J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 6.)
In the meanwhile the Lord, till John was cast into prison, in just subjection to the divine order having been pointed out as the Lamb of God, not Himself baptising (this would have recognised it as the end of His ministry) ministered merely within the compass of John's ministry, baptising for the repentance and remission of sins, the kingdom of heaven being at hand. Nor is this ever said to be within you, though the kingdom of God was (I believe we have remarked that the kingdom of heaven is peculiar to Matthew). The ministry of the power of the Spirit ends in itself, that is, in its effects wrought, for it is formal and assigned; of Jesus not, for all power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth, and He is the revealer of the Father; His work therefore may seem to fail; the Spirit's never, for the Spirit expresses and acts. The present mind in Jesus is all the fulness, which may yet not be developed. The acquiescence of our Lord in this baptism was therefore suited to that which was developed. His not baptising Himself was so to that which was in Himself. When there is thought beyond the present state of agency this must be, though prospective light from God never fails to throw light on present conduct, for it is the same Jesus. It was not perceiving this which made the fifth monarchy men utterly err (as in spirit also). Satan can make large use (under divine restraint) of such errors even in good men; and error in act goes along with judgment here, for they cannot act in God's way; what is not the time to act, for God does not act out of the wisdom of His own time; therefore the instrument must be a wrong one.
47 But to proceed with our passage. Our Lord assumed now a distinct ministry, a ministry of testimony; not that He did not still offer Himself to the Jews as Messiah; but He had now primarily manifested Himself amongst them with ample miraculous evidence, and they had not received Him, or not in such a way that He could trust Himself to them. He was now to bear witness of what He was at large, having been rejected by them. Their envy indeed, it appears, had now so shown itself that the rumour of His discipling the people having reached the Pharisees occasioned Him to remove from the neighbourhood; nevertheless the place which our Lord held in the dispensation of God toward the Jews is carefully preserved. There is no generalisation of office. He had no thought of going to Samaria. He departed again into Galilee.
But the providence of God had ordered a full manifestation of further glory which was in Him, of the gift of the Spirit and eternal life, as the present power in Him of eternal life, separated from all Jewish association, though recognising that salvation was of the Jews. He must needs go through Samaria. So it was arranged. It was shown in the instance of all most opposed to Jewish prejudices. They had no dealings with the Samaritans. But it was the dispensation of gift and grace. It also set Jesus as the fuller source of blessing and promise to all the tribes of Israel than Jacob himself, or the water that he could give; broke in upon, as it advanced far beyond, in blessing, that association; for the way in which God subdues our pride in Jesus is the vastness of blessing. Nevertheless it arose out of the humiliation of Jesus. He had to ask water from a woman of Samaria, though King of the Jews. It was also to them as worthless that the message was sent. Jesus did not go to propose Himself to them, though He went when invited; as He said, Into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. Yet the glory that was in Him, and what He was conscious of, in the character and bosom of God, went beyond His present ministry; so elsewhere.
48 Having seen their general circumstances and its position, we may notice the truths conveyed in this most interesting account, worthy of all our attention. The interview with Nicodemus showed the necessity that Jews, children of the kingdom, should be born again. Here we have developed, as a gift communicable to the desirer of it, if there were such, the grace of God, and the Person of Jesus opening the door, and breaking down the distinction there was between a Jew and a woman of Samaria. It is on the whole, then, a testimony to Christ as the Giver of the Spirit, and that contrasted with the temporal blessings and associations of the Jacob of old, and the displacing the distinction, to this extent, of the Jew and the Samaritan.
In the first place, then, we have noticed the grace of God, the great principle of the gift, the dispensation of gift. The next point is the Person of Jesus: If thou hadst known the gift of God, and who it is who in this state of humiliation asking of you a Samaritan for water to drink, thou wouldst have asked, and He would have given. The freeness of the gift asked for is stated freely, and the result of such knowledge; but this all depends on the knowledge that God was giving, and what understanding the gift and of the Person and glory of Jesus in His humiliation. But these were spiritual things. They supposed a spiritual person. The natural man understood them not: "Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep." She was thus shown ignorant of the gift, and of the Person of Jesus. "Art thou greater," etc., than he who did all these things for us? It was needful, however, that the total alienation of the mind from spiritual things should be shown. The woman was not opposed to listen, and the Lord would explain what He meant as to the nature of the thing, but it exhibited her incapacity to understand this also: "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw." She was simple and absorbed, that which was her sorrow, but all darkness as to the spiritual things. Such is the exhibition of the nature of this gift, and the capacity of the natural man to receive it. He stumbles at the first word.
There was something very affecting in our Lord's alluding to the request He was constrained to make. I am persuaded He saw this woman's mind was not closed, dark as it was; at any rate, even such a reception was in a measure new to the Saviour. It is a wonderful picture of Him, weary and thirsty, and His glory withal manifested in His weakness.
49 In the next place we must remark that this living water is no influence from without producing results in the soil over which it flows. It is something given; the gift of God given to the person asking, given consequent upon the knowledge of Jesus, and bestowed by Him on request, as of God, flowing out of that knowledge: "If thou hadst known," etc. As to this we have spoken before on Ephesians 1, Romans 8, and the case of our Lord Himself, and other passages. The next thing is it is positively given to the person. It is not merely a draught of something by virtue of those influences, but in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. This in the man is a constant indwelling spring, flowing into eternal life. Next I would also remark it is here spoken of the great general truth as personally indwelling for the hope of eternal life, its substantial witness of inheritance, not collaterally as conferred, as the instrument of power for the purposes of the manifestation of Jesus. The simple freeness of it is markedly shown ("Ye have received gratuitously, give gratuitously"); and as to the receiver, If thou knewest, thou wouldst have asked, and He would have given. Knowledge of Jesus, itself the gift of God, is the only circumstance, and He is the giver. The freeness of the gospel is here distinctly stated, put in its order of God.
We have seen the character of the gift of the Spirit by Jesus, and its freedom, and the utter and absolute incapacity of the natural man, though hearing the words, to understand the nature, or anything, of spiritual things, or Jesus by whom they are given. "Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well?" "Sir, give me this water." But the Spirit of God hath another method by which, in the name of Jesus, it as Jesus takes up man where he is, and acts upon the conscience. We speak not of it now as indwelling as the water of life, but as acting in conviction by opening the conscience to itself. Nothing more simple in its power, where the discerning eye of God, to whom all is open and unconcealed, awakes by touching on the spring of its actual state, the consciousness of where it is (and such is the constant experience under the preaching of the word): "Go, call thy husband." You will observe that it is by stating the order of God, what would have blessing if it had been, that the consciousness of he state was drawn out: "I have no husband"; and thus is Jesus the universal convincer of sin, for He is the fulness of the blessedness of God.
50 Verse 18, though here explicitly given, because Jesus was He who was to be actually made known to her by it, is the work of the Spirit in every such case. It brings to light all our ways, and that with consciousness not only of them but of the light into which they are brought, that Jesus is there, by which we are made conscious of them. "Thou hast set my secret sins in the light of thy countenance." Conscience, real conscience, is exercised in the recognition of God, who has thus opened the heart as light in it, for that which maketh everything manifest is light, and Christ the Life is the Light of men, and this He is by His Spirit now. It does so responsibly now towards all, for "their sound went into all the earth" (Rom. 10:18), effectually in the consciousness of those whom it awakens to find itself in the light. Whenever conscience as of God can be acted on, then the gospel has a way, and hypothetically that is man.
The just effect of this is to lead the mind to look for direction, to look for the right worship of that God who in effect is really thus known (for, as we have said, real conscience is responsibility to God), and to seek it of course when the light of that God has broken in: "I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say," etc. But this passage serves here as a great development of the order of God's dealings, as we have seen. It was in her mind a question between Jerusalem and Samaria, upon indeed the ordinary plea of all false worship, "Our fathers worshipped." On the other hand, it was merely a "Ye say we ought." A convinced conscience enquired of Him as a prophet. The Lord answered her as a point He felt near His heart as come, the Son's word from God: "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh" (He doth not as yet say "is come") "when neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, ye shall worship the Father."
The great source of worship is introduced, and then with the dispensations opening a larger principle than both, when the falsehood of one and the pride of the other (just now brought out in their practical rejection of Jesus, for doubtless this had pressed it on our Lord's mind, we must remember He had just left Judaea) would be lost in the fuller purpose of the Father's love. Nevertheless, in point of dispensation our Lord does not conceal the unwelcome truth (how untimely if it had not been of importance!) that salvation was of the Jews. The manifestation of the Spirit then, by which we worship the Father, though it may cause in the just hour not to worship at Jerusalem or elsewhere, does not, when specially manifesting its liberality to the most profane and hateful to the Jews, and shameful amongst men, for its own, the divine, glory, in any wise weaken or disannul the framework (it were impossible, and they are very foolish that think so) of God's dispensations.
51 But further, "The hour is coming, and now is" (for the Son is manifested), "when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth." They shall neither worship in falsehood they know not what, nor in pride and formality, if their formal object was right. There is something very blessed in this, very refreshing to the Lord's mind, just having found that those on whom His heart was set, His own people of old, rejected and refused Him and the Father. But there shall be true worshippers. Such the Father seeks. He needeth not. His nature is too high for these proud rejecters. Yet is there no pride in seeking in truth, answerable in mind and understanding to Him, His will, and what He is as revealed, and in spirit according to what He is. The Father then seeketh, but it is such He seeketh.
I can conceive nothing more blessed than this verse as coming from the Son of His love, sent into the world. At the moment, the state of Samaria and Jerusalem, the people of His love, was just brought before Him. It was manifestly the outgoing of His mind (though written for our learning and the very truth of the mind of the Spirit from God; yea, so to speak, specially, and so it must when His mind came forth, for He spake the words of God), both here and from His conversation with His apostles. It was a mind full of pain indeed, and as is ever the case when the mind is full of felt sorrow for the present state of things in those nominally associated with God, having the prospect of larger purposes of God's love (for He knew God) opening out before it. There is sorrow in that word, mixed as it is with blessing: "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." It was perfectness, and perfect obedience in consciousness, which is true happiness; yet it was of that which was written: "Then have I laboured in vain, and spent my strength far nought; yet my work is with the Lord, and my judgment with my God. And He said, It is but a light thing."
52 There is peculiar depth to me in the union of these two words, "Woman, believe me," and "the Father seeketh such to worship him." There was a throwing Himself upon His Father, and a consciousness of the sympathy of the Father with Him in the spirit of His work which is full, full of what saints alone know, and angels desire to look into. But the universality of the Father's character required always such worship. The Father seeketh such worshippers. But God is a Spirit, and they that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth; they must so from His nature; they do not worship Him insofar as they do not.
This woman had not the Spirit, and therefore could but look to others to teach her about everything. She felt these were things reaching out into a far fuller and richer system than she could be conscious of; they were out of her reach. She had been brought to this, to feel that all her wisdom was ignorance; but there was One who would tell her all things; for she had this only resource, she had heard and knew that Messias cometh, and threw her ignorance over upon Him. It was a happy moment for her soul. "I that speak unto thee am he," said Jesus. This was sufficient.
The disciples came up, marvelled; for neither could they understand the glory His Sonship set Him in. He could have sympathy with none but the Father here; the thing was out of their reach. He was talking with a Samaritan woman; what was the meaning of this? They had not the Spirit, and could see nothing of the largeness of the harvest which the Spirit (which dwelt in Him without measure) would bring in as the minister of the Father's love.
As we have seen the free gift of the Spirit, the total incapacity of man to apprehend anything about it, the method which God uses then to bring the soul into the knowledge of Jesus, through whom the Spirit is received, by bringing intelligence into the conscience, so we find here the effect at once in taking the mind off the things which filled it up, and hid it from the capacity of receiving anything, and that by the value of Jesus, knowing who it was that spake to it. The woman's whole engagement had been her water-pot; beyond that it went not; a more sensible and real thing than that which fills the mind of most. But it was now forgotten, or despised. She left her water-pot, and went into the city, filled with the thoughts of Jesus, to speak to the men (for where the heart is full there is most forgetfulness of circumstances) of One who had told her all things that ever she did. Observe, too, the importance of Jesus in her mind had taken away the pain of the discovery of her state. This, she thought, must be the Christ.
53 The freedom of the Spirit finds its way most readily, and only (for it goes into a sinful world), in a heart where the conscience is most readily brought into humiliation and conviction (and so brought to Jesus, through whom the Spirit alone is received, and who must be known in order to its being received, and is thus known by opening the heart to itself, and presenting Himself as the convincing object of a heart which finds its resource therefore in Him, and thereon the testimony of who He is). A priori, therefore, in the free gift of this Spirit of life the poor sinner is the most in the way of the kingdom, for the natural man receiveth nothing of it at all, and such a one has little to oppose to the light in the conscience when God pleases to shine in. Accordingly this poor degraded woman (for most degraded she was) was chosen of God (amongst the most-rejected of men by those who had the Law and the promises) as the object in and through whom the revelation of the way and power of the Spirit of life should be made known to the world.
We have traced it here most imperfectly, even as to that which is noticed; but nothing can be more perfect than the way in which it is developed in the place. But this chapter should be read with the previous one, with which, in the development of the dispensations, it is intimately connected.
The men came out to see Him. The grace of God does as it pleases; but in itself learning and the like is a hindrance to the knowledge of God and the knowledge of Scripture and the mind of God in it, because it leads the mind to another access of approach to these things, not the conscience, which is God's way, the way of the Spirit. Learning may meet learning, and if one man give false, another meet it by the true; but it cannot meet Scripture, for it meets conscience, and there is no learning in the conscience but that we are sinners. The mind is the subject of the Scriptures, not the Scriptures the subject of the mind, in God's way. Only leave the Scripture to itself, and it meets all learning, and needs none. God may give power to apprehend it to one more than another, but I say it knows, meets everything; the proud heart of man can devise, and wants none of it, and nothing else, but in Spirit judges and divides all things, to the intents of the heart. I apply this to everything, everywhere, and throughout. There is nothing, I believe, which has so much impeded the study of prophecy as history.
54 I shall not dwell upon what passed with the disciples, save only to remark their incapacity to enter into spiritual thoughts, the way in which, coincidently with the whole subject, the Lord goes out into the whole prospect of the harvest which His Spirit should gather in, manifested in the state of this Samaritan woman (as partially in Nicodemus). I do not mean merely individually in them, but brought out before us through them. The thoughts of His mind are deeply interesting here.
Next we may remark the character of the fruit. There was the consciousness of Jewish rejection, the emptiness of Jacob's well; but it was that which was to flow from the power of the Spirit, bringing in a new vitality, eis zoeen aionion, fruit unto eternal life. It was into this they were to be gathered, that the sower and the reaper might rejoice together, for God had broken the apparent result of the seed, it was not to be eaten as such, that the reaper also should be partaker of a common joy, for herein was the saying true, "One soweth, and another reapeth." The apostles in that character were but reaping the fruit which the prophets and righteous men, and above all the Lord, had been sowing, whose hope and whose labours seemed to perish in the earth. In such a time [it is] better is it it should be so. If we work according to what is present we may reap our own harvest, but it shall be a poor one; but if we sow according to the glory of that which is to come, if we sow by faith, others shall reap it, but we shall rejoice together. It could not have its place of manifestation now. The Lord Himself had but this comfort. He was sowing, yea, He was Himself to be the dying seed of all the future glory.
"I sent" I take to be characteristic: As apostles, this is your office; be ye not proud, or wise in your own conceits. I have sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour. Others (for our Lord took not the honour to Himself alone), other men have laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. But our Lord's joy was in the harvest, that which should be brought in; theirs in it softened by the recollection of who had sown the seed. He who is lowest, and works for unseen fruits, is surely highest, and more simply doing in faith the will of Him that sent Him; for success is present support even for the weak. Nevertheless, "he that reapeth receiveth wages." He speaks not of reward to the sower. His meat was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work.
55 Nothing can be more distinct than the going forth of the Saviour's mind into that which, by the operation of the Spirit, it broke, upon the rejection of His Person and ministry in its real character by the Jews; while yet He, simply following the will of God in His present ministry, being perfect in all things. We may remark further that His place, and the place of His disciples, is here revealed in this opening system in perfect detail and principle and order. Our Lord, though so now, and above all in specialty of character, He who sowed, yet does not here (for He was rather putting them in their character in the opening dispensation of the Spirit) set Himself forward as such (that would have been rather giving value to His grief or trial that He knew only, that is, the Lord) but in His place in the dispensation: "I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour."
From verses 34 to 37 there is the full revelation of His and their place as now passing out of Judaism into the harvest of the Spirit, not His to gather, but having the Spirit just to do His Father's will in the limited (so apparently) sphere were He was. Next He saw forth into it (all His comfort). Next the reaping, and what it was even unto life eternal (for we have here the ministry of the Spirit as well as the power before). As Christ was the giver of that, so the sender in this. Next, therefore, this ministry of the harvest being introduced, we have His place, as observe: "I sent you to reap," and theirs in the consciousness that they were but reaping the labours of others' sowing, for "one soweth, and another reapeth."
This power of the testimony of Jesus in the conscience is the great inlet of the knowledge of Jesus, the way in which because man is a sinner, and He would humble man's pride) God will visit and make Himself known to man. But is this all that commends Jesus to man? No, far from it. Many believed because of this testimony, even at second hand. It was this made His entrance, it was on the ground of this they besought Him to remain with them. But everything confirmed (there was no flaw, nothing wanting) the great truth that this was the Saviour, the Christ. All was perfectly conformable; yea, more, adding a stronger ground of faith, now that the entrance and inlet into the heart was given, than the other of the glory of Him now recognised present with us, in "Now we believe, not because of thy word; for we have heard him ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." The other was the inlet; but, once admitted, all is consonant to the full glory of Him whom the heart is now taught to receive.
56 For observe the perfectness of the confession of these Samaritans. What a contrast to "We know that thou art a teacher sent from God"! "We know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world, the Christ." Whence this large knowledge? From the depth of a humbled heart. The sinner recognises the full character of Jesus, that which is personal to Him, although His humiliation develops to him the full glory of Jesus, because he is in the position, and taught of God, to recognise it, to which, and upon which, the wisdom of God, the full glory of Christ, has been adapted and formed. He is a Saviour.
A sinner is neither a Jew nor a Gentile, but a sinner, and therefore can understand Christ as the Saviour of the world. And He is Christ; but the convinced sinner, having received Him therefore in His full character as Saviour, finds Him present, and knows Him also fulfilling all the testimony of God, and the expectation of the heart of man led thereby. The sinner, the conscience, is the great unraveller (being of grace and gift, and that for sinners) of all the mysteries and purposes of God. Compare the apprehensions of Nicodemus with those developed here, the very glory which was the satisfaction of Christ's heart in the rejection of the former, and you will see the contrast and the difference.
The Spirit of God, we may remark, for we are following His work in this chapter, reveals Christ in His full character: the Saviour of the world, the Christ; His full power and glory, and the special character in which He is manifested as the Anointed One; character and also specialty of His personal estate and relationship, for the Christ included both. The understanding of the mystery, says the apostle, of God, even of the Father and of Christ, into which we cannot enter now particularly; but it is manifest that this openeth out all things, and the more it be enquired into the more it will be seen, as regards man, these two things embrace everything: "the Saviour of the world," "the Christ"; and here into all this fulness, and He only, doth the Spirit lead us, and the inlet thereof is His first work as from without, convincing us of sin by Jesus the Saviour, Jesus the humbled One, manifested in the power of God thus known.
57 The union of the work of the Spirit in the individual conscience, and the full development of the glory of His dispensation in Jesus, so fully brought out in this chapter, is of the greatest importance; and this, as well as the two great points severally, has need to be entered into, that we may be able to understand either really; for it is by His work in one that the other is developed, as seen here, as it is by His indwelling in Jesus that the dispensation itself is set on foot and accomplished by Him as the giver and sender of it.
Let us briefly recapitulate the heads of either presented to us in this chapter. I remember nothing (nor am I surprised at it when I remember what it is, the transition of Jesus' mind, as it were, into this dispensation through His humiliation) that has so enlarged itself upon, and affected my mind, as this chapter, judging by my present thoughts; the touches of deep feeling in our Lord's address; the development of the doctrine and of the relationship in which all stood; besides the truths taught, alike act upon one's mind. But it was my purpose to recapitulate.
But, remarkable as was the character of the testimony then, our Lord did not continue in Samaria. Gracious as His reception was (for they were not the objects of His Father's will; that is, in service of ministry), after the two days He departed thence. That was not the object of His ministry, but neither could Jerusalem be the proper scene of it, nor Judaea A prophet had no honour in His own country; and that was His country indeed and in truth. But His work was not lost there. There were those there amongst whom, by the testimony there, offered a scene of ministerial sojourn; meeting in some compensating weakness the desires of His heart. They were Jews, the just objects of His desire and ministry. They went to the feast; they were poor and despised; a good thing could scarce come out of Galilee.
How remarkably we see that it is amongst those who have the greatest apparent advantages, that which is established in religious economy, that the power of unbelief is found! Samaria takes the lead, and Galilee is the resource of our Lord. Blessed be His humbled name! It is here in principle, for this passage is the investigation of the sphere of ministry, its character and results. It is not in Samaria. They were not Jews, nor of the truth, nor salvation of them, and therefore liable specifically to intelligible judgment. Not amongst the Jews, for there prophetically He was rejected, but here where there were Jews, that is, those recognising the rectitude of the divine administration; they went to the feast, but not in the pride of rejection, which the supposed possession of religious privileges invariably involved, when the Spirit was not in it in power (there of worship); yet here also weakness of reception in His prophetic and personal character, though not rejection or envy, the true position towards or against rejected power. But our Lord's mind was set upon His reception by virtue of His word carrying the demonstration with it in itself of whence it came, and His Person ("they received him" because, etc.); as elsewhere, Believe Me, or else believe Me for the very works' sake. This was moral reception. Hence He complains, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." Yet the Lord gave them this, but it was a fault with them.
58 The Samaritans, observe further, received Him much more brightly: We have heard Him ourselves, and are sure that this is the Saviour of the world, the Christ. Hence the largeness of their apprehension for His word, being mixed with faith, told the fulness of His moral character. Hence also we see the supposed title to judge, and the assumption of conformity of God's dealing, with the assumed title to be the scene of their missions is one grand bar to the power, which always works according to God's character, and not man's, or his expectations short of the Spirit. For indeed their state made them subjects of judgment, and turned things upside down as special objects of judgment. Thus, though not obstinately opposed, not having the same ground for jealousy, the same spirit of unbelief manifested itself in measure here. Yet they had the benefit of all the miracles done at Jerusalem, morally there seeming to be lost, for they "received him." The jealousy of the Jews where those miracles were done did in fact exclude Him.
This is the general doctrine and dispensation presented here by the Lord's reply to the ruler, and the facts and time connected with it. There were but two miracles wrought here; hitherto only one, and that unsought by the Lord. Yet here was faith shown. The ruler believed, and all his house. We learn also how little we know when the Lord works by His ministry in any place. Let us do His will in the place of His will, and His own results will be wrought by it; though, as Jesus was, we may be pained and humbled by it. Had He done all these miracles in Galilee His reception as Prophet had been marred, the just expectations of the Jewish people unmet, and God in this seen unrighteous, the evidence of Him unsatisfactory, and their real character and state on the other hand undrawn out, as it really was by patience in that ministry, knowing their mind (as it appeared when disciples joined Him), though apparently disposed to believe on Him. But in the apparent frustration, as Jesus was tried, and learned obedience, etc., and so shown forth, so all the order of God's perfectness and man's evil was shown for our blessed profit.
59 - 48. I have stated the general principles of the difference, but there are many circumstances in this interesting story exhibitory of the individual development of faith connected with these principles; they believed when they saw the miracles. We have traced the difference of the Galileans, but here individual faith is shown. Our Lord puts it forth thus: "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." The mind full indeed of its present necessity, and not looking out to the prophetic character of Christ, yet leans upon His power to do it, not merely satisfied on seeing it.
Jesus puts him on the power of His word, acting on his necessity, drawing out to crave and be willing to believe the power, yet taxing it no further than to bring it to that, he rather yielding to his sorrow, yet at the point when it was stretched to exercise faith, saying, "Go, thy son liveth. And the man believed the word which Jesus said to him." Here then there was definite faith, the poor "courtier," who thought perhaps he at any rate should get Jesus, was thrown upon the necessity of his case as a man to believe His word; and he believed, and went. He was put in his right position, the humble position of faith, and received a blessing on his faith (compare the Centurion in Luke 7) and before the time he could have received the blessing, had he had his own way, his heart was refreshed with the comfort he sought, his servants coming out to bring the news, and enquiring the time (for it is upon the word, and belief in the word, the stress is laid), he found it was the time of the word believed that the fever left him, the blessing of faith
60 Jesus' going down might not have been for life. His hope was "ere my child die"; "for he was about to die." But the decision of Jesus, which meets faith and requires it, is always better than our unbelief. It was mercy to put him on it, and what blessing is then in it! It is belief in Jesus' word that marks our first character of faith. The power of this establishes us in the ascertained blessing of having so in the dark trusted in it.
- 54, which is material for the purpose (we have already noticed it), I should translate a little differently. It is manifest he refers to the miracle of Cana: "This beginning of signs did Jesus in Cana," etc.; and here: "This second sign again did Jesus, being come," etc. When He came, there were available signs done in Galilee, and believed on there. Here, I take it, closes the view of our Lord's general ministry, the principles of it being brought out. The rest comes to be a full exhibition of principles, and the reception of Him in Person, and so delineation, or exposition, declaration, of what He was, the presenting Him to the Jews by something leading to the evidence of what He was, and therein drawing out their enmity; and, while He glorified not Himself thereby, developing the position which this held in the world. This marked His Person, Sonship, manifestation of God in the flesh, His showing forth the Father in His glory as only begotten Son, His unity with Him, the consequences of His manifestation in the flesh, and the manner of its operation in it broken, and the life given in the spilt blood, the food of life, its death the seed of life, His lifting up the calling power, with all that was deep and divine in Person, and glorious in results as Man. In a word, it is an exhibition of the Son whom no man knoweth; and this as upon the Jews, and connected with all their typical exhibitions, in which they are brought close, and more definitely investigable, and in their application, too; for in this the feasts, etc., take the Lord up, that is, in His association with the fruits in man and the Jews.
Note, the first miracle in Cana of Galilee was (as noted heretofore) the expression of the change from Jewish purification to the joy of the millennial [rest], when Jehovah shall espouse Israel in truth; as the subsequent acting at Jerusalem was the judicial cleansing part of the same period. But from that act all is changed as a present thing. He receives not man's acceptance of Him by mere human faith. A man must be born again. Instead of Christ received, the Son of Man must be crucified, and heavenly things are believed thus, and every one and whosoever believeth the sphere of action, and John Baptist reveals Him fully as to His Person and testimony as well as relationship with Jerusalem as bride; chap. 3:29-36.
61 Hence (chap. 4) He goes Himself to Samaria, and God's gift, man's conscience, spiritual worship, the Father seeking such around Him as worshippers, and the Saviour of the world, are brought out. Then He goes to Galilee; that is, not established Judaism, but the slighted objects of God's mercy in a really fallen Israel.
Thereon the second miracle in Galilee is the life-giving power by faith. He arrests the power of death when approached in need, as able. This was His present service. He comes in this second character into Galilee, His Messiah reception being out of question; an analogous and larger expression of the full, real state of things dispensationally, which thus is not His going down to heal, but the child really dead. Then He heals by virtue going out of Him by the way, where He is touched by active faith, and afterwards restores to life; Israel being really dead, but in God's eyes only asleep; that is, laid aside for a season, though morally dead. This second miracle, then, is in special connection, but contrast, with the first.