though as a merely human one He could not have need of it. It was a call to rouse men's attention and awaken the sense of need on their part; and in fact many had been roused: they had sent to him and he had borne witness to the truth. He was as the lamp, burning and shining, not the light of day, but lighting up the darkness of the night. They had been glad of it, and willing to avail themselves of its cheer for a season. Limited like all of man both as to time and place, John's testimony had of necessity to give way to Him of whom he testified.

(3) But now there was greater witness. The glorious works that were being done by Him, and which in their completeness spoke of a work far more glorious, these were gifts from the Father which manifested His Son, while the Father had even directly uttered His voice in attestation. But they, alas, had never at any time heard His voice — to them He had never spoken; nor had they seen one form of His many manifestations.

(4) The Lord proceeds to speak of what in one sense was, in another should have been, a matter of their own experience. Scripture was in their bands, they searched it, they thought they found in it eternal life. Well it spoke of Him, the Giver of life: yet they would not come to Him to find it. In fact they had not God's word abiding in them; for the One whom He had sent they believed not.

(5) The truth was, the conditions of faith were lacking in them. They received glory from one another; they did not seek it from God; they had not the love of God. Thus One coming in His Father's Name they would not receive. But that would put them into the hands of Antichrist. He will come in his own name, doing his own will, and be received. A solemn thing to realize, and yet most sure, that all that would displace Christ in the soul makes room for Antichrist.

They could not believe, therefore. Moses had written of Him; and they trusted Moses, without believing His testimony. Moses, not He, was their accuser. If they had believed Moses, they would have believed Him. If they believed not Moses' writings, how would they believe His words? A serious question for the days in which we are.

Section 2. (John 6.)

Eternal life as a life of faith, and its sustenance.

We now have eternal life as a life of faith, a life ministered to and sustained by the bread from heaven, the antitype of the manna, but which (even on that account) transcends it. In the same way as in the last section the history is the text, from which as its occasion the truth is drawn, or which gives shape to it, though this goes far beyond, as there, what the occasion could suggest. The two parts into which the section is in this way naturally divided, are otherwise also in contrast with one another: the first giving the Lord's presentation to Israel, which was rendered vain by their unbelief; the second, the Christian verity which translates all their blessing into higher truth.

1. (1) The Lord is again in Galilee or the neighborhood, and a great multitude is gathered around him. The question of providing for such a company is raised by the Lord Himself and is addressed to Philip; who replies that it would take more than 200 pence (or denarii) even scantily to supply them. Andrew thereupon suggests that there was a lad there who had five barley loaves and two small fishes; but, as he intimates, there was no real hope in that. Yet the Lord accepts and uses these, even though it veil in some degree the wonder of that which He is about to do. The men are made to sit down, and He blesses and distributes to them; the ministration by disciples, hands is not found in John as in the Synoptists; here we have only the divine hand that really accomplished all. He provides; He ministers: Jehovah, the Creator, in tender care for all; none lost in the general mass; the details cared for, as we see all through nature, not left to the rougher management of subordinates. By and by, when all are filled, then even the fragments must not be wasted: the very last thing, perhaps, that we should expect from One who could work a miracle like this. But it is not a miracle — a "wonder" merely — but a "sign": significant all through. Where is the ragged end of nature? where are her mere useless dust-heaps? where will you find the thing she wastes? Nay, her very instruments of destruction are but transformers, and in the interests of preservation: "that nothing be lost" is a principle that runs through all.

(2) Christ then is here displayed in divine power amidst the people; and the question comes, as ever, how will they respond to it? They do, in fact, recognize that "this is of a truth that prophet that cometh into the world"; and they would gladly avail themselves of the power manifest, using it, however, for their own ends, and controlling it by their own will. The result is, as the Lord foresees, that they would take Him by force and make Him a King! they would compel Him to be the leader of one of those popular revolts against Roman authority, which at a later time occurred so often. Once committed to it, as they thought, beyond the power of drawing back, He would resign Himself to the will of the multitude and become the Deliverer for which all were looking. How strange a thing is the mind of man, when perverted by that very will which in this case they believe has so much power, but which only avails to cloud all true perception, and to make their reasoning the most pitiable folly. They are going to have a prophet after their own heart, and divine power work at their bidding! From such reception, which was all that the nation as a whole had for the Deliverer, the Lord necessarily withdraws. He goes up into the mountain, Himself alone, type of that ascension where He was before, which is to follow, and to which He presently refers. Meanwhile His disciples are upon the sea, darkness falling, the sea rising under a contrary wind; and such is the world in the absence of Christ for those that follow Him. "The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest," and the "course of this world" which has rejected Him is "according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Its being called "the sea of Tiberias" is very significant, the Israelitish city bearing the name of a Roman emperor, the Gentile dominant over those who should have been the people of God, but who are sunk like Jonah in the sea of the nations, even though miraculously preserved.

The "ship" in which the disciples are marks these out as a Jewish remnant, which in fact the disciples were when He left the earth, and will be again when He returns to it (see Notes to Matt., p. 158). The Church proper is seen in Peter stepping out upon the waters to go to Jesus; but this we have not here. Only He is seen coming, and they are alarmed, but His word dispels their fear; and when they receive Him into the ship, immediately they are at the land for which they set out. This ends the Jewish part: but which furnishes the principles which are developed and applied in the Lord's words which follow, and in which the thread of John's Gospel with its theme, eternal life, is resumed and carried on.

2. The promises to Israel are confirmed and raised to a higher level in Christianity, and thus become the germs and types of fuller and more wondrous blessings. The world in which we are is the world which has rejected Jesus, and into which, as just said, Israel through unbelief has sunk, and for the meantime lost her place and blessing. Into her place on earth the Church is come, but as a pilgrim and a stranger only, with blessings in a higher sphere. That which is abnormal to Israel, to be a stranger and pilgrim upon earth, is normal to the Church.

(1) The multitude seek for Jesus, in ships that have reached the place of the miraculous supply of food since the disciples left it in the only one there. Jesus had not gone with the disciples, that they know; but they follow the disciples to the city of His adoption, Capernaum, and to their astonishment find Him there. They ask Him in astonishment "when" — which involves the question, "how — He got there." But He has no reply to that; only a rebuke for the motive which made them follow Him. It was not because they saw signs: that is, not because they had realized the significance of His miracles. Had they done so, they would have been brought by them into the presence of God; and He would have got His place in their souls. But it was not so: they had but eaten of the loaves and been filled! Food that perisheth for the life that passeth: that was all that they were in pursuit of; let them work rather for the food that abideth, and that ministers to a life which is eternal. What a contrast between these!

He does not yet say that He Himself is the bread of life. He would, as with the woman of Samaria, fix their eyes upon the imperishable and eternal, and wake up in them heart-hunger after these. Till they had this, all else would be a riddle which they would not even care to solve. But He tells them that this food the Son of man would give them, not now the Son of God. As Creator He could by the mere act of His will furnish abundantly what this life required; but the food of eternal life only the Son of man could give them: for that, He must become the Son of man; man, in unique humanity; amid all the sons of men, the Son of man. What a difference between the work of creation, with all its display of wisdom, power and goodness, and the amazing self-sacrifice of redemption by a Son of man!

The Lord does not, and could not say, "Work for the life," but for the "food" of the life. The life itself is the fundamental, primary gift which alone makes possible any right working. The dead cannot work into life, but the Lord quickens by His voice, as we have seen. Here we are in another line of things, and there is something for man to do, though he cannot give himself life. When they take Him to mean working works, He tells them that God's work — the thing He wanted them to do — was to "believe on Him whom He had sent." But they had been "working" to get that food with which He had fed them; and, great as was the miracle, the food itself was but that of the earthly life. Ah, if they would take the same pains, if they would show the same eagerness, to get the bread of life eternal. He who had given them the one had been appointed and accredited of God with the seal of the Spirit (as after His baptism by John) to give them the other. Indeed, the bread itself was sealed and certified to them at the same time, the incorruptible food of an imperishable life; and Gift and Giver were the same blessed Person.

The multitude, however, at once take openly the position of unbelievers. They can ask Him in the face of the miracle what He is working, and then, naturally enough from the standpoint of those who follow Him because they have eaten of the loaves and been filled, point to the sustenance of Israel by the manna forty years in the wilderness as indeed what they might call a proper "sign." The Lord answers that the true bread from heaven is not that which Moses gave, but that which His Father gives, and that is He who cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

There they are brought face to face with that upon which all now depends for them. Eternal life is there for their acceptance or rejection in the Bread of Life, the true Manna, which is Christ Himself. Faith in Him would make them partakers of this precious gift which was not for Israel only but for the world. Wherever the need might be, here was the sufficient supply, free to all that welcomed it. He who had come down from heaven to man sought but for a welcome: how often has He sought in vain!

(2) The response, however, seems at first in this case to be all that one could desire. Like the woman of Samaria, and without exposing their ignorance as she did hers, they ask for the gift of which He had spoken. "Lord," they say, "evermore give us this bread." How like two cases may be that are nevertheless essentially different! and He who "knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man," could not be deceived. Nevertheless, He insists emphatically on the value of the gift: "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst." This is exactly in the line of what He said at Sychar to the woman, and a little fuller, pointing more to the necessity of faith, and to its character, not as mere belief in a fact, but reliance upon a Person, in whom the fulness of satisfaction was to be found. But alas, this insistence upon faith is no good sign for those to whom. He is speaking; for where faith is, it does not need to turn in upon itself, and does not grow by self-occupation. Nor does he who hungers and thirsts need to be told that the mere contemplation of a feast will not satisfy, but only the appropriation of it. But here was the feast spread and the welcome and a wonderful assurance: once more, perhaps, as with the parallel saying to the woman, that which may rebuke also the poverty of faith in those who have it, and to understand it we must remember that that first coming to Christ which is once for all, yet implies also a constancy of coming for all needs, an hourly dependence, and a simplicity in taking Him for all; a refusal of all helps to eke out His sufficiency by other means. In this it is that want of truth to Him will make our experience fail in just that measure. Drinking of this world's water we shall thirst again; going to the world for help, like Abraham with his face towards the south, there will come a famine in our own things, even when we would fain enjoy them. A dishonored Christ will fail to satisfy. Let us not impute to Him what is due to the dishonor we have done Him. We must take Him for all, to find Him all-sufficient.

But with the crowd now following the Lord there was not even the most rudimentary faith. "I said unto you, that ye have seen Me even and believe not." The work He had done they had to acknowledge, and for this they followed Him; but it was their bodies that got the food; they had known neither spiritual hunger nor supply. They had seen Him (as declared in the miracle), but they had not believed. And such is man universally: what hope, then, as to any? The answer given by the Lord is, There is hope in God alone: "All that the Father giveth Me will come to Me"; there is not merely hope, therefore, but certainty that, spite of all the opposition of the human heart to God, Christ shall not lose that which divine love in Him has sought. How fully sure is it then that He can add, "And him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out." To reject the gift of His Father's love would be indeed an impossibility. Even in this, that oneness of His will with the Father's which He has before asserted, displays itself: "For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." The love that is in His heart towards men works in absolute conformity to the Father's will; and necessarily, for "God is love," and therefore the will of God is the activity of Love itself. Father and Son are in absolute unity, therefore, here: the Son devoting Himself to carry out the salvation which is of God for man. "And this," He adds, "is the will of Him that sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day." Resurrection has thus to come in for the fulfilment of what He is speaking of. Israel rejecting Him, as He sees in the crowds that are now about Him, the Kingdom which had been announced as at hand would be delayed, and faith might have to wait for the accomplishment of what it sought in resurrection. And in any case, resurrection must come in at the "last day" (the close of Israel's age of law), and before the Kingdom. Death must be swallowed up in victory (Isa. 25:8) or how much would be lost! and He it is who must accomplish this.

He repeats this immediately, only in a somewhat stronger way, that "this is the Father's will, that whosoever seeth the Son and believeth on Him should have eternal life, and He would raise him up at the last day." This is surely not meant to set aside the duty of watching for the Lord, on the part of believers of that time, nor to say, therefore, that all would necessarily die, to be raised up. The quickening of the mortal body (Rom. 8:11), in the case of those who are alive when the Lord comes, brings into the complete likeness of the risen saint, and is an action of the same character as resurrection. For His present purpose it was not needful to distinguish between them. Israel's seeing and not believing on Him was to be made the occasion of the call of a people characteristically heavenly, and to this the words before us point.

But the Jews murmur at the greatness of His claim. To them He is but the son of Joseph: they know as they think, both His father and His mother; and how then can He say He has come down from heaven? Jesus only replies that, except the Father draw him, no one can come to Him; and such an one He will raise up at the last day. Then He explains that this drawing is by divine enlightenment, as the prophets had spoken of being taught of God. Every one who had heard from the Father and learned of Him came to Jesus. And yet, on the other hand, no one had actually seen the Father but Himself, who was of Him.

Thus man with his back to the light walks in his own shadow, with God unknown; and God has to pursue him with that unwelcome light, make him to realize his condition and his need of Jesus, that he may find the unseen Father in the Son. Here, then, the bread of life — the means of eternal life — is found. Those who ate the manna in the desert nevertheless died. For him who eats of the true heavenly bread, there is no real death: he will live forever. The lost knowledge of God, the moral link with Him, has been restored; and this is a life which so possessed will endure. The estrangement from God, which brought in death — which is in itself death — is over. Divine life — the divine nature — is in him who by faith in Christ is reconciled to God.

But for this another thing is needed, which the Lord now goes on to, and which the manna fails even to represent. The bread from heaven it does, Christ in humiliation, in the wilderness of the world; yet abiding as the "hidden manna" — the manna preserved in the ark — for the land also; like the bread that abideth to eternal life. But now the manna fails to represent that which we find in the "bread of God," which now assumes a sacrificial character: "the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

(3) Immediately there is a a clamor again. "The Jews" — who are probably here, as they are more distinctly in the next chapter, the Judeans, in contrast with the Galileans, and always His bitterest adversaries — "the Jews therefore contended with one another, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" There were with them no spiritual needs to make them infer a spiritual meaning, and the Lord does not explain. We shall find presently that when He does so, it has no effect in preventing many even of His professing disciples dropping off from Him. Here He only insists the more on the truth and necessity of what He is declaring. With another of His strong affirmations, He carries His statement further than before, and gives it fuller emphasis: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you: he that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is truly food, and my blood is truly drink."

They were accustomed to such figurative speech; and the words would not sound as if they had been spoken elsewhere than in that eastern land. Moreover the impossibility of taking them literally would seem apparent, while the sacrificial system of the law would naturally suggest the thought of reference to it in the words of Christ. But to drink the blood of the offering was in entire opposition to the law, which forbade the drinking of any blood. Yet the giving His flesh for the life of the world, of which He had spoken, could be nothing else but sacrificial, while the feeding upon the flesh by any other than the priests could only apply to the peace-offering.

Our Christian knowledge enables us easily to put by the side of our Lord's words passages from the Old Testament history, the prophets and the psalms, which should have helped the listeners to understand their application. In their own Targums stands recorded their own interpretation Messianically (partially, at least) of Isa. 53 and Ps. 22 and 40, besides much else. But the conclusion was unwelcome to their unhumbled pride, and Christ crucified was "to the Jew a stumbling-block." Let us turn from them to consider for ourselves what His words mean.

Appropriating faith could hardly be more vividly pictured than in the eating and drinking of Christ's flesh and blood. The Supper of the Lord has kept continually before us the language here, which ritualism would spoil by insisting upon a real partaking in a so-called "sacrament" of a living instead of a dead Christ. Its being His death in which at His table we remember Him takes away the whole foundation of a doctrine which debases and carnalizes what is of the deepest spiritual import. We need not take it up here where we are warned on every side that it cannot be an ordinance of which the Lord is speaking when He says, "Except ye eat and drink, ye have no life in you," any more than when on the other hand He says, "He that eateth and drinketh hath eternal life." The ordinance speaks of that of which the words speak; and the truth is symbolized in act there, and in words here.

Let us note that on the one side, if we eat not we have no life, — nothing that can properly be called that: if we have eaten we have eternal life: eternal life or no spiritual life at all: that is what the Lord's "verily, verily" affirms.

Moreover, He is speaking of life in you: the eternal life is therefore in you; otherwise it would be saying, if you eat not you have no life in you, while yet, if you eat, you still have no life in you: which would be, of course, too incongruous to maintain.

Christ's flesh is given for the life of the world, and here the flesh and blood are apart: this is a sacrificial death, in which, according to the law, the blood was carefully poured out before the flesh was either burned or eaten. There was an exception to this, when the sin-offering was burned outside the camp; but this is the peace-offering; which, while it does not go so fully into the work of atonement, dwells more upon the effect of it. The passover had this character, where the whole household fed upon that the blood of which was on the door-posts. Accordingly it is the "passover, the feast of the Jews," which was at hand when these words were spoken.

The difference between the flesh and blood is evident. The "blood is the life"; and "it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul." Thus it speaks of the work accomplished, as only in death could it be accomplished; while the flesh is the victim that has died; in type, the Person of the Lord Himself. Thus the Person is first dwelt upon, the Bread from heaven; and then "the bread which I will give is My flesh."

The drinking the blood is characteristic of Christianity, as compared with that which was before it. The work is known and entered into, with its blessed effect as bringing us to God. Death has become the sustenance of Life. It is not however of the present power of resurrection of which the Lord speaks here, but of going on to it as that in which our portion is. Christ having gone out of the world by death, and we having entered into the fellowship of His death, we wait to be with Him.

Of this identification of ourselves with Him, and of Himself with us He goes on to speak. His flesh is truly food, His blood is truly drink. The food we take becomes by assimilation part of our very selves; and this wondrous food which has in it the true and eternal life (we being the dead and it the living) works "contrary to nature" to assimilate us to itself. Thus we abide in Him and He in us: Christ makes us His own, and then lives in us as His own.

He compares with this even His own human life as sent of the Father. As Man, He thus lived by reason of the Father, the Father's will being that which He was here to carry out. Even so with him in whom Christ as received by him abides, he lives by reason of Christ: Christ it is who is the explanation of his life, its thought and purpose. This is a life which is true life, a life therefore over which hangs no shadow of death: it abides for ever.

(4) But even to many of His disciples this was a hard saying, and they stumbled at it. They were thinking of the "Kingdom and glory," and wanted nothing of the "Kingdom and patience" which must precede it. To eat and drink into His death, whatever this might mean, was not the fulfilment of their carnal expectations. They had in truth no heart to inquire further, and stopped at the mere letter and the flesh. The Lord assures them therefore, He was going up where He was before. As to what He had been saying, the flesh could profit nothing; the Spirit of God alone could give life, and His words were spiritual — suited to the work of the Spirit — and quickening where He wrought. But some of them had no receptive power — no faith; and here He spoke with the consciousness which had been ever present with Him, of who it was that believed not, and how unbelief would end in apostasy and betrayal. He could find no hope but in that love-gift of the Father, of which He had spoken, and which assured Him of a people that should come to Him.

Thus He was prepared for rejection; and they took Him at His word, and rejected Him. "Upon this many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him." Such was the dropping off that He had reason to turn even to the twelve and ask, Were they going too? Faith in Simon Peter answered for the rest, there was no other to whom to go: it was, and so it has remained, Christ or none at all! And for those for whom it is so there are "words of eternal life" which are found with Him; all the more surely that, as they are unacceptable to carnal men: words which in their unearthly purity proclaim indeed the "Holy One of God."

Peter speaks for them all, but they are not in fact united in the same testimony: for now as the truth develops, and the light shines amid the darkness, the darkness gathers strength in opposition to it. This seems to be the time when in the defection going on among professed disciples, the heart of Judas begins to conceive its first malignant schemes of hostility to the Lord. His
character is at least now formed as what the Lord declares him to be, a "false
accuser" — a "devil." The seed of the betrayal has already taken root within him.

Section 3. (John 7 — 8:1.)

The Spirit in the believer the manifestation of the glory of the unknown Christ.

The connection between this section and the last is very evident. As we have already seen, life being so largely the subject matter in this gospel, the Spirit of God is necessarily connected with this as the Communicator and power of the life. Thus in the first subdivision we had life in the first two sections, and in the third the Spring of living water; in the present one, we have had in like manner life in the first two sections, and now, in the third, we have again the living water: but it is here not simply springing up within the believer, but pouring out from him in the world "rivers of living water." The world at large is not changed by it, but an oasis is created in the desert, a prophecy of what is yet to come for the whole world.

Thus the feast that brings the Lord at this time to Jerusalem is the feast of tabernacles, Israel's joyful celebration in the land of her wanderings past, and with which the blessing of the earth is concurrent. But this has not come, and He who can alone bring it in for them is rejected by His own. Thus He goes up only to substitute as it were Pentecost for Tabernacles. The blessing is greater and of a higher order than anything the latter can show, but it is individual, not national; and still less world-wide.

For the blessing itself implies a Christ no longer present among men, but, according to the words which we have just heard uttered, "gone up where He was before." We have heard too by what way. Death has come on Him on whom it had no claim: a voluntary, sacrificial death, and His glory for ever; but the sign also of His rejection by men, a rejection which would even have been complete, had not the Father's gift secured a people to His Son. Thus then we have been brought to where we are doctrinally in the present chapter: the world still rejecting Him; the Father acting for the glory of the Son; the Spirit manifested in the world itself in those who have believed on Jesus, the Witness of His unseen glory: these are the characteristics of that to which we have now come.

1. The state of the world is that which is first revealed, the Lord Himself in what complete solitude in the midst of it, without sympathy even from His human kindred, and the professing people of God only to be classed with the world: going on indeed with their feasts, the empty forms of a piety which for the mass does not exist, and which have become therefore the signs of hardness and levity of heart. What a witness against them is that history of divine deliverances which their feast of tabernacles commemorates, while those who are especially the clusterers round the holy places then, "they of Judea," are specially marked out here as those in open and deadly hostility to the Lord of life, the Son of Him they worship.

The Lord therefore does not go up at first, or openly, to the feast. He is neither Lord there, nor even welcome Guest. Nor is the time come for His open manifestation to the world, which hates Him for His faithfulness. Thus He abides solitary in His unique and perfect Manhood among men estranged from Him by His perfection.

2.(1) At the feast contradictory murmurings are heard about Him, some for, some against; suppressed however by the fear of those of Judea, who in all decisions concerning questions of authority and teaching had the upper hand. In the middle of the feast, Jesus who had come up privately to it, appeared in the temple and with the authority that belonged to Him, began to teach. Amazed at the knowledge which plainly He had not acquired at the ordinary schools of rabbinic learning, which it in no wise resembled, they inquire how He has come by it. He answers that His doctrine is not His own, but His who sent Him. He has not learned of men, nor put forth what was simply of His own mind; but what He taught He had learned of the Father in that abiding intercourse with Him in which He lived (John 8:28). And He adds that they too might know for themselves whether His doctrine were of God, or of a man's mind merely. They would know this, if they were but willing to do the Father's will: for the spirit of obedience clears out of the soul the earth-vapors that obscure the heavens; he who has not heart-felt desire for the truth will scarcely learn it.

This is itself simple, if only we believe that God can certify the truth to His creatures, and that He cares enough for them to desire that they should have it. But, simple as it is, if we believe it, what does it reveal with regard to the condition, not of the world merely, but of the children of God today? The various and conflicting views of Christians as to almost every Christian truth, how are they to be accounted for, with the Bible open before us, and the Spirit of truth to lead us into all truth? What heart-searching should it not give us, to learn how far we are really willing to have the truth — the whole truth, at whatever cost.

Another test the Lord gives here: "He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh His glory who sent him, he is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him." This is a personal test, as the other was the doctrinal. And here was the double witness to the glorious Speaker: who but Himself could have faced the application of these by the watchful multitudes that were around Him?

(2) He turns now openly upon His adversaries, to warn them how thoroughly the law to which they clung witnessed against them. He charges them plainly with their murderous designs upon His life; a charge which the Galileans, ignorant of what the Judeans were meditating, impute to the diseased fancies of a demoniac. The Lord goes back to the miracle which had aroused their malignant animosity. Circumcision, though incorporated by Moses in the law he gave, was yet not what came from Moses but from the fathers; it had another character, in fact, from law, as connected with those through whom God in His grace gave them the promises. Thus circumcision itself is by the apostle afterwards (Rom. 4:11) shown to be the seal of the righteousness of faith in Abraham; and he receives it when his body is now dead and fruit from him naturally impossible, the very time of its reception thus corresponding with its spiritual meaning. This circumcision then, belonging to a period before law, and in its meaning the very opposite, is by the law itself preferred to the law, — that is, the commandment of the sabbath. Thus grace had, by the law itself, precedence above the law.

Now the impotent man was healed by the selfsame grace, his body now dead like Abraham's. Grace, not law, had had the priority in divine order, as was evident; and law, as an incompatible thing, could not be added to grace when it did come (see Gal. 3:19-26), but came to make man's need of grace apparent. Sickness and death having come in through sin, only grace could heal the impotent; and this we have seen to be the principle which the miracle in all its details discloses. "Take up thy bed and walk" asserts the superiority of grace to law, as did the circumcision of a man upon the sabbath day. No doubt it required, as the Lord shows here, not to judge according to the appearance; but this is the true judicial spirit, and always necessary for righteous judgment.

(3) Again there is a stir among the crowd at His boldness, and on the part of some of Jerusalem, who know full well what is in the hearts of the rulers with regard to Him, an expression of astonishment that they do not interfere. Could it be possible, they ask each other, that a revulsion of mind has come, and that the rulers are beginning to recognize this Man as the Christ? But no: surely that were impossible; they knew Him and His origin, and there was no room for such mystery as they expected to attach to the coming of Messiah. Evidently to them He was but the simple Galilean, the Nazarene; and all that had taken place at. Bethlehem and Jerusalem had slipped entirely out of unretentive minds which cared too little to retain it. While they were murmuring such things, the voice of Him of whom they were speaking penetrated to them where they were, not to assert His birth in David's city or of David's line, nor to recall the vision of angels and the quest of the magi, graved in the hearts of many by the slaughter of the babes. Nay, He allows that they know Him in their mere external way (for of nothing else were they speaking) sufficiently: He did not propose to supplement that knowledge, which for them would still be ineffectual. That which they needed to know He had already declared, and the way to know it, but they recognized not divine truth, nor therefore His divine mission. He was from God; but they knew not that God from whom He was.

And still the hand of God kept back the angry outburst that was ready to break out against Him: Master of all circumstances till the appointed hour when He would yield Himself to the divine will which He came to accomplish. Moreover those quiet penetrating words were gaining ground with many of the multitude, who were asking if, when Christ came, He could be expected to do more signs than the Man they were refusing had already done.

(4) A more direct effort to take Him is the result of this, the chief priests and Pharisees sending officers to apprehend Him. The Lord, with perfect understanding of all that is going on, tells them that it needs not: He is going away — back to Him who had sent Him into the world. Days would come when at last in vain they would seek Him; and into that place into which He was going they could never come: — a solemn warning; but which they fling off from them in their scorn. He has indeed spoken of God as the One that sent Him, and then the warning is plain; but they will not have it so. No: He must be going to the dispersed among the Gentiles, and to teach the Gentiles; and this too was to be, though not according to their thought. Little did they realize that Lo-ammi ("not my people") was to be written upon them in the time soon to come, in a sterner fashion than ever yet had been. But beyond, in the place from which He had come, to which He was going to return, there could be no Father's welcome for the rejectors of His Son.

3. He was going away, therefore. "He was in the world, and the world had been made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He had come to His own, and His own received Him not." In that which was considered the chief of their festivals, His voice was heard only as a strange and dissonant sound. He was going away now to where He was before.

The last day, the great day of the feast, had come; and those who had gathered to it from all parts of the world were soon to separate. It was a day of rest and of holy convocation, of gathering, not of scattering; and as an eighth day,* the commencement of a new week, it spoke of eternity, of an eternal reunion, when all servile work should be at an end for ever, sin and its consequences being together put away. It corresponds with this really, that dwelling in booths was only for seven days; the eighth speaking of the entrance into the land.

{* Edersheim does not regard it as the eighth day, which, he says, "in Rabbinic language was regarded as 'a festival by itsel'" but certainly not in the language of Scripture.}

Another ceremony, but which has no authority from Scripture, ceased also on the eighth day, — the pouring out of water drawn from the pool of Siloam. "This," says Lange, "was the celebration of the miraculous springs which God opened for the people on their pilgrimage through the wilderness. But because the eighth day marked their entrance into Canaan, the water-drawing ceased. On this day the springs of the promised land gave their waters to the people: an emblem of the streams of spiritual blessing which Jehovah had promised to His people."

They were still in the land, a broken remnant of them, under the Gentile domination: and where now were those spiritual streams, the "living waters" that were to "go out from Jerusalem in summer and in winter"? (Zech. 14:8). Centuries had come and gone, and there was no sign even yet of the fulfilment. The ceremonies survived, but with the heart-sickness of deferred hope. Seasons of expectancy had passed away, fading quietly into the ordinary vacant dullness, or sometimes crushed out fiercely under an armed heel. Now there was to some the breath of another revival, although the voice of him who had first announced it had been silenced in Herod's prison. But John had given place to a Greater; and signs and wonders that might well be Messianic were waking up expectation from Galilee to Jerusalem. Yet why did He not use His power after another fashion than merely in feeding or healing the multitudes? why did He not rally around Him the strength of Israel, and strike off their fetters?

The booths were gone; the wilderness-journey had come to an end; the eighth day had brought them to the land: with their Messiah in their midst, would not the land, in all the breadth and fulness of the promise to Abraham, be before them now? Yet He had spoken of going away, and to a place inaccessible to those who should seek Him and not find Him. What could all this mean, they must have questioned, many of them in their bewilderment, and found no answer.

But "in the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any one thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

"Of those who had heard Him," says Edersheim, "none but must have understood that, if the invitation were indeed real, and Christ the fulfilment of all, then the promise had its deepest meaning, that he who believed on Him would not only receive the promised fulness of the Spirit, but give it forth to the fertilizing of the barren waste around. It was truly the fulfilment of the Scripture-promise, not of one, but of all: that in Messianic times the Nabhi (prophet), literally the 'weller forth,' viz. of the divine, should not be one or another select individual, but He would pour out on all His handmaidens and servants of His Holy Spirit, and thus the moral wilderness of this world be changed into a fruitful garden. Indeed, this is expressly stated in the Targum, which thus paraphrases Isa. 44:3: 'Behold, as the waters are poured out on arid ground, and spread over the dry soil, so will I give the Spirit of My holiness on thy sons, and blessing on thy children's children.' What was new to them was that all this was treasured up in the Christ, that out of His fulness men might receive, and grace for grace. And yet even this was not quite new."

The interpretation is given by John himself on account of the importance of it: "But this He said concerning the Spirit, which they that believed on Him were about to receive; for the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

The fulfilment carries us on to Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came in witness to the glory of the rejected Saviour. And we must not suppose, because of the reference to the Old Testament, that in the manner of its fulfilment there was nothing but what the prophets of old declared. Peter's quotation of Joel at the time when the Spirit came shows how really the promise of our Lord could fulfil the Old Testament prophet. It does not show that there was not a deeper and greater blessing in what took place at Pentecost. The Lord's words here speak of the effect only — "rivers of living water" flowing out of the believer. The evangelist explains that this would follow the reception of the Spirit after Christ should be glorified. And the Lord's previous words assure us that this would be in the day of His absence, not of His presence; although even yet it was assured to them that He would return if only (nationally) they repented. They did not; and the mystery of the Church came gradually out. Of that there is nothing here: all is individual; and even as to the individual, we must connect what is said here with what had been said to the Samaritan woman, before we can understand that the reception of the Spirit means that indwelling presence which is the abiding spring within the man from which these "rivers" issue. For the full truth and bearing of the doctrine we must look elsewhere.

But where else shall we find so wonderful a picture of what the man indwelt of the Spirit is in the world as witness of the glory of His rejected Lord? As we have to say of kindred utterances in this Gospel, it seems too highly drawn for a picture of any save the rare exceptions among Christian men. But let us accept the reproof of this, and try rather to realize what a man indwelt of the Spirit would be normally as that. The Spirit of God — God — dwelling within one: the Living Centre of the practical life; the Enlightener of mind and conscience; the Energy of the affections and the will: all power, all wisdom in Him who as Vice-gerent of Christ has come to hold me for Christ against all that in a world opposed to Him would hinder my witness! what competency, what fulness at all times accessible to me does all this imply!

A perpetual spring in a vessel must needs overflow the vessel in which it is, the smallness of which is no limit to the spring itself. When once the vessel is full, all the power of the spring will manifest itself in the overflow. Hence, (if we think of the spring and not of the vessel,) "rivers of living water" are not too much to predicate of the outflow from this divine Source of blessing within the soul, which, first filling to complete satisfaction the soul itself, must surely then flow out for the need of others.

This is the Lord's own witness to the gift He gives, who cannot err in the estimate He makes of it. When we realize what it is, we cannot think it to be too high. Our experimental knowledge will depend indeed upon our practical subjection to the Spirit indwelling us; but how blessed to know that this is to be gained in so simple a way, and that this is the picture the Lord can give us of the normal Christian.

4. From this we go back to see the world in which He is, and which does not know Him. Reasonings there are many, and contrary thoughts; false tests, and true tests falsely applied; the failure of His enemies to apprehend Him, failure from the timidity of the half-decided, as Nicodemus. Amid all this they scatter away from Him, every one to his own, and leave Him. He, solitary in the world He made, He to His solitude in the mount of Olives.

Subdivision 3. (John 8:2 — 12.)

Brought to God, in the power of resurrection life.

The third subdivision is very distinctly marked as that, and in a double way: both as bringing into the sanctuary and giving the resurrection character of life as communicated to us by One who is both the Resurrection and the Life." And these things are very clearly connected together by the fact that only through death could the sanctuary be opened for us, and resurrection is of necessity therefore the way in.

Historically we have not yet come to either; and this part even more distinctly if possible, than the former ones, shows us the anticipative character of the Gospel of John. As already said, there is no rending of the veil in it, as we find it in the Synoptic Gospels: for in John the Word, tabernacling in flesh, displays in Himself divine glory as of an Only-begotten with the Father, full of grace and truth." This is what we find in what is before us here: Christ as the Light of the world, Immanuel, the Son of the Father, perfectly one with Him in all to which He testifies, a Light from which the pretentious self-righteousness of the Pharisees is driven out in confusion, while yet a convicted sinner can stand there, because revealed in grace. Grace and truth are found in Him together, and as the Son He gives the freedom of the Father's house.

Thus we begin here with the soul in the light. The second section shows the light in the soul; which makes Christ Himself the Object before it; who, as the Shepherd of the sheep, leads out His own from the Jewish fold of law into enjoyed salvation, liberty and green pastures. But for this the Shepherd must give His life up for the sheep, and these green pastures are in fact on resurrection ground.

This leads therefore to the third section, in which death is met for the believer, and Christ is now the resurrection and the life, Lazarus being here the text of the sermon, as the blind man is in the second section, and the woman taken in adultery in the first. In each case, as we have seen in the impotent man and the miraculous feeding of the multitude, the sermon goes beyond the text.

Section 1. (John 8:2-59.)

The Life the Light.

The first section, then, shows us sovereign grace in action, God Himself the only hiding-place of the convicted and condemned, and freedom therefore by the truth. Here where divine grace is so fully displayed, the history of the text is a lamentable illustration of how little that grace is realized by Christians themselves. We have but to take up indeed the writings of some of the earliest "fathers," to discover how soon the glory of its light became dimmed in the professing Church, — how soon the Judaism which combatted the apostle Paul from the beginning had overgrown or displaced the gospel which he preached. We may wonder indeed that it could venture to mutilate Scripture itself in such a manner as the MSS. and versions show has been done in this case; but this is what Augustine, as is well known, in a day little later than the earliest copies, charges against "some of little, or rather enemies to the true faith." We can, in fact, easily understand the motive which would lead to the omission of such a story as is here before us: who could imagine any bold enough to insert it where he did not find it? or the manufacture of so exquisite a piece of forgery as this would be? Indeed, few if any would venture to go quite so far as this. They speak of it rather as of some apostolic tradition, some fragment of true history, not perfectly preserved. They bow it out, in short, regretfully, but in no wise does this compensate for the greatness of the loss.

Of course, I am aware that there are difficulties urged, entirely apart from questions of the text. Thus Edersheim objects: "That a woman taken in the act of adultery should have been brought before Jesus (and apparently without the witnesses to her crime); that such an utterly un-Jewish, as well as illegal procedure should have been that of the Scribes and Pharisees, that such a breach of law, and what Judaism would regard as decency, should have been perpetrated to tempt Him; or that the Scribes should have been so ignorant as to substitute stoning for strangulation, as the punishment of adultery; lastly, that this scene should have been enacted in the temple, presents a veritable climax of impossibilities."

But much of this seems to be misconception merely; the rest a strange pledging oneself to what would be impossible for Scribes and Pharisees to do, mad with disappointed hatred against Christ, and bent upon compassing His destruction. As to the penalty of adultery being strangulation, "Michaelis," says Lange, "has justly denied the authority of the Talmud, and has asserted, on a comparison of Ex. 31:14; Ex. 35:2, with Num. 15:32-35, that the formula 'put to death' generally means stoned. Besides strangulation is frequently used first, only as an alleviation of the prescribed penalty, as in the burning in the middle ages."

As to bringing her for judgment to the Lord, there is no evidence of any formal trial instituted, such as would need the production of witnesses. The appeal is to a prophet who should know the mind of God rather than to a judge, who should decide as to the fact. The case was decided according to Moses, law; but were they to act as Moses commanded? Thus the illegality vanishes: they were not setting up a new court, even feignedly; but knowing the grace they cavilled at, they would make Him either act in opposition to this, or come out in opposition to the law itself.

As for their respect for decency or the temple, under the pressure of such an opportunity, they were the children of those who murdered Zacharias, perhaps on the very spot where the Lord was at this time: and it would be scarcely safe to theorize in regard to it.

The narrative is witness to itself in its inimitable beauty and simplicity, its union of holiness and grace. It is witness also in the place in which it stands, as the introduction to the chapter, the key to what follows in it. In all this part of John the doctrine develops out of a narrative, — some miracle or significant thing, the text (as we have called it) of the sermon following. Take the story of the woman away, you will not realize in the same way at all the meaning of what is left, a broken statue without a head. This one can hardly show aright except as we take up the chapter, and therefore we may go on to this at once.

1. The Lord returns from the mount of Olives to the temple, and the people flock around Him. His manifest victory over the rulers on the previous days has discouraged open attempts upon His Person; while all the more it has shown the necessity of some bold stratagem to make Him commit Himself in the eyes of the people as an offender against the law, for which they were zealots. It was just the time for such an effort as we find here, which if it were in some respects extreme, only made manifest the more the extremity to which they had been brought. As against the Friend of publicans and sinners also, their plot was well conceived. He had dared, as they murmured, to assume the prerogative of God in forgiving sins, and would evidently not be intimidated from the course He was pursuing by any fear of consequences. Yet He had not as yet ventured to pronounce the pardon of one openly condemned by Moses' law. Here was a new case therefore for Him to decide, in which He might easily come into collision with it. Did He not go after that which was lost until He found it? They would bring one lost indeed to Him, and see if He would take the burden of such: "a woman taken in adultery, in the very act!" The law had decided what was to be done: would He venture to annul its sentence? But if not, His reception of sinners must receive some modification; if He did — as they surely rather hoped — His followers would have to make open choice between Him and Moses, and the crowd would certainly drop off from Him.

The temptation is obvious, and they had much reason to expect success. Had He not in His sermon on the mount contrasted His own sayings with those of the ancients? And perhaps they had already heard such a saying as that "the law and the prophets were until John." Such things, doubtless exaggerated and multiplied by common rumor, would encourage them in their hope, as they came forward with their appeal to the Teacher for His judgment. Their surprise must have been great when, instead of answering them, "Jesus, stooping down, wrote with His finger on the ground." The common version adds: "As though He heard them not;" and others have given a similar interpretation. But He could not have repeated such an action with such a meaning. On the contrary, though we have nothing of any words which might be written, it is plainly the sentence itself which they are to find in the ground. But they do not understand Him, and as they continue asking, He lifts Himself up at last, and faces them.

No: He does not reverse Moses' sentence; let it be carried out: only let there be spotless hands to execute it. "Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone at her." The sentence of the law is right: yes! but on whom really is the sentence of the law? who shall escape it, if it be strictly applied? Manifestly, it is as a teacher, not a judge, that He is answering. They might say, Is law and order to come to a stand-still, because there are no spotless hands to execute it? Plainly not: nor, if the Lord were speaking as a judge, would it seem to have been in place to require any such thing. The judge in a given case has to do with the accused, and not with the executioner. But the Lord distinctly refuses to take such a place in Israel: "Man," He says to one who would have put Him in it, "who made Me a judge or a divider over you?" But if, as here, He is appealed to as a teacher, He will answer as a teacher; and then very differently. In this character, it is with the appellants that He has first of all to do, and not directly with the accused; and this is accordingly His course at this time. They would exhibit Him as one in opposition to Moses; He makes them realize that He alone it is who understands Moses, and uses the law with them for the purpose for which it was given, making them feel the sharp edge of its universal condemnation, in order that they may realize their need of that grace at which they cavil, and which He had come to declare and minister to men. "He that was without sin" was indeed the man the law was seeking. For the lack of finding one, the death it threatened brooded over all; and none could see the face of God and live. Here was the first thing they needed to realize, in order to know the joy of that open face of God, which revealed in grace in the Person of the Son, brought life instead of death — eternal life.

"And again He stooped down, and wrote upon the ground." There it was indeed that man's sentence was written: that ground out of which man was taken, to which he must return, — dust to dust. Was that sentence upon the woman merely? Was it only upon the gross transgressor? There was the law's settlement of the question: "the man that doeth them shall live in them"; "the soul* that sinneth it shall die." Ah, yes: if the glory of God were in the face of Moses, they could not look upon it there: grace was the sinner's only refuge; it was theirs.

{*That is, "the person": a common use of the word soul in Scripture, and which is still preserved to our day. See for the argument as to the death-penalty of the law the notes on Exodus 34:1-7.}

But they will not bow themselves to this. They stand in the light convicted, but only to flee out of it into the covering darkness. "And they, having heard that, went out one by one, beginning with the elder ones until the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman where she was in the midst."

Thus the attack has failed; the would-be accusers are silenced; they leave behind them even the sinner herself: it has become impossible for them to touch her. On her part, she remains: the light which they have found so intolerable reveals no more as to her than she has known already. Guilty, lost, she was and is: the retreat of her accusers has not altered that; to what it has left her as yet she knows not. He has not reversed Moses's law, whose words have yet inexplicably for the moment freed her. To herself He has not yet spoken. What will He say — what can He — with whom there is an authority that can make the leaders of the people bend and give way before it? Now she hears His voice again, and to herself, questioning, "Where are those thine accusers? has no one condemned thee?" And she says, "No one, Lord." He says again: "Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; henceforth sin no more."

Now we cannot say what, or if any work, was wrought in the woman's soul. She utters no word which would entitle us to say that there was faith in her to lay hold of the grace that there was in Him for the chief of sinners. On His part He says nothing as to forgiveness of sins or of salvation. He has not come to judge the world, but to save the world. If the judges in Israel throw up her case, therefore, she is free. It is a great deliverance for her, and may be the type and prelude of one far greater. But the question as to this that remains does not at all affect the truth as presented to us here of God revealed in grace in the Person of the Son, in whom every soul hopelessly condemned and guilty may find refuge. Grace and truth are in Christ Jesus, and the Life is the Light of men. Whether she availed herself of it or not, on His side the sanctuary was opened; and in a world where righteousness was not, — where those who would claim it had to retire abashed and confounded from the presence of Him who for those accepting condemnation was but a hiding-place. The sanctuary is opened then in sovereign grace, though the actual bringing to God, and the work that brings there, have not as yet found adequate expression. Holiness is found, however, in its true relation and due order: no condemnation leading on to no more sin. Grace and not law is the power for holiness.

2. The Lord returns to His speech with the multitude, interrupted by the appeal of the scribes and Pharisees, in words which have plain reference to what has just taken place. In that temple which, up to the moment of His final rejection, He was accustomed to speak of as His Father's house, where the Glory of old had tabernacled, and in the treasury in which the gifts of the worshippers were deposited, He openly claims that glory as His own. "I am the Light of the world," He says: "he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The Sun is indeed rising above the hills of Judea; and the nations far and wide are to enjoy its light. Not only so, but Israel herself is beginning to be seen as part of that world which has been lying in the darkness. Sin and unbelief have shut out from her the glory which was or should have been her own, and now are shutting out the fuller splendor into which that earlier light has broadened. Israel has not vindicated any peculiar claim to that for which she has as a nation had no eyes, no heart. Light is for those that have eyes, and for practical use. So now it is "he that followeth Me": his alone is the blessing; he "shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Christ is the Life which objectively is the Light of men. In His words and acts the manifestation of God, the world in its contradiction of Him was necessarily manifested also. He was the test and touchstone of all, and in His presence every thing stood out in its true character. But thus also Christ received in the heart, the life received, becomes subjectively the light for it. In His light it finds light, and thus in following Him it has the "light of life."

A full, divine claim; and the Pharisees from their side naturally at once challenge it. "Thou bearest witness concerning Thyself," they say: "Thy witness is not true." But it is plain that that can rightly mean only "invalid." Obviously, a man may speak truly concerning himself; but his testimony, if unsupported, is insufficient. The Lord tells them that He speaks from knowledge; whereas they have only ignorance to oppose to it. They ought to have been able to recognize His divine mission at least, and owning this, they would have recognized His ability to testify also. But with all their ignorance they judged after a fleshly manner: putting themselves self-confidently into the judge's seat, for which they were incompetent; and ready to cut off, as in His case, those whom they ignorantly condemned. On His part, He was not taking the judge's seat, as the case of the woman illustrated. (Had He come to judge, they would all have been cut off.) And yet He truly was the One competent to do so, always in the mind of the Father, and one with it.

And if He bore witness concerning Himself, He did not stand alone in this. His witness was valid, for the Father who sent Him was bearing witness also concerning Him. He speaks evidently of those works of power, of which elsewhere He says, "The Father that abideth in Me, He doeth the works": a witness they could not deny, yet would not accept. And still they meet His claim with their mere ignorance: "Where is Thy Father?" The way to know His Father was to know Himself; and indeed they knew neither.

So He spoke in the treasury of the temple, and the hand of God was still upon them: they could do nothing. No one laid hand upon Him; for His hour to deliver Himself up, which waited His will, not theirs, was not yet come.

3. There is still no ear and no heart. He can only tell them, therefore, that He is going away — going to that place inaccessible to them, of which He had elsewhere spoken. They would seek Him, though not in true repentance, thus with no answer: they would die in their sin.

The men of Judea in sarcastic mockery say, He must mean to kill Himself: for the suicide's place of punishment is the only place they can think of where they cannot find Him. He tells them that they are from beneath, He from above: there is in them no work of God; the world in opposition to God has made them what they are: they are of it, as He is not. Thus they will die in their sins, because they will not by faith in Him lay hold of that mercy which God is holding out to them.

"Who then is He?" they ask. He can only answer that He is just what He is saying to them. Of what use to go on telling them things for which they have no ear? And concerning themselves also He has much to say and to judge; but of what use? Still the True One has sent Him, and He has truly declared His words to the world. But they do not know of whom He is speaking.

Then He goes on to speak of His lifting up which they in their unbelief are going to accomplish. Then will come His manifestation and His vindication. And even now He who has sent Him is with Him, He cannot leave to Himself One who constantly does the things that please Him.

4. A wave of conviction passes over the multitude, and on hearing these words many, we are told, believed on Him; but the expression is no stronger than with regard to those who "believed on His Name" when at the feast-day they saw the miracles that He did; and of whom it is said that "Jesus did not commit Himself to them" (John 2:23-25). Of these also the Lord speaks doubtfully, and presently they resent His words and lapse into unbelief the fiercer for their disappointment in Him. Perhaps they had caught at the lifting up of which He had spoken, as exaltation by the people, followed as He had said it would be by the manifestation of Himself. The Lord's words to them are certainly words well suited to turn them from any thought of mere political liberty to be gained, and to test them as to their need of a real salvation. Abiding in His word, He tells them, would prove them to be really His disciples. They would know the truth, and the truth would make them free. But at once they resist and resent this. They, the seed of Abraham, in bondage, needing to be made free? they cry: how can He speak of that? they were never in bondage to any! Spite of its notorious contradiction to the truth, their protest shows of what bondage they were thinking. But the Lord will not raise a question here, but goes deeper. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Every one that practiseth sin is the bondman of sin;'" and this, though men often count it freedom, is the bitterest bondage. Hence, as this is the condition of man in general, the first thing that he needs is to be set free. There is no such thing in the spiritual realm as self-attained freedom: salvation from sin must be of God.

But what then must be the relationship to God of those who are the slaves of sin? Freemen towards God they cannot be, and yet, though rebels in heart and will, cannot escape from service. But unwilling service is again but bondage: the slaves of sin are therefore the slaves of God.

Man being what he is, what then can the law, the boast of the Jew, in fact, do for him? To the "soul that sinneth" it denounces death, and the shadow of this hangs over all. The covenant of Sinai is that "which gendereth to bondage, which is (typically) Hagar" (Gal. 4:24); and freedom is unknown to it.

We see, therefore, to what the Lord is going on in the next words, seemingly disconnected as they are from what precedes them. "Now the bondman," He says, "abideth not in the house for ever; but the son abideth ever." The apostle's illustration of Hagar and Ishmael cannot but come into remembrance; and the casting out of the bondwoman and her son was now soon to come to pass. Even this is but the dispensational shadow of the dread final rejection into outside darkness which the unsaved sinner, zealous law keeper as he may be, must surely experience.

"But the son abideth ever." He is in the freedom begotten of relationship, and not under the bond man's law which may cast him out. The principle is general, but there is no application of it with regard to Christians, as the Christian status of sonship was not yet known. In fact, only Christ Himself can make free, and this is the Lord's application of it here: "If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." For the Son is no mere servant in the Father's house, but one in word and purpose with the Father; and His work is that salvation-work which alone can make free. Thus again to abide in His word leads into that communion with the Father and the Son, in which alone is found the mastery of all restraints and difficulties whatever. Blessed then is freedom such as this! for ever blessed He who brings us into it.

The Lord goes on to speak of how little their Abrahamic lineage was manifested in their ways, — how little they could really claim him for their father. And when they dare to go further, and resting on their national privilege would assert God Himself to be their Father, He shows they have no spiritual character corresponding to this, and the devil was indeed their father: murderer as he was from the beginning, and not abiding in the truth, which just as such found no reception from them. Convict Him of sin they could not, and yet they would not hear what they could not confute.

5. They turn upon Him with a two-fold thrust in answer to His double charge. To the first, that they are no true children of Abraham, they retort that He is a Samaritan. To the second, that their father is the devil, that He is Himself possessed with a demon. The Lord quietly puts it away with the remark that they are dishonoring Him who seeks His Father's glory, not His own. But His Father seeks and judges. Then closing His assurance, still held out to whosoever will, of freedom by the truth, He takes up and removes the shadow which the law left hanging over its disciples, with His strongest form of affirmation: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My word, he shall never behold death."

They meet it only with a shout of derision, for they know no removal of death save one, and without exercise of conscience know not even the sting of it — what makes death death. Abraham is dead and the prophets: is He greater, this man who will not permit, to His very disciples, even a taste of death?

But He answers: If He is but a man glorifying Himself, that glory is empty enough. Nay, but it is His Father glorifies Him, — He whom without true knowledge they call their God. On His part, if He denied the knowledge that He had of Him, He would be as false as they were now in professing that they knew Him. He did know Him, and kept His word. Then He looks back over the expectant ages awaiting Him whom now, being come, they refused, and affirms, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad." "Thou art not fifty years old," they reply; "and hast Thou seen Abraham?" His answer is the full disclosure of His glory, the claim of the incommunicable title of Deity for Himself: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham came into being, I AM."

It is Immanuel; but there is no knee bent to Him, no loving homage tendered. They take up stones to stone Him; and He, hiding Himself for the moment from their sacrilegious violence, passes out of the temple.

Section 2. (John 9, 10.)

The Going forth out of the Fold with Christ: Salvation, Freedom, Sustenance.

We have seen thus on God's part the sanctuary opened, God revealed in Christ in grace and truth, — the Life the Light of men. We have not yet seen the response to it on man's side. We have not seen the Light received, and Christ become as the result of this the Object for the heart. We find this in the present section; and the power of the revelation, by which henceforth the walk is with and in obedience to Him. But this involves in other respects also a complete change. For Judaism as a legal system implies throughout a shut up heaven, the veil which in it hung before the face of God. To Moses himself is said, "Thou canst not see My Face." Thus the soul brought to God is necessarily, by that fact, outside of Judaism. As the epistle to the Hebrews teaches us, to be "inside the veil" means therefore, of necessity, to be "outside the camp."

God also not being revealed, the light not having come, Judaism is but a fold in which the sheep meantime are shut up in the darkness. This is their safeguard indeed, until the expected Guide and Shepherd comes, though not giving the security of the Shepherd's presence. Thus also there is bondage yet, not liberty; and, though they may be fed in the fold, it is not the place of pasture. So, when the Shepherd comes, it is to lead out of the fold, and this section is a true Exodus. It is the going forth which we shall find actually accomplished in the history of the Acts, the Exodus of the New Testament. Here we have it in its principles; and the Gospel of John in this once more displays its character as anticipative of Christianity. It is, in fact, that "beginning" from which John dates in his first epistle; Christ Himself being the Root necessarily out of which all things spring; and here anticipatively with His work accomplished, the Prophet of the new era now at hand.

1. The historical basis here is given at length: an instructive example of one to whom light is communicated, not less spiritually than physically. His simplicity and firm adherence to the truth so far as he knows it are beautiful, spite of the opposition of the leaders of the people, over whom his straightforward honesty of heart gains a manifest victory. He is given the privilege of being cast out for Christ's name, even before he knows the glory of Him for whom he suffers. Cast out, he receives the revelation of the Son of God and worships; the first of the many to form the flock of the good Shepherd, outside the fold. As a follower of the Light, he walks no more in darkness, but has the light of life.

(1) Passing on out of the hands of His persecutors, the pitiable condition of a man blind from birth arrests the Lord's attention; and the disciples (of whom we now hear for the first time during His present visit to Jerusalem) inquire as to a matter full of perplexity to such as believed with the Rabbis in every physical evil as the result of some specific sin. Was this man so born for sin committed even before birth? or was it for the sin of his parents? Neither explanation of it seems to satisfy them; and indeed, looked at, as they contemplate it, as mere punishment, it must be ever hard to satisfy oneself as to the inequalities of it that seem upon the face of the things. The Lord lets in the light of a higher purpose, as applicable to any other as to the man then before Him, — "that the works of God should be made manifest in him." Of course, the sin which has come into the world has been the cause of all the evil in it; and, of course, there is very commonly specific punishment for specific sin. With this the heart can have no rest, however, until we realize that God is manifesting Himself in all human history; for this cannot be in mere righteousness only, but in love as well. We have a whole book in the Old Testament devoted to the working out of this problem of the mission of evil, which in Job's case was mistaken by his friends in the same fashion as the disciples, question would indicate here. But if the manifestation of God in His works be the great overruling purpose everywhere, then not only must there be in general love as well as righteousness, but in every one of His works there must be love. Where love is not, there God is not: if "God is love." And here the miracle (or as Scripture would speak of it from its having this very character of manifesting God, the "sign") is only a special manifestation of Him who everywhere is the same God.

The Lord adds that the day for His activity as Man upon the earth is hastening to a close. For Him also, in that sense, the night is coming; and for the world also, from which He, the Light of it, is soon to be taken. This is not in contradiction to the truth that Christianity, with its wondrous blessings, was to follow His ascension to heaven: for Christianity is not the "light of the world," but the taking out of it a people, whose place is to be with Christ where He is, and whose blessings are "spiritual blessings in heavenly places." This is in perfect keeping with what is the doctrine now before us, the abandonment of the Jewish fold, and the gathering of Jews and Gentiles into one, outside it. For Christians it is the night that is passing, not the day; but a night in which we see far into heaven.

The Lord now spits upon the ground, and making clay with the spittle anoints the eyes of the blind man with the clay. That might seem as if it would rather confirm his blindness than remove it, and the typical significance speaks in the same way: for out of the ground man was made, and the spittle, connected so often with humiliation and reproach, adds such thoughts to the lowly condition which manhood in itself implied for Him. Thus with Christ the very grace which brought Him down so low was misunderstood and cavilled at by the pride and self-righteousness of scribes and Pharisees, and seemed, in fact, but to make the blind eyes blinder. The plain fact of His humanity became for them an unanswerable argument against His claim of divinity, as we find shortly here. But there is a remedy which will change all: "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam," says the Lord; and then that we may recognize the spiritual meaning of this, the interpretation of the name is added, "Sent." These interpretations (found in the Gospel of John alone) are in themselves significant, as we have seen already (John 1:41-42), of the going over of spiritual blessing to the Gentiles, and the present one is again perfectly in keeping with the subject here. The water is the type of the Spirit, and the spring gushing from the temple-mount, where normally rested the cloud of the divine presence, the place of the "Father's house," was an apt figure of Him in His gracious working, who was to come after the Lord's ascension, "sent" to declare the Rejected One.

How differently does this poverty now appear when it is seen as the self-abasement of divine Love in quest of men, the poverty by which they are to be made rich! And how does the application of. Him thus open the eyes indeed to all other things! "He went away therefore, and washed, and came seeing."

(2) Immediately the conflict begins; and first as to the man himself. So different is he with the light in those blank and sightless eyes, that they cannot at first believe it is the same. Then comes the question, what has made this change; and he refers it to the "man called Jesus." There is as yet little knowledge indeed of the One who has had compassion upon Him. Still it has taken hold, and a little germ of faith, scarcely to be distinguished as that at first, increases amid opposition, even by means of it, until, having learned to own Him as a prophet, the glory of the Son of God is finally revealed.

The picture of hierarchic pretension with its blindness and hostility to the truth is complete. The Pharisees question the man, the parents, the man again. That the unbribed power of God has acted they have no wish to take into their argument. If He has, let Him have the praise of it: that hinders nothing the condemnation of Him with whom God has chosen to ally Himself, for His share in the matter. Did He not make the clay upon the Sabbath-day? The man with clearer insight affirms that God does not hear sinners: if He were not of God He would not be owned of God after this manner.

They have no argument to meet this; all the more earnestly do they denounce it. A man wholly born in sins, — for was not his blindness proof enough of that? — to be teaching them! So they cast him out of the synagogue: they have before decided that if any should confess that the Worker of these mighty deeds was Christ, he should be cast out. Thus the open rupture with the disciples of Christ has begun on the part of the synagogue.

(3) He is cast out; but cast only in this way into the company of Christ at whom all this is aimed. Nor will he be long left without the blessedness of such companionship. Again Jesus finds him, as before He found him, now to complete the work which He had then begun. "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" He asks; and he, though not knowing Him in that glory which is His, yet with full confidence in his Guide, inquires, "And who is He, Lord, that I may believe on Him?" He is following on in the track of the light that is come to him, and now has reached the Source of it. "Jesus said to him, Thou hast even seen Him, and He that speaketh to thee is He." At which, with the straightforward simplicity that had baffled the Pharisees, and now yields itself with complete conviction to the completing truth, he answers, I believe, Lord;" and worships. He has not found merely a creed: he is brought to God. That which we did not apprehend in the woman is now unmistakably seen in the once blind man: he is morally and spiritually, as well as physically enlightened; he is in the light, and the light also is in him.

And the Lord, who came not into the world for the purpose of judging it, but for its salvation, nevertheless by the fact of His presence in it, has brought judgment into it. The necessary effect is found that the (consciously) blind — the seekers therefore of light — are brought to see-, while the pretentious seers — the men of this world's wisdom — are made blind. The Pharisees ask where they are to be classed — with the blind or with the seeing. The Lord answers them that they have classed themselves: they say, "we see," Had they been blind, the sin that now was theirs would not have remained to them.

2. By the will of the Jews themselves therefore, the flock of Christ are now outside the fold. From His own side the Lord now confirms this: for He had come as the Shepherd into it, to lead out His sheep into a larger place. The principle of the fold is now to be given up: restraint is now to be exchanged for freedom, — a freedom made safe by an Object for the heart, controlling it by its affections, and by a living guidance which is realized as that of perfect wisdom, indissolubly united to as perfect love.

(1) That Israel were the sheep of Jehovah had been the theme of the prophets of old. He who came into this fold to exercise authority must do so under the plain warrant of Jehovah Himself. And Ezekiel had prophesied in His Name that He would raise up for them "one Shepherd" who should feed them, even His "servant David" (Ezek. 34:23): that Greater one of David's line, of whom that king had only been the fore-runner and type. This was, of course, Messiah, the Lord's Anointed; and every mark that pointed out the Anointed pointed out the Shepherd of Israel also. These marks combined constituted the "door," or way of entrance by which the true claimant of such prerogative would come. All else were but thieves and robbers: men seeking their own gain in ways of treachery and violence. The entrance by the door was possible but to One, — the true Shepherd, — to whom the porter would open. He, so coming, would call His own sheep by name and lead them out.

The interpretation that would apply all this to the New Testament ministry in general, is so forced and really arrogant in its assumption, as scarcely to need notice. The one expression, "His own sheep" can apply to no under-shepherd; and who but He could call them by name, and lead them out? To Him alone every thing applies in the simplest and fullest way. Coming at the time definitely predicted by Daniel, confessedly of David's line, born at Bethlehem, displaying the signs that none other eves did, and that unique character which could not permit confounding Him with any other, — He came through the door manifestly. And the Spirit of God in the prophesyings at His birth, at His presentation in the temple, in the testimony of the Baptist, and the visible anointing which preceded this, opened the door of the fold. Now the sheep were beginning to hearken to His voice, calling them each by his name with a knowledge which individualized them all, with perfect and tender knowledge. These were His own sheep, but not all the sheep in the Jewish fold; and this is the strange thing that now becomes manifest, that though He who has come is the Shepherd of Israel, it is not Israel as a whole that knows His voice. Like many of the eastern folds, this one is found to have other sheep than His sheep. The call is an appeal to faith which not all have; and by it is wrought a separation, which sets them outside of the fold of Judaism altogether.

He "leadeth them out:" — stronger still in the next sentence: "when He has put forth all His own." For the principle of the fold is now to be abandoned. The law is not of faith;" and faith is the sole productive energy in man for God: "faith, if it have not works, is dead," so necessarily productive is it, as surely as it is living: and "faith worketh by love." But law is a system of prohibition, whose inspiring principles are self-interest and fear; while "there is no fear in love." "Love seeketh not her own."

The law was a prohibitory fence thrown around men, the curb upon a will which was naturally lawless, which it could not change, and which fretted against it. Hence it was bondage and not liberty: under which the very children of God were as servants, and not sons (Gal. 4:1, 3, 7); and which therefore did not yield for the Father's heart that which would satisfy Him. Every way the fold must go: Christ must put forth all His sheep; the putting forth implying however the strange power that a legal system yet may have even over true believers. How needful indeed this putting forth, and the history of the resistance to it, the Acts with the book of Revelation will by and by declare to us.

As we know, they were not all His sheep that lay in that Jewish fold; and His presence in it was that which tested this, and drew the line of separation. His sheep were they who recognized the Shepherd's voice; not merely knew Him by external testimony, but in the response of their hearts to what appealed to them as no other. Hence they were drawn, and followed Him in that wondrous path in which they found Him ever before them, in the track of light His footsteps left. And the Shepherd adds with regard to them, in the deep satisfaction of His own heart, "A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." They are not obliged to know whose voice it is, nor to be learned in theological disquisitions. There is but one Voice for which they have ear or heart; and from another voice they flee; for from any who would simulate that Voice, or claim authority over them beside, they do right in suspecting evil. For the sheep ordinarily, apart from what may appeal to them in the need of others, their best safety is in flight.

(2) But those to whom He is speaking understand nothing of what He is saying; the Lord therefore repeats and emphasizes His claim as the Shepherd of the sheep; dwelling upon their happiness with Him, in contrast with those who would make them a prey, or at least follow their own interests and leave them as a prey to others. He as the Good Shepherd would lay down His life for them; and that as the expression of the Father's love.

He begins with the assertion of His being the door of the sheep. It is not a question of the fold any more: there is no longer a fold; His sheep were in it, but are now ideally outside it altogether. The flock is His, and in His hand; and He is the only way of entrance into it. He receives into the fellowship of His people. Others that had come before Him were only thieves and robbers, with no title, and seeking no interests but their own; but His true sheep had never been deceived; and amid the multitudinous voices now, His voice, so unlike all others, rings out still, clear and distinct in its appeal to those in consciousness of their need and guilt. Where is there another who could propose to meet all the unrest in human hearts for every one who should come to Him? and who but He has done it?

Again He declares: "I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." Salvation — a strange thing in this sense to the Jew — here lies at the very beginning of the blessings belonging to the flock of Christ; not as a possible attainment, but as a gift of unconditional grace, never therefore to be revoked. This positive assured security of His people tells at once that He and they are outside the legal fold. So the liberty that is associated with this speaks also: "He shall go in and out;" that is, the fold is no longer a place of confinement for him. He may in New Testament liberty go back to find in the Old Testament what God has given of Christ in it; but he belongs to it no more. Then also "he shall find pasture": the true place of it is certainly outside the fold. All here combines to tell his blessing, and where he now belongs.

The assurance of all blessing lies in this that he is in the care of the Good Shepherd. Wisdom and love are His; with power also that can lack no resources. The thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. He on the contrary comes to give life, and that abundantly. Here a power beyond all creature power is seen; a need which is beyond all that the figure would imply. The theme of John's Gospel discloses itself once more: life, which is eternal and His gift, without whose work none could have it. This, of course, looks backward as well as forward: life for any, at any time, could be but the result of His coming; which waited not for its effectuation to bring forth its fruit; or else, of necessity, every mercy shown to man must have waited likewise. But we know without any peradventure it was not so.

Manifested, however, the life was not, until the personal Life had come. It was possessed, as we have seen, new birth — without which none could see the Kingdom of God — involving its possession: but it was possessed in the midst of hindrances of the most effectual kind to manifestation. This is a question of the condition of the life, and not of the life itself. The babe does not yet manifest what the man is; and yet it has the life and nature of the man.

In the Son come into the world, the eternal life was first and fully manifested. It was seen in Him in that knowledge of and communion with the Father, which was in Him perfect, and never clouded for a moment. And by Him it was revealed as the portion of those who in faith received Him; for, now that He had come, there was no faith that did not receive Him. He that believed on the Son had eternal life; and he that was not subject to the Son did not see life, but the wrath of God abode upon him.

Nor did this wait for redemption to be accomplished. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." Thus already was He quickening dead souls with the life that was in Him; and in His prayer to the Father in which He declares that "this is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent," He declares also that this knowledge they already had: "they have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me."

Thus the eternal life communicated to men was already exhibiting itself in its true character; already men knew the Father and the Son. But this was not yet the life in its full abundance; of which the Lord here speaks. Its character was manifested as a life of divine acquaintance and communion; but for this communion to be enjoyed aright, it needed to be freed from many great and terrible hindrances: the Cross had to be accomplished; the resurrection of Christ from the dead must give the answer on God's part to the claim of righteousness there made good, that now as risen with Christ we might be possessors of a life triumphant over death, and justified from all that had brought in death, in a recognized place of nearness to God unknown before. There in the place of sons with God, and with the Spirit of sonship to give the enjoyment of the place, the life eternal would at last have its true abundance. This is what the Lord here looks forward to: the development of it awaits us in the portion of the Gospel soon to come before us, with the Epistle to the Romans for the results in known justification, and the believer's place in Christ, and the Epistle of John for the practical results in the life down here.

He is come then to give life: as the Good Shepherd, by laying down His own: yet it is not so much doctrine that is here, as the insistence upon a love proved at whatever cost. The hireling cares but for his wages: the sheep are not his Own, and he is not personally concerned about them: when the wolf appears, he leaves the sheep and flees; alas, no suppositious case, but what has been abundantly seen in history. The wolf in consequence, the open adversary, catches them and scatters them. The hireling acts in character: nothing better could be expected of him. On the contrary, between the Good Shepherd and His own exists a bond of the most tender intimacy. "I know My own, and they know Me; even as My Father knoweth Me, and I know My Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep." "The world knew Him not:" there was the strangeness resulting from contrasted natures. His sheep know Him: for they have received His life and nature, and have thus been brought into communion; and this is the same kind of knowledge as exists (however much more perfectly) between the Father and the Son. The love implied in it is manifested in this, that He lays down His life for the sheep.

But His sheep as thus defined have no longer any relationship with the Jewish fold, still less can be limited to those who have such. Law could not give this gift of eternal life, nor have, therefore, any control over it. In the fold itself there had been those that were not His own; and there are sheep of His not of that fold at all, but Gentiles, far enough off, to be brought nigh and made to hear His voice. Then there shall be one flock, one Shepherd. There is no fold any more: the fold was Jewish and legal, and is gone. In Christ is neither Jew nor Gentile.

That wondrous act of self-devotion by which all blessing is effected and justified for men gives to the Father's heart a new reason for the love wherewith He loves even His well-beloved Son. "Therefore doth the Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I may take it again." He does not lay it down, as giving up that humanity which He has taken to accomplish the work, — the earthen vessel in which alone the bird of heaven could die. Nay, He takes up again, though in changed condition, the life He has laid down, — takes it to lay it down no more. His death is neither the exhaustion of His love, nor the limit of His work for man. He has served in the lowest deep of suffering on earth; He serves on the Throne of glory still. And the Father's love, which thus rests upon Him as Man continually, embraces as well the fruits of His work, — the men for whom He has toiled, and suffered, and won. This is all fully told out in the epistles of Paul specially; but John, though in some respects the very opposite of Paul, has many connecting links of doctrine with him; beyond the rest of the inspired writers; and this is true even as compared with Luke, whose Gospel has been even styled Paul's Gospel. We shall soon be called to realize this, which here begins to dawn on us. Our acceptance in the Beloved, of which Paul speaks (Eph. 1:6), roots itself in this peculiar love of the Father to the Son.

But the Lord goes further than this, and shows us the Father's purpose in that which He is executing, the Father's commandment entrusted to Him to execute. Not by constraint but freely He lays down His life: "No one taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself: I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again." For as Man, He will not dispose of His own life without the Father's sanction; but that is not all: "this commandment have I received of My Father." Thus throughout He is the obedient servant of the divine counsels: one with the Father in what He has in hand to do; the Word, in all things the expression of the Divine Mind; and still "we behold His glory, — glory as of an Only-begotten with the Father, full of grace and truth."

So "there was a division again among the Jews on account of these words." On the one hand they repeat the old blasphemy, that He had a demon, and was raving. Others object to such a sentence, and yet seem to go no further than perplexity. In sorrowful indecision only, the matter for the present ends.

(3) The feast of the dedication of the temple occurred two months later than the previous narrative; the connection of it with it is, however, manifest. The dedication commemorated was not that of Solomon's, but the re-dedication by Judas Maccabaeus, after its profanation by Antiochus. Yet the Lord walking in Solomon's porch (or colonnade) is surely significant in this way, as carrying us back to that first dedication, if only by way of contrast. The massive foundations of Solomon's structure remained, but only in ruin, which, however sought to be repaired, witnessed to what had come in the way of failure and ruin. How much this second temple, again renewed with great magnificence by the bloody hands of the Edomite Herod, lacked of what the old possessed! As it stood, it was the very witness of their pretentious legalism, covering up the decay and desolation underneath. The Glory was departed, the Living Voice that had once spoken to them was silent now. The Ark and Mercy-seat, where the covering blood should have been sprinkled, the Throne of the divine Inhabitant, was gone. All went on now, not upon the old basis, but only as permitted by long-suffering patience, still pleading, still abused.

Yet the Maccabaean outburst of loyalty to God had for awhile seemed to argue better things in the near future for the returned remnant of a people already scattered. Alas, it was but the convulsive leap of a flame that for a moment sought the heavens, and then died down to its now cold ashes. On man's part, what hope more? In a few souls God's mercy kept hope still; but the fulfilment of it lingered long.

And now there was a new Voice in Solomon's porch: a Voice that did not ignore the ruin, did not accord with the Pharisaism which the people followed, did not ring with the trumpet-tones of the warlike zealotry which would seize its triumph out of the reluctant hand of time; and yet thrilled heart and conscience, as if all the being of man were in His hand and answered to His summons. The Light shone; and the depths within were penetrated by it.

For in fact the Glory had returned, and the Voice long silent had again awakened. It had proclaimed itself in the temple and synagogue, as well as in the places of daily concourse, and in the quiet homes of men. Here was He for whom they had dedicated and re-dedicated the temple, the fitting completion to their celebration of it now. But the fervor of enthusiasm around Him was not for Him: already He had been rejected, vilified and blasphemed; and the few who really listened had to take as outcasts their place with Him. But He was leading them out; and the hand that led them sheltered them; the glory of His presence shone around them: they are hidden in the Sanctuary of it from all that would injure them; for none shall pluck them out of His hand.

The Jews come round about Him in Solomon's porch, and urge Him not to leave them longer in suspense, but tell them plainly if He is the Christ. He answers that He has already told them without effect; and that the works He was doing in His Father's Name bore witness of Him. They believed not because they were not of His sheep, who heard His voice. These sheep of His He knew, and they followed Him. He had said this before; but He now adds: "And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall in no wise ever perish," (it is the strongest possible affirmation,) "nor shall any one pluck them out of My hand."

The absolute security of the sheep of Christ could hardly be more fully affirmed. For, first of all; they have a nature which, as divine, is truly everlasting; it has become truly their own nature, although it is true that they have yet also in them a fleshly nature which is not in conformity, but in contradiction to it. This, which seems to many a strange doctrine, is nevertheless the true experience of every child of God. Yet in face of it the apostle can say, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit," or "practise," "sin: for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." The character of the divine life in him is such that it masters the evil; not, in final result, is mastered by it. It abides; it is eternal life.

But the Lord does not leave us to any inference, even the surest: He goes on to say: "And they shall in no wise ever perish." The consequence is developed, and the negation faces every way: think of what danger you may, that "in no wise ever perish" meets it all. The weakness of the creature, its mutability, with the sad history of change that lies against it, all is met by such an assurance. But the Lord goes even further: He looks at the question of the world against these poor sheep of His, — the world, and Satan the prince of it, — and He seals His assurance with a double seal: They are Mine, He says: "No one shall seize them out of My hand. My Father who gave them to Me is greater than all; and no one is able to seize them out of the Father's hand." The Cloud is opening now to let out the enfolded Glory; now it shines fully out: "I and the Father are one."

The meaning of this last assertion has nevertheless been disputed. It is plain how those who heard Him took it, and how, instead of expressing alarm and grief at so great a mistake, He confirms finally their interpretation. Schaff well shows the argument, which I can do no better than insert in this place. He says (Lange's Commentary on John): —

"The neuter hen, (one) denotes, according to the connection and for the purpose of the argument, unity of will and power; which rests on the unity of essence or nature: for power is one of the divine attributes, which are not outside of the divine essence, but constitute it. Even if we confine hen to dynamic unity, we have here one of the strongest arguments for the strict divinity of Christ. It is implied even more in esmen (we are) than in hen. No creature could possibly thus associate himself in one common plural with God Almighty without shocking blasphemy or downright madness. In this brief sentence we have, as Augustine and Bengel observe, a refutation both of Arianism and Sabellianism: hen refutes the former by asserting the dynamic (and, by implication, the essential) unity of the Father and the Son. 'I and the Father' and 'we are' refute the latter by asserting the personal distinction. Sabellianism would require the masculine eis, instead of the neuter; and this would be inconsistent with 'We are,' and the self-conscious 'I.'"

The Jews understand well enough, and take up stones to stone Him: but the might of His presence stills them. He calmly appeals to them: "Many good works have I shown you from the Father: for which of these good works do ye stone Me?" They could not deny the power or the goodness, but the grace which had brought the Son of God among them in such lowly guise, they could not believe: "For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; and because Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God." Thus His words seemed against His works, and for His words they condemned Him; in His reply, therefore, He appeals to their own Scriptures, their "Law," as they themselves called the whole of them, but the spirit of which their unsubject hearts had so little entered into. Was it not written in their law, "I said, Ye are gods"? Thus the title of "gods" had been given to mere men; but who by the word of God that came to them, the commission by which they, the judges in Israel, acted, became His representatives. "If those who in so acting had received an indirect commission, were gods, the very representatives of God, could it be blasphemy when He claimed to be the Son of God, who had received, not authority through a word transmitted through long centuries, but direct personal command to do the Father's work; had been directly and personally consecrated to it by the Father, and directly and personally sent by Him not to say, but to do the work of the Father? Was it not rather the true and necessary inference from these premises?" (Edersheim.)

The Lord here doubtless refers, not to that of which He Himself alone could have the consciousness, but to His open anointing by the Spirit in bodily form, and the Father's attesting words, when after His baptism by John He went forth to His ministry. John had borne witness to Him in connection with this, as the "Son of God." Was it not suitable that, if men by God's commission could represent Him so, He, sent openly among men in such a manner, should be in fact such a Representative as only the true Son could ever be?

The works of His Father done by Him confirmed all this in the fullest way. They implied this abiding of the Father in Him, in the power displayed, His abiding in the Father in intimacy of communion. Thus there was sufficient witness to the truth of His claims; and if they believed not His words, they might at least believe His works.

The seal which the Lord puts upon the perfection of Scripture is as plain as possible. "Scripture cannot be broken." The fact of its being Scripture guarantees the absolute inspiration of the very words used. The term He builds upon might seem to be at least somewhat extreme as applied to men; yet He takes it as an example of a rule of the most universal character, to which no exception at all can be made. Not only this or that statement which it makes can be demonstrated as true, but the mere fact of its being in Scripture sufficiently vouches for it. The highest Critic that can be never criticizes Scripture, but affirms the truth of all of it; and the futility of all men's efforts to break it in pieces. They are doomed of necessity to defeat and dishonor, as is all the rebellion of the creature against God.

But Israel rejected the testimony of His words and works together. Again they sought to take Him, — a thing impossible until His own time came. He went forth out of their midst unharmed, and went to where formerly John had baptized, where, the soil having been broken up, the seed of His word took root. "John," they said, "did himself no miracle; but all that John spake of this Man was true. And many believed on Him there."

Section 3. (John 11, 12.)

Resurrection-Life; in which the Son of God is glorified.

We have now the character of the life received as resurrection-life. For us it has necessarily sprung out of death, the death of Another: according to the Lord's words that we find here, that, "except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."

For us also quickening is out of death. Dead naturally in trespasses and sins, we are quickened together with Christ, and raised up together. The first is a change of condition, an immense one, from death unto life, from a naturally hopeless state of alienation from God ("alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their hearts,") to a state of knowledge of God which implies communion with Him, even though it be at first about our sins. "Risen with Christ" is a change of position; the place of the dead is changed for the place of the living: it is the opposite of burial, as life is the opposite of death.

Thus resurrection-life is life with the fruits of Christ's death attaching to it; fruits into the enjoyment of which we come more or less gradually, but which belong to us from the beginning of the life itself. Here we find the removal of the hindrances which have existed to our drawing near to God, and the opening of the sanctuary: the realization upon our side of that which upon God's side we have seen already. This shows us the unity of this third subdivision, as also we have seen.

It is Christ's death that has delivered us from the bondage of the law, and brought us out of the fold into the green pastures into which the Shepherd leads His sheep. The sections here unite together into a perfect whole, as needs must be the case where they are realities of the Spirit's work, and in Scripture which is everywhere a living organism.

The section divides naturally into two parts: the first, dwelling upon the presence among men of the Personal Life Himself; the second showing the death, out of which for us the life must come.

1. The presence of the Life is for those who receive Him the annulling of death, as is shown for us illustratively in the resurrection of Lazarus. Here text and sermon are interwoven throughout; the Lord's words interpreting His works, while yet the faith of His disciples was unable to apprehend in any proper way what for full development waited the coming of the Spirit to disclose. Here again we find the anticipative character of the Gospel, and the link between John and Paul, of which I have before spoken. We must go on to Ephesians and Colossians to learn fully what it is to be quickened and raised up with Christ, though here we have the basis of the doctrine.

(1) Lazarus, whom Jesus loves, is lying sick at Bethany; and his sisters, Mary and Martha, of whom Mary is specially dwelt upon as the one who anointed the Lord's feet with ointment, send Him word of it. They need do nothing more than let Him know.

The after-circumstances cannot but remind us of the story of Jairus, daughter in the synoptic Gospels, in which also there was delay upon the road, and when He came the child was dead; the greater miracle of resurrection followed also in this case. The typical meaning is made plain there by that other story of her who touched in faith the border of His garment, while He was on the way, and was healed of her bloody issue. Even so, while on His way to raise dead Israel, as He yet will do, He is detained by the faith of the Gentiles which claims and draws virtue from Him.

Underneath this dispensational view there lies a universal application in which the two miracles are but different sides of the one story of salvation. From the human side, faith lays hold of Christ, and finds the virtue that is in Him. From the divine side, man is seen to be dead, and must have life. Israel's state nationally only pictures the condition of men at large.

These meanings may perhaps co-exist in the story of Lazarus (or Eleazar, "the Mighty One is helper") of Bethany (the "house of humiliation"). The names alone tell a story of where the help of the Mighty One is found. Israel will find it there in the day that is to come. But that the deeper and at the same time wider application is that which is most in the line of truth before us here needs no argument. Although there are in John, as we have seen, supplementary glances at Israel's condition, yet the deeper and therefore universal view of man as man is what is the general truth, and that as the basis for the announcement of higher and Christian blessings.

Lazarus is sick; and, though Jesus loves him, — nay, even because He does, — Lazarus must die; yet his sickness is "not unto death," — has not that in view as its end, — "but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby." The blessing of the creature is not forgotten in this, but established; for it is in this pre-eminently that God is glorified. On the Urim and Thummim of the high priest's breast-plate, the "lights and perfections" (typically) of God Himself, are written the names of the tribes of Israel; and these again, for us, are the typical expression of the Christian in his various characters. "I am glorified in them," says the Lord of glory; and He who is thus glorified in them will glorify them with Himself.

Mary's anointing of Him is not forgotten here: the "exalted one," as her name denotes, is best known as that in her exaltation of Him. Wherever the gospel is preached is this told for a memorial of her. Here it is mentioned anticipatively, though it will be again given in its place historically.

(2) Jesus loves them all, these disciples of His, and remains where He is two days still, as if the news of this sickness had not affected Him. But now He says, to the surprise of those who after all knew Him so little, "Let us go into Judea again." When they object that the Jews had sought to stone Him, He simply refers them to the twelve hours of the day, in which without stumbling man could walk. He, in fact, was the light of the world while in it; full light for those that followed Him. Apart from that they might stumble; for the light was not in themselves. And then He tells them, not of His present safety from the men of Judea, but of the purpose which, without needing to think of them at all, drew Him there at this time. "Our friend Lazarus," He says, finding a motive for them also in the affection in which their hearts accompany His own, "Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep." He talks so quietly they do not understand Him; for the shadow of death is upon all their souls, but the thought of sleep is not even a shadow. "Lord," they say, "if he have fallen asleep, he will be healed." Then He descends to their common language: "Lazarus hath died; and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that ye may believe:" — how little like faith was their present mood! — "nevertheless let us go to him." Thomas breaks out with a love which has not emerged yet from the shadow, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him."

(3a) How monotonous and tedious in its night-like uniformity is the spirit of unbelief! specially, as we see it here, not in the outside world, which has rejected Christ, but among those who yet have, spite of all, received Him, and cling to Him. We are permitted here to see how heavily the cloud hangs before we see it lift and scatter: for the Life is come; and the Life is the Light of men.

We find the Saviour now come to Bethany, where Lazarus had been already four days in the tomb. Martha, foremost always in her activity, meets Him outside the village, with a confession at once of her faith and her disappointment: "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." In what follows, her emotion, excited by His presence, goes beyond her actual faith, as the result shows: "But even now I know that whatsoever Than shalt ask of God, God will give it Thee." The Lord tests her at once with the assurance of a joy too great for her: "Thy brother shall rise again." She sinks at once into mere orthodoxy: "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." The Lord replies in the memorable words that have comforted so many since: "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and every one who liveth and believeth on Me shall never die."

Here then is He in whom resides the power of resurrection and of a life not subject to death. Resurrection comes first, and is that which would appeal to Martha in her present condition. Of life untouched by death she could think only as a future thing, to follow this when in its full reality it should be come. But the Lord applies it to the then present time, dividing this from the past by the presence of Himself now come for the annulling of death. He that believed on Him, though having died, death should be annulled for him: he should live again, and live eternally. But for the believer now alive, this power over death would at once manifest itself; and here He makes it plain that He is speaking of no special, exceptional class: "every one who liveth and believeth on Me shall never die."

The difficulty of the passage has been such to some as to make them think of the Lord's coming as the time when it would be fulfilled. When He comes again the dead in Him will be raised, the living believer, changed into His image, will never die. There will certainly be the most perfect fulfilment of what is said here. But on the other hand, there is nothing but such a fulfilment to make us think of such a postponement of it to the future, which is quite in opposition to the division of time which the Lord is making: "every one that liveth and believeth" — now; not shall be living and believing at My return: of which He is not saying a word here.

As for the present application the apostle does not hesitate to say that God according to His own purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before the age-times,* "now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, has abolished" (or "annulled") "death, and brought life and incorruption" (not "immortality") "to light by the gospel" (1 Tim. 1:9-10). This is the inspired application of the Lord's words here, which it makes perfectly plain. In the past death was, — a shadow over souls, such as we see it in the previous part of the chapter, such as we find it in the wail of a Hezekiah, or in Job's picture of "a land of darkness, as darkness itself and … where the light is as darkness" (Job 10:22). But now with the Life is come the Light; and the shadow of death is penetrated by it. He that had the power of death is met and vanquished, the captives are freed (Heb. 2:14-15).

{*In the common version, "before the world began"; in the revised, "before eternal times," but "times" cannot be "eternal." The fact is that the word (aion) of which this is the adjectival form has two meanings: one being "age," by which in the plural it is always translated; while the other is "eternity" proper, a later use. The mere fact of its being plural in this case decides for its being rendered as I have rendered it, "the age-times."}

There is, however, in the Lord's words here, that anticipative character which we have seen so much in John. He Himself was even then, as He is just about to show, the "resurrection and the life,"; yet this anticipates that death of His through which alone the power of death could be annulled. In Him the Eternal Life was to pass through death, not to be enfeebled even for a moment by it, but the reverse: to gain thereby a new energy for the deliverance of those now to receive it, which should make it that "abundant" life of which we have heard the glorious Giver speak. The time had not yet come to utter it fully, and we must go on to the epistles of Paul to find the doctrine in its full development. But here is the root of it. He that is quickened of God now is "quickened together with Christ, and raised up together" (Eph. 2:5-6): the virtues of that death out of which alone is life attach to the life communicated. For those who have it, death in the reality of this is behind and not before them; the storm of judgment is behind and not before: that which is before is the pathway of light in which the risen Christ is ascended to glory, the Representative-Head, and Forerunner of His people. For the full development of this, as has been said, we must wait for him whose gospel is in his own description of it, "the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4, Gk.), whom the Spirit of truth was pleased to use for the ministry of this; but we shall find the Lord in John steadily leading us on in this direction, until He finally commends us to the Spirit of truth to teach us what as yet they could not bear (John 16:12-13).

Martha shows us this in her answer to the Lord here. When He asks of her, "Believest thou this she can only answer, with true faith but without understanding of the blessedness contained in the words she has just listened to, "Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, that should come into the world." True, and a glorious truth; but it is not that of which He has been speaking.

(b) Evidently she has the consciousness of this: for immediately she leaves Him, and goes in search of a better scholar. She who has learnt so much at the feet of Jesus, she — it seems as if she said — will understand the better what this means. So she goes and calls Mary her sister secretly, and says: "The Teacher is come, and calleth for thee." Mary, who seems to have been waiting for a positive call, thereupon rises quickly and comes to Him. The Jews, who had come out from Jerusalem to comfort as best they might the afflicted sisters, follow her, as they suppose, to the tomb, and find themselves instead in the presence of Jesus.

Mary is unconscious of them now. She falls at His feet with a stronger emotion than has been manifested in Martha, but only to repeat in her sister's words what they had evidently often said to one another, that if He had but been there, their brother would not have died. There unlike Martha, she stops and says no more. She sees no way, and cannot speak as if she did. Let the lips she has listened to so often speak for Him and her. And here the Lord is moved as we do not read of His being before. As He looks upon the weepers round Him, He is deeply moved in spirit, and His words move on to action. "Where have ye laid him?" He asks. And when they bid Him "come and see," His tears are restrained no longer: "Jesus wept." Precious sympathy of One whose consciousness of power does not prevent His entering into the sorrows He is relieving; who in His wonders of divine power was still the Man Christ Jesus, and "Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses."

The Jews take notice of His grief, and say, "See how He loved him;" while with some it wakes the inquiry, has He then, like others, nothing but His tears to give him? He opened the eyes of the blind; and could He not prevent this man dying? Then again He is deeply moved within Himself, as He feels the unbelief which everywhere follows Him. And now He is at the tomb.

(c) It is a cave; and a stone lies at the mouth of it. And now the unbelief of Martha would oppose the removal of the stone: of what use can it be to bring to light a man four days buried? of what but to turn a sweet if sad memory into an offence? But the only offence is the unbelief that will retain him in the tomb, and shut out from the soul, as the Lord reminds her, the glory of the living, omnipotent God.

He is now then face to face with death, and in view of the multitude gathered there, He thanks the Father that He has heard Him, and as One always hearing Him; expressly referring to that assemblage there in unbelief, but who may be brought to believe. In that confidence, and in attestation of such oneness always with the Father, He calls aloud for Lazarus to "come forth!"

How that multitude of eyes must have peered into the darkness; and what a hush of expectation must have fallen upon the crowd, as they strained every sense to catch the issue of such a pledging of God to a miracle like this. Jairus, daughter had but just died; the widow's son at Nain was but on his way to burial; but here was one who in that quick southern clime must have been already far sunk into corruption, and God pledged by One professing to be always heard by Him to bring him up!

And the pledge is redeemed! Shambling forward, as one bound up yet in the habiliments of death, Lazarus obeys the call and comes — a living man. He has recrossed the boundary-line which none of himself or by mere human aid has ever come back over. He has come back a witness to the Resurrection and the Life, that the Son of God may be glorified in him. He has come back, a challenge thrown in the face of Christ's would-be murderers, of the possibility of success against One to whom death and the grave are subject. He has come back to walk in the power of such a victory, the type and pattern of that resurrection-life which "every one that liveth and believeth on Him" is called now to enjoy. In such a life is God indeed glorified. In such a life is power over the world attained. In men taken out of the world, sanctified and sent into it again, to represent Him in it as He did the Father.

"Loose him and let him go," is now the enfranchizing word. The will of the Lord is that those who have received life from Him should enjoy it in all its blessed freedom, delivered from the grave-clothes of Judaism, meant to put on men the stamp of death, and not of life. "Loose him and let him go," is the Lord's word now to the evangelist and to the teacher. Let the law do its work thoroughly upon the life of flesh and nature; and let the Cross confirm the lesson of the end of human strength, human wisdom, human will; but let the man in Christ be free as the light and air of heaven to which now he belongs: not in bondage but in freedom can the Son of God be glorified; and everywhere there rings through the New Testament the echo of His own words here, "Loose him and let him go."

The result of the miracle is that, on the one hand, many believe; on the other, word is brought to the Pharisees, and stirs more than ever the animosity which seeks the life of Christ.

2. (1) Here then the second part begins, in which we find the need of that Death out of which alone for us the resurrection-life can come. Anticipations of it and of its fruit start up in unlikely places. A Sadducean high-priest prophesies unwittingly, God overruling the heartless suggestion of human expediency to give testimony to the unique value of His Son's work which then goes beyond it. On the other hand, Christ has His own feast, the anticipation of what He can find in the company of His people. Out of worst evil is going to be the bud and fruitage of fullest good; and God shall be supreme over all, His glory everywhere manifest.

(a) We find then the Pharisees in council with the chief priests, men of a different creed and interests, but with whom they could make common cause against Christ. They have to confess that He whom they are unrelentingly pursuing "doeth many signs." Their only argument from this is that if they let Him alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans will take away their place and nation. This brings forward Caiaphas who rebukes them for their inability to make so simple a calculation as that between the value of one man and a nation. He does not speak of right but of profit, and claims this for his own side of the account. Nor does he realize the blinding nature of self-interest, nor question the competence of his conclusion in the least. His arithmetic is so simple it can hardly be worked wrong.

Notice how, when God puts His seal upon all this, the whole character of it changes. From God's side, this "profitable for us" becomes (of course) "profitable for you;" the self-interest that in the first case distorts and spoils everything becomes a glorious manifestation of divine love, which can then only consist with fullest righteousness. "The Son of man must be lifted up," that this profit may be realized: if it were not divine righteousness itself, Love could not give up its Beloved to it.

Thus Israel's blessing is secured; but there is a purpose beyond this in the death of Christ that the evangelist from his standpoint cannot fail to notice. He is not going to die "for that nation only, but also that He might gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." As the Shepherd had sheep not of the Jewish fold, so the Father had children not of that family. As not all in the fold were the Shepherd's sheep, so not all the family of Israel were God's family. The law which gendered to bondage could not mark out or gather the children of God. Adoption could not be enjoyed under it: the real children were as servants and not sons. God was saying, I am a Father to Israel," not to those born of the Spirit, and children of God indeed. The moment He acts upon this latter principle, the old distinction is given up, and the children that Judaism scattered abroad are gathered.

Thus John keeps steadily to his theme, eternal life and what accompanies its possession, now that it is manifested. Of the Church he does not speak; but of the family; unity with him is unity of life, and so in the Father and the Son.

(b) The Lord being thus rejected, and His death determined, He withdraws from those who are compassing it to a country near the desert, to a city called Ephraim, and remains there with His disciples. This too seems an anticipation of what is coming, when withdrawn from Israel, and found among disciples only, He really withdraws for "double fruit," which "Ephraim" means.

Among the Jews, gathering in preparation for their passover, there is expectation with uncertainty, while the malice of His enemies is planning for His death.

(c) Six days before the passover, He is at Bethany again, in the midst of that little company who had in so remarkable a way been witnesses of His glory, and who show us that believing remnant which, while Israel rejected Him, gathered around Him. These are soon to be the commencement of that Christian gathering which in John has been already variously foreshadowed. Here they make Him a feast, as once (and only once) before, Matthew the publican had made Him a feast, though with a very different company. There as the Saviour of sinners, Matthew had put Him in company with sinners; and a feast, we may be sure, that meant for Him. Here it is with saints that He is found, the fruit of His salvation, and typically on resurrection ground; and here service, communion, worship, have their representatives. Martha still serves; Lazarus is at table with Him; while Mary, entering more deeply into what is before Him, anoints Him for His burial. John alone names Mary here, as he alone points out the traitor as raising the murmuring against her and that which moved him in it. John too, speaks of the anointing of His feet, the other Gospels of that of His head. Here she is like the woman in the Pharisee's house, as in the wiping them with the hair of her head. John also tells us how the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Thus deeper appreciation on the part of the beloved disciple seems to flow from deeper communion with the Lord's own estimate (comp. Luke 7:44, 46). How sweet to Him was that lavish expenditure of love which others counted waste. In the Synoptists the memorial of it goes out with the gospel; in John the odor abides in the house. Glorious testimony to a woman's act, such as we find recorded of no other. But she had learnt at His feet what she poured out there.

(d) This act of love brings out the traitor; and we have a glance at His previous history. What the other was pouring out on Him, he would have filched from Him. When he could do this no longer, he sold himself.

(2) Now we have the Lord's entry into Jerusalem as King of Israel. It naturally occupies in John a much smaller place than in the other Gospels. The elaborate preparation for it that we see in the others John has nothing of; nor is there the detail of the entry itself, the purification of the temple, nor the strife with Him on the part of the heads of the people, nor His solemn arraignment of them all. Nor have we the Olivet prophecy following. On the other hand, we have the effect of the resurrection of Lazarus, the testimony to Him of those in whom it had wrought, and on the other hand, the intensifying of the opposition by it. The fulfilment of Zechariah's prophecy is only realized by the disciples afterwards. All this is for John the history of a struggle, and the end of which is the Cross and the setting aside of Israel nationally. He marks it in connection with what follows here, which is peculiar to himself. For his purpose, he has no need to enlarge upon it. The coming up of the Greeks introduces once again what is his peculiar theme.

(3) The Greeks here are pure Gentiles and not Grecian Jews, although worshippers of the true God as revealed in Israel. As sharers of the hopes that Israel's prophets had aroused, they come forward, respectfully using the mediation of a disciple to gain an interview with Him. The mediation of a Jew was a perfectly natural thought for a Gentile believing in the prophets, where the Gentile seeking God, clings to the skirts of the Jew (Zech. 8:23). As the centurion before used the Jewish elders, so the Greeks here would use Philip. He, with the caution of his people in such a matter, associates another with himself to approach his Master in the matter; and Andrew takes the lead in communicating their desire to the Lord. He at once declares that the hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified; using the title by which is indicated His link with man as Man.* As Son of man, all peoples, nations and languages are to serve Him, and in a Kingdom that shall not be destroyed (Dan. 7:14).

{* Andrew, the "manly," is foremost in the introduction.}

The hour had not arrived, however, for the Kingdom here depicted; and it has not yet arrived; nor is the Son of man a title which He takes in relationship to the Church. But there was an hour just at hand for another, His strange, yet greatest glory, to be acquired by Him; and in which not His connection with Israel but His manhood place for men was for all eternity to make Him glorious. By the power of this work the Son of man lifted up was to draw all men to Him. In the value of it, the earth and all the dwellers in it will become His own. Without it man's ruined race could be but as a cinder-slag in the fire of God's wrath. He goes on immediately to speak of this necessity, therefore, in order to His own fruitfulness, affirming it as constantly in John with what is of deepest importance with the seal of His double "verily:" "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Nature is summoned here to show the law of increase which is stamped upon her; and that creative law is made an argument for the necessity of the death that is before Him. What an exaltation of the analogies in nature, to exhibit and use them in such a way as this! and what a means of interpreting nature itself is here given us! How it shows that Christ, ignored by the so-called "natural" theology, is the true key to the interpretation of nature, and that the Cross is stamped ineffaceably upon it. Nature is thus invested with the robe of a primaeval prophet, and that the Word, who is God, is the Creator of all things becomes not merely the announcement of Scripture, but a plainly demonstrated fact before our eyes today.

The grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies: it has life in it, and it carries it with it through death itself. The death which it undergoes is in the interest even of the life, which it sets free from its encasement — from the limitations which hedge it in — to lay hold of and assimilate the surrounding material, by which it expands into the plant which is its resurrection, and thus at last into the many grains which are its resurrection-fruit. How plainly is this no accidental likeness which the Lord has seized for illustration of His point. It is as real a prediction as ever came from the lips of an Old Testament prophet: every seed sown in the ground to produce a harvest a positive prediction that the Giver of life must die. The union of Christ with men is not in incarnation, though that, of course, was a necessary step towards it. But the blessed Man, so come into the world, was a new, a Second Man, who could not unite with the old race, but becomes the Head of a new one, another — a "last Adam." Alone He was the life, and the Life was the Light of men; but if that were all the history would be summed in the words that follow: "And the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. He was in the world … and the world knew Him not." To the dead life must be communicated, that there may be eyes to see. Men can only be born again into the family of God, of which the Son of God as Man is the beginning.

Yet the Life cannot simply communicate the life. Around Him are the bands of eternal righteousness, which has pronounced condemnation upon the guilty, and only by the satisfaction of righteousness in the penalty incurred can these bands be removed. Death — death as He endured it — alone can set Him free from these limitations: He is "straitened till it be accomplished." In resurrection He is enlarged, and becomes the Head of a new creation and "if any man be in Christ, it is new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). In those redeemed by His blood the tree of life has come to its precious fruitage.

Thus the Son of God goes forward to His death. These Greeks coming up show divine grace working. Mere King of the Jews He is not, but the Saviour of men; and the wide harvest coming in is claiming Him for the realization of its promise. The burden of the world is upon Him. Past, present and future centre in Him. The glory of God, the blessing of man, call on Him with a voice which He has heard long since in the height from which He has descended. Now from a lower and nearer point of view the depths appear of the abyss into which He must yet descend, that He may lay in it the eternal foundations which nothing shall shake again.

Each grain of wheat that is found on the parent plant follows of necessity by the law of its own nature the pattern of the grain from which it came. His people too must be prepared to follow Him upon the road on which He is going. "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. He that serveth Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be; if any one serve Me, him will the Father honor." Here is the rule, and here is the reward of service: to be with Christ, where He is, is such reward as love itself would seek, crowned with the honor which the Father puts upon such loving service. The way of attainment is by the path that He has trodden, and that way, in its general character at least, is unmistakably plain.

For Him, however, there was that which darkened the road, and made it what for us it never can be. What He has taken from ours was the intense sorrow of His; not mere death, nor even with all that the wickedness of man and the malignity of Satan could add to it of bitterness, but the awful reality of sin borne by Him in the midst of all this, and the penalty of it in its unrelieved intensity. The anticipation of this presses upon Him as He speaks: "Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour?" Nay, "for this cause came I to this hour." Relief could not be found in this direction: there was but one thing could give it, but one prayer possible: "Father, glorify Thy Name." To that immediately the answer comes: and in the hearing of the multitude: "there came a voice from heaven: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." That was what the Son was here in the world for, and it was in open acceptance of the Son's work that the Father glorified His own name. In a special way this had been done in the resurrection of Lazarus; but it was to be done in a more signal manner, when "by the glory of the Father" Christ Himself would be raised from the dead (Rom. 6:4).

Meanwhile this Voice came as His witness to the multitude. For Himself it could not he needed, who walked in a communion with God which was never broken. Alas, for them a Voice from heaven was a strange and, for the mass, an unintelligible sound. The multitude said, "It thundered." A few, who still did not clearly recognize it, said, "An angel has spoken to Him." The Lord replies, It is for your sakes and not Mine; and then warns them that the world's judgment is at hand in that which He is looking on to. His death at its hands would indeed be its condemnation. Its chosen prince was not the true, but the usurper; to be cast out yet by the power of that which He was accomplishing by its means. The Son of Man was to be lifted up from the earth, the witness of His rejection by men, yet of the curse borne for them: of which the final result in the new earth would be, all men drawn to Him by its sweet beneficent power, even now the attractive centre for the myriads of the redeemed.

Thus it is His heart relieves itself. The glory of God, the overthrow of evil, the redemption and reconciliation of men, is to be accomplished by that, the cost of which is to be for Him so much. He weighs the gain against the purchase-price for Him, and is content.

(4) There follows here again, as so constantly in John, that conflict of unbelief with the truth which reveals so perfectly the condition of man. The moral disease which cleaves to him is the very thing which makes the remedy so distasteful. Above all, the Cross is utterly an offence; and fullest grace of God is refused for its incompatibility with the self-righteousness of man. The Jews take up this affirmation that the Son of man must be lifted up, which they rightly enough interpret of His death, to put it in contrast with what the law has declared. The Christ according to it abides forever; and how can this be consistent with the Son of man being lifted up? Who is He then, this Son of man? But the Lord does not directly answer them. For their state of heart is not reached by the formal answer of a question. He simply presses on them the speedy passing of the opportunity which they now had. The light would be soon taken from them, except by their availing themselves of it they make it their own. When the darkness came, they would lose the way indeed; acceptance of the light while yet they had it would make them sons of the light, in whom the light would be as nature.

With these words He is gone again out of their midst, and hidden from them. He had wrought so many signs among them, and they had only fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy of a people given up to hardening. The moral glory of His suffering and humiliation had only, being such as they were, blinded their eyes; and His grace published had but hardened their heart, so as to make it impossible for them to see or understand, to be converted and healed. These things Isaiah said, as seeing in the glory of Jehovah displayed in the temple the glory of Christ: for Christ is the Word, in whom alone God has ever displayed Himself; and in the Man Christ Jesus this display is at last fully made. But how could the Pharisaic Jew, ignorant of himself and God alike, recognize the One in the Other?

Yet the evidence was abundant; so that among the chief rulers many believed. Their reason was convinced, but their hearts were unchanged, and the consequences of confessing Him were too serious: they desired the glory that men could bestow rather than the glory which God could give: the fatal choice of alas how many!

(5) The Evangelist brings forward, therefore, here the emphatic words of Jesus which proclaim the responsibility attaching to the light which had shone among them.

Light indeed it was, the revelation of God in His true character, so that to believe on Him was to believe on Him who sent Him forth, to behold Him was to behold the One from whom He came. There was no side interest to divert any from the true and living God He represented.

His mission also was the appealing, attractive mission of salvation, and not of judgment. There was everything in it to win, rather than repel. Yet in the last day, that sweet and winning message would witness against the rejector of it all the more surely. Ah, says the apostle, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation

And in all this, nothing was spoken from Himself, but all according to a commandment given Him of the Father. He knew it in its outcome, its meaning for man — eternal life! and spoke it in the joy of communion with it, — with Him who sent it.

So the message ends: here is the responsibility of him who hears it. Henceforth, until as the Lamb of sacrifice He again appears among the people, He is shut up in the company of His own, to communicate to them His last words of guidance and overflowing love, for the impending time of His absence from them: a legacy which has never been exhausted yet; and of which, live as freely on it as we will, we shall find it hard to exhaust even the daily income.

Subdivision 4. (John12 — 17.)

Mercy for the path.

Israel has now fully manifested her unbelief, and the Lord has been dwelling upon His lifting up at their hands, — on their parts, the most complete and contemptuous rejection, though to be overruled of God for widest blessing. He was going back to the Father, the glorious work being fully accomplished for which He had come. That accomplishment has been indeed anticipated all through the Gospel, as we have seen. Apart from it no blessing at all could have been for man; and the hands to which it had been committed were fully competent. God could own from the beginning with the most open testimony His delight in Him, even as upon the Cross itself He could turn away His face from Him who in human weakness hung there, and leave Him unassisted to the struggle and the victory, upon which hung all the issues of eternity. He was to be thus the "Father of eternity" (Isa. 9:6; Heb.) which was to take shape and pattern in the womb of the Cross.

Now He stood on the eve of His actual departure. One brief awful moment past, Heaven beckoned Him; the glory from which He had come was hailing Him back; the Father's greeting of His Royal Priest, — the Father's throne awaited Him: all things were in His hand; yet He has upon earth an interest that detains Him, which in the glory of God is to occupy Him still. He is leaving upon earth the chosen companions of His path; those indeed that have hardly ever understood Him, — whose lack of sympathy has been itself one of the bitterest trials, of those that made Him the Man of sorrows" that He was. Yet they are. His hard-won spoils from the hand of the enemy, — the first-fruits of the spiritual harvest coming in. They are His own, the gift of His Father, the work of His Spirit, the purchase of His blood, by and by to tell out and for the ages to come, divine love and power to all His intelligent creation. Nor, spite of their feebleness, can He forget how their hearts awakened by His call, have clung to Him in the scene of His rejection, how they have left their little all to follow Him. Now He is going to leave them in that world whose enmity they must for His sake incur, and in which they would fill up that which was behind of His afflictions for His body's sake, which is the Church (Col. 1:24). In human tenderness His heart overflows towards them, while in divine fulness; and this is what we find before us now. It is peculiar to John, and furnishes them for the way, and arms them for the impending conflict.

This therefore is the true wilderness section of the Gospel, — not the history of the wilderness, but the preparation for it; what is to it as the early part of Numbers to the latter part. Alas, such a history was to follow — and has followed; yet in which divine grace has abounded over human failure. So must it ever be.

Section 1. (John 13:1-17.)

With all power His, and faithful to those given Him, He maintains them in righteousness.

The order of Scripture is a point of special importance. So we shall find it here. Grace reigns through righteousness. Righteousness must be maintained or God, who in all His acts must be consistent with himself, cannot give way to the love which is in His nature. This is seen in the Cross, but it remains a principle in all God's dealings with His people. We "call on Him as Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work" (1 Peter 1:17). The Father's character must be maintained with His own children; and they must be taught to act in conformity with it. Our "Advocate with the Father" also is "Jesus Christ the righteous," One who can no more forget righteousness than He can forget the people He has redeemed. It is not, of course, as Advocate we see Him here; because plainly it is not with the Father that we see Him, but with His people. Yet He is anticipatively the Risen and Ascended One, with all things given into His hands. It is in this character He acts, in a love that cannot give up its objects, and which recognizes it as a first necessity for them that they should be conformed to His nature and ways.

They are to have part with Him; but what does this involve as to those in such a place of defilement as this world is, and with so great susceptibility to defilement in it? His action in view of all this is quite easy of interpretation, spite of the many who have seen in it only a lesson of humility, and indeed the institution of an ordinance to remind of this. But the Lord Himself assures us that there is a deeper meaning than this, for Peter certainly knew what the Lord was doing, if there were no more than this; but the Lord says that at present he did not know; but that he should know afterwards. The doing to others by the disciples as He had done to them would necessarily depend also upon their knowledge of what He had done; which, if it were to receive spiritual interpretation, would make what was enjoined on them to be of a similar character.

But Christ's cleansing of His Church is, as the apostle tells us, with washing of water by the Word (Eph. 5:26); and this at once throws light on the deeper meaning. It is as we well know, only as so cleansed that we can, as the Lord says to Peter again, "have part with Him." Thus all is as clear as can be. No ordinance could accomplish this; and we immediately perceive the primary importance of this for all that follows. Communion itself — which is "part with Him," — fruitfulness, testimony, must all depend upon this.

Jesus rises therefore from supper, not when it was ended, as the common version represents, but while it was going on, leaving the place of communion, as if this were interrupted, until His necessary work for them should renew it once more. He rises therefore from supper, and girds Himself for a fresh service. His sacrificial work is over; the shedding of blood is no more needed, but only the washing of water; and here also not the "bath of regeneration," (Titus 3:5), but simply, as He presently points out to Peter, the washing of the feet. It is defilement contracted in the walk that is in question; and He puts Himself at their feet to wash them. As of old Jehovah could say to Israel, "Thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins, "(Isa. 43:24,) so may He still say to us; but His unchangeable love is equal to all possible demands upon it. Notice here that all His disciples need it, and that thus He invites us all today to put our feet into His hands continually, that they may be cleansed according to His thought of what is cleanness, who alone is capable of judging according to the perfect standard of the sanctuary, of which He is indeed Himself the Light.

And again notice what is involved in this: for it makes clear that the Lord's significant action here does not simply point out to us the remedy for that defilement of which we may be conscious, while of course it does apply in the fullest way to this. The principle goes much further; for there is, as we all must be aware, a sad possibility of unconscious defilement and thus of slipping unawares out of communion with God; while conscience gives no sign of what is wrong, and may thus mislead us as to our condition. It cannot be too fully impressed upon our minds that conscience is not the standard of right and wrong, but the word of God alone is that. The testimony of the Word itself is, that "If a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord, though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity" (Lev. 5:17). For who can truthfully say that he was necessarily ignorant of what the word of God declares?

But even where the thing is clear, conscience may be dull and indifferent. The common sights and sounds with which the world is full tend insensibly to dull us; the dust with which the air is full settles upon the mirror, we know not how, and it gives no more the clear witness that it did so short a time since: we need therefore continual recourse to Him whom the Psalmist invoked: "Search me O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me" (Ps. 139:23-24). Ah! what incompetent judges are we in our own case! and how thankful may we be to have such an One as is here before us to judge our case for us! It is involved in this, that we come into His hands, not for mere settlement of this matter or that; we do not say to Him, "Search out this or that," but, "Search me;" and thus, if we are perfectly honest in it, we are inviting the light to be poured into all the dark corners and crannies of our lives and hearts: we are with Him without reserve, — for self-judgment indeed, but as He manifests us to ourselves and thus enables us.

If there has been conscious failure, the mere confession of it is not the whole matter, perhaps not the half of it. Many from a misapplication of the apostle's words,* "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," (1 John 1:9,) would make this a light and easy method of settling old scores which leaves them ever more lightly to be run up again. Others with a more serious but a legal spirit, are left groaning over their inability to determine how far they have fulfilled a condition which they cannot treat so lightly. Neither of these realize that the real remedy given by the apostle, "If any one sin," is the blessed Advocate with the Father, who here, as the necessary result of His being this, Himself assumes the responsibility of cleansing us after His own manner, that communion may be restored. Confession is not washing, and His words are, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me." Washing is more than forgiveness. There is the searching out by the Word of the matter as in the Presence of God; where the steps which led into the evil come into review, as well as the end they led to, and the foundation of all is judged: so that the hold of the sin is broken for the sinner. We have a conspicuous example of the Lord's dealing with a soul for restoration in the history, soon to be given us, of Simon Peter. Not without significance is it, that the very one who resists the Lord's proffered service to him (however his motive may plead in his excuse) is the one who becomes in his failure the example of cleansing such as is before us in figure here.

{*Which really refer to Salvation.}

How the need we have of Him is emphasized all through Scripture! and how good and wholesome to be thus made to keep close to Him for all the length of our journey! Is it a hardship to be thus in continual company with Him? Look at Him here, and answer! He is at our very feet to wash them! And what His action here secures is that we should have part with Him. Is not all the misery of our lives but the result of losing sight of Him? When Israel entered their promised land, Jehovah went with them. There was given them continual access to Him, for guidance in every emergency that could arise. They seem to have interpreted this in such a way that they would not burden the Lord with too many of their matters. It was plain enough to them that Ai was so small a city that but a small number of them would be competent to take it. They tried that, and at little Ai found their first defeat. Israel had sinned; but it was hidden from them. How then were they responsible for that? Ah! they had followed their own thoughts, and had taken no counsel of the Lord. They did the same in the matter of the Gibeonites, and again the enemy succeeded against them. Now "these timings were our types;" only the battle is for us a spiritual one: not therefore less arduous. How we need His cleansing grace, that we may be such as He can show Himself for in the day of conflict; that we may obtain possession of that land which is (in the fullest sense) our "part with Him!"

If it be restoration that is needed, how comforting the knowledge of the truth that nothing can shut us out of His Presence, if indeed our heartfelt desire is to be there; that we are welcome, just as we are, not needing any whole or partial cleansing to entitle us to come in at a door which is never closed against us. For indeed, if we did need this, we could never find it: His word is, — not, if thou art not washed, — but, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me."

Thus of necessity the first step to be taken is to come back to Him, from whom to have got away is the first and saddest failure. If we come back, it is, of course, to put ourselves into His hands, that He may discover to us our need, and meet it with His grace. None but Himself can meet it. In the glory of His Presence the heart is softened, while the conscience is aroused. While He does not upbraid, truth in the inward parts is re-established, and power is found in the very consciousness of weakness, and confidence in the wreck of all self-trust. We have all this brought out in the story of Peter, which for its importance the Spirit of God has given us at length; we shall not, for this reason, dwell more upon it in this place.

Peter, when he learns that it is to have part with Christ that his feet are to be washed, goes immediately, after his ardent manner, to the opposite extreme. "Lord," he says, "not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." The Lord answers him, "He that is bathed needeth not, save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." The "washing of regeneration," the cleansing which is effected in new birth, never needs to be repeated. Spite of all that tends to destroy it in this world, the effect is an indelible one. "Whosoever is born of God," says the same apostle who records this in his first epistle, "doth not commit" — or rather, "practise" — "sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin" — be sinning — "because he is born of God." In how many ways we are reminded of the unfailing character of God's precious grace! The love that has laid hold upon us for eternal glory is not going to be defeated in what it has taken in hand to do. The washing of the feet can be repeated indefinitely, but not the bathing of the whole person. The bathed person may defile his feet by walking, but nothing more. Only the feet need cleansing to be wholly clean.

The Lord now exhorts His disciples to imitate His example. They called Him Teacher: let this lowly grace of His then be their instruction. They called Him Lord: let them obey His command. He, their Teacher and Lord, had washed their feet: they might well wash one another's feet. Plainly it was no mere ceremony that he was proposing for their imitation, but the meeting of a deep spiritual need, as love alone could meet it. In a scene of defilement such as the world is, alluring even time hearts of disciples from their Lord, be it theirs to recover and cleanse those who were being drawn away by its allurements. Mere judgment of the evil would not do this, however righteous. Love alone has power to draw, and Christ must be the One drawn to or there is no restoration. How strangely do those who confess themselves debtors wholly to a Saviour's grace yet deal with one another on the totally opposite principle of law. He that would cleanse another's feet must be at his feet to cleanse them. The soul that has fallen into sin has done so because it has got away from the Source of holiness and strength. It is of small service to judge for such their sin; that is only the sign of how far they have departed. They need with this the confirmation to them of that grace which alone breaks the dominion of sin (Rom. 6:14). People seem as if they argued as to failing Christians, that grace has failed with them, and now government, as they would say, must have its course. Now government is the government of grace. "Grace reigns through righteousness;" the government is a Father's government; while He truly "judges according to every man's work." God's electing love has pledged even, as to Abraham, (Gen. 15:17,) the "smoking furnace" to do His work. He may thus permit Issachar, become time world's drudge for hire (Gen. 49:15), to gall his shoulder with the yoke of a hard service. A child of God may thus be allowed to eat of the fruit of his own ways, that he may learn, in the only way that he himself has rendered possible, the perfection of the ways of God. It is a painful method but a self-chosen one; and plainly through all grace is working, — governing. We can never oppose, for the child of God, His government to His grace. All through, His path is light; and it could not be grace that did not conform to this.

Manifestly, therefore, this does not shut out from His Presence the soul that seeks Him; whatever may be the distance to which it has wandered from Him. It may unbelievingly think itself shut out; it may take the eating of the fruit of its own ways, to which it may still be compelled, as the evident proof of this, which it is not: David's sin followed him all the rest of his life; but that in no wise set aside the fact of his full forgiveness.

It should be evident that we can never merit or work our way into that glorious Presence by getting cleansed from whatever evil we may by our wandering from it have fallen into. The grace which alone could open the door still keeps the door open, and only there, at the hands of Christ Himself; can cleansing be obtained. As long as we are away, we shall still only "stumble and stray," and therefore to be kept out would be to make all recovery impossible. But the weakening of faith by the evil course that has been pursued may indeed be a terrible hindrance; and here is a main point to be remembered by those who desire to have the happiness of which the Lord speaks, of doing to others that which He is doing so constantly for us, as far as it is possible for us to follow Him in it. We must remember that grace alone is the victorious breaker of sin's bonds, and is thus the holiest thing possible: there needs no modification of it at any time, — no guarding it by the mixture with it of something else. That which is not holiness is not grace, and it is not to skin over an ulcer slightly to maintain God's perfect grace for all that seek Him at any moment of time.

Just on this very account, — because grace is sovereign, — there must be, of course, the soul's full surrender to it; and this we must insist on. Christ cleanses after His manner: it must be full cleansing or not at all. As already said, we come near to put our feet in His hands: there is no other access at all, but for this purpose, — no possibility of having part with Him save as we submit ourselves to this. Christ must be "Teacher and Lord" absolutely, as He assures every one of His own. The terms of discipleship He has fully insisted on, and they never vary. Grace sovereign means Christ sovereign, and there is no other way. But with Him there is always, not simply light given, but strength ministered, — strength which is made perfect in our human weakness, — and a joy which is strength, — it is the atmosphere proper to it: "in Thy Presence fulness of joy."

Happy then are we if, knowing these things, we are found doing them. Abundance of need there is among the people of God for the ministry of such grace to the wandering and needy. It is the ministry of Christ Himself: there is no help, no restoration possible save as we can get them to Christ; and He, whatever the case may be, is all-sufficient. But we must pass on.

Section 2. (John 13:18-38.)

The enemy's work but adding glory to the humbled Son of man.

The shadow of what He has just said deepens upon His soul. Of those with Him now, in the intimacy to which His love has admitted them, there is yet one to whom that love itself can add but deeper perdition. The enemy is there and at work, where divine love has brought Him, upon a path descending now to the utter darkness only to be relieved by the consciousness that it is indeed love's errand that He is upon, and of the recompense that awaits it, — a "joy set before Him" for which "He endured the Cross, despising the shame."

As Seed of the woman, the conflict with Satan was part or His necessary work. By man whom he had overcome the adversary was to be overcome, and God vindicated in His latest creation-work. But the conditions of the conflict were far otherwise than at the beginning. Man, conquered in his strength, was to conquer in his weakness, cleaving, in the character which belongs to the creature and is his safeguard to maintain, to the might of God. Thus with the "heel" of His perfect Humanity He trod down the adversary; that heel bruised even to death in doing this. It was now the hour in which His assailant in the wilderness, then baffled and withdrawing for a season, would return as prince of this world with the power of the world behind him: and already had he found one of the chosen twelve, for the paltriest of bribes, willing to betray his Master. From the buffeting of the storm so arising the rest must scatter from Him or be overthrown: to His very face another would deny Him; He must be stripped of what comfort the faithfulness of His few intimates could secure Him; one partial but sweet exception being shown us in this Gospel and in no other. But all is allowed for His fullest triumph. He is to be uniquely perfect, in a unique place, God Himself leaving Him, until the time in which, the demands of righteousness being fully met, He will be able to appear in His behalf.

1. With the sense then of what is before Him, He foretells the defection of Judas. This yet only accomplishes the Scripture. It was written: "He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me." His heel! the most contemptuous rejection possible: was it not such to sell the Lord of glory for the price of a slave? It was as if he would inflict upon Christ the serpent's predicted doom! But it was all foreseen and announced, and He afresh announces it, that faith might be strengthened in the rest by that which would naturally most severely try them. By His choice of them alone they were secured; and He who had prayed for Peter, that his faith might not fail, was even now watching over the weak faith of the rest.

Then He raises them up to fullest identification with Himself: "Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me: and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me." This is yet in the ears of Judas; which are dulling, however, into the hardened insensibility which only sin can produce. We are next called, for our instruction, to contemplate this tremendous spectacle, — to tread, as it were, the very antechamber of hell itself.

2. The Lord's soul is troubled: He is not roused to anger, as we might well expect to find. He is the One who has said and sworn, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth;" and the tears wept over Jerusalem seem ready to flow over once more. In all that passes between the Lord and Judas in these last scenes, another and more powerful feeling keeps back the anger which the baseness of his awful traffic in the blood of his Master would naturally arouse: — the appalling sight of one over whom were gathering, as it were, beforehand the lurid shadows of the pit. What must it have been for Him to have to say, "One of you shall deliver Me up"? The other disciples seem scarcely to have imagined the possibility of real treachery on the part of one of their own number; for after Judas is distinctly pointed out, and the Lord dismisses him with the significant words, "What thou doest, do quickly," not one of them thinks for what purpose he is gone out. They think perhaps of some unintentional disclosure, or at most of some break-down in weakness under too great a pressure; but a deliberate betrayal how can they imagine on the part of one who has been in His company? We recall naturally the words of the apostle afterwards, — the very one to whom the secret was communicated here, — as if they might account for the strange inability to comprehend what had been declared so plainly, — "He that sinneth hath not seen Him neither known Him." True it is, Judas had never known the glory in the face of Jesus. What he had known we will not speculate upon; it needs not. So near, yet so far off; capable of casting out demons in Christ's name, yet one to whom, on His side, Christ must say,I never knew you, — this is the plain and awful conjunction, challenging all hearts.

"After the sop, Satan:" there is another terrible conjunction. The token of love becomes in its rejection that which hands over the unhappy man to the adversary of Christ. That morsel from the dish was, we may be sure, no mere sign for another, no semblance of a friendship that no more existed. On the side of Him who gave it, it was true, where all was true — the token of love that even yet would fain be received as that, and that could warm even a lifeless soul to life. If, still rejected, it should be death instead of life, this is but the necessary transformation which sin indulged produces in the most precious gifts of God. Love with its own wonder-working brings out of death life; in the nature of things, the opposite will produce the opposite. It is the one law, by which like produces like.

And we have, in beautiful contrast here, the sweet assurance of how love welcomes where it is welcomed. The unnamed beloved disciple brought into the same view with Judas, — though we may elsewhere have his name revealed, — seems here to have given us a blank cheque, to which any other that desires may have leave — if he fulfil the conditions — to put in his name. Most certainly, here we find one whose love presses for recognition, and will never fail to answer to faith's utmost claim upon Him. "Drink," He says, "Yea, drink abundantly, O beloved!" How John has drunk in, his first epistle will bear witness for him. He is the apostle of love; — love that he has learned where one and all must learn it. "Hereby know we love, because He laid down His life for us." "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." "Herein is love perfected with us, that we should have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is so are we in this world." Thus John draws his arguments from where we all may draw them; but he has so abundantly drunk in, that the whole furniture of his epistle seems but the product of the assimilation of the words of Christ. Especially is this true of these last words before His being delivered up. But John's style, the aspect in which he sees things, is just what we find in the Gospel. All through you see his receptive character, — the man who leaned on the breast of Jesus; and thus he is the apostle of the divine nature and the life eternal; life, light, righteousness, love, — these are the themes of which he is never weary of speaking. And this is what so attracts the heart in John, — it is the heart of Christ that attracts us. Ah, it is this heart that seeks still vessels into which it may pour its fulness. And what we can appropriate we are still welcome to. Which is only to say, we are still welcome to lie on His bosom, as the beloved disciple did, and learn where he learned.

3. Out the traitor goes into the night, — a terrible night! but the heart of Jesus is relieved by his absence. He proceeds to enlarge upon the results of His Cross. The Son of man is to be glorified in it: is it not His glory today? God too, in every attribute, is glorified in Him. Where do we see God's righteousness as in the Cross? Where has His love been manifest as there? A sinner taken to heaven by its means is made the righteousness of God in Him! the riches of the glory of His grace are told out to eternal ages. Sin, which might seem to have brought everything into question, has been by its means made the occasion of His brightest, fullest, most marvellous revelation!

If God then has been so glorified in Him, He will respond by glorifying turn Him who has done this. He is taken up to the right hand of God and sits upon the Father's throne. This is possible to Himself alone, and is so given, but the results for man are unspeakably great: a Man is in the nearest place to God that can be: God and man one in His Person! He does not follow this out here: in its fulness it waits for the interpreting Spirit.

But this involved for the disciples His going away. As He had said to the Jews so now He says to them, He is going where they cannot come. They are not now to be with Him, going out and coming in, as through the blessed time just at an end; let them cling all the more to one another as His representatives, — representatives thus of His love to each and all. The duty of love would thus be as a new commandment with the new light of His life laid down for them shining upon it. So would men also recognize them as His disciples, — as having practically learned a lesson so divinely set.

4. Peter full of love which the Lord's words have inflamed, but with no just estimate of himself, bursts out with the question, why cannot he follow Him now? If it were death that was before Him, he would follow Him through that, — was ready to lay down his life for Him. How little we think often in our well-meant zeal, of how much self-confidence may inhere in it and what it needs to follow the footsteps of Him who yet has left us an example to be followed! Peter was to be gratified in his desire when Christ should have prepared the way; and when he himself had learned by all the bitterness of failure his own incompetency. But how severe a teacher experience is! and how much might we escape of such necessity, if only we would learn from Scripture, — "profitable for correction and instruction in righteousness!" How good is God, to supply us with such a teacher! How we fill our path with sorrow by not submitting to it!

Section 3. (John 14.)

Part with Him: the Father's House, and the Manifestation of the Father, in the Son and by the Spirit.

We have now the "part with Him" of which He has already spoken. First its full consummation in the Father's House, the many abodes in glory, in which we shall dwell with Him. Then we have the present manifestation of the Father to us in Christ Himself, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit: so perfectly are we provided for on our way to that eternal Home. Father, Son, and Spirit are all employed in our behalf, on a path which shines with heavenly light upon it to the perfect day.

1. The Lord exhorts and encourages them in view of His departure from them. He is to be their sufficient resource whatever might be their trouble, as the sure though unseen object for faith, as God was. The Father's House was before them as before Him, the only full satisfaction for the heart, where rest will be eternal. That was the place to which He was going, and there of necessity His own would be with Him. Would He otherwise have encouraged an intimacy which was to end for ever? would He not have warned them? Ah, He was going up there to love and care for them with the same steadfast care as when on earth, and would prepare a place for them.

Until He finally left it, as rejected by Israel, the temple was for Christ His Father's House. Now He speaks of another, — that of which Israel's was but the figure: but therefore naturally using this to illustrate the higher meaning. The "holy places made with hands," says the apostle (Heb. 9:23-24) are "figures of the true," "the patterns of things in the heavens." The court of that house with its numerous chambers, in which the priests as they came up for service in their various courses found temporary lodgment, were indeed more a contrast than anything else with the glorious abodes which the Lord speaks of here. These are homes, not mere lodging-places; and in nearer relation to the Divine Father than such outside courts could indicate. The reality transcends all shadows. They who are here provided for are the happy children of One who transcends infinitely all other fathers. And this at once delivers us from the thought which has been attached to the simple language of the blessed Teacher, — as if "many" signified diversity of rank. The whole connection and the terms used are against such an interpretation. In the Father's House all are children; and all the children are in the nearness of such relationship. It is the fruit of Christ's work, and not the reward of our own. It ought to be plain at once to every one who knows anything of the place into which divine grace has brought him, that these things cannot be mingled. The apostle's words clearly state the incompatibility of these two principles: "If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no more work" (Rom. 11:6). The principles are incompatible, and in all that the work of Christ has accomplished for us, this needs and owns no help from man. Yet it is quite true that there are rewards, and that divine love will satisfy itself in thus owning all that has been done for love. Mercy will show itself also in this; but how? By cleansing away all that which has been mixed with it, and would make this impossible; and this is what is represented to us in the blood-washed robes of the book of Revelation. The righteousness which we have in Christ, — the best robe in the Father's House, — can never need such washing; but the robes that are spoken of in this way are the "righteousnesses," or, as the Revised Version has it, "the righteous deeds" of the saints: for the book of Revelation is the book of the Throne, — of government and recompense, and we must not be surprised if we have a very different view of things from that presented in Romans or Galatians.

But the whole context assures us that differences of reward are not in question. The Lord is not telling His disciples that "one star differeth from another star in glory," — it is not indeed glory at all, of which He is speaking; He is comforting their hearts in the thought of His absence, that after all it is only a temporary one, and that the Father's House to which He is going has room enough for all, and is to receive them all eternally. The issues of responsibility do not come in here, as should be plain, and would only introduce an element of uncertainty where faith needed to have the clearest vision.

He had come amongst men, not merely to do a certain work among them, however great, and to be gone. He was going back; but as a Man, taking back with Him the nature He had assumed to the glory He had left, — the pledge of abiding fellowship with those for whom He now went up to take a place as their Representative before God. The communion to which He had admitted them on earth was there to be continued and perpetuated: if it were not so, He would have told them; He would not have bound their hearts to Himself by that dear, familiar intercourse to which He had encouraged them, if it were to have an end for ever. Not so; if He were going away, it was to prepare a place for them; and He would return again Himself to receive them to Himself, — to welcome them to His own eternal Home. His must be their first, best greeting.

He does not explain how the place in His Father's House should be prepared for them; nor were they yet, perhaps, able to understand. The epistle to the Hebrews will show us, if we turn to it, that the heavenly places had to be purified by the better sacrifice which He was to offer, in which all the sacrifices of the law would find their fulfilment. Ephesians speaks similarly of the "redemption of the purchased possession;" and Colossians of the reconciliation of things in heaven (Heb. ix-. 23; Eph. 1:14; Col. 1:20). Such thoughts are, even now, strange to many a Christian; for we are slow to realize the extent of the injury that sin has inflicted, and equally, therefore, the breadth of the application of the work of Christ. This is not the place to enlarge upon it; but it is not difficult to understand that wherever sin has raised question of God, — and it has done so, as we know, in heaven itself, — the work of Christ, as bringing out in full His whole character in love and righteousness regarding that which had raised the question, has enabled Him now to come in and restore, consistently with all that He is, what had been defiled with evil. Thus our High Priest, to use as the apostle does the figures of Israel's day of atonement, has entered into the sanctuary to reconcile with the virtue of His sacrifice the holy places themselves, and make them accessible to us. Man in Christ has risen to the highest pinnacle of glory with the whole acclaim of heaven; and men redeemed by His blood can be associated with their Lord in glory, "made the (manifested) righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21).

They knew therefore whither He was going; they knew also the way. For they knew in fact more than they realized that they knew. When Thomas, thinking, as it would appear, of a kind of map of the road, which they had not, ventures to object their ignorance of this, the Lord shows him his mistake by assuring him that He Himself was the Way: through Him alone could any come to God. Nor only so; He was also the Truth, — the revelation of God. And since, even so, man was dead and unreceptive of the truth, He was the Life also, which men needed for this reception. The fall treasury for man's need was here then to be found.

2. Philip's desire to be shown the Father brings out more fully the witness of the Son to Him. Where Philip was, many are still today. They know Christ as, in a sense, the way to God; but as yet they have not seen the Father in Him: Christ is rather to them a Saviour from God, than the manifestation of God. He is the Doer of the work which the Father, although they call Him this, simply receives. They are shielded from His wrath, but Himself they do not know. They are, in short, where the Israelite was the night of their first passover. Sheltered under the blood of the lamb, yet the wail of judgment was in their ears, and God for them was identified with what in reality is only His strange work,-unknown therefore in what is His true character.

The Lord's reply to Philip is an expression of pain at his want of apprehension. "Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not from Myself, but the Father who abideth in Me, He doeth the works." His very presence here was to declare the Father, and that after all the Father should not be understood by disciples of His, wounds Him in the deepest way. "Believe Me," He says, "that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me," — that is, that we are thoroughly identified, — "or else believe Me for the very works' sake." It is a tender but sad rebuke. Had Philip indeed not known that He was on the Father's mission? that He was Himself the Love-gift of God? But we are even less excusable, if now we know not. What, is the Father righteousness merely, and only the Son love? are there two Gods, or One Only God? If we have indeed come to Christ, we have not to go a further journey to reach the Father, but have got the very depth of the Father's heart told out. This is, as we have seen from the beginning, the constant theme in John. And oh, what a marvellous joy in simplicity of faith to take it in! Philip was right at least in saying, "It sufficeth us"; and nothing short of this can possibly suffice us.

And the Lord adds to this, that because He was going to the Father, in testimony of the Father's delight in that glorious work achieved, even these poor disciples of His should do greater works than He Himself had done. The thousands converted at Pentecost, compared with the "labor for nought" of which He complains through Isaiah as characterizing His own life-toil, already illustrate this; while beyond lay that Gentile harvest which, even while Israel was reaping the fruit of her rejection of Him, would anticipate the final world-harvest. These things are, no doubt, the "greater works," while the miracles that He did His disciples also did, even to the raising of the dead, the healing by the shadow of Peter, or the communication of curative power to handkerchiefs or aprons by the body of Paul. This was still the Son's own work, all things being put into His hand as the Fulfiller of the Father's purpose, and received by Him to glorify the Father in the accomplishment of His blessed will. Whatever therefore they should for this end in His Name ask of the Father, He, the Son, would do it; that in the Son the Father might be glorified. And He repeats again, to emphasize it, "If ye shall ask anything in My Name, I will do it."

This is indeed a large enough assurance. It is guarded and made right by the controlling purpose. He who is possessed by the desire that God may be glorified has in this assurance a wondrous possibility before him of successful prayer. Such a desire, just as it is whole-hearted, will clear the sight, and enable for such prayer as can be answered, — will lift up the heart with confidence to God.

We are taught by all this what praying in Christ's Name is: — that it is not a mere putting His Name at the end of one's prayer. It means that we are identifying ourselves in faith with Him who seeks ever the fulfilment of the divine purposes. How impossible to ask truly in Christ's Name that we may obtain the satisfaction of mere selfish cravings! And yet what confidence does it give, that in proportion as our desire is to fill aright the place which He has given us as His representatives upon earth, we may have all that we can possibly need to accomplish this. Here there need be no stinted expectation: here is a sphere in which coveting is fully in place. Alas, how we practise humility after the fashion of Ahaz, who, where God had bidden him make request according to His own greatness, assumes the garb of a piety which he does not possess, and says, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord." And how often do we remain content with a mere scanty pittance of spiritual good, when God has blessed us with "all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus," — when He is glorified in our practical possession of them, — and when He has said to us, "Covet earnestly the best gifts," and, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

3. The Lord now proceeds to speak of the provision made for them, that they might not be left as orphans in the world in the time of His absence from them, but have Him manifested to them, and realize His presence with them in a better and higher way than even when He was with them upon earth. We have already been told of, that gift of the Spirit which they that believed on Him were to receive in a new way after Jesus should be glorified (John 7:35). But now the Lord teaches them distinctly that the Spirit is personally to come and take the place that He had filled among them. As the Spirit of truth He would lead them into all truth, giving them the full consciousness of their identification with Him and His with them. He would not leave them, but abide with them for ever. This is indeed the great characteristic of the time in which we live, that while Christ is above on high, our Advocate with the Father, we have "another Advocate" down here, — another glorious Person to take up our cause on earth, and be in us such power as Christ is for us at the right hand of God. Thus indeed is our weakness and emptiness ministered to by divine and perfect fulness and strength. How wondrous is this provision made for us! and what a testimony to the value of the work which has been accomplished for us! This divine Person comes to make us, — our very bodies, — His dwelling-place, — His temple. Yet we are fully conscious that evil also dwells in us: and thus there arises the very serious question, How can the Spirit of God dwell in such an abode? And this is the argument in some forms of perfectionism, — Christ and Belial, it is urged, cannot dwell in the same temple. Certainly the temple cannot be Belial's and yet Christ's; but how God could dwell in the midst of a sinful people was the lesson of the day of atonement in the old dispensation: "And (the priest) shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness" (Lev. 16:16).

For us the blessed work is accomplished of which Israel's sacrifices were but the mere figure, and it is in Christ that the believer is seen and accepted. The Spirit indwelling is the witness of the perfection of that offering which has "perfected for ever" — or, "in perpetuity" — "them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:14). The right word here is "in perpetuity," — which assures us that at no time — not for a moment — is the believer other than perfect before the eye of God, and that upon ground entirely irrespective of his personal behavior. With the Father — as such — it is very different: "the Father, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work" (1 Peter 1:17). But as between God and His creature all is once for all settled, and to take account of sin there would be to dishonor the covering blood. Thus "if any one sin," says the apostle, writing to Christians, "we have an Advocate with the Father, — Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). The relationship in which we stand to God is not, and cannot be changed by that which yet becomes more evil in view of it. The Father's character is outraged by the ill-conduct of those who are of His family, and the Father's heart is wounded in the same proportion. His provision of atonement for it cannot make it less serious in His sight: the Cross has only revealed it in its abyss of horror.

The Lord's title in this passage is the same as that which in the Gospel He gives to the Spirit. In the common version: it is translated "Comforter," and is quite capable -of such a meaning; but when He says, "another Comforter" he is comparing the Spirit with Himself. The word in these two applications must therefore be rendered uniformly, and "Advocate" is perhaps its best, as it is its most usual rendering. Literally it means "one called to one's side," — a helper, assistant; thence, an advocate, a legal assistant, in whose hands you leave your case. The Lord is He to whom God has committed His people, — on earth the true and faithful Shepherd of the sheep, who laid down His life for them. Now going on high, He still maintains in glory the same care over His Bock; and thus their stumblings and wanderings engage Him still in their be half. He is their Advocate with the Father — not because the Father Himself can fail in either love or power, but as the One who has had committed to Him the burden of them all. To Him they were left in the conflict of the Cross: His hand is to bring them through to glory.

Yet on earth, He having gone from it, they are to have another Advocate, the Holy Spirit; from the beginning the Worker in God's creation and then in His new creation work. The communication of life, the whole work of sanctification, the resurrection of the dead, is His to carry into effect; and this through all dispensations. But this very fact, while it suits well the nature of the place which He has come to fill, shows at the same time that the place itself must imply something other than the work that He has always done. He has come to form and indwell the House of God on earth, and to make the saints individually His living temples. He has come to unite the people of Christ to Himself in heaven, and thus to form also the Body of Christ, with destinies of wondrous blessedness. All this will only open up by degrees, John himself never speaking of the Church, but of the family of God, — of the life therefore which makes men His children. But that this also may have its full character, the Spirit of God must come: in this way the Lord now proceeds to speak of Him.

It is noticeable that it is to disciples who out of love to Him, and not in a spirit of legality, are seeking to keep His commandments, that the Lord promises the gift of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit be come to dwell in us, the first requisite is readiness of obedience. Wondrous are the possibilities held out to us in this marvellous gift; but marvellous also is the possibility we have of belittling even a gift like this. The Galatians had it, who were giving up the gospel for the law. The Corinthians had it, who were carnal, and walked as men. It belongs to the mystery of our nature that we may have as though we had not. It belongs to the royalty of it that we may debase ourselves. Stranger still is it that the children of this world may be wiser in their generation than the children of light, and that the Lord should even have to put this as if a characteristic thing. Were we not unfaithful to ourselves and to God, how would the world be lighted up with the reflection of the glory that is in the unveiled face of Jesus! how we should go through the world as visitants from another sphere! Thus we need not wonder that the Lord should almost seem to put it as if the gift of the Spirit were dependent upon the reality of one's obedience. What! can we have God in us, and entertain Him so poorly? Nothing could make such a thing credible but the sad experience of so lamentable a fact. Yes, men who KNOW that Christ has died for them, — who KNOW that the Spirit of God dwells in them, — who KNOW that God's way is the only way of peace and joy and power, — can yet live and act as if nothing of all this were true. We can give up certainties of blessing for certainties of spiritual loss! Who can enough bewail the misery of such unaccountable folly?

Let us learn now from the Lord's lips what this gift is of which He is speaking to us; the fruit of the Son's entreaty with the Father, a divine Person with us, — in us, — never to leave us more! One who with perfect wisdom, perfect love, and perfect power, takes our case into His hand, leaving us nothing to do but to walk with Him in restful confidence and certainty of unfailing good. Yet not to be led blindly, or without exercise, but as one being trained in communion with the divine thoughts and affections, for eternal fellowship with the Father and the Son!

This Spirit is the "Spirit of truth:" the false halo of Satan's lure thrown over things, the mirage of the desert, is to depart; not to leave one with a mere sombre shadow in its place, but to substitute for it the true yet transfiguring light of an opened heaven, beckoning, — inviting us to the abodes of the Father's House, — the glory Of God! Darkness there is still remaining,but it is passing away, as the apostle says, and the true light already shines (1 John 2:8).

For the Spirit of truth is now to utter the "many things" of which the heart of Christ has long been full, but as yet unable to relieve itself; for there were none able to bear the things to be spoken. Think of it! all this is uttered now, to the very last we are to have of revelation; and the Revealer Himself is with us, to give spiritual capacity for its reception. The light is now come to illumine all the ages past with the glory of the ages still to come! light that is its own convincing witness to the soul flooded with its brilliance. Yet the world, alas! cannot receive the Spirit. It has rejected the Word manifest in flesh, and will not receive One whom it cannot see: "it beholdeth Him not, nor knoweth Him." But receptive, obedient souls have good cause to know Him: "for He dwelleth with you," — as Christ had dwelt with them; but there was to be au intimacy even beyond this; — "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." This was to be the new blessedness, — God no more dwelling in temples made with hands, but man to be His temple.

After this manner then, Christ would still be with them; they were not to be orphans, left to the helplessness that His very presence had discovered to them. The Spirit would be for them the conscious link with the unseen but unforgetting Saviour. While the world would behold Him no more, they would still behold Him, with whose triumphant life in glory their life was bound up. This identification in life with Him is the connecting link with Paul's doctrine afterward, who developer from it the whole truth of Christian standing as we find it in Romans and Ephesians; as upon the basis of the Spirit's indwelling he builds the truth of the Church as the Body of Christ. If Luke in some sense approach nearest to Paul's gospel, as is so often, and not without cause, insisted on, yet John is most nearly related to him with respect to all his higher truths of Christian position. This we shall see better, if the Lord permit us to go on to the Epistles; but it should not be hard to realize already. So directly He assures us here: "At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you." We shall be better able, however, to apprehend the meaning of this when we come to His own development of it in the next section.

The Lord goes on to show that this manifestation of Himself will be necessarily dependent on, and therefore proportionate to the opening of the heart to receive it. The heart for Christ moreover is indicated not so much by emotional sensitiveness as by the spirit of obedience which has itself also higher or lower grades which require careful noting, though in themselves quite easy to be apprehended. In his first epistle John emphasizes the same thing. The apostle of love is careful to insist that the love of which he speaks is liable to very grave mistakes in men's estimate of it. It is not so simple as it would appear, to make the estimate. You have to distinguish between sentiment and practical reality; — the world in general easily does this; — and then you have to distinguish, as the world can scarcely do, between the mere human quality and the divine. Thus love with John is characterized especially as love, not of men in general, but of the brethren: for he that loveth Him that begat loveth them also that are begotten of Him. And again, as here, it is love that keeps His commandments: for "this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments."

So the Lord says: "He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him." Here evidently, though a man have the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit will be found only in the way of practical obedience. How else could we expect them? Can we think that God would comfort His people in paths of disobedience? That would be unholiness, and abhorrent. to His very nature. No: love itself must walk contrary to us, if we will walk contrary: "he that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Prov. 13:24).

The question of Judas (the Lebbaeus of Matthew, and brother of James the son of Alphaeus), — although the Lord seems not to have distinctly answered it, — brings out the further assurance, "If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

This statement might appear at first sight to be only the equivalent of the former one; although it is plain that the latter is more emphatic. In each case it is the character of true love of which the Lord is speaking; and indeed it seems as if He would not suppose in His disciples a love less than such as He is speaking of. John follows his Master's style, when he bursts out in his impassioned way when speaking of the Lord, (which yet is truer than the most rigorous induction of facts could suggest) "he that sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him." It is the only thing to be said, to speak worthily; and he that falsifies it is in that measure not a true witness to his Saviour-Lord.

True also it is, that something of both characters of love, as Christ affirms them, will be found in all true Christians, — overborne so much by contrary influences that like Peter in the high priest's palace, only He who knoweth all things can detect the true disciple underneath the false. There is the false within us all, as well as the true; alas, in many, so often uppermost. The results cannot fail to follow: the blessing of which the Lord speaks attaches to that with which He here connects it. We find it in proportion as we answer to the character.

Looked at in this way, there is no difficulty in seeing the deeper nature of a  love that keeps Christ's word, as compared with that which keeps commandments only. Not to keep a positive command is simple, rank rebellion, — nothing less. His "word" is wider, while it addresses itself with less positiveness of authority to the one whose heart and conscience are less prompt to the appeal of love. And the largeness of Christ's word involves for keeping it an habitual searching into it, with more than readiness to face all that may be thus discovered. Is it not to be feared that there are many who shrink from honest investigation of the Word, because they do not want to be "troubled" with such and such questions? Nay, is not this one of the commonest causes of the sad ignorance which is found so widely prevalent with regard to it? But were ignorance an excuse, and we were so unhappy as to desire one, it is plain that the deeper the ignorance the better off we should be; and the dullest searcher would be the most blameless also!

But how the Lord delights in the one who with a true spirit of obedience welcomes the light of divine truth without any reserve or qualification whatever! Not only will He manifest Himself to him, but "My Father will love him, and We will come and make our abode with him." How much fuller and more permanent is the blessing here! To the two at Emmaus the Lord manifested Himself; but there was no tarrying of that coveted blessing. And how many of us are in like condition! Transient gleams there are of a glory that abides not, and which leaves the soul burning but mourning after it. But there is something more than this in our Lord's words here. "We will come," He says, "and make our abode with him." The result will be to manifest the competence of Scripture for the "man of God," to whom alone it is pledged as competent, — "able to furnish thoroughly unto all good works." Who is the man of God, but he who is out and out for God? and who else can expect to be furnished in this way, but he who is honestly intentioned to use his knowledge as before Him who gave it? The very passage which we are quoting here reminds us of where the profit is to be found: "all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." If we do not mean to accept the reproof and the correction, where is the use of talking about the rest?

In God's ordered path alone can we find God. In His marked out way it would be impossible not to find Him.

"He that loveth Me not keepeth not My words:" here only is the decisive test. Feeling is right, but too sensitive to external influences to be a safe gauge of the man proper. The truest love is shy and sensitive to self-inquiry. Under its influence we are more apt to challenge and accuse ourselves than to congratulate. Nor need we this introspection: let us walk only in His ways, and we shall find the Lord's own acknowledgement. We shall find Him walking and talking with us, as has been always His manner with His own: we shall find Him treating us as those of whom He is not ashamed.

And this is communion with the Father and the Son: "for the word which ye hear is not Mine," — not simply Mine, — "but My Father's who sent Me."

And now they were to receive the full revelation: the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, — sent too from the Father as He had been, but now in His Name which covered all of blessing for them, — He would teach them all things: leading them on, as well as reviving and giving them the full value of all that they had heard with Him. The effect for them would be peace in the heart, even as the legacy of His death was peace in the conscience. They would have the peace He Himself enjoyed, — the result of that unbroken communion in which He walked with God. For us it is restlessness of will disturbs this, — the strife with His will which this means, and the dissatisfaction of soul which follows every gain we may seem to make in this direction. Desiring but His will, there can be no proper doubt as to the issue. That is as sure as it will be blessed; and thus the true remedy for fear is found.

4. Now they should be able to face the fact of His departure which they knew to be but for a time. Nay, they should, if they loved Him, be able to rejoice. that He was going to the Father, — back to Him who abode in that exaltation which He, on His errand of love, had given up. Yet it would bring to an end for the time the intercourse that He had had with them. Nor was the world a place in which this could continue. The world! — its prince was coming; how different from Himself, its rightful Prince! Nay, there was nothing in common between them: the prince of the world had nothing in Him! Yet to the world He was giving proof, in that through which He was thus to pass, of His love to the Father. But the world being what it was, He was leaving it; and for those that were His also, it was no tarrying place: "Arise," He says, "let us go hence."

Section 4. (John 15:1-16.)

The incoming change from Judaism to Christianity, and the test of profession in practical walk.

Christ is then leaving the world, and His own, who are still in it, are yet not of it. As a consequence, Judaism is given up, and part with Christ takes the place of part with the nation of Israel. This is, most evidently, the meaning of the Lord now proclaiming Himself the true Vine, and His disciples "branches" in this. The vine was the Lord's figure of Israel in Isaiah (Isa. 5). It is as evident also that the vine is the symbol of what is looked to for bearing fruit, and that it is for bearing wild fruit that Israel is rooted out of her vineyard. In the Christianity which takes the place of Judaism on the earth, much more then is fruit the necessary requisite. And that is plainly what is insisted on here.

1. First, we see what is alone sufficiency for the fruit required. It is what is implied in the very nature of a branch, — to abide in the vine: apart from Christ we can do nothing. If the branch abide not in the vine, the vine — the vine-sap — cannot abide in the branch; and this is the reason of the connection and order which the Lord's words indicate: "Abide in Me, and I in you." "Abide

Me," — that is the command, — the responsibility; "and I in you," — that will be the assured result. But let us look in detail at what is here before us.

"I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman." We are looking evidently, at what has to do with the earth: and as evidently, the true Vine is in contrast with Israel, as already said. Christ now openly takes the place which was ever His, of the real Source of all fruitfulness for God. The legal system would have made Christ the topmost Branch of the national tree, but no more: for if man could have stood under it, he would have needed no Saviour: his fruitfulness would have been of himself. But this was a means of probation only: God giving abundant testimony of what He intended by it in plain words as to the issue, as well as in that sacrificial and typical ritual which accompanied it and pointed beyond it. It was to be by a new covenant that blessing was to come to the nation, and not by the old, Sinaitic one; which testified ever by its vail dropped over the face of God that none could on that ground see or stand before Him.

The vine too is the natural figure of dependence, and needs constantly the labor of the husbandman; and into such a dependent condition did the Son of God come down, that He might be the Producer of fruit for God, such as yet had never been, as well as the Pattern of fruitfulness also, wherever found. In Him was the life of faith seen in its perfection. If the branches are in Him, and so He in them, as the productive life-sap, — so does He speak also of being in the Father, and of the Father in Him: — "The Father who abideth in Me, He doeth the works." We see thus how the figure of the vine underlies all these expressions. The dependent Man, in whom the Father abides reproduces Himself in His believing people who abide in Him. He is the Vine, they are the branches: He is in them, not personally, but as life and nature: and they are in Him as products of His life, abiding in Him by that faith which is characteristic of it.

The Life is the Divine Life; and thus we hear in the Son's prayer which follows His request, "that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they may be one in Us;" and so also the apostle who so closely follows Him, declares: "If that which ye heard in the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father."

But there is a never to be forgotten difference between the believer and His Lord, which these very words imply: if he can be said, as the apostle here affirms, to be "in the Father," and that seem to even him too much with the Son of God Himself, the preceding "in the Son" shows the way of it to be only through the Father's own love — the gift of His Son for men. We are in the Son, and thus in the Father: for us that is mediatorial wholly, which for Him was the necessary prerogative of His glorious Person. Only the Son Himself could be in this way in the Father; and thus His declaration of this as to Himself was the necessary claim of Deity.

Life, as we have it, is in the Son (1 John 5:11). He is the Eternal Life itself, — the Source of it for men; thus the "Last Adam" of the new creation. And here is the foundation of Paul's doctrine as to Christian position, as already said. John's is not position: for the Son's position cannot be ours; and John says "in the Father," as well as "in the Son;" where position cannot be thought of.

The figure of the vine and its branches thus clearly illustrates the truth of that vital connection between Christ and His people which is what in Christianity has replaced the formal and sacramental connection which obtained in Judaism. It is quite true that there is here supposed however a possibility of a connection which is still formal merely. There is the necessity dwelt upon of abiding in the vine. The one that abides not is cast forth as a branch, and is withered and burnt. In this case, of course, the one who comes to his end in such a way could never have been a branch in vital union with Christ; or the whole doctrine as to life in Scripture would be violated. But in what branch of a vine, it will be asked, has the sap never circulated? and in what other than vital connection could one speak of a branch in the vine?

The question is not answered here; and to answer it one must appeal to similar images elsewhere. We are most naturally reminded of the broken off branches of the olive, of which the apostle speaks in Romans 11. Here, without raising question as to the meaning of the olive itself, the branches are distinctly said to be broken off for unbelief, and those who stand to "stand by faith." The interpretation of the vine is so far confirmed, that those broken off are those who have no spiritual life at all. The principle of continuance is that of faith.

Nor only so; for the Gentile had no part in the olive at the beginning; he is not a natural branch, but grafted in — as the apostle is careful to tell us, "contrary to nature" — into the good olive, out of the wild olive to which he naturally belonged. This "grafting" is common to all Gentiles; but where, as in the vine here, Christ is the stock, it is clearly true that there are no natural branches, — that every one must be grafted in. Now here it is plain that every graft does not abide, or, as we say, strike." The "abiding" is just striking: it is the rooting itself in the stock, — a vivid image of faith's laying hold, which, looking at things from the human side of responsibility insisted upon in the exhortation in this case, makes us partakers in the preciousness of Christ our life.

"My Father is the husbandman," — although it has been applied by some to the divine dealing with Christ Himself, — is applied by the Lord evidently to His dealing with His people. "Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bear more fruit."

The vine, as already said, is the ideal of a fruit-bearer. It is fit for nothing else. "Shall wood be taken thereof, to do any work?" asks the Lord by the prophet; or will men take a pin of it, to hang any vessel thereon?" (Ezek. 15:3). "I looked for it to bring forth grapes," He says again of Israel as His vine (Isa. 5:2). This is what still the Father looks for from us. And notice that it is not works, of which the vine speaks. Works may be fruit, assuredly, and blessed fruit; still, works are acts, which may have a certain character; fruit speaks more properly of the character itself. Thus "the fruit of the Spirit," says the apostle in Galatians (Gal. 5:22-23), "is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance." These are things which show the life in the branch; in activities, no doubt; but they belong more to the person than do the activities. Moreover, the apostle speaks of them as fruit, not fruits: he dwells more upon the unity exhibited than the variety. And this is a blessed character of the Spirit's workmanship, that it is a complete harmonious development, in which every part is in evident relationship with the rest. Love that "seeketh not her own" shines out along the line of these jewels, pervading them all, and not merely stringing them together.

If, therefore, there is no fruit, there is manifestly no life: the branch that bears no fruit has no title to the vine; it can only be taken away. If it bear fruit, then comes the "purging" that it may bear more fruit. Whatever this may include beside, the Lord's words that follow show certainly that the Word is the effectual means by which this purging is accomplished. Purged," — or "clean," — He says, "ye are already, by reason of the word that I have spoken unto you." The Word is that which judges all that is impure in God's sight, while by its sweet encouraging grace, it wins and divorces the heart from it. Any one who is in the least acquainted with vine-culture knows how much pruning it requires, to make a vine bear proper fruit. It is most instructive to realize that this pruning is not necessarily the taking away of what is merely, or in itself evil: leaves and branches, — even if fruitless branches, do not naturally speak of this. The injury that they do lies in squandering the precious sap; which again does not so much lessen the quantity of the fruit produced, as it affects the quality. The things by which Christian fruitfulness are most seriously affected are apt to be, not so much things positively evil: these bear their brand upon their face, for the most part: and the conscience, if it be not dull indeed, is roused against them. It is rather the negative than the positive quality which is dangerous. It is occupation with that which simply has not Christ in it, which (tolerated for its very harmlessness) insensibly steals away the vigor of spiritual life. Lawful things, as the apostle reminds us, may bring us thus under their power; and even the name of "duty" may be invoked to cover with its sanction what is in reality only the slipping of the heart away from its first duty to Him who has redeemed and purchased us with His blood.

The lesson of the vine is here that of the need of concentration: of which Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, gives us so pregnant an example. His "one thing I do" is the only principle for Christian progress, or happiness either. It ensures both. The knowledge of the new man teaches him that "Christ is ALL:" and we cannot broaden or brighten the spiritual life by adding anything to Him.

"Abide in Me" is therefore what He exhorts to: — to realize our dependence, and cultivate that faith which is the acknowledgement of it, and which brought us to Him at first, as the Only-sufficient and All-sufficient Saviour in that hour of supreme distress. Saviour He is still, and all through; not least from our own will and way: — the principle of sin, and the sure road to disaster. To be true to what was our first happiness is to make permanent that happiness; to abide in Him is to find Him in His fulness abiding in us, and all His promises interpreted to us by their fulfilment in the experiences of a blessed and fruitful life. It is only, as has been already said, what is implied in our very Christianity itself: for he who does not abide in Christ in some true sense, is not a Christian. But, alas! we need the exhortation: who will say that Christians do not need to be exhorted to be Christians? "He that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same beareth much fruit." We only need to be fully what we really are: — not to be untrue to our God, our Saviour, and ourselves.

Now comes the warning: "If any one abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered:" that is the spiritual result, as the words "as a branch," indicate: but there follows the final judgment, in that figurative language in which it is so commonly described: "and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." The change has been often noted in this place from "ye" to "any one." The Lord would not have it supposed that it might be possible for those who are truly His to be thus cast forth and to perish: therefore His altered speech. He returns, however, immediately now to His former direct address: "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Here is a further condition, and which certifies, in the same manner as we have seen His language do elsewhere, the character of the prayer to which He pledges success. If His words abide in us, they will give shape to our desires and requests, so that He can answer them without injuring us or contradicting His own character. But if we thus drank in His words, what wondrous power would our prayers possess! Why do we not know more of it? There can be but one reply: we too little yield ourselves to be possessed by these precious words, — care often. too little to face them. They demand too much of us. We would sooner pursue our own wills, giving Him what we may consider a fair proportion of what is His, and hoping He will not expect too much from such as we are. Of how much we rob ourselves, in thus robbing Him, we shall learn, it may be when it cannot be righted.

He would touch our hearts with another thought, that His Father will be glorified in our bearing much fruit: and we shall become such as He can count true disciples of His own. A precious inducement! in which He appeals to our hearts, and expects them to respond to affection so well proved. Have we not dropped out a good deal out of that term so full of meaning, except as applying it to these men of a by-gone day? Is it not perhaps significant, if we have done so?

2. The Lord goes on to speak of the new position in which, as delivered from the law, they were placed, — no longer servants, but friends, — and of the communion in love implied in this. The disciples of Moses were bondsmen of the law under which they were placed, and had even no access to God, — the way into the holiest not being yet manifested (Heb. 9:8). Grace was now changing all. They had looked upon the glory of the Word made flesh, — the glory of the Only-begotten of the Father, in whom the Father Himself was declared and seen. God had come nigh: and now, if He who declared Him were going back to heaven, heaven could not be closed by this, but rather opened. God come nigh, for those who welcomed this, could be no transient vision. But, for one near God, bond-service is no more possible: communion in love must take the place of the former distance: and this is the subject here.

As Christ on earth had been the Object of His Father's love, so now were His people that of His. As to Him it was a love of complacent delight: walking as He did in His Father's commandments, the One Man answering, to the heart of God; He would have them answering similarly to His own heart, walking in His commandments, so as to be partakers of the joy which He had tasted, even amid all the sorrow of His path. He desired for them fulness of this joy. And as He had loved them, even to the laying down His life for them, so was it His commandment that they should love one another: and so they would be still in fellowship with His love.

He was layingHis life for them, — His friends: how could they have greater proof that such they were indeed? Friends! and no longer servants: no more did He call them that: for, instead of mere messages of their duty, He had been opening to them all the truth as to those purposes of the Father with which He had been entrusted. And such is Scripture for us now: with a length and breadth and depth and height in it which befits such a communication from the Father to the Son as that of which the Son here speaks.

This love was at the foundation of all for them: and to it they owed,. and we owe, that choice which was on His side, not on ours. "Ye have not chosen Me," He says, "but I have chosen you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye should ask the Father in My Name, He may give it you." Thus in conscious weakness the power of God is with us: and as He sought us when lost, — when there was nothing but our misery to awaken His compassion, so we may count assuredly upon Him, whatever our helplessness, to perfect the work He has begun. What comfort lies for us in that royal word, "I have chosen you!"

But grace enables us to fulfill the conditions necessarily imposed by the holiness of the divine nature: — and cannot set these aside: therefore the closing words. They are in the same line with others that we have lately heard: which they emphasize only in a somewhat different way. Fruit that abides is that which alone satisfies God. How much that looks well has not that quality in it which ensures permanence. How much that seems truly of God reveals its character by its decay! This "abiding" connects itself, in the Gospel of John, with the divine side of things which is seen all through.

Section 5. (John 15:17 — 16:27.)

A new place with God.

All this involves, as has been seen, a new place with God. We must not expect to have it presented as we find it done by Paul at an aftertime. Only by degrees could the full truth be made known: and for this the Spirit of truth Himself must come. What we have now before us is the result of Christ's departure from the world. His disciples being left in it as His representatives and witnesses, with the Spirit also in it, and the consequences of this, while with the Father there would be enjoyed a freedom of access in His Name before unknown. It is in fact a new place with God, but in practical life down here, which is so much the theme in all John's doctrinal unfolding.

1. The identification of. His disciples with their Lord, whose representatives on earth they are now to be is the first thing here. The world itself would identify them. The hatred with which it had followed Him it would now show to His people. They need not Wonder at it If they were separated from it in spirit and character, as also by His choice of them to be His own outside it, then there was consistency in such opposition. He could non commend Himself: how could they? His persecutors would, of course, be theirs: while those who kept His word would keep theirs also. The Object of their hatred was was,~ above all, Himself, and ultimately the Father, who had sent Him. They had had fullest evidence of His mission in His words and works: works unparalleled by those of any other: so that the sin of their rejection of Him Was manifest. They hated, alas! both Himself and His Father. Their own Scripture had been fulfilled, "They hated Me without a cause."

2. Amid all this opposition, they were not alone to be His representatives, but His witnesses: they and the Spirit whom He would send to them from the Father. There would be thus a double witness, — the unseen Spirit being known in the mighty works which would be done. He would be in this way also the Advocate, plead for God and for His people, even though it might be to deaf ears. As the Spirit of truth also, the truth would commend itself to the conscience, if the heart were closed. Their own testimony would be that of men in personal acquaintance with those details of His life and ways which they have, in fact, made known to us. The human witness would be a natural and needed supplement to the divine.

Spite of all, it was necessary to warn them that the opposition of the world to Him would not thus be overcome. They would be put out of the synagogues: nay, men's hearts would so pervert their consciences that they would kill them, and offer that to God as acceptable service. We find this conspicuously enough in such an one as Saul of Tarsus, "concerning zeal, persecuting the Church:" so little does a good conscience certify a soul to be right with God!

3. The Lord goes on to speak again of the coming of the Spirit, with regard to the character of His testimony. So important for them was it that it was even expedient that He should depart, that the Advocate might come. Again He speaks of Him by that assuring title, which declares how thoroughly He has made their cause His own. According to the divine purpose, Christ must go to the Father, or the Spirit would not come; for it is to a glorified Christ that He testifies. Christianity in its full character is, in fact, the fruit of His ascension, as Paul makes fully plain, who was Himself converted by the "gospel of the glory" (2 Cor. 4:4, 6).

For this, however, we must yet wait: here we have, first, the result of the presence of the Spirit thus sent from the rejected One in glory, as the necessary demonstration of the world's sin, with the judgment of its prince, and the manifestation of the Father's righteousness. "He will convict" does not necessarily imply that men will receive the conviction. The guilty do not necessarily own the righteousness of their sentence. The world assuredly, does not own it. None the less has God demonstrated the guilt of the world, and placed men under responsibility to receive His sentence. There lies the way into inconceivable blessing in that salvation for the guilty which the gospel proclaims.

Christ has been in the world: He has been rejected and cast out of it; it is too plain to be denied that He died a malefactor's death. Men may say for themselves, that individually they had no hand in it. This they do say: how is it possible they can be guilty of what was done by men of another race, and of another time? Well, look at the Jew in the centuries that have elapsed since then: has not His blood been upon them, and on their children? Have they not bought for themselves "a field to bury strangers in" with the "price of blood?" If Christ was not what He claimed, was He not worthy of the sentence under which He suffered? If you do not believe in Him, do you not affirm that sentence to be righteous? Who were these Jews, who put Him to death? Were they not a people carefully prepared for centuries to receive the One they rejected? If you had been among them, would not you have rejected Him too?

Scripture at any rate affirms that "as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." It does not say that the life is the same, and the difference in this respect may be due to many causes: but it says, the heart is. And it speaks of Israel as a field specially cared for and cultivated, to show precisely what one may expect from the soil of the human heart. Their own law had given a dreadful description, drawn too from experience, of what God had found in them: and the apostle, quoting it, says, "We know that whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law." Granted, you say perhaps, but that is Israel. See then how he concludes: what the law says it does indeed say to those who are under the law: — true, but for what purpose? why, "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God" (Rom. 3:19). That is, Israel is not an exception as to man's state before God, but rather, an unexceptionably perfect example. If Israel be found such as this, one need go no further, — the whole world is condemned.

This, though the sentence of the law, applies as well, as must be evident, to the rejection of Christ. The unbelief for which the world is condemned is naturally characteristic of us all: and those who are brought to receive Him are just those who will most fully own this; the language of the prophet will be theirs: He was despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." If there be difference as to any, it is the mercy of God that has made the difference.

But the presence of the Spirit convicts the world also of righteousness: "of righteousness, because I go unto the Father, and ye see Me no more." We hear in the prayer that follows, His appeal in this way: "O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee: and these have known that Thou hast sent Me." Here He puts in contrast the world, which is about to demonstrate its ignorant hatred of the Father by the murder of the Son, with Himself, against whom they are showing their enmity. In this open conflict, with whom will He show Himself? His accusers dare to condemn Him in the Father's Name; and the bitter cry upon the Cross might seem to justify their accusations. He must come openly out and show with whom He is: and in resurrection from the dead God manifests Himself accordingly. He rises, and with abundant witness, but not to show Himself to the unbelieving world, but to return in glory to the Father. The world sees Him no more till He comes back to judge it. God and the world are in demonstrated opposition.

Righteousness has acted: and righteousness will act further in the nearing future, in taking out of the world which has rejected them also, those whom He has linked with Himself, as in His prayer. Resurrection and ascension will demonstrate as to them also with whom the Father is. In heaven they will be "made the righteousness of God in Him." A marvellous display! but the Lord does not here speak of it. It is of the testimony of the Spirit's presence in the world that He is here speaking.

But what remains, then, for the world itself? Judgment! and already the prince of this world has been judged. We must not understand this to mean that sentence has been executed upon him: which plainly is not the case. It is pronounced, but certainly he is not shut up in the abyss as yet (Rev. 20:1-3); and still less in the lake of fire (ver. 10). Branded with his doom, he yet is suffered, in the wisdom of God, to be still abroad, the subtle tempter or the cruel persecutor of the disciples of Him whom he has, in both characters, assailed before.

The Lord turns to brighter themes: emphasizing once again that it is the Spirit of truth that is to come to them, to guide them into what as yet they could not bear: — in fact, into the whole range of truth, and to lead out into the blessed future. In all this the glory of the Son would be revealed: for all things that the Father hath being His, there remains nothing beyond this of which to speak. As Paul says by the illumination of the Spirit now, "All things were created by Him and for Him; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist" (Col. 1:16-17). Let us remember with adoring hearts, that we are "heirs of God and joint-heirs of Christ;" and let us seek to enter into the amazing grace of such a revelation with all the energy that the Spirit can give.

4. The Lord again speaks of His departure, in terms which His previous words might have enabled them to understand. He was indeed going to the Father; yet by the coming of the Spirit He would, as it were, again be with them: for, as He had said, in that day they would know as they had never known, that He was in the Father, and they in Him, and He in them. But His words only show them lost in the mysterious sorrow of His departure, — the departure again of Him who had come into the world to bring in the long-expected blessing, and was going back with His end, as it seemed, unachieved, to leave them with their failed hopes! The present sorrow was too heavy upon them for the hope beyond to be realized as yet. The sorrow was plain; the hope was a perplexity.

5. But the Lord goes on to the results Godward of the new place He was about to take, and again declares the value of His Name in access to the Father. It was not to be as if He stood between, and they must come to Him, that He might go to the Father for them. No, He had opened the way for direct approach. Moreover the Father Himself loved them for the love they had to Him whom they had received as come out from the Father. Let them prove for themselves the sweetness of this way of access, that they might realize the fulness of joy resulting from so wonderful a place of intimacy as would now be theirs. For as yet they had asked nothing in His Name: they had not learned to identify themselves with Him who as yet had not taken His place for them with God. But the sanctuary now stood open, the allegories in which He had hitherto spoken to them were to be exchanged for open speech that suited this. There was now to be in the nearest place with God a Man in heaven. Henceforth there is for men an entrance into that within the veil, whither the Forerunner has entered for us.

Section 6. (Vers. 28-33.)

A note of victory.

A brief note of triumph closes His speech with the disciples. He repeats finally that, having come from the Father into the world, He now goes back from the world to the Father. It might seem as if He was returning with His great purpose unaccomplished, and with regard to Israel, it was in some sense really so: "I have labored in vain, and spent My strength for nought," is His own complaint through the prophet (Isa. 49:4): yet, He adds, "Surely My judgment is with the Lord, and My work with My God." The answer accordingly comes from God to Him: and we know how that Cross which was then the symbol of His rejection has become the symbol of a wider and higher triumph. New purposes were to be disclosed: mysteries hidden in God through all the former ages were to reveal the unsuspected wonder of His work, and fill heaven as well as earth with the display in them of the divine glory. The Lord is full, as we are permitted to see when He turns presently to His Father, with the light beyond the gloom; but the disciples are not ready for the communication of it to them. For a moment, indeed, a gleam seems to have pierced the darkness. As He speaks of going to the Father, they have got already, they say, beyond the allegories into the plain speech they longed for and of which He had spoken. But even in the words in which they say this, they show how far the gloom had shrouded them. "Now we know," they say, that Thou knowest all things: — by this we believe that Thou earnest forth from God." Patiently and sadly He replies to this: "Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered every one to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet," He adds, "I am not alone, but My Father is with Me." Amid all, He knows that the victory is sure: and sure for them: "These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good courage: I have overcome the world."

Section 7. (John 17.)

The Melchizedek Priest: His work anticipatively completed.

His discourse with them is ended, and He turns now to the Father, to put into His hand these poor and presently to be scattered sheep, of whom He is going to show Himself, in the very hour of their scattering, more than ever the good Shepherd. It is the Melchizedek, or Royal, Priest however, to whom we are privileged to listen in His intercession for His people, the work being anticipated as done, that puts Him in the place. We have seen this character attaching to much that He says, in all this part of John, as very largely to the doctrine of the Gospel as a whole. In this closing portion, we have seen Him at the commencement in the place of Advocate, or rather what connects with this, and which involves the same position as the Risen and Ascended Man in which we find Him here. So it is said, — "knowing that the Father had put all things into His hands;" — that is really His Kingship: He is Lord of all.

There is, of course, a special form of His Kingdom which He takes for a special purpose, when as Son of man He brings the earth from its disorder back to God. Into man's hand it was put at the beginning, and by man's fall it was corrupted and ruined. By man's hand that ruin must be repaired: and thus that Kingdom is the Kingdom of the Son of man: but He is King already before this comes, sitting on the Father's throne, and we are "translated into the Kingdom of the Son of His love."

The Melchizedek Priesthood is supposed by some to contemplate simply the millennial kingdom; — that is, in its exercise; but the bread and wine of our Melchizedek should lead us into a wider application of the type. Indeed, as a type, — in which way alone we must view the application made of Gen. 14, — the whole action and the circumstances speak more distinctly of our blessing as Christians than they do of any other. For Sodom is not judged, and Abraham with his typical heavenly calling we may claim without hesitation as our representative: "Abram the Hebrew," (the "passenger,") — passing through a world by which he will not be enriched, "from a thread even to a shoe-latchet." No doubt, there is a right application to millennial times: and the Lord will be seen and will act in that character in relation to Israel and the earth. This is quite true: while it is clear that the argument of the epistle to the Hebrews shows us Christ after the order of Melchizedek now, though the type in relation to the "shadow of heavenly things" in the tabernacle brings before us necessarily the type of Aaron.

The relation to what we have in Hebrews is clear in the position taken by the Lord in the prayer He utters. We see Him in the first place with authority given Him over all flesh; then, as not praying for the world: that is, "separate from sinners." Lastly, He is shown as "higher than the heavens," — in the glory given Him, to which (though a glory always His own) it is as Man He goes back. The mingling of blessing and prayer is quite characteristic. The Royal (and more than royal) Priest is manifest throughout.

1. The Lord's heart is free; He is no longer hindered by the unbelief of those about Him, nor occupied with them, but for them with God. He speaks as the Son of the Father, who has fulfilled the mission upon which He came, and is going back, to take the place belonging to Him, — to the glory which He had before; yet still as Man, to take it from His Father's hand, and to carry through in power what He had begun in suffering. He speaks in the consciousness and communion of the coequal Son, yet in entire devotion to the Father's glory: — "Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee." Authority over all flesh is His; but it is His Father's gift, as His people are. He has ability to sustain what requires no less than divine power, and He gives eternal life, — a divine gift; but the power He uses is in obedience, and everywhere the mystery of His Person manifests itself in His utterances. He is God Himself, in the creature's place to make good the failure of the creature, and by His condescending love to win him from his ruinous path of self-will back to Himself. Who could henceforth refuse a path in which he saw before him the Son of God, — "Leader and Finisher of faith" in its whole course?

But it was His also to give to them eternal life, — a nature to receive and delight in the revelation made. For "this," He says, "is eternal life, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." This is not a definition absolutely of eternal life, but how it is known and realized, now that Christ is come. The Lord's words necessarily look on, not back; to make them rule out the possibility of eternal life in an Old Testament saint, because he could not say, "Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent," would be a very unwarranted deduction.

2. (1) Marked out by these characters, as He tells us distinctly His disciples were, (for He had made known to them the Father's Name, and they had received His words, and knew surely that He had come out from the Father,) He now presents them to the Father. As the Priest with God, He is the Intercessor for His own, and not for the world, — "separate from sinners," as we read in Hebrews. The priest supposes established relationship with those for whom he stands before God, although with Israel under the law all was but a shadow of the true. Our Priest goes into heaven in the value of an offering once offered, never to be repeated, by which He has "perfected for ever them that are sanctified."

"The only true God," whom Israel knew in contrast with the false gods of the heathen, was nevertheless, as such, in His innermost reality unknown. And this the veil of the sanctuary shutting men out from Him declared. Even by Moses His Face could not be seen. Thus the Lord speaks of "Thy Name which Thou hast given Me." It was His work to declare that Name; and He declares it as a name of relationship to Himself. The Son speaks of the Father: yet God had been spoken of as such before. Nay, He had, as we know, proclaimed Himself a Father to Israel; and we have heard the Jews boldly venturing upon it: "We be not born of fornication," they had said to Jesus Himself; "we have one Father, even God." But they were pushed into saying so: if you had asked them for the Name of Israel's God, you would have heard of Jehovah, or the Lord Almighty, but it is not likely that the Father" would have leaped to any body's lips. Alas, Israel was no child by nature to such a Father; and God could be no right Father to such a child. On the lips of the Divine Son, sent in servant-form into the world for man's necessity, how different does it become!

It is an eternal relationship, not one of time. It is not relation contracted for a purpose, however blessed may be the purpose. It belongs to His eternity. Love has in Him an Object worthy of itself. Could it be imagined away without a loss so great as to be disastrous?

Think, then, of this, the Son of His bosom, here in the world, a world which He created, at His own personal cost to put away the evil, and bring those who had wandered from Him back to God! This as the manifestation to men of Him who could give His Son for such a purpose, and to be the Head of a new creation built up out of the old, the assurance to it of fullest and abiding blessing!

Thus has He manifested to us the Father's Name; but He has done more even than this, — He has given us a place with Him as children, in the value of a life communicated to us, as those of whom thus He, taking as Man the First-born place among them, is not ashamed!

No wonder, therefore, that the authority given Him over all flesh should be for this as the fundamental and decisive exercise of it, to give eternal life to as many as are given to Him; thus of necessity separated from the world which has rejected Him. How dear are they to Him as the Father's gift! how dear as those of whom His grace can say, forgetting all that could be pleaded, however rightly, against them, They have kept Thy word!" He has taken fullest care that they should know, in all that He can speak of as His own, the Father as the Source of all. For He has given them but the words given Him, and in receiving them they know Him as the One come out from Him — the Sent One of God.

Here then are those with regard to whom He prays: the Father's own, the fruit of the Father's mission of the Son; those given Him of the Father and still the Father's; even as in the perfect communion of that relationship all things are. In these also, the fruit of His own work, He is glorified.

(2) Now He was no longer to be in the world, but they would be left in it, without that gracious, all-sufficient companionship which they had been enjoying. He commits them, therefore, to the care of that Divine Father, under whose guidance and government the children of God still walk (1 Peter 1:17); He abiding as the Lord who directs their service (Eph. 4:5-6; 1 Cor. 12:5). For all things are in His hands, to work out in power, as has been said, what He has in suffering laid the foundation for; but the relation of the Father to the children is as plainly to be recognized. He prays, therefore, to the Holy Father, to keep them in the power of that Name which He has manifested to them. The power of it would be to keep them near to Him: for the sanctuary of His Presence is the only refuge from self and sin. At a distance from the Light, evil and good become soon merged and indistinguishable. With Christ the atmosphere in which He lived was God, and into it He brought all others: — "While I was with them, I kept them in Thy Name, which Thou hast given Me." Alas. there was one who was repelled by it: "I have guarded them, and not one of them has perished but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled."

He was going to God, but would leave them, not in sorrow, but in joy. "The joy of the Lord is strength;" and He had spoken to them as He had, that they might have that joy which had been His own, in the midst of a scene of sorrow such as the world would all the more be; for in proportion as they had their joy in God, would it be realized how far it was away from Him, and it would hate them as not of it. The light would bring its shadows, and they would be identified with Himself in sorrow and in joy alike. Yet He did not pray that they should be taken out of the world: the wilderness would have for them its harvests, to be reaped through all eternity. How Israel's feast of tabernacles tells of that! He prayed only that they might be kept out of the evil in it. From the world itself He had entirely separated His own; they belonged to it, in the appointment of God and in the nature He had given them (inconsistent as they might be with this) no more than did He Himself.

(3) The truth was to be the means of sanctification to them, — "Thy truth," He says, that is, the truth as characterized by that revelation of the Father of which He has been speaking. Now, sending them into the world, as He was doing, the open glory of heaven into which He had introduced them was to be henceforth characterized by a new Object in it, — a Man, set apart there to God (as "sanctified" means), — sanctified by Himself, as none other ever was, to be for Him His image in human form (2 Cor. 4:4). Divine glory shining out in the face of Jesus.

We have here another instance of the foundation of Paul's doctrine being in this Gospel. The "gospel of the glory of Christ" was that by which the apostle of the Gentiles was turned to God, and this was the light in which he henceforth walked. Christ in glory was the power over him, the joy within him. Here was his eye fixed; here was the goal of his course, which in his ardor was a race. The passion of his soul was to "win Christ, and to be found in Him." And he states but his experimental knowledge of the Lord's words here when he says that "Christ is made unto us wisdom from God, even … sanctification" (1 Cor. 1:30). The Object before him detached him from the world, and drew him heavenward. It absorbed and inspired him. Generalizing his experience, he affirms for Christians at large the result as he had realized it: "We all, beholding the glory of the Lord with open face," — it is the Lord's face that is "open," or without a veil, — "are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18).

This is an inspired comment upon the words before us in the Gospel. We shall find them developed for us by the apostle in various ways, which at present we shall not attempt to follow. Every Christian heart should know for itself this central glory of the gospel, in which God and Man meet, and meet for ever; in which Christ gone in to God, with His work achieved, our Forerunner, invites us to abide where He abides. Who shall deny Him what His soul has wrought for? — or refuse to go in out of the night, where there is no night more?

Where this light falls, it is glory: "from glory to glory," says the apostle. The least degree is that; and where it shines it brightens to the endless day. "That they may be sanctified in truth," says the Lord; and the touch of these rays is the dispelling of all illusion. What is the world? it ignored, insulted, crucified Him! — a world in which He could serve, but not reign! and yet even the life here is lifted into glory, when we can say, "The life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

And here the Lord explicitly assures us of our interest in all this: "Neither pray I regarding these alone, but also regarding those believing on Me through their word; that they may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."

This is a unity of practical life, oneness of heart and mind, such as subsists between the Father and the Son: a unity which the world is to be able to as to be led by it to faith. It is not, of course, that the world as a whole will believe, but men of the world have been at all times wrought upon by it. It is not the Church that is meant, — in John we have not this; although, no doubt, every breach of Church unity has begun as a breach in the practical life. The life has its character from the truth entered into; and "one in Us" shows it to be a life of fellowship with the Father and the Son. How glorious such a witness! What a testimony to Him who can work it in such as we are!

3. The prayer now passes into blessing pronounced, — the expression of His will with regard to His own, and in which He goes beyond the time of His absence to that in which His glory will be openly revealed. The change is suited to this, and to the Melchizedek character as well; though we have no reason to limit this to the time of open manifestation.

The glory given us we shall be seen in together when the Lord appears, and it will be the glory in which He will appear as Son of man. Then the world therefore will know, — it will be no question of faith any longer, but of sight, — that Jesus was sent of the Father. In that day He will come "in His own glory, and that of His Father, and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:26).

But it is not said, "in the glory of His saints," although they have glory; and the reason is here apparent, that it is in His glory they will come. His is the glory which they reflect, and so the Lord says, in them," and the apostle, that "He cometh to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, … in that day" (2 Thess. 1:10). The glory will be seen to be His, but they will share it; and being thus "perfected into one," — in a unity of glory such as shall be worthy of Him, the world shall know, He says. "that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me." Words these are indeed, which none but Himself would have dared to use; but we stand before God in the value of what He is: grace finding in this way its ability to manifest itself so as to bring out all the depths of His nature. He is going in the ages to come "to show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7). Need we say of anything, it is too great to show forth this?

But there is a glory His which is greater than that in which He is to be seen with His people, and which can only be seen in His own eternal dwelling-place; therefore He desires that we may be with Him, to behold it there. It is glory which as Man He enters, and in that sense "given" glory, and yet as the recognition of the love which was eternally His. Thus it is Divine glory, as far as the creature can be strengthened to behold it. There are necessary limits here, — limits which forbid even our defining them further. And the whole of what we have here is of a nature which requires rather prayer than study to apprehend it. We must be where He is, to realize the vision.

The Lord appeals now to the "Righteous Father," as One who, in the midst of a world "alienated from the knowledge of Him," has known Him; and He links His disciples, spite of their feebleness, with Himself, as those who at least have known Him as sent of the Father. To them He had made known His Name, and would go on to make it known; for (they and we) must here be learners still. The love of the Father to the Son is, as we have seen, part of that manifestation and so this becomes an inward realization in the soul; and He, the Object of the Father's love, in whom therefore the Divine nature in its glory revealed itself, — He becomes in them the necessary Object also, and the One in whom fellowship with God is henceforth found.