On the Gospel according to John

J. N. Darby.

Chapter  1
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

{Notes of remarks made partly in reply to questions at a conference.}

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There is a general remark as to John's Gospel which will astonish some perhaps; that, except in three cases, John has nothing to do with heaven. In these alone you have heaven. "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" "I go to prepare a place for you," and "Those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am," in chapters 6, 14, and 17; and in these it is only thrown out in a way. John's Gospel is really the manifestation of God to men down here in the person of Christ, and the coming of the Holy Ghost, with the declaration of Christ's coming again. I merely indicate the character of the Gospel in saying so: you do not get any ascension either at the end of it. Let me first give you a summary of it.

In chapter 1 you get Christ's person, and incarnation and work, or rather, perhaps, what He does than His work. All His essential names are there, not His relative ones. You do not get Him as Head of the church, or as High Priest, nor as the Christ, which are His relationships; for He is not revealed as Christ in verse 41.

In chapter 2, having His title as Son of man at the close of the first, we hear of His millennial work in the marriage, and the clearing of the temple, up to the end of verse 22. Verses 23 and 24 are connected with chapter 3, where we see not only Christ's total rejection by man, but the setting aside of the natural man, the new birth and the cross.

These three chapters are before His entry on His public ministry. We know this, because John was not yet cast into prison, and from the other Gospels we learn it was after John was cast into prison, that He went out into His public ministry. In chapter 4 He leaves Judaea, the place of promise, of the temple, and all that, and sets aside Jerusalem and Samaria, bringing the gift of God down to the earth in grace. He sets up spiritual worship, and the old thing is set aside altogether. Then, in Galilee, He brings the power of life to man where he is, and heals the nobleman's son. In chapter 5 He is the quickening Son of God along with the Father, and the judging Son of man alone. He is Son of God in judging too. In chapter 6, He is the humbled Son of man incarnate and dying, and the food of the saints while He is away.

22 In chapter 7 the Holy Ghost is substituted for His manifestation to the world. Of course it is only the main idea I am giving you now. In chapter 8 His word is rejected. In chapter 9 His work is rejected. In chapter 10 He has His sheep in spite of all. In chapter 11 being rejected and having His sheep, God bears testimony to Him as Son of God in the power of resurrection. In chapter 12 He is owned by spiritual intelligence as the dying one (which comes in most beautifully in a little parenthesis), and then as Son of David, King of Israel, and Son of man; you get the three here, Son of God, Son of David, and Son of man. In chapter 13 He still remains the servant. As He cannot remain with His disciples here, He abides a servant, though gone to God, to fit them to be with Him there. At the end you have the last supper, and Judas, and then the cross, but in the character of His glorifying God there. In chapter 14 He is telling them that He would come again to receive them, and He gives them what would be their comfort, while He was away; having revealed the Father in His own person, and then they in Him and He in them, known by them through the presence of the Holy Ghost.

In chapter 15 He is Himself the true vine on the earth, Israel is not; and He sends the Comforter to reveal His heavenly glory while His disciples bear witness, through the Comforter, of what He had been on earth. In chapter 16 we have the action of the Comforter on earth towards the world and in the church; they were to ask in His name which they had not done yet. In chapter 17 to the end of verse 23 He puts them completely into His own place on earth toward the Father, and towards the world, He being glorified; and in the last verses He wills that they should be brought into the same place with Him in heaven. In chapter 18 you begin the last history of Gethsemane, and so on. In chapter 19 remark that you have no human suffering, but divine power in it all; they scourge Him and you get all the facts about it, not that He did not suffer, but it is not that part that is brought out: people fall back to the ground instead of His sweating great drops of blood; you have the divine side, I mean. In chapter 20 you have the whole condition of believers from the first revelation of the fact of His resurrection and ascension until the remnant believe by seeing. In chapter 21 you get Christ ministerially represented as come again in the millennial times and the services of Peter and John until then, Peter to be cut off, but John to go on. It is the beginning of the millennium and of the history of Peter and John in the interval from Christ's death. Paul's ministry is not found there. Now let us go back.

224 In the very outset Christ came to the world, and the world knew him not, and He came to His own and His own received Him not; consequently the Jews are treated as reprobates; but He has come from the Father into the world. It is what some might call a Calvinistic gospel; consequently it shews the sovereign grace which leads anybody to receive Christ or own Him at all. They are born of God, not of the will of man. Therefore, too, He has His sheep; and this characterises the Gospel.

The truth is entirely abstract in the first five verses except five words. The Gospel itself begins before Genesis. In Genesis you have the responsible creation; but here "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," a very distinct statement of the eternity of Christ. There is the being of the Word, He is the Word, the Logos, the expression of God's mind, for Word is both - it is what we were speaking of once before as the intelligent and the intelligible. Christ is the expression, and the Logos too, because He is God. When the expression only is meant it is rhema, not logos. But logos takes up what the mind is as having a thought, or it expresses the mind. All the wisdom of God is in Christ, He is it, and besides He is the expression of it. Then you get another thing, and that is, personal distinction, - "the Word was with God," - something in a personal sense distinct. And then "the Word was God," and that is the nature. It is very full, though brief.

Verse 2 meets what was a common difficulty that He only became into personal distinctness when God began to act. Of course it is a mere notion, but it is met here: "He was in the beginning with God." Then in verse 3 I come to the beginning of Genesis. "All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made." He is Creator as to things outside Himself. And then I get what is inside Himself, "in him was life." Very full all this, as to the divine person and glory of the Lord. And another thing, "and the life was the light of men." God is light in His nature, but here is specific appropriation in the second person. It is in form too a reciprocal expression. Wisdom always had man in its thoughts; the angels come into creation, but the life was the light of men, and therefore He became a man.

225 Then I get the judgment of the world, and of "his own," "the light shineth in darkness" - a thing impossible in nature, for if the light there shone in darkness, there would be no darkness for it to shine in. The judgment of the world is the consequence, for "the darkness comprehended it not." "The light shineth in darkness" is abstract too; He does not say "shone."

Then comes another truth of immense import. "There was a man sent from God," that is, God took pains with men to bring them to apprehend this light. He sends this messenger to draw people's attention; "the same came for a witness to bear witness of the light that all men through him might believe." All to no purpose it might be, but still there was the painstaking of God. "He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light." Here we get this name of light (we have nothing of love yet), the purest thing we have any idea of, and which manifests everything else. It is light that makes all things manifest; but it is a thing too which is perfect purity. That is the true light which, on coming into the world, lights every man. It was not a mere Jewish thing: we have got far away out of that now, but it comes into the world; it is not a question of promises here, but of nature and counsels. God in His counsels had to say to men, and light comes into the world; He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. Man had not the sense to see that the person who made him was in the world, and its light. And He came to the Jews, and they would not receive Him either. So there was the judgment of everything. You have got the world, and its pitch-darkness; and the Jews - His own - will not have Him: "there is none that understandeth or that seeketh after God." Job 38:1-7, refers to the same: only that these very singers were created too; so that Job does not go quite so wide. John 1:3 is before the beginning of Genesis when you think of the angels.

We have got what Christ was, abstractly, and the result was that nobody received Him. They had no understanding, and no will; and now, consequently, we get grace working, "but to as many as received him, to them gave he power* to become children of God." It is not merely that they got light and blessing, but He gave them a place, "children of God," "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God." I have the action of grace, and, where the action of grace is, they do receive Him.

{*Authority to take the place which the saints had not before.}

226 If we are to distinguish the phrases in verse 13, "of flesh" is the nature more; "of man" is the being; "flesh" is the characteristic, "man" is general. "Not of blood." A Jew was born of blood and thought himself a son of the kingdom; but it was not of the will of the flesh either - Gentile, if you please. This closes on God's part what He was; and it closes on man's part too; and then there is the grace that comes in.

Now the Word is looked at as become flesh. In verse 14 a new part commences. Before, it was what He was; now, what He became (what He began to be). The Word became flesh and dwelt among us; it was a real thing, not like God visiting Abraham; but He dwelt among us, tabernacled there "and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." His own incarnate character and our connection with it. The part about John the Baptist comes in in the middle. But there is the statement, "the Word was made flesh": and then you get the aspect He had. We beheld His glory, not of the Son as such, but as of an only-begotten with a Father. He had all the title of that excellency and value in everything. All that that was to the Father was with Him. It is His personal glory made visible in flesh. When He was made flesh, we get a witness of John (v. 15), just as before, saying, "This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for he was before me."

The difference between only-begotten (monogenees) and first-born (prototokos), is that the first is His relationship to God eternally; the second is His relationship to other things. Thus, "I will make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth," in Psalm 89. This is not what He is essentially. He was light - the revealer of the Father. "Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." "The light shineth in darkness" is real, and it is by incarnation; but John is not taking it up in an historical way, only the fact of light and life. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth," he does not say were given, but "came by Jesus Christ" - they were in His person.

227 He was the truth. The truth never was in the world till then. Bits of truth there were; prophecy was true, and people tell the truth to one another; but the truth was only now. Christ alone is the truth. The truth itself had never come. The law is not the truth; it is not its object. The law tells me what I ought to be; truth tells a fact that is. The law never told anything about truth, but gave a perfect rule, and shewed what man ought to be - "Thou shalt not do this and that." I might draw conclusions from it and say, I am not this or that; whereas, Christ was this and that; He was God and was man, a holy being, and love itself; and all that man without sin was; and the effect was, that He shewed not what things ought to be, but what they were. This world is all very fine, but it is the mere tool and instrument of the devil. Christ tells the truth about everything, evil and good alike - just as light manifests everything; and, more, grace came by Him too; and I know not only what I am, but what God is, and, whatever I am, He is grace to me. Of course Christ had to die to fit us to be with God, but as regards testimony, everything is told out by Christ's coming - what we are, what God is, what the devil is, and what the world is, and everything. The light shines in it, that is Christ's nature; and then he comes down to the fact, that the "darkness comprehended it not." That is the moral statement as to it.

As to the force of the use of the names "God" and "Father" in the Gospel of John, and pretty much in his Epistle, as a general rule, when you speak of our responsibility or the nature of things, you get "God." But when the ways of grace are unfolded, you get the Father and the Son; there are certain exceptions which only confirm it. "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It was essential to put "God" in there, because it was as God He did it. "The Father sent the Son to be Saviour of the world." "And this is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." That is a most blessed sentence; though the word "love" is not there, it is the perfection of it. We cannot know God by seeing Him; but the only-begotten Son, in whom is concentrated all the Father's delight, and who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared Him. The Son comes and declares the Father as He knows Him in His bosom, just as the Father enjoys the Son as the object of His delight and love. If I were to tell you what my father was in his love, I should tell you what he was to me; and Christ comes and tells us all this Himself, and therefore He could say, "He hath that seen me hath seen the Father." In another sense He "came forth from the Father and came into the world."

228 There never was a time when the Son was so dear to the Father as on the cross. "Therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life that I may take it again." That is, if you look at Him as a Son with His Father. If you take Him as actually suffering being made sin, He could as such have no joy in God. He was forsaken in His soul of God. That is quite true, if you are looking at judicial action in respect of sin. He could not then have any enjoyment of communion with God. The principal part of the cross was the interruption of the communion, but the complacency of the Father in the Son was never so great. It is a misapprehension of relationships which has made confusion here. My father is a man; but suppose I were to go and say to him "my man, so-and-so," it would deny the relationship between us; but if he says to me "my boy," it is very natural, because it is the expression of the relationship. You will never get the value of such things by putting them into a cut-and-dry form. Suppose I were to try to act the son to somebody, I should in that case slip out something all wrong as sure as possible. If the judge were my father, and I go into court, there I should say to him, "my lord"; but this would not be to deny him as my father.

Verse 18 is the revelation of the Father in the world, and it is striking, if we compare it with John's first epistle. In that he says, "No man hath seen God at any time; if we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us!" We know that by the Holy Ghost. Here the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father He hath declared Him.

But I think that very often there is defect among Christians as to relationship, and their apprehension of it; that is, they do not live in the present consciousness of it; they come even in worship in a certain sense through Christ - no man ever came in any other way - but there is not the sense of what the Lord means when He says the "Father himself loveth you." There is no consciousness of that; it is rather persons outside, conscious they can get in. Of course they never could get in but by Christ.

229 Then comes John's mission, preparing the way before Him. He says, "I baptize you with water, but there standeth one among you whom ye know not; he it is who coming after me is preferred before me." John gives the divine person of Christ and bears testimony to Him. So that we now have had three things: the abstract nature of Christ; then Christ incarnate; then as the revealer of the Father. And we have John's testimony to these; and He who was divine and incarnate, and the revealer of the Father, dwelt among us "full of grace and truth."

Then in verse 29 we come to His work. He is "the Lamb of God," and He "baptizes with the Holy Ghost." Those are the two parts of His work; He is not only a Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world, but He gathers a peculiar people by the Holy Ghost too. You notice it is not "taketh away the sins," nor "has taken" away the sin; you never get either. Often people say Christ has taken away original sin and so on; here it simply says He is the doer of it. It points Him out as such. He is in every sense God's Lamb, He is of God and suited to God, and the effect of the work of this Lamb is the removal of all sin totally out of the world, away from God's sight; He takes it clean away. The first Adam was set up an innocent man; but the moment he became a sinful man, all that God did and does now as to the world He does in respect of sin. If He judges, it is for sins; if He forgives and shews grace it refers to sin, whatever He does in government must have reference to that. There is sin, and God must act in respect of it now; when the new heavens come and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, then the ground of relationship between God and the world will be righteousness instead of sin, or indeed instead of innocence either. It is based upon accomplished redemption which never can lose its value, and therefore the ground of relationship is immutable in the nature of things. And that ground is already laid, though the thing itself has not yet come. We have justification and peace and reconciliation. This is however only one particular part of the result; in the new heavens and new earth the whole result will be completely fulfilled. The result is not produced in manifestation at all as yet.

230 Thus verse 29 has no reference to time. Christ is the taker away of sin. It is just the same as in Hebrews 2, "He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one." It is not there that they are going to be sanctified, or that they have been sanctified, but simply those are the people.

Thus we have His work as the Lamb of God, and the next thing is John bearing record, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him." And then follows the great fact that, besides accomplishing redemption, He is the baptizer with the Holy Ghost. The first thing is, He is the one who takes sin clean out of the world, and then His work being accomplished brings the redeemed into the full blessing of sons. He first, note, takes His place among men and receives the Holy Ghost before He becomes the giver of it to others. And He is marked as Son of God in that place. It is a beautiful expression of the way in which Christ found Himself among us. And then heaven was opened the moment He took His place with the remnant and was baptized - the Holy Ghost comes down on Him, and the Father says, That is My Son.

It was the Son that created in Hebrews 1, and in Colossians 1; and as to being Son in the eternal state, He says, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world "; again, "I leave the world and go to the Father"; and you have no Father if you have no Son. If I do not know Him as Son when He came into the world, I have no mission from God at all. And you get too the Father sent the Son.

"Son of the Father" and "Son of God" are the same essentially, only one is personal relationship, the other nature. But there are persons who take it that Christ was only Son as come into the world. The positive answer is given to this in Hebrews and Colossians, that by Him, the Son, the world was made. He is also called Son as born into this world. There is "This day have I begotten thee," in Psalm 2. That is not quite the same thing, though the same person, of course. He was begotten in time, that is true as to His human estate.

But Hebrews and Colossians are conclusive. It is of immense import, because I have not the Father's love sending the Son out of heaven, if I have not Him as Son before born into the world. The Son gives up the kingdom to the Father in 1 Corinthians 15. I lose all that the Son is, if He is only so as incarnate, and you have lost all the love of the Father in sending the Son as well. "I have declared thy name and will declare it," will declare it is now. He did it on earth, and does still, and I believe will do it to all eternity if you take the general statement of Scripture.

231 In Acts 13 you will find Paul, after speaking of other things, says in verse 33, "God hath raised up Jesus" (not "again"; which ought not to be there), and so in Acts 3:26, "God having raised up his Servant Jesus" (not Son; Peter never states that Jesus is the Son of God); so in chapter 13, "he hath raised him up," as it is written in Psalm 2. "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee"; and then he goes on to prove resurrection by quoting another text: "I will give you the sure mercies of David." The sureness of them is the proof they were in resurrection not dependent on failing man, and then by resurrection He was declared to be the Son of God with power.

Then in verses 35, 36 you get again, "The next day after John stood and two of his disciples, and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God." In this we have not John's public ministry that had not produced the effect; but the going out of his own heart at the sight of the Lamb of God. "And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus." And then Christ - which to me is most important - Christ accepts the being a centre. He "saith unto them, What seek ye?" They said unto Him, "Where dwellest thou?" "He saith unto them, Come and see." Christ becomes a centre.

Again in verse 43 Christ says to Philip, "Follow me"; and this intimates another thing to me, which is, the only right path through the world where there is no path and nothing right. We are accustomed to think we have a way to trace; but a way to trace proves the world is in ruin and nothing right with us. If a man is in a right place, he has no way to find out; but if I am in a wrong place, there is no right way there. Suppose my son scampers off away from me to Brazil, there is no right way for him until he comes back; for all he is doing does but carry on his error of being away from his father. In Eden and in heaven there is no way to find. If I have got to find a way, it is because I am in a wrong place; but here I find Christ is the way, and Christ is the centre, and He accepts it too. The days are numbered from verse 34 when the gathering of the godly remnant around Jesus begins. First through John the Baptist's ministry, and the day following Jesus Himself gathers; and this takes up all the time right on to the remnant at the end represented by Nathanael, a remnant then and a remnant to the end. Philip found Nathanael and said unto him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph." There is the greatest prejudice in Nathanael, but there is uprightness. "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" "Come and see." Nathanael asks, "Whence knowest thou me?" "Before that Philip called thee when thou wast under the fig tree; I saw thee." Nathanael answers, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel." This is the confession of Psalm 2. That is Christ's Jewish place. Jesus answered and said, "Because I said unto thee I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these." And He said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." This is Psalm 8. I get Nathanael as a remnant owning Christ in His place there, and then comes "Ye shall see greater things than these" - ye shall see all creation - the angels - subject to the Son of man. "Under the fig tree" was really the Jew, and God knew him there. The fig tree is symbolic of Judaism. That gives us the whole, the abstract nature of Christ, His incarnation, His work, gathering others, and calling by John the Baptist and by Christ; then the owning of Him as in Psalm 2, and finally His place in Psalm 8.

232 Then in chapter 2 you get the third day. John's ministry is one day, Christ's ministry is a second day, and then "the third day" in chapter 2 is the millennium, the marriage, and water of purification of the Jews. All among the Jews.

Thus chapter 1:35 is the first day. The third day is when the remnant is all called in. You get no church here at all. John the Baptist's ministry was preparatory; then Christ gathers by His own ministry, and gathers to the kingdom, and revealing of the Son of man; and then the millennium. It is in Psalm 2 we hear of Christ set King of Zion; then the trials of the remnant, and in Psalm 8 everything is put under Him. Here it is the highest creature that is put under Him. When I get Him Son of man, He is Lord of all. There is nothing of the church, unless it would be in baptizing with the Holy Ghost.

233 The marriage in chapter 2 is all a picture of millennial joy. The time of the second day would have commenced when the Lord was on earth, and it will be resumed again; but it is in abeyance now. What was to go on till the destruction of Jerusalem you get in Matthew 10 to the end of verse 15. The baptism of the Holy Ghost was at Pentecost. There will be a latter rain when the Holy Ghost will come down, though you do not get exactly a baptism of the Holy Ghost in the millennium.

Chapter 3 is immensely important; for you get in it a complete judgment of human nature, the absolute testimony to what man is, but the bringing in of the complete grace that meets it too. The last three verses of chapter 2 belong really to chapter 3; and there you get that men could believe in Christ in a certain kind of way, and yet it is good for nothing. It was not insincerity, nor is it so now, often; but it is a human conviction there justly drawn from His miracles now. That has arisen perhaps from education or human causes, but it was all in man and of man. The moment other motives and stronger came before them, they cry out, "Crucify him."

In Nicodemus we find a want that is something more than that. The moment a want is thus felt, there is a consciousness that the world will be against you; and so he goes by night. There is a real want in his soul. He goes to Christ and follows up the impression. What the Holy Ghost produces is always a want, though the want is met. Nicodemus owns Christ to be a teacher that comes from God; but he did not know that the old nature was good for nothing, and that he must be born again. Thus it is the Lord meets him: "I am not going to teach flesh: you must have a new nature; the old cannot be taught at all, except outwardly, and this is worthless." The special case for a Jew is that he could not enter the earthly kingdom, except he were born again. Therefore the Lord says, "Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again."

Then you come to the principle of sovereign grace, "the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." This can reach a Gentile; and that is grace. Do not be astonished that I say, you Jews must be born again, flesh is but flesh, and then the Holy Ghost goes where it lists. The Spirit of God goes where He pleases; God is sovereign.

234 Nicodemus ought to have known it from the Old Testament prophecies, say Ezekiel 36. That was for the Jews, and in the millennium they must be born again, and they must be so even to get into the kingdom on earth. But the moment you get the cross, the whole thing is carried farther; if you look at it, you will see the Lord's own statement. The water of Ezekiel refers not to baptism, but to the word of God exclusively. Baptism refers to it; and so here. Puseyites and others refer these words to sacraments, but it is the word. Baptism may be its symbol; the symbol refers to the truth, of course. It is not that such words misplace the symbol; people do that; but the symbol is one way of teaching the truth. You have a similar thing in John 6: we must eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, or else we have no life in us. People apply that to the Lord's supper, and there we have a symbol again; for it is a symbolic statement of these truths; and we have the written statement of them too in the word; and both these refer to death, Christ's death, and that brought home to us when you come to look into them.

It does not say in terms, you cannot enter heaven except you are born again, though it would be perfectly true; but you cannot enter the kingdom of God. These chapters and the sacraments refer to the same thing, but these chapters do not refer to the sacraments.

Then the Lord says, "we speak that we do know and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness." In verse 32 John says the same thing, "and what he hath seen and heard that he testifieth, and no man receiveth his testimony." If you get man as man in the presence of Christ Himself telling these heavenly things, man's heart will not have one of them. A man would have nothing to do with them; if you were to put a natural man in heaven, he would get out as fast as ever he could, he would not find a single thing there that he likes.

We have had the rejection of the Lord's testimony, and also the fact that an entirely new nature is brought in, "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." The cross must be there, but it goes on to the millennium on the earth, and there you must get men born again to have part in the kingdom.

235 "Again" means "anew, completely, from the beginning," not a modification of the old thing. In Luke 1:3 it is "from the very first." It is the same word. I know many think the new birth is an action of the Holy Ghost on man as he is, especially where there are no decided views of truth; as if the Spirit of God found a man, body, soul, and spirit, in a bad state, and then put him, body, soul, and spirit, in a good state. But the testimony as brought here is received of nobody: "wherefore when I came, was there no man; when I called, was there none to answer"; that is the condition, and then what is done is that they are born of God. Then we come to the second great truth, the Lord comes revealing things from heaven, and also doing that which was needed to take us up there. We see the two sides of the cross, the Son of man must be lifted up (and that carries a great deal with it), and then the source of it is that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This same person comes on man's behalf, and on God's side God gave Him. On the one side, it is Son of man; and on the other side, it is Son of God. Then the lifting up of the Son of man you will see in two connections, as the rejected of man, and as "made sin." A living Messiah is for the Jews according to promise, but He must be lifted up, rejected by the world, cast out of it, and made sin before He could draw all men.

But God gave His only-begotten Son, and that brings everything to a test. He was not sent to judge, but save, and he that believeth not is judged already because he has not believed. "And this is the judgment that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." He came into the world to die, and verses 16, 17 refer to Him as the lifted-up Son of man. I should not say in the same absolute way now, that God loves the world. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. But this has not stopped His grace, but laid the ground for the testimony of it in the whole creation under heaven by His ambassadors. I suppose it is the characteristic of God, and no time is in the statement. Still there is the accepted time and the day of salvation, though that depends on resurrection. It is in full view of the cross that the Lord said, "God so loved the world." God is now beseeching men to be reconciled, He is acting on that ground now. He gave His Son, and that is done and finished; but it is on that He is now acting.

236 The casting away of the Jews did put the world in a different position before God; and the cross put the world in a different position of responsibility as to grace and the saint as delivered from it. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." The cross gave a righteous outlet to God's love. The strongest scripture as to this change is, "for if the casting away of them," the Jews, "be the reconciling of the world," etc.

We get a very distinct character given to Christ's testimony, and one that made a total breach with the world; "he that cometh from above is above all, he that is of the earth is earthy, and speaketh of the earth," that is John the Baptist's testimony; the setting up of the kingdom on earth has its place and character, but all that is gone now, and it is the setting up of the kingdom of heaven. "He that hath received his [Christ's] testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." That is the true reception of the word.

It may be John the Baptist's testimony to the end of verse 32, and John the Evangelist's in verse 33. There may be some doubt about it. The last verse certainly looks like John the Evangelist's line of things more than John the Baptist's.

The force of "the wrath of God abideth on him" is that he has deserved it; and that if he rejects Christ, he lies under it still. But we must not forget that this wrath applies to all sins and uncleanness, not merely to unbelief: "for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience." In this last verse of the chapter "the wrath of God abideth" if they do not bow to Christ's authority; it is not, disobey Him in the details of precept, or anything of that sort; the "believeth not" means "is not subject to" Him. In "He that believeth not is judged already," it takes him as not believing. If he has been inattentive, it is not condemnation that he cannot escape from as yet. John is not speaking about attention or inattention, but about not believing or being subject to Christ

What is so striking is the entire setting aside of man. The Son of God comes with His testimony, and nobody receives it. God sent His Son that the world through Him might be saved, and that is what the world will not receive. In a sense the object of the gospel now is that men through Him may be saved, though it is also to gather out a people. It is a different thing - God's mind and the absolute state of things. You read in 1 Timothy, "Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth"; it is not "will" in the sense of purpose and desire, but it is good will as to His own nature and love. It is the character of God, not His purpose; and the two are very distinct, what God is, and the way He deals. But there is the activity of His love, "As though God did beseech by us": and, as one result of that, even the condemnation becomes more terrible if the riches of His goodness are despised, "not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance, but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God "; that increases the condemnation.

237 When grace had been offered to man and rejected, man was set aside, and a new thing altogether brought in. And so in chapter 4, Christ being set aside by the Jews, He leaves Judaea and goes to Galilee. In verse 4, "He must needs go through Samaria," and then follows the character of His ministry. Wearied with His journey He sits on the well. A woman comes to draw water, and He says to her, "If thou knewest the gift, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." If you did but know that God was giving, and had come down so low as to ask a drink of water of you, if you but knew that, who it is, and in what character He has come down, you would have asked and He would have given, and what He would have given would have been in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Then you find all that is to no purpose directly, and the way the Lord gets at the woman is by her conscience; and understanding comes in by conscience. She is a poor wretched soul, but a very interesting woman, and a great deal going on in her heart though a vile creature. It is a beautiful picture, wonderfully distinct and definite, of how the Lord deals with her heart. The woman is astonished that He has anything to say to her, and the disciples that he had to say to a woman. But the Lord's action towards her is very distinct, getting intelligence in by the conscience. "Go, call thy husband and come hither." "I have no husband." "Thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." She had got totally alone through her restless search for happiness and wilful ways, she does not go to the well at the time when the women usually went to draw water; she was tired of her life, for she says, "That I come not hither to draw." The Lord was weary too in His lonely path of grace, and more isolated than she, and sat at the well, and the woman was weary and utterly isolated by sin, but her conscience is reached, and note here the effect. She recognises the word of God that had reached her, its authority not merely the truth of what was said: "I perceive that thou art a prophet"; and then the Lord points out to her that God must be worshipped in spirit because He is a Spirit, and that the Father seeketh worshippers in spirit and in truth. His nature required it, His grace sought it. She says she knows that, when Messias comes, He will tell us all things. But He replies, You have got Him already. Where the heart has been visited really, there Christ has already come. Then you see the effect; she is entirely delivered from care; she leaves her water-pot and goes after other people. "He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." We do not get the kingdom here exactly, though it was here I have no doubt.

238 The "needs," in chapter 4:4, is a material one. The straight way was through Samaria; the Jews went that way generally, though they did not stop at Samaria on the way. I would not say it was on purpose to meet this woman, though God's purpose that He should. The sixth hour was our noon - at least so I have always reckoned it here. At the end of the chapter we see the character of the ministry of Christ in anticipating death, symbolical of the death that was coming on Israel. In point of fact, He had to make him alive: "Come down ere my child die," said the man.

The Samaritans were a mixed people. After Israel was carried captive, the king of Assyria sent people to live in the land who did not fear the Lord; and the Lord sent lions and slew some of them. So one of the priests was sent back to teach them the manner of the God of the land, and then when Nehemiah came back, Sanballat and these people wanted to join him, and he would not let them. Mount Gerizim was the place where Joshua pronounced the blessings, and so they said that would be the proper place for worship, and a temple was built at Gerizim by them. The high priest's daughter was married to a prince of these people; and they built a temple for themselves.

239 As to the temple in the millennium, there is a square in the midst of the land, and the city is one side of the square, and the temple is on the other. The portion allotted to the temple seems to be separated from Jerusalem by some distance.

In chapter 3 Christ takes them out of flesh; and in chapter 4 He tells what worship is outside of flesh. In chapter 5 we get the great principle of life, but He does not begin with life. There is instruction connected with it that carries us farther in it as to the character of sin when He comes to the doctrine that men are dead. A man lay at Bethesda, where there were some remains of Jewish blessing. Jehovah had said, "I am Jehovah that healeth thee"; and the Jehovah that healeth was yet there. In the case of this man, the means were there; but the disease he had had taken away the power of using the means; the effect of sin is to make us incapable of using the means afforded to flesh under the old covenant. To use the pool, he must have the power to get in, and it was just what the disease he had to be healed of had taken away, and such even if willing, as this man was, is man's state under the law. The Lord brings power with Him. The Jews reproach Him when the man is healed, with breaking the sabbath, and then He gives that beautiful answer ("Father" being the name of grace), "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." God could not have His rest where sin and misery are. The law tested man and said, "Do your duty and enjoy my sabbath of rest here below"; but the fact was, they did not do the duty; they were all sinners, and, instead of there being the rest of God, the Father works and the Son works, and brings in divine life where sin and death are; but in this world as such one can have no rest. God at least can have none.

I do not believe a word of what they say about leaving out verse 4 of this chapter. These learned Germans leave anything out. It is just the same with the opening of chapter 8. You get Augustine in the fourth century, saying some had left that out because it was contrary to morality; and the same language is used by others. In one of the manuscripts of the old Latin translation it was there, and they have deliberately torn in out. But some men take this and that out without the least moral discernment; it is very easy to take it out so, but how did it get in? what should people have put it in for? In other places, as in Acts 8:37, you can account for it in the plainest way. There was a reason for putting in this verse. As for the manuscripts, if not versed in them it is very easy to be entirely misled about them. L is almost always the same as B, and so L is no good as a separate witness. The manuscript E omits the verse, and the corrector has put it in again. These people did not like the angels, and so they left them out. After all the only question is whether an angel did it - God did it, anyway.

240 Then you have "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." The Lord often did miracles on the sabbath day, taking pains as it were to upset it. You do not find any one institution in the wilderness to which the sabbath is not added. You find the sabbath brought in wherever there was some new expression of God's will and ways, as obligatory; while you never have the sabbath mentioned in connection with Christ's working in the New Testament, except to cast a slur upon it; it was a sign of the old covenant and the dispensation was passing away. Now the Lord's day is a testimony to resurrection, the essential basis of the new creation for man; the sabbath of the rest of God for man on the earth; while in connection with that rest it serves to give man a day's rest as of God and it will be fulfilled in the millennium: whatever man has a title to in purpose and peace Christ takes the right of it and will make it good. Then when you come to the typical import of it, the seventh day was type or sign of the earth's rest, and the Lord's day of heavenly rest. The Lord by His action shews that a power was come in that was paramount to law. It is strikingly significant that Christ lay in His grave on the sabbath day.

Adam takes no share in the sabbath before he fell; he never entered into it according to Hebrews. The Lord took up flesh and its responsibilities, and without slighting what God instituted, man having failed, He died out from under the whole. This is the thing that made such a hubbub in Scotland - this sabbath question. A well-known minister said he found Moses dead and threw him out of the pulpit. I say no man has died in Christ away from under the law, which has power over a man as long as he lives. I believe it is a very bad sign indeed if a man slights the Lord's day. God has given you a day free to use for Him, and you make light of it or turn it to mere pleasure. I ask, what use do you make of it, for yourself or for Him? It is all connected with the question, Is the law the thing we are still under? It is perfectly true that the Christian by love fulfils the law, but if I have to do with the law as such, I have not died to sin; because the law has power over a man so long as he lives. I remember one, a most blessed man too, who would not wash his hands on the Lord's day; he was acting up to the light he had, I do not doubt.

241 The "greater works than these that ye may marvel," are His raising the dead, and many works that He did; He raised Lazarus when he was stinking. They all knew that if the Lord had been there Lazarus would not have died, but He did not go purposely before his death; raising him was more than healing.

Now in the doctrine that follows, Christ does not take up mere weakness, but He goes on to death. We are dead in sin, and He says, "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will"; and judgment too is committed to the Son alone, "that all men may honour the Son even as they honour the Father." Both Father and Son quicken, but judgment against the wicked is committed by the Father to the Son because He is the Son of man. The Father chastens: that is another thing.

I get these two ways in which the Son is honoured, quickened souls own Him, and the wicked must, for they are judged by Him. There is no confounding of the two things, or rather destroying the certain truth of the first by bringing it into question in the second; by bringing all up into a common judgment, as if the thing was not settled already; but you have the two ways through which the Son is honoured. Then the heart will ask: which place am I in? "He that heareth my word and believeth him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into judgment ["condemnation" is not the same word], but is passed from death unto life." I see in that verse the whole system of Romans and Ephesians brought out. He that is under the quickening power will not come into judgment, that is Romans; but, not merely his responsibility is met, he is passed from death unto life and gone over into the new creation; that is Ephesians.

242 As I said, when you come to the doctrine He goes on beyond the case of the paralytic. Doctrinally, a man is dead in sins, and by grace passes out of death into life, and does not go into judgment at all, so as to raise any question as to his acceptance; though he gives an account of himself. The bringing all men into judgment upsets all the truth of Scripture about it, because saints are raised in glory. What an odd thing it is to talk about raising a man in glory, and then judging him! It is upsetting the whole of grace right on to the glory. Then people say it is done only to declare a man just. But he is declared just already; all that believe are justified from all things, and glorifying declares him just, surely. Take for example; there is Paul who has been these eighteen hundred years in heaven, and you are going to take him out and judge him as to whether he is fit to go there! It is striking folly.

The Son quickeneth whom He will, but when you come to the end of the chapter, you get the responsible side. You have the testimony of John the Baptist, the testimony of My Father, the testimony of My works, and the testimony of your own scriptures (where you think you have eternal life) which testify of Me, and yet you will not come unto Me that you might have life. I have four witnesses that there is eternal life here for you, and you will not have it. It was the rejection of the One in whom life was present from God.

Now as to responsibility; power is not the question at all. If my will were right, there would soon be power from God. Here is my child tied under the table by the leg, and I say to him, "Come with me"; and he says, "I won't." I say, "You must"; but he will not, and I go to flog him. But then he says, "I was tied by the leg to the table"; but I say, "that makes no difference, I have a knife to cut the cord, for you would not come. It is the will that is the difficulty. I have lent ten thousand pounds to a man; he comes and tells me he is not responsible to me for his debt, for he has not a penny left - all is squandered. He has no power to pay but that does not destroy my claim.

In chapter 6 we see a beautiful picture of the Son of man in lowliness. In chapter 5 we have the Jewish means of healing, and here follows the Jewish passover, for which His own sacrifice is substituted. He shews Himself as Jehovah in Psalm 132. "He shall satisfy the poor with bread," He shews that here, and they own Him for a prophet, and then they are going to take Him by force and make Him a king. That gives two of Christ's titles. But He will not be king in this carnal way, and goes up into the mountain, and takes the place of priest. Here is Christ, who would not be king, was a prophet, and intercedes on high, His people toiling below. Then you get Christ, the food of His people now while He is away, in a double character; He is the bread that came down from heaven - the incarnation; they reject that, and then He goes farther and says, you must eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood. They say, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" I get the revelation that, if you do not take a dead Christ, you cannot enjoy a living one come down from heaven. You cannot enjoy Christ as bread come down from heaven, unless you come in by atonement. You must come in as a mere sinner, or else you cannot take Him to eat for the maintenance and food of life.

243 Verse 57 says the living Father had sent Him, and He lived on account of the Father, so we live by reason of Him by eating Him. We have the two things, it is eating both for reception of and for maintenance of life. I remember a person once saying he ate Christ once for all, but it is not so here. In verses 54, 56 you have in the Greek, the present participle for "eating," in the others the aorist tense. I come in by Christ's death, eat His flesh and drink His blood - that is eating to have life; but I go on eating Him after, though my life is the consequence of eating. Verse 56, "dwelleth in me and in I him," goes farther than the first statement.

"I will raise him up at the last day" shews perpetual security on into another world. "I bring in death, as the true way and you must come in by death; you cannot have the old thing; nor can you have a living Christ to be your Saviour, it is only by death, and then it will be in resurrection, that you get the blessing"; and then you get the statement that it goes right on to the end, and then when the present period is closed "I will have them all up in resurrection."

There is a distinction between the eatings. It is the aorist tense in verse 51, and in verse 53, "have eaten," which having no present participle, borrows another word in the next verses, 54, 56, 57 and 58; the first (aorist) is the one act eating for life, and the other is now eating for maintenance of life. "The last day" is the last of this period when Christ comes of course. Really this is not a dispensation. The Jews had a "this world" and "a world to come," "this age" and an "age to come." Messiah was to bring in the "age to come." The age of the law went on and Messiah did come, but they would not have Him, and the whole thing stopped; then comes the church between that and His second coming; and this is why I said this is not strictly a dispensation, but when Messiah comes again, it will close this time, and then will be the last day of this age.

244 The times of the Gentiles in Daniel, and the parenthesis of the church, are not at all contemporaneous; for the times of the Gentiles began in Babylon, being the times of the four Gentiles beasts in Daniel. The times of the Gentiles will not end at the same time with the church, but go on a little after we are caught up. The temple of Jehovah on earth was set aside when the people were carried to Babylon, and they never got the ark again, but a remnant of them was spared to present to them Messiah.

I know what a person means by "the dispensation of the kingdom of heaven," but we belong to a heavenly thing in an interval, and there are no dispensations in heaven. The kingdom of heaven is a dispensation, the dispensation of the gospel is an administration. The "I live by the Father" in verse 57 is the sense of dependence: (dia with a genitive is the instrument); with the accusative as this is, it is the reason. It is not "by," "through," or "for the sake of"; but by reason of," "on account of," is right.

We have had that Christ was a prophet, and was not King, and had taken a place on high. He had left the disciples, and while absent they toiled against the sea, and when He rejoined them, they were at the land. He was their food, and in our coming to Him we must come by eating His flesh and drinking His blood; and then we saw that it was completed in resurrection, "I will raise him up at the last day." You have proof there that it cannot be the Lord's supper, for whosoever eats Christ will live for ever, be raised at the last day according to the life he has received. The aorist, in verses 51 and 53, "has eaten," is the thing done; where it is "eats," the participle is used, verses 54, 56, 57 and 58. I am an eater of Christ, I go on eating, I feed on Him. It is first feeding on His death, and then feeding on Him continually. This shews what poor Romanists do in transubstantiation; they deny the whole truth in their doctrine of concomitancy. If the blood be in the body, it is no atonement at all, and therefore you eat the flesh and drink the blood separately. Theirs is a sacrament of non-redemption, instead of a sacrament of redemption.

245 It was not "old corn" here. It is the Father sending the Son to be the Saviour. In the end of Galatians 2 it is faith on Him in heaven, it is not a question of eating there. I prefer "on him" to "in him," because it is on Him as an object there. "The faith of him" is simply that He is the object. "Have faith in God" in Mark 11:22 is in Greek "the faith of God"; that is, has God for its object. What is in Galatians is this, I am dead, and then I get two things, "nevertheless I live," and "I live by the faith of the Son of God." But whenever I have Christ as life in me, it is by faith of Christ as an object; He is my life and makes me live on Him, my eye rests on Him and I live by that. "By faith of Jesus Christ," in Romans 3 is the faith which is characterised by that name, so to speak, and the owning of what is in Him.

John 6 refers to communion and feeding. Then the Lord adds "the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life," the mere carnal eating is nothing. Flesh profits nothing - I am speaking in a spiritual sense, that is, not literal - a guard against that, though we eat Him as incarnate. Flesh may take it up in a way, and then it becomes a mere awakening of a sentiment or feeling, just as the daughters of Jerusalem wept for Him at seeing a man carried off to the cross, but there is no conscience in that. But when I go to Him and am cleansed by Him, this is a different thing.

I must "have eaten" in the first instance; verses 51 and 53 are aorists as I was saying; and in some cases of exhortation. It is "He that has eaten"; in verse 53; "Except ye have eaten," etc., and in verse 57; "So he that eateth me [goes on eating] shall live on account of me." In verse 54 the real force of it is, "the eater of my flesh and the drinker of my blood." In the Jewish services the passover in the beginning of the chapter would answer to this. And "Christ our passover was sacrificed for us."

It is striking how the Jews are always viewed as rejected, and uniformly oppose Him in this Gospel. Nor does He say a word to make His words intelligible to them. And the disciples many of them went away, and the branches of the vine were broken off. These were simply professors. Thus a man might be a disciple without being quickened, so far as following after Him goes.

246 The great thing is death first. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," and when I come to talk of feeding on Christ, I must first feed on His death. The Lord's supper is a symbol of the same truth of which this chapter speaks; but these words are positively untrue of the Lord's supper. I would not connect the eating of the Supper with this chapter at all, but with the Christ who is spoken of in this chapter. The Supper and the chapter refer to the same thing, but not to one another. This chapter is the word of God about it, and the Lord's supper is the symbol of the same.

In Luke 24, I doubt not, it is the Lord's supper; not actually sitting down for that purpose, but they sat down to a meal, and the Lord took the bread and brake it. The "did eat" in John 6:58 is the aorist tense; "not as your fathers did eat," because they were not eating it now; and He adds, "he that eateth [or the eater - present participle] of this bread shall live for ever."

Then He asks, "Doth this offend you, What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before," You have in this chapter the incarnation, the death, and then the ascension suggested, but you do not get the resurrection referred to here. An incarnate and dead Christ are looked at as food of life. Death and resurrection is not the point of view in John; but simply departing out of this world to the Father.

I do not know what is the best reading of verse 69, as I trouble myself little about readings, unless there is something positive in them. Tischendorf's English Testament gives the English text all thrown into doubt; adding readings from three manuscripts for people to decide which is which, as if they could. The effect on my mind was very unsatisfactory. It is very difficult for people to enter into the merits of these manuscripts. These gentlemen turn up their noses at Alexandrian when they get others on their side; but the Syriac is older still, and it is said more often agrees with Alexandrian. As for leading people to any conclusion by quoting letters, it is no guide whatever unless to those who know the place and character of the various texts. The Alexandrian is of two distinct families in the Gospels and Epistles; and it is perfectly impossible for ninety-nine out of a hundred to know anything about them. Tregelles is very accurate and diligent, but he is one-sided so that you cannot trust him. As for any truth, whether "Son of the living God" be there or not, it makes little difference; no particular truth, I mean, is involved in it here.

247 To return, many of the disciples go back, but Peter had the consciousness of Christ's person; whatever the degree of his knowledge, he had what held him fast when other people went away, though he knew no better than they did what the eating and drinking was. You cannot take a lower condition of faith than this expresses: "thou hast the words of eternal life, to whom shall we go?" But Peter had got the person in whom the life was. In point of fact, the less the confession, the more strong would be the instruction of the passage. If I had got hold of Christ at all, I had got what was not to be shaken. Peter was negatively kept; "there is nowhere else to go but to you": after all it is a great thing to say so; simple souls are often kept when wiseacres fall. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." But "a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers." It is just like a child; a stranger may come, kindness itself, but it is not the voice of its mother; it will not do.

Quickening is the power of the Spirit by the word, of course. The Thomasites take up verse 63, and say it is in the "word" the Spirit is; and Campbellites too. One of them told me they were just as much begotten of Paul, as they were of the Holy Ghost, because they were begotten of him by the gospel. But I get the personality of the Holy Ghost in Scripture very clearly; He wills, distributes, is sent, comes, speaks, works, and so on; and this is somebody.

The business of the Old Testament is to reveal the unity of the Godhead; the business of the New Testament is to reveal the Trinity; and therefore, though you have got at the beginning "the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters" and elsewhere, it is not so clear in the Old Testament; there is no personal coming; As to the word "person," use what word may be best, but the testimony of scripture is plain enough that what we mean by a person is said both of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

248 I do not think the remnant will see anything like so clearly as we do. They will be an earthly people, not a heavenly; they will never get the place we have. But you see we never say a prayer without the Trinity (Eph. 2:18). As far as the remnant take up promise and prophecy as to the church in the then past, they will see it is all over and gone. They will look for Christ, and the strongest expression of their intelligence that I know of is, "Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the Son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself," Ps. 80:17. They will say, "Here is forgiveness, but the people are all gone that it was for; and I do not know whether it is for me."

The Spirit of God will not be confined to the remnant, for there will be the everlasting gospel. But the thing now is, the Holy Ghost being come it is the firstfruits that we have got, and we become a kind of firstfruits of His creatures, and that is sanctification to God in a special manner, but it will not be the case with the remnant. And so now we get a far fuller insight into the heavenly things than they will then. God has reserved some better thing for us, than even for the Old Testament saints.

In chapter 7 comes the feast of tabernacles, and the Spirit instead of it. Of the feast of tabernacles there has been no fulfilment at all. None had then been fulfilled, but we had the passover in the last chapter and the truth connected with it; but the tabernacles Christ could not then have to say to, and He substitutes the gift of the Holy Ghost for the revelation of Christ to the world. That is the grand truth that is in this chapter. The tabernacles came after the harvest and vintage (that is, the double judgment of God) is fulfilled, the separative judgment and the execution of vengeance. Pentecost and passover are over. We have the fulfilment of them in Christ's sacrifice and Pentecost; but at the tabernacles they dwelt in booths, as a sign that they had been strangers, but are so no more. His brethren say to Him, "go and shew thyself to the world," but He says, "I do not go to this feast: your time is always ready." And, having gone up as it were secretly, on the last day, the eighth day - it was only this feast that had an eighth day to it - He then "stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." He could not shew Himself to the world, for His time was not yet come, but He does go up in the middle of the feast, though He could take no part in it; but instead of that, there was this eighth day - not one of the seven days of the complete feast - and on it He speaks of the "Spirit which they that believe on him should receive." He could not shew Himself in the glory then.

249 The word "yet" in verse 6 is right, but in verse 8 it is doubtful the first time it is used. When you say, "I go not up," it is different from "I go not yet." He did go up afterwards. The time referred to in verse 6 is the millennium. I believe the Virgin Mary had a family afterwards, but "brethren" is used in a large way including relatives.

Christ cannot shew Himself to the world, but says, If any man thirst for himself - wants to drink for himself; it is not looking for gifts for others, but if any man is thirsty, let him come unto Me and drink. If he fill his own soul in the power of the Holy Ghost from Christ, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

We had a passover in chapter 2; in chapter 5 it was not one of the great feasts. I do not know what feast it was. But now the feasts give a distinctive character to everything.

The aspect of the Holy Ghost in John 4 is communion, as in chapter 3 life giving; in chapter 4 springing up into everlasting life and communion; and here, in chapter 7, it flows out to others, but I get a drink for myself first. In chapter 20 it is the power of life in resurrection. It is not sending it from heaven, but just as God breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul, so Christ breathes into His disciples the breath of life. It is an immense advance on the Old Testament, but here in chapter 7 the waters flow forth again from them; it is far more than they had in the wilderness. There they "drank of that rock that followed." Here the rivers flow forth from them. This chapter 7 is immensely important, but not so objective, and therefore simpler.

He could not shew Himself, for the feast of Tabernacles will be kept in the millennium, and His time was not yet come. But the seventh day completed the week of the feast properly speaking, and as when Christ rose it was the beginning of a wholly new state, the eighth day was the first day of another week, the beginning of another world for man. The seven days are the figure of the millennium, the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles; the first of the seven was a holy convocation. Only here Christ does not shew Himself to the world for the seven days, but at the last He announces the gift of the Holy Ghost to connect us with Himself in heaven. It will be an immense relief to see the world delivered from evil, no doubt; but what you get here is for the meanwhile the Holy Ghost till Christ returns.

250 Just a word or two back. In verse 17, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." The first "will" is emphatic - if he wills to do it; if he wills, he shall know if the word is right. There is a difference between the people and the Jews. The people in verse 20 ask, "Who goeth about to kill you?" But in verse 25, "Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he whom they seek to kill?" He had gone to Galilee to the poor of the flock, and they did not understand that any were going about to kill Him; but the Jews from Jerusalem knew very well; and the controversy between them and Christ constantly comes out in John. All Christ's work was in Galilee except a very occasional thing, the beginning of Matthew tells you so; but in John it is nearly all in Jerusalem bringing out His controversy with the Jews. It is very striking that in Matthew in the end of chapter 4 you get all Christ's ministry in about four verses. "And Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people, and his fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with demons, and those which were lunatic, those that had the palsy, and he healed them; and there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan;" three verses; and then He goes on to tell them in chapters 5-7 what kind of people were fit for the kingdom. The rest unfolds His person and dispensational ministry as come among the Jews and what took its place.

In the close of the chapter, John 7, poor Nicodemus shews himself, and says a word for Christ, just what he dared. Then in chapter 8, with other things, you will find His word rejected. Instead of the millennium we have had the Holy Ghost given; the Bread of life had before come down from heaven; and now it is the word in chapter 8. They bring Him a woman taken in adultery.

251 The first verse of chapter 8 should go with chapter 7. The divisions are of no authority at all. The chapters had been arranged, and verses put in the New Testament in 1551. The first divisions were in 1200 and something for the New Testament. Stephens was the first to issue the text so divided. There were Dutch printers who in 1624 published an emendation of Stephens, calling it the text received by all, and then people got afraid to change anything. Here and there a word was taken from Beza, but at large the text was from Stephens. In the Apocalypse Erasmus had but one manuscript, and that mingled up with a commentary. Stephens had some thirteen second-rate manuscripts. Erasmus employed a man to cull out the text from the commentary. The last verse he translated into Greek from the Vulgate. We have now a hundred manuscripts of the Apocalypse, with five uncial ones; but the first translations having been all made from the one text, we may say that of Stephens, it looks now as if we were changing what we were all used to. This narrative in John 8 was left out where it was found avowedly for the sake of morality, and this was so stated near as early as we have any copy at all.

The Lord here takes up the law in this way; they bring the letter of it to Him that He may condemn the woman. They thought they had a great advantage against the Lord, for by the law He must say, "Stone her": but if so, then He was no Saviour; and if He said, "You must not stone her," then clearly He had broken the law. Really in them it was no respect for the law, nor compassion for the woman either; but the Lord takes it up and says: Quite right, The law condemns, but I must apply it to all of you: whosoever "is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." And the oldest went out first, because he had the most character to save. So the Lord gives the law all its power, and the woman is spared too. "Hath no man condemned her?" "No man, Lord." "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more." The law is not set aside, for if you give it its proper authority, all are condemned together; and that is just where we all are, all gone in the light of the law for Christ to come in. Like a man attempting to conduct a business; I say to him, You ought to do so-and-so; but he replies, "What is the good of telling me that? for my money is gone already." We have got debts and no capital, counsels for righteousness are of no avail; and what are we to do? Then the Lord says, "I am the light of life." "I am the light of the world, and he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." That is not the law which was death, righteous death to everybody, but it is the person of Christ who is the light of the world, "and the life was the light of men." The writing on the ground was just giving them time for conscience to work.

252 You have no forgiveness of sins in this gospel unless administrative forgiveness by man. I think this is characteristic. Christ does not here forgive or condemn. It is characteristic, for instead of that He is in constant conflict with these Jews in respect of who He was.

And now follows that which declares this testimony: "I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." And so He taught in the temple, but "no man laid hands on him, for his hour was not yet come." He tells them, "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." "He that sent me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him." Some of them believed on Him, and He says to them, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." They say they are Abraham's seed; but if you commit sin, you are the slaves of sin. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham's seed, but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you." This shews that being under law and being under sin are tantamount. The Jews - people under law - are slaves of sin. The slave does not abide in the house always, but the Son abides ever and He could make free.

There is a mis-translation in verse 25. It should be "Who art thou? Altogether that which I said unto you." It is His word still. It is the same in verses 32 and 36: the word sets free. But it is the living Son's act. The passage is important to shew how the word and the living person go together. It is not "from the beginning" in verse 25; it is "altogether what I also say to you." That is true of every honest man in a certain sense; it is not "from the beginning," but in principle or absolutely. The word that Christ spake was the absolute expression of what He was. I am what I speak, that is the thought expressed.

253 Then the truth sets free and the Son sets free. There may be this much difference, that you do not connect grace so much with the word as with the Son. When I say the truth, I think of God as coming and judging everything in men by the revelation of truth by the word, bringing what is good and divine by that word. When I say the Son I speak of living power and authority working in love. It does not appear that it was divine faith the Jews had who believed on Him; but it might be in some.

Then comes another principle; our Lord says, "Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word." They did not understand what He said because they did not take in His thought. In human things you must understand the language, the technical terms, before you understand the thing; but in divine things you must understand the propositions in order to understand the words. If I say, "Ye must be born again," the words do not give an understanding of what it is. Until I know the liberty of Christ, until I have the thing in freedom, no words make me understand what "free" really is. Christ has to say to them, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin; and if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God, heareth God's words." And in verse 51 He says, "If a man keep my saying he shall never see death." The Lord's words expressed Himself, and these words are the Father's testimony to Him, and they would not have him. Later on He says "Believe me, or else believe me for the very works' sake."

Then they drive Him to say that He is God Himself.

It is the day of His glory, I have no doubt in verse 56. But now, instead of executing judgment on His enemies, He allowed Himself to be executed to save sinners. Abraham in a figure may have seen that day in Isaac. And then He says, "Before Abraham was, I am" - He is God. People may quibble now and again, but the Jews understood it very well, and took up stones to stone Him for it, but He passed away. This is His word rejected.

In chapter 9 it is Christ's work. "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth; and his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." It is not the word now, but the works. I suppose they thought Exodus 34 was being carried out in the man because his parents had sinned; though that had been abrogated in Jeremiah and Ezekiel really, and it became, "the soul that sinneth it shall die," that is, the death of the person himself who had sinned. It is not spiritual death either; it has done a great deal of mischief, using that as spiritual death, it was temporal only. God's governmental dealings with the Jews.

254 The word "soul," though often used for living person simply, as it is in English yet, in the Old Testament is for soul contrasted with the body. Still "life and incorruptibility are brought to light by the gospel." Life was intimated in a way, "Thou will not leave my soul in hell [hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Suffering and disease are the common lot of a poor world, lying in sin and ruin; though they may be special chastisement. But the Lord displays His grace to the man. He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle; you get what comes from the earth, and what comes from Christ's person. The Lord typified in this clay that the only effect of His presence was, that, if it were possible to make a blind man more blind, it did. The man was blind already, just as the Jews were; but the effect of the presence of Christ was to make them more blind still. Only He goes to the pool of Siloam which is by interpretation "sent"; and the moment anyone saw Him as the sent One of God, they got their sight. You have got Christ there present as a Man before the eyes of the people, and that is not giving them sight at all, but the contrary; but the moment the word in the power of the Spirit of God opened their eyes, it was healing and sight at once.

You have a very distinct principle here, as to the way of the operation of divine grace. When the man is questioned, he says, "Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not; one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see." And that is the only way of knowing that is worth anything, while the external knowledge of Christ is only double blindness. But the moment there is the power of the Spirit of God giving the knowledge of Christ as the sent One of God, you get eyes then, spiritual eyes of course. The Jews do what they can to confound the man; they bring his parents who are afraid to say a word of who did it, because "if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue "; but the only thing their testimony is worth anything for is, that he was their son, and was born blind - just what the Pharisees did not want. And then the man begins to reason with them, that He has opened my eyes, and you cannot tell whence He is. Himself the subject of divine power He knew it was such. "Oh," say they, "but he does not keep the sabbath," and there was a division among them. Then they tell the man, "Thou wast altogether born in sins," the very thing he was not; it was their blindness that said so.

255 And now Christ has got a sheep, and He goes before him. The man had said that He was a prophet, and when he was cast out and Jesus found him, He asks him, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God," and he said, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?" The word of Christ had already power in his soul, and this leads him directly to the knowledge of Himself as Son of God, as with the Samaritan the reception of the word is really, though only implicitly, the reception of Christ. "And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee." The man gets to know Him as Son of God, and he worships Him; and then Christ has got His sheep with Him. The sign in itself had no effect on the Jews though the sign was there; there was power in the word spoken which gives the knowledge of the sent One. The clay on his eyes was Christ, and the Jews had the clay, but nothing else morally. The pool, morally, is the word of God in the power of the Spirit of God, and thus Christ known as sent of God.

How these poor Pharisees are baffled! We see again, wherever Christ has visited the soul bringing the word of God, He is owned a prophet; and when the soul owns the prophet, the word of God presents Christ as the Son, and you have the Son too. You cannot separate the word from the person of Christ. If we receive what He says, we receive Himself. We have done with that history now. We have the Lord, His word, and His works rejected, and now therefore He says, "No matter what the opposition, I will have my sheep," and the porter opens the door.

256 Verse 39 shews the blindness of their judgment, and that looked at as to the effect the Lord came to judge. "When he putteth forth his own sheep"; the blind man was one of them. "I am the door of the sheep." "I am the good shepherd." Verses 14, 15 read, "I am the good shepherd, and I know my sheep and am known of mine, as the Father knoweth me and I know the Father," that is, "As the Father knows me and I know the Father, so I know my sheep and am known of them." He puts His sheep and Himself in the place which He and the Father had been in relatively. The relationship between Himself and the sheep was the same as between Himself and the Father. It is a beautiful expression of Christ in connection with the sheep. He is taking them out of the Jewish fold. You get Christ from the time of His lowest subjection to the will of the Father entering by the door until He says, I am one with the Father.

The "porter" signifies the power of God by the Spirit of God opening the door to Christ, in spite of the Pharisees and everybody else who would shut Him out. They would have shut Him out if they could, but they could not succeed, and the sheep hear His voice. There had been thieves and robbers who had set up to be Christ before, but "he that cometh in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep."

The door is made for people to come in at, and Christ did not climb over the wall, but came in by the door. Whatever had been appointed to Him, He came in by that, a lowly man. Then we read He "leadeth them out," that is a new thing; He is taking them out from Judaism. And then He is the door, the appointed way.

"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice." It has often been noticed that this is one of the most familiar images in the world, because they never drive sheep except in England, and perhaps in Ireland, but go before them, and the flock follows. And "a stranger will they not follow but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers."

"I am the door of the sheep." As He came in by God's appointed way, He is God's appointed way for everybody else, and so He is the door. "By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved" - now He is not taking them out - "and shall go in and out and find pasture." What you call folds are hardly intelligible here; there were wild beasts there, and the fold was many feet high, that animals should not jump over. Now He takes His sheep out of Judaism, and they are saved, and they are free, and they find pasture; before they were neither safe nor free, nor had they pasture. But if a soul go in by Christ, he gets salvation, liberty, and food. If I am entering, and they say, Where are you going? I do not know, but I am sure it is all right if Christ is the door; like Abraham going forth, not knowing whither he went; it is all right if Christ leads. Further, our safety comes from the personal care of the shepherd, and not from the prison of a fold. With Christ, we have salvation, liberty and pasture.

257 Then "the thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." He was going to give it them in all the power of resurrection and ascension. That was the Good Shepherd that gives His life for His sheep. I do not think the object here is so much atonement as devotedness, when He speaks of laying down His life for the sheep, though atonement of course was in laying down His life. At any cost the sheep must be kept. The hireling fleeth and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep. There is an important word there to notice: "catcheth" is the same word as in verse 28 is rendered "pluck." The wolf can lay hold of them so as to scatter them in this world, but he cannot lay hold of them so as to pluck them out of Christ's hand.

Verse 15 involves atonement, but it is especially the devotedness with which Christ loves His sheep. The "again" in verse 17 is not connected with "much more by his life" in Romans 5. That is the life that comes after death; here it is the life He lays down in death, and so lives again.

The "other sheep" are Gentiles which are not of this fold. "Them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd." It was ecclesiastical feeling put in "one fold," because they understood not one flock. "Therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life that I might take it up again." To me that is a most astonishing testimony to the person of Christ. We love God because He first loved us; but here I find one that would give a motive to the Father for loving Him; it is not merely that the Father is pleased to delight in Him, as in us. We cannot give motives to the Father to love us, but Christ could. In that sense of the word the Father was debtor to Christ for all His own glory. It is the burnt-offering character of Christ in sacrifice. What is tantamount to the meat-offering is found in "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again." At the same time the Lord absolutely refuses to go out of the place of obedience, as He says later, "That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, so I do." He was a divine Person who could give a motive to His Father for loving Him; and at the same time He was a man that was doing all in obedience.

258 Verse 24. "Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? if thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me; but ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you." Here again you have the distinct election principle of John "because ye are not of my sheep." I do not know why it is said here "it was winter," except because it was another occasion. The verse shews He had gone up for that feast as He never stayed in Jerusalem.

As to the "more abundantly" of verse 10 it is not only that they should have life as every believer from Adam had life, but the liberty that redemption brought them into, and life in resurrection power and character. Of old, they had differed nothing from a servant, though lords of all.

You never find the Lord saying He is the Christ, except to the woman of Samaria, "I that speak unto thee am he," and that was to a person who had no right to Christ. He delights to call Himself Son of man. We learn from this that He knew He was come to give His life a ransom for many, and so could not speak of Himself as the Christ. The Gospels are really the history of His rejection. In Samaria it was out of the way to do it, in one sense, because salvation is of the Jews. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." You get this principle of election; then the character of the elected, "they hear my voice"; what He does for them - gives them eternal life; and then they will not perish, that is, inwardly so to speak; and no man plucks them out of His hand: no inward perishing, and no outward force can destroy.

259 Then He takes the low place, My Father gave them, and He keeps. And then you come to His glory, "I and my Father are one." The Jews felt that and took up stones to stone Him. And you see He does not reason with the Jews to convince them, but to silence them. "Is it not written in your law, I said Ye are gods?" In the Pentateuch "then his master shall bring him unto the judges" is Elohim, that is, to God, so that this is literally true in its very letter - "if he called them gods unto whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" And He left them.

In chapters 5, 6 and 7, you have Christ revealed and bringing in what grace is, in chapters 8 and 9 you have the rejection of His word and of His work, but in chapter 10 He will have His sheep and that closes the whole thing. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 are before His public ministry, what you may call introductory. Chapter 4 is a transitional scene. Chapter 5 is the Son of God; chapter 6 is the crucified Son of man; chapter 7 the giving of the Holy Ghost instead of the glory. And now what we get is the testimony borne to Christ by God in all His characters. God would not allow Him to be rejected, without giving Him a full testimony to what He is. Then there is the episode of a heart that owned Him in His rejection and death, and His character of Son of David and Son of man; that is in chapter 12.

Chapter 11 is what He is as Son of God, a testimony to Him as the perfectly obedient One as servant, but still the Son of God with power while death is allowed to come in. That is the character of it here. He was the rejected One, then death is allowed to come in, and He is manifested as having power over all that Satan and death can do; and this shews that He is Son of God. Therefore He says: "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." You get nature expecting Him to do the old work, that is, to come and heal the sick man, but that could not be here. Of course the miracle came from His divine power, but in that way merely it was what many a one might have done, and He had done often before, but you find no act of His will merely, nor of human kindness even. We read that He loved Mary and her sister and Lazarus, and they sent unto Him to say, "Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick." One might have expected that He so full of tenderness would have gone directly; but He said it was not unto death, and abode two days still in the place where He was. He does not stir; He had no expression of His Father's will for Him to go, and so He stayed.

260 Verse 9 has reference to the Jews seeking to stone Him. He says "it is a question of my Father's will, and so it is all light before me." In the light of God all was plain. He does not go when natural feelings would lead Him, but He does go when it is His Father's will even if death were before Him. And we get the divine object of it - "that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." It is not the Son of David, but the Son of God declared with power by resurrection. He knew that Lazarus was fallen asleep, and says, "I go that I may awake him out of sleep." The disciples did not understand Him and He says plainly, "Lazarus is dead." Some people talk of the sleep of the soul, whereas the sleep here is simply death itself, the death of the body. A man here goes to sleep - dies; but there is no such thing as a hint of the soul sleeping afterwards. He says, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe," because He was going to raise him up from the dead. Healing would have been no such proof of His divine sonship. It is just what they all say, "Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?" But there Lazarus was dead, and the question was, the power of the Son of God who raises the dead. It is beautiful to see Thomas brought in here (v. 16), because Thomas was the doubting one after Christ was risen, and his character is given beforehand so far as it shews his attachment to Christ at any rate.

Well, there was to be no mistake about Lazarus being dead. Many of the Jews came there; it became a great public testimony. Then we get the character of Martha and Mary, both in a state of partial unbelief, they could only look for healing; that is, if Christ had only come in time, Lazarus would not have died at all. You have Martha running out uncalled, and Mary sitting in the house till Martha called her; as Jesus Himself did not go until God called Him. It was no harm, as men say, in a certain sense in Martha - no evil intended of course; but she rushes out from her own feelings instead of waiting for the Lord's call.

261 In verse 26 the Lord had gone beyond all Martha's faith. Christ begins by resurrection, taking people out of death, and He was there with that power, but she has no idea of that; what the Lord was bringing out she did not understand one bit, and that makes her go and call Mary. Mary had been sitting at Jesus' feet and heard His word. Martha tells her, "The Master is come and calleth for thee" - like saying, "He is talking about what I do not understand, and you must come." The Lord says to Martha, "thy brother shall rise again." She has the general truth like evangelical Christendom in the present day, but of a special resurrection in power, He being the resurrection and the life, she has no idea at all. But you find the Lord Himself moved and exercised when Mary goes out; she is sent for in a way, and went as called, and she falls at Christ's feet. There is a great deal more feeling as to Christ, than is in Martha, but she is in much the same state, and has no idea of present power over death; so she says, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died": no thought of His present power in resurrection; they were all alike as to that. There was no sense of a power that could take away the power of death; and that is what makes the Lord weep - the power of death that He saw lying on all their spirits. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in spirit and was troubled and said, "Where have ye laid him?" There was sympathy there, but it was the full character of the Lord's sympathy that strikes one, that is, His understanding the power of death that lay upon them. It lay on their spirits, but not on His. There was no weeping for Lazarus on His part. It was His full sense of the power of death resting on their hearts, no matter how advanced they were. The groaning was for others - something like the groaning in Romans 8. Then you have Martha's unbelief coming definitely out, "Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days." The Jews said nothing more, but "behold how he loved him." Again groaning in Himself, "He cometh to the grave: it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it." That groaning is a very strong word, He troubled Himself withal, stirred up His heart in its depths in His sense of man's state under death; His soul went into the power of the death lying on others.

262 All through this, at the same time, you see the Lord taking distinctly the place of subjection and service both, and so here He says, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me; and I know that thou hearest me always." Then He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." There was the power of the Son of God. Poor Martha! hers was a positive unbelief, or belief in the power of death, "Lord by this time he stinketh," instead of the power of resurrection. Jesus said unto her, full of patience, "Said I not unto thee that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" They took away the stone, and when He cried, "Lazarus, come forth," "he that was dead came forth." It was the testimony to the Son of God come amongst us, and His power over death - He is the resurrection and the life - and of His thorough entering into what the power of death was.

He never healed a sick person, I believe, without His heart entering into the power of the evil that was there as distress and sorrow on man. There is another thing to note - what you find in James about Elias. He had said, "As the Lord God of Israel liveth before whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, but according to my word." It seemed simple authority and power. But James teaches us how the power of the Lord was in the prophet, for he says, he "prayed earnestly that it might not rain "; that is, where a person acts really in the will and power of God, you constantly find his intercourse with God clear and simple. Paul went up to Jerusalem at the wish of the church, but he tells us in Galatians he went up by revelation. And here Christ had the power in Himself, because He was Son of God, but still He says, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." He never swerved from His place of subjection. The great thing is that He was really Son of God, though rejected. And then He must die; it is desperate, the dreadful hardness of the Jews. Afterwards they wanted to kill Lazarus [again] because he was such a testimony. And we have the utter unbelief of the people - not only unbelief, but positive hostility; we must get rid of Him [Christ]. "If we let him thus alone all men will believe on him, and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation." But at Christ's death the temple and all connected with it was disowned, high priest and everything. Then Jesus walked no more openly among them, but went to Ephraim and waited for the passover.

263 The "high priest that year" is named because the Jewish things continued till Christ died. There were two high priests. The Romans meddled with everything. Large sums of money were given to get to be high priest, and they were changing constantly. As yet things were not altogether gone from the Jews; there was the pool of Bethesda and remnants of blessing one way or another. The opening of Luke gives us a remnant in the midst of the iniquity, Simeon, Anna, Zechariah, and so on; a most lovely picture of how grace was ripening in these poor things whilst the Pharisees were ripening in iniquity.

Now we come to Bethany. There they made Him a supper; Lazarus was there as a man alive through the power of resurrection, but death had come in first. Here we see Mary goes to Christ in the consciousness of the other side of the truth - that He must die. She was not a prophetess at all; but at the hostility of the Jews her heart rises up in love with the instinct of what that hostility sought and meant. She was the opposite of the Jews; it was the fulness of affection that moved her though she was no prophetess.

You may see continually the way in which personal attachment to Christ gets His secret by some means or other. Mary Magdalene was all wrong, seeking the living among the dead, but still her heart was entirely on Christ, and if she did not get Him she got nothing, and she is the messenger to the apostles themselves of the highest privileges we have. "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God "; she is sent with it to the apostles, who learn it through her.

It is the same in other things: the poor woman that was a sinner did not know forgiveness, but she clings to Christ, and there comes out the forgiveness of her sins, "thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace," the fulness of the gospel. So with Mary; she did not understand resurrection and life as she ought to have done, but the thing she does is the thing she ought to have done, and it is what she felt was right. It was from attachment to His person that she comes and anoints Him with her ointment. She might have put it in a bag, and given it to Him, but that would not do. Judas shews how the wrong thing leads people away. It was Judas said. "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?" and they were all led away by it (Matt. 26:8). The disciples did not shine at this time at all. They all ran away too from Him later on, but her heart enters into it all. The Lord gives a voice of intelligence to her act, the wickedness of the Jews was rising up to the point of putting Him to death, and her heart had the sense of it, the Lord leading her no doubt.

264 "Let her alone," He says: "against the day of my burying hath she kept this; for the poor always ye have with you, but me ye have not always." It was His person He meant there of course. This is a beautiful expression of Mary's heart, and it shews how a heart fixed on Christ gives the right thing; though there may be a want of intelligence, it does the right act. The poor woman in the city acted rightly and confides in Him; though as yet unforgiven, the light and love of God are both in her heart. There was the confidence that love produces, and the sense of sins that light and love both produced. So with Mary Magdalene; it was the right thing to seek Him among the dead in a sense. And here Mary anoints His feet - His feet were worth it - that is the thought, I think; but generally they would have put ointment on the head.

Mary is a figure of the heavenly remnant in that sense of the word. Martha was one of the heavenly remnant, I suppose, but we do not see much of it in what she did, she had been busied with care. The heavenly remnant belong to heaven, whereas the earthly remnant get their portion on earth. Mary was on the heavenly road, she was entering into the spirit of Christ's death. She anointed Him for His burial, though nobody could die with Him; and her heart went with Him. She could not weep and raise from the dead, but she could weep and anoint. Her heart went with the sense of what was coming; she saw the way in which He was being treated. They had plotted the death already. That is just what we get here, not intelligence, but the heart right, and it does the right thing, that which is intelligent, so to speak. It is, very largely, want of attachment to the person of Christ that keeps people in the systems around us if they have not any particular motive.

Now we get the Son of David sitting on an ass's colt; afterwards in verse 20 the Son of man comes out. They go to meet Him and cry, "Hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord," taken from Psalm 118, which is the introduction of the millennial day. "Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord," and so on.

265 The Greeks are the nations coming up, or individuals of them. They are Hellenes; Grecian Jews are Hellenists. "Jesus answered them saying, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified." He was Son of God in raising Lazarus; He was Son of God in the world without dying; He was Son of David too, and ought to have been received as such according to Psalm 2, but when He takes His place as Son of man, according to Psalm 8, He must die. He cannot take the heavenly place of glory and be over all the works of God's hand without dying. And then we must follow in that, "he that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me." A very important word; if you want to serve Christ, you must follow Him. It is not as if you could do so much service in a kind of independent way, but if I serve Him I must follow Him where He is. And then His own soul enters into this death. "Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say; Father, save me from this hour, but for this cause came I unto this hour." Not so deep, but like Gethsemane. And then you get His perfectness brought out, seeking only His Father's glory, at all cost. He cannot be glorified without thus dying, and on the perfect submission the sense of the glory comes into His own soul. This is very instructive to us. And then comes a voice from heaven, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." You have had the Father's name glorified in the Lord in raising back Lazarus to this world, and He is going to glorify it again in raising Christ from the dead. He was declared the Son of God with power here as given in Romans 1, and raised from the dead by the glory of the Father in Romans 6. Then in verse 32 He says, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out; and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Having submitted Himself entirely, and having looked only for His Father's glory, He says that the thing where He glorifies God is the way to His own glory. Wherever we bow to a dealing of God that brings us down, we find that it is the path of more glory.

266 As a living Messiah He had to say to the Jews, but as Saviour of everybody, He must die - " Will draw all men unto me." It is not the Father drawing to Him here, but the attractive point to which men are drawn.

Verse 32 is the cross, and the effect of it goes on; every soul that is brought in is the effect of it. The drawing goes on, but it is to a crucified Christ they are drawn. A living Christ was for a Jew, but it is by a dying Christ salvation comes to the world. When living, He says, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

When it says, "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," He is quickening; it is then, and goes on still. It is the Son of God in power; here it is the Son of man dying. The "lifting up" is lifted out of the world, though not gone to heaven. Here it is the mere fact stated, but it is the atoning Saviour.

The character of resurrection answers to the condition in which Christ is. At the grave of Lazarus He raises back to this world; but now He is at the right hand of God, He quickens us into the character of His own place. We have Him only spiritually now, and we only live spiritually. But when He comes back into the world, those who are quickened then will receive a life accordingly. The power of resurrection or of life answers to Christ's position. He raised back Lazarus to the place where He Himself was alive; and so too it is now, to where He is now alive, and when He comes again He will raise up the body or change it to His own likeness then. Lazarus was merely a restored man.

"Now is the judgment of this world." That is the consequence of the Lord being lifted up; and the prince of the world is cast out. By death He has "destroyed him that had the power of death" - that is, annulled his power. Though it says, "shall be," his power is now destroyed. The sentence is passed, but not carried out. It is the cross that is referred to. The world is a judged world. Satan has led it to crucify the Lord. He is its prince, but by that in which this was fully shewn his power was broken. I quite admit that, until Christ comes again, he is not cast into the bottomless pit, but through Christ's death Satan's power is annulled, and therefore "now is the prince of this world"; it was "shall be," but that was then. And he is only called the prince of the power of this world when we come to the cross. To faith his power is annulled now. And so it is as to everything; you will find it is "yes" for faith, and not yet for full accomplishment fact. I have eternal life and yet the end is everlasting life. I am looking for salvation ready to be revealed, yet He has saved us and called us. We are really quickened, and have the Holy Ghost in our souls, we receive the end of our faith, salvation of soul, but not the result. I think it is a great thing to see that Christ is lifted up, and has nothing more to do with this world. That the breach was total and final: "O righteous Father the world hath not known thee." Then we get the unbelief: "Who is this Son of man?" and the Lord says, "Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you."

267 Verse 34 gives the meaning of "lifting up." It is contrary to abiding here. Then you have two references to Isaiah, verse 38, (quoting Isa. 53) which is His rejection, and goes on to death; and verse 40 (quoting Isa. 6), which we are told Isaiah said when he saw His glory.

Then you have another terrible warning. "Many believed on him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue." Such would be lost. They were convinced, yet would not own Him. The principle is in Romans 10: "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." That applies now. I do not believe there are many of whom it is true now or ever - that many are ashamed to confess Christ, and yet are truly saved. I could not say they are saved. God knows what is at the bottom of their hearts. Some are afraid, it may be, of acting in certain ways, and yet they confess Christ in a more open manner than we do. We must leave such to God, like Nicodemus who goes secretly by night for fear of the Jews. And the counsellor Joseph, who had been hidden, comes out when the disciples have all run away. These two confessed at last, when they said as it were, We cannot go on with all this wickedness, this is too much for us.

By "He that is not with me is against me" is meant taking the path of faith, you must take your place for Christ, or else you are against Him. The world has manifested itself as entirely against Him. The open breach is come, you must take your place either one way or other. We have Christ practically rejected - "lifted up" - and in chapter 13 we pass on to His going out of the world altogether.

268 The Epistle to the Hebrews says He could not be a priest on earth, because there were priests here already. Christ offered Himself; He was kept up three days - three years if you like better - as a pure victim. He offered Himself up on the cross. It is on the cross the Lord lays on Him the iniquity of us all, when He gave Himself a voluntary offering. But the offering Himself was not a priest's office: the priest only began when He took the blood, he had nothing to say to the offering until he accepted the blood. On the day of atonement the priest put his hand on the head of the scape-goat and confessed the people's sins, but there the whole nation was looked at as separate from God, and for them he confesses, though that was not exactly a priestly thing, though done by the high priest as representing the people. Christ offered Himself through the eternal Spirit without spot to God, but then He so far answered to the priest that He confessed our sins on the cross, and then after that He is properly a priest. Christ as now on high is not a priest for sins, He is an advocate with the Father if we sin. When I look at Him as suffering for sins, His work is done once for all, as in Hebrews 9, 12; when we fail, we have an advocate with the Father, for then it is a question of communion with the Father; but His sacrifice was for sins. He was a priest, He stood as priest, but He is not priest for sins now, but for grace to help that we may not sin and ever in God's presence for us the witness that our sins are put away, the reconciliation is made, and this was once done for us, where He stood as our suffering representative.

Christ did not, as the high priest in Israel, confess His own sins, for He had none (I need hardly say that), but the high priest on the day of atonement had his own to confess too, but Christ did only stand there as His people's representative. If He were on earth, He should not be a priest at all, and in the Hebrews you get the exercise of His priesthood now, which does not refer to sins because He has done with that question for ever. You get Him as an advocate in John, but there it is dealing with communion, and hence the question of imputation never comes up, but communion is destroyed for the time.

Looked at as an instrument used, this chapter applies to ministry. The word, in Hebrews 4, detects, and is the means of washing in that way. The word detects that which leads to falling away; the constant tendency to apostasy runs all through Hebrews. I would not include advocacy in priesthood. Intercession is a general word. He ever lives to make intercession for us. Intercession is commonly used for priesthood; but it is more a question of what is meant by words. Advocacy much more corresponds with Numbers 19.