Tracings from the Gospel of John
or, Records of the Incarnate Word.
C. E. Stuart.

Prologue of the Gospel

1. The Testimony of the Baptist to Christ.
Six Days
First Recorded Visit to Jerusalem and Judea

2. The Lord's Testimony to Himself,
The Christ
The Son of God, Giving Life
The Son of Man, the Bread from Heaven
The Satisfier of Thirsty Souls
The Light, His Word Rejected
The Light, His Work Discredited
The Shepherd of the Sheep

3. The Testimony of the Father to the Son.
The Raising of Lazarus from the Dead.
The Father's Voice

4. Alone with the Disciples.
At Supper
Love to the End
Fruitfulness and Service
The Discourse continued
The Prayer of the Son to the Father

5. Arrest, Trial, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.
In the Hands of the Jews
In the Hands of the Romans
The Resurrection and Three Manifestations
Everlasting life.
The First Man and the Second Man


There is that in the Gospel of John which charms. Young and old turn to it. Learned and unlearned are captivated by it. Its simplicity attracts. Its incidents interest.

How many have received spiritual blessing from its statements as to Divine love, and its simple unfolding of the way of everlasting life! God's love flowing out to the world, as told to Nicodemus (3:16); the hour for everlasting life to be enjoyed, and how each one can be sure of it, set before opposing Jews (5:24-25); the purpose for which the Son became incarnate proclaimed in Galilee (6:38-40); and the description of Christ's sheep given as He walked in Solomon's porch (10:27-29): who can reckon up the number who have heard those words, have it may be also read them, have believed them, and have rested on them in assurance of salvation?

Then, too, what portion is there of the Divine revelation to which the heart more instinctively turns, as the physical life of the Christian seems ebbing away, than to this Gospel, written by the son of Zebedee — speaking to us, as it does, of resurrection to life (5:29, 6:39-40, 54), and introducing us to the One who by His voice will call forth His saints from the tomb (11:25)? Nor are we just to rest there. For the Son of God Himself has told us, as reported in its pages, of the home above, the Father's house, and of His sure return to take His people into it, to dwell therein and with Him for ever (14:1-3). Portions of the Word these are of undying interest to Christians, and calculated to bear them up, even if called to breast the waters of death. So from the first dawn of spiritual life in the soul to the last hours of the Christian's sojourn on earth there is ministry, which can suit him, to be found in its pages.

Next of incidents we read not met with elsewhere the Lord's ready welcome to John and to Andrew, His reception of Peter and Nathanael, and the two miracles connected with Cana of Galilee, providing wine at the feast and restoring the nobleman's son to health — these speak of His heart, and of His readiness to meet confessed need. Further, we learn of His perfect acquaintance with the condition of men. He knew that the impotent one had been for a long time at the pool of Bethesda (5:6). He stated, too, why the beggar had been born blind (9:3). When the time came to heal the one, and to open the eyes of the other, He met them, He spoke to them, He healed them, in His own name, and by the exercise of His Divine power.

Other Gospels tell us of His casting out demons. This one, omitting all mention of their activity, presents Him as occupied in seeking the spiritual welfare of His creatures. He instructed the teacher of Israel in the first elements of Divine education (3). He sat by the well of Sychar, and engaged in conversation with the woman, that He might implant in her heart a well of water springing up to everlasting life. And though a wearied man when He sat down there, with neither food nor water as yet supplied to Him, He had meat to eat, and was refreshed, as He ministered of God's grace to that hitherto unsatisfied soul (4). And whether it was a season of human joy, or one of deep sorrow, we find Him portrayed as equally at home. The wine of His providing at the marriage feast did not run out, whilst with the tears of the sorrowing sisters He mingled His own. Wine, the emblem of joy, He furnished as the Creator. He wept as man with those who wept. How near had God come to man in the person of His Son! How deep, how real, was the Son's interest in His saints! A love we cannot fathom, a sympathy the extent of which we cannot measure — all this He displayed as He walked about amongst men.

Then, too, we see Him in this Gospel in the midst of persistent and intense opposition from the Jews at Jerusalem (5, 7, 8) — an opposition which none of the other Evangelists recount as met with in Galilee — but calm, dignified, and composed throughout it, and even when told He was a Samaritan and had a demon (8:48, 52), or when it was openly said in His presence, "He has a demon, and is mad; why hear ye Him?" (10:20). Why bear with all that at the hands of His creatures, whom He could at any moment have crushed and consigned to everlasting perdition? He had come from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him (6:38). Perishing souls He would seek. Thirsty ones He would satisfy (7:37).

His public ministry over, rejected by the chief priests and Pharisees, those leaders of the people, we read of Him on the night before His crucifixion, when in the company alone of His Apostles (13 - 17). And though knowing that He was come from God, and was going to God, He stooped so low as to wash their feet, indicative of a service He would do, and does do, for His people, now whilst He is on high. His care for them thus displayed, He showed His interest in the Eleven, lest their faith should be shaken by the defection of Judas, or by the crucifixion of their Master. He would indeed leave the world, and go to His Father. But He would pass out of it by death, and that in obedience and in love to His Father (14:31). Then, not content with washing their feet to keep them clean for heaven 8), He would prepare a place for them in the Father's house, and would come to receive them to Himself (14:1-3). Thinking too of them, and caring for them, when He should be on high, He would ask the Father to send the other Advocate, the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Godhead, to abide with them for ever. And prayer, if offered up in His name, was assured of an answer, for He Himself would do what was asked. So death would make no change in His feelings toward, and His interest in, those who believed on Him. Further, in the hearing of the Eleven, He poured forth that wonderful prayer to His Father, which spoke plainly of His own Divinity, and told out the desires of His heart for His servants the Apostles, and for all who should believe on Him through their word (17). In what different circumstances is He seen!

Then, when arrested by the ruling powers, and arraigned before Pilate, He witnessed a good confession (1 Tim. 6:13), and answered the Roman governor in a dignified and calm manner, that filled the latter with astonishment. Taken from the judgment seat to Calvary, and there crucified between two thieves, He displayed a solicitude for the fulfilment of every word of God relating to His death; and manifested also in the midst of His agonising sufferings His tender love for His mother, by securing for that widowed and now sorrow-stricken woman a home with John to the day of her death.

He died, giving up His spirit, which no man could take from Him. He rose too, and was found in the company of His disciples. Where they were He knew, though He had sent no message to gather them on that occasion to meet Him. With closed doors they were meeting; but He entered within, and rejoiced their hearts as they saw Him alive from the dead. A second time He met them under similar circumstances, and a third time He appeared to seven of them on the shore of the lake of Galilee. The world after His death saw Him no more. But nothing should keep Him away from the company of disciples, if minded to be with them. True, that would now depend wholly on Him. But these appearances evinced His interest in them — an interest which never should cease till He should come to receive them to Himself. What a Master indeed to follow, and on whose ministry to and for His own each one can assuredly count!

We have indicated some of the salient features of this Gospel — sufficient, we trust, to increase the desire in the reader to learn, by study of this portion of revelation, more of Him of whom our Apostle has written. A picture it presents unique in the history of the world. Lowliness, meekness, patience, power, and obedience — each and all fully and perfectly exemplified.

And now a word about John. Thankful should we be, that he was led, under the guidance of the Spirit, to compose this history, abounding in incidents unnoticed by others. What a loss to the whole Church would it have been, if he, whose memory was evidently stored with so much that could have been related (20:30), had contented himself with oral communication to those about him — leaving all who should live in after-ages to be indebted to the memory of a Polycarp, or to the pen of a Papias, for any outline of the Apostle's recitals! Poor indeed would have been the result.

But God would have people in all succeeding ages to become acquainted with the Son of His love. So John was inspired to write his Gospel, giving pictures, as it were, drawn from life, both to attract unsatisfied hearts and unsaved ones to the Lord Jesus, who is ready to receive them; and to enable disciples to become better acquainted with the One who, unwearied in service on earth, ministers still to His people, and who is coming to receive them to Himself, to be for ever with Him in the sunshine and rest of His home.


Four Evangelists we own, who have written inspired histories of the Lord Jesus Christ, as He walked about amongst men. Their names, of course, are household words. But what can we say of their personal history?

Of Luke we know his name, his secular calling, and his companionship with Paul; and this last chiefly as related by himself in the Acts of the Apostles. But of his parentage we know nothing. And neither the name of the place of his birth, nor the date of his death, has come down to us, on authority on which we can rely. That he was a Gentile seems probable (Col. 4:11). More about him we cannot say, though the Church of Christ is largely indebted to his labours with the pen.

Of Matthew we know, too, but little. His secular calling was that of a publican, or tax-gatherer — a collector of Roman revenue, an occupation especially odious in the eyes of the Pharisees, and of others, who chafed at enforced subjection to the Roman yoke. Of his father's name Mark has informed us (Mark 2:14), and has noted that he also bore the name of Levi. This last fact Luke also mentions in his account of his call, but writes of him as Matthew in common with Mark, when enumerating the Twelve. For he was one of the Twelve. Yet who was his mother, or anything else about him, we may ask in vain, as far as Scripture is concerned.

Of the writer of the Second Gospel our information contrasts somewhat with that concerning Matthew. We know nothing of any secular calling that he had ever followed; and indeed his freedom to join Paul and Barnabas would seem to intimate that he was not locally engaged in any pursuit by which he might gain a livelihood. Then we cannot name his father, nor state the exact time or the occasion on which he first joined the company of the Lord's disciples. Very likely, as his Gospel would suggest, he was numbered with that company before the Crucifixion. He first appears by name in the history of the Acts, in which book we learn that Mary, who lived in Jerusalem, and opened her house for prayer on the night of Peter's deliverance from prison, was the Evangelist's mother. And, further, we learn that he was a blood relation of Barnabas, being his cousin, not his nephew (Col. 4:10). Then, as no mention is made of his father, we conclude, from Mary's freedom to open her house for prayer, that she had become a widow previous to the martyrdom of James and the subsequent imprisonment of Peter.

With John, the writer of the Fourth Gospel, we are better acquainted. We know about his parentage, and what secular pursuit he had followed. Matthew's father and Mark's mother we can name; but both of John's parents are introduced to us in the Gospels; and we see them, not just as names, with no other association, but as living people, going about in daily life. Zebedee's name is preserved by all the Evangelists; and Salome, John's mother, comes before us in three of the Gospels, though her name only appears in that by Mark.

Of John's parents we would mention what is known.

Zebedee. — Of Zebedee we learn, it is true, but little. Yet that little is to his credit. He followed the industrial occupation of a fisherman on the lake of Galilee, and lived very likely at Capernaum, in which city Peter, originally a native of Bethsaida (John 1:44), had come to reside (Mark 1:21, 29). A man of some means, seeing that he had hired servants working under him (Mark 1:20), he nevertheless took part personally in the labour of fishing. And when the Lord, as He walked on the shore of the lake, uttered the irresistible words, which made his two sons throw up their secular calling, Zebedee was in the boat with them, all busily engaged in mending their nets. Few and simple, surely, were the words of Christ, and without any promise of temporal reward connected with them. Yet they were inducement enough. For straightway James and John left their father, the hired servants, the boat, and their nets, and followed the Lord. Apparently Zebedee was quite satisfied at their immediate compliance with the call of Christ. We read of no word of complaint or of expostulation. He continued his occupation, not called to forsake it as they were, whilst his two sons commenced that career, which will lead them to sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus far have we any record about Zebedee. A quiet and an industrious man we must believe him to have been, but who not unlikely had departed this life before Salome stood by her sorrowing sister at the foot of the cross.

Salome. — Of her we must now speak. Comparing Mark 15:40 with John 19:25, we conclude that she was the virgin's sister. Her two sons, therefore, were first cousins to the Lord. As the wife of Zebedee, she had temporal resources at her command, beyond doubtless those possessed by her sister the virgin Mary. For we find her forming one of that female band, which ministered to the Lord when He was in Galilee (Mark 15:41). The first occasion, however, on which she is personally mentioned, and then as the mother of Zebedee's children, was, when she approached Christ with her two sons in the presence of the other Apostles, and asked for James and John places of special honour by His side in His kingdom. From Matthew's Gospel (20:20-21), it appears that she was the speaker on that occasion, though the Lord addressed His answer directly to her sons. Graciously asking her what she desired, as she approached and made obeisance to Him, full liberty she obtained to prefer her request. Remembering her relationship to the Lord's mother, and that she was, as such, the Lord's aunt, her request, viewed in the light of nature, was not so extraordinary as it might otherwise have seemed; and it explains to us, how she could have been the speaker on that occasion. Lacking in spiritual perception she surely was to have asked it; but a mother's desire for her children prompted it, and her relation to the Lord after the order of nature might have encouraged her to prefer it.

A heart for Christ, however, she certainly had. Ministering to Him in Galilee, she followed Him to Jerusalem, and was one of the little company which stood close by the cross, and must have witnessed all that went on. And amid the utterances from His lips when on the cross, she must have heard those words addressed to her sister and to her son (John 19:26-27), commending the sorrowing mother to the care of John. Then, too, doubtless she led away from that spot the Virgin, her sister, when all was over, but before the hasty burial took place; for she was not with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, when they watched the loving service of Joseph and of Nicodemus; though after the Sabbath was past she was busy, with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses, in buying sweet spices, wherewith to anoint the Lord's body on the morrow. That morrow, anxiously, no doubt, awaited by them, dawned, and very early on the first day of the week, at sunrise, Salome was off to the sepulchre with her companions (Mark 16:1-2), carrying with them the spices which they had prepared.

That service was not needed. The stone had been rolled away. The tomb was empty of its occupant. The Lord was risen. Service, the last sad service to the dead, Salome and her companions had contemplated. Service of a very different character was to be entrusted to them, and that too by the risen Lord Himself! A dead Christ they had expected to find. A living, risen Christ they were to meet, and their constancy, shown by their errand to the tomb, was to have its reward in their bearing to the weeping disciples the joyful news of their Lord's resurrection (Matt. 28:10). And we may be sure that Salome did not forget to acquaint her sister with that which they had found, what they had heard from the angels, and whom they had seen in the way. Those godly women, many of whom are unknown to fame, reaped, when in their path of obedience, a rich blessing indeed. The Lord knew where to find them, though they could not have found Him. That spot outside the city, where He met them, must have been well remembered by that faithful band. Which of them, indeed, to the day of their death could ever have forgotten it? To us moderns it is unknown. It was not the mind of the Spirit to foster a reverence for holy places, as connected with Christianity. Neither the manger at Bethlehem, nor the house at Capernaum, nor the upper room at Jerusalem, nor even the actual place of the Crucifixion outside the city, can as yet be identified with certainty.

Henceforth Salome, with the other women in the Gospels, disappears from the pages of Holy Writ, though we gather from Acts 1 that they all continued with one accord with the Apostles and other brethren in the upper room, waiting for the outpouring of the Spirit, at which they must have been present, and in which they also shared. Personal ministry to Christ had been the service assigned to them. Hence with His departure they ceased to figure in the inspired history. Were they from that time forgotten? No. True service for Christ is never forgotten; and these women are illustrations of it. For it was years after the Lord's death, that the Spirit of God, by the pens of the Evangelists, embalmed their names in the Scriptures, as sharing in imperishable remembrance.

John's parents, then, are by no means unknown to us. We can fancy Zebedee in his boat, engaged in his secular calling. We can picture, too, Salome hastening in the early morning to the tomb, and therefrom hurrying away with her companions to give to the weeping disciples (Mark 16:10) the message from their risen Lord. Zebedee's willingness to forego the accustomed help of his two sons at the call of Christ, and Salome's readiness to minister to Him who had not where to lay His head, speak to us of those who gave to Christ, the one what was asked, the other what she could.

James the Apostle. — To speak now of their sons. There were just two, as far as we know, the offspring of that marriage — James called the Great, and John the Evangelist. The former was probably the elder brother, and is generally mentioned first, though Luke at times (8:51, 9:28; Acts 1:13) reverses that order. Nothing is recorded of James in which John did not share, till we read of his martyrdom, killed by Herod Agrippa I., when he drank of the cup which the Lord had foretold (Mark 10:39), and became the first martyr of the Twelve. The Lord was crucified; Stephen was stoned; James was beheaded.

John the Apostle. — Of the early life of the two brothers we are quite in the dark. Not a hint have we of the time when a stir first took place in their souls, save that John was evidently attracted by the preaching of the Baptist, and was numbered among his disciples. He introduces himself first to our notice as that nameless disciple of the son of Zacharias, and the companion of Andrew, Simon Peter's brother (John 1:35-40). Standing in company with his master, he saw One walking, to whom his attention was attracted by that utterance, "Behold the Lamb of God!" New and strange were such words. Nothing more apparently was said. The Baptist spoke of a Person, not to Him. The two disciples at once followed the Person so designated, never to return to the company of the son of Zacharias. The first meeting between John and the Lord then took place. It perfectly satisfied John, as it did his fellow-disciple Andrew. From that time they attached themselves more or less to Him. We say more or less, because as yet the call to leave their secular business had not been heard.

Associated with Christ, attracted, but not yet called to follow Him, they went down with Him and with others into Galilee, and returned with Him at the following Passover to Jerusalem (John 2:13). So far we are indebted to John for this record of himself. Now we must turn to the other Gospels to gather information about him between that first Passover and the last.

The day came, when, engaged in his secular pursuit, and with his brother James, mending their nets after a night of fruitless toil, the Lord addressed to him, and to James, having first spoken to Peter and Andrew, words similar, or the same, which none of them could resist. From being fishermen in the ordinary acceptation of the term, He could make them fishers of men (Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). Their path in life now began to open up before them. Galilean fishermen, possessed of no learning such as the scribes and other educated ones of the nation would recognise (Acts 4:13), they were called to a work on which none of the Sanhedrin, or great doctors of the law, had ever entered: "fishers of men" — a term very comprehensive, for it could include work amongst Gentiles as well as amongst Jews. John had held intercourse with the Lord before his brother James had met Him; for though related after the flesh, they seem, John at least (John 1:38), not to have been earlier acquainted with Him. James, however, was just as ready to follow Him, and that definitely, abandoning at once his secular occupation for a new and untried life. Another day arrived, when, not by the shore of the lake, but on the Mount of Beatitudes, the Lord selected John, James, and others to form the company of the Twelve, whom He named Apostles (Luke 6:13).

Of three distinct and interesting moments in John's life have we spoken: viz. that of his first meeting with Christ, and the evening that he then spent in His company; next of his call to leave his father to follow the Lord; and last of his selection to be one of the Apostles. As a saint, as a disciple, and as an Apostle he thus comes before us. And as an Apostle he, with James his brother and Peter, formed that inner circle of the Twelve, privileged to witness the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the Lord's transfiguration on the mount, and His agony in the garden. Surnamed by the Lord, in company with his brother James, Boanerges — i.e. sons of thunder (Mark 3:17) — burning zeal for his Master characterised him. Of this we have two examples, both related by the Evangelist Luke, whilst the former of them is also noticed by Mark (9:38-40). Seeing one casting out demons in Christ's name, he told the Lord, "We forbad him, because he follows not with us" (Luke 9:49). The Lord's answer was at once a rebuke for John, and instruction for Christians in all time. "Forbid him not: for he that is not against you is for you." So far wrote Luke, in quoting whom we have followed the better-attested reading. But Mark has preserved still more of Christ's words on that occasion. "Forbid him not," he writes: "for there is no man, which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me" (Mark 9:39).

How often has this been ignored, and disastrous consequences have followed! Man is naturally sectarian in his feelings. Now that is contrary to the spirit of true Christianity. Room should be left for such an one as we here read of to work, and no hindrance be placed in his way. The man was evidently owned of God, as he was casting out demons in Christ's name. Would the demons have obeyed, if it had been otherwise? The incidents of Acts 19:13-16 supply us with an answer. Satan does not cast out Satan. Leave the man then alone, the Lord said. So, if God puts His seal on a man's work for Christ, let none hinder him. Let him work, though he may be carrying on his service in ways in which we cannot conscientiously have part. To work with him might for us involve the compromise of some truth, which we see in the Word. Let him, however, work in his Master's name. He is His servant, not ours.

In connection with this incident John alone is mentioned by name, though from his language others evidently were in agreement with him: "We forbad him." The other incident, found in the same chapter of Luke, and alone reported by him (9:51-56), concerned, besides John, only his brother James. The Lord was on His way to Jerusalem for the last Passover, ere He would be received up. He desired to rest in one of the villages of the Samaritans, and for that end had sent messengers in advance to make ready for Him. The inhabitants discourteously refused Him shelter, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem. The enmity of Samaritans to Jews here displayed itself. James and John were indignant at such behaviour towards their Master, and desired to command fire from heaven to destroy them. Zeal for Christ, and ardent love for the Lord, doubtless prompted that. And in this matter, if we may draw any conclusion from his name being first mentioned, James was the leader. The Lord rebuked the fiery zeal of the two brothers. He let the Samaritans alone, and turned, and went to another village,

Important dispensational teaching here comes out. To inaugurate a reign of grace, and not to perpetuate that of law, the Lord had come. What might have been in character with the dispensation of law was not suited to that of grace. How little has the Christian Church profited in the past by the lessons to be deduced from these two incidents — the one as to the freedom to be allowed to true labourers, the other as to dealing with certain opponents. Sectarianism and Legality, both so natural to us all, get in these instances corrected.

Noticing, as we have done, the rebukes administered, we must not forget to remark on that devotedness to the Lord which characterised John. It may have been something of that feeling, which prompted his brother and himself, to announce their readiness to drink of the cup of which the Lord would drink, or* to be baptized with the baptism with which He would be baptized (Mark 10:38) — prepared, as they thought, to go through anything for or with Him. It certainly was devotedness which drew John to stand by the cross.

{*We say "or," because that is the better reading.}

Then, too, we would, in order to trace out as full a delineation of his character as we can, call attention here to his desire to learn from the Lord — a desire which constant intercourse with Him in no way lessened. The Master's teaching never palled on the disciple. John was no idle listener, content to hear without understanding what was said. In common, therefore, with the rest of the Apostles and other disciples, we must conclude that he asked for an explanation of parables to which they had been listening on the shore of the lake, whilst the Lord was addressing the vast crowd from the boat (Matt. 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). On another occasion we find him, with Peter, James, and Andrew, asking the Lord privately on the Mount of Olives as to Jerusalem's future, and of its approaching destruction, about which they had just heard (Mark 13:3). The desire for information was on each occasion fully met. And interesting indeed to John must have been the remembrance of that discourse on the Mount of Olives, when in Patmos there was opened up to him the events which will lead to the setting up of the abomination of desolation in the holy place (Matt. 24:15) on Mount Moriah.

Of his active service during the Lord's life not much is recorded. Like the rest of the Apostles, he went out to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. We know that they went out two and two (Mark 6:7), and John went forth paired with his brother James (Matt. 10:2). A service this of short duration only. They preached, and they healed, ministering to the need of souls, and to that of bodies as well. Returning to the Lord, they gave an account of all things, what they had done, and what they had taught (Mark 6:30). Continuing in the Lord's company, we read of no other service with which he was entrusted, till the day preceding the Crucifixion, when in company with Peter he was charged to enter Jerusalem, and in the upper room, to which they would be guided as the Lord foretold, to make ready the Paschal Supper (Luke 22:8). With this all notice of John in the Synoptic Gospels comes to an end, saving the mention of his presence in the garden, as one of the three very near the Lord when in His agony. We have therefore to revert to his own Gospel to gather any further particulars.

Now these are not scanty. We read of him at the Paschal Supper (John 13). We learn of his presence that night in the high priest's palace (18). We have mention of him as standing by the cross (19). We know he visited the tomb, and entered into it on the morning of the Resurrection (20). We find him with six others engaged in fishing on that day when the Lord appeared on the shore of the lake of Galilee (21).

Ere noticing any of these events more particularly, we would remind the reader of that special designation given to him, by whom we know not, but evidently acquiesced in by all — viz. "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (21:7). What a designation! Of what marked favour does it speak! Now John alone mentions this, and gives evidence of it in the position he was privileged to occupy at the Last Supper. "There was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved" (13:23) — a nearness of intimacy this, upon which no one of them would have ventured unauthorised by the Lord. And now John availed himself of it. The presence of the betrayer in that little company just announced — a fact and an event which took all but Judas by surprise — the natural question in each heart at once was, Which is he? Openly had the Lord spoken of that person's presence, but without naming him. To John then Peter turned, as being the nearest to Christ., that he should ask, which of them it was. The Lord gave John a token, by which the betrayer would be marked out, yet did not publicly name him. So Judas, as Matthew writes (26:25), was forced, to save appearances before the rest, to say, "Rabbi, is it I?" He whose name meant praise, how awfully did he falsify its interpretation! John, however, learnt definitely who the betrayer would be, as he saw the Lord dip the sop, and give it to Judas Iscariot. "It is one of the Twelve, that dips with Me in the dish," the Lord had said openly to them all (Mark 14:20). Peter instigating John to enquire more particularly, the Lord answered John as privately as he had asked Him.

The disciple whom Jesus loved we may say surely fervently loved the Lord. Evidencing that, he entered, as we have already remarked, the palace of the high priest on the night of His apprehension, able to do it as personally known to Annas (John 18:15). Very probably he was present in the Praetorium, when Pilate questioned Christ. Then he was standing by the cross during the solemn hours of the Crucifixion. He was the only Apostle not ashamed to show his interest in Christ in the pontifical palace, and also in the Praetorium; nor afraid to confirm it publicly at the cross with the women. Relationship might be suggested to account for this. But if so, where was his brother James? He was neither at the palace that night, nor at the cross the next day. But how fully was John rewarded for his faithfulness, seeing that he was entrusted by the Lord with the care of Mary His mother. To her ever after John gave a home. Confidence was reposed in him, who evidently was not destitute of means. He led away, we may suppose in company with Salome, that widowed and sorrowing mother from Golgotha, to find a place in his house, and to be cared for to the end of her mortal life. Old Simeon's prediction came true (Luke 2:35). A sword did pierce through her soul; but the loving care of John must have soothed her, and comforted her.

After that the women were busy in making preparations for the embalmment, which from circumstances could not take place till the first day of the week. How John and the Ten were occupied, except in mourning and weeping (Mark 16:10), we do not learn. The Sabbath came, and passed; and the tomb was just as Joseph and Nicodemus had left it the previous evening. This Mary Magdalene and the other Mary verified by their visit, in the evening at the close of the Sabbath, to that spot of such deep interest to them (Matt. 28:1). Nothing then had taken place to call for the presence of the Apostles. Very early, however, on the following morning — viz. that of the first day of the week — Mary Magdalene was again at the spot, and saw, as she approached it, that the stone had been rolled away. No angel, it would seem, was visible to her. And without stopping to examine the tomb her instinct led her to run to Peter and John. Her story — viz. that "they have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him" — made these two hastily start for the garden. John outstripped Peter, and reached the tomb first, and, looking in, saw the linen clothes lying, yet went he not in. Peter, so characteristic of him, entered the tomb at once, and perceived the orderly arrangement of the clothes, an evidence that by no hasty act had the body been removed. John then entered, and saw, and believed that the Lord was risen. Ocular demonstration convinced him of it, for as yet they knew not the Scriptures, that He must rise from the dead. But where was the Lord? Who could tell them? To search for the body was needless. He was risen. So they went back home (John 20:1-10).

From this time John is again in the background, till we come to the Lord's third appearance after His resurrection, as related only by himself. Fishing at night, but without success, the Lord stood on the shore in the morning, unrecognised at first by any one of the seven disciples, of whom John was one. Acting, however, on Christ's instructions where to cast afresh the net, an unusually large take of fish was the result. John then discovered who it was that stood on the shore, and said to Peter, "It is the Lord." He who had brought the fish to Peter's net (Luke 5) was acting in a similar way again. Landing their fish, to the number of one hundred and fifty-three, and invited by the Lord, they all partook of the repast which He had provided. And Christ, publicly restoring Peter to his place of service after his grievous fall, foretold that martyrdom awaited him in the future. Peter then asked about the future of his friend, as John was; but received as answer, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me" (John 21:22). That was a matter which did not directly concern the questioner, so the Lord did not answer it.

With this our acquaintance with John's personal history concludes, as far as the Gospels are concerned. Found in company with Andrew as a disciple of the Baptist, in the earliest incident of his life that has been preserved (John 1:37-40), we meet with him in company with Peter as a disciple of the Lord Jesus, as we reach the closing pages of the same Gospel. Attachment between these two was great. So in the Acts it is no surprise to read of John being with Peter on the only two occasions that Luke records any act of service undertaken by him. He was with Peter in the court of the Temple, when the lame man was healed by the word of the former. He was put in ward with Peter that same day, and the two spent the night in the custody of the Temple guard. Together on the next day they confronted the rulers of the people, and the elders, and the scribes, before whom they were brought and arraigned. And though Peter was the spokesman on the previous day in the Temple court, and now before the rulers, John as explicitly as Peter refused compliance with the injunction not to preach at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 3; 4). Not unlikely is it that he had kept silence till then; but when distinctly challenged, he is as outspoken as the son of Jonas.

In keeping with this was his second act of service, when visiting Samaria with Peter at the request of the other Apostles, on receiving tidings of Philip's great success. Peter was the spokesman. He addressed Simon Magus in severe but well-deserved language. But on their way back John, as well as Peter, opened his mouth, preaching the Gospel with his companion in many villages of the Samaritans (Acts 8:25). He could speak, and preach also, when called to it, yet he never puts himself forward in such work. Here all record of him by Luke ceases. He only appears in that history in connection with Peter. To the Epistles and to the Revelation we must turn to glean anything further about him.

When he left Jerusalem finally we do not know, nor of any apostolic journey, save that to Samaria, could we with authority speak. He was not at Jerusalem on the occasion of Paul's first visit to the metropolis after his conversion near Damascus (Gal. 1:19). Neither was He in the holy city at Paul's last visit to it, of which we have mention in the Acts. He was there, however, in the interval. For, when Paul and Barnabas went up thither from Antioch in Syria about the circumcision of converts from the Gentiles, John, with Peter and James, gave them the right hand of fellowship, and acknowledged the sphere in which those two had been specially called to labour (Gal. 2:9). Tradition makes John to have ultimately fixed his abode at Ephesus, where he ministered till strength failed him. But this, if true, must have been after Paul's decease; for Timothy, it would seem, was labouring there till near the martyrdom of his father in the faith. Then, although one cannot speak of any special evangelistic or missionary work undertaken by the son of Zebedee after that visit with Peter to Samaria, he evidently had converts; for Gaius, his correspondent (3 John), was one; yet not the only one, since John writes him, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth" (3 John 4). Joy then he had in the fruits of personal labour, carried on, we may well be assured, very unostentatiously, no chronicle numbering his converts, nor recounting interesting details of his work. With that joy, however, he had, in common with many another faithful servant, opposition to encounter, and even persecution to endure. In his case opposition came from one Diotrephes, and persecution from the emperor Domitian, under whom he was banished to Patmos. He lived long, and died, it is supposed, in the reign of the emperor Trajan. Peter, his partner in fishing, and his companion in service, was martyred; John, it is supposed, died a natural death. This would harmonise with the Lord's words about him addressed to Peter (John 21:22-23). Peter's martyrdom distinctly foretold, John's exemption from a martyr's death could be as clearly deduced.

A Writer. Patient in dealing with evil (3 John 10), as became an Apostle (2 Cor. 12:12), we are best acquainted with him, as he shines in the more quiet sphere of inspired literature; and from no other New Testament writer have we such varied written ministry. Paul and Peter both wrote Epistles, and the former contributed far more letters than any one else to that sacred volume. But John wrote a Gospel, which neither Paul nor Peter has done. He wrote Epistles too, three in number. And he wrote as well, at the direct command of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:19), the only prophetical book in the New Testament canon. As an historian, or a biographer, as an epistolary writer, both in a public and in a private character, and as a seer he comes before us. And there is a completeness in his contributions to the New Testament, which some cursory readers may not have perceived, but which we will now trace out.

Beginning with the subject of the Word, who became flesh and dwelt amongst us, he composed his Gospel, that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we might have life through His name (John 20:31). Following on this came his First Epistle, written, as he tells us, that we may know that we have eternal life who believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13). To believe and to know, these were his desires for Christians. To believe that the Virgin's child, named Jesus by the angel, is the Christ, i.e. a man, and the Son of God, i.e. a Divine Person; and to know that we possess everlasting life who believe on that One, — for these purposes he laboured with his pen.

Following on the First Epistle come two short ones, addressed to individuals, and presenting to us pictures of family life in those days. One was written to the elect lady, or to Cyria, if the word translated lady was really her name; the other was indited to Gaius, the well-beloved. Now these Epistles illustrate the two great subjects of the first one — light and love — and take them up in that order. In the former letter we learn how the Divine nature, which is light, was to be manifested by that woman in the circumstances in which she might find herself, being called on to refuse any teacher desiring hospitality at her hands, who brought not the doctrine of the Christ. In the latter of these two letters we see the Divine nature in its character of love displayed in the house and ways of Gaius, as he entertained, and forwarded on their way, true labouring servants of the common Lord and Master. And the aged Apostle wrote to encourage him to persevere in that course, despite the opposition, and, if need be, the hostility, of Diotrephes.

Then in the Revelation we have a description of things on earth from John's day to the end of time. For beginning with the prophetic outline of the Church's history to the close of its earthly career (Rev. 2; 3), followed by the awful display of satanic power yet to be experienced in this scene, ere He who is the Word of God (19:13) shall come out of heaven to deal with the opposers of God and of His truth (6 — 19), the book does not close, till it carries on its readers in thought to the eternal state, when the new heaven and the new earth will be made, wherein shall dwell righteousness. Then God shall be all in all.

John thus gives us the history of the "Word of life" in connection with earth, from His incarnation to His final triumph, when He will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father. Absent now from earth, that life, seen in Him, is to be displayed in His people, they waiting and looking for His return from heaven as the "Word of God" with all the tokens of Divine majesty to deal finally and effectively with the great enemy of souls, and with all those whom he will have led to everlasting perdition (19, 20). There is then a completeness in John's writings, we trust the reader will see, and a line of teaching traced out by no other New Testament writer as by him. With these few remarks on his writings in general we would now draw attention more directly to his Gospel.

John's Gospel. — Room there was for it, for the three already composed had not exhausted all that might have been placed on record; nor, as we learn from John himself (John 20:30), does he lead his readers to believe, that all is now on record, through the instrumentality of his Gospel, which were matters of common knowledge to the special companions of the Lord Jesus during His sojourn amongst men.

Beginning his Gospel with the mention of Him who had no beginning, His incarnation, and not the facts of His birth, John fittingly notices. "The Word became [rather than, was made] flesh, and dwelt among us" (1:14) is his definite announcement of the Lord coming to sojourn as a man upon earth. How different is this from the opening of the Gospel by Matthew, or of that by Luke! And not less different is the line pursued by its writer throughout. For to a week of great interest he immediately introduces his readers (1:19 — 2:11) — a week, unnoticed elsewhere, comprising events subsequent to the Lord's baptism in Jordan and temptation in the wilderness, but before His ministry on that Sabbath day at Nazareth, of which we have an account in the Gospel of Luke (4:16-31). Then, too, with a visit to Jerusalem, and the return to Galilee, with a short sojourn in Samaria, our Evangelist acquaints us (John 2:12 — 4:54). Most of this was before the Baptist's imprisonment by Herod.

And when we come to details of the Lord's ministry subsequent to His forerunner's imprisonment, we find ourselves in scenes very different from any depicted in the three other biographical records. They agree for the most part in relating accounts of Christ's ministry in Galilee, and on the east of Jordan, till He reached Jericho on His last journey to Jerusalem. Now the explanation of this difference lies in the fact, that John writes so much of the Lord in Judea, and very little of His presence in Galilee after the imprisonment of the Baptist, from which date it is, that the three Synoptic Gospels commence their record of Christ's ministry amongst men (Matt. 4:12; Mark 1:14). For subsequent to that date (John 4:46-54; 6 — 7:10; 10:40-42 excepted) our Evangelist treats wholly of the Master's labours amongst the Jews in Judea. Now, had we not this, the Fourth Gospel, we should scarcely have known of any ministry in that province, till the last journey from Jericho to the holy city. Much then, very much, has John preserved, which otherwise would have perished, as far as inspired history is concerned.

On the other hand, much, as we have intimated, which the others have mentioned, finds no place in his narrative. On the Lord's birth, etc., as mentioned above, on His circumcision according to the law, on Simeon's prophetic words, as well as of His baptism by the son of Zacharias, and the subsequent temptation in the wilderness, our Evangelist is wholly silent. The Transfiguration, too, he passes over, and even the agony in the garden is unnoticed, though John tells us of the Lord going to Gethsemane, and recounts some facts connected with His apprehension. Then of miracles his account is very different from that of his fellow-historians. Two only of those narrated by them find a place in his record. We refer to the feeding the five thousand in a desert place eastward of the lake of Tiberias, and to Christ walking on the sea. And, what may seem surprising, is the total silence on the healing of the high priest's servant, though John has not forgotten the Lord's rebuke to Peter for smiting him. And he alone has preserved from oblivion the sufferer's name, which was Malchus. Then just eight miracles does he mention in any detail, though telling us of a number worked in Judea before the imprisonment of the Baptist — miracles which evidently impressed some who saw them, or heard about them (2:23, 3:2, 4:45). Two miracles related by John were connected with Cana of Galilee (2:1-11, 4:46-54); two were wrought in Jerusalem, and both on a Sabbath day (5, 9); one, as we have mentioned, on the east of the lake of Galilee (6), one on its waters (6), and one on its shore (21); and, lastly, one at Bethany — viz. the raising of Lazarus (11).

Then of parables, which formed so large a part of the Lord's teaching, John has really none. The word "parable" never occurs in his writings. For, what has been translated by parable (10:6), should be more properly rendered by allegory.*

{*Between a parable and an allegory the difference lies in this: the parable requires a narrative or history to set it forth, whereas an allegory is a species of discourse that deviates from the common course. So Meyer on John.}

Further, of that long prophetic discourse concerning Jerusalem (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), spoken by the Lord in answer to a request preferred by Peter, James, John, and Andrew, not a word has John written; while of much that the Lord said on the evening before His crucifixion, when alone with His Apostles, the son of Zebedee is our only informant (13 — 17). Another fact we may mention. There were two cleansings of the Temple — the first ere John the Baptist finished his ministry, the second near the close of the Lord's life. John, and he alone, records the first of these. The other Evangelists, and they only, tell us of the last. On the first occasion Christ cleansed it as His Father's house (John 2:16). On the second occasion He cleansed it of traffickers as His own (Matt. 21:13, etc.). In John 2. He is the Son. In Matthew He is Jehovah, and there presents Himself to Jerusalem as her King, and as the Son of Man as well. He entered as King riding on the colt, the foal of an ass; He cleansed the house as Jehovah; and He accepted the tribute of praise from the children as the Son of Man (Ps. 8). In these three characters Jerusalem rejected Him. She knew not the things that belonged to her peace (Luke 19:42).

The Plan of the Gospel. — But to return. Evidently then, as we mark that things are left out, and that things not mentioned elsewhere are here recorded, we must come to the conclusion, that there was a plan which the writer followed, and which he faithfully carried out. In saying this, we by no means forget the guidance of the Spirit, for we believe this Gospel to be an inspired production, but there was a plan in its composition. Long discourses occur in 5, 6, 8 and 10, each arising out of some incident, which furnished the occasion for that which followed. Personal interviews, too, are related, bearing on the great themes of this Gospel — viz. that with Nicodemus (3), and that with the unnamed woman at the well (4). For testimony to the Lord's person, and His teaching about everlasting life, are, as the Evangelist informs us (20:31), the two great objects of his writing. To Nicodemus the Lord is the only begotten Son; the woman learns He is the Christ. Nicodemus is taught how to get life; to the woman was offered to drink of living water, and to possess within a well of water springing up to everlasting life.

In connection, then, with the former of these subjects we have a threefold testimony to Christ. First, that borne by the Baptist; next, that adduced by the Lord Himself; and, thirdly, the attestation of God the Father. An order this is historic for the most part, yet also most fitting. The forerunner speaks first; then the Lord, as He should do, announces Himself; and, lastly, the Father proclaims the Sonship of Him, who is the Word, and who became flesh. To John the Baptist He is the Lamb of God, the Son of God, the predicted Christ (1:29-36, 3:27-31). The Lord Jesus, having spoken of Himself to Nicodemus as the only begotten Son (3), presents Himself as Messiah (4); the Son of God, who quickens, and who will raise the dead (5); the Son of Man, who gives His life for the world, and is the true bread from heaven (6); the light, too, of the world (8, 9); and the Good Shepherd (10). Then follows the testimony by the Father from heaven, owning Him as the Son, and that twice over (11, 12). A threefold cord this which is not quickly broken.

After that we have (13 — 17) the Lord alone with the Apostles (His life work of testimony to the world having ended), foretelling His departure to the Father, the coming of the Comforter, and His own return for His people. Then follows the account of His death, resurrection, and subsequent appearances to disciples (18-21).

Further, we would add that, as John introduces the Word as the One in whom is life, and that life the light of men, he will treat of these subjects very much in this order. We read of our Lord, then, as giving life, and sustaining it, and announcing that He will raise up such as share in it at the last day (5, 6). This is followed by presenting Him to the readers of this Gospel as the light of the world, declared and proved to be that by His word (8), and illustrated by His work (9). There is a simplicity and an order in the arrangement of the subjects of the book. What a lack in Christian teaching there would have been, had John's Gospel never been written; or if, through negligence on the part of men, or craft on that of the enemy, it had not survived to our day! But God, who provided that it should be written, has preserved it for our instruction on whom the ends of the ages are come.

Genuineness. — We have spoken of this Gospel as written by John, the younger son of Zebedee and Salome. This has been the current and generally received opinion throughout all ages of our era, as far as we have evidence from the earliest times. Efforts to refute this have been made, and chiefly in modern times. Such, however, have not met with the success sought for. The belief of antiquity is the common belief still, and nothing drawn from the Gospel can really shake it. The writer lived in the days of the Lord's sojourn upon earth, and saw Him. "We beheld," he states, "His glory, the glory of the only begotten with the Father, full of grace and truth" (1:14). He was present, too, at the Crucifixion, saw the soldier pierce the side, and witnessed the outflow of the blood and water (19:34-35). Now John was the only male disciple mentioned as present near the cross (26). The attesting witness, therefore, to the outflow of the water and blood from the Lord's side when dead is held, and rightly we believe, to be the disciple whom Jesus loved. Fitting, therefore, is it, that he, who witnessed it, should be the one to remind his readers of it, and to teach them of its doctrinal significance (1 John 5:6 4:9-10). And he affirmed the truthfulness of that which he related (John 19:35). Now this was in character with his practice elsewhere (3 John 12). Then, too, we find in his First Epistle, that he assigned his reason for writing that letter (1 John 5:13), not just at its close, as we might have expected, for he continued writing after that, and took up another subject, that of prayer, ere concluding his Epistle. Why may he not have acted in a similar manner when composing his Gospel? What good reason, then, can be assigned for the supposition — for it is only a supposition — that some one else wholly unknown to fame supplemented this Gospel, by adding chapter 21, and certifying to John's authorship of all therein to the end of chapter 20? What other inspired writer in the New Testament has been thus accredited by an anonymous witness? There is not, we must avow our belief, any overwhelming proof, that he, who wrote to Gaius, as he did, in the passage referred to above, could not have penned the words of John 21:24. What, then, the uncial manuscripts and most ancient versions agree in giving as part of his Gospel, we are prepared to accept as such, concluding with them that all that came from his pen ended with the last verse of chapter 21

Its Canonicity. — Of this Gospel's place in the canon of the New Testament there has been very general agreement. The three Synoptic Gospels have been nearly always classed together, and to John's, written most probably somewhere between A.D. 75-90, is usually assigned the fourth place: The subjects of the different Gospels would confirm the propriety of this. But Codex Bezae, among its other peculiarities, puts John next to Matthew, and makes Mark follow Luke. Some MSS. of the old Latin, as the Codex Vercellensis (a), Codex Palatinus (e), Codex Brixianus (f), as well as the Gothic Version of Ulphilas, agree with this. No doubt the idea was to class together the two Apostolic Gospels. We can see a reason in this, but much prefer the general arrangement, which places the three synoptic ones together, an arrangement in harmony with the subject-matter of their contents.

One word more, and that on textual alterations. In this matter the text of John has fared better than that of Luke, and, we may add, of Mark. The important readings will generally be found noticed in the body of the work. And at times the text of the Revised Version has been followed without drawing special attention to it. Let us now turn to a somewhat detailed study of this Gospel of the son of Zebedee.

The Prologue of the Gospel

John 1: 1-18.

The three Synoptic Gospels, as they are called, commence very differently from that written by John. Matthew begins with the Incarnation. Luke goes back to the Annunciation, and even to the promise of a son to the aged priest Zacharias by his wife Elisabeth. Mark starts with the ministry of John the Baptist, a date thirty years later than the beginning of Luke's Gospel. John takes back his readers to the beginning of all. In this he resembles Moses, yet differs too from him. For whilst the son of Amram starts with what God did in the beginning — viz. that He created the heaven and the earth — the son of Zebedee introduces his readers to Him who was in the beginning, the active Person of the Godhead in creating and making all that was made. A good deal he has to say about Him, ere entering on the record of His ministry amongst men. And the first eighteen verses are taken up with this, so have been called the prologue to his Gospel. Who He is, what He has done, and what He is in relation to men — these are the chief points elucidated at the outset of John's historical labours.

The Word. — And first he presents the Lord as "the Word." Thus designated in this Gospel without any adjunct, we read in John's First Epistle (1 John 1:1) that He is "the Word of life"; and in the Revelation (19:13), that His name is called "the Word of God." By "the Word" we understand that He — for He is a Person — expresses the Divine Being, as our words or acts give expression to our minds. For He is not only "the Word" by virtue of that which He has said, He is also "the Word" in consideration of that which He has done. By His acts in creating He expressed the power and mind of the invisible God. What the Divine Being willed, as regards created things, their form, their arrangement, their number, and their growth too, where there is life, whether animal or vegetable — all proceeded from Him who is "the Word." "By Him," we read, "were all things created in the heavens and upon the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him" (Col. 1:16). Again we read, "By whom also He [i.e. God] made the worlds" (Heb. 1:2). These are testimonies of the Holy Ghost recorded in the New Testament. In the Old Testament Jehovah speaks to Him in the same strain (Ps. 102:25), as we learn from the Epistle to the Hebrews (1:10): "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the works of Thine hands." So we have our Evangelist declaring, in words of a later date than any we have just quoted, "All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that has been made" (John 1:3, R.V.).*

{*Some would here punctuate, "was not anything made. That which was in Him was life." So Lachmann and Tregelles, the latter stating that to this the best ancient MSS. which have any inter-punction adhere, and also more recent copies. With them Westcott and Hort in their text are in agreement. On the other hand, Griesbach, Scholz, Tischendorf, and Alford are in agreement with the common text as represented by the A.V. and R.V. We think this is the more likely reading to be correct, in view of the doctrinal teaching of the passage.}

As the Creator and the Maker He is "the Word." As Revealer, too, He is "the Word." No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him" (John 1:18). Again, "All things that I have heard of My Father I have made known to you" (15:15). Again, "I have given to them the words which Thou gavest Me" (17: 8). Hence the designation of "the Word" suitably and perfectly describes Him. Till, however, He had appeared, and by His presence and teaching declared God, His title of "the Word" found no place in canonical Scripture.*

{*We say canonical Scripture, for there is a passage in the Book of Wisdom which has been thought to speak of the Word as a Person: "Thine all-powerful Word leaped from heaven out of the royal throne, a stern warrior into the midst of the doomed land, bearing as a sharp sword Thy unfeigned commandment," etc. (18:15-16, R.V.). The Targums, too, speak of a Person as Divine, and call Him Memra (or, the Word) of the Lord. We quote two examples from the Targum of Onkelos: "And they heard the voice of the Word of the Lord God walking in the garden in the evening of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from before the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (Gen. 3:8). Again, "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If the Word of the Lord will be my help, and will keep me in that way in which I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to wear, and bring me again in peace to my father's house, the Word of the Lord shall be my God" (Gen. 28:20-21). The date of Onkelos is a matter of uncertainty, but it is the earliest of the Targums. He expressed, we may well believe, in writing the oral interpretation of these passages handed down by scribes. Assuming that the Jews were in John's day acquainted with the phrase "the Word of the Lord," to John's Gospel it is that we must turn for the full teaching about the Word." No uninspired writer, whether the author of the Book of Wisdom, or Onkelos, or Philo, could tell what John has told of the eternal existence, divinity, and almighty power of the Word, in whom was life, and that life the light of men.}

Eternal Existence, and Godhead. — Now as "the Word" He must necessarily have existed from all eternity. For who could conceive of God without the power or channel by which to express Himself? Were it otherwise, He would not be the Almighty Being. Hence the opening statement of this Gospel, as all can understand, expresses what must be held as an undeniable truth: "In the beginning was the Word." Further, "the Word was with God." That, too, who can reasonably question? Then follows the express statement, "the Word was God." For who could perfectly express God save He who is God?

Thus step by step the Evangelist leads on his readers in teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. The first step none who believe in a personal God can reasonably question. The others follow in suited order. And now we have the last of them: "The same was in the beginning with God." Hence the distinct and separate personality of the Word from eternity is asserted. So, when the heaven and the earth were created, the Word was, and was with God, and was God. Yet though there is but one God (Deut. 6:4), and no other (Isa. 43:10), there are distinct Persons in the Godhead. This truth, not unknown in the Old Testament, where we read (Gen. 19:24), "The Lord [i.e. Jehovah] rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord [i.e. Jehovah] out of heaven," was only doctrinally taught in the New after the Incarnation. Yet other scriptures involved it, as New Testament teaching makes plain — e.g. Ps. 45; 102; 110, and Daniel 7:13, quoted by the Lord, and acknowledged by the high priest and others to refer to a Divine Person (Matt. 26:64-66; Luke 22:69-71).

What He has done. — His Person declared, what He has done is next stated. To those who saw the Lord on earth in humiliation, but never felt the power of His words; who knew that He had been a hungry man in the wilderness, a wearied man by Jacob's well, and one forsaken of God, according to His acknowledgment, when hanging on the cross; dying, too, in the company of two malefactors, instead of responding to the impenitent thief's desire to save Himself and them, — it must have sounded strange, that the Evangelist could write, "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that has been made." Of One only could that be said. And whilst many would admit that One must be God, John is about to write of the Maker of all things as a man. Strange, then, as such teaching might seem to unbelievers, to Peter, who had felt the power of Christ's words (John 6:68-69), to John, who had enjoyed specially His love, and to many others, as Mary Magdalene and that family at Bethany, the marvel rather would have been, that people could see Him, hear Him, and receive blessing at His hand, and yet remain unchanged in thought about Him, and in feeling toward Him. The Maker of all things dealt with judicially by creatures! That might raise a smile of incredulity in one who prided himself on his own wisdom and intelligence. But the smile would be proof, not simply of the individual's incredulity, but of something solemn indeed viz. that such an one had never been attracted by the Lord's grace.

What He is in Relation to Men. — The eternal Word, the Maker of all things, speak of Him in relation to God, and to the universe. Now we are to be told of special relations to men. "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men" (1:4). In Him was (or as some read, is) life. Doctrinally either would be true. "Was life" is more historical. "Is life" is rather characteristic. But, written of Him, who was in the beginning, the Evangelist clearly intended all to understand, that life was always in Him. And how indeed could it have been otherwise, seeing that He is God? But the statement will receive confirmation, as we shall read, that He is the quickener of dead souls now, and will be the raiser of all the dead by-and-by (5:24-29), — quickening now those who hear His word and believe God who sent Him; raising by-and-by from the dead, when He shall speak that word of command which no human creature will be able to disobey. As Son we read it was, that the Father gave Him to have life in Himself. It is in Him as a source for others, and all are dependent on Him for that life. In accordance with this writes our Evangelist in his First Epistle (5:11-12): "And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life: he that has not the Son of God has not life."

"In Him was life." Shall we read these words, as we would a mere historical statement? What profit would there be in that? Let us read them with adoring hearts, which, whilst reminding us of that which we needed, points us to the One in whom is life for us, and for every one who will receive it. How definite is John in the First Epistle! No spiritual or everlasting life is there for any of the children of men, but as they receive it from the Son of God.

Light. — And this truth, however unpalatable it may be to some, is emphasized, shall we not say? by the words which follow: "and the life was the light of men." Men by nature were in darkness. Now this darkness, of which the Apostle will speak, was moral. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Hence this darkness referred to is that which is contrary to the Divine nature, which is light and love (1 John 1:5; 4:8, 16). So "he that hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and knows not whither he goes, because that the darkness has blinded his eyes." On the other hand, "he that loves his brother abides in the light" (1 John 2:10-11). So wrote the Apostle in describing the effect of darkness, and the result of light when received in the soul. Turning back to the Gospel, we learn of the presence of the light upon earth, and how men come to share in it: "The life was the light of men"; or, as being a reciprocal proposition, one might understand it, "the light of men was the life." Unless, then, men participated in the life, they could not have the light within them; neither education, nor intellectual ability could make up for the lack of it. So to turn men from darkness to light was part of the commission entrusted to the Apostle Paul (Acts 26:18). Essential, therefore, to man's spiritual welfare is He who is the Word, all of us being dependent on Him for that life, without which there can be no light within. Humbling indeed is such teaching, and bringing down the pride of man.

Would any ask, Was this but the thought of the Evangelist? Let us hear Him of whom John writes: I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on Me should not abide in darkness" (John 12:46). Again: "I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (8:12). Clear and distinct are these declarations. Man's need and the Divine provision to meet it are thus set before us, and that in the fullest way. It is the Saviour of sinners who speaks, and speaks from an earnest desire to minister to the need of His perishing creatures. Were men, when the light was here, alive to their need? What further can the Evangelist tell us? "The light shines in the darkness." It was there, and displaying itself. It was shining in the darkness, "and the darkness comprehended [or rather, apprehended] it not." How great was, nay is, the darkness! How great, too, the need for the shining of the light! Let light into a dark room, and the darkness is dispelled. Let the sun arise, and the shades of night are quickly dispersed. Natural darkness, the negation of light, cannot exist where the solar beams penetrate. But the Light of the world was on earth, and shining in the darkness, yet the darkness apprehended it not. And the solemn truth in explanation of this will afterwards come out, the deliverance of Him concerning it who is the light: "Men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil" (3:19). Man as a sinner has a will and a nature which "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). Into the midst of such creatures the Son of God was to come. But His advent was not to be without a fitting preparation. A messenger would go before Him to prepare His way.

A Herald.Taught what "the Word" is in relation to men, we are now to be instructed as to His coming to earth. Here we enter the domain of history, as the Evangelist commences with the ministry of the Baptist. He was a man sent from God, and his name was John — i.e. Jehovah is gracious. A significance there was in this. For though many a name in Scripture, the meaning of which may be obvious, has no special teaching for us, nor are we authorised therefrom to draw conclusions, either as to the individual, or to the times in which he lived; names, when bestowed by God, have a significance, to which we should give heed. To this the name of John, prophetically declared by the angel Gabriel, is no exception. The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached (Luke 16:16). His birth announced a change. The day of grace was dawning. So the child's name — Jehovah is gracious — was in character with the era about to commence. God was at length to visit His people, as the aged priest, Zacharias, predicted. He sent, therefore, a forerunner "to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him [i.e. John] might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light" (John 1:7-8). He came "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). A burning and shining lamp (not, light) though he was (John 5:35), he was not the true Light. Between the lamp and the light there is of course a great difference. The lamp is nothing without the light; but the light can shine apart from the lamp. How, then, should the true Light be known? The true Light is that which, coming into the world, lights every man (1:9). It is known by what it does. We have transposed the words to make the meaning of the passage clear, connecting "coming into the world" with "the Light," and not with "every man"; though it is a matter of debate, it must be admitted, with what "coming into the world" should be connected.* Looking at the immediate context following, we believe that we have pointed out the right connection. And the mention of His coming into the world prepares us for that which is next stated — viz. the reception He met with at His advent. "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right [rather than, power] to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (1:10-13).

{*Many, and some ancient authorities, connect "coming into the world" with "every man." So A.V. But others, including the R.V., adopt that which we believe to be the right connection.}

The Son of God was in the world, and the world, i.e. men, did not know Him. Demons knew Him (Matt. 8:29; Mark 5:7; Luke 4:34). Animals and inanimate nature were equally aware of His presence. His intelligent creatures on this earth alone discerned Him not. All around belonged to Him. He could and did say, "All things that the Father has are Mine." All things animate and inanimate owed their existence to Him. Coming here, He came undeniably to "His own"; for the gender of the first "His own" in verse 11 is neuter, which may therefore comprise all things on earth. But His own (i.e. His people, for now the gender is masculine) received Him not. This Gospel, then, starts with Him as the rejected One, yet the bestower of spiritual blessing on any who would receive Him. That was, and is, the condition. And such were manifested by believing on His name. On all such He bestowed the right to become children (not, sons)* of God, born, not by natural generation in any way, but born of God. Who is there of men that in a coming day will not think highly of such birth? Who will not then be alive to the privilege offered whilst in this life, whether accepted by them or not? What blessing now is within the grasp of all those whom the Gospel reaches! Children of God! A relationship is this enjoyed by no angel, yet offered to the sons of men. Now something of this blessing Scripture elsewhere sums up in a few words: "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). Many are the blessings that we shall find set forth in this Gospel. Here is one of them.

{*Children, not sons, is that which John always writes, Rev. 21:7 excepted.}

Incarnation. He was in the world, we have learnt (John 1:10). But in what condition? Of old He visited this earth. He walked in the garden in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). He visited Abraham under the oaks of Mamre, and partook of the repast which the patriarch had prepared for his guests (Gen. 18:8). But now a wholly new step in God's purposes was taken. "The Word became flesh," thereby emptying Himself and taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:7), the prelude to that lowest step in His humiliation — death on the cross, to which He would stoop to do God's will. Later on we shall read of His death. As yet that is not mentioned. "The Word became flesh, and dwelt [or, tabernacled] amongst us." God had come so close to the lowest class of His intelligent creatures, and that to meet them in the depth of their need. Who among the children of men can properly estimate the grace thus displayed? He lived, He walked, He ministered here as a man, becoming acquainted, as only a man could, with the conditions under which the creature lived. Yet He was ever the Word, expressing God in all that He said and did. He learned, too, obedience by the things which He suffered (Heb. 5:8). He proved what hunger was (Matt. 4:2, 21:18). He knew what weariness was (John 4:6). And as a man He slept (Mark 4:38). As dependent man, too, He prayed; and as obedient man He did the Father's business (Mark 1:35-38). Then He experienced thirst, and the excruciating agony of dying on the cross. Yet He displayed to those around Him "a glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Unconverted men might seek to trample on Him, who ever showed His meekness. But there were those, we learn, who through the veil of His humanity discerned something of His Divinity, and something too of that which actuated Him, for He was "full of grace and truth."

The Baptist speaks. — The Apostle John and others beheld that glory, seeing Him in His daily life throughout the time of His earthly ministry. But another witness could be adduced in attestation of His surpassing excellency, to whom all the Jews should have given heed. The Evangelist now produces Him. The Baptist, whom all counted as a prophet (Mark 11:32), before ever he had seen the Lord bore witness about Him (Matt. 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16-17). And John gives it us as follows. "This was he," said the son of Zacharias," of whom I spake, He that comes after me is preferred [or, become] before me." In substance the three Synoptics give that testimony. But here our Evangelist adds that which is peculiar to his Gospel, but in character with the teaching of it: "For He was before me" (John 1:15). For evidently, we think, we have a reference to his statement before the baptism of the Lord, and very likely not infrequently had such an utterance been listened to, as it proceeded from that remarkable man, when attracting the attention of all classes who went out to him, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. And this supposition surely receives confirmation, from verse 30 of the same chapter, where the Baptist repeats what he had previously testified concerning Christ, the first occasion, however, of which John does not tell us.

So far, then, did the Baptist bear witness to the transcendent excellencies of the coming One. And evidently he desired all to hear it, whom he could reach with his voice. For he "cried," we read, "saying," etc. (1:15). Like the Lord Jesus in John 7:37 and 12:44, who sought to reach many by His voice, so the Baptist, seeking doubtless to dispel any illusion that he was himself the Christ (Luke 3:15), "cried" also. But he was never a disciple, nor had he the advantage of hearing the Lord after the latter began His public ministry.

The Apostle's Testimony. — What follows, therefore, is the Evangelist's statement, and not to be understood as that of his former teacher. "Full of grace and truth," he had already said, writing of the Lord (John 1:14). Now he tells us all on what grounds he could affirm that: For [not, and] of His fulness have all we received, and grace for [or, upon] grace" (1:16). He spoke from experience, and could express, as one who had been under law, the great change wrought consequent on the coming of Christ: "For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (1:17).

Moses, great as he might be, was but a vessel for Divine communication from God to Israel. The law was given by (or, through) him. But law and grace are very different. And the older dispensation could not provide all that God would be pleased to reveal. Now grace and truth have come by (or, through) Jesus Christ — grace the opposite of law (Gal. 3), and truth too, for He is the truth (John 14:6). Then grace and truth, it has been observed, began to exist down here de facto,* when the Lord had come in humiliation. And it was "grace upon grace"; so writes the Evangelist. All that was needed, and as often as needed, he avers, was supplied. Hereupon he mentions those names connected with the Incarnation of the Word — names so familiar to us all, viz. Jesus and Christ.** "Grace and truth came [i.e. began to be in existence here] by Jesus Christ" (1:17). And now follows that for which we are prepared: "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him" (1:18). Who so competent as the Son to declare God? Who could fully declare Him like the only begotten One, who ever was, and is, in the bosom of the Father? His place in the Father's bosom, and His relationship as the only begotten Son, alike confirm this.

{*We would refer the reader to an interesting note on this point in New Translation of the New Testament, by the late Mr. J. N. Darby. "Grace," writes Meyer on John, "was still wanting to the law, and with it truth also in the full meaning of the word."

**John always writes Jesus Christ, never Christ Jesus. He knew the Lord in humiliation, so always mentions Jesus first, when writing both these names.}

But does the Evangelist forget the occasions in Old Testament times when God was seen? The elders of Israel saw the God of Israel (Ex. 24:10). Isaiah (6), Ezekiel (1), and Daniel (10) each beheld the Divine Being. But God in His essence no one has seen, nor can see (1 Tim. 6:16). And God in the full activity of His love was only declared by the coming of the Son, and by His death on the cross. Truth then came by Him. The full revelation of God awaited the Incarnation. Christ is indeed the truth.

Here what has been called the prologue to the Gospel ends. It has introduced us to the eternal Person of the Godhead, who is the Word, by whom all things were made, the life too and the light of men, and who in time became incarnate. Now, dropping the title of "the Word," which appears no more in this Gospel after 1:14, the Evangelist writes of Him as Jesus Christ, and the only begotten Son of God, by whom God has been declared (1:18). From all eternity He was the Word. Now as incarnate He was called Jesus Christ. How by Him God is now declared John will proceed to tell his readers, as we learn something of the earthly history of the Lord. To that we must next turn.

1. The Testimony of the Baptist to Christ.

John 1: 19 — 3: 36.

Six Days

John 1: 19 — 2: 12.

The independence of the writer of the Fourth Gospel is abundantly illustrated. His way of commencing indicates that; and his remark, that many other things could have been written concerning the Lord, which were not found in his record (20:30), may be extended so as to include the histories of his fellow-Evangelists. From the other records we should not have known of anything which took place between the temptation in the wilderness and the Lord's appearance in the synagogue at Nazareth, which last event is related, and that alone, by Luke. Yet a great deal went on, it appears, ere the commencement of the Lord's public ministry according to the Synoptic Gospels, which is fixed by Matthew (4:12) and by Mark (1:14) as subsequent to the Baptist's imprisonment. To the events we have just referred to John would direct in order our attention. Competent, indeed, was the son of Zebedee for this service, having been a disciple of the Baptist, and so in his company, ere he began to follow the Lord Jesus. Hence all that he will relate to the end of chapter 4 he doubtless personally witnessed.

And, first, he will tell of events which happened during the course of six days — days, surely, never to be forgotten by him; for during them the current of his life began to be marked out, and the attractive power of the Lord he had proved at once by a personal interview with Him. Mark (1:21-38) has made us acquainted with the active service of the Lord Jesus throughout one day, after He had commenced His public ministry. John will now narrate incidents connected with the Baptist, and with the Lord, spread over six days, all of which, of course, preceded that day which Mark has described.

First Day. — The Baptist's mission had aroused very many. Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan flocked to that wonderful man. His ministry was evidently of God. Neither eloquence, that we read of, nor displays of miraculous power made him famous. Nor was it how he preached, so much as what he preached, that arrested and gathered crowds around him. He preached, but he preached repentance. He baptized, too, but it was the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Some of all classes, confessing their sins, were baptized of him in Jordan and elsewhere. Common people, publicans, soldiers, and, strange to say, Pharisees and Sadducees submitted to his baptism. A stir there was, such as none of them had ever witnessed in the brief span of their mortal existence.

But who was this person? Apparently the knowledge of his parentage had slipped out of remembrance. He had been in the deserts for long (Luke 1:80). And though his father, Zacharias, must have been well known to priests and Levites in his day, it appeared to be different with his son. For the Jews, we read, sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to interview him, and to interrogate him. Common people were wondering whether he was the Christ (Luke 3:15). But instructed Jews, such as the priests and Levites, well knew, that Christ would come of the seed of David, and of the town of Bethlehem. For them, then, to raise the question with John, whether he was the Christ, which they seem to have done by his answer, showed pretty plainly that the story of his birth thirty years before had been forgotten by the members of his tribe, and even by his fellows of the house of Aaron. No Levite, no priest of Aaron's line, could possibly be the Messiah. Who, then, could He be? Was He Elias? These questions indicated the existence of a pretty general feeling at that time that the advent of Israel's Messiah was not far off. And the prophecy of seventy heptads, or weeks of years, found in the Book of Daniel, doubtless encouraged and strengthened* the belief, that the coming of Christ was at hand. Now Elijah was to come before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5). Was John, then, Elias? Again he replied in the negative "I am not." A third question was put to him: Could he be the prophet of Deut. 18:18-19? A monosyllabic answer settled that: "No." Neither the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet. Who, then, was he? What would he say of himself?

A prophetic word of older date than the Book of Malachi had described him. Isaiah, the son of Amoz — who lived in the days of Hezekiah, and was martyred, if tradition speaks true, in the reign of Manasseh — had foretold John's coming, and his service. To that scripture (Isa. 40:3) he directed his questioners. A voice crying in the wilderness, Isaiah had predicted, which would say, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," etc. Now John had been in the wilderness (Matt. 3:1 Mark 1:4 Luke 3:2), preaching repentance in view of One who was coming after him, though at that moment he was at Bethany beyond Jordan (John 1:28). All then might see in him the forerunner predicted by Isaiah. But, if that be the case, the coming of Messiah as the Christ must be near at hand.

Very definite had been the Baptist's denials, and clear was his testimony about himself. Prophecy was being fulfilled, and he was a subject of it. Isaiah's prediction of Cyrus (Isa. 41; 44:28; 45:1) had received its fulfilment. Now that concerning John was being accomplished — as, indeed, were predictions by that same prophet concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. And in harmony with the character of his own ministry, as foretold by the prophet, John tells the deputation, "I baptize with water: there stands One among you, whom ye know not, even He that comes after me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose" (John 1:26-27). We quote his words according to the best authorities. In the Synoptic Gospels John's testimony to the Lord was rendered before the baptism of the latter, and therefore before John knew Him. This testimony recorded by our Evangelist was rendered by the son of Zacharias after the baptism of Christ. Hence the difference in his language. He could now say, "There stands One among you," etc. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke he speaks uniformly of the coming One. Here he speaks of Him as come, and in the midst of the people, though, it may be, not at that moment visible to the Baptist's eye. This plainly shows that the embassy from Jerusalem visited John after the baptism of Christ — a note of time this to help us to marshal the events. His questioners had asked, "Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not the Christ, nor Elias, neither the prophet?" Did his reply satisfy them? They interrogated him no more.

With John's answer they departed. Who he was not, but also who he was, he had made quite plain. He did not leave it to any one of them to draw conclusions. Nor were any doubts to rest on their minds. The forerunner to prepare the way of the Lord was on earth, and at work. And the preparation was being effected, not by martial conquest, nor the subjugation of earthly hostile powers, but by that preaching which aroused consciences and brought people to real repentance. Yet, effecting such a mighty work, how modestly does he speak of himself — a voice of one crying in the wilderness.

Elias. — A word here about the prophet Elijah will not be out of place. The Jews looked for his coming in accordance with the prediction of Mal. 4:5. And evidently this, which was the teaching of the scribes, was used to nullify the Lord's claim to be the Christ. For clearly the prophet Elijah had not reappeared before the Lord began His ministry. Now this matter created a difficulty for the Lord's disciples, which they could not solve. The Lord, the Messiah, was here; but Elijah, the prophet, had not come. Were the scribes wrong in their teaching? therefore asked Peter, James, and John, as they came down from the mount, where the Father's voice they had heard, bearing witness to His Son (Matt. 17:10). The difficulty was connected with the truth of the two advents, which as yet the disciples did not understand. The Lord came in humiliation. He will come again in power and glory. A forerunner preceded the first advent. A forerunner will appear before the second. The Lord then replied to the question of the disciples: "Elias indeed comes, and shall restore all things. But I say to you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but did to him whatsoever they listed" (Matt. 17:11-12). The scribes were right as to the coming of Elias. He will come, and restore all things. Nothing like that, however, has yet been witnessed down here. John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elias, could not be said to have done that. He was, however, the forerunner for that day, as we learn how, on another occasion, the Lord said, "If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come" (Matt. 11:14). Nevertheless, before the advent in power Elijah will reappear. How this will be brought about it is not for us to speculate. God will fulfil His word, and it will then be made plain. John could therefore say that he was not Elias. And in confirmation of this it should be observed, that whilst the Lord applies a prophecy of Malachi (3:1) to John the Baptist, he never quotes Mal. 4:5 as referring to him. Now the only passage in which Elijah is mentioned by name in Malachi is never quoted with reference to John the Baptist. The inference, therefore, is clear, — John was the messenger sent before the face of Christ, as Mal. 3:1 had foretold but he was not Elijah of Mal. 4:5.

Bethany. — To return. As the time of the interview of the priests and Levites with the Baptist can clearly be fixed, as already pointed out, being subsequent to the baptism of Christ, so the locality, where that interview took place, has been definitely noted by the Evangelist. It was at Bethany beyond Jordan. We can name the place; but can we fix the spot? We are all familiar with Bethany, a village east of the Mount of Olives, where resided that family of three whom Jesus loved. But another Bethany there was, according to the reading of most of the oldest uncials (John 1:28), situated east of Jordan. For Bethany,* not Bethabara, is the name they give to the spot. At present unknown, it had a history then, memorable for the events of the first three of the six days of which we are reading. It was there that the Lamb of God was first pointed out. It was there, too, that John's testimony caused Andrew and his companion to go after Christ. And it was there that the Lord retired, as related in chapter 10:40 of this Gospel, and abode for a short time, ere as the Lamb of God He offered up Himself, the sacrifice for sins. There seems a fitness in His returning to the very place where He had been first proclaimed as the Lamb ere going up to Jerusalem to make that title good.

{*With the great mass of uncials, Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, also Westcott and Hort, agree in reading Bethany for Bethabara.}

Second Day. — The priests and the Levites would be well on their journey back to Jerusalem, when the Baptist's two announcements concerning the Lamb of God were being made. On the first of these occasions John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world" (1:29). An announcement this was never previously heard upon earth. Isaiah (53:7) had written of One, who would be "brought as a lamb to the slaughter." John spoke of a man present before him, and called Him the "Lamb of God." With sacrificial lambs all Jews were familiar. But for a man to be the sacrifice was little, if at all, then understood, though in Ps. 40 and in Isa. 53 it had been predicted. And this One, the Lamb of God, would do what no other sacrifice had attempted, or could accomplish. He would take away the sin of the world.

The Sin of the World. — Now what religion of human origin ever thought of this, or sought to provide for it? The sinner's need might be taken in measure into account. But the sin of the world, needing the death of a victim to take it away, in what religious system of man's devising has that any place? Yet it must be effected, ere righteousness can dwell on earth, and everlasting blessing be enjoyed by this groaning creation. To the sin of the world, not sins of men, John here, it should be remarked, called attention. God the Creator cares for His creation. Made subject to vanity, not willingly, it shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God (Rom. 8:20-21). To the final result of the Lord's death on the cross, as it affects creation, John thus looked forward. Far-reaching are the purposes of God. And to a still distant day are our thoughts by the Baptist directed. Nor by him only. For Heb. 9:26 points the reader to the same blessed consummation. Peter, too, writes of the new heavens and the new earth, wherein will dwell righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). And John the Evangelist in vision saw the new heaven and the new earth appear (Rev. 21:1). At present creation has but the hope of deliverance. But as each step is developed, a prelude to it, it will break out in accents of rejoicing. When the Lamb shall take the book to open the seals, its voice will first be heard (Rev. 5:12). When the Lord comes to reign, it will again testify its joy (Ps. 96:11-13, 98:7-9). What will it say when, as the result of His death, sin shall be banished for ever from earth? But ere that is brought about there will be a lightening of the weight which now hangs on it; for a fertility will be known, to which since the fall of man it has been a stranger. And a kind of foreshadowing of creation's full deliverance will be displayed, when the land of promise shall be cleared of the presence of wickedness, as pictured by the woman put into the ephah, and carried into the land of Shinar (Zech. 5:5-11). Yet the final result of the Lord's death as regards the heaven and the earth must be waited for, till that which John saw in vision (Rev. 21) becomes an abiding fact. Of this it was — far distant then, far distant still — that the Baptist was led that day to speak.

The Lamb. — And he spoke of the Lamb, using too the sacrificial term amnos. In the Revelation the Apostle, writing of the Lord as the Lamb, always calls Him arnion — a diminutive term, not necessarily directing our thoughts to a sacrifice, though the truth of His death was not to be forgotten. Now in the Septuagint we meet constantly with amnos for the sacrificial lamb; whereas the other word, minion, occurs very rarely in that translation, being met with only in Ps. 113:4, 6; Jer. 11:19; 27:45.* The Baptist, therefore, by the term he used, drew attention to the Lord as the sacrifice. And by adding "of God," announced that the true sacrifice would be provided by Him. Hitherto men had brought the offerings appointed by God. Now He would give it. Isaac, on the way to Mount Moriah, innocently asked, "Where is the lamb for the burnt offering" (Gen. 22:7). Thank God, no such question need be asked now. The Lamb is the Son, and His sacrifice is God's gracious provision for a ruined world.

{*We here quote according to the Septuagint. In the Hebrew it is Ps. 114, not 113 and Jer. 50, not 27.}

With these words of the Baptist there commenced, may we not say? the dawn of Gospel preaching, something so different from the ordinary synagogue ministrations. Such might impress on the audience what they ought to be. John was occupied with who and what the Lord was, and what He would do. It was glad tidings he had to impart. And now, recalling to any one who might hear him, that which he had previously declared of the Lord as the coming One, he gives the reason for his special service of baptizing, thus answering the question put to him on the previous day by the deputation from Jerusalem. "I knew Him not," he said; "but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water" (John 1:31).

But he has more to say. He will tell us how he knew Him out of all the crowds that flocked to his baptism, and will tell us, too, something more about His person. It was whilst engaged in his special mission of baptizing, that he was taught of God to discern the Person, whose shoe's latchet he was not worthy to unloose. God gave him a sign, and that sign came to pass. Let us hear the Baptist's account of it. "I saw [or, have beheld] the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same [or, He] said to me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record [or, I have seen, and have borne witness], that this is the Son of God" (1:32-34). One, but one, there was, of all who went to John, on whom the Holy Ghost could find a resting-place. All others were baptized, confessing their sins for they all had failed, so were sinners in themselves. He alone was holy, who had been conceived of the Holy Ghost. On Him the Spirit descended, and remained. And John saw that, though probably no one else witnessed it. He knew then, that the One, whose surpassing excellency he had more than once proclaimed, now stood before him. Baptized by him with water, that One would baptize with the Holy Ghost. To do that He must certainly be a Divine Person, and He was no other than the Son of God.

The Son of God. — At the Annunciation the angel Gabriel told the Virgin that her child would be called the Son of God. Son of God, then, He is by incarnation. But Son of God He is as well by eternal generation. Of this already reminded by the Apostle (1:14, 18), we have nevertheless to remark, that the Baptist's testimony to the eternal Sonship preceded in time that of the Apostle's. And how did John the Baptist learn that He was the Son of God? for revelation alone teaches that. Had he not heard the Father's voice addressing His Son, when baptized in Jordan? "Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). With this Mark 1:11 agrees, when rightly read. That heavenly communication was addressed to the Son, but surely John heard it. So as with certainty John could declare, that he would baptize with the Holy Ghost, learning of that by special revelation, so with certainty could he proclaim the Sonship, hearing of it by the Father's words to His Son.

Here, the second day closing, we would recapitulate the important revelations that had been vouchsafed. The sacrifice which God would provide was on earth. John pointed Him out. And the far-reaching results of the Lord's death, as affecting creation, he announced. But of another blessing, and one confined to men, he also spoke. Another we have said, and, we add, a nearer blessing. For long, long before the sin of the world could be removed, the baptizing with the Holy Ghost was to take place.* At Pentecost, and again in the house of Cornelius, this last was done, and never was subsequently repeated. Between, then, this last-mentioned blessing, and the deliverance of creation from the weight of sin, which so heavily presses on it, century upon century would roll by.

{*Should the reader desire to understand more about this, he is referred to Tracings from the Acts of the Apostles, pp. 23, 24. London: E. Marlborough & Co.}

And now, having told what the Lord would do in the distant as well as in the then near future, the Baptist concludes that day's testimony with an announcement regarding the Person whom he saw approaching him. He was the Lamb of God, but also the Son of God (29-34). These tell of His person. Taking away the sin of the world, and baptizing with the Holy Ghost — these declared what He would do. Glad tidings indeed! — glad tidings for the sinner, as John announced the Lord as the Lamb; glad tidings for creation, as he foretold the taking away of the sin of the world; glad tidings for saints, since he spoke of the baptizing with the Holy Ghost.

Third Day. — John and the Lord were still in the same place, though they had not been companying together. Indeed, how could He, who was far above John, have companied with him, to whom crowds had been coming? Nor was the Lord again approaching John. But the Baptist, seeing Him walking, gave utterance to his thoughts about Him "Behold the Lamb of God." How full was his mind of the effect of the Lord's incarnation! And how different was his ministry on the previous day from that to which people had been long accustomed! The ministry, too, of prophets in the past — witness Isaiah 1, Hoshea, Micah, or even Malachi — how different from that which came forth on the second day! It was ministry objective in character, and not subjective. His mind, his thoughts, were full of Christ. How natural then, as he beheld the Lord on the third day, just to give utterance to his thoughts about Him: "Behold the Lamb of God" (36).

Little, probably, did he surmise what would follow. Two disciples who were with him heard his words, and immediately "followed Jesus." John must have seen that. The Lord, too, was aware of it. But why leave their master to go after the Lord? John did not encourage them to do that; but his ministry was the cause of it. Sent to prepare the way of the Lord, he preached repentance, and baptized, his converts confessing their sins. A needful ministry it was, and proved itself so to be; yet it never could satisfy the individual exercised by it. Having utterly failed under law, as all such declared by their baptism, what could meet the deep necessity of the soul? The Mosaic ritual could not. And John never directed his hearers to it. A priest though he was by birth, he sent no one with a sin-offering to the brazen altar at Jerusalem. In the wilderness, or in the Jordan valley, was he chiefly to be found. Now what could meet a soul that had sinned, and owned it? Nothing but a sacrifice. Hence the welcome sound to those two of, "Behold the Lamb of God." John had ploughed up the conscience. The Lamb could give peace. They followed Him.

Jesus turned, and saw them following, and broke the silence, which they might have shrunk from doing, saying, "What seek ye?" "Rabbi," they at once replied, "where dwellest Thou?" What a question to put to the Lamb of God, the Son of God! How it told of His humiliation! No need was there for any one to enquire where the high priest dwelt — all knew. The angelic hosts, too, surely were cognisant of the dwelling-place on earth of the incarnate One. But who of men cared to know, or could have told those two, if asked, where He dwelt? Low indeed had He come, yet come to bless hearts made ready to receive Him. Those two were sinners. They owned it. As disciples of John they publicly confessed it. He was holy, who needed not to be baptized of John, save to fulfil all righteousness. Yet He did not spurn them, nor in the slightest degree repel them. For He came, not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matt 9:13). So any, who would come to Him, He would receive (John 6:37). At once, then, He replied to their enquiry, "Come and see [or, ye shall see]. They came therefore and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day for it was about the tenth hour" — i.e. about 4 p.m. (1:38-39).

And now, following Him into the house, the door was, as it were, shut on those three for what passed between them has not been recorded. The impression, however, made on one of them, Andrew, is known. On that same day he lost no time in finding out his brother Simon. "He finds first," we read, "his own brother Simon" (41). Are we to understand by "first," that John on that same day found his brother James, though, in character with his usual reticence about himself, he does not mention it? It may be so, though for lack of proof we must not assert it. Andrew, finding his own brother, tells him, "We have found the Messias." No doubt existed in his mind as to that. Personal intercourse with Christ had settled the point. The theme of prophecy, the Christ, he had seen, had heard Him, and had communed with Him. And now he knew where He dwelt. Simon his brother, therefore, must come with him. Andrew evidently would have taken no denial, nor was Simon in the mood to refuse. "He brought him to Jesus" (42). Simon, naturally of a forward disposition, as we learn further on, was not so on this occasion. The Lord addressed him at once. Jesus looked on him, and said, "Thou art Simon the son of Jonas [or better, John]: thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter)" (42). The Lord spoke here evidently in Aramaic,* not Greek. Cephas He called him, which we are told by the Evangelist answers to Peter in Greek. Peter was silent. Not a word, that we read of, passed his lips. With not a thought of his heart have we been made acquainted. The third day now ended. Three had been gathered to Christ. Here for a time we take leave of John the Baptist, to meet with him again in chapter 3.

{*The Peshito Syriac omits in verses 38, 41, 42, "which is by interpretation," etc. Its readers would not need a Greek interpretation of Aramaic terms.}

Fourth Day. — Gathering to Christ had commenced. Gathering to Him would continue. John went on with his work, and disciples remained with him but the interest will now centre in the Lord Jesus. So we read of His movements: "The day following Jesus [or rather, He] would go forth into Galilee, and finds Philip: and Jesus says to him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter" (43, 44). On the third day it had been through the testimony of the Baptist, and that of Andrew, that discipleship to the Lord commenced. Did the Lord discourage that? On the contrary, He showed that it was the right thing at that time by Himself calling Philip on the fourth day. And those words "Follow Me" were words of power to Philip. Without a question he joined the little band associated on earth with the Son of God. But, as with Andrew, so with Philip, he desired others to share in the blessing. Finding Nathanael, he could not keep silence. "We have found Him," he said, "of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (45). Andrew spoke to Simon his brother of the Messiah. Much fuller was Philip's testimony to Nathanael. The prophet like to Moses, the theme of prophecy, Jesus son of Joseph, and withal of Nazareth — such was Philip's testimony. John was not the prophet of Deut. 18:15. Philip, however, was sure that he had now met with Him. He was Joseph the carpenter's son, and Nazareth had been His home. Philip, with his heart full through intercourse with Christ, thought not for a moment, that the mention of Nazareth might stumble Nathanael. Intercourse with Christ had imparted certainty to his thoughts about Him, just as had been the case previously with Andrew of Bethsaida. But Nathanael had not yet met the Lord. So Philip's testimony he was not prepared off-hand to accept.

How many since Philip's day have had to experience what he found! Blessed in their own soul, the question of salvation clear to them, they have thought that every one would listen to their testimony, and accept it too. But disappointment, and perhaps keen disappointment, awaited them. To dull and even deaf ears had they spoken, and spoken in vain. The reason was not far to seek. Those spoken to had never known soul intercourse with Christ.

Nathanael's reply, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" betokened incredulity as to Philip's announcement. Wisely, how wisely, did Philip meet him. Argument would never have convinced him. But Philip, knowing what intercourse with Christ had done for himself, quietly answered, "Come and see" (46). That godly soul went with Philip, and heard, what doubtless he had never expected, of the character of reception in store for him. "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." It was one of the true Israel who was approaching the Lord, and the Lord knew it. Surprised at this declaration from One Nathanael had never before seen, he asked, as many another might have done, "Whence knowest Thou me?" That question elicited an answer, which set at rest all doubt in his mind for ever: "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." Nathanael was won. Alone under the tree with God, Jesus of Nazareth had seen him. The conclusion was quickly drawn, and expressed too: "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel." Andrew's testimony, that he was the Christ, Nathanael confirmed, as he exclaimed, "Thou art the King of Israel." And, what John the Baptist had declared, Nathanael endorsed. He was the Son of God. What must have been Philip's joy, as he saw the effect on his friend wrought by these few words of Christ! What mattered it now to Nathanael where the Lord had dwelt! All prejudice was dispelled in a moment. Nathanael stood in the presence of the Son of God, who was also the King of Israel. What had gone on under the fig tree the Lord knew, and Nathanael became thus aware of it. An eye had seen him, the eye of Christ. Conviction was wrought in his soul, that the One to whom Philip had brought him was really a Divine Person. And now the Lord speaks again: "Because I said to thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And He says to him, Verily, verily, I say to you" (addressing now, not Nathanael only, but Philip also, and, it may be, the others),* "Ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man" (1:50-51).

{*"Hereafter," it is now generally agreed, should be omitted.}

Son of Man. — To millennial times were the disciples thus turned. Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of Man. Men might despise, reject, and crucify Him; but the angels of God will own Him, and wait to serve Him; for as Son of Man He will appear, placed by God over the works of His hands (Ps. 8:6). We say will appear, for New Testament revelation (Heb. 2:8) tells us that His supremacy over all things, though decreed, is not yet displayed. That awaits millennial times. So the title "Son of Man," here introduced, carries us on in thought to that, whilst ever remembering that the Lord when on earth applied that title frequently to Himself. And whilst He lived here He alone made use of it. In the future, then, His supremacy will be displayed, and the angelic hosts will own in Him a centre, to which they will turn. For the Son of Man is also Son of God. We would only add, that the omission of "hereafter" from verse 51 makes it more plain, that to the future, and not to time which has now long passed, the Lord referred.

Nathanael. Readily welcomed, and speedily won, who was this Israelite in whom was no guile? The Evangelist calls him Nathanael here and in chapter 21, and never mentions him by any other name. He was, we learn, a native of Cana of Galilee; but no other New Testament writer introduces a Nathanael. So it is a very common opinion, that he was the same as Bartholomew. In the three Synoptic Gospels we meet with a Bartholomew as one of the Twelve, who follows always just after Philip, and from Matthew we learn he was coupled with Philip, when the Lord sent out the Twelve two and two to preach. Very natural would it be, that Philip and Nathanael should be coupled thus together. And as Bartholomew is a patronymic, so probably not the personal name of the individual, there is no valid reason, why Nathanael and Bartholomew should not be the same person. Considering, too, that the others, of whom we have just read, were of the number of the Twelve, it would be nothing surprising if Nathanael was also of that chosen band.

Sixth Day. The Lord was on His way to Galilee, when He called Philip on the fourth day. The next scene locates Him in Galilee, and fixes the date as the third day. But dating from what? Clearly the third day from the fourth just mentioned. That fourth day ended with two added to the company of the disciples. Gathering to Christ was proceeding. He, who had approached John the Baptist alone, has disciples with Him, as he goes to Galilee. Then on the third day we read it was, that the marriage in Cana of Galilee took place. Reckoning from the fourth day, the sixth would be that day*; and that found the Lord a few miles from Nazareth. We say a few, for the site of Cana of Galilee is disputed. The one site, Kefr Kenna, is a village pleasantly situated three and a half miles north-east of Nazareth; the other is that of Kana el Jelil, about eight miles north of Nazareth.** This last corresponds in name with Cana of Galilee of St. John's day. Very probably it was the scene of the Lord's first miracle, though the authenticity of the Gospel narrative depends in no way on the identification of the site.

{*It may help any one to understand this computation, if he remembers that the Lord rose on the third day, which left in His case one clear day between that of His death and that of His resurrection. The "third day" would be, therefore, what we call "the day after to-morrow" (Expositor's Greek Testament).

**The following description of Kana el Jelil is from Dean Stanley's Sinai and Palestine, p. 368: "The claims of Cana are divided between the two modern villages of that name — the one situated at some distance in the corner of the basin of Seffurieh, in an upland village to the east of Nazareth, the other at a distance of half a day's journey to the west. Although the former has now usurped the whole traditional sanctity, the latter, from the absolute identity of name, and from the greater antiquity of its tradition, is on the whole the more probable site. The situation is marked. It was on a rocky eminence at the north-western corner of the plain of Seffurieh, at the mouth of a narrow wooded glen, leading into the plain from the great Jewish fortress of Jotapata (now Jefat). Ancient cisterns and tombs can be traced on the slope of the hill. Bare and dry as it now is, a solitary fig tree recalls the story of its most illustrious citizen — the guileless Nathanael — and a deep well supplies the 'water' used at the marriage supper. It immediately overhangs the level ground at the northern end of the plain, which in the end of spring is sometimes a marsh or lake; and it is probably from the reeds, natural to such a neighbourhood, that it derived its name of Cana, or 'the reedy,' with the additional epithet of Galilee, to distinguish it from Cana (Kanah) in the tribe of Asher, which has its name from a similar cause."}

The First Miracle. — A marriage took place in that village, but the names of the parties are now wholly unknown, so conjecture has been ready with names, but needlessly. It is impossible to decide the matter. Was it that of Nathanael? or that of the Apostle John? — for both of these have had their advocates. Or was it the marriage of somebody else? Who can definitely determine? So we need not theorise about it. The Lord's presence, and the display of His miraculous power — these are the subjects of real and abiding interest clearly stated, and unaffected by our ignorance as to the married couple. Invited to the wedding, He attended with His disciples. His mother, too, was there. Very likely it was something in the nature of a family gathering.

Marriage. — Now marriage was God's provision for His creatures, — instituted before the Fall; continued by God after it; upheld as inviolable by Him before the law (Gen. 12:17, 20:3); guarded by express enactments under the law (Ex. 20:14, 17); its sanctity being reaffirmed by the Lord (Matt. 19:3-9); and its honourable estate for all declared by New Testament revelation (Heb. 13:4). Much must Adam have felt that he had lost of temporal enjoyment through the Fall. This blessing, however, was preserved to him, and to his descendants, as God's original institution for the happiness and welfare of His human creatures on earth.

Now does it not seem in character with its original institution, that the Lord's first ministry to His creatures should have been in connection with it? And could the assembled company in that house have known, that He, who was present as an invited guest, had in the Garden of Eden brought Eve to Adam, how would they have regarded Him? Yet so it was. And we can well believe that scene in the garden was at that time present to His remembrance, as well as the future prospect, to which we are pointed in the Word, even the marriage of the Lamb, when his wife shall have made herself ready; nor that prospect only, but surely a more distant one must have been also before Him, even the resuming of marital relations with Israel and with Jerusalem (Hosea 2:16, 19; Isa, 54), of which that marriage at Cana may be more likely the foreshadowing.

The wine had failed, though the appointed days of the feast had not run out. How should the lack be supplied? His mother turned to Him, saying, "They have no wine" (John 2:3). But why turn to Him? Surely she hoped for some interposition on His part, though we know not of any previous display of miraculous power to embolden her to expect it. And verse 11 of our chapter would seem to indicate that there had been none. We conclude, however, from the Lord's answer, who of course read her thoughts, that she had that expectation. But He had come to do His Father's business, and not as yet to be subject in any way to human control, or even guidance. Hence his answer, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come" (4). Few words, but to what varied conjectures have they given rise! First as to the way He addressed His mother, and second as to the meaning here of "Mine hour." We will look into these.

As to the first. Observing His language when on the cross, as He spoke to her, saying, "Woman, behold thy son" (19:26), will clear the mind of the reader from the supposition, that He answered her at the marriage in any disparaging manner. In that same way he addressed the Syrophoenician woman, when commending her faith (Matt. 15:28). In that same way the angels addressed Mary at the tomb, "Woman, why weepest thou?" In that same way the Lord also addressed her on that occasion (John 20:13, 15). We believe, then, that no one in that house would have received an unfavourable impression from His language to His mother. Would any one think, that He ought to have called her mother? Have we, we ask, any instance of His ever so addressing her? He spoke of her as His mother, but never, that we remember, thus addressed her. And could we suppose, that He, who reminded the Pharisees of the obligation of the fifth commandment (Matt. 15:4), would have put a slight on His mother?

Then as to the words "Mine hour" — how shall we understand them? Many explanations have been suggested. We believe that chapter 7:30, and 8:20, afford the clue. "His hour" these speak of. "Mine hour" He said to His mother. Should we not conclude that they all three refer to the same time — viz. that hour when He would be subject to men's will, submitting to human control? "The hour" we read of in different places in this Gospel, the context generally showing to what event the reference was made. But "His hour," and "Mine hour," evidently refer to something very special. Clearly the former phrase has reference to the time of His being delivered into the hands of men. We think, viewing the context, the latter must refer to it likewise. Direction at that time, then, or control from His mother, He would not allow.

But she, expecting, notwithstanding His answer, that He would supply the want, told the servants to do whatever He said. The marriage must have been one connected with the family, since she took on her to tell Him of the lack of wine, and to tell the servants to obey His behest. And understanding as we now do who it was who was there, it is plain that no want at that feast would He permit to remain unsupplied. So far His mother was right in her expectations.

Six water-pots there were of stone, placed for purifying, after the manner of the Jews. The Evangelist, who was present, not only tells us they were of stone, but also informs us of their capacity, holding of water, when full, two or three firkins apiece. The whole has been reckoned at about one hundred and twenty-six gallons. The wine exhausted, and the water-pots partially if not wholly empty, such was the state of things when the Lord addressed the servants. Just two commands He gave them. First, "Fill the water-pots with water." "And they filled them up to the brim." Clearly there was nothing in them now but water, and no room for anything else. The next command was, "Draw out now, and bear to the governor of the feast." The servants obeyed. "They bare it," writes the Apostle (7, 8). The miracle was wrought. The water had become wine; and the governor of the feast, tasting it, and attesting that it was wine, and good wine, proceeded to compliment the bridegroom on having kept the good wine till then. He knew not, we read, whence the wine came, though "the servants which drew the water knew" (9). The Creator was present, and had made water become wine. No further scarcity is hinted at. Doubtless the supply was adequate for the occasion.

Without a word being spoken to the element, without a sign being made, wine was produced. No shadow was to dim the brightness of the festal scene. Creatures were rejoicing on the occasion of a marriage, and the Creator, who had instituted that union, sanctioned the rejoicing and furthered it. By-and-by we shall see, that He, who could grace a wedding feast by His presence, and provide a supply of wine which the guests did not exhaust, was as ready and as able to sympathise with mourners, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Equally at home in a scene of sorrow as in one of joy, His power, we learn, was needed in both, and graciously exercised. Lazarus was raised from the dead, and sat at meat again with the Lord in the house of Simon the leper. Wine was here provided, when natural resources had failed, and good wine too, and the supply was ample as long as the feast lasted.

The miracle wrought, its effects are described (2:11). By it the Lord manifested His glory. He was indeed a Divine Person, the only begotten Son of God (1:14). Creation was subject to Him, seeing that water could become wine. Then, too, His disciples believed on Him. The Baptist's testimony that He was the Son of God must have been confirmed, as they witnessed this display of power. Further, two facts were established of interest and of importance to us all — God is not opposed to lawful occasions of the creature's rejoicing, nor does He withhold from men the fruit of the vine, as if it were sinful to drink of it, though of course it is only to be taken in moderation.

A remark, too, may here be made as to the miracle. When was it wrought? Was it whilst the water was in the stone jars? or was it wrought between the servants' drawing out water and that water reaching the ruler of the feast? Was all the water in the jars turned into wine, or only so much as was needed for the feast? Now the words in verse 9, "The servants which drew the water knew," would seem to imply, that they drew out water from the jars, which subsequently became wine ere it reached the ruler of the feast. Both opinions have been expressed so we notice them. Whichever was the case the miracle remains the same — water became wine. The water-pots, filled with water up to the brim, and the time of year, shortly before Passover (so there could have been no ripe grapes to squeeze their juice into the vessels), alike forbid any thought or possibility of collusion. The miracle was a real one, and a special one. We read elsewhere of nothing like it. It was not even like multiplying that which was already there, but of producing that which was not previously in existence.

After that the Lord with His mother, His brethren, and His disciples went down to Capernaum, for that city on the shore of the lake was situated on a lower level than Cana of Galilee. The company here mentioned would bear out the supposition that the marriage feast had been more one of a family gathering. Probably, therefore, though the supply of wine to be provided was not large, the means of those providing it was small. Here we would note the first mention of Capernaum, visited thus early by the Lord, and previous to His leaving Nazareth, where they wanted to kill Him, after which it was He took up His abode in it, and it became known as His own city* (Matt. 9:1).

{* Capernaum, so well known in New Testament days, is difficult now to identify. Out of several suggestions, Stanley (Sinai and Palestine, p. 384) mentions five. The two which have found most acceptance are: the one, Khan, Minyeh, close on the seashore at the north-eastern extremity of the plain of Gennesaret and the other, now called Tell Hum, two and a half miles north-east of the former, and on the shore of the lake also. Here are ruins covering a space of half a mile long, and a quarter of a mile wide.}

The six days had ended — days never to be forgotten by John the son of Zebedee. He had now become personally acquainted with the Lord. He had felt His attractive power. He had witnessed, too, a miracle, which displayed His glory. He will next tell us of the Lord's presence in Jerusalem — how He cared in the Temple for His Father's glory, and how He taught the teacher, and told out that story of Divine love (3:16), which has been blessed to a countless number of souls from that day to this. But ere entering on the visit to Jerusalem, we would point out a foreshadowing of the future of which these six days were examples.

Foreshadows. — Such unfoldings of the future are not so uncommon in Scripture. Jacob blessing his sons (Gen. 49) foreshadowed the political history of the nation from its early days to millennial times. The blessing of the tribes by Moses (Deut. 33) foreshadowed very much their then future location in the land. The calendar of Israel's feasts in Lev. 23 portrays their ecclesiastical history from the Passover in Egypt to the eternal state. The addresses to the seven Churches of Asia (Rev. 2; 3), in the order in which they are given, set forth the history of the Church on earth from apostolic times to the rapture. So the days of John 1:19 — 2:11 foreshadow the different testimonies and work on earth from the Baptist's day to the commencement of the millennium. God, who sees the end from the beginning, can and does shape events to foreshadow that which He knows will come to pass.

First there was John the Baptist's testimony of Christ, and then to Christ (1:19-34). Next we meet with that testimony, which had gathering power (35-42), commenced indeed by the Baptist, and carried on by other human instruments. This continues still. It was the testimony to the Lord as the Lamb of God which attracted then, and attracts still, and will so long as the Church is on earth, and the Gospel of the grace of God is proclaimed.

By-and-by a new work will commence. For the Church having been caught up, and all true saints then alive away from the earth, God will work afresh, the effects of which are prophetically seen in Rev. 6:9-11; 7; 14:1; 15:2. This movement seems foreshadowed by the Lord calling Philip directly by himself. The previous testimony was not that which had attracted Philip. The Lord directly called him; and he then brought Nathanael to the Lord, fruit of his service, as there will be, the Scriptures just referred to show, fruit of service when God works afresh. So far for the fourth day. After that in the marriage feast we see portrayed a millennial scene of rejoicing, which has no end; the wine provided by Christ lasts throughout the feast.

The work of God upon earth from the dawn of New Testament times to the bright days of the millennium lies thus sketched out before us, as it is nowhere else in the Word. The work will go on, till that time of millennial rest and joy shall be ushered in. At present that which characterised the third day of testimony still exists; and so our place is, as it were, in that day, the work of the teacher and of the evangelist being concerned with the truth of the Lamb of God. Then there will follow, after the rapture, a new testimony, commenced by God, of which the Lord calling Philip is the foreshadow. And fruits of that work, as we have said, will be seen in the multitude of saints described in the Revelation. Between the commencement of that testimony, which will gather in so many, and the introduction of millennial joy, there will, however, intervene the awful work of Satan, and the reign of terror of the beast, supported, as he will be, by the false prophet, the antichrist, destined, it may then seem, to wipe out all remembrance of God from the earth. Does not the pause between Christ's reception of Nathanael and the marriage feast at Cana fit in well with that interval of diabolical power, of which Revelation tells us?

But what about the close? God never leaves His people uncertain of the final issue. Rest, joy, aye unending joy, will come — just as the wine, which, provided by the Lord, never ran out whilst the feast lasted. What a privilege to have part now in the giving out of the testimony to the atoning sacrifice of Christ, which alone can meet man's need! The day may be near, when the Gospel of the grace of God now preached will cease to be heard upon earth, and the Gospel of the kingdom again come to be in season.

First Recorded Visit to Jerusalem and Judea

John 2: 13 — 3: 36.

From Capernaum the Lord went up to Jerusalem with His disciples. He had now a recognised following (2:17). In the spring-time it was that He made this journey, for the Passover was nigh at hand. Therefore He had gone to the metropolis to keep it (2:13).

Three Passovers. — Just three Passovers does John notice. This, the first,* during the Lord's ministry. Then the second we read of in 6:4. And the third, the last, is mentioned in 12:1, 13:1. We say three, because some have supposed that the feast noticed in chapter 5 was a Passover also. Others, and we think on good ground, do not agree with that. And in favour of the objectors is the fact, that in the three instances above referred to, where the Passover is intended, John definitely tells his readers that it was that well-known feast. Why, then, should he have departed from that practice, when writing of the healing at the pool of Bethesda? We take it, therefore, that there were just three Passovers noticed by John between the Lord's baptism and His appearance after His resurrection.

{*The Jews' Passover, John calls it. Elsewhere he speaks of feasts of the Jews (5:1, 6:4). Nor is this surprising, seeing that he wrote his Gospel, it is generally believed, some years after the destruction of Jerusalem, consequent on which the Jewish sacrificial ritual came to be in abeyance.}

Cleansing the Temple. — At Cana of Galilee He had manifested forth His glory as the Creator. He was now at Jerusalem to proclaim Himself to be the Son of God. These events come in order, in accordance with the teaching we have had already about Him. As Maker of all we learn of Him in 1:3; as the Son we read in 1:14. Of the length of time occupied by this visit we have no distinct record, and of only two incidents in connection with it have we any detailed account, — the one is the cleansing of the Temple; the other, that visit by night of Nicodemus to the Lord, so fruitful in instruction for readers in all subsequent ages.

To the cleansing we are first introduced. For many years a traffic in animals for sacrifice had gone on in the Temple court, a convenience undoubtedly for the worshippers who came from a distance, and a source of inordinate gain to those who catered for them. We say inordinate advisedly. For the Lord's words, on the second occasion when He cleansed the Temple, justify this term; and Jer. 7:11 was very likely the passage to which He referred, combining on that occasion in one sentence a quotation from Isa. 56:7 with that from Jer. 7:11.

On both occasions, without a word to any one, or seeking the concurrence of the chief priests, but acting of His own will, He proceeded to effect His purpose. That oxen, sheep, and doves should, under certain conditions, and at certain times, be brought to God's altar was an undeniable fact. But, that they should be found waiting for the offerers' requirements within the court of the Temple, had no authorisation from Divine revelation. Lev. 26:2, "Ye shall reverence My sanctuary," would rather forbid such a practice. The lowing of oxen, the bleating of sheep, the cooing of doves, as heard above the hum of human voices, must have given to the sacred court the aspect of a fair, or market, rather than the holy spot where God was to be worshipped, and which was regarded as His earthly habitation. The tables of the money-changers too, and their trade, were more out of harmony with the sacredness of that place. Man's convenience, and man's temporal gain — these were furthered. But which of the traders, or of the money-changers, cared in all that for the honour of their God?

Now the Lord would teach every one what befitted the Temple court. If the priests were contented to let such trafficking go on, He was not. So, on this occasion, making a scourge of cords, He drove out the oxen and the sheep, clearing the Temple of their presence. He poured out, too, the changers' money, and overthrew their tables. He acted with authority, and no one resisted Him. He spoke, too, with authority to those who sold doves. "Take these things hence," were the words of the eternal Son; "make not My Father's house an house of merchandise." And they carried them away. The sheep and the oxen went forth at His bidding. Were they not His creatures? The money-changers saw their coin strewed on the ground. Those who sold doves carried them away. The court, however crowded it had been, was thus cleared at once. Resistless was His word. No trader, no money-changer, refused compliance. The latter very likely gathered up their scattered coin, but ventured not to set up afresh their tables.

Who was this One so acting? The carpenter's son of Nazareth, some might have said. But who was He? He was the Son of the Father, the only begotten Son of God. It was God's house professedly in which He and all that mixed company were. It was His Father's house, He said. If, then, it was His Father's house, He indisputably was the Son. What the Baptist had declared about Him, He now affirmed of Himself, and that in the court of the Lord's house. God, then, it was in the person of the Son, who was walking about upon earth, and in the precincts of His Father's house. Never since the Captivity had the Shechinah, that cloud of glory, betokening the Divine Presence, abode on earth. Here, then, was something to men quite new. God, who of old dwelt in the holiest in thick darkness, was on that day seen in the court of the Temple. God, in the person of a man, God incarnate, and revealing Himself as the Father's Son, was acting as such in caring for His Father's glory.

Who before Him had laid claim to such relationship, and had asserted it in the house of God? And who of men, not being of Aaron's line, would have presumed to act in such an authoritative manner in the Temple court? We know that God does not give His glory to another. Would He, to whom the house unquestionably belonged, have suffered such an insult to be offered, as it certainly would have been, without at once avenging His own honour, had the Lord been merely a man, a creature? The Lord's claim, then, was a true one. Isaiah had formerly seen the Lord of Hosts in the Temple on His throne, high and lifted up (Isa. 6). That same One was now cleansing the house in the presence of the multitude (John 12:41); for He was the Son of God.

What the general crowd felt, or remarked, is to us unknown. What effect it had on the disciples is related by one of them viz. our Evangelist. They in this act of their Master had recalled to their remembrance the words of the royal Psalmist, "The zeal of Thine house shall eat [or, eats] me up" (Ps. 69:9), as we should here read on the authority of all the uncial manuscripts, though the Vatican and Alexandrine texts of the LXX. agree with the Hebrew, which exhibits the verb in the past tense.* The disciples then remembered those words. We have no warrant, however, for concluding that they looked on the Lord's act at that time as the fulfilment of a prophetic saying. It illustrated to them that verse in the Psalm. And certainly John, the Evangelist, who was one of them, does not state that they then recognised its fulfilment.

{*The text of the Sinaitic version of the LXX. read originally, according to Tischendorf, as the uncial manuscripts agree in reading in John 2:17.}

A Sign. — Now a challenge comes from the Jews, who in this Gospel are generally to be distinguished from the Galileans, as being the persistent opponents of the Lord Jesus, and here for the first time we meet with them in opposition. Doubtless, taken wholly aback by the Lord's act, they were at first silent.* But, recovering themselves, they asked Him, "What sign showest Thou to us, seeing that Thou doest these things" (John 2:18). Of course what had just taken place was something not merely unusual, but in their experience unique. With what proof, then, could He furnish them, that He had authority thus to act? The oxen, the sheep, and the doves were confessedly to provide victims for sacrifices to the God of Israel; and the money-changers were there for the pecuniary accommodation of the crowd of worshippers from afar. Why, then, should He drive all such out of the sacred precincts? A sign, therefore, under those circumstances, could be nothing surprising for them to ask. This, which was the first occasion on which a proof of his Divine mission was demanded, was, however, by no means the last, as John 6:30, Matt. 12:38, 16:1-4, have noticed. On this occasion He gave at once a sign. Yet, like that of the prophet Jonah (Matt. 12:38-40), it would only come to pass, when, by reason of His death, He should be no longer present in body in their midst. Then they might learn who had been among them. A solemn thought this raises, as we think of it — the discovering who had been there, only after He had left them. The proof would be patent, but He would be away.

{*The reader may remember, that on the second occasion of the cleansing of the Temple, related by the three other Evangelists, a whole day passed ere any challenged the Lord about it (Mark 11:15-19, 27-33). He entered into Jerusalem one day, He cleansed it on the next, and was challenged about it on the third day. Apparently all were too much taken aback at the moment to raise a question with Him about it.}

The disciples needed no sign. The unbelievers asked for one. He gave them what they asked, yet not what they expected. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." He must die, therefore, and rise again, ere the sign could come to pass. But who has power of resurrection save God? Man may, if God permits it, kill the body. There his power stops. To raise the dead belongs to God, not to man. Yet He who was a man would exercise that power, and that as regards Himself. To His questioners His reply appeared simply preposterous. "Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt Thou rear it up in three days?" * (20). With feelings of triumph, we may well conceive, was this answer returned. Which of His questioners, wise and prudent as they thought themselves, could accept such an answer as conclusive? Was the laborious work of forty and six years to be taken in hand afresh, and completed in three days? Let the ignorant multitude believe that but how could the educated, the learned of Jerusalem, receive it? The quiet remark of the Evangelist sets at rest the meaning of His reply. "He spake," he tells us, "of the temple of His body." God then was on earth, God incarnate, and they knew Him not. He died, and He rose. Then to His disciples His meaning became plain. Very likely at the time no one understood it. Afterwards it became clear to them. When He was risen, "they remembered that He had said this, and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said" (22). This prophetic announcement of His resurrection they could then see had come true. Scripture, which had predicted it, they then believed. So His word on this occasion, when subsequently remembered, must have deepened their confidence in Him. For all that, however, they had to wait.

{* Herod the Great began to rebuild the Temple in the eighteenth year of his reign, 20 B.C. Josephus thus speaks of it: "And now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and after the acts already mentioned, undertook a very great work, that is, to build of himself the Temple of God, and made it larger in compass, and to raise it to a more magnificent altitude, as esteeming it to be the most glorious of all his actions, as it really was, to bring it to perfection, and this would be sufficient for an everlasting memorial of him" (Antiquities, XV. 11:1). According to some, the Lord's first cleansing of the Temple took place about A.D. 26. According to others (see Lewin's Fasti Sacri, p. 182), it took place A.D. 29. Either computation would coincide with the statement of the Jews; for it does not say, that the forty-six years had only just run out.}

Difficulties in Divine teaching are not, we know, always cleared up in a moment. In time the meaning is discovered, as we carefully observe the form of the communication. We say form advisedly, because many a difficulty is cleared away, when we take the Divine Word simply, neither putting our own construction on it, nor translating it into language of our own selection — otherwise the point may be missed, and the teaching be perverted. Of this, these very words of the Lord are an illustration. When first uttered, the Jews thought that He was referring to the building in the precincts of which they were. Later on, when upon the cross, He was taunted with His supposed declaration: "Thou that destroyest the Temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself" (Matt. 27:40). Still continuing to think that He had spoken of the material structure of the Temple, they attributed to Him that which He had never said. "Destroy this temple," He did say. "Thou that destroyest the Temple," etc., they assumed that He had said, thus misquoting His words, and so getting thoroughly wrong. The disciples, on the other hand, though they too had to wait for the Resurrection to get the key to His meaning, remembered then what He had said, and found their confidence in His words fully justified and strengthened. So will it be, when we are simple over the Word of Revelation.

Two Cleansings. — We have said that the Lord cleansed the Temple twice. John here, and he alone, tells us of the first. Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46, agree in telling us, and they only, of the second. On the first occasion, He acted as in the Father's house; on the second, as in His own. "My Father's house" He called it in John. "My house" He styled it in Matthew, etc. Further, when challenged on the first occasion, He at once gave the Jews a sign. When challenged the last time, eliciting by the question He put to them their moral incompetency to judge of His claims, He refused to comply with their request. On the first occasion, His presence as the messenger of God was new to the city, so He gave them a sign. On the second occasion, they were already in possession of proof after proof of His Divine mission, so He would not accede to their request. Clear, then, we think it will be to the reader, that two cleansings of the Temple took place, and that they can readily be distinguished.

Much more went on in Jerusalem besides cleansing the Temple, just touched on by John (2:23), but by no other New Testament writer. Miracles were wrought by the Lord in Jerusalem. They attracted attention, and many in consequence believed on His name. They saw His works, and were persuaded that He was a messenger from God. Their faith, however, led them no further. They sought no interview with Him, they cared for no intercourse with Him, contented with a faith which rested on the witness of miracles, apart from conscience exercise as to any need of salvation. Little, surely, did they think, that He could, and did, read them all through and through. He saw what they were, so "did not commit [or, trust] Himself to them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man" (John 2:24-25). He was there, willing indeed to minister to souls; but who wanted His ministry? who would receive it?

Nicodemus. — These questions received an answer in the history of Nicodemus, which follows. A Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, and so a member of the Sanhedrin (7:50), and a teacher of Israel (3:10), sought out the Lord, but by night. Reputation might have suffered, we suppose he feared, had he visited Him by day. Under cover of darkness he went to Him, and expressed by His first salutation what was a common feeling, and one probably gaining ground among many: "Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles [or, signs],* which Thou doest, except God be with him" (3:2). Like others, Nicodemus had probably witnessed the signs. He now for himself sought an interview with Him who did them.

{* John always writes in his Gospel of "signs."}

Of that which he had seen he spoke. The signs were to him a sure witness of the Divine mission entrusted to the Lord, and a proof that He was a teacher come from God. Eminently proper, then, was it for Nicodemus to desire intercourse with that One, though as yet he was anything but prepared to accept His teaching. The Lord "knew what was in man." He knew too what was the need of man, and at once unfolded it. "Verily, verily, I say to thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (3:3). "Except God be with him" had been the utterance of Nicodemus. "Except," replied the Lord, as it were taking up Nicodemus's word — "except a man be born again," etc. "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit," etc. Little, surely, had Nicodemus looked to be met in that way. And now for the first time Christ is introduced in the Gospel as a teacher. For this conversation with Nicodemus preceded in time the Lord's visit to the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16-27). Interesting then will it be to learn how the Lord met souls, and personally dealt with them — first in this chapter of John (3) ministering to a teacher of Israel, in the next getting hold of a poor wretched woman to satisfy her for eternity.

To Nicodemus He began by speaking of the kingdom of God. To the woman He spoke of the gift of God. He attacked neither. He repelled neither. Yet what He said elicited the true state of each hearer. Nicodemus knew not what it was to be born again. The woman had no thought beyond relief from temporal and daily toil. Patiently and skilfully dealing with each, He got their ear, gained too the confidence of the woman, and had meat to eat in talking with her, which the disciples knew not. He had begun to finish His Father's work, and had joy in doing that. Nicodemus found himself in the light in a manner he had never experienced. Darkness might reign outside that house, for it was night; but light was shining within. The Light of men was there, and surely made His visitor aware of it. Thicker darkness than reigned outside reigns in the heart of man by nature. For Nicodemus that was to be dispelled, as he held intercourse with Him who was the Light of the world.

The Kingdom of God. — A Jew prided himself on being by natural generation a son of the kingdom (Matt. 8:12), a faultless genealogical descent from Jacob, ensuring, he thought, an inheritance in God's kingdom. The teacher must learn something very different from that. The Pharisee must understand, that a new birth was absolutely required, ere any one could then see the kingdom of God. True, the kingdom will be established in power. Then all will be conscious of its existence. But the kingdom already existed, little as Nicodemus might have dreamt of that, for the King Himself was on earth, and was talking with him. This was teaching for that day; and as regards the fact of the existence of the kingdom upon earth, it is teaching for this day likewise. The prophets had sung of it as future. Their glowing descriptions still refer to the future for the kingdom to be set up in power is their great theme. Nicodemus was, however, to learn of a great change brought about in his lifetime. He was born when the kingdom was not upon earth. He was now living in the time of its existence here. For, what John the Baptist had spoken of as future (Matt. 3:2), was no longer future, but present. Since how could the Lord have spoken of men seeing it, if it did not exist? Nicodemus was to know, therefore, of the kingdom being on earth, and also how he and others could enter into it.* Much of primary importance could the Lord open up, of which till that night His visitor was ignorant. So now, passing by all reference to the signs on which Nicodemus laid much stress, He began at once in the most pointed and personal way, "Verily, verily, I say to thee." He would attract his attention by "Verily, verily." He would seek to impress on Nicodemus the importance for himself of the communication now proceeding, "I say to thee."

{* John the Baptist, be it remembered, was never in the kingdom on earth (Luke 7:28). He was the Lord's forerunner. For the difference of being in the kingdom, and entering into it, the reader is referred to From Advent to Advent, pp. 77, 194 (London: E. Marlborough & Co., 51, Old Bailey).}

The New Birth. — Of a Divine operation in him, and of a sacrifice for him, that ruler in Israel was now to hear. God working by His Spirit in him, and God providing for him — these subjects the Teacher come from God would set before him. Lessons apart from dispensational privileges he had need to learn — lessons of primary importance for him, and for all men. And first of the new birth, imperatively needed by every child of Adam, who is to be saved: "Except a man be born again [or, anew], he cannot see the kingdom of God." Birth of an entirely new kind is requisite, for a man to see even the kingdom of God. And this Pharisee, ruler and teacher confirmed the truth of the Divine statement, as he showed by the way he met it, that he certainly had not seen it: "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" (4). Had he forgotten, if he ever really knew it, the teaching of Ezek. 36:26? A spiritual change must take place. Yet Nicodemus only thought of natural birth.

Again the Lord spoke, and explained more fully: "Verily, verily, I say to thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said to thee, Ye must be born again. The wind blows where it lists, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it comes, nor whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (5-8). Impressively did the Lord reiterate His teaching, the while graciously opening up more of His meaning. The new birth is quite different from mere natural generation. And the effects of each must ever remain distinct. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Then as with the wind, so is it with the operation of the Spirit — the effect is seen, whilst the action lies wholly beyond the control or direction of man. A power outside of him it is which works on him, free in its course as the wind, yet differing from that as quickening, and not uprooting. Jewish pretension and claim to participate in the kingdom of God by natural descent were at once brushed away by these few words. To an operation of God must every one be indebted to enter into the kingdom. Neither natural birth nor human efforts can secure it.

An important announcement now followed, which must have been wholly unexpected. To see the kingdom, as it existed upon earth, a man must be born again. To enter into it he must be born of water and of the Spirit. Now be it remembered, that blessing in the present depends on entering into it. To be in it, i.e. within the range of it, is one thing; to enter into it, to become an heir of it, is quite another. By-and-by many in the kingdom will be gathered out of it by angelic agency, and that for everlasting perdition. But those who enter into it will reign for ever and ever (Rev. 22:5). The Jew's proud boast of being a son of the kingdom by descent from Jacob was utterly fallacious. And the door of entrance into it is as much open to a Gentile as to a Jew, when Divine quickening power is exercised on behalf of either the one or the other.

Born of Water. — But what did the Lord mean by being born of water? And why is that simile used? Scripture will, we believe, make it plain. James (1:18) and Peter (1 Peter 1:23) both treat of the new birth, and both tell us it is effected by the Word of God. Then elsewhere we learn of the cleansing effect of the Word (Ps. 119:9; John 15:3; Eph. 5:26). Hence the Lord's meaning becomes, we think, plain. The Word of God, acting on the individual in quickening him, cleanses him from old habits and ways, etc., as water cleanses the person from defilement, the Spirit being the power to make the Word efficacious. And the individual is also said to be born of the Spirit (8). Such an one has a new life, a new nature, and new desires; and, if walking in subjection to the Word, all may see that he is a changed character, eschewing ways, and it may be associations, which formerly characterised him. Now of such an one is it true, that he has entered into the kingdom. And this blessing, as the Word here shows us, is confined to no nation or race. It is open to the Gentile as much as to the Jew.

Christian Baptism. — But what about Christian baptism? some may ask. Is not that rite intended here by the water? Let us clear this point. 1st. Christian baptism was not instituted till after the Lord's resurrection, and signified burial with Him to death (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). Obviously that could have no meaning nor effect till the Lord had died. Now the Lord was speaking of life through birth, and of a blessing then to be enjoyed, not of burial to death. 2nd. Before His death the kingdom of God was preached, and men were pressing into it (Luke 16:16). 3rd. The Apostles were made clean by the Lord before His death, through the word which He had spoken to them (John 15:3), and so before the institution of Christian baptism, of which the Twelve and others had no need, and to which they never submitted. Of a vital work in the soul the Lord spoke to Nicodemus, and not of a sacramental rite to which the person is now subjected. Of the soul, and not of the body, have we teaching here.

Never before had Nicodemus met with one who spoke to him as the Lord now spoke, and that with a definiteness of statement, and a clearness of explanation, which left him without any rejoinder, save to ask, "How can these things be?" (3:9). Was he not now coming to a teachable frame of mind? Certainly he was to learn in whose presence he was. The One, to whom he had come under cover of night, was speaking of that which He knew, and testifying of that which He had seen. Earthly things He had mentioned, as He introduced the subject of the new birth. He could also tell of heavenly things, for He had come down from heaven, and was in heaven likewise at that very moment.

"A teacher come from God," Nicodemus had thought Him. True, indeed! But He was more, being in heaven whilst talking to Him. Who was He, then? Who could He be? The visitor should be in no doubt about it. He who was a man was no less than the Son of Man. He was also in heaven, and was in a relationship with God, for He was His only begotten Son. From this time Nicodemus was silent, so the Son of Man and Son of God could without further interruption open out what He desired to reveal. And Nicodemus must hear, what it was that brought the Lord from heaven, and why it was that God sent Him — a revelation never, that we know of, opened up by the Teacher sent from God till that night. These two points, with certain explanatory statements (18-21), complete the instruction furnished by the Lord at that time.

The necessity for the new birth had been pressed. The need of the Lord's death for Nicodemus and others was also to be declared. Nicodemus needed a work within him. He needed, too, a sacrifice on his behalf. Very likely he may often have visited the brazen altar for himself with an offering appointed by the law. Often, too, he must have witnessed at the different festivals the sacrificial service carried on in the Temple court on the people's behalf. But now, though in Jerusalem, the Lord spoke not to him of the brazen altar, nor of the blood of bulls and of goats, which really could never take away sins; but referred to another altar, even the cross, and to another victim, even Himself, prefacing the introduction of that revelation with a reminder of Israelites in the wilderness, bitten by the fiery serpents, and having no prospect but that of certain death before them.

With the history of the brazen serpent, he, in common with every educated Jew, would doubtless be familiar. The application now made of it was, however, perfectly new and unsuspected; and with astonishment and with interest must he surely have listened to it. Dying as the people were in crowds when bitten (Num. 21:6) , neither Moses, nor Eleazar the high priest, could arrest the fatal issue. God then interposed on behalf of the sinful people, and commanded that a serpent of brass should be made, that every bitten Israelite, if he looked to the serpent of brass, should live. It was deliverance from death by faith then. God's word about looking to the brazen serpent believed and acted upon, the perishing Israelite lived. Had Nicodemus hitherto viewed it as a history wholly of the past, with no teaching in it for his day? He was now to understand how it would furnish him and all with an illustration of immense value — a foreshadowing, for those who would accept it, of the way of deliverance from Divine judgment in the future. And as with the blood of the sin-offering, so with the brazen serpent, God was really thinking of, and looking forward to, that sacrifice, and to that deliverance, typified by the one, and foreshadowed by the other. With what interest, then, must the ruler of the Jews ever after have regarded that history, as he perused it in private, or listened to the reading of it in the thirty-ninth section of the law, and recalled the words of the Lord Jesus: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believes in Him* should have everlasting life"! (John 3:14-15).

{* We give verse 15 as the best authorities read it. In verse 16 the alternative for men is stated — either to perish, or to have everlasting life. In this verse the blessed result of believing on the Lord, and that only, is mentioned.}

God's Love. — But how could this be? A necessity there was for the Son of Man to die, that sinners might have everlasting life. Who, however, of men could command that sacrifice? Speaking later on of His own life the Lord says, "No man takes it from Me; I lay it down of Myself" (10:18). Of His own voluntary will He became the victim. On the other hand, Divine love prompted the sacrifice, and provided it too. Now here for the first time in the New Testament is that love of God mentioned. Neither Matthew, nor Mark, nor Luke makes any such announcement. But in the Gospel, which starts with the Lord as the rejected One, it is revealed. And revealed by Him who was competent to do it; for, being in the bosom of the Father, He could declare Him. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" 16). What joy have these words ministered to many since that day! What light and gladness have they imparted to hearts, when taken in their simplicity, and believed implicitly!

God reveals His love when and as He will. So in the Old Testament He spoke of it, but only in connection with Israel; and He never even mentioned that in any Divine communication that has come down to us till the closing days of the great lawgiver's life. Then in the Book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 4:37; 7:7; 10:15; 23:5) it is first disclosed. He had loved their fathers. He loved them too, and specially showed it in constraining Balaam to bless instead of cursing them, as he was wishing to do. Constantly, then, showing His love, God did not speak of it to them, till Moses in his dying charge revealed it. God speaks of His love to act, if possible, on those to whom He reveals it. To keep Israel true to Him in after-years, it was then by Moses made known. It was a love which never faltered, as Malachi made plain (Mal. 1:2).

Similarly the love of God, and that flowing out to a guilty world, is now stated to attract attention, and to draw hearts, if possible, to God and to His Son. So this further revelation, in common with that already announced to Nicodemus, must have shown him the futility and the fatal mistake that it would be, of resting on the nation's privileged position on earth, to ensure a share in everlasting blessing. Every word of the Lord on that eventful evening refuted such an idea. That Jew, that Pharisee, ruler and teacher, needed, in common with all other children of Adam, to be born again, or anew. The kingdom of God he could never enter, and so become an heir of it (James 2:5), except he was born of water and of the Spirit. Further, participation in the blessed and everlasting results of the Lord's atoning sacrifice was thrown open by the Saviour's words to any one, and every one, who should believe on Him. "Whosoever" (John 3:15-16) sounded the death-knell of the Jew's proud boast, that he was a son of the kingdom, and therefore must share in it by virtue of faultless descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Such flattering unction to his soul must be abandoned at once and for ever, as he listened to the Saviour's words, which dispelled the delusion, as the morning mist is dispersed by the bright beams of the sun.

God's love to the world here revealed, the expression of it, and the measure of it, so far as it can be measured, is now declared: "He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The Baptist had called the Lord the Lamb of God. Was he justified in so styling Him? He who is the Lamb fully confirmed it, as He here spoke of His own death (14, 16), and told out, too, at the same time His special relationship to His Father, being His only begotten Son. God giving His Son to die for guilty creatures of Adam's race! That was love indeed! The act of God in giving, and the sacrifice He provided, attest it truly. And Scripture elsewhere would emphasize this. Witness the parable of the husbandmen. See therein the owner taking counsel with himself, how as a last expedient he should endeavour to gain the confidence of the rebellious husbandmen: "What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him" (Luke 20:13). So the better reading. Then, too, Rom. 5:8, 8:32; Eph. 2:4; 1 John 4:9-10, doctrinally teach it. Now since that gift proceeded from the activity of Divine love, it was grace that was working — grace to which man could lay no claim — grace wholly apart from the principle of law-keeping, and far beyond in its blessed results anything Nicodemus could by efforts of his own have ever hoped to attain. The Teacher come from God was a Teacher indeed! Nicodemus had heard that night, what neither he nor any one else had ever heard before — viz. of God's world-wide activity in love, and in such a way and at such a cost towards ruined, rebellious, hell-deserving creatures. And here, for the first time in this Gospel, do we meet with that phrase, with which we shall become familiar — everlasting life. This, too, is the first place in any of the Gospels where everlasting life is mentioned as a present blessing. Fittingly did it proceed from the mouth of him, by whose death for us we can share in it, and who also told Nicodemus of a characteristic mark of those who should partake of it — viz. believing on Him.

The love of God declared, the purpose in sending His Son is stated. He sent Him, not to judge the world, but to save the world. He will come in power to reign (Ps. 2:7-12; Dan. 7:13-14), when judgment must take place. He came eighteen centuries ago to save (John 3:17). The kingdom in power will come, but a day of grace was to precede it, and that connected with the appearance of the Son in humiliation. When He comes in power, all must submit, whether willing or unwilling. But in this day of grace it becomes a question who will believe on Him, and who will not. So this, too, is here stated: "He that believes on Him is not judged:* he that believes not is judged already, because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are [or, have been] wrought in God" (18-21). Two classes are described, viewed as in their habitual condition — "he that believes," and "he that believes not." For it is the present tense which is used, so stating what would be characteristic of each class, and that, as verses 20, 21, show us, right on to the end. We call attention to this to relieve any morbid conscience. The words of the Saviour, when carefully weighed, should make this point plain for all who need it.

{*"Judged," not "condemned," is the word of the Lord in verses 17, 18; and "judgment," not "condemnation," is the word in verse 19. Condemnation for any child of Adam is future, not present, and lands the individual in an irreversible condition.}

That night's interview here comes to an end. Strange indeed must Nicodemus have felt was the teaching conveyed. Man's condition by nature without spiritual life, so needing to be born again, and the necessity for a sacrifice, even the death of the Son of Man, who is the only begotten Son of God — this, the twofold need, was plainly set before him. He might have liked to talk about the miracles which had been wrought in Jerusalem. The Lord spoke of the two great lines of Gospel teaching. The Gospel of the Romans, and that of the Ephesians, briefly summarised in 1 John 4:9-10, were touched on by the Saviour. Romans tells us of man as guilty. Ephesians speaks of him as dead in trespasses and sins. Life, therefore, he needs, and atonement likewise. Then, too, of salvation by faith the visitor was taught, as well as of the alternative for man — either to perish, or to have everlasting life. Further of the advent of light into the world he heard, and of the distinct setting forth by the Lord, that all men would not be saved. But the hindrance, where was it? It lay in men, in their will, loving darkness, and hating the light. It lay not in God. No unwillingness to save can there be in Him, who gave His only begotten Son to die for sinners. Love could go no further; Divine love could give no more. Yet men would reject the sacrifice, and spurn that love. What fulness was there in the Lord's teaching that night! The Baptist's testimony (1:29-36) we have called the dawn of Gospel preaching. This discourse of the Lord may be termed the seed-bed of Gospel teaching.

For a time we hear no more of Nicodemus. What results there were from this interview we shall learn later on. God's work in the soul is not always developed at the moment. Time, years may pass, ere it is disclosed to those around. But the light did shine into Nicodemus's heart, as he found himself in the presence of Christ. And now, ere reading more about the Lord, we shall have the Baptist's latest testimony to Him.

The Baptist's Last Testimony. — We left John at Bethany, east of Jordan. We now meet with him on the west of that river, at Anon near to Salim, because there was much water there (3:23). The site of AEnon has been disputed. So called, it would seem, from springs, found there, the Greek word being merely a translation of the Aramaic, which means springs, no locality will suit unless provided with plenty of water. Now there is a spot in the Jordan valley, seven and a half miles south of Scythopolis, or Beisan, where "there is a remarkable group of seven springs, all lying within the radius of a quarter of a mile, which answers well to the description of much water."* So it was not far from Bethany beyond Jordan, where John first proclaimed the Lord as the Lamb of God. What was the occasion for this last testimony on the part of the Baptist to Christ is here to be told us. Gathering to Him, which had commenced east of Jordan, was now proceeding on the west. The Lord had left Jerusalem, and was in the land of Judea. His disciples, as 4:2 tells us, imitating apparently John's practice, were baptizing. The common report got abroad that the Lord Himself baptized. Two parties were then acting — John on the one hand, and the disciples of Christ on the other — but in different places far apart, and evidently not in unison with each other. A question, therefore, might readily arise: Which should people follow? Had the Baptist's star begun to set? Were his popularity and his service on the wane? Clearly he did not view his mission as completed, for people still flocked to his baptism. Yet many more went after the Lord, and were enrolled, it seems, as followers by submission to baptism at the hands of His disciples (4:1). Something of that kind, we presume, was taking place, and we may add, not unnaturally. On the occasion, however, referred to, a Jew — so we should here read — his name unknown, raised a question with the disciples of John about purifying. These latter, jealous probably for their master, the Baptist, said to him, "Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizes, and all men come to Him" (3:26).

{* Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. i., second edition.}

John replied at once in form and in language surely very unexpected: "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him." What he was not, and what he was, he here reiterates. He was the messenger before the face of the Christ, His forerunner. Then, adopting the language from a wedding, he likened himself to the friend of the bridegroom, rejoicing to hear the bridegroom's voice. A subordinate place, therefore, was his. His star had commenced to wane. Yet he was not jealous. "He must increase," was his testimony, "but I must decrease" (30). How fitting was it that the Baptist should thus speak, and to his own disciples! Party feeling was at once crushed; rising jealousy was nipped in the bud. The culminating point in his remarkable career had been reached, and passed. But who could put a limit to the increase connected with the Lord? Joy, too, filled John's heart. He had seen, and he had heard the voice, as he said, keeping up the simile, of the bridegroom.* Then, too, he himself was of the earth. The Lord was from heaven, and so above all; and yet to be rejected by men, His testimony to be uncredited, though He could and did speak of what He had seen and heard. Some, however, would and did receive Him. The mass might refuse Him. Nevertheless, individuals would hearken. And such, each one, who did that, would attest that God is true, by receiving Him who spake the words of God "for God gives not the Spirit by measure" (34). The words supplied in italics in the A.V., to Him, should be struck out. No uncial manuscript nor ancient version inserts them. It is a general statement. God gives the Holy Ghost, not a measure of the Spirit. With what force, then, must that apply to the Lord! Who should refuse His testimony, who speaks the words of God?

{*The "bride" here is only a figure — certainly not the Church.}

Then follow verses 35, 36. Are they a continuation of the Baptist's testimony, or are they words of the Evangelist? Some would take them as the continuation and completion of the Baptist's testimony. Others — for it is a mooted question — would view them as the remarks of the Evangelist. Now certainly the Baptist must have heard the Father's voice (though addressing, it would seem, Luke 3:22, directly the Son), when God attested the Divine Sonship of the One just baptized by His servant John. The Baptist himself, too, had borne witness that the Lord was the Son of God (1:34). He might well, therefore, speak of the Father loving the Son, as he had heard Him call the Son His beloved. Well, too, might he declare, that He committed all things into His hand (3:35), whom the Baptist had learnt would baptize with the Holy Ghost, and also with fire (Matt. 3:11).

Nor would the tenor of the closing verse decide the question against the Baptist. "He that believes on the Son," we read, "has everlasting life: and he that obeys not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). Now had he not spoken of the Lord's rejection in saying, "No man receives His testimony" (32)? We see, then, nothing here definitely to show, that they could not have been the words of the son of Zacharias. No hint, too, does the Evangelist give, that the testimony of his namesake ended at verse 34. But whether they proceeded originally from the mouth of the Baptist, or from the pen of the Evangelist, they are words of supreme importance to all of us — telling of the way of salvation on the one hand, and of the future condition of the finally impenitent on the other, "The wrath of God abides on him." Words these are of awful import. Divine wrath never to be uplifted from the person when made subject to it.

Now the Baptist's testimony to the Lord, as far as this Gospel tells of it, comes to an end. He had testified about Him. He had seen Him. He had borne witness to Him. He was to leave Him on the scene, after imprisonment and death at Machaerus should overtake himself. With the close of his testimony ends the first great division of this Gospel. The second division will now commence, comprising the Lord's testimony to Himself, which begins at Sychar in Samaria, and ends with the revelation of Himself as the Good Shepherd in Jerusalem in Solomon's porch.

2. The Lord's Testimony to Himself.

John 4 — 10.

The Christ

John 4.

"When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples), He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee" (4:1-3). Very early, as we have seen, was opposition aroused (2:18). Now we learn of a sect, which more than any other was bitterly opposed to Him (we refer to the Pharisees), for His teaching was so condemnatory of their hypocritical practices. And it would seem as if jealousy was aroused at the spread of the new movement, of which He was regarded as the head.

The Baptist was of priestly origin. His birth, therefore, might entitle him to some consideration. But the son of a poor carpenter of Nazareth, who was he to gather round himself, or to make, a special following? A Nazarean, too, working in Judea! "Out of Galilee," they taught, "arises no prophet" (7:52). A spirit of antagonism was now rising, and a report got into circulation, though entirely unfounded, "that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John." We here quote the Revised Version, which presents to the reader the statement as the report of the day, telling us exactly what was being said. Unfounded though that report was, it nevertheless indicated that a movement must have gone on to some considerable extent to give colour to such an impression. All knew what crowds had flocked to John. Was this one of poor parentage to eclipse the Baptist in fame, and in the number of his adherents? What presumption! John was of Judea. This one was of Galilee; and of Nazareth too, that despised city in the north. Reports are at times easily circulated, and readily believed, and all the more when adverse to the character or fame of one, whose reputation it is desired to injure. His disciples baptized, it is true; but the Lord did not. We can understand that He could not have baptized. But which of the Pharisees cared to investigate the report, ready enough though to listen to it, and to give credence to it? Would that we could say such a race of people was wholly of the past!

Samaria. — Leaving then Judea, the Lord determined to return into Galilee. For that, journeying on foot, if He kept west of Jordan, He must pass through Samaria. Selecting this route, He reached Sychar, now Askar, about a mile east of Shechem or Sichem, which last is now called Nablus. Close to that city of Samaria, known as Sychar, was Jacob's well. Amid all the vicissitudes which the country has experienced, that well has remained to this day. Generations may come and go, dynasties rise and fall, but wells remain from generation to generation. In that particular district by Shechem springs abound, yet Jacob dug his well, which would make him independent of the usual supply in the country, and perhaps at the same time mark his possession of that portion of the land.

We here reproduce from the pen of Dean Stanley a graphic description of it: "At the mouth of the valley of Shechem, two slight breaks are visible in the midst of the vast plains of corn — one a white Mussulman chapel, the other a few fragments of stone. The first of these covers the alleged tomb of Joseph, buried there in the 'parcel of ground,' which his father bequeathed especially to him, his favourite son. The second marks the undisputed site of the well, now neglected and choked up by the ruins which have fallen into it; but still with every claim to be considered the original well, sunk deep into the rocky ground by 'our father Jacob,' who had retained enough of the customs of the earlier families of Abraham and Isaac, to mark his first possession by digging a well, 'to give drink thereof to himself, his children, and his cattle.' This at least was the tradition of the place, in the last days of the Jewish people, and its position adds probability to the conclusion; indicating, as has been well observed, that it was there dug by one who could not trust to the fresh springs so near in the adjacent vale, which still belonged to the hostile or strange Canaanites. … By a singular fate, this authentic and expressive memorial of the earliest dawn of Jewish history became the memorial no less authentic and expressive of its sacred close. Of all the special localities of our Lord's life in Palestine, this is almost the only one absolutely undisputed. By the edge of this well, in the touching language of the ancient hymn, 'Quaerens me sedisti lassus.'* Here on the great road through which 'He must needs go,' when 'He left Judea, and departed into Galilee,' He halted, as travellers still halt, in the noon or evening of the spring-day by the side of the well, amongst the relics of a former age. Up that passage through the valley, His disciples 'went away into the city,' which He did not enter. Down the same gorge came the woman to draw water, according to the unchanged custom of the East; which still, in the lively concourse of veiled figures round the wayside wells, reproduces the image of Rebekah, Rachel, and Zipporah. Above them as they talked rose 'this mountain' of Gerizim, crowned by the Temple, of which the vestiges still remain, where the fathers of the Samaritan sect said men ought to worship, and to which still, after so many centuries, their descendants turn as to the only sacred spot in the universe — the strongest example of local worship now existing in the world in the very face of the principle there first announced, that the sacredness of local worship was at an end. And round about them, as He and she thus sate or stood by the well, spread far and wide the noble plain of waving corn. It was still winter or early spring, four months yet to the harvest."**

{*This forms the first line of the tenth stanza of "Dies irae, dies illa," written by Thomas of Celano, a monk in the thirteenth century. He was the friend and biographer of St. Francis d'Assisi. The words as rendered by Dr. Irons are, "Faint and weary, Thou hast sought me."

** Stanley's Sinai and Palestine, pp. 241, 242.}

Wearied. — Journeying on foot, it would be not earlier than some time on the second day after leaving Jerusalem, that the Lord could have reached Sychar. Then, wearied with His journey, He sat thus, i.e. as He was, on (or, by) the well. It was about the sixth hour. The sun would be at its height; not long, if at all, after noon. Alone was He there, the disciples having gone to the city to buy food. And now the deep need for His passing through Samaria, and for His sitting by the well, was to become apparent. But He was weary with His journey — a note this is marking His true, His real humanity. Of the Son of Man being in heaven whilst upon earth we have learnt in the previous chapter (3:13). Now, though Divine, and therefore in heaven, He was truly a man upon earth. This mystery of His person none of us can fathom (Matt. 11:27). Nor are we asked to do it. We have to believe it. "Perfect God, and perfect Man: of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting" — such has been the language of confession of the Western part of Christendom for many an age. Now there are some conditions incident to humanity. There are in addition others connected with fallen humanity, such as liability to sickness, to decay, and even to death. To these last, of course, the holy Son of God was not, though a man, subject; yet, as being a man, He was able to die, and willingly gave up His life for His people. But to sickness and bodily decay, as the Holy One, in whom was no sin, He was not, and could not have been, subject. On the other hand, from conditions incident to humanity, as hunger, thirst, and weariness, He was not exempt. In the wilderness He was hungry. On the cross He was thirsty. Here at the well He was weary. Into what circumstances, then, had He voluntarily come, and that in obedience and love to His Father, and in love to His own sheep! He, by whom the worlds were made, was sitting a weary man by Jacob's well, and there at first alone. One word from the throne, and the whole angelic host would have flown to minister to Him. That word was not spoken. For God's purposes of grace to souls in Samaria were to be worked out at Sychar. But how?

A woman would be the instrument. Her name was unknown, though her life at that time the Lord has described in a very few words. We know about her from what He told her, and we learn about Him from that which He taught her. That her name should be veiled in obscurity was only fitting; but that the previous conduct of the one with whom He deigned to converse should be recorded, is in perfect harmony with His ways in grace. To have known her by the name she bore amongst men, would have been only to connect that name with a life of infamy and disgrace. To know her as the one with whom the Lord talked at the well of Sychar, imperishably connects her memory with His dealings in faithfulness and love.

The name of the woman, who anointed the Lord in the house of Simon the leper, is embalmed in the Word, as well as that of the earliest and latest visitor at the empty tomb on the morning of His resurrection day. With Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and with Mary Magdalene, we are all familiar, from reading the Gospel by John. Of Martha who served, both John and Luke have written. To Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, who ministered to the Lord of their substance, we are introduced by Luke. But the name of the woman who had outlived five husbands, and seemed about to end her chequered life in sin, John the Evangelist passes over in silence. Similarly did his brother historian act, when recounting the service done to Christ by the woman in Simon the Pharisee's house, and when relating the testimony borne to the Lord by the penitent thief on the cross. Who cares to know their names? But who, that either wants or understands God's grace, would be without those histories, which tell of the attractive power of the Son of God? The character of those drawn to Christ is what we want to know. Of the class of persons He would receive we desire to be informed.

Their names, if set forth in the Word, would add nothing to our knowledge of the Saviour nor could they make us better acquainted with that heart, which found delight in gathering convicted sinners and confiding souls around itself. Who those are that He will receive, the brokenhearted penitent wants to learn. With whom He could sit, and to whom He could open out truth, the one, who has been taught what he is by nature, delights to recall. To dilate on a sinful creature's transgressions is not the purpose for which their wicked ways are mentioned. And though such are related without any attempt to palliate the guilt, the object for which they are narrated, is not to satisfy the morbid curiosity of creatures as sinful by nature as themselves, but to set forth in the brightest, fullest way the grace of God, and the graciousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord sat at the well. A woman of Samaria approached to draw water for herself. "The Jews have no dealings with Samaritans," our Evangelist is careful to tell us. It would not, therefore, be likely that she should accost the stranger, whom she recognised at once as a Jew. Yet intercourse between them must take place in the counsels of God, for the woman to receive Divine blessing. The Lord then broke the silence by the simple request, "Give Me to drink" (7). Those few words at once paved the way for all which followed. Asked by the stranger to minister to His want, she replied by expressing surprise, that He, a Jew, should ask drink of her, who was a woman of Samaria. Of the controversy between the two parties she was well aware, and at once referred to it. How different had been the action of Rebekah, when asked for water by a stranger (Gen. 24:18). But then religious controversy had not embittered minds, nor made them forget the ordinary acts of courtesy.

Who was the woman addressing? A proud, self-righteous Jew? A Jew certainly; but One, the like of whom she had never before met, nor could ever find His equal. To her answer, which was calculated to kindle afresh the embers of religious contention, she received a reply so gracious, and so unexpected: "If thou knewest the gift of God [i.e. that He gives freely], and who it is that says to thee, Give Me to drink thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water" (John 4:10). Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Yet He who was one offered her living water. The Lord's answer struck her, and, it would seem, softened any bitter feeling there might have been in being accosted by a Jew. But living water, by which she only understood running, and not stagnant, water, how could that stranger supply it? — for the well was deep,* and he had nothing to draw with. Who was He? Who could He be? Was He greater than her father Jacob? she asked, who gave them that well, and drank thereof himself, his children, and his cattle? What tale could He have unfolded, had He told her, that He had seen Jacob, had wrestled with him, had humbled him, had blessed him! Verily, He was greater than her father Jacob. Jacob dug a well in the ground. He could supply a fountain for the heart.

{*Recent examination has proved that it is seventy-five feet deep.}

So the Lord proceeded: "Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life" (13, 14). He spake here, surely, of spiritual refreshment through the power of the Holy Ghost, — a fountain in the individual, which should never run dry; living water, ever fresh and flowing. Attracted by such an offer, opposition was dispelled. And she, a woman of Samaria, though still in ignorance of what the stranger, a Jew, was presenting, puts aside all prejudice, and says, "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw" (15). Relief from daily toil was all that she thought of. Yet, wonderful to say, she was willing now to be indebted to a Jew for that. But He, who knew her need, desiring to minister what she really wanted, and not what she asked, at once replied, "Go, call thy husband, and come hither." Conscience must be dealt with for spiritual blessing to be received. How wisely, how graciously, did He do that!

The creature was in the presence of its God. There all must be real. So she at once answered, "I have no husband." True that was. And now she heard from the stranger the history of her past life, and the laying bare of her then present condition: "Jesus says to her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly" (17, 18). A life of unusual matrimonial vicissitudes had been hers. And now she was living in sin. She did not tell the Lord that. He told her of her past and her present. She admitted it. He had known it all along, yet had offered her the living water. He had come to seek and to save the lost. So He did not drive her from His presence, as too polluted a creature to talk with; nor did He by His action as the light make her withdraw, as one who would shun it. There is a dealing of God with sinful creatures, which none would ever have supposed. He can engender confidence in Himself in the sinner's heart, that, when convicted, and owning it, He may bless the erring creature. We see that illustrated in the prodigal son, who turned to his father, and had no doubt that he would admit him under his roof, if it were only as a hired servant. So this woman convicted, and her life laid bare, remained where she was, attracted in a way which perhaps she could not have explained, but kept by Him, who would not only bless her, but make her a means of blessing to others. "Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet," was all that she could say, admitting thereby that what He had told her of herself was true. Who would like to continue in the presence of a stranger, who laid bare the course of the individual in such a plain, unvarnished manner, unless, as in this case, the One who exposes it is God? A Jew at first in her eyes, He had now become a prophet. Now prophets were messengers from God to deal with the heart of a creature, when failure had come in. Such, too, had the mind of God. Fully would He answer to both these services of a prophet of God.

Worship. — As such she now addressed Him, starting quite a new, and a very different, subject from that hitherto before them. Then she had replied by questions to that which the Lord had said. Now she introduced the subject of the place of worship, a matter of contention between Samaritans and Jews. To this He replied, "Woman, believe Me, the hour comes, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (21-24). The Samaritan worship was then all wrong. Their separation from that carried on at Jerusalem was quite unauthorised. Salvation was of the Jews. Through them it must come, and not through the upholders of the Samaritan schism, as we may well call it. Besides, those worshipped they knew not what. A solemn announcement indeed! A false worship has another being behind it than God. Demons are there, not God (1 Cor. 10:20). Was it not that to which the Lord referred? No question, then, could there be, but that the Samaritan worship was wrong. That question, which Samaritans had debated for centuries, and determined as they wished in their own favour, was settled against them by the prophet, as she thought Him, in a very few words, and there was left no room for a rejoinder. Salvation being of the Jews, Samaritan opposition to the worship at Jerusalem must be wrong. God could not be with them who disowned the only house and altar which He had sanctioned. Real worship of God there could not be in the Temple at Gerizim. Then if God was not there, what was there?

The Samaritan worship was condemned. Was that all? Now comes the blessed revelation, that, a Samaritan though she was, she might yet learn to worship the Father. For spiritual worship was that which He would accept, in accordance with His nature, who is a Spirit. True worship, then, must be in spirit and in truth. It must be worship from the heart, not mere outward conformity to some ritual. It must be worship in truth, and therefore based upon, and in conformity with, the revelation God has made known. These are principles capable of universal application, whether the individual be found at Jerusalem, or in Samaria, or in the uttermost part of the earth. No material temple is required; no altar of human construction is called for. God, we repeat, never owned but one material Temple; and, since that was erected by Solomon, but one local altar. Further, the Lord taught that true worshippers were to worship the Father. National distinctions are here, then, put out of sight. It is only the members of one family who can worship God acceptably. But the family is a large one, taking in every true child of God, wherever found upon earth. And the Father seeks such to worship Him. She had asked about the locality. He settled that against Gerizim, and revealed as well the principles of true worship.

She had heard wonderful things that day, and the last subject treated of was not the least wonderful. God the Father was seeking worshippers, not worshippers seeking God. The days of ritual were for the present numbered. They would cease in God's mind after the cross. Spiritual worship the true God desired. The question, then, would lie, not between the rival claims of Gerizim as against Jerusalem, though that was settled in favour of the latter, but between real spiritual worship, and that carried on by ritual observances. And at Sychar, under the shadow of Gerizim, was this revelation vouchsafed — to a woman, too, with whose character the Lord showed perfect acquaintance. At Jerusalem, to the teacher of Israel, He had spoken of the need of a new birth. At Jacob's well, to this woman He opened up teaching about acceptable worship. Men might have thought that these subjects should have been taken up in the reverse order — that worship should have been touched upon at Jerusalem, and the need of the new birth insisted upon at Sychar. But the Teacher come from God dealt with these two wisely and well. The Pharisee was to learn what he needed. The convicted sinner was to hear of grace, that she might become a worshipper of the Father in spirit and in truth.

The Christ. — But a short time probably had passed whilst the Lord and the woman were conversing. No idea does the narrative suggest of any pause in their conversation. It is difficult, indeed, to conceive that there could have been room for any. And now, with one more remark from her, and an immediate reply from Him, that private interview came to an end. "I know that Messias comes (which is called Christ): when He is come, He will tell us all things" (25). The hope of His coming had then been kept alive among the Samaritans. And very probably the expectation of full teaching from Him was for her grounded on the passage in Deut. 18:15-19, when disputed points would be settled, and all matters of doubt be decided. Her faith and hope thus expressed, the next words from the Prophet, "I that speak to thee am He,"* made her aware that the Teacher, the Messiah, had come. She had talked with Him. With her own ears she had heard His words, of whose coming God's servants of old had kept alive the expectation in the hearts both of Jews and of Samaritans. "He will tell us all things," was the estimate she had formed of the coming Messiah. The One who sat by the well had told her of her past and present life. He had told her likewise of the falsity of the Samaritan worship; He had told her of that which He could give; He had told her also about God, and of the worshippers for whom the Father was seeking; and, to crown it all, had now told her, that He was the Christ. Of grace, too, He had spoken — grace to one like her, the heart to be satisfied with living water, and the individual to have a fountain of it within, and, sought by the Father, to become a true worshipper of God.

{*The Baptist had declared that he himself was not the Christ, but was sent before Him. Andrew had said to Peter, "We have found the Messiah" — i.e. the Christ; Nathanael had confessed Him as the King of Israel. But this is the first occasion, with which we are acquainted, on which the Lord proclaimed Himself to be the Christ.}

But more than all this does the history open up to us and we must say in the right order. For grace first presented, and the person of the Christ made known, service should naturally follow for God and for His Son. And the sequel to this conversation at the well of Sychar illustrates for our instruction, the ground on which such service should be based, the spirit in which it should be carried on, and the aim which should be kept in view; and all this taught us, not in a dry, didactic way, in the language of the schools, or in theological formulas, but in a fresh and vivid way, by examples from real life, even of those who figured in the scene.

Ground of Service. — The disciples coming up with supplies from the city, the woman left Him. She came to the well with an empty pitcher: she left it with a full heart. She had gone in her solitude to the spring with her water-pot: she would return to it with empty vessels not a few — human hearts, which needed what she had now known, personal intercourse with Messias, the Christ. But what made her a worker in the cause? Was it from the pleasure simply of hearing something new? Was it the fascination of listening to a Teacher of commanding ability? Was it the gratification of self, which likes the importance of being the bearer of startling tidings to its fellow-creatures? Her tidings were indeed startling; her communication was news — good news. She had talked with the promised Teacher, the Prophet like to Moses. All this was true. But what made her a worker in the cause was, that her conscience had first been dealt with by the Lord. Heart work in her preceded lip service. And so in real service for Him must it ever be. And just because there was conscience work in her, she could not rest contented without saying to the men of that city, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" What she had done, what she was, Christ had told her. A work had been wrought in her through intercourse with a living, a Divine Person. He had spoken to her conscience; He had reached her heart. But if the first worker for Christ in the town of Sychar was, judging after men's thoughts, the last person to have been chosen, when we understand God's mind and ways we must say, that she was as fit an instrument as could be found, being first a recipient, because needing it, of Divine grace.

Would any sinful creature ask, Of what use can I be for God, I who have lost character with men, and have sunk into the lowest depths of degradation? None, we would reply, are too bad for Christ, if only really penitent before God. And such, as monuments of Divine mercy, will be for ever striking illustrations of Divine grace. Who, like the demoniac of Gadara, could tell of the delivering power of the Son of God? All men did marvel, and no wonder, remembering what he had been, and witnessing of what he was, when clothed, and in his right mind (Mark 5:15).

How simply did the woman work! She told what she knew; she testified of that which she had found, but in connection with a Person. "He told me," she avowed, thus pointing others to that One who, in grace, had met with her at the well. But how effectually did she do her work! The fields were white to harvest. The crowds which went out to Christ were the fruit of His dealing with her conscience, and of her simple tale about it. To stand up to preach was not her work. The Twelve and the Seventy were commissioned for that service. Yet she worked rightly and well, and that without intruding into another's sphere; so that it could be said of her, as of another of her sex, "She has done what she could." But her desires and efforts to bring others to Christ were based, it must be remembered, on the result of the Lord's personal dealing with herself.

Spirit for Service. — Let us next turn to see exemplified in this history, the spirit in which true service should be performed. The woman had left the well, the disciples having already rejoined the Lord with the food which they had purchased in the city. The draught of water from Jacob's well we read not that He ever got. Now to food, which the disciples had brought, He seemed indifferent. Yet refreshment and meat He had found, and that as He talked with the woman. "Master, eat," was the request of the disciples, who, now to be taught by Him, had addressed Him by the Jewish appellation of "Rabbi." The woman had learnt her lesson — viz. that the Christ had come; the disciples were to learn theirs — viz. the spirit in which true service should be performed, as illustrated by the example of the Master Himself. For His answer, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of," told of something, which they had not brought, that ministered sustainment to Him. Unable to comprehend His meaning, their thoughts, like those of the woman, being confined to temporal things, He graciously explained, as He added, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work" (31-34). Thus He, the sent One of the Father, shows us what true service is — the simple but faithful performance of the work marked out for the servant. Labourers are too often influenced by the manifestation or otherwise of results. The Lord's meat as a servant was, to do the appointed work, whatever the results might be.

Was He insensible to results? Far otherwise, as Isa. 49:4 and Matt. 11:20-24 declare. But perfect Servant, as perfect in everything else, His meat was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work. True, in doing it He must have had joy, a joy we cannot measure, as He saw one poor sinner's heart opened up by His teaching, like a flower expanding under the warming influence of the sun, and knew that the blessing communicated to her would be fruitful in blessing to many a soul in that city. But His meat was found elsewhere. What simplicity and what faithfulness do these words bring before us, the Master's teaching for His disciples, and that Master Jehovah's Servant, and Jehovah's Fellow! (Zech. 13:7).

Whilst sitting by the well the Lord had ministered to one poor woman's soul. But now it would seem, that, lifting up His eyes, He saw, and drew the attention of the disciples to, the sight of the people trooping out of the city to meet with Him. "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields: for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35). God's blessing on the soil to produce an abundant harvest could not be enjoyed for four months yet; nevertheless, there was a harvest to be reaped at once, the result of seed sown long before, which had germinated, and now was rapidly ripening under the presence of Him, who will by-and-by appear to Israel in their land as the "Sun of Righteousness."

It was harvest-time then at Sychar, a time unknown before in the annals of that fertile district. A joyous time is that of harvest, even in the natural world. Of this the Word bears witness (Isa. 9:3). But a joyous thing it is also, when there is a harvest of souls to be reaped. Of this the disciples were now to have experience, though in a way and in a place quite unexpected. That Judea, so recently stirred by the preaching of John the Baptist, should have yielded such results, would not have seemed surprising. Or that Galilee, in which a welcome reception was awaiting the Lord (John 4:43), should be the field where such an operation should first commence, would not have seemed to them unnatural. But that Sychar, where we read not that John had preached, nor the Lord had previously laboured, was to be the place, in which the disciples should first taste the joy of reaping, must have been most unexpected. What others have since known, they were now to learn — how cheering it is to the heart of a faithful servant of God, when reaping time arrives, and the labourer, or labourers, have only to enter on a work made ready to their hand. It is a blessed thing to see souls bowed down under the power of the Word, and prepared to take their stand henceforth in God's strength as servants and true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The power at such times of those who wield aright the sword of the Spirit seems immense; but they are but men, liable to be taken advantage of by the enemy, and so need, as the disciples did, the Lord's gentle reminder, that to reap is not everything, happy and inspiriting as that service is. Others, as in this case at Sychar, may have sown the seed, which at length produces such a bountiful crop. "Herein," said the Lord, "is the saying true, One sows, and another reaps. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labour" (37, 38).

The disciples were to be there but reapers, one set of the servants made use of in that portion of the field. Those who had laboured in earlier times, who had sown the seed, had passed away; but the Lord did not overlook them, nor allow their labour of sowing to be forgotten in the bright, genial days of harvesting. The names of some who sowed the seed (in this case the hope of Messiah's appearance) the Old Testament may furnish. But who kept alive that expectation in the hearts of the Samaritans, by teaching them what was written in the sacred page, we cannot now tell, and probably the disciples in their day were almost in as great ignorance about it as we are. But whoever they were to whom the Lord referred, He would have us to understand, that neither their names, nor their labours, are overlooked by Him. How gracious is this! How encouraging to those who toil during the sowing season, and depart this life without witnessing the joy of harvest, to remember the gracious announcement of the Lord of the harvest, that "he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to life eternal: that both he that sows, and he that reaps, may rejoice together" (36)!

How apt are men to judge of the labourer's usefulness by the apparent results of his work! How apt, too, are they, in time of harvest, to regard the reapers, as the one and only class of labourers who have tilled the soil! Not so the Lord. He knows who have ploughed up the ground, and sown the seed, in the sunless days of autumn and winter, or in the blustering days of spring. And when the harvest is reaped, and gathered into the barn, He will remember them, and own what share they have had in the work carried on for Him upon earth. It is well, it is right, to rejoice when harvest time of this character arrives in any locality; but the time for full joy about it cannot come, till a perfect estimate can be formed of the crop, and then the sower and the reaper shall rejoice together.

Are we called to sow? Let us work on undaunted, though we see not the fruit of our labour. Are we allowed to reap? Let us work diligently, remembering the responsibility which rests on us, but ever mindful that others may have a share in a coming day in the joy of that harvest, which we in the Lord's goodness have been permitted to reap. What joy would it have been, doubtless, to those of earlier days, who had kept alive the expectation of the Christ, if they had lived here long enough to have seen Him! Many prophets and righteous men had desired to see what the disciples saw, but survived not to that day. Will they be deprived of their joy? No. They shall see the day of Christ's glory and the crop which has resulted from seed sown by them in patience, and under difficulties known, perhaps, only to themselves and to God.

All who labour for God upon earth shall see the result of their work. "The sower and the reaper shall rejoice together." The Lord will not dissociate them. So, though spoken of in a different matter and in a different connection, may we not say, "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder"? The Lord's words about the labourers are worth remembering, cheering to the sower, sobering to the reaper.

But what, it may be asked, is it to sow? It is to disseminate faithfully the testimony of the day, whatever that may be, which has been committed to God's servants. To reap is to gather in souls by ministry, as the fruit of the seed sown. But who are to reap, and when? This the Lord decides, and here allotted to the disciples their portion of work in the field. "I sent you," etc. Their commission was from Him; and He who never makes a mistake, did not send them into the field before the crop was ready for their service.

Just come from Judea, where they had enjoyed no reaping, they found at Sychar the crop ready for the sickle; for, taught to expect the Messiah, the Samaritans were willing, when they knew of Him, to receive Him. To have attempted to reap in Judea would have been labour to little profit. To have commenced sowing at Sychar would have indicated a want of discernment as to the condition of souls in that city. To have concluded from their success at Sychar, that all Samaria was ready to receive the Lord, would have been manifestly erroneous, as the treatment He met with in one of the villages of Samaria at a later period of His life clearly demonstrates. All this, surely, can speak to us, where sowing and reaping may go on almost side by side. The work in one place is no criterion of what that in another should be; nor does it follow, that the labourer, highly blessed in one locality, has only to move to another, to find that field also quite ready for his reaping-hook.

The Aim of True Service. — And now with the Lord's example as teaching for us, and His words to His disciples having a voice for our days, let us look at the action of the woman, and at the recorded statement of some of the Samaritans at Sychar, as showing us what should be ever the aim of true service in dealing with souls.

Having learnt for herself the value of personal intercourse with Christ, she desired the same for her fellow-townsmen, and so besought them to come see the man, who had told her all things that ever she did. She could not rest satisfied with simply telling them of that which she had heard, nor whom she had seen, and with whom she had talked. She wanted others to meet with Him for themselves. They did so. Short of that she would not have them rest; short of that they did not stop. True spiritual instinct thus prompted her to bring them to Christ, as that which would settle their souls in the truth about Him. And she received from the words of those who hearkened to her invitation, the fullest justification of the correctness of her desire for all her fellow-citizens. "Now we believe," they said, "not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world" (42). For here the words "the Christ" should be omitted. Her testimony was that He was the Christ; theirs, that He was the Saviour of the world. She had learnt from His lips who He was. They learnt from His two days' sojourn among them what He was, as meeting their need on the broad ground of Divine grace. All question of the superiority of Gerizim over Jerusalem must have sunk into comparative indifference; for the Saviour of the world had come, had sat with them, had taught them, had tarried a little with them, and had convinced them of what He was. Thus their faith about Him was settled on a firm basis; and they could testify of that which they had discovered, as this title of the stranger was firmly fixed on their heart — "the Saviour of the world." They must have felt the strength, the comfort, the security, of their position. He could be their Saviour, for He was the Saviour of the world.

The two days' sojourn in that city ended. At their earnest request He had consented thus to tarry on His way to Galilee. Now this bright episode in the Lord's life, without one cloud to overshadow it, draw to a close; but it brings into fuller and most painful relief the unbelief of the Jews, which hindered them from sharing in joy as deep and as real as that of those Samaritans.

What an attractive history it is! Painters and poets have found in it subjects for their art. Christians find in it something for their hearts, — the Lord of glory sitting by the well, discoursing with a Samaritan woman; not so much seeking to uphold the Jewish side of the controversy, though that was decided in a few words, as desiring to minister to that ardent but unsatisfied soul the living water, which would satisfy her for ever. Besides that, as we have endeavoured at some length to point out, we get instruction suited for us all, as regards the carrying on of work for God: first, the ground on which Christian work should proceed; second, the spirit in which it should be carried on; and third, the aim ever to be kept in view.

Cana again. — The perfect servant, as He was, the Lord continued not at Sychar, but went on to Galilee, testifying Himself, that a prophet has no honour in his own country (44). Why, then, return thither? Was it not to allow the prophetic word to be fulfilled — that word quoted by Matthew (4:14-16) from the prophet Isaiah (9:1-2)? The Lord's subsequent but approaching selection of Capernaum as His own city fulfilled it. So writes the son of Alphaeus. To settle there, however, He must return to Galilee. And now a welcome awaited Him in that northern province. The signs done at Jerusalem at the recent Passover moved the Galilaeans, who had been present at it, to accord the Lord a hearty reception, having seen something of that which He could do, and hoping probably for miraculous aid on their behalf. How different was the case with the Samaritans at Sychar! He wrought no miracles there, nor did they need any. His word told on them. Signs influenced the Galileans

And now at Cana, where he had ministered gladness through turning water into wine at the marriage feast, He was to minister joy to a father and to his household by healing his son, who lay sick and dying at Capernaum. A certain nobleman, or courtier, it was, whose son was sick. Hearing of the Lord's return to Galilee, he went to Him. Parental affection moved him. He did not send a servant. He went himself. Between Capernaum and Cana was a distance of about twenty-five miles. To induce the Lord to take that journey, and to hasten His going there, the father set off himself, the Lord's presence he believed being requisite for the healing of his child. He asked Him therefore, he besought Him, to come and heal him. The case was urgent. The sickness was great. Death seemed imminent. To the father's entreaty the Lord did not move one step, but said, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." Was that all that he was to get, a reply like that, but no apparent response to his entreaty? Could He who had power to heal remain at Cana indifferent to that parent's request? Was the father to return home, and to tell of the fruitlessness of his errand? One can well fancy what a look of disappointment must have clouded his features. But parental love is strong. He would therefore make one more appeal, and in that express the urgency of his desire. "Sir," he said, addressing the Lord with a title of respect, "come down ere my child die." There was faith in the Lord's power, if only He would travel to Capernaum. His child he now calls him. Perhaps he was his only one.* At once came the answer: "Go thy way thy son lives." There was something in the Lord's words which imparted confidence. He could heal from a distance, that father was to understand, as well as when personally present. "The man believed the word that Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way" (4:50).

{*"My child," the term used, being in keeping with the father's tender affection (Meyer).}

What had been the signs done at Jerusalem the Apostle has not recorded. Very likely healing like this had never before been manifested. But the word of the Lord was enough. "Thy son lives," assured the father of his son's life being preserved. He started therefore homewards, and met servants on the road announcing that recovery had taken place. The last words of the Lord had been, "Thy son lives." The first words which saluted him on the road were, "Thy child lives." He had got the desire of his heart, and his faith was rewarded by these welcome tidings on his journey back. Enquiring when the favourable turn took place, he learnt that the hour when the Lord spoke to him was the hour when the fever left the child. Thankfulness must have filled his heart. Joy must have pervaded that house. And faith in the Lord's Messianic claim was wrought in every member of that family. The first sign at Cana established the faith of the disciples. This second one caused the courtier and his house to believe in the Lord as the Christ. At Sychar He had declared that He was the Christ. At Capernaum one family at least now believed it. By His word, and by His work it was made plain that He was the promised Messiah.

The Son of God, Giving Life

John 5.

From Galilee back to Judea the Lord went, and was found in the metropolis again, and at the time of some feast. What feast it was there is nothing to indicate. It was neither that of the Passover we believe, nor that of Tabernacles, nor that of the Dedication — these feasts, when referred to by the Evangelist, being mentioned by name. It must then have been some feast between the two Passovers of chapters 2 and vi. More we cannot say, unless it was the feast of Purim, kept on the 14th and 15th of Adar, between winter (4:35) and the Passover.*

{*That it was the feast of Purim would harmonise well with 4:35, and 6:4. Four months before the harvest the Lord was at Sychar, and He was again in Galilee shortly before the Passover (6:4), at which the sheaf of first-fruits was gathered and waved before the Lord.}

The Lord's ministry, as related in the three Synoptic Gospels, must by this time have begun. Hence that of John the Baptist must have terminated (Mark 1:14). He was now in prison. With this the Lord's reference to him in verse 35 of our chapter would harmonise. "He was," Christ said, "a burning and a shining light"; or, as the R.V. translates, "the lamp that burns and shines." "He was." The Lord thus speaks of him in the past, not in the present, as if his public ministry was ended. We understand then, that most, if not all, that we have hitherto read in our Gospel preceded the visit to Nazareth of Luke 4. When chapter 6 of John's Gospel opens, the Baptist was in his grave, executed by order of Herod the Tetrarch (Matt. 14:10); and the Lord, on the return of the Twelve from their preaching mission, retired with them into a desert place east of Jordan (Matt. 14:13; Mark 6:30-31). The visit of chapter 5 of our Gospel preceded the miracle of the five thousand. When, then, did it take place? We submit that Matt. 11:1 may throw light on it. Whilst the disciples were away on their mission, the Lord departed to teach and to preach in the cities. Is it impossible, that at that time, when alone, He revisited Jerusalem? No mention have we here by John of the disciples being with Him. We read of them in chapter 4, and again in chapter 6, but not a word about them in chapter 5. If they were itinerating at that time, the omission of any reference to them would be natural. We make the suggestion; the reader must judge for himself about it.

Bethesda. — The Lord in Jerusalem again, we are introduced to a locality not mentioned elsewhere in Holy Writ — the pool of Bethesda, as manuscript authority very generally gives it, though the Codex Sinaiticus calls it "Bethzatha," which is followed by Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort. The Codex Vaticanus gives it as "Bethsaida," with which the Vulgate agrees. The pool was in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate. So writes the Evangelist. Now that gate we read of in Neh. 3:1, as rebuilt by the high priest Eliashib and his brethren the priests. Modern research, however, has not yet so fixed the site of the gate, or of the pool, as to silence all competing theories. We cannot, therefore, yet definitely spot it. It was a twin pool, for it had five porches, in which lay a multitude of sick, blind, halt, withered (3). At times the water, it is said, was troubled (7), and healing virtue was proved to be connected with that, since the first person who stepped in after the moving of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. At the present time the only pool which has any moving of water is that of Gihon,* situated outside the city. That cannot, therefore, have been the pool of Bethesda. We must wait, then, still to have the spot certainly identified, What caused the moving of the waters must also remain a question, if not unsolvable, still unsolved, for verse 4 of our chapter should most probably be regarded as an interpolation, though the later uncials, with the Codex Alexandrinus, favour its retention.

{* Lieut.-Colonel Conder would identify it with Gihon, in which the Jews still bathe for a cure from rheumatism, the periodical overflow of the water being awaited. This overflow is caused by a natural syphon under the cave.}

But though the site is yet an open question, we gather distinctly from the history, that God still thought of sickness among His people, and continued to bestow healing virtue by the water of the pool, though in a very limited manner. And now He who did that was present on earth, and at the pool in the person of the Son. A multitude of sick lay there waiting for the moving of the water, for what sorrows and trials had the Fall induced! But to only one person did the Lord speak. Thirty and eight years had he been afflicted; and often, it would appear, had he failed of a cure; for, in character with the dispensation of the law, the individual needed strength, or friendly help, to secure the coveted relief. But this man had neither. He was helpless, and friendless. His case, therefore, would seem to be almost hopeless. Divine grace, however, when in action, can meet the need of such. That was to be exhibited, and quite unexpectedly, by the recipient of the favour.

The Miracle. — Waiting for the moving of the water. Such was the attitude of all that multitude. Many an eye may have been turned to the pool to catch the first sight of the coming healing virtue. On that day, however, their expectations were all in vain. The water was not troubled. Its calm, unruffled surface might seem to mock the wishes of the anxious company; for no sign was there of coming relief for any one of the sick and suffering, who thronged the porches of the pool. The water stood still, though the grace of God on that Sabbath day would be in activity. Now to one who had proved his powerlessness a stranger spoke: "When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He says to him, Wilt thou be made whole?" What a question to ask of the man. Why was he there but to get healing? he might have replied. And who could have wondered? In the presence, however, though unconsciously, of the Healer of diseases, he replied to his questioner by telling of his previous ineffectual efforts. Thirty and eight years had he been thus afflicted, and on no earthly friend could he rely to put him before others into the pool. Thirty and eight years, and all that time no better! What a life of trial and disappointment, too, had been his! Not that we read that he had lain there all that time, though he had been one of the company in those porches for a "long time." How often had he been disappointed! How often had one more active outstripped him in the race for healing! But, still hoping against hope that he might one day succeed, he lay there waiting for the movement of the water.

Accosted by the stranger asking, "Wilt thou be made whole?" he replied, "Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me" (7). Did he think the stranger might prove the friend in need, and, supplying what had been lacking, put him into the pool at the opportune moment? At any rate his thoughts did not rise above the pool, and of immersion in it. Of any other way of healing he had no conception. He little dreamt that the stranger, who had manifested interest in him by the question He asked, could be, not a helper, but the Healer. Jehovah who heals was standing before him. So now came the word — the word of power and of command, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk" (8). Who said that? A voice from heaven? No, a man upon earth, even the Son of Man. Power at once reinvigorated the limbs. He was made whole. It was no convalescence progressing by degrees to full recovery. For he took up his bed, and walked. What he might have done before he had been stricken, he was able after thirty-eight years of enforced disability to do, and that at once, and publicly before all the multitude of sick folk. He rose up. He carried his bed. He walked.

Objectors. — Who among the crowd of sick ones would have reproved him for carrying his bed, though it was the Sabbath day? But the Jews, those sticklers for traditional teaching, who were ready, if possible, to hinder the Almighty from acting in healing power on that day, now appeared, and reproved the man. "It is the Sabbath day, and it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed" (10). They doubtless had never known what bodily infirmity was. Had they themselves experienced such a cure, having personally proved what that man for thirty and eight years had suffered, could they have taken such ground? And now how simply did he meet them! He did not argue against their view of the Sabbath. He did not accuse them of want of sympathy with those who suffered. "He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said to me, Take up thy bed, and walk" (11). For him that was quite enough. He was satisfied that he had authority to do what he had done.

The Son. But who was that man? and where was he? The man knew not: "for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterwards Jesus finds him in the Temple, and said to him, "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come to thee." He learnt who had healed him. It was Jesus. And the man went and told the Jews (13-15). Of the cure there could be no doubt. Who would have lain a long time in those porches, and have made ineffectual efforts to get into the pool, had he not been afflicted, and helplessly so? Who so afflicted, could suddenly have risen up, carried his bed, and walked, had he not been healed? The cure was patent. None denied it. No one even questioned it. The man carrying his bed was unanswerable proof of his full restoration. Unable then to ignore it, the bitterness of heart on the part of the Jews flowed forth against the Lord by persecuting Him,* because He did these things on the Sabbath day (16). From rebuking the man they turned to persecute the Lord. Had the Lord broken the law by healing on that day? Certainly not. And no word from the law was quoted by them here, or on any like occasion, to support their traditional teaching (Mark 2:23-24, 3:2; Luke 13:14; John 9:16). It may be easy to raise such objections, but of what worth are they, unless based on the written Word of God? Would that traditional teaching of this kind had died out! But it has not, as many an one has had to experience. And its advocates would seek to condemn their fellows, and to terrorise their followers, by appealing to it. What says the Word is, however, the question? And what is not read therein, nor can be proved thereby, is not to be pressed as binding on the children of God.

{*The addition, "and sought to slay Him," should be struck out.}

Persecuting the Lord, He calmly answered them, "My Father works hitherto, and I work" (17). Their rage and hatred now knew no bounds. "Therefore," writes the Evangelist, "the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God" (18).

The bearing of His words was rightly understood. He was the Son of the Father, and He meant them to understand that. He had affirmed it publicly in the Temple on a previous occasion (2:16). Now, it would seem, in the Temple court (5:17), He declared it afresh. On the previous occasion He spoke of the house as His Father's. Here He mentioned His Father's activity in grace and mercy, which, consequent on the Fall, God had been manifesting ever since; for He did not, He could not, rest with things as they were down here. He cares for His creatures in weakness, in suffering, in trial, the fruit of sin. God is not indifferent to that through which they may be passing. They are His creatures, and He thinks of them. "My Father works hitherto" tells us that. And what follows, "I work," assures us, that Divine compassion is not exhausted, and Divine power has not reached its utmost limit.

Of creative power in activity in regard to material things we read no more after the sixth day of Gen. 1. God then rested on the seventh from all His work, which He had created and made (Gen. 2:3). But Adam fell; then activity in grace was called into exercise, and the first example of it, the coats of skin, were made by God for Adam and Eve. Thenceforth the creature's need called forth the Father's work to meet it. And if the Father had been all along working, who of men should hinder the Son working likewise? Did they think He made Himself equal with God? That was true, for He was God; and had just manifested His Divine power in healing by a word that man at the pool. Others had shown their dependence as creatures on God, when working miraculously in power. But He had given a command at the pool, which, when obeyed by the man, had brought life and vigour to his limbs, and strength to his body likewise.

Would they in their ignorance seek to kill Him for that which He had just said? He replied by affirming that He was the eternal Son of God, and only did what He had seen His Father do. Would they manifest zeal for God by compassing, if possible, His death? He told them that He enjoyed the Father's full affection, who also showed Him all things that He Himself did. To heal that man as He had done was confessedly a work beyond the compass of mere human power. But greater works than that would the Father show Him, that they might marvel. "For as the Father raises up the dead and quickens them; even so the Son quickens whom He will. For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son; that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father" (21-23). The power of raising the dead and quickening such was, all must own, greater than that of healing an infirm man.

Who then stood before them, and whom were they withstanding? The Son of the Father, who was most intimate with Him, the Quickener, too, of the dead, and the Judge of all. Every Jew would own that the power of resurrection, as that also of quickening, belongs to God. Now He, who addressed them, would Himself exercise those powers in the fullest way; but whilst waiting for the time to come to raise the dead, He was then and is now also acting, though with discrimination, in quickening whom He will (21). What language was this! What thoughts were presented to them! None had ever heard the like. A man who had suffered hunger in the wilderness, and who had been weary at the well side, enjoyed God the Father's special affection, and an intimacy with Him to which no creature could aspire, yet just that proper for the Son. Quickening power, too, He possessed, and was sovereign in the exercise of it. Further, all judgment was committed to Him, "that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." And He added, "He that honours not the Son, honours not the Father which has sent Him" (23).

Such a plain revelation, as to the person of the One they sought to kill, was at least calculated to arrest attention; and delivered, as doubtless it was, with a calmness unruffled by their opposition, was enough to overawe the audience. This it seems to have done, for not a word further throughout the remainder of this scene shall we find any opponent venturing in reply. They were silent, and may we not suppose struck dumb, if not overawed? They were in the presence of the Judge, before whose judgment seat every responsible creature must stand to hear His approval, or His solemn and irrevocable sentence consigning the individual to everlasting perdition. Would they profess to honour God, and yet reject Him? Impossible was it to do that! Such a distinction could not be made. Such a plea would never be accepted in heaven. They should mark that, and take it at once and seriously to heart.

Life. — And now He, who had the authority to judge, and the power to enforce the execution of His sentence, speaks in a different key, unfolding teaching about grace and salvation, prefacing it with those words, which as to their repetition is restricted to this Gospel, and throughout it are the utterance of the Lord Jesus Himself. "Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears My word, and believes Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment [not, condemnation]; but is passed from death to life" (24). He had spoken of all judgment being committed to Him. Now He would have every one hear what is the way of escape from it. How fitting and how encouraging is this! The Judge Himself tells us how we may escape the judgment. Who so fitting as He thus to speak? And if He thus speaks, what sure ground we stand upon, when we take Him at His word, and do what He says! To hear His word, He says; then it will not do to oppose Him. To believe Him (not, on Him) that sent Him. That takes us to the written Word. These are the conditions set before the creature. To have, 1st, as a present possession everlasting life; 2nd, never to come into judgment; and, 3rd, to have passed from death to life, — these are the blessings here offered without money and without price.

Two Hours. — Assuring thus all who hear His voice of deliverance from that judgment, which the impenitent must face, the Lord next speaks of communicating spiritual life to dead souls. "They that hear shall live." But when would that begin? He here declares. It began when He was ministering on earth. It goes on still. And now we meet with the two more great lines of the Gospel — viz. immunity from judgment, and the quickening of dead souls. This double need of man should never be forgotten, nor the Divine way of meeting it, fruit and proof of Divine love. Then of two hours, to retain the language of the passage, does the Lord speak: the first, which has already lasted for upwards of eighteen centuries; the second, which will comprise a period of over one thousand years. During the first, life-giving power is put forth by the Son of God. In the second, absolute power over death and the grave will be displayed by the Son of Man. In each case He speaks, and it is His voice which is heard. In the former He speaks, and the dead who hear live. In the latter He will speak, and the graves will give up their dead: first, those tenanted by the bodies of saints, ere the Lord's millennial reign commences; second, those tenanted by the unsaved, when He shall take His seat in judgment on the great white throne, ten centuries later.

We will quote the passage: "Verily, verily, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given the Son to have life in Himself: and has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done [or, practised] evil, to the resurrection of judgment [not, damnation]. I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me"* (25-30).

{*So the best authorities. We would add that "also" is omitted from verse 27 by the chief textual critics.}

These verses may be regarded as the complement of verse 24; but, as often is the case in Scripture, giving additional matter to that which is touched on in that verse. There the saved ones only are contemplated — i.e. those who now hear His voice. But as Son of Man all things are to be put under Him; so He has to do with all — both saved and unsaved. And it should be noted (how needful to mark it!), that spiritual, life-giving power is said to be exercised in the present hour, but not a word about it, not a hint of it, in the hour that is to come. Would any flatter themselves with the hope, that there may be salvation in the future for those who reject it now? He, who will speak in that coming hour, gives no countenance to such a thought. He speaks now to give life to those who hear. He will speak then, but to raise the dead. "Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). And let us further mark, that spiritual life is here announced as the result of hearing Christ's voice. He must be hearkened to for blessing to result. To reject Him, what folly! To refuse to hearken to Him, what madness!

It is the Son of God who speaks, the incarnate One, and we can now add the crucified One. Life comes through hearing Him, and in no other way for us. And life must, of course, precede works on the part of the creature, which, as dead, can do nothing to please or to serve God. Wholly, then, at Christ's mercy is every responsible creature on earth. Yet those Jews were opposing Him, and seeking to kill Him, through whose sovereign mercy alone could they have spiritual life. In what blindness are fallen, and in their case even religious, men! What grace, on the other hand, if they be not left to themselves!

Would His opposers think it strange that such language should come forth from His lips? He was the Son of God, though present then in humiliation, a man amongst men. He had a right so to speak; for "as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given the Son to have life in Himself." It is in Him as a source for men. Believers have received it from Him. Of none of them could it be predicated, that they have life in themselves. Christ is our life (Col. 3:4). And He quickens whom He will (John 5:21). Nor that only, but as He has already declared, so He repeats it; He has authority to execute judgment, and that as Son of Man. In what light and favour does the Father regard Him! In what light were those Jews thinking of Him? A sabbath-breaker and a blasphemer (John 10:33) they thought Him, before whose judgment seat all of them must one day stand.

Two Resurrections. — This leads necessarily on to the doctrine of the resurrection. The Jews believed it — as Martha, confessing about it for herself (11:24), gives us to see that it was the common belief of the nation. This Heb. 6:2 confirms. All would rise they held, both the just and the unjust. Resurrection of the dead all but the Sadducees accepted as orthodox teaching. But further light on this subject is thrown by New Testament revelation. There will be a resurrection to life, and a resurrection to judgment. Will they take place at the same time? No. A period of a thousand years will intervene between them (Rev. 20:4-5). The sleeping saints, when all raised, will form the first resurrection — raised to life, to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. All those finally impenitent will be raised too, but for judgment, as that same chapter in Revelation describes. In this Gospel we have the first intimation in the New Testament of the two resurrections. And we learn that each consists of one class, — all of the one raised up for life, so comprising only saints; all of the other raised up for judgment, so comprehending only the impenitent. These two classes mixed now upon earth, separation of the individuals composing them begins in the other world, as the Lord's teaching concerning the rich man and Lazarus sets forth (Luke 16). Grasping now the truth of the two resurrections, we can understand the meaning of a phrase first used by the Lord, "resurrection from the dead" (Mark 9:9-10); and subsequently by the Apostle Paul, when setting before the Philippians his desire for himself (Phil. 3:11, R.V.). Resurrection from the dead implies that all are not raised together.

Resurrection of the dead, then, is to be an article of the Christian man's creed, as it was one of Jewish faith. But a general resurrection is to be no part of his creed. All the dead will be raised, yet not all at once, — all the sleeping saints, we repeat it, sharing in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6); and all the ungodly dead being called forth only for judgment. This distinction kept in mind, the reader will understand, how the Apostle, writing to the Corinthians of their Christian prospect, mentions the raising up of those who are Christ's at His coming (1 Cor. 15:23), and passes over the awful resurrection of the ungodly — events, as we have said above, separated by a long interval of years. To reign with Christ, and to see Him in His glory and power, is the assured prospect of all the heavenly saints; so the resurrection of those of them who will have died must precede the millennial reign. The ungodly have no part in that; so they will remain in death and in the grave till those thousand years are ended.

Would the Jews entertain the hope of ridding themselves of Christ by compassing His death? Vain hope! They must all by-and-by meet Him as their Judge. Will any hope to hide effectually from Him in the dark recesses of the grave? Vain hope! again we must say. He has absolute power over death. He has absolute power over all who enter its portals. And His enemies must find themselves in the other world in His custody, for He has the keys of Hades and of death. Then, as Lazarus came forth at His bidding, though bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, nothing will hinder obedience to His summons on the part of those whom He will call. All the ungodly dead will hear His awakening voice, and obey it. Rejecting Him and His offer of salvation whilst on earth, they will have to obey, and that at once, His summons, to appear before Him when on the great white throne. Lord of the dead they will have to own Him, whom they never believed on as the Saviour of sinners. And His judgment will be unerring, just indeed. Against it there will be no appeal (John 5:30).

Four Witnesses. — Hitherto in this discourse the Lord has revealed truth about Himself. The Son of the Father, the object of His special affection, He quickens, but whom He will; and He will judge all. The importance, too, of the present was pressed on His hearers, and is pressed on all the readers. Now is the hour in which He speaks in life-giving power, and those that hear shall live, sharing in the blessing of everlasting life, and assured of immunity from that coming judgment, which the ungodly must face. Thus early in His ministry was all this brought out, and the grace manifested in disclosing it we can perceive. Who He was in His person, and the danger of rejecting Him, were subjects of supreme importance then, and are equally so still. Many a subject, which may occupy men's minds, ceases in time to interest. But the truths touched on in this chapter are as much in season as ever. And the Lord, knowing the supreme importance of them, concludes this discourse at Jerusalem with the announcement of four witnesses — witnesses, indeed, unimpeachable — who bore testimony to Him: viz. 1st, John the Baptist; 2nd, His own works; 3rd, His Father; and 4th, the written Word.

Whoever before, whoever since, could cite such testimony on his own behalf? The Baptist, that burning and shining lamp, attested that the One he had baptized was the Son of God (1:34). Christ's works, too, manifested that the Father had sent Him, seeing they were given Him of the Father to finish. Healing the sick with a word, casting out devils, cleansing lepers, raising the dead — these and other works were attestations as to the One who was there. Now, though in this Gospel we have had as yet but three works specified (2:11, 4:54, 5:8-9), others, perhaps many, had been already wrought in Jerusalem on the Lord's visit at the first Passover (3:2, 4:45). Sufficient proof there was already to authenticate His mission, and to bear witness to the truth of His person. The three miracles, which John alone has recorded, were such as no mere man had ever wrought, — manifesting, the first, the Lord's power over creation; and the two others, that, what He willed, He did. Then the Father had borne witness to Him. His voice had been heard at the baptism in Jordan, declaring the special relationship in which He stood to the Father — His beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased. And lastly, there was that which could be true of no man but of Himself — the being the special subject of Divine revelation. The Scriptures of truth which the Jews searched,* thinking that in them they had everlasting life, they bore witness of Christ. He stood, then, that day before them all, wonderful for them to hear it, as the theme of Old Testament prediction.

{*It is no command to search the Scriptures that we have in verse 39; rather a statement, or, if any translate "search," it is in the nature of an appeal.}

The Lord's witness to Himself was awe-inspiring. He was the sent One of the Father (v. 36). Who before Him had ever made such a claim, and pointed to proofs in attestation of it? Then the testimony of those four witnesses was, we should have said, overpowering. And yet He had to state of those He addressed, that they would not come to Him to have everlasting life. "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life" (40), was His serious charge against them — indicating surely, in the way that He expressed it, His willingness to quicken them, if they had been willing to bow to it. Their unwillingness was the real hindrance. He read their hearts. And now He tells them plainly what He knew about them. Their actions betrayed them. Professing zeal for God, so as to be ready to kill Him for making Himself equal with God, they had not God's word abiding in them; nor had they really any love for God in their hearts (38, 42). What an exposure by the discerning and unerring Judge! Would any think He was overstating the case? He gives proof of that which He affirmed. Him, whom the Father had sent, they believed not (38). He had come in His Father's name, and they received Him not (43).

But more. Refusing Christ, they would be willing to receive antichrist, who will come in his own name. Solemnly will that be demonstrated in a coming, and it may be now a near approaching, day; when the Jews, again in their land, will, the bulk of them at least, become apostates, seduced by Satan, and deceived by Antichrist. Clearly then, but solemnly, does the Lord unmask their true condition, whilst foretelling the future of the impenitent part of the nation. Honour, or rather glory, they sought for from one another, but not that which comes from "the only God." We quote here the Revised Version for the translation — "the only God." And this expression seems to have special force in connection with the reference to Antichrist, who will own, and make his dupes own, a god whom his fathers knew not (Dan. 11:38-39), but not "the only God," the God of their fathers, Jehovah of Hosts.

And now in concluding the Lord would take away the last plank, as it were, to which they might cling. They boasted, in rejecting Him, of being true disciples of Moses (John 9:28). But Moses would be their accuser. "For if ye believed Moses," the Lord adds, "ye would believe Me: for he wrote of Me" (v. 46). But where shall we find that? Now there is one special prediction of the lawgiver, quoted both by Peter (Acts 3:22-23) and by Stephen (Acts 7:37), foretelling the coming of a Prophet like to him, to whom they were to hearken. And the likeness referred to, which is explained in Deut. 34:10, awaited for its fulfilmentthe coming of Christ. No prophet in Israel, however eminent, for fifteen centuries ever thought of claiming for himself the special distinction of being known by God face to face. The mediator of the old covenant and the Mediator of the new are the only ones of whom that has been true. Refusing, then, to hearken to Christ, they were guilty of direct disobedience to Moses. The lawgiver would be their accuser. The professed disciples of Moses, jealous as they fancied for his honour, would find themselves accused before God by him! Was it unaccountable that they received not the Lord? "If ye believe not His writings, how shall ye believe My words?" (John 5:47) explained the matter. To the writings of Moses the Lord turned them. Then Moses wrote something. And New Testament teaching by Peter and Stephen expressly states that Deut. 18:15-19 are the words of the lawgiver — written, however, in vain for those people.

This discourse here terminated. It was startling; it was solemn, — startling as the Lord presented Himself as the Son of the Father; solemn as He closed with that reference to Moses. Powerful, too, we may believe His audience felt it, for no one ventured a word in reply. Whether any, or what, abiding effect it had on the audience, the Evangelist has not recorded. What effect it can have on the reader, each one must determine for himself. But how many have had cause to thank God for the truths therein set forth, and for that simple and beautiful Gospel contained in the twenty-fourth verse of this chapter! We quote it afresh: "He that hears My word, and believes Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death to life." How desirous was and is the Lord Jesus to save sinners from eternal perdition! Well may we sing in the words of the hymn:
"What a Saviour Jesus is!
Oh, what grace, what love is His!"

The Son of Man, the Bread from Heaven

John 6.

The Baptist had now been killed, decapitated by the order of Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch. The daughter of Herodias had asked for his head at the instigation of her mother (Mark 6:22-23). The king, to keep his oath before men, sinned before God, immediately granting her request. The Twelve, too, had returned from their mission, as both Mark and Luke inform us. And to give them a little rest, for they could not get even leisure to eat, the Lord had said, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). He thought for His servants. They needed repose. Embarking, they crossed the lake (for the Lord was again in Galilee), and made for the city of Bethsaida Julias* (Luke 9:10), near which was a desert place. For this information as to the voyage we are indebted to Matthew (14:13) and to Mark (6:32). Now all this, saving just the fact that the Lord with His disciples went to the other side of the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias, John passes over without notice. But now we are to read of a sign, as he calls it (John 6:14), mentioned by all the Evangelists, and the only miracle recorded by them all, and the only event, too, till we reach the history of the Lord's last visit to the holy city for His death on the cross.

{*This, situated on the east of the lake, near the Jordan, was a city "rebuilt, and adorned by Philip the Tetrarch, and raised to the dignity of a town under the name of Julias, after the daughter of the Emperor" Augustus (Smith's Dictionary of the Bible). We would add that the better reading in Luke 9:10 is simply, "went aside privately to a city called Bethsaida."}

The Sign. — We would here remind the reader of that which we have noticed elsewhere* — viz. that the manner of the introduction of this miracle in each Gospel affords a clue to the special character in which the Lord Jesus is presented in each of them. Recalling that to mind, the reader may always remember in what light the historian portrays Him. In Matthew He had been engaged in healing the sick, a feature which characterised Him as the Christ, the Messiah of Israel. From Mark we learn that He had been teaching, for he brings Him before his readers as the Teacher, or Prophet. In Luke we read of the double manifestation of His grace, healing and teaching. He was there as the Son of Man come in grace. But John, though present as one of the Twelve, omits all mention of the Lord's occupations before the evening of that day began to draw in, and introduces the narrative of the sign by the Lord's question to Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" "And this," John adds, "He said to prove him, for He Himself knew what He would [or, was going to] do" (6:5, 6). Presenting Him to his readers as a Divine Person, he notices His prescience and His power. To John are we indebted for this last statement.

{* From Advent to Advent, pp. 17, 18.}

The question elicited Philip's sense of the impossibility of feeding them. "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little" (7), much less could that provide for all a satisfying meal. And where could they in that desert place buy so much bread? — let alone the improbability of the Apostles having that money (about 7) to spend, who were often indebted to the ministration of others for the supply of their bodily wants (Luke 8:1-3). Philip's answer given, another of the disciples, Andrew, we here learn, acquaints the Lord with all the resources at hand. "There is a lad here which has five barley loaves and two small fishes; but what are they among so many?" What, indeed! And would not Andrew's remark favour the supposition, that the disciples had no provisions of their own to share with the multitude? Barley loaves was the food of the commonest kind. And two small fishes, yet the lake not far off abounding with the finny tribe, how small was the supply to share with that great multitude! Philip's remark, and Andrew's question, both witnessed to the need of some miraculous intervention, if a meal was to be provided. Now it was to be seen that the supply in the lad's possession, so inadequate to human thought, was ample, if only the Lord deigned to make use of it. The loaves were not multiplied to ten times their number.* The fish, small as John tells us they were, remained just two throughout. Yet the five loaves, and the two little fishes, not only sufficed to satisfy five thousand men, besides women and children (Matt. 14:21), but to fill twelve baskets with the fragments that remained.

{*There were just the five loaves that the Lord broke to give to the multitude, as He stated (Mark 8:19).}

Five barley loaves, and two small fishes! That was all. Now came the word of command, "Make the men sit down." Nobody remonstrated. No Apostle ventured another word. Christ's word was enough. And, doubtless, what Matthew alone has preserved, two sayings of the Lord at this time, the one, "They need not depart," the other telling them to bring the loaves and fishes to Him (Matt. 14:16-18), encouraged the Twelve to expect some miraculous display of power. They made the company sit down on the green grass,* for it was spring-time, shortly before the Passover; and, as Mark expressly notices, they were arranged in companies in a very orderly and methodical manner, in accordance with the Lord's directions (Mark 6:39-40).

{*John tells us there was much grass in the place and Mark 6:39 expressly notices, that it was green.}

Now was to begin the distribution: "Jesus therefore took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would" (John 6:11). From the other accounts we learn, that the Lord made use of the Twelve as intermediaries. They received the food, and handed it on to those before them. There is dispensational teaching in that. On it having entered elsewhere,* we need say nothing about it here; for John, who in common with Matthew was a dispenser to the multitude, makes no mention of it. His great theme being the Lord as a Divine Person,** there was no need to notice the service of the Apostles on this occasion. Two things, however, all record. The one was the giving of thanks, as John expresses it, before the people were fed. God was to be acknowledged as the Giver of every good gift, and as the One who provides for the wants of His creatures. What He was in that respect He is still. The other fact was the gathering up the fragments, that nothing should be lost. From John we learn, that this was by the Lord's express direction (6:12). He who wielded almighty power sanctioned no waste, and here sets before His people an example of frugality. The people first satisfied, the twelve baskets of fragments attesting that, the disciples gathered up in them enough for their own next meal.

{*See From Advent to Advent, p. 113.

**So the best authorities omit "to the disciples, and the disciples" in verse 11.}

Lessons there were from this miracle for the disciples. The Lord deduces one for them elsewhere (Matt. 16:9-10; Mark 8:19-20). His ability to provide for His people's wants should henceforth have been, we might say, an article of their faith. And a perception, too, of His person as Divine should have been grasped by them all. Mark (6:52) notices, in connection with the following morning, their failure in that respect. Then of the effect on the crowd, which had been fed, John, and he alone, has told us (John 6:14): "This is of a truth that [rather, the] prophet that should come into the world." He who reads hearts knew well what value to put on that. Soon, too, would it be demonstrated, how little prepared they were to hearken to Him as that Prophet. Besides this, He, as a Divine Person, knew their thoughts, discerning their intention, though not openly expressed. They would now make Him King. To John also we are indebted for this, which is quite in character with the distinctive teaching of his Gospel. In momentary fervour, they would, if they could, have made Him King. Ignorance on their part, indeed, was this. He was King, not made such by man, but from the moment of His birth (Matt. 2:2), being born King of the Jews. He was King, therefore, by right, and also by special Divine decree (Ps. 2:6-7). He would not, He could not, receive His kingdom from men.

He departed, therefore, again into the mountain, from whence He had come to minister to the multitude in their need (John 6:2). But He went back alone, for He went to pray (Matt. 14:23; Mark 6:46), first, however, directing His disciples to cross over the lake without Him. He had crossed it with them, and apart from the crowd, as they left them, when on the west side, without leisure so much as to eat (Mark 6:31-32). He would now dismiss the vast crowd, and retire to speak that night to His Father in prayer. He who had just manifested His Divine power in feeding the multitude with those five loaves and two small fishes, would, as a dependent man, bow low before His Father in prayer. None of His disciples, then, should be ashamed to confess their dependence on the God of all grace and the Father of mercies.

The Voyage. — The disciples, embarking in obedience to their Master's directions (Matt. 14:22; Mark 6:45), were to go before to Bethsaida, as Mark definitely states. This was a town on the west side of the lake, and quite distinct from Bethsaida Julias, near to which the Lord had fed the multitude. We say this, because it is a moot question whether there were two Bethsaidas or only one. That on the east side being called Bethsaida Julias would afford presumptive evidence that there was another. And Mark 6:45, compared with Luke 9:10, as rightly read, "they went aside privately to a city called Bethsaida," confirm it, as we believe. But Bethsaida on the west they never reached. They landed in the plain of Gennesaret.* So write Matthew and Mark. Then John tells us they were going to Capernaum. The wind may have caused a deviation in their course, for to Capernaum they came.

{*This plain extends for about three miles along the western shore, with one mile and a half for its greatest breadth. It was extremely fertile, and is so described by Josephus, Wars, III. x. 8.}

The Storm. — Starting when all was propitious, a storm of seemingly unusual severity arose, though the lake was liable to be disturbed by sudden squalls. The three accounts of the storm are in agreement, though they give their account independently one of another. John tells us that the sea arose by reason of a great wind which blew; and be adds, that it was dark. He thus informs us of the rising of the storm. Matthew and Mark dwell on the condition of the vessel. It was "in the midst of the sea" i.e. away from land; and "tossed with the waves; for the wind was contrary" (Matt. 14:24). The wind against them, sailing was out of the question. To their oars, John tells us, they had recourse, but failed to get across the lake. Cheerless, indeed, was their condition. Human efforts to reach the desired shore proved wholly unavailing. Twenty-five or thirty stadia, or furlongs, had they rowed. The lake at its greatest breadth Josephus states was forty stadia, or furlongs, in width. Still they were exposed to the undiminished fury of the gale. The hours of the night were passing, they toiling, but ineffectually, and the Lord absent.

Was He unmindful of their difficulties, indifferent to all their fruitless exertions? That could not be. Was He in ignorance of their whereabouts? "He saw them toiling in rowing," writes Mark (6:48); for the darkness was no darkness to Him. And now, after an absence of so many hours, about the fourth watch of the night, which, speaking roughly, lasted from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., He appeared walking on the sea, and drawing nigh to them. Consternation seized them. They thought, as Matthew and Mark unite in saying, that it was an apparition. "They were afraid," writes John. But the few words from Himself, "It is I; be not afraid," dispelled their surmises. Gracious was it in Him thus to calm their fears. And those few words must have made an indelible impression on all who heard them. For the three Evangelists have preserved them; whilst Matthew and Mark agree, that He first said, "Be of good cheer," before adding, "It is I; be not afraid." Reassuring them by His presence with them once again, He entered the ship. The wind ceased, "and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." So wrote John (6:21), a little addition to the narratives of his co-biographers.

Typical and Dispensational Teaching. — The Lord with them, the storm at once died down. In this we have a little picture of the Jewish remnant in the future, who will be buffeted, tried, and persecuted too, unable to cope with the powers of the Beast and of Antichrist, till the Lord comes back in person to earth, and identifies Himself with His poor and harassed people. Then the storm will for them become calm, and they will be landed on ground that never can give way beneath them. Dispensational teaching, too, is connected with this history as related by Matthew. He tells us of Peter going out of the boat to walk on the water to the Lord, a foreshadowing of the position of the Apostles and converts from Judaism, when as Christians stepping out of Judaism to meet the Lord (Heb. 13:13). A few words we here quote from a late eminent servant of Christ, which will put this matter in a clear light: "Peter individually, in coming out of the ship, goes in figure beyond the position of this remnant. He represents that faith, which, forsaking the earthly accommodation of the ship, goes out to meet Jesus, who has revealed Himself to it, and walks upon the sea — a bold undertaking, but based on the word of Jesus, 'Come.' Yet remark here that this walk has no other foundation than, 'If it be Thou' — that is to say, Jesus Himself. There is no support, no possibility of walking, if Christ be lost sight of. All depends on Him. There is a known means in the ship; there is nothing but faith, which looks to Jesus, for walking upon the water. Man, as mere man, sinks by the very fact of being there. Nothing can sustain itself, except that faith which draws from Jesus the strength that is in Him, and which therefore imitates Him. But it is sweet to imitate Him, and one is then nearer to Him, more like Him. This is the true position of the Church, in contrast with the remnant in their ordinary character."*

{* Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by the late Mr. J. N. Darby, vol. iii., p. 105, new edition, revised.}

This incident of Peter walking on the water John wholly passes over. He was present. He must have witnessed it. And Peter and he were great friends. Yet he mentions it not. The dispensational teaching arising out of it was not that view of things which he would present. He dwells more on personal characteristics of the Lord: "He Himself knew what He would do." Almighty power was His: "He perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him King." From Him, as God, no secrets are hid. He could search the heart, a prerogative belonging only to God. He walked, too, on the water, for He was God.

Arriving at the land of Gennesaret, they moored to the shore. It must have been very early in the morning, when the rough voyage was ended. Now what a welcome awaited Him, so different from the experience met with a few hours later! Mark tells us of it (6:54-55): "When they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew Him, and ran throughout that whole region, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard He was." A little later in the day the Lord and His disciples were found in the city of Capernaum, whither the crowds He had fed had followed by boats as soon as they could procure a passage by means of vessels that had crossed on that morning from Tiberias, which was on the west shore, but some distance south of Capernaum. These provided the means of transit for the crowds to cross the sea to Capernaum, situated nearer the north-west end of the lake. Time must have been required for that, affording, therefore, the opportunity for others on the west to convey some sick ones, at all events, to the Lord, for healing power to be exercised on their behalf. That service, however, John also passes by. And now, parting company from his brother Evangelists, he will relate the conversation which ensued that day in the city and in the synagogue of Capernaum.

Discourse with the Multitude. — The night had passed, with the multitude, which had been fed, still on the east side of the lake; but the disciples had been seen to go away. Not so the Lord. He had withdrawn into the mountain, after dismissing the crowd. But where was He now? No facility, the crowd was sure, had there been for Him to follow the disciples. There had been but one vessel that evening on the east coast. In it the disciples had embarked without Him, recrossing, probably, in the very boat which had taken them thither in order to rest a while. The multitude, it should be remembered, had gone round the head of the lake after the Lord to the eastern side. They travelled on foot, skirting its northern end (Mark 6:33). This accounts for there being no vessels on the eastern shore but the one. Where, then, was the Lord?

The people, who had run after Him to that side, now began to cross to the western shore in search of Him. We can picture the sight it must have been, for any one on the lake-side at Capernaum, to see boat after boat arriving, and discharging its living freight, quite a fleet of little vessels, filled with people, all making for that city. What was it all about? The multitude soon made it apparent. They were seeking for the Lord Jesus. Finding Him, they commenced the conversation, which was to take a turn wholly unexpected by them. "Rabbi," they said, "when camest Thou hither?" (John 6:25). To that interrogation He vouchsafed no response. There was nothing wrong in their question, but the answer to it would not have furthered their profit. He desired that. So at once He let them know of His perfect cognisance of the motive for the alacrity with which they sought Him. He knew they had thought on the previous day of taking Him by force to make Him King. He read their thoughts then. He read them again. He knew why they followed Him. He was not deceived. Popularity, what is it worth? To an outsider, seeing the boat-loads of people coming across the water, it might seem as if His star, to speak after the manner of men, was in the ascendant. But He as God read hearts, and now openly exposed their motive for seeking Him: "Verily, verily, I say to you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the signs, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour [or perhaps better, work] not for the meat that perishes, but for that meat which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give to you: for Him has God the Father sealed" (26, 27).

Two Questions. — The "signs," the Lord had said. John had only recounted one — viz. the feeding of them all in the wilderness. Matthew and Luke, however, notice the healing of the sick (Matt. 14:14), none of whom, who came or were brought to Him that day, could say that their case was beyond relief. "He healed," writes Luke, "them that had need of healing" (Luke 9:11). Yet the multitude had not profited by those displays of miraculous power. They did not discern who was there. Temporal blessing they were ready to receive, but spiritual blessing they sought not. But He, who had shown His power in bestowing the one, was able and willing to give the other. He spoke as the Son of the Father, but as the Son of Man as well. There was, there is meat, which endures to everlasting life; and He could, and was willing to give it — He, the sealed One of the Father; for on Him, at His baptism by John, the Holy Ghost had descended in a bodily shape, and rested on Him.

Upon this their first question arose. He had said, Work for the spiritual meat. They replied, "What must we do, that we might work the works of God?" (John 6:28). There seemed some understanding of the bearing of His words, and an apparent readiness to comply with the exhortation, if only they learned what it was they were to do.

Not one moment were they left in doubt as to that, for the Lord immediately replied, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent" (29). Faith was required, believing on the Lord Jesus, the sent One of God, not activity in works, nor the bringing of an offering to the altar in the Temple court. Nothing was required, therefore, beyond what a man could do. Not works, but faith, was the work of God for them. But now a supposed difficulty presented itself. How should they believe on Him without some sign to authenticate His mission? "What sign showest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee? — What dost Thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat" (30, 31). Now it was but the previous evening that five thousand men, besides women and children, had been fed, being amply provided for in the wilderness. Could we have supposed, apart from the knowledge of our own hearts, that such a question should have been asked, and such a reference made to the history of the past, in the face of the miracle they had witnessed, and by which all of them had abundantly profited? With justice might He have turned away from them who had thus spoken. But grace in Him was active. Their souls' best interests He had at heart. So He, who is the only begotten Son of God, quietly replied, "Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not that [or, the] bread out of heaven but My Father gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is He which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world" (32, 33). Saving grace goes out beyond Israel, and is world-wide in its sphere of blessing. The true bread was out of heaven, far surpassing, therefore, the manna to which they had referred. It was, however, for them, if they would receive it, the gift of His Father; and it could minister spiritual life to them, and to the world.

"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son," etc. (3:16). He gives, too, the true bread out of heaven, which gives life to the world. The manna appeared every morning on the ground, having fallen on the dew (Num. 11:9), showing that it came from above, and was not an emanation from the earth. The true bread, however, had a higher source; it came down out of heaven. Now, whether it be the sacrifice which is spoken of, or the bread of life, it is of God's Son that the Word treats, at once the sacrifice, and the living bread. Yet, as it was with the woman at the well of Sychar, so with these people, dulness of comprehension was manifested. "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw," had been her petition, and the motive, too, for it. "Lord, evermore give us this bread," was the rejoinder of the crowd to the last announcement. Grace in fulness within their reach was the purport of His reply. "Jesus says to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to Me shall not hunger; and he that believes on Me shall never thirst" (John 6:34-35). Words these were for each one who heard to take hold of, treasure up, and act upon. Words they are for each who reads them still to take hold of, treasure up, and act upon. The Father who gave the true bread, the Son who is that bread, would satisfy souls for eternity. "My Father gives," He said, for Christ's death was then future. "The Father has given," we can say, for His death has taken place, and God is well pleased with it.

We have called attention to the woman at Sychar as compared with the multitude at Capernaum. We would now draw a comparison for a moment between Nicodemus in chapter 3, and the crowd in chapter 6, in this respect — that the Lord's manner of teaching seemed to silence His hearers, and so allowed Him to proceed unchecked by further questions, for a time at least, in that which He desired to put forth. We can understand this effect on people. He could speak with authority, as One who knew of what He was affirming, not, indeed, to frighten, but to arrest the attention. "How can these things be?" had been the last words of Nicodemus. "Lord, evermore give us this bread," was the request of the crowd. The Lord, in replying, announced Himself as the bread of life (35), a communication which must surely have taken them all by surprise. They kept silence, therefore, whilst He proceeded to tell them something about themselves, and to open up some blessed revelations about Himself, offering to satisfy every one who would come to Him, and believe on Him. He announced that He could give to such more than their fathers had found in the manna. That alleviated hunger, satisfying the people only till the next supply came down. The Lord could meet soul-thirst as well, and He would satisfy those who came to Him for eternity. Far beyond the manna, then, was that which He offered. Surely that would secure a sympathetic audience. But He had to tell them plainly, "Ye also have seen Me, and believe not" (36).

Had He, then, come in vain? Was His mission fruitless? That could never be. And He makes that plain in words which follow. We quote them at length. "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him that sent Me [so we should here read], that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of My Father [see R.V.], that every one that sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (37-40). Men may defeat the purposes of a brother-mortal. No being can effectually defeat the purposes of our God. He purposes, and He counsels how He will carry out His purposes. All must be accomplished. But who was speaking? A man, as they looked at Him; a carpenter himself, and of Nazareth. The movement, then, of which He was the head, might seem to lack influential support, and prophets of evil might predict its failure. Yet not one of those given to Him by the Father but would share in the blessings He came to dispense. A complete collapse of the movement there could not be, nor would partial failure of it ever have to be recorded. It would be signally triumphant, for all that the Father has given to Him shall come to Him. Thus blessing, everlasting blessing, was bound up with believing on Him. He stood forth in chapter 5 as the present Quickener of souls, and the future Judge of all. He stands forth here as indispensable to every responsible creature, who hears or reads His words, if everlasting life should ever be enjoyed by such.

Divine Will. — Indispensable indeed. For to Him must each one now come. He, regarded as the carpenter's son, born, as men would say, of poor parents, spake in such terms to the crowd which had followed Him. But standing forth in that character, He waited not to be entreated by men, keeping aloof in the conscious dignity of His person. He offered, He promised, to receive every one that would come to Him. Man, proud man, might stand apart, waiting to be supplicated. But God, the High and the Holy One, stoops down to His creatures, and speaks as none would have surmised. "Him that comes to Me," was His gracious declaration, "I will in no wise cast out." The Son of God, the Son of Man, willing to receive the vilest of the vile! Grace indeed! Then proceeding, He announced the purpose of His presence on earth as a man. For He came down out of heaven to do the will of another, even the will of Him that sent Him. And what that is we are not left to conjecture. In simple words He told it out, making known the counsels of the Father, which must infallibly be accomplished. Now here a secret is revealed. A transaction had taken place between the Father and the Son, of which men were the object; but of which, unless revealed, they must have been wholly ignorant. The Father has given people to His Son. The Son will keep them as His Father's gift; not one will He lose, and will raise each one up at the last day. Death, which deprives men of their possessions here, will not deprive Him of one item of His Father's donation. The Divine will cannot then be frustrated. And this is that will, that of all which He has given to the Son, He should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

Human Responsibility. — God's counsels, as we have said, must be fulfilled; and where these are the subject, no failure by any possibility can be contemplated. Treating, however, of the carrying out of these counsels with men, the creature's responsibility must necessarily be kept in view. The counsels are certain to be carried out; but who are the objects of them? Here human responsibility comes in. That is now set forth in the closing words to the multitude (40), ere the Jews raise their hostile objections. Every one that sees the Son, and believes on Him, shall have everlasting life, and be raised up at the last day. There were those present who had seen Him, and yet had not believed (36). But everlasting life, as here set forth, is connected with seeing Him, and believing on Him. To have seen Him, to have been in His company (Luke 13:26), was not enough. To believe on Him was the important matter. The creature's responsibility is thus enforced, and blessed results for those who answer to it are briefly and once more declared — everlasting life now in the soul, and the body to be brought out of death in the future, that the whole person may enjoy that life in the day of the Lord's power and glory, and that for ever. The Lord had spoken of His raising the dead in the previous chapter (5:28-29). There all the dead are contemplated as illustrations in a coming day of His power over Hades and the grave. Here again He speaks of raising the dead, but saints only are in view.

A word as to coming and believing (6:35, 37). Of course, when the Lord was upon earth, people went to Him where He was. Now that He is in heaven, none of us can come to Him in that literal manner. Are we, then, worse off, as to receiving spiritual blessing, than those to whom He spake at Capernaum? The thirty-fifth verse meets that clearly: "He that comes to me shall not hunger; and he that believes on Me shall never thirst." We do come to Him now as we really believe on Him. By faith we come. And coming to Him by faith, really believing on Him, all the blessings spoken in verses 35-40 are ours. Of them none can deprive us, nor for a moment dispossess us. Precious, indeed, are those words, and calculated to remove all doubt from the mind. Believing on Him really, is coming to Him in the present time, and under present circumstances.

Jews Murmuring. — Wonderful, must we not admit? had been the revelation just vouchsafed. A man, who stood before them, was the bread of life. He had come down out of heaven. His mission was to keep safely all those given to Him by the Father, and to raise them up at the last day. His willingness, too, to receive any that would come to Him He plainly declared. What encouragement, what joy, have those gracious words (35-40) ministered to weary, sin-stricken souls in all ages since that time! But Jews there were, those who came from Judaea being here intended in contrast to the Galilean crowd, who heard them unmoved, and seized the opportunity to disturb the meeting by their murmurings.

They did not directly address the Lord, but manifested their distinct refusal of the truth of His incarnation. "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How doth he now say [so R.V.], I am come down out of heaven?" (42). The Lord's quiet answer laid bare the secret of their spiritual condition, the cause of their murmuring: "Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets,* And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard from the Father, and has learned, comes to Me. Not that any man has seen the Father, save He which is of God, He has seen the Father" (43-46). The matter, then, was perfectly simple. To bow to the truth of the Lord's incarnation, the individual must be drawn by the Father. The objectors had not been the subjects of that Divine operation. For those who have, difficulties melt away. The soul simple before God accepts unhesitatingly His word, though unable to fathom the mystery of the Son — God and man in one Person (Matt. 11:27).

{*The direct reference is to Isa. 54:13.}

Let the reader mark here the Lord's words: "except the Father which has sent Me draw him." He does not say, "except the Father has given them to Me." True as that surely is, there may be many an one honestly opposed to Christ, like Saul of Tarsus (Acts 26:9), who subsequently becomes manifested as a vessel of mercy, given by the Father before the world to His Son. Maybe some of the Jews then objecting were included in after-years in that blessed class — those drawn by the Father to believe on the Son. The Lord's language, carefully chosen, leaves room for that. And, indeed, His brethren, who did not believe on Him at first (John 7:5), were, some of them at least, it appears, ranked among the disciples after His death and resurrection (Acts 1:14).

Further, let us mark a fresh unfolding by the Lord of truth concerning Himself: "He had seen the Father" (46). Of no mere man was that true. Startling they evidently felt were the revelations about Himself. Startling would they continue to be. And now about to resume the teaching of His person as the bread of life, He would impress on all, on the murmurers as well as on the Galilean crowd, that "he that believes* has everlasting life" (47). To bow to Divine teaching was absolutely needful, if spiritual blessing was to be enjoyed.

{*"On Me" is left out by some of the best uncials, and rightly so we think. The point is not on whom they should believe, but the fact of believing is emphasized in contrast to murmuring, or objecting.}

So a second time He declared that about Himself which is needful for all to accept: "He is the bread of life" (35, 48), and the bread, too, which came down from heaven (33, 50). The crowd had drawn attention to the manna. The Lord here reminds them that, though sustaining life, it never did preserve from death. He, however, the living bread, as He now presents Himself, could give to those who eat of it life everlasting. But, as with the manna of old, so with the living bread, something further was needed ere it could be eaten. The manna was first pounded in a mortar, or ground in a mill, and then baked in a pan (Num. 11:8). He who is the living bread had first to die; for to profit by Him as the bread of life they must eat His flesh, and drink His blood (John 6:49-51).

The bread of God, the bread of life, the living bread, in such terms does He speak of Himself, and in a suited order, gradually unfolding more and more of this truth. Then, if He is the living bread, those who eat of it must live for ever; in its character as living they share who partake of it. Who can those be? Clear is the Word about such. The Lord would give His flesh for the life of the world. He had spoken of the bread of God giving life to the world in verse 33. He here declares it afresh; and throughout this discourse His language fully admits of application to men at large, not to the nation of Israel only. Their fathers had the manna provided for them. No other people in the desert, outside the camp of Israel, shared in it. But here the blessing was world-wide in application, for the free grace of salvation is restricted to no nation or kindred. So reading over this discourse, or listening to it as that spoken to Israelites only at Capernaum, we feel we are listening to that which concerns us, and all whom it reaches, as deeply and as blessedly as it did those within the walls of that synagogue built by the Roman centurion, and within the sound of the Lord's voice.

Jews Striving. — But who would receive it? His "flesh to eat" He had said. Now His opponents thought they heard what no sensible person among them could receive. His flesh to eat! Who had ever heard of such a proposition put before one of the chosen people? Had not God by Moses marked out the limits within which alone they might eat flesh? Much that others might lawfully feed on was directly barred to them. "How," then the Jews, striving with one another, asked, "can this man give us his flesh to eat?" The Lord's rejoinder is worthy of notice. He did not answer their question as to how. A time would come when that would be plain enough. He simply enforced His teaching, by emphatically declaring the necessity there was for them to eat of His flesh, if heaven was ever to be their home. Did they think that His utterance was the acme of folly? He would impress on them the sober truth, and the wisdom and grace displayed in His communication. "Verily, verily, I say to you, Except ye eat [rather, shall have eaten]* the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink [rather, have drunk] His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by [rather, because of] the Father, so he that eats Me, even he shall live by [rather, because of] Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers did eat, and are dead: ** he that eats of this bread shall live for ever. These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum" (53-59). No uncertain sound have we here. Life, spiritual life, those striving together had not. They could only have it, as we can only possess it, by eating Christ's flesh and drinking Christ's blood, appropriating by faith His death for us. Then, too, communion with Him they would also know, they dwelling in Him, and He in them; and of His abiding presence with them they would be thus assured. Further, as being their life, because He lived they would also live. These were blessings of which He spake in that synagogue — blessings consequent on His death. Little could that centurion, who built it, have conceived to what service it would be put, a theatre for such wonderful and important teaching to be heard within its walls.

{*The tenses here are suggestive. In verse 53 it is the aorist, "Except ye shall have eaten," etc., implying an act done once for all. In verses 54, 56, 57, the tense of the verbs to eat and to drink is the present, speaking thereby of that which would be characteristic of the individual. It should further be observed, that eating His flesh and drinking His blood implied His death. It was not a Christ in life on whom they were to feed, but on Him as dead; for the flesh and blood are here viewed as separated, not the blood in the flesh, but flesh and blood.

**In verse 58 the better readings have "the fathers" for "your fathers," and leave out "manna."}

Two Mistakes. — Here we must call attention to two mistakes — the one made on that occasion by the Jews, the other made at times by Christians. The Jews took the Lord's words literally, and stumbled over His teaching. Christians have applied them to the Lord's Supper, and have thus opened the door for strange doctrine. The mistake of the Jews we readily perceive; and in addressing the disciples (63) the Lord exposed it. The mistake of Christians in applying it to the Supper may, we think, be seen, and so be avoided. For first, the Supper was not yet instituted, and when instituted was designed for Christians, and not for any unbelievers. Second, the Lord declared that eating His flesh and drinking His blood gave life; suited, therefore, that was and is for those still dead in trespasses and sins. But the Supper was not instituted to give life; nor does it communicate it, being provided only for those who already possess it, and who take their place thereat as disciples of Christ. Third, the very language is different. In this chapter the Lord speaks of eating His flesh. At the Supper we eat bread, which symbolises His body given for us. Then, fourth, wherever the Supper is mentioned, we always read of Christ's body, never of His flesh. In John we read, we are to eat His flesh. Then, too, at the Supper we drink wine, not blood; but there is no mention of a cup or of wine in this passage. These distinctions are marked; and, when perceived, tend, we believe, to make the subject clear.

What an important place does the truth of the death of Christ hold in New Testament teaching? The Baptist had referred to it, pointing out the Lord as the Lamb of God. The Lord spoke of it, as He reminded Nicodemus of the brazen serpent, and told him of the love of God to be displayed in the death of the Son on the cross. Here, again (John 6), as we see, He introduces it as absolutely necessary for any one to have spiritual life. How far astray are the thoughts of men, if they ignore the need of it! On the other hand, what love on the part of the Lord to give His life a ransom for many!

Defection. — The discourse in the synagogue was ended. The Jews had murmured and striven together. Disciples now were stumbled; and, talking together, said, "This is a hard saying: who can hear it?" The Lord, knowing their thoughts, would, if possible, remove their difficulty. Were they stumbled at His saying, that He came down out of heaven? What if they saw Him, the Son of Man, ascending up where He was before? To heaven He belonged. From it He came. To it He would return. Then as to eating His flesh and drinking His blood, His language was not to be taken in its literal sense. "It is the spirit," He told them, "that quickens; the flesh profits nothing." The words which He spake were spirit, and they were life. Would defection surprise Him? Was He deceived in these people? He tells them plainly of His perfect acquaintance with every individual of them. "There are some of you that believe not" (64). And the Evangelist adds, "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him." Not without deep meaning, therefore, had He declared that no man could come to Him, except it were given to him of the Father (65). "Upon that many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him" (66). His teaching the dissentients did not understand, and refused to receive. They left Him. The rent in the company was a great one. Sought after that morning by the crowd, which had come across the lake in boats to find Him out, ere night closed what a defection was manifested! Many left Him, and, from the way the Evangelist writes, we may conclude, that they forsook Him finally.

A Challenge. — Who would still follow Him might seem a question. Were His words to be the occasion of the scattering of all who had followed Him? He therefore challenged the Twelve. Would they go with the mass? Who likes to be identified with an apparently failing cause? If His teaching afforded valid ground for that large defection, would the Twelve even remain? So, addressing them, He asked, "Will ye also go away?" It was for them a testing-time. Peter's reply was ready at once; and, judging of the rest by himself, answered for the Twelve: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe, and are sure, that Thou art the Holy One of God" (68, 69). A fine answer, and for him a conclusive answer. The words of Christ had sunk deep into his soul. He had felt their power. He was conscious of the blessing they could and had to him imparted. And of the truth regarding Christ's person he was assured. He was the Holy One of God. Psalm 16:10 had spoken of God's Holy One. Was Peter thinking of that, when calling Him really here, not "the Christ, the Son of the living God," but, as the best manuscripts read, "the Holy One of God"? Between mere intellectual apprehension and real conscience work there is a great difference. At first it may not be apparent, whether the former only, or the latter also, has been experienced. Nothing will keep one when the testing-time comes like the latter. Peter had experienced it, so could stand at this moment, when the outward adherents of Christ were turning away in numbers. No defection on the part of the mass would upset him.

Answering for all, he said we. The Lord's reply made known, that He knew better than Peter. The Eleven were indeed sound. But one would turn out to be false — which of them was not then made known, though John, writing years after, explains the allusion. Till Judas declared himself, by betraying the Lord, he had his place in the apostolic company. We learn later why he was numbered among them — viz. that the scripture might be fulfilled (13:18, 17:12) — the Lord knowing all the time what he was, and the awful sin of which he would be guilty. By none could Christ be deceived. He knew what was in man (2:25). He knew that some of the crowd which had followed Him across the water did not believe (6:64). He knew who should betray Him (13:11). A Divine Person, knowing all about every one, it was only as circumstances arose that His prescience was declared.

The Lord's ministry in Galilee, as related by John, here comes to a close. Miracles He had wrought. He had turned the water into wine. He had healed the Capernaum nobleman's son without seeing him, or even being near the place where the sick one lay. He had fed the multitude in the wilderness. Each of these attested for the observant, thoughtful ones His Divine nature. No one, as far as we know, had ever worked miracles to match them. Then, in the discourse related in our chapter, He presents Himself as indispensable to all, and that without reference to denominational or national distinctions. He is the bread of life for men, His flesh to be eaten and His blood to be drunk by any individual in order to have everlasting life. Further teaching from Himself and about Himself will follow, revealing in different ways how indispensable He is to every responsible creature, and how ready and willing to impart everlasting life to any who have need of it.

The Satisfier of Thirsty Souls

John 7.

Six months had elapsed between the events at the opening of chapter 6 and those of chapter 7. On anything, then, that took place in the interval John is quite silent. We must gather as best we can information about it from the three Synoptic Gospels.

The feast of the Passover was nigh at hand is stated in 6:4. The feast of Tabernacles was now nigh at hand, we read in 7:2. The former feast was celebrated in the spring. Then the first ripe of the cereal crop furnished a sheaf of first-fruits, to be waved before the Lord on the morrow after the Paschal Sabbath (Lev. 23:11). The latter festival was kept in the autumn, beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, and after all the produce of the year, with which God would bless His earthly people, had been gathered in from the corn-fields, the vineyards, and the olive-groves.

Now there were three seasons appointed in the law, at which all the males of Israel should appear before the Lord. That of Unleavened Bread was the first; and that of Tabernacles, called also the feast of Ingatherings, was the last. Between them came the feast of First-fruits, or Pentecost. Of this last we have no mention in the Gospel history. Nor is that to be wondered at, when we remember that the two festivals we have first mentioned are found to have special connection with Israel's history; whereas that of Pentecost finds its place in the New Testament in connection with fresh dispensational teaching, since it ushered in Christian times.*

{*In Ezek. 45, where Israel's ecclesiastical year is regulated afresh, Pentecost, or the feast of Weeks, appears no longer. That of which it was typical is outside Judaism.}

The Lord's Brethren. — The Lord had continued in Galilee and the neighbourhood for the past six months. During that time we may very likely place the healing of the Syrophoenician woman's daughter, at the urgent request of the mother (Matt. 15; Mark 7); that, too, of the deaf and dumb man healed in Decapolis (Mark 7); the feeding of the four thousand (Matt. 15; Mark 8); the opening of the blind man's eyes near Bethsaida Julias (Mark 8); followed by the Transfiguration, and the deliverance, at the earnest request of the father, of his child from the tyrannical power of a dumb demon (Matt. 17; Mark 9; Luke 9). All these were wrought away from the usual scenes of the Lord's life and labours in the province of Galilee. He took the deaf man aside from the multitude; He fed the four thousand in a desert place; He opened the blind man's eyes, when, taking him by the hand, He led him out of the city; and He cast out the demon from that poor boy, when He saw the multitude running together (Mark 9:25). Then teaching in the synagogues, so characteristic of the Lord's earlier labours, seemed, for the most part, to have ceased. Crowds might follow Him, but He was found outside, as it were, and not seeking the people in the north in their ordinary places of resort. He was not on these occasions in or near Capernaum.

These facts remembered by the reader, he will better understand the point of the Lord's brethren in saying, "Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest. For there is no man that does anything in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly. If Thou doest these things, show Thyself to the world" (John 7:3-4). The approaching festival of Tabernacles they considered, unbelievers as they were, would afford a fitting opportunity for Him, if really the Messiah, to show Himself as such to the world. To be working where and how He had been lately working did not seem in their eyes a fitting theatre for Him. Let the world behold Him, and see what He could do. Displays of power were all that they thought of, mere natural men (1 Cor. 2:14) as they were. The Lord's answer was decided: "My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you; but Me it hates, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up to the feast: I go not up* to this [rather, the] feast; for My time is not yet fully come [or, fulfilled]" (John 7:6-8).

{*"Yet" should, according to the best authorities, be omitted.}

Of course His brethren did not understand the bearing of His words. Manifestation to the world they suggested, and that only in this life was all that they dreamt of. Manifestation of the Lord to the world will take place. Then, however, as now, that was future. He will be seen as the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matt. 24:30). Whom they were addressing none of them really knew. Of natural ties they could speak. Of Him as Son of God they were ignorant. From Galilee to Jerusalem they suggested He should go. Out of heaven, however, will He come for His public manifestation. Daniel in prophetic vision had seen this (Dan. 7:13). The world will behold that manifestation in reality, and will mourn. To display Himself to the world will involve for all on earth consequences never to be forgotten. Which of His opposing brethren were ready for it? For judgment on the ungodly will then in order follow, whilst all His heavenly saints will come with Him, attendants in His train (Rev. 19). To have manifested Himself then to the world would have involved the final perdition of the whole human race, for as yet atonement by His blood had not been effected. There is a time for that display of Himself. Of this Malachi long ago wrote (3:2), saying, "Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appears?" An awfully solemn event will it be. Thankful we must ever be that He did not do what was asked.

Of His brethren we here read. First mentioned by John (2:12), as accompanying Him with His mother from Cana to Capernaum, we find notices of them in the Synoptic Gospels. They lived at Nazareth (Matt. 13:55-56); and some of them sought with His mother to hinder Him in His service (Mark 3:31). By John the unbelief of some is noticed (7:5). We say of some, because the historian does not state that all were unbelievers as regards the Lord. Now, was John mistaken in his judgment about them? The Lord's words to His brethren confirm the Evangelist's statement, "The world cannot hate you." They had not cast in their lot with Christ (John 15:18-19). The world hated Christ, because He testified that its works were evil. What a character to have to give of the world! What a solemn statement, too, about His brethren from the lips of the Saviour of the world!

His brethren gained nothing by their speech. They went up to the feast, as we should read in verse 10. Christ was nothing to them. The Lord and His disciples remained still behind in Galilee. The proper punctuation of verse 10, connecting His brethren with "the feast,"* is in perfect character with the better reading of verse 8, attention to which is called in a previous note. His brethren went without Him. Would Peter, James, and John and the rest have gone up without Him? They had found in Him, Judas excepted, that which met their hearts' desire. But the Lord would now display His desire to satisfy the heart of every creature. So He went up, not openly, i.e. publicly, but as it were in secret, and only appeared in the middle of it. The details of this visit will now commence (7:14), and extend over a long portion of the Gospel, even to 10:21.

{*"When His brethren were gone up to the feast, then went He also up, not openly," etc. So read Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort. Three times in the year were all the males in Israel to appear before God, and that at the three feasts. To that command the Lord conformed. He went up but not at the commencement, it would appear.}

In the Temple. — People at Jerusalem were talking about Him, and expecting Him. The Jews, too, His bitter opponents in Judaea, were seeking for Him. The multitude was murmuring about Him. Opinions were expressed and views exchanged. Some said, He was a good man; others of a different mind affirmed, that He deceived the people. "Howbeit," writes John, "no man spake openly of Him for fear of the Jews" (7:13). What a hold on the people they had! Have we not witnessed something of this in modern times, and even in our own days? "The fear of man brings a snare." Ecclesiastical censures seem so terrible. "But whoso puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Prov. 29:25). Yes. How apt, nevertheless, are men to yield to the snare, and to forget the Lord!

And now, whilst the people were thus murmuring, afraid to express openly their real mind, the Lord the subject of their cogitations, appeared in the Temple in the middle of the feast, and taught. The Jews had sought Him to kill Him, but failed to find Him. Then suddenly, it would seem, the object of their hatred appeared in the Temple, the most public place of resort, and when Jerusalem was thronged with worshippers from all parts.

Let us try to picture the scene and the circumstances into which He now came. There were the Jews, who wished to compass His death. There was the crowd, recruited from Galilee and elsewhere, ignorant of that design. There were those of Jerusalem, who were fully aware of it. And lastly, there was a company, at length developed, who, struck evidently by His words, believed on Him. The Lord's sudden appearance must have taken His opponents by surprise. And His teaching caused them to marvel. "How knows this man letters, having never learned?" (John 7:15) was a testimony forced from them, astonished at His teaching. True, He had not graduated in any school of rabbinic learning. True, too, was it that He had never sat at the feet of Gamaliel. Yet He could teach, and did teach, as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Did they wonder at His ability to teach? He would clear that matter up. "My doctrine," He said, "is not Mine, but His that sent Me." He was not founding a new school, as men would call it, like some philosopher or some rabbinic professor. Yet His teaching was indeed new. Schools of learning the Jews had, as those of Hillel and of Shammai. The Lord's teaching was essentially different. Whence was it derived? He would tell them, and tell them too how each one, learned or unlearned, could arrive at a true judgment about it. "If any man will do His [i.e. God's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of [rather, from] Myself. He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory: but He that seeks His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him" (16-18). Every one knew how He always spake of His Father. To that test, which He here gives, He fully answered. Then, as there was no unrighteousness in Him, why did those, who themselves kept not the law, seek to compass His death on the accusation that He had broken it? To this question the Jews made no reply. They knew what it was they were plotting, and here learnt that He knew it.

At this point the multitude break in. Strangers themselves in Jerusalem, unacquainted with the design of the Jews, they accuse the Lord, saying, "Thou hast a devil [rather, demon]: who goes about to kill Thee" (20) — an awful speech to make to the Son of God. But it was not the last time that in Jerusalem He was to be thus assailed. In the riches of His grace He passed this by, and quietly stated, what furnished the Jews, as they thought, with grounds for their iniquitous design. The impotent man, healed in Jerusalem on the Sabbath months before, the Jews had never forgotten, nor forgiven; and, therefore, they would still seek His life, on the pretext that He had broken the Sabbath — a senseless accusation, which the Lord exposes. Were not children circumcised on the Sabbath to preserve them from death? The circumcision was no offence against the fourth commandment. Who then could charge Him with being a law-breaker, because He had healed a man on the Sabbath? Who could answer this? The Jews did not attempt it. To condemn Him for healing that man was not righteous judgment.

The Jews now silent and silenced, and the multitude likewise, some of the dwellers in Jerusalem will speak. With the design of the Jews against the Lord these were acquainted, and surprise had taken possession of them, that the rulers had let Him teach as He had done. Were the rulers changing their mind about Him, wavering in their opposition, thinking that He might be the Christ? Such thoughts passed through their minds. Of one thing, however, they were, as they thought, certain — viz. that He was not the Christ (27). They knew whence the Lord was, evidently referring to His mother, and His early years at Nazareth. As for the Christ, they said, "No man knows whence He is." Was this an idea founded on Isa. 53:8? If so, it tells us how those words of the prophet — "who shall declare His generation?" — were understood in that day. Without, however, fuller acquaintance with their thoughts we cannot in this matter pass the limit of surmise.

At this juncture the Lord's voice was again heard. And evidently raising it — for He cried, writes John — that all might hear, He answered those of Jerusalem, "Ye both know Me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, whom ye know not. I know Him: for I am from Him, and He has sent Me" (28, 29). He had previously declared who He was — the Son of the Father — when He cleansed the Temple (2:16). He had declared again (v. 17), that God was His Father, and that He was sent by Him (v. 24). Now afresh He proclaimed Himself as sent by God. No illusion was to remain as to His person and relationship to God. He openly avowed it. But His avowal caused a renewal of the attempt to lay hands on Him, though again in vain, for His hour was not yet come.

Into what a scene had He come! In the midst of what a company did He venture Himself at that time! The Jews, the multitude, and they of Jerusalem, all against Him, and neither of the two last attempting to hinder the really murderous design of the first class. Was there, then, nothing to brighten the picture, to contrast with this dark view of man as man? Dark as the scene was, and sad as it must have been to the Lord, there was a little ray of brightness shed on it. Of this the Evangelist tells us. The Lord's words had reached the conscience and heart of some, and His miracles had arrested their attention. So we read, "Many of the people [or, multitude] believed on Him, and said, When the Christ comes, will He do more miracles than those which this one has done?" (7:31). Certainly it was not the popular thing at that time to profess belief in Him. In dark times, however, for faith — yea, in the darkest times — God works, and calls out confessors of His truth: an encouragement for His people to remember, that the testimony of the day, whatever it may be, if from God, will bear fruit, in spite of all opposition. On this occasion the enemy was at once aroused, and stirred up his instruments to renewed activity. If possible, the object of their hatred must be got rid of, else they could not answer for the consequences. So now the ecclesiastical rulers are moved to action. The chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to take Him (32).

Was the Lord affected by this fresh development of hostility? He spoke at once of His immediate future. Was His presence a trouble to the Jews and to their rulers? Soon would that offence be removed. "Yet a little while I am with you, and then I go to Him that sent Me. Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come" (33, 34). A separation between Him and them would take place — a separation which they would have no power to terminate. He would be with His Father in heaven, not on earth, and in some distant part of it, as they conceived, teaching the dispersed among the Greeks. Their thoughts did not rise above earth. His language they did not understand; for the truth, that He was the Son of the Father, they had not grasped. For a time, short as it was, quietness apparently reigned, the rulers perhaps waiting for their warrant to be executed. The Jews spoke among themselves, but did not further assail Him (35, 36).

The Last Day of the Feast. — For it was about the middle of the feast that took place, which we have just had pass before us. Now attention is to be called to the last day of that feast — the great day, the eighth day. "Jesus then stood," we read, "and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let Him come to Me, and drink. He that believes on Me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believed [not, believe]* on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)." To get rid of Him the Jews desired, yet He was indispensable to every real and thirsty soul. And He presented Himself at this time as the object for all such, and the fountain of blessing for every one who would avail himself of it. He spake not of Jehovah, God of Hosts. He made no mention of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. He called not attention even to His Father. He would turn all eyes to Himself, as He invited all the thirsty to come to Him and drink. What a contrast between His opponents and Himself! They were intent on getting rid of Him. He would minister to the soul's need. Traditional, but wholly mistaken teaching, about the Sabbath, had aroused the Jews against Him; and the fear of the Lord's influence with the multitude inflamed the chief priests and the Pharisees to attempt His apprehension. He desired and sought to further the everlasting welfare of all, whether Jews or Galileans, rulers or common people, as He stood that day in the Temple court and cried, that by His voice He might reach a larger number of the crowd, "If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink."

{*Believed, not believe, is important here; for the gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed only on those who have believed the Gospel of their salvation (Eph. 1:13).}

It was the last day of that feast, and that feast was one of special rejoicing (Deut. 16:13-15). All classes were to share in the rejoicing — viz. the son, the daughter, the manservant, the maidservant, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. The last day of it had come, and shortly the crowds would be dispersing to return to their several homes. The rejoicing, therefore, was nearly all over; and no fresh festival, appointed by the law, to gather the people together, would occur for the next six months. It was the great day, too, of the feast, the eighth day, typical, really, of the eternal state, and a feature peculiar to that festival. It marked, too, the end of the agricultural season. All that the people could expect from the ground that year they had harvested, and had gathered in, ere they assembled at Jerusalem to rejoice before the Lord. It was then, as their rejoicing was drawing to a close, that the Lord stood forth, and invited every thirsty one to come to Him, and to drink.

This was both striking and instructive, He who formed man's heart, and could read it, was in their midst. He knew well that earthly joys, and the fulness of agricultural blessing, could not satisfy the desires of an immortal soul. The barns might be full, the winepresses might flow freely, and the storehouses be crammed to the ceiling, abundance being within their reach, with no fear of famine, or even of stint; yet the heart might be unsatisfied, the soul be thirsty, and the individual have a craving which nothing he possessed could relieve. More than temporal blessing was requisite even for the earthly people. That more the Lord wished all to understand He placed within their reach, if only they would come to receive it. To drink He said, but did not define the quantity. To drink as each might need to satiate his thirst for eternity, was what the Lord desired and here offered. Blessing, such as the law could not provide, He in grace held out. Blessings unmeasured, as far as they were concerned, and limited only by the willingness and the capacity of the individual to receive, He offered that day. And to announce that, He raised His voice above its usual volume of sound, and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink." There was a fountain of refreshment of which He spoke. It was Himself. Who but One really Divine could thus have proclaimed Himself in the court of the house of the God of Israel? Would He, who will not give His glory to another, have suffered a mere creature (for if not a Divine Person He must have been only a mere creature) would He, we ask, have suffered a mere creature to present Himself to men in His house as the object for all to turn to? God must have the first place with the creature, and assuredly in His dwelling-place — the Temple. Who, then, thus presented Himself as the object for all, but the Son of God, the sent One of the Father?

That thirst in the soul, which temporal joys cannot meet, which all the wealth and honours of this world cannot satisfy, is caused by exercise of the conscience, and God only can minister to assuage it. And this Christ is willing and ready to do. At Sychar's well He offered to the woman living water, of which drinking she would never thirst (4:14). At Capernaum in Galilee He promised to those who believed on Him, that they should never thirst (6:35). Here in Judea He invited all the thirsty to come to Him and drink. In Samaria, in Galilee, at Jerusalem, He showed His perfect knowledge of man's need, and of the craving of a soul in which God is working, and He invited such, without distinction of nationality or race, to come to Him and drink. True, He was primarily addressing Jews and proselytes; but His language embraces any thirsty one upon earth. So to the Jews who were plotting His death, to the multitude who declared He had a demon, to those at Jerusalem who were sure He was not the Christ, to each and to all was the invitation given, if only they thirsted. If we think of the circumstances in which the Lord was, the opposition He met with, the different classes surrounding Him, and opposing Him, we may well marvel at so free an invitation, which could include all, and shut out none.

Gift of the Holy Ghost. — But more was offered in the Temple court that day, though in perfect order. Personal need must first be met, ere any one is free to go out in service to others. The thirsty one first satisfied, as a believing one he should become a channel of blessing. This last favour is an advance on the Lord's teaching at the well, or in the synagogue at Capernaum. It opens up Christian blessing, consequent on the Lord's ascension. He had spoken of His death in chapter 6, He had announced His return to heaven in chapter 7, and here, consequent on that, He foretells the privilege to be enjoyed by real believers on Him — that from them should flow rivers of living water (38). At this point the Lord's communication on that day stopped. The Evangelist, however, tells us what it really implied: "This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believed [so we should read] on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet; because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (39). He must be glorified, we thus learn, ere this communication of the Spirit could take place.

But this requires further attention. Of believers on Him the Lord spoke in verse 38: "He that believes on Me," was His gracious announcement, "as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (38). No Scripture had predicted that of believers on Christ, nor did the Lord mean to assert that. But, as Scripture had spoken of a man being a fountain of refreshment, so those who believe on Him would be thus characterised. But where do we read of anything like that? We believe that Isa. 58:11 is the passage referred to. There the godly one of the remnant, if manifesting in himself fruit of the Divine nature, would be "like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." That blessing, conditional for the remnant in Isaiah, the Lord declared believers on Him would enjoy. And in character with the dispensation of grace then commencing, believers, sharers in Divine grace, would act in harmony with it. Grace is expansive in its character. So there would flow from them, in ministering to others in the power and under the guidance of the Spirit, what the Lord here calls living water.

Judaism knew of nothing like that. Under the law men were taught to take heed to themselves, that they might continue in the enjoyment of blessings dependent on their obedience. Expansiveness towards others was not the characteristic of that dispensation. God hedged them round with laws and ordinances to keep them apart from the nations about them. In Christianity, on the other hand, a different spirit is to be displayed; for believers, in the enjoyment of spiritual blessings themselves, should seek to minister spiritual blessings to others. May we not here ask, Is this commonly understood? Are not many contented to get good for themselves, and there to rest? But the Christian was never intended to be like a sponge, taking in, but not giving out. From him should flow rivers of living water. Observe the Lord does not speak as moderns would of a ministerial class so acting. Every believer is viewed by Him as a channel for blessing to others. It was so in early days, when "they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word" (Acts 8:4). Living water was flowing through them abundantly; and when those simple-hearted Christians of Cyprus and Cyrene, reaching Antioch, spake to the Greeks,* preaching the Lord Jesus, what a harvest there was of souls in that city! "The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:20-21).

{*"Greek," i.e. Gentiles, not "Grecian," i.e. foreign Jews, is the right reading in the verse.}

But when would that flowing forth of living water take place? The Lord defined the class to become channels — believers on Him. The Evangelist here strikes in and tells his readers, "This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believed on Him should receive" (John 7:39). He was introducing, we learn, teaching connected with the gift of the Spirit, distinctive Christian blessing consequent on believing truly on Himself. For John wrote, "which they that believed on Him," etc. Faith in Christ must precede the impartation of this gift. Very different is it, therefore, from the new birth.* In a word, the individual must be a real believer on the Lord, ere participating in the gift of the Spirit, and consequently becoming a channel for the outflow of living water (Acts 5:32, 19:2; Eph. 1:13).

{*Different, too, is it from the teaching of John 4:14. There it is a well of living water to be in the believer for his own enjoyment. Here the Lord speaks of the water flowing out of him to others, an advance in teaching concerning the Holy Ghost. The blessing in John 4 could be enjoyed before the cross, this of John 7 only after Pentecost.}

Was Not. — And this is further seen to be very different from the new birth, seeing it is connected with the Spirit's personal presence on earth. "For," writes John, "the Spirit was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." Of course, the Spirit as the third Person of the Godhead ever existed. We read of Him brooding upon the face of the waters, when the earth was in a state of chaos. All spiritual work in any soul from Abel downwards is the fruit of the Spirit. He was seen, too, by the Baptist to descend in the bodily shape of a dove upon the Lord at His baptism. Yet it was true "He was not" till the Lord had been glorified. Was not, then, had no reference to His existence. It is what may be called a technical term, relating to personal presence on earth. So, when Enoch was translated, "he was not, for God took him" (Gen. 5:24). He was no longer on earth, but in the other world. Again, when Jacob was asked to allow Benjamin to go down into Egypt, he exclaimed, "Me ye have bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away" (Gen. 42:36). Thus it is seen that the phrase was not has in Scripture a definite meaning, which the addition of "given." in both A.V. and R.V. fails to exhibit. It means that the Holy Ghost was not personally present on earth till the Lord had gone on high. And this illustrates the answer of those disciples to Paul at Ephesus. He asked them, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" They answered, "We have not so much as heard if the Holy Ghost is [i.e. was come]" (Acts 19:2). To drink, then, to be satisfied, and subsequently to be a channel for the outflow of living water — these favours the Lord Jesus offered that day in the Temple court to every thirsty one. What blessings, what privileges, could those who believed on Him enjoy!

Yet the chief priests and the Pharisees were intent on getting rid of Him if possible. How blind! How infatuated! Officers were sent to apprehend Him. They departed on their errand. Meanwhile the Lord, fully cognisant of their design, was setting Himself forth as necessary for the everlasting welfare of individuals. And now we learn the effect of His words on some of the crowd, as well as on the officers. Of the crowd there were some who said, He was the Prophet. Others declared, that He was the Christ. A third company made an objection, that Christ would not come out of Galilee, but must be of the seed of David, and of Bethlehem. This raised a question leading to a division among them, and some were ready to take Him. Yet no one laid hands on Him.

The officers now returned to their masters, the arrest not carried out. The words of Christ had made an impression. "Never man," they said, "so spake." For so we should read. Disappointed in their purpose, the Pharisees now speak with scorn of the people. An ignorant lot, who knew not the law, who would set store by their opinion? Then triumphantly they asked, "Have any of the rulers believed on Him, or of the Pharisees?" People of sense and reputation would never be taken by such an One, though the crowd might be led away by His speeches. Why should their officers be affected by His words?

Any Pharisee or ruler believe on Him! Impossible they thought. But one there was, and present at that moment, who felt differently. He now speaks, Nicodemus by name, and asks a simple, pertinent, but most unwelcome question: "Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he does"? (51) Such a question might well have made upright people pause. It only irritated those to whom it was addressed, and they turned at once on Nicodemus, saying, "Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee arises no prophet." They would, as is often done, if supporting a bad cause, try to silence him, whose question was most inconvenient. And, as with many another in a like spirit, accuracy of statement was unheeded. One prophet out of Galilee there certainly had been, if no more — Jonah, the son of Amittai, of Gath-hepher.

With this scene in the Sanhedrin the account of that day closes. Three times over would they have taken the Lord (30, 44-45), but in vain. He was there enduring the contradiction of sinners against Himself, and desirous only of ministering blessing to souls. What a picture — the Lord of glory among His creatures, enduring reproach, the object, too, of bitter hatred on the part of some, yet seeking the everlasting welfare of perishing, sinful men! Hatred and opposition displayed towards Him. Love and patience with His opponents displayed by Him. Now the theme of Christ as the Life has been set forth, and is for the most part completed. In chapter 5 He presents Himself as the Quickener of souls, and the Raiser of the dead. In chapter 6 we learn that He gives Himself, the living bread, for the life of the world. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood, spiritual life is received. Feeding on Him, that life is sustained, and resurrection to everlasting blessing will for all such assuredly follow. In chapter 7 He invites the thirsty to drink, and will make them channels of refreshment to others. It is a ministry of Christ Himself as the Life; next will follow His ministry as the Light.

The Light, His Word Rejected

John 8.

"The life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended [or, apprehended] it not" (John 1:4-5). Such was the announcement of the Apostle John, who now proceeds to illustrate this teaching from the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in chapters 8, 9.

But here a grave question confronts us in relation to the passage 7:53 — 8:11. We have said that the events of the last day, the great day, of the feast of Tabernacles ended with that scene in the Sanhedrin. And if the common text can be relied on, that fact is clearly stated. For we there read, "Every man went to his own house. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the Temple" (7:53 — 8:2). So what follows (8:1-11) took place on the following morning. And the events of 8 — 10:21, connected as they are together, followed the great day of the feast, and formed not part of that day's history.

Textual criticism, however, demands here to be heard, and tells us that the passage 7:53 — 8:11 is of very doubtful, if of not more than doubtful, authority, as having really formed part of the Gospel of John. The four most ancient uncial MSS., followed by others, have not that history of the woman taken in adultery, whilst five others mark the passage as doubtful. The earliest uncial MS. in favour of it is the Codex Bezae of the sixth century, supported by six others, none of which are earlier than the ninth century. These facts may well make one pause, and weigh matters. And now, without entering into further details as to MS. authority, or the witness of ancient versions, which might not be profitable for general readers, we would give the opinion of two textual critics of modern days, representatives of different schools of textual criticism, but both unquestionably of a reverential spirit when dealing with the Sacred Word. We refer to the late Dr. Tregelles, and the late Rev. F. H. A. Scrivener.

We quote first from Dr. Tregelles' Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament, p. 241, London, 1854. After giving the authority of MSS. for and against it, and the testimony of ancient versions and patristic citations, he thus expresses himself: "Though I am fully satisfied that this narration is not a genuine part of St. John's Gospel, and though I regard the endeavours to make the evidence appear satisfactory to be such as would involve all Holy Scripture in a mist of uncertainty, I see no reason for doubting that it contains a true narration. There is nothing unworthy of the acting of the Lord Jesus detailed in this history. And thus I accept the narrative as true, although its form and phraseology are wholly uncertain, and although I do not believe it to be a Divine record."

Mr. Scrivener, in his Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, third edition enlarged, p. 610, thus delivers himself: "It is absent from too many excellent copies not to have been wanting in some of the very earliest; while the arguments in its favour, internal even more than external, are so powerful, that we can scarcely be brought to think it an unauthorised appendage to the writings of one who, in another of his inspired books, deprecated so solemnly the adding to or the taking away from the blessed testimony he was commissioned to bear (Apoc. 22:18, 19). If chapter 20:30-31, show signs of having been the original end of this Gospel, and chapter 21 be a later supplement by the Apostle's own hand, which I think, with Dean Alford, is evidently the case, why should not St. John have inserted in this second edition both the amplification in chapter 5:3-4, and this most edifying and eminently Christian narrative? The appended chapter would thus be added at once to all copies of the Gospels then in circulation, though a portion of them might well overlook the minuter change in chapter 5:3-4, or, from obvious though mistaken motives, might hesitate to receive for general use or public reading the history of the woman taken in adultery."

Whatever, then, be the judgment of sober men as to the canonicity of this passage, there is no reason to doubt of the authenticity of the narrative. And this impression will be strengthened, as the reader observes, that a few cursives, which omit it from chapter 8, exhibit it at the end of the Gospel, and some, still fewer, insert it at the close of Luke 21. Why omit it here, and insert it elsewhere, if the history was not deemed authentic? Meeting, however, with it pretty generally in chapter 8, and believing the narrative to be authentic, we have to ask, Why is it found for the most part in this place in the Gospel of John? Augustine states it had been left out of copies for fear of allowing immorality. But whatever may have been felt about it in early days, there is nothing in it inconsistent with the Lord's ways or teaching.

So far for external evidence. Powerful arguments internal more than external, Mr. Scrivener states, are in its favour. We would content ourselves with reminding the reader of the practice of our Apostle to head a discourse, or teaching, with some incident in the Lord's life (5, 6). Now it would be quite in keeping with that practice to find one at the commencement of teaching about the Lord as the Light. And further, no incident in the whole of His life, as recorded in the Gospels, can so fittingly illustrate the power of the light, as does this history of the woman taken in adultery. No place, therefore, in any Gospel could be found so suited for it as here. Yet; whilst, with the array of evidence against it, to assert its genuineness might savour of rashness, believing in its authenticity, we can see nothing in this history to render it impossible to have proceeded from the pen of the Apostle himself. With these few remarks we would now direct attention to the teaching of it,

Again in the Temple. — Returning from the Mount of Olives early in the morning, the Lord was found again in the Temple, and teaching. On another and a later occasion (Luke 21:38), He was occupied in the same way, and in the same place. And now the Pharisees, disappointed in their hopes of apprehending Him (their officers failing in their mission), would try in a new way to entrap Him, that they might accuse Him. A woman taken in adultery was brought to Him. Setting her in the midst, they said to Him, "Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?" (John 8:4-5). An insidious question. If the law demanded her death, how could the Lord have decided differently? The law was from God. He certainly upheld its authority (Matt. 19:17-19, 22:37-40, 23:2, 3: Mark 1:44; Luke 10:26). Were they really in doubt as to the mind of God in this case? The Evangelist tells us, "This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him" (John 8:6). The Lord at first returned them no answer; but, stooping down, wrote with His finger on the ground. Why such an act on His part? He had not come to judge, as He told the aggrieved brother in Luke 12:13-14. He refused, therefore, to fill that position at the request of those people. Pressed for an answer, and that it seems repeatedly, He said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Solomon had said, "There is no man which sins not" (2 Chron. 6:36). Very likely they might all have echoed that as a general proposition. But when that unwelcome truth is brought home to a person in power, it is a different matter. The Lord said no more. His deliverance was surely unexpected. He was the Light of the world. His word shed a light in the conscience of them all; and one by one, silenced by His answer, they left Him, desirous to get out of His presence. The eldest led the way, till all had gone out. All the accusers departed; not one remained behind. The light turned in on their consciences was too much for them. Which of them had not sinned? Who, then, would take on himself to carry out the law in this case?

The Lord said not a word in opposition to the law. His answer in no degree relaxed the bonds of morality. No one of His opponents could find in His reply any ground of accusation against Him. They were completely baffled. In the place of judgment going forth against the woman, conviction of sin each one felt in Himself. Yet no one was accused of sins committed, nor were any actions of their past lives exposed. Light, however, shone clearly within, and no one of them needed an accuser to convict him. All were convicted. All were silenced. All departed. How easily can God deal with a person's conscience! No excuses were offered on this occasion; no denials of having sinned were heard. A Pharisee might at another time boast of his fasts, and his tithes; but, if God lets light shine within, the man's true moral condition becomes apparent to himself. Silence, then, became those people as to any justification of themselves. Silence, therefore, became them as to demanding judgment on the woman. What a sight it must have been for the disciples and for the people who witnessed it! That exodus took place in single file. They could not stand the light. Thus light, shining on the soul, without grace known, must drive the individual, if possible, away from it. Light without grace is awful, and the result irresistible. Conviction is assured, and the desire to get out of the light is the natural effort of the individual. "Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst." Asking her where were her accusers, and if no man had condemned her, she answered, "No man, Lord." At once came the words from His mouth, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (8:11). He did not palliate her guilt; He spoke of it. She knew that He knew it. He came, however, not to judge the world, but to save the world (12:47). His mission in humiliation, as He told Nicodemus, was, "not to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (3:17). In accordance with that He acted on this occasion. The accusers, convicted of their own consciences, had gone away. The woman left Him uncondemned, but with the consciousness that He knew what she had done, and yet she fled not from His presence.

The Light of the World. — The woman dismissed, that incident was ended. The Lord then announced Himself to the assembled multitude in a character in which He had not previously appeared. "I am the Light of the world: He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (8:12). "The life was the light of men," our Evangelist had written. And again, "That was the true Light, which lights every man, coming into the world" (1:4, 9). Here the Lord presents Himself in a similar character outside dispensational teaching, yet as indispensable to every human creature, seeing that the individual, who follows Him, shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. He had presented Himself as indispensable to men in chapters 5, 6, and 7. Here He reaffirmed it, but in connection with His being the Light of the world. Men by nature, however great may be their intellectual attainments, are walking in darkness. Only by following the Lord can they have the light of life — i.e. light in connection with spiritual life.

The Son of the Father. — But were not the Jews, who had a Divine written revelation, walking in the light? This chapter will show if that was true of the educated and religious classes in Israel. It will, too, be a commentary on an earlier statement of this Gospel: "The light shines in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not" (1:5). For, first, to the Lord's announcement about Himself, in 8:12, the Pharisees at once object. "Thou bearest record of Thyself; Thy record is not true" (13). To whom were they speaking? To a mere man, like themselves? They thought as much. Really, however, they were opposing Him who is God. To God, of course, such a rule as they speak of could not apply. Hence the Lord answered, "Though I bear record of Myself, My record is true; for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye know not whence I come, or [as we should here read] whither I go." As to the truth about His person, they were in complete ignorance. He knew both whence He came, and whither He would go. They knew neither. So "or whither," etc., was suitable, as applied to them; whilst "and whither I go" (14) was language suited to Himself.

They judged after the flesh. "I judge," He said, "no man. And yet if I judge, My judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me" (12-16). The mention of the Father led on to the double testimony to the Lord, in accordance with the principle laid down in the law. Did they require two witnesses concerning Him? He would furnish them. They were Himself and His Father. "I am One that bear witness of Myself, and My Father that sent Me bears witness of Me" (18). At His baptism by John, the son of Zacharias, that had taken place (Matt. 3:17). On the Mount of Transfiguration that testimony was heard a second time (Matt. 17:5). Again, too, would the Father's voice be heard (John 12:28), and then in consequence of the request of the Son. At the baptism in the waters of Jordan John heard it. On the mount (probably Hermon) the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, heard it. In John 12 the people heard the voice, though they could not interpret its meaning.

Now be it observed that on none of these occasions was the testimony of the Father delivered in secret. Well, therefore, might the Son say, "My Father bears witness of Me," and that witness on each occasion attested that He was the Son. We have said on each occasion. For on the first He was called "My Son"; and on the last, He, as Son, addressed His Father, and received an immediate answer.

Of His Father He spoke. Where was He? they asked. That question the Lord answered not, but told them boldly in reply, "Ye neither know Me, nor My Father: if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also." For in seeing Him, as He subsequently told the Apostle Philip, they could see the Father. The Father was in Him, and He was in the Father (14:9-10). In the treasury* this discourse took place. Light was indeed shining, but the darkness apprehended it not.

{*The treasury was in the forecourt of the women, in which were placed thirteen brazen chests, to receive the taxes and free-will offerings of the people. The mention of the treasury here would be quite in keeping with the genuineness of the history of the woman taken in adultery. To the court of the women only could she have been brought to meet the Lord. Of those chests, nine were for legal payment of the worshippers, and four for free-will offerings. See Barclay's Talmud.}

Going away. — This is further shown by the inability of the Jews to understand His meaning. Again He spoke. "I go My way, and ye shall seek Me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come" (8:21). He had spoken in similar language already (7:33-34), and they did not understand. As little do they grasp His meaning on this occasion. To teach the dispersed among the Greeks — was that what He meant? they contemptuously asked in chapter 7. To kill Himself — was that His intention? they question now. Truly death does effect a separation for man from this scene. Not death, however, but His return to glory, the Lord intimated to His opponents. Far, indeed, would they then be from Him; and, dying in their sins, they would never be in glory. Near Him when He spake these words, salvation within the reach of any, yea of all, who would receive it, for ever and ever would those be separated in the future from Christ, who had heard His words, but derided, and followed Him not. And now the truth comes out as to their moral condition. "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore to you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins" (8:23-24).

The World. — Of the world the Lord here speaks. There is an orderly, arranged system, which is not of God, called in Scripture "the world." Its prince is the devil (12:31, 14:30). It is wholly opposed to Christ, hating Him (7:7), and hating His people (15:19), who are not of the world, as Christ was not (17:14). It loves its own (15:19), and listens to false prophets, because they are of it, and speak as of it (1 John 4:5). To be of the world, then, is to be opposed to Christ, and to be guided by another spirit than the Spirit of God. To that class the Lord's opponents in John 8 belonged, and that could be declared about them, seeing they had manifested, by determined opposition to Christ, who and what they were. A terrible thing, indeed, for Him to have to say of any, for His judgment is just, and there will be no reversal of it.

And now, wholly unconscious of their own exposure, they confirm that solemn statement, "Ye are of this world," as with, must we not call it, effrontery? they ask Him, "Who art Thou?" He had told them before who He was — the Son of the Father. And He had proved it, acting in the house of God with authority as the Son; whilst God, to whom unquestionably that house belonged, did not resent what would otherwise have been a sacrilegious intrusion, and undoubted blasphemy.

"Who art Thou?" they asked. Furnished already with abundant evidence, the Lord gave no more, but turned them back on that which they had, as He answered, "Even the same that I said to you from the beginning"* (25). He was here as the sent One. "He that sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him." He spoke of the Father, but they understood it not. And now He mentions His death, but His death at the hands of the Jews. He had spoken before of His going away — going back to heaven. Here He tells them of the future accomplishment of their desire — even His death. Then they would learn who He was — not the deceiver they professed to think Him, but the Son of Man, the Christ, the Son of the Father. Solemn thought indeed! The truth as to His person they would learn, but only after they had crucified Him, and would for ever be separated from Him. Peter and others had learnt during His life that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Blessed are those who, whilst their day of grace lasts, have learnt the same lesson, and confess Him as the Saviour of the world. But what opposition did He meet with! How refreshing, then, to learn that His ministry at that time was not wholly in vain! "For as He spake these words [21-29] many believed on Him" (30).

{*The words have been variously rendered. Probably the A.V., with which agrees in substance the R.V., gives the sense of the Lord's answer to the question, "Who art Thou"}

Turning to those just designated (29), the Lord gave a word of admonition: "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" (31-32). Jews who had believed Him, the Apostle calls these, as not openly ranked amongst the disciples of Christ. They felt the power of His word; but was there a real work in the conscience? The Lord, who read their hearts, now gave a test by which to try them. Such dealing at times is needed. "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" (31, 32). To this they immediately object. They were Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man. Were they continuing in Christ's word? That was the question. What patience was called for to deal graciously with these people! Discrimination, too, was needed to answer aright. All this the Lord manifested, an example to His disciples how to meet objections that may be urged. What to notice and what to let pass may need Divine wisdom. He would on this occasion explain His words; but He let pass without comment the assertion, "We were never in bondage to any man." Neh. 9:36-37, would tell the contrary. There was no need, however, to point that out. He kept to the real point as to freedom, explained what He meant, and then took up their notice of Abraham. Wise dealing this was indeed.

Truth, God's truth, could make them free. But from what? From any earthly power? That, and nothing more, was their thought. He, however, was speaking of the thraldom of sin, a much worse bondage. Now this, which is Christian teaching, is set forth at length in Rom. 6, vii. The law could never promise that freedom for the Jews. Grace alone can for those, who, believing on the Lord Jesus, own Him as their life, and learn practically the blessed result of being in Him who has died, reckoning themselves dead indeed to sin. Over such sin shall not have dominion; for they are not under law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14). On this teaching the Lord did not enter further with the Jews. The time for that had not then come. He just explained His meaning to leave none in uncertainty about it. "Verily, verily, I say to you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abides not in the house for ever: but the Son abides ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (34-36). A servant and a son are very different thoughts, and speak of different positions. Under law the latter was not enjoyed (Gal. 4:1-3).

They boasted of being Abraham's seed. That was true. But such boast was of no avail, if only in earthly descent they gloried. Were they manifesting themselves to be Abraham's children? How could that be, seeing that they were seeking to kill Him, because His word had no place (or, free course) in them. Now the Lord was speaking of that which He had seen with His Father. They, on the contrary, did what they heard* from their father. The Lord thus speaks plainly. They did not, however, understand Him, and replied, "Abraham is our father" (39). To be Abraham's descendants was one thing. To be his children in practice was another. This last would now alone be of value. So the Lord exposes and rejects their pretensions. "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father" (39-41). Their design against the Lord's life he again exposes. Still not understanding Him, they reply, "We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God" (41). But this assertion the Lord refused: "If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word" (42, 43). God was the Father of Israel as a nation, but He had never in Old Testament times revealed Himself as in that relationship to individuals. The Lord, the Son, first taught believers that God was their Father. It is the Son who reveals the Father (Matt. 11:27). Although, then, all creatures owe their being to God, no one, who does not acknowledge the Son, has the right and privilege to call God his Father. Whatever men may do or say, the Lord will not recognise them in that relationship to the Father, if He Himself is not believed on by them.

{*"Ye have heard": so the best authorities. Some would take the last part of verse 38 as in the imperative mood: "Do ye also," etc. The pronouns "My" and "your" the better text omits. In the translation, if inserted, they make the sense clearer.}

Children of the Devil. — And now the time came for Him to speak with unmistakable clearness. Come from God, and sent by Him, He had authority to do that. "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 speaks a lie, he speaks 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 convinces Me of sin? If I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me? He that is of God hears God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God" (44-47). Plain speaking indeed! The occasion called for it. Children of the devil they were. God's words, which Christ spoke, who is God, they would not have. The truth they refused, and sought His death. Their ways and their purposes marked out their father. But this grave statement, let us remember, is never made in the Word of any of the human race, till they have shown by their ways who and what they really are. Further, let us remark, we have here a short account of the devil by Him, who is the Word, who was with God, was God, and was in the beginning with God. It is, it must be, therefore, a true one.

"I am." — The Lord's plain speaking aroused the anger of His opponents, and they showed it. "Say we not well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil [rather, a demon]" (48). Every utterance of theirs showed their moral state, and justified the Lord's calm judgment of them. To think of Him, the Holy One of God, being thus assailed! Had He crushed them at once by His almighty power, who could have charged Him with injustice? But the Son of God He showed He was by longsuffering and the patient bearing with the Jews, calmly and with unruffled spirit answering them, "I have not a demon; but I honour My Father, and ye do dishonour Me. And I seek not Mine own glory: there is One that seeks and judges" (49, 50). Little had they thought how their accusation against Him was viewed on high. "He committed Himself to Him that judges righteously," wrote Peter (1 Peter 2:23). True indeed. Here we have an illustration of it. To reach the consciences of the people seemed hopeless. Their paternity disclosed, nothing that the Lord could say would convince them of their error. But this discussion taking place in the Temple court, others, not definitely committed to the rejection of Christ, might yet be won. So He added, "Verily, verily, I say to you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death" (John 8:51). Upon this there was a fresh outburst on the part of the Jews, reiterating their awful accusation of demoniacal possession. "Now we know Thou hast a demon. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and Thou sayest, If a man keep My saying, he shall never taste of death. Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest Thou Thyself?" (52, 53). The Lord spoke, we believe, of the second death.* The Jews only thought of temporal death. Hence it was that they did not understand Him.

{*This will be confirmed, if we remember those words in 3:36: "He that obeys not the Son shall not see life." Clearly it was not life in the present that the words quoted meant. Nor was it temporal death that Christ referred to in 8:51. He foretold, too, Peter's death (John 21:18; 2 Peter 1:14), and warned His disciples, that a martyr's death might be theirs (John 16:2). All this makes plain to what it was that the Lord referred. "Shall not see death," the Lord said "Shall not taste of death," the Jews said, — very different thoughts really. The former speaks of an abiding condition; the latter would not necessarily imply that.}

"Whom makest Thou Thyself?" they said. Were they prepared for His answer? "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing: it is My Father that glorifies Me; of whom ye say, that He is your God: and ye have not known Him; but I know Him: and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be like to you, a liar: but I know Him, and keep His word" (54, 55). "Art Thou greater than our father Abraham?" they had asked. "Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad," was the Lord's answer. These last words of Christ were to them conclusive as to the correctness of their judgment about Him. "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?" Unanswerable, doubtless, they considered was their objection. It would have been so, had the Jews been opposing a mere man. But the day of which the Lord was speaking was, and is still, future, even that millennial time, when, as Melchisedec, He will come forth and bless a victorious people, after all their conflict and warfare are over. Of course, not discerning whom they were addressing, they could not understand the future in connection with His day. He did not, however, here say, that He had seen Abraham — true though that was — but that Abraham saw His day.

He had plainly told the opposing Jews of their real father, being children neither of Abraham nor of God, but of the devil. He will now tell them plainly with whom they were contending. "Before Abraham was, I am" (58). He could have told them that He had seen Abraham, had spoken to him, had talked with him, and had sat at the patriarch's tent door. He could have told them of Abraham's hospitable reception of Himself, and of the two angels. He could also have reminded them, had He wished it, that Abraham, when pleading with Him on behalf of the cities of the Plain, averred that he himself was dust and ashes, but the One he addressed was the Lord (Gen. 18:27). Stirred up afresh, however, by the Lord's words, "I am," to them sheer blasphemy, they took up stones to cast at Him; but in vain. He hid Himself, and went out of the Temple.

These last words of Christ, considering, too, the place in which they were uttered, might have led them to pause, and to review their ways. Abraham was but a creature. There was a time, therefore, when he did not exist. Referring to that, it could rightly be said, "Before Abraham was." What follows was intended to mark the great difference between Abraham and Himself; for of Himself He could say, "I am." Now "I am" was God's announcement about Himself to Moses (Ex. 3:14). The Lord declared, therefore, that He was the Eternal One, who had no beginning, and will have no end. In the past He was, "I am." In the present He is, "I am." In the future, and for ever, He will be, "I am." Such was the meaning of His words, revealing to those people that He was God.

But where were they uttered? In the precincts of Jehovah's house, He, a man in the eyes of men, averred thus that He was God, the Eternal One. No token, however, of Divine rejection of His claim was vouchsafed that day. Yet God was not in ignorance, or in unconcern, as to all that went on upon earth. The immediate response from heaven in chapter 12 attests that. The silence, therefore, as to any rejection of Christ's claim to be a Divine Person, was as significant as the voice heard in the chapter just referred to. Jehovah in heaven clearly assented to Christ's claim, put forth on earth in His holy house. God, the God of Israel, was personally present in the midst of the Jews, but they did not discern it. Creation owned the presence of God in the person of Christ, and at once obeyed His bidding. The demons knew that He was the Christ and the Holy One of God. Yet men, religious men, knew not that God was then in the court of His own house. He was speaking, but they would not hear. He was working miracles, but they were not rightly affected by them. Light, indeed, was shining, but found no entrance into their hearts. Taking up stones to cast at Him, He left them, and was hidden, and so passed out of the Temple.

And now taking a retrospect of the chapter (8), of what should we have been in ignorance had not John written his Gospel! The others tell us of the Lord's works; this more of His words in ministry in Judea, and illustrates more fully than they that saying regarding Him in the Epistle to the Hebrews (12), how He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself. It was a fact — and who would have presupposed it? — that He was opposed at every step, not by the unlettered Galileans, but by the Jews at Jerusalem. "Thou bearest record of Thyself; Thy record is not true," said they, taking a legal objection to His statements about Himself. Then followed the questions, "Where is Thy Father?" and "Who art Thou?" little thinking who it was they were thus treating, nor that such questions only the more displayed their moral condition. After that, in the rage and enmity of their hearts, came forth that awful accusation, "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon." His words in this chapter being so treated, we need not be surprised to find His merciful work discredited in the chapter which follows.

The Light, His Work Discredited

John 9.

What a day of contention that Sabbath (9:14) had been! Nor did the contention cease on the part of the Pharisees with the Lord's departure from the Temple. With Him personally there seems for a time to have been no more, for the question in 9:40 could scarcely be thus designated.

Leaving, then, the Temple, the Lord and His disciples passed by, where a blind beggar was accustomed to ply his trade of soliciting alms from the frequenters of the sanctuary. Whether or not he did so on this occasion, and so attracted attention, we know not. The Lord, however, saw him, a poor afflicted man, blind from his birth. His age is unmentioned. We learn, however, that he was of age (21), so he must have passed more than twenty years of his life in that afflicted condition, and without the prospect of ever being blest with sight (32). Blind from birth, to be blind for ever on earth, what a hopeless future in this world lay before him!

The Lord now saw him, though he could not see the Lord. And the disciples asked a question: "Master [rather, Rabbi], who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" (2). To some governmental dealing on the part of God such an affliction was vulgarly attributed. Governmental dealing it might be, because of the parents' offences (Ex. 34:7); but rabbinical teaching carried the matter further, and maintained that one whilst in the womb could sin, grounding such a supposition, it is stated, on Gen. 25:22, where we read that the two children struggled together in Rebekah's womb.* Every bodily affliction, however, is not sent in chastisement, though at times that may be the reason for it (1 Cor. 11:30; Mark 2:5-10). In the case of Lazarus (John 11:4), as in this, governmental dealing was the cause neither of the sickness nor of the blindness. We need spiritual discernment as to such dealing on the part of our God, men being too apt, like the friends of Job, to attribute God's hand on the individual as a token of Divine governmental dealing for some sin or course of evil.

{*See Lightfoot's Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae on the passage. This teaching of the Rabbis, that one in the womb could sin, alone explains the disciples' query about the man's antecedents, which involved his blindness from birth, as they supposed.}

Answering at once, and that fully, the question of the disciples, "Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him," the Lord proceeded to take up the case. "We," He said probably, rather than "I," "must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world" (9:4-5). Looking forward to His departure, He thus spoke. And now He would give proof of being the Light of the world, by giving sight to that blind beggar. He might, of course, have just spoken the word, and the hitherto sightless eyeballs would have become the lamp of the man's body (Matt. 6:22). But He acted otherwise in His wisdom, spitting on the ground, and making clay of the spittle. He first anointed the man's eyes, and then commanded him to go, and to wash in the pool of Siloam, "which," as the Evangelist adds, "is by interpretation, Sent." He went his way, therefore, and washed, and came seeing. It was the obedience of faith. He suffered the Lord to anoint his eyes with the clay. He went then, as told, to the pool, washed, and received sight. No known virtue was generally recognised as being in clay. Nor, why his eyes were anointed only to have the clay washed off directly afterwards, could any one have explained to him at that moment. The Lord did what He pleased, and bade the man do as He directed. Then sight was granted to him. Varied have been the conjectures as to the meaning of the procedure on this occasion. The Evangelist has not explained it, so we cannot dogmatise about it. We give, however, here, for the benefit of our readers, a quotation from another, which, if there be spiritual teaching in the matter, seems the most reasonable explanation of it: "He makes clay with His spittle and the earth, and puts it on the eyes of the man who was born blind. As a figure, it pointed to the humanity of Christ in earthly humiliation and lowliness, presented to the eyes of men, but with Divine efficacy of life in Him. Did they see any the more? If possible, their eyes were the more completely closed. Still the object was there; it touched their eyes, and they could not see it. The blind man then washes in the pool that was called 'Sent,' and is enabled to see clearly. The power of the Spirit and of the word, making Christ known as the One sent by the Father, gives him sight. It is the history of Divine teaching in the heart of man. Christ, as man, touches us. We are absolutely blind; we see nothing. The Spirit of God acts, Christ being there before our eyes; and we see plainly."*

{* Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, vol. iii., by J. N. Darby, new edition, revised, p. 443.}

The beggar returned from the pool, having received his sight, but had never yet seen his Benefactor. His hands he had felt, as the Lord put the clay on his eyes. His voice he had heard. His command he had obeyed. He knew his Benefactor's name was Jesus. He knew He was a man, but what He was like in appearance that man did not know. Sight he had indeed got. What a change for him! No longer needing to grope his way, no longer requiring a friendly hand to guide him in his path, he could take care of himself. How he got to the pool is unrecorded. How he came away we can all understand. Objects familiar, perhaps, to his touch he could now see. The form of the pool he could trace out. The water, reflecting, it may be, the blue sky, he could now see and admire. It was new life to him, a new experience, a new kind of existence. What a change indeed! Now the beauty of the Temple buildings, so much extolled, and of which he may often have heard, must have struck him, as he gazed for the first time in his life on the earthly sanctuary of his God. Great, however, as the change must have been, beholding, too, for the first time his parents and his neighbours, with whose voices he had been for long familiar, changes of other kinds he was to become acquainted with. Light was to shine into his soul; and the persecuting spirit of Pharisees he was about to experience. In peace he had pursued his old avocation of begging. That, of course, henceforth would cease; and at first hostility of religious teachers he was to meet, and their arguments he was to withstand.

The Neighbours. — The miracle wrought did not pass unnoticed. His neighbours and previous acquaintances remarked the change. He had no need, as the leper did, to publish abroad what had been done (Mark 1:45). Nor was he charged like the Gadarene demoniac to tell those of his house of his miraculous cure (Mark 5:19). It was patent to some, whilst others were in doubt of the man's identity. "Is not this he that sat and begged?" said some. Others decided the matter, saying, "This is he." Others again affirmed, He is like him: but he said, I am he" (John 9:8-9). His identity was established beyond question. "I am he," declared it. That removed all uncertainty. Next followed a most natural interrogation: "How were thine eyes opened?" The answer was ready, and immediately given. We quote the better text: "The man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said to me, Go to Siloam, and wash: so I went away and washed, and I received sight" (11). To a further question, "Where is He?" he said, "I know not." The Lord, who never coveted applause, had left the Temple, not waiting even to receive the thanks of the beggar on his return from Siloam.

Pharisees. — Now the former blind beggar was to become an object of special notice by the Pharisees. Very likely many of them had often passed him unheeded. A blind beggar! Which of them would bestow a thought on him, whose condition they regarded as an evidence that he was born in sin? But that beggar, no longer blind, was quite a different matter. Were they anxious to learn of the favour he had received, in order to honour his Benefactor, or to solicit in their turn favours from Him? Quite the contrary. Their efforts were directed to discredit the miracle as being wrought by One sent from God. He who had shortly before affirmed of Himself in the Temple court, that He was God, had now opened that man's eyes. The insult to the Divine Majesty, as the Jews regarded it, in asserting His Divinity, was followed by this miracle, of which the beggar in the Temple precincts was the subject. To discredit the Lord was their purpose. He was a Sabbath-breaker, they declared; and therefore that miracle must be disowned as being any display of almighty power and benevolence (10).

First Examination. — Brought to the Pharisees, whose opposition to the Lord and their desire to get rid of Him were no secrets, any more than their determination to excommunicate any who should confess that He was the Christ (22) — to confront such, therefore, was an ordeal for the beggar indeed. Questioned by them, he answered, repeating, but shortly, the simple story of his cure. His friends had passed no judgment on it. Some of the Pharisees, however, the learned men, the religious class, were ready to decide the case off-hand. It was the Sabbath day, when the cure had been wrought. This fact they seized on. Working on the Sabbath, Jesus, as they would have called Him, was not of God. He kept not the Sabbath. Traditional but unscriptural teaching was invoked to settle the question. With that some of them were satisfied. Others were not. These could not deny the cure, nor did they apparently wish to do so. To the objection against the Lord raised by some of them these asked, "How can a man that is a sinner do such signs? And there was a division among them." The Pharisees divided in their judgment, they ask the man what he thought about Him. No hesitation was there on his part, so he stated that "He was a prophet." Now a prophet was one who had the mind of God, an unwelcome declaration to make to them.

The Parents. — This miracle was a remarkable one. No wonder some of the Pharisees had said, "How can a man that is a sinner do such signs?" To give sight to one born blind was till then quite unknown. But had the man been really born blind? Had sight never at any time been enjoyed by him? A material point in the case they thought this was, and they would clear it up. So the parents were summoned and questioned. "Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?" (19). Two questions were raised. By the first they threw doubt on the fact that he was born blind. "Who ye say?" suggests that. Now for the answers. "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind." No loophole of escape did their reply afford to discredit the fact of the miracle. Unhappy Pharisees! The parents owned him as their son. The parents, too, testified that he had really been born blind. That he could now see was also undeniable. But, as to how it came about, his parents would say nothing. Fear of excommunication restrained them. Besides, as he was of age, the Jews should ask him. He could answer for himself. In what bondage were the people held!

Second Examination. — Baffled by the parents' answers, and seeing that the miracle could not be denied, they recalled the man, to examine him afresh. Never before had he been the object of such persistent and anxious inquiries, for the Jews desired anything but to admit that the Lord had performed the cure. "Give God the glory," therefore they said: "we know that this man is a sinner." Now this simple and unlettered man had proved the power of Christ in giving him sight. He could not, he would not, deny it. They might tell him that his Benefactor was a sinner. Into that question he would not enter. But they could not shake his testimony as to the One by whom, or the means by which, his cure had been effected. To what he knew he kept — a wise proceeding — and that surely to the chagrin of his interrogators. "Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see" (25). Not alone in the world's history does he stand. Souls that have received blessing from Christ know it. And all the arguments of learned men cannot shake their convictions. The simplest, the least educated individual knows what he has received, even that to which his opposers are still for themselves perfect strangers.

Persistent in their opposition, they ask again how he received sight. Did they hope that there might be some divergence from his first statement to provide an excuse for rejecting it? If so, they were again disappointed. The man adhered to that which he had first stated. Now, why ask him again? Would they, he said (and probably in irony) — would they be Christ's disciples? But what presumption on his part thus to speak to Pharisees! They repel the suggestion. "Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spake to Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence He is" (29). To examine the beggar might seem an easy thing; to silence him was another matter. So again his voice was heard, as he stood unabashed before them. "Why herein is the marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet He has opened mine eyes. We know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and does His will, him He hears. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, He could do nothing" (30-33).

He reasoned rightly. The miracle showed that Jesus was of God. Light, too, was shining into that man's soul. The more they opposed him, and depreciated the Lord, the clearer he got. "A prophet," not a sinner, but "a worshipper of God," and now "of God" — such were the steps in his testimony. The Pharisees began by saying the Lord was not of God. The man's last testimony was just that which they had at first opposed. Christ was of God. Later on the Lord said, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin" (15:24). Here clearly was one of that class referred to. They closed their eyes against the testimony which it afforded to the person of Christ. But the right effect of the miracle we see was produced in that man. He was sure that his Benefactor was of God.

Cast Out. — Unable to silence the beggar, or to meet him in argument, having previously reviled him, they now showed their contempt: "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out" (9:34). Revilings and expressions of contempt were their weapons: "Thou born in sins, dost thou teach us?" Pharisees taught by a beggar born blind! Which of them could suffer that? "They cast him out." He would understand what must follow. The Sanhedrin would take up the matter. Meanwhile, ere the legal sentence went forth, he was virtually an excommunicated person, and so to be cut off from ecclesiastical privileges. Henceforth, as far as they could do it, he was to be marked as one unfit to associate with — a moral leper. What had he done? What was his crime? He had confessed that the Lord was "of God." A subject of Divine power in goodness, light had broken in on him, and he did not refuse it: light, too, shining more and more within his soul — light from God, and in his case wholly independent of human teaching.

Up to this point he had stood alone. No friendly voice was heard on his behalf, attempting to mitigate the severity of the Pharisees. His parents, too, were afraid to stand by his side. Alone, and unaided apparently, he had to face the Pharisees, to withstand them, and really to refute them. Strange all that may have seemed to him. His troubles, and they were great ones, had commenced just after eyesight had been granted him. Why was he in such a case? Questions of this kind might well arise within him. Later on, however, and that very soon, all would be plain. Already was he permitted to bear testimony for the Lord, and to stand up to the measure of his light on behalf of the truth. This testing was allowed. The opposition was the means of confirming him in his belief. But was he really alone? Outwardly it was so. Yet we cannot doubt that the Lord's eye was on him, and that He was sustaining him throughout, giving him that which his adversaries could not effectually gainsay. Cast out now by men, was he to be cast off by Christ?

He was, as far as we know, the first one cast out for Christ's sake. He heads a list, in which Apostles, martyrs, confessors, and others have been enrolled since his day. This history, therefore, is of great interest to all in a similar position. To be excommunicated, to be regarded as a moral leper, is no light trial for any Christian. But if that is for Christ's sake, for the truth's sake, the Lord will not be an unconcerned spectator of such treatment of a disciple. And more, He will not suffer such an one to be a loser thereby. He can make up by ministry to the soul for all it has suffered at the hands of man. Were this world all, the loss of friends, of goods, of reputation, and of life would be dreadful. There is, however, a tribunal at which many a human judgment will assuredly be publicly reversed. Meanwhile the Lord's approval of His own such are privileged to know. Nor will they be disappointed.

Found. — Cast out by the Pharisees, he was found by Christ (35). Was this an accidental meeting? We cannot suppose that. Jesus "finding him," we read. The man knew not where the Lord was. The Lord knew where the man was. He would now minister further to him. The grace of this, who is there who does not perceive? Just at the moment when sympathy was most needed, the Lord again appeared on the scene. The man's eyes, recently opened to see natural objects around him, the Lord would now enlighten him still more as to the person of his Deliverer. "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?"* was the question put to him. "And who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?" was the man's instant reply. "Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talks with thee." Surely the Lord's response to the man's enquiring question must have gone home to that beggar's heart. "Seen Him! Never before could that have been said. Often must he have heard those around him speak of seeing persons or objects. That was a pleasure which till that day he had never known; for, till he had washed in the water of Siloam, he could not see. Never before, therefore, had he set eyes on his Benefactor. Now he saw Him, as he stood facing Him; and learnt, too, what he had never surmised, that the One who had opened his eyes was the Son of God.

{*Another reading here is "Son of Man," noticed by Griesbach, adopted by Tischendorf in his eighth edition, and by Westcott and Hort, and classed as an alternative reading by Alford. The uncials B, D, and the Codex Sinaiticus exhibit it.}

He had thought of Him as a man. He had defended Him as a man from the animadversions of the Pharisees. Now he learnt that He was a Divine Person — the Son of God. To prostrate himself at His feet as a worshipper was but natural.* At once he did that. As a sinner, a sabbath-breaker, the Pharisees viewed Him. The Son of God, the man once blind now learnt that He was. He had more understanding, he could say, than the recognised teachers in Israel; for to him the Lord communicated the truth about His person. He had seen, he had heard, and he was in the company of the Son of God.

{*"He worshipped Him." John, writes Meyer on the passage, uses "proskunein, as here, solely of Divine worship." This may help us to decide "Son of God," against "Son of Man" in verse 35.}

What cared that man for being cast out from the fellowship of men, if he could be in the presence and at the feet of the Son of God! More, far, far more, than he could lose by excommunication, he had gained by the Lord's gracious revelation to him. Pharisees might adjudge him unfit to be in their company. At the feet of the Son of God was he now found, and He did not repel him.

Left alone for a time, his convictions as to the Lord had been strengthened. Never afterwards would he have cause to regret that he had been forced to stand alone. And though during that time his understanding as to the Lord fell far short of the truth of His person, of nothing that the man had advanced to the Pharisees had he to be ashamed. Then, when needing sympathy, he found far more than that. The Lord, appearing to him, taught him of the excellence of his Benefactor, and who He really was, The Son of God was not ashamed of the beggar. He did not deem the man unfit to be in His company. Has not all this a voice still? If cast out for the truth's sake, the individual can surely count on the interest of Christ in him, and of His ministry to him.

No further utterance have we from the beggar. His heart must have been full — too full probably to speak. But the Lord spoke. That man could hear it. Those around could hear it. Pharisees, too, heard it. "For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see and that they which see might be made [or, become] blind" (39). That beggar was an illustration of the first of these classes. Unbelieving Pharisees were clearly in the second. For the Lord, directly challenged by the Pharisees as to the application of His words, asking as they did, "Are we blind also?" the answer which came was pointed indeed: "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye, say, We see; therefore your sin remains" (40, 41).

Christ the Light of the world has been the subject of chapters 8 and 9. In the former we have seen the effect of light on the conscience by the word of Christ, but light without the knowledge of grace (8:1-11). Then we have seen the light shining in the darkness, and the darkness apprehending it not (12-59). The statement of the Evangelist in 1:5 received full and sad confirmation. Then, in chapter 9, the Lord, as the Light of the world, gives physical sight to a beggar born blind, and the light of truth as to His person is seen shining more and more brightly into that man's soul; till, cast out by men, the revelation was made to him by his Benefactor, that He was the Son of God. On the other hand, Pharisees would discredit the miracle, and resist the conclusion to which it would lead them. Christ's word rejected in chapter 8, His work is discredited in chapter 9. These two witnesses to Him, refused by the Jews, left them without excuse (15:22, 24).

The Shepherd of the Sheep

John 10.

In continuation of the Lord's testimony to Himself, He now comes before us in quite a new character — viz. as the Shepherd of the sheep. In parabolic teaching He spake of a shepherd going after a lost sheep till he found it (Matt. 18. Luke 15). But here in John He presents Himself as the Shepherd, leading, tending, and dying for the sheep. Nothing that they needed of the Shepherd's care would be wanting on His part, even to giving His life for them.

It was near the close of His ministry, between the feast of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication — a feast kept in the winter, beginning with the 25th of Kislev, in the month of December, and lasting for eight days* — that He first thus spake of Himself. One sees the special fitness of introducing such teaching then, and not at the beginning of His ministry; for as the Shepherd He would shortly lead the sheep out of the fold, going before them by dying on the cross. Till He died the fold was their proper place. But now, that event distant only a few months, He could speak of leading the sheep out as a service on His part nigh at hand. The Jews were seeking to kill Him. He, by a proverb, now announced His death; which, though it might be brought about by the hands of men, would carry out a purpose of God, of which the Jews, His enemies, never dreamt. To be in the fold they regarded as the privileged place. True, this was whilst God owned it. And they never contemplated such a dispensational change as being in the privileged place outside of it. This, however, would shortly be brought about.

{* Josephus thus writes of it, Antiquities, XII, 7:7: "Judas [i.e. Maccabaeus] celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the Temple for eight days; and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon: but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices and he honoured God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their Temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it 'Lights.' I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us and that thence was the name given to that festival." To this day that festival is noted in the calendar of the Jews, on 25th of Kislev.}

They had cast out the beggar for confessing Christ. That man, and all true disciples, would shortly be led wholly out of Judaism; not just as excommunicated by the Sanhedrin, but as led out by Christ, the door of the sheep (John 10:7). What terror, then, need there be for any in the sentence of excommunication, who would shortly be outside of Judaism by the favour of God and the ministry of His Son; finding themselves, too, in pasture rich and full, and enjoying a freedom, which under the law had never been known, nor, indeed, could be enjoyed?

The Proverb. — We have spoken of a proverb, since by that term the Evangelist designated it, being of the nature of an allegory rather than of a parable. For the difference between these two we refer the reader to p. 33. Openly, and in the hearing of all around Him, the Lord was still speaking; for what follows, in 10:1-18, is a continuation of His address in reply to the question of some Pharisees, "Are we blind also?" (9:40). Answering His questioners plainly, as He had done, regarding their real condition before God, He now makes known a special mission entrusted to Him, relating to true saints amongst God's earthly people. For to be of the seed of Abraham after the flesh was one thing. To be true sheep was another. Now all Israel were viewed as sheep, and sheep of the flock (Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31), of which the king was the recognised shepherd (1 Kings 22:17; Ezek. 37:24). Hence for Messiah to be a shepherd would be quite in character with Old Testament teaching, and will be made good in relation to the godly remnant in a coming day. Saints, however, amongst Israel, true saints, were sheep indeed, having, as Ps. 23 teaches, Jehovah for their Shepherd. The Lord then introduces Himself here as the Shepherd of the sheep, but speaking only of those amongst the Jews who were real saints of God. What He would do for them, as well as of their everlasting security, and of their character whilst on earth — all this will come before us. And all should know of it, that any, made willing through grace, should profit by its teaching.

"Verily, verily, I say to you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he has put forth all his own,* he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers" (John 10:1-5). Such was the proverb. What can we say about it?

{*"When he has put forth all his own." It is well to mark this for in the Jewish fold, besides the sheep of Christ, there were others not of His sheep (26). The aptness of the proverb becomes thereby more apparent.}

We are taken in thought to a sheepfold, in which the sheep are kept all night, a porter watching at the door. In due time on a new day the shepherd comes to lead out his own sheep, for there may be more than one flock in the fold. The shepherd seeking his own flock enters in by the door, the only recognised way of getting in. A thief, or a robber, would climb up some other way, to get in surreptitiously for his own ends, and not for the welfare of the sheep. Now the Lord is the Shepherd here intended. He entered the fold, which is here Judaism, and entered by the door — that is, He conformed to all the rites and ordinances of that day, which God appointed for Israel. Born under the law, He was circumcised the eighth day; and subsequently at the purification of His mother was presented to God in the Temple. Then He was baptized of John in Jordan, the only one so baptized who had no sins to confess. After that He began His ministry in Israel. So His word to John the Baptist, when challenged by the latter, "Thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness," had a meaning in it not then understood by men. For, to enter in by the door into the fold, to that rite, i.e. John's baptism, He must conform.

Within the fold He found Himself among the sheep. They owned Him. For He spake, and they heard. He called them, and they followed Him. He knew each one, and could call each by name. In time He would lead them out of the fold, going, however, as He here says, before them (4). But, till He had died, Judaism was owned of God, so the fold was not to be left. In all this He had spoken of Himself. He would now speak also of the sheep; and how graciously! They knew the Shepherd's voice, and discerned between that and the voice of strangers, refusing the lead of the latter; just that which the beggar had done.

The Door of the Sheep. — The proverb was not understood (6). He proceeded, therefore, to open out His teaching. "Verily, verily, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them" (7, 8). He had just spoken of leading out of the fold (3). Attempts had been made previously to do that, but without success. And now the reason is vouchsafed. Christ, and Christ only, is the door of the sheep. There is no way out of the fold of Judaism but by Him. God placed His earthly people under law to await the coming of the Prophet like to Moses. To Him they were to hearken (Deut. 18:15-19). Till He should come, Israel were to continue under law; and that involved, in Divine governmental dealing with them, subjection in the Lord's day to the imperial power of Rome. Now efforts had been made to break that yoke — as, for instance, by Judas and Theudas, to whom Gamaliel referred (Acts 5:36-37). Each attempt ended disastrously, both for the leaders and their followers, and proved they were not of God. If God really worked, as Gamaliel wisely observed, it would be impossible to overthrow it. So, after the Lord's death, and the coming of the Holy Ghost, the Church was formed; and, the door of the fold being opened, thousands came out. Before that those characterised by the Lord as thieves and robbers might rise up; but the sheep did not hear them. The time to relinquish Jewish ground had not come. And no way out of Judaism, for those placed under it by birth, has God ever sanctioned, save by Christ, the door of the sheep. Only as Jews hearken to Him have they Divine authority for leaving the Mosaic ritual and the teaching of the synagogue.

Christ the Door. — But, led out of the fold, whither should they go? Would they be left to wander on the dark mountains, and ultimately be lost? No. He who would lead them out would provide richly for them. So now He presents Himself in another character. "I am the door: by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (9). We have read of the door of the fold, through which the Shepherd enters it (1). We have read, too, of the door of the sheep, through which they get out of it (7). Now we read of Christ as the door, by which they can enter in for blessing. The door of the sheep for those in the fold in verse 7, He too is the door, but not of the sheep, in verse 9. Grace and its provisions are for any, for all, who will accept them. Hence the language changes, and the door here (9) is thrown wide open. "By Me, if any man enter in," etc. This is in character with our Gospel, which holds out blessing to all who are willing to receive it (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; 6:35, 40, 51; 7:37; 8:12). But though the door is thrown wide open, to admit of those from Gentiles entering in as well as those from Jews, it is a narrow entrance after all; for only through Christ, the door, can any one enter in. He must be believed upon for entrance to be obtained. Abundant blessing there is. About that none are to be ignorant. The Lord states it simply. He states it fully, classing it under three heads — salvation, freedom, pasture.

Now first of salvation. This for Israel as a nation under the law was future, being connected in the prophetic Word with their final deliverance. Till that is brought about, the nation cannot enjoy salvation. Hence, while there will be the desire for it, till that event comes about, it must remain a desire unsatisfied. So the fourteenth Psalm speaks: "Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord brings back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad." Salvation is always connected with the knowledge of forgiveness of sins. That for the nation is future, and will not be known till they see the Lord, and learn that He bore their sins on the cross (Isa. 53). Now the Lord in our Gospel refers here to present salvation, even that of the soul, teaching with which Peter has made us Christians familiar, being linked, as we have said salvation is, with the knowledge of forgiveness of sins. This latter now preached, salvation of the soul can be known, whilst we await the final deliverance of our bodies. Of salvation in both these senses Peter wrote (1 Peter 1:5, 9), speaking in the former of these passages of that which is future, and in the latter of that which is present, in which sense it is here mentioned by the Lord, as is manifest, since salvation is the first blessing that He enumerates, and which is to be enjoyed by entering in through Him, the door.

Next He mentions freedom, the going in and out. An experience this is so different from that known under the law, under which the people were hedged round with ordinances to keep them separate from all other peoples upon earth. The fulness of this freedom in intercourse with other saints, and in deliverance from the yoke of the law (Acts 15:10), was only by degrees apprehended. That lesson, taught Peter on the housetop at Joppa (Acts 10), was the first real step in the realisation of this freedom. Yet we know how slow were many of the converts from Judaism to Christianity to recognise this in intercourse with other saints (Gal. 2:12-14), members in common with them of the Body of Christ; not to speak of the questions of meats and of the observance of days (Rom. 14), which some were loth to give up.

Something, very different then from that in which the Jews had been nurtured, the Lord here promised. Nor would there be disappointment in store for such; for He promised that they should find pasture. And when we contrast the ministry of the Apostles and Prophets of the New Testament with that of the Prophets of the older dispensation, we must own, that the Lord's promise has been abundantly made good. There is pasture in New Testament teaching such as was not in the Old. To be cast out of the synagogue, as that beggar was, might then seem to be a most dreadful calamity. Before it his parents quailed. Peter, however, and the rest of the apostolic company (Judas of course excepted), would not have exchanged their lot with that of the high priest, or of the rulers of any synagogue. And the Apostle Paul, years after, when he had suffered the loss of all things for Christ, could say, that he had found pasture indeed. Christ was increasingly precious to him. What had Judaism to offer in comparison with Christian blessing and Christian revelation?

Contrasts. — Having presented Himself under the simile of the door, the Lord will return to that of the Shepherd, there being much more to say on this head. Now He necessarily contrasts Himself with a thief and with a hireling. Self-seeking characterised such. The everlasting welfare of the sheep was the Lord's concern. To further it was His aim, even at the cost of His life. The thief would kill, steal, and destroy, gratifying his will at the expense of the sheep. "I am come [or, came]," said the Lord, "that they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (10). So the original should be translated, and not as in the Authorised Version, "more abundantly."* Life, then, in its fulness, in its abundance, He gives. What a word for the Jews standing by! The One they despised, and would kill, if they could, came to give life to dead souls!

{*"More abundantly" takes off from the fulness of the blessing really, as it might imply more yet to be supplied whereas "may have it abundantly" plainly teaches that the fulness of it the Lord gives, to which no more can be added.}

The Good Shepherd. — But this really necessitated His death. No spiritual blessing could one born in sin enjoy, apart from the Lord's atoning death. All that saints had enjoyed from Abel till the Lord's day was bestowed in view of His sacrifice to be offered up, of which sacrifices in the past were but typical. We can read that in Abel being accepted, but with his offering; and in Noah and his sons being blessed only when the burnt offering had ascended to God. So we read, "I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (11). Who but the Lord, the Lord of glory, ever offered to do this? Who but the sinless One could do it? It is here in this discourse (11) that the Lord first in plain language speaks of His death, and that for the sheep. Needing life, as all of them do, He would provide it, and He would die that they might for ever possess it. Love indeed was this! What interest, too, in His sheep! What blessedness to form one of that company which He designates as His own (4)! And why such interest in them? A contrast here comes out between a mere hireling and a shepherd, and drawn by the Good Shepherd. The hireling would think first of his own safety, and would seek for that in flight. Seeing the wolf coming, he flees, and leaves the sheep. He is but an hireling. The sheep are not his. He has no real concern about them. But the Shepherd — would He flee, and seek for safety thereby? The sheep are His own. He has an interest in them. He would face the danger to save them (12, 13).

Now this reads like a chapter in natural life, a picture of that which might have any day been witnessed of keepers of sheep in the East. The wolf coming, the hireling fleeing, the sheep scattered — all that on the one hand. On the other might be seen a shepherd defending his sheep at all cost to himself. But, remembering who it is here speaks, and of what He speaks, we learn that it is not a mere picture of natural life, but has a meaning far beyond that. The sheep are Christ's, because given to Him of His Father (29); and the laying down of His life was an absolute necessity for their everlasting welfare. Yet this we never should have known apart from Divine revelation. The Father's gift to His Son! Then they must be precious to Him. And He delights to speak of that gift (John 6:37-39; 17:2, 6, 9-11; 18:9).

But more. As the shepherd, entering the fold, can call his own sheep by name, and they know his voice (10:3-5), so the Good Shepherd has intimate knowledge of His sheep, and they know Him. "I am the Good Shepherd," the Lord again declared; "and I know Mine own, and Mine own know Me, even as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep" (14, 15).* For the sheep He would lay down His life, who gave Himself a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). How carefully and guardedly does Scripture speak, when it treats of those who will really benefit by the Lord's death! Who, then, are the sheep? That will be made clear further on. Meanwhile another truth comes out. All the flock would not be found among those of the circumcision. Other sheep the Lord had, not of the Jewish fold, or of any fold. Indeed, there is none in God's thoughts but the Jewish fold. For those other sheep He would care, and them He would bring; and they should hear His voice, and there should be one flock (not, fold), and one Shepherd.

{*We give the Revised Version, which is better here than the Authorised Version.}

The sheep are all characterised by this — that they hear the Shepherd's voice. Those in the fold heard it, and would shortly come out of it. Those outside, never in it, Gentiles really till converted, would come to hear His voice. Then the two companies, meeting, would become one flock, having one Shepherd. National distinctions would for them be obliterated. And, the middle wall of partition broken down (Eph. 2:14), they would become practically and openly one, as really indwelt by the one Spirit. One flock, and one Shepherd, there would be; so there would be a displayed unity, and the whole company would be exhibiting uniformity. We all know what failure has come in, and what divisions have been fostered. What havoc, what confusion, the enemy has caused! But in this lies the true remedy. There is but one flock in God's thoughts, all practically owning that there would again be displayed unity amongst Christians. There is, too, but one Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. If He were hearkened to in all that concerns the flock, and the written Word of God really the guide, what else could result but uniformity? But will that ever take place? History gives no encouragement for the indulgence of such a hope. Yet of the lack of unity how many are now painfully conscious and concerned too about it! To promote uniformity what efforts have been made in the past, but in vain! To hear the Shepherd's voice, and to obey it, is the only divinely appointed way of attaining to it. How simple is the remedy! Pointed out by the Shepherd eighteen centuries ago, who will give heed to it?

To return. We learn what is the mind of the Lord Jesus for His people on earth — one flock to be cared for by the one Shepherd. This was quite a new thought, and in Christian times only can it be manifested. By-and-by, in millennial days, it will be different. The earthly people — Israel — will be separate from Gentile saints, as the Word declares. The Song of Moses early taught that in its closing verse: "Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people." To the same effect Isaiah wrote (60). Now only can there be, as regards God's saints, one flock under one Shepherd. The importance of this subject must be our excuse for dwelling a little upon it. God has not left His people without light for guidance on this matter.

A Father's Love. — What a revelation has been made! A Shepherd there is who cares in the fullest way for His sheep. He would tend them, He would feed them, He would shield them, He would die for them. That Shepherd is the Son of the Father. Never before had such a revelation been vouchsafed. And in quietness was the Lord permitted to make it. No wrangling, no opposition, checked the outflow of His heart and words. We have seen what opposition He met with in chapter 8. Here, on the contrary, the audience heard in silence, and heard what none of them could have surmised. But, further, He had twice over spoken plainly of His death for the sheep (11, 15); dying for others, a sacrifice, and, as we know, a sin offering. No mere man ever could do that. No mere man, speaking truthfully, could pretend to do it. Such an act of self-sacrifice should surely earn the gratitude of the sheep. Yet each one must admit how dull he is at heart, and how little he has responded to such grace. Had the Lord told out what He knew of men's hearts, what could He have said? But He tells us of the effect of His death on the heart of another, even His Father. "Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might [better, may] take it again. No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power [or, right] to lay it down, and I have power [or, right] to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father" (17, 18). Many had been the attempts to take the Lord. At times they had sought to stone Him on the spot. Yet never had they effected their purpose. Here it comes out, why their attempts in the past had been futile. "No man," He said, takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself" (18). The hour for His death had not arrived. When it did, He would voluntarily give up His life. To get rid of the One they hated men wished to kill Him. His death, however, when it should take place, would be precious in His Father's eyes, and so special love would be flowing out to Him from His Father. Man's estimate of Christ how different from God's! "That deceiver" the chief priests and Pharisees called Him after His death (Matt. 27:63). Divine parental love would He in a special way be enjoying in consequence of His death, and that death the agonising and humiliating death of the cross, which exposed Him to the jeers of the multitude, and to the mockings of the chief priests and scribes. Then, if He died, if He gave up His life, He would take it again; for no mortal power could keep His body in the tomb. Who of Adam's race could venture to affirm that of himself? What, then, would men gain by putting Him to death? The mistake of such dealing with Him would become apparent, but only when men would have no power to rectify it.

A Division. — In the meantime, how did this teaching affect the hearers? The Lord's disciples said nothing. We can suppose how it must have struck them. The effect on the multitude and the Jews is told us. It made a division among them. "Many said, He has a demon, and is mad; why hear ye Him?" All the grace unfolded was lost on them. "Others said, These are not the words of him that has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" (John 10:20-21). A division among the people about Him there had once been (7:43). A division about Him there was again. For the miracle wrought on the beggar had weight with some. Their question evidenced it. No one working by demon power had wrought such a miracle. There was present then, these owned, One who was above demons, and who had shown it. There was present, the Lord declared, the Shepherd of the sheep, who, about to die for such, would rise again, and would minister in every way to their blessing whilst they should remain on earth. That One was the Son of the Father. And an example of a true sheep was seen in that beggar who would not follow strangers. A sheep of Christ? Yes; yet he could offer nothing of value of this world's providing to his Benefactor. He was but a beggar, yet precious to Christ, as the Father's gift to Him; and precious would he be in another way, as fruit of the travail of Christ's soul (Isa. 53:11).

Here this visit to Jerusalem, begun just previously to the feast of Tabernacles (John 7), came to a close. What ministry had there been! The Satisfier of souls, the Light of the world, the Good Shepherd — in these different characters had the Lord at this visit presented Himself, characters suited to the need of men on earth, to minister to them of everlasting blessing. Besides these He had presented Himself to the Jews in a character which specially concerned those under law — viz. as the door of the sheep. All this told of His desire for souls, as well as of His perfect acquaintance with their condition, and of the means to meet it. From the Jews what had He received but opposition of no ordinary kind? The accusation that He had a demon was thrown at Him — an awful charge indeed! The enmity of the Jews, and their desire to get rid of Him, were manifested without disguise. Yet He continued His ministry, as we have seen in chapter 10, and not without effect. His words impressed some (8:30). His miracle, too, wrought on the blind beggar, had a voice for others. And one at least, till then a perfect stranger, had, up to his light, confessed Him, and was privileged to be in His company — an earnest surely of that which will be seen, when the Lord shall come forth out of heaven, accompanied by His heavenly saints, all saved by Divine grace, and reckoned for ever His fellows (Heb. 1:9).

Between verses 21 and 22 two months had run by. Of events during that time John tells us nothing. Conjectures have been hazarded as to the Lord's service in that interval; but as conjectures only must they remain. Our Evangelist gives us no clue by which to test their accuracy; and his brother-historians are silent as to this visit of Christ to Jerusalem, of which John has given us so full an account (7 — 10).

In Solomon's Porch.* — Again was the Lord found at Jerusalem. It was the feast of Dedication.** It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the Temple in Solomon's porch. The season of the year may account for that. Further, we gather, from the mention of this porch in Acts 3:11 and 5:12, that it was a place of concourse. Whilst walking there the Jews came round Him, and with a show of earnest desire addressed Him as follows: "How long dost Thou make us to doubt [or, hold us in suspense]? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly" (24). Men often charge God with being the cause of their unbelief. Their difficulties need clearer light than has been vouchsafed. Were more given, they would be convinced, and believe — a vain excuse, which will not avail at the bar of Divine judgment. So here the Jews, apparently desirous of being fully assured of the validity of the Lord's claim to be the Messiah, spoke as follows: "How long dost Thou hold us in suspense?" The hindrance, as they declared, lay with Him. Why not, then, speak plainly, and remove our uncertainty?

{*"These cloisters," as Josephus writes, "belonged to the outer court, and were situated in a deep valley, and had walls that reached four hundred cubits in length, and were built of square and very white stones, the length of each of which stones was twenty cubits, and their height six cubits. This was the work of King Solomon, who first built the entire Temple" (Antiquities, XX. 9:7).

**For a notice about this feast see note on p. 215.}

Hypocrisy this was. They knew not to whom they spoke, nor had the least conception that He is, as God, the Searcher of hearts. Their professed desire for further light He estimated at its proper worth. Did they complain of being kept in suspense? They should be kept in suspense no longer. His answer was ready. He pointed them to the proofs of His mission and of His person. He also told them, why they did not believe on Him. As to proofs of His mission, He referred them to His works: "The works which I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me." His Father's name! Then He was the Son. The works, too, which He did were quite in character with those predicted for the time when Messiah should reign (Isa. 35:5-6). They were really, as Heb. 6:5 calls them, powers of the age to come. Evidence there was in abundance. His ministry and His works were sufficient. They bore witness of Him (John 10:25). Why, then, did they professedly remain in doubt? The Lord told them: "Ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep" (26). A solemn statement indeed, "Ye are not of My sheep."* He, the Good Shepherd, disowned them.

{*Such a statement, as like that of "Ye are of your father the devil" (8:44), is only met with, when people have shown what they are. "As I said to you," in verse 26, should be omitted.}

Had the Lord stopped there, many a true sheep might have questioned the reality of his own Christian profession. But He proceeded to describe His sheep, and spoke of their everlasting security. It is, let us remember, the Shepherd's own description, so all can rest on it. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one" (27-30).

We have read, in the opening verses of the chapter, of sheep in a fold, such as might have been seen any day in Palestine. Their shepherd the sheep knew, and would follow him, but no one else. Now we learn no longer in a proverb, but in plain language, both that which would characterise Christ's sheep, as well as something about Him, the Shepherd. As for the sheep, they hear His voice, and follow Him. Then, speaking of Himself, He declares, "I know them." Of the sheep's knowledge of Him He here makes no mention. His knowledge of them He makes prominent. How gracious was this! Many an one might question his or her knowledge of Christ. Did they know Him aright? Did they know Him as they ought? And then write bitter things against themselves. Now here He gives no room for such morbid thoughts. The question for them is a very different one. Do they hear His voice? Do they follow Him? Each one should be able to answer this, however haltingly one may follow the Shepherd. Very gracious, then, was it of the Lord thus to speak of His sheep — gracious, too, how gracious, to speak of Himself as He does: "I know them." Nothing can they tell Him about themselves of which He is ignorant. Their circumstances, their trials, their difficulties, their needs — all fully known to Him. What they are as sinful creatures, what they have done in the past, to what they are prone, if not kept — all is perfectly known to Him. What comfort!

Their Security. — But more. Everlasting life is theirs, Christ's gift to them. And everlasting life, be it well remembered, is everlasting. For "they shall never perish." No latent seed of dissolution is there in that life. Nothing within them can destroy it. Nor can any power from without rob them of it. For none can pluck them out of Christ's hand. Firmly and abidingly does He grasp them. Securely will He keep them, His Father's gift to Him. His Father, too, will keep them. "My Father," He said, "which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand" (29). The wolf might seize a sheep, when the hireling had fled. The enemy can never seize one sheep of Christ; for He, the Good Shepherd, who has died for them, will safely keep them. He will not forsake them, and no divergence of counsels can there be between the Father and the Son; for He adds, "I and My Father are one" — i.e. not one Person, but one in aim, objects, counsels, etc. The Persons are here distinguished by the Son. Who was so competent to do that? "My Father, which gave them Me," marks the distinction. Yet He and the Father are one, essentially one; for Christ is God as well as man. Of the Lord's person we read in this chapter. And His Divine and human natures are clearly taught. He could die, for He is a man. He could furnish a motive for His Father's love to Him (17), for He is Divine. Yet, whilst the Son is the Son of the Father, who as Father is greater than all, He and the Father are one. A mystery, of course, this is beyond human comprehension, yet is to be firmly held by every true Christian.

Blasphemy. — But this announcement, in the eyes of the Jews, was blasphemy, for which they would have stoned Him. And in reply to His calm question, "Many good works have I showed you from the Father; for which of those works do ye stone Me?" they answered, "For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God" (32, 33). Clear and decided were they as to the Lord's real humanity. With no circumlocution they affirmed it. Right were they that He was a man. He had a body, He had a soul, he had a spirit — the three parts which make up a man (1 Thess. 5:23). No one, we suppose, who saw Him on earth, doubted His real manhood. The stumbling-block to the Jews was His claim to be a Divine Person. As for His manhood, the Christian faith is decided; and Christians, taught of God, will fully and thankfully own it. How near that brings Him to us! Was it blasphemy to speak of Himself as He had done? To the Scriptures He turned the Jews, to silence His opponents. "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" (quoting Ps. 73:6). "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of Him, whom the Father has sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" The judges in Israel were called gods (Ex. 22:28). And Moses, when charging them to judge righteously, reminded all of them that the judgment was God's (Deut. 1:17). If mere men could be called in Scripture gods, could the Lord be charged with blasphemy, for saying that He was the Son of God? Would they reject His teaching? Let them learn from His works, that He and the Father are one. "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know, and understand [so Revised Version], that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father" (John 10:34-38).

In Peraea. — To this appeal to their Scriptures what could they say? "Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God," was their accusation. That Psalm silenced them. They dropped the stones that they had just taken up, wherewith to stone Him for blasphemy, and would content themselves with taking Him, if possible. Still were they foiled. He escaped out of their hands, and went away again to the place beyond Jordan, where John at first baptized, and there abode. "To Bethany beyond Jordan" (1:28) we presume He retired. He was now in Peraea, from whence, keeping on the farther side of the river, He subsequently returned to Judea. At that place in Perea He abode, for how long exactly we cannot tell. Only a few months at the longest could it have been, for between the feast of the Dedication and the approach of the Passover it was that the Lord had reached Bethany beyond Jordan. Whilst there, in comparative quiet, and in freedom from attempts of the Jews to compass His death, many resorted to Him, and said, for His miracles had certainly impressed them, "John did no miracle:* but all things that John spake of this man were true" (40-42). The remembrance of John was not effaced, nor was his testimony to the Lord, which had been first, as far as we know, delivered in that place, consigned to oblivion.

{*Miracles appear at the beginning of a dispensation, but not, it seems, at its close. Their special service is either to call attention to a fresh work of God beginning on earth, or to witness for Him in the time of apostasy. Moses worked them, Elijah and Elisha worked them also, when Israel was in apostasy. But the Baptist worked none. The Lord and the early Christian labourers worked them. They have long ceased, as far as we know. By-and-by, in the time of apostasy under the Beast and Antichrist, they will be revived (Rev. 11:5-6).}

What a refreshment to the Lord's spirit this retirement must have afforded, after the contentions with the Jews at Jerusalem, and their repeated efforts to get hold of Him! We say repeated, for four times had they wished to take Him (John 7:30, 32, 44; 10:39). Twice, too, had they taken up stones to cast at Him (John 8:59, 10:31). And on an earlier occasion had they sought to kill Him (5:18). Each of these attempts was made at Jerusalem. The enmity, aroused by His healing the impotent man on the Sabbath day (5), never died out (7:1, 19, 25). It was only intensified by the Lord's teachings in Jerusalem (7 — 10), till at last they compassed His death. Unmitigated and unceasing hostility the Saviour of mankind, according to this Gospel by the son of Zebedee, met with at their hands. In Samaria He was welcomed (4). In Galilee, in chapter 6, He could teach without life or liberty being threatened. In the headquarters of Judaism, the boasted centre of religious enlightenment, He experienced treatment such as neither the Galileans nor the men of Sychar meted out to Him. Jerusalem kept up her character of persecuting and killing God's servants.

We have reached the conclusion of the second great division of this Gospel — the Lord's testimony to Himself. As Messiah He declared Himself in Samaria. As Son of God, who quickens and raises the dead, He appeared in Jerusalem. As Son of Man, the true bread from heaven, which gives life and sustains life, He put Himself before the crowd in Galilee. As the Satisfier of thirsty souls, as the Light of the world, and as the Good Shepherd, He made Himself known in Jerusalem. Opposed, insulted, and rejected by some, others were impressed by His words and works, and believed on Him. And He continued His ministry, in face of the hostility of the Jews, in calmness of spirit, and with a forcibleness of reasoning such as His enemies were powerless to refute.

He was the Son of the Father. He had declared that. Now testimony to that effect from the Father Himself will follow.

3. The Testimony of the Father to the Son.

The Raising of Lazarus from the Dead.

John 11, 12.

"He went forth out of their hand": so wrote the Evangelist (10:39), as translated in the Revised Version. Foiled this time also in their attempt to seize Him, they did not, it would seem, pursue Him, when He recrossed to the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas by a sojourn in Peraea beyond Jordan. There He could enjoy comparative quiet. What, then, would draw Him back to Judaea, situated in the jurisdiction of Pontius Pilate, to be found again within easy reach of the hostile Jews? The glory of God, and the need of sheep of the flock, were the motives. For them He turned His face thitherward. For He would work the works of Him that sent Him, while it was day (9:4). And that work at this time necessitated His presence at Bethany, near Jerusalem. As yet that village, not mentioned* in Gospel history, was henceforth to have a place in the sacred record, and to be imperishably connected with the Lord Jesus, and with a family therein which He loved.

{*We have said not mentioned, for Luke 10:38 does not name it.}

Bethany. — This village was situated on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives, and distant from Jerusalem rather less than two miles and whilst the site* of Bethphage was for long unknown, not the site merely, but the village of Bethany, were never forgotten. A description of it, by one who in recent years visited it, will here not be out of place: "What particularly struck me, in all my visits to Bethany, was its solitude. It looks as if it were shut out from the whole world. No town, village, or human habitation is visible from it. The wilderness appears in front through an opening in the rocky glen; and the steep side of Olivet rises close behind. When Jesus retired from Jerusalem to Bethany, no sound of the busy world followed Him — no noisy crowd broke in upon His meditation. In the quiet home of Martha, or in some lonely recess of Bethany's secluded dell, He rested, and taught, and prayed. How delighted was I one evening, when seated on a rocky bank beside the village, reading the story of Lazarus, to hear a passing villager say, 'There is the tomb of Lazarus, and yonder is the house of Martha.' They may not be, most probably they are not, the real places; but this is Bethany, and the miracle wrought there stills dwells in the memory of its inhabitants. And when the unvarying features of nature are there too — the cliffs, the secluded glen, the Mount of Olives — few will think of traditional 'holy places.' From the place where I sat I saw, as Martha and Mary had seen from their housetop, those blue mountains beyond Jordan, where Jesus was abiding, when they sent to Him, saying, 'Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick' (John 10:40, 11:3). I also saw the road 'from Jerusalem to Jericho' winding past the village, and away down the rocky declivities into the wilderness. By that road Jesus was expected; and one can fancy with what earnest, longing eyes the sisters looked along it — ever and anon returning and looking, from the first dawn till waning twilight. And when at last He did come, and Martha heard the news, one can picture the touching scene — how she ran along that road, and with streaming eyes and quivering lips uttered the half-reproachful and still half-hopeful cry, 'Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.'

{*In Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, second edition, in an article by Sir C. W. Wilson, we learn, "that the mediaeval Bethphage was discovered in 1877 on the road from the Mount of Olives to Bethany; and Ganneau proposes to identify it with Kefr et-Tur, the village of the Mount of Olives which is at the required distance from the city."}

"Bethany is now, and apparently always was, a small, poor mountain hamlet, with nothing to charm except its seclusion, and nothing to interest save its associations. It is a remarkable fact, that Christ's great miracle has been to it as a new baptism, conferring a new name. It is now called El Azariyeh,, which may be interpreted, 'The Place of Lazarus.' The 'palms' are all gone, which gave it its old name of Bethany, 'House of Dates'; but the crags around, and the terraced slopes above it, are dotted yet with venerable fig trees, as if to show that its sister village, Bethphage, 'House of Figs,' is not forgotten, though its site is lost."* That was the case when Porter wrote. It is the case no longer.

{* Porter's Giant Cities of Bashan, p. 164.}

The Family. — A family of three dwelt there — two sisters and a brother, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Another person is named by Matthew and Mark as dwelling in the village — one Simon the leper. In his house Mary anointed the Lord — a friend evidently of the family, as Martha could busy herself in serving under his roof (John 12:2-3). Nothing is known of him to support the idea, that he was the kinsman of the family, or that he stood in a closer connection as the husband of Martha. "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus" we read (11:5), which would apparently intimate, that those three comprised the whole family circle. That Martha had a house of her own is definitely stated in Luke (10:38). Into it she on one occasion received the Lord. How she came to have a house is a question, the solution of which is beyond our power.

In Luke, not in John, we are first introduced to Martha and Mary. Their characters are by the "beloved physician" clearly indicated. Martha was the active, bustling one, busy with household duties. She continued to be that, as long as we have any mention of her. Mary was the quieter one. Martha was cumbered about much serving. Doubtless the catering for the Lord and the Twelve involved no little work. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, and drank in His words. Martha continued in her work of serving, evidently quite at home in preparing for and waiting on the guests in Simon's house. Mary, who had sat at Jesus' feet in Luke, is found at His feet in John 12 — on the first occasion receiving from Him, on the last ministering to Him.

The Love of Christ. — Happy times must Mary have enjoyed with the Lord sitting in their house. We venture to say times, believing that more than once He had visited in that home, and had ministered of His grace and truth to its inmates. He loved them, too. Of God's love towards the world we read early in the Lord's ministry (3:16). Of Christ's love to individuals we read not, however, at the outset of His labours. That was fitting. For, as a man here to do the Father's will, His love is taught us as flowing out to saints, who had first proved themselves to be really such. So He is never said to love the world. He loves saints, as Paul testifies (Gal. 2:20). This John confirms (Rev. 1:5). And though we may speak of Christ's love in dying for us, no one is authorised to tell of that, as regards himself, till he has received salvation by faith in Christ. Christ, too, loves the Church (Eph. 5:25). Would any quote Mark 10:21 in opposition to that which we have advanced? The explanation is simple. Evidently the young ruler was naturally attractive. There are such characters on earth, fruit, of course, of the Creator's handiwork. The Lord, we can understand, could love what he saw of God's work in that creature, though He could not love him for turning back from the path of true discipleship.

In chapter 3, as we have said, we read of God's love, and there find the first intimation of its going out to a ruined world. In chapter 11 we first read in the Gospel of the Lord loving a member of the human race. And each member of that family at Bethany was an object of His love. Very likely, as men would say, it was an uncommon family. But each member of it was a subject of Divine grace, and a partaker, too, of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). And though Mary seems to us the more attractive of the two sisters, it is interesting to note, that, when writing of the Lord's love for them, the sacred historian mentions Martha first. Most likely she was the eldest, and so would naturally have been named first. But considering the way her character has been contrasted by men, and not to her credit, with that of her sister, it was gracious indeed of the Holy Ghost to direct the Evangelist to write, "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." We look on this as an instance of real Divine guidance.

The Message. — When the Lord had last been at Bethany we do not know, nor how long the sickness of Lazarus had continued, whether for days or only hours. The sisters, however, it would seem, considered that it was of a nature beyond the reach of ordinary remedies, and could only be removed by the intervention of Divine power, to be exercised by Christ, if He willed it. On that they seemed to have counted. So they sent to Him. Where He was they evidently knew. The messenger found Him, having, we may be sure, speeded on his road without loitering or needless delay, and then delivered the touching message, "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest* is sick" (John 11:3). Perfectly free as they were in their intercourse with Christ, there was, however, no undue familiarity, no forgetfulness of a great difference between Him and them. "Lord" was the message. By a title of respect they would address Him. Then, telling Him of the state of matters as regards Lazarus, they asked for nothing, they suggested nothing. They acquainted Him with the fact, and there left it, yet assured that His love would not fail them at such a time. They counted on it. Nor were they to be disappointed. He who had healed the nobleman's son at Capernaum, when He Himself was miles away from that city, could, if He pleased, have healed Lazarus at Bethany, when He was still beyond Jordan. But He did not. The messenger carried the message, and returned, but with no promise of the Lord's presence in Bethany, nor of the healing of the sick one.

{*See note on John 21:15, p. 403, as to the difference between Ailed, here used by the sisters of Christ's affection for Lazarus, and the statement of the Evangelist about the three, where agapao is employed.}

"This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby," was what the Lord said. What did the sisters extract from these words? We can well imagine with what anxiety they awaited the return of their messenger. And may be watching the path by which he must come up the toilsome ascent from the Jordan valley, did disappointment overtake them, when they found he had come alone? He would deliver the Lord's answer, of which it appears that the Master subsequently reminded Martha (40). Was recovery to take place? Was that the meaning of the words, "This sickness is not to death"? Their brother must have been very near his end, when the messenger came back, if not, indeed, already dead for he had been dead four days, when the Lord reached Bethany. Was there no word of the Lord coming to them? they very likely anxiously asked. Not a word about it had the messenger been commissioned to carry back to Bethany. They knew the Lord had the power. They thought He had the will to intervene. They counted on His love. Were they to count on that in vain?

God's Glory. — But another issue was to be borne in mind. To save Lazarus from death was one thing. The furtherance of the glory of God was another. In this case that would be the better furthered by raising up Lazarus from the dead, than by keeping him out of the tomb. The sisters would naturally think of Lazarus and of themselves. The Lord, as the Son and as the perfect Servant, thought first of the Father's glory. We see again how that was His first object in 12:28: "Father, glorify Thy name." Again in 17:1 He asks to be glorified as the Son, that He, the Son, might glorify the Father. And looking back on His life-work, He could say in that same chapter, "I have glorified Thee on the earth, having finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do" (17:4). The real furtherance of God's glory was ever before Him. So He abode still two days in the place where the messenger had found Him. Tried, indeed, was the faith of the sisters. The Lord had not said He would not go to them. But He had not said that He would. Anxiously, how anxiously, must they have waited to hear the sound of His steps.

To Bethany. — Now, was that delay consistent with true love? It was. Love seeks the welfare of its objects. Love for Martha, Mary, and indeed for the disciples, kept the Lord those two days without stirring from the place east of Jordan, where the tidings had found Him. After that He announced His intention of returning to Judaea. The disciples, astonished at this resolve, remind Him of the conduct of the Jews towards Him. "Master [rather, Rabbi], the Jews of late sought to stone Thee and goest Thou thither again?" Human prudence would have dictated keeping away, where He was unmolested by His enemies. It was, however, still the day of service. He would then go. And acquainting the Twelve with the death of Lazarus, He told them He would go to waken him out of sleep — i.e. to raise him from the dead. Why had He delayed His journey? Part of the truth now comes out. "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe." For the glory of God and the establishing the faith of the disciples would the Divine purpose in that death be manifested. "Nevertheless let us go to him" completed the Lord's communication. "Go to him" He said. Lazarus was dead. But Lazarus had not ceased to exist. He was still a living creature, though not in his body. Lazarus was sleeping. He would go to awake him out of sleep. Death does not terminate a person's existence, as the dying thief learnt, who was to be with Christ after death in paradise.

Thomas. — Here Thomas comes forward. In this Gospel only have we any indication of his thoughts. Coupled with Matthew on the mission of the Twelve to Israel (Matt. 10:3), he here (John 11:16) opens his mouth and addresses the Twelve: "Let us also go, that we may die with Him." The Lord was precious to Thomas. He would cast in his lot with Him, share His danger, and, if it were to be, die with Him. Thomas had a heart for Christ, though he subsequently doubted the correctness of the testimony of others as to the Lord's resurrection. But of this later.

Bethany Reached. — With the Master went the Twelve. Up the long ascent from the Jordan valley He went, and appeared outside the village. He and His disciples were seen approaching, ere Martha met Him. The news of His coming reaching her, she went at once to meet Him. They met outside the village — a sorrowing heart in the presence of Him who would shortly turn her sorrow into joy. "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died," were the first words of her salutation. "And even now I know" (so we should read), "that, whatsoever Thou shalt ask of God, God will give it Thee" (21, 22). Was there any reproach implied in her opening words? As Mary used them also, we should incline to view them as words of lament. Was there a lurking hope in those which followed, that Lazarus might be raised to life, like the son of the widow of Nain. Her words would seem to imply that, whilst her language about the Lord evidenced she did not understand, that He was really a Divine Person equal with the Father. For she speaks of Him asking of God, using for that a word fitly applied to men in relation to God, who are not, of course, on an equality with Him.* An immediate response came from the Lord: "Thy brother shall rise again."

{*"There are two words, aite? and er?ta?, the latter familiar, the former supplicatory. The former is never used of Christ with the Father save by Martha as to God, which confirms this view of the word. Both words are used of the disciples with Christ; only the former of the disciples with the Father." (Note on John 14:16 in A New Translation of the New Testament, by the late Mr. J. N. Darby.)}

Yes. But when? "I know," rejoined Martha, "that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Resurrection of the dead was an article in the creed of every orthodox Jew (Heb. 6:2). Were the Lord's words restricted to a future application? Shortly would He give proof of His real meaning. And now came forth from Him a revelation, never previously vouchsafed: "Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes on [not, in] Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes on Me shall never die. Believest thou this? She says to Him, Yea, Lord: I have believed that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world" (John 11:23-27). The Resurrection and the Life He called Himself, the One who has power over death, and who can preserve likewise from it. A very important announcement this, sketching out something of the future of God's saints to be brought about by the Lord Jesus.

Resurrection. — In chapter 5 of this Gospel the Lord publicly revealed in the Temple at Jerusalem the truth of the two resurrections — viz. that of the just and that of the unjust. A revelation this was which concerns all who die. On the present occasion, outside of, but near the village of Bethany, He revealed a truth, which concerns God's saints alone. He spoke of it, therefore, to Martha, a saint of God, but not publicly before a multitude. Two moral classes will there be concerned in the resurrection — the just, and the unjust. Two conditions also are there, in one of which God's saints will be found. Those who have died before the Lord comes to reign will be raised from the dead. Those alive, when He comes into the air for His saints, as well as those also when He comes to reign, will never die. He is the Resurrection, so He will call forth His sleeping saints from the tomb; for he that believes on Him, though he were dead, yet shall he live. He is also the Life; so will He preserve all those who are alive when He comes, that they shall never die; "for he that lives and believes on Him shall never die." He is thus the full answer to that which His saints will need.

How far Martha understood this important communication it is not for us to determine. How far do we understand it is a personal matter for each one to settle. Would any be inclined to question the interpretation which we have offered of the last clause of the Lord's declaration? The order of the words, we believe, authorises it. "Whosoever lives and believes on Me shall never die." Were the verbs lives and believes transposed, the term lives might then be held to treat of spiritual life through believing on the Lord. Placed, however, first, it speaks of natural life, and refers to those who will be found alive in this world at the Lord's coming, or at His appearing.

While on this subject of the resurrection, we would remind the reader of the order of it, as affecting Christians. Of this 1 Thess. 4:15-16, tells us. The dead in Christ will rise first; then the living saints will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Further, of the suddenness of the Lord's coming for Christians 1 Cor. 15:51-55 warns us. And of the space of time between the resurrection of the just and that of the unjust Rev. 20:4-5, definitely states. It will be a thousand years.

To return. Martha replying to the Lord, and confessing Him as the Christ, the Son of God which should come into the world, a confession which may not have embraced more than her thought of Him as a man, went for her sister Mary, who had remained sitting still in the house.

Mary. — The family must have been held in respect, for many of the Jews had come from the holy city, nearly two miles off, to condole with the sisters on the occasion of their brother's death. These surrounding and weeping with Mary, Martha spoke secretly to her sister, giving the welcome intelligence of the Lord's arrival. "The Master is come, and calls for thee." She at once rising up quickly to meet Him, her friends followed in ignorance of her purpose. To the grave to weep there they surmised. To meet the One who loved them was her object.

Reaching the spot where the Lord was outside the town, she fell at His feet, a heart-broken creature prostrate before the Son of God. "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died," was all that fell from her lips. Both the sisters had faith in His power to heal. But death had come now, so the opportunity for healing was past. We can picture her at the feet of Christ. But now we are turned from her to Him. Mary was weeping; the Jews also who were with her were weeping; and the Lord "groaned in the spirit, and was troubled" (John 11:33). Deeply, how deeply, was He feeling the sorrow of His people, the fruit of the Fall. He groaned in the spirit. That groaning is not said to have been audible. We read not that the Jews noticed it. They made no remark on it. But we know it, and learn thereby how really, how deeply, He can feel for the sorrows of His sinful creatures.

At the Tomb. — Groaning in spirit, He said, "Where have ye laid him?" Was it just to go to the tomb to weep there? That was all that Mary and her companions could have done, the expression of deep but helpless sorrow. The Lord, however, was about to illustrate His words to Martha, "I am the resurrection." Yet He groaned in spirit, and wept, too, openly. All present could notice this last. He wept. Twice do we read of Christ weeping. He wept over Jerusalem, as He entered her as her King; weeping then as He foresaw the sorrows she was assuredly bringing on herself — sorrows, we have to say, not yet ended. He wept for her. He wept, too (35), in the company of those sorrowing sisters, weeping with those who wept, and thus accompanied them to the tomb. The Jews weeping, the sisters weeping, Jesus weeping! What a company! They were weeping, who could do nothing for Lazarus. He was weeping, whose voice could wake the dead. And now approaching the tomb, He groaned in Himself again. His sympathy was real; it was deep. "Behold how He loved him," some said, as they saw His tears. "Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?" Was this a reproof? It looks like it. His reply was a groan (37, 38).

As one with them He had appeared when He wept, a man amongst men. Now at the tomb He takes His place as the One to command, and to be obeyed. "Take ye away the stone," was His first word. They took away the stone, notwithstanding Martha's interposition. There was surely something in His manner and in His word which made those around obey with alacrity. To move the stone was not difficult. Human power could easily do that. To raise the dead required the exercise of Divine power, direct or delegated. Who was He who now appeared in the character of One commanding? All present should hear, and, if they would, understand. It was the Son of the Father. So, lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (41, 42). Whoever on earth had thus addressed God in heaven but Himself?

The Son on earth, holding intercourse with the Father in heaven, all present could hear that day. The sickness, the Lord had said, was for the glory of God, and that the Son of God should be glorified thereby. Martha too, if believing, was to see the glory of God (40). What an answer there was now to be given to the reproachful remarks of some standing by (37)!

He had commanded, and the stone was taken away. He commanded again, crying with a loud voice,* "Lazarus, come forth." And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, his face being bound about with a napkin. Everything there was to impede obedience to the command — his limbs fettered, his face bound about with a napkin. The word of command, however, was a word of power. Life returned to the body; strength, vigour, to the limbs. But had he really died? Had life actually left his frame? The Lord announced the fact of his death two days after the messenger had reported his illness (14). The sisters were sure that Lazarus had died (21, 32). The Jews in the company of Mary testified to it (37). And four days had he been dead and buried (17, 39). The miracle, then, could not be gainsaid. If Lazarus came forth from the tomb, it was the Lazarus who had died. His resurrection was indisputable. A word had been spoken, and Lazarus was again alive. No personal contact had there been with the Lord, as in the case of the daughter of Jairus. He but spake, and it was done. He, who called all creation into existence, called forth Lazarus by His word from the dead.

{*The Greek verb selected here by the Evangelist is never elsewhere applied to the Lord. It is used of the multitude accompanying Him to Jerusalem (12:13), and of the multitude clamouring for His death (18:40, 19:6). Messiah, we read in Matt. 12:19, quoting Isa. 42:2, would not cry aloud. Here He spoke to wake the dead. The loudness of His voice on this occasion was then peculiar, and for Him unique.}

"I am the resurrection," He had said. He thus proved it: an earnest of the putting forth of that power which will call forth every sleeping saint from the tomb — an earnest, too, of that power which will call forth all the ungodly dead to appear at the great white throne. Nothing could hinder Lazarus obeying the voice of Christ. Nothing will be able to retain in the grave the bodies of the ungodly dead. Saints of God can find encouragement from this history. When He shall call His own from the tomb, every one of them will come out. Ungodly ones may well tremble, as they read of the effect of His voice. Poets may write of the "dull, cold ear of death." * When, however, He who is the resurrection speaks, its ear is dull no longer.

{*The reader may remember a stanza of Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard": —
"Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death?"}

One command more, and this history closes. "Loose him, and let him go" (44), the Lord said. Gladly must that word have been obeyed. Those hands, which four days before had bound the grave-clothes round the corpse, now set him free from the trappings of death with eagerness and with joy too great for utterance. Joy too great for utterance we have said. Does this overpass the bounds of possibility? Not a word have we of any utterance now from the sisters. The history here closes, and how fittingly! Joy, too great for outward expression, had chased away in a moment that grief, which had pressed on them so heavily.

Ere going further, we would remark on the Lord's manner of procedure in this matter. He had the power to raise the dead. In Galilee He had displayed it. He was going to raise Lazarus, as He told His disciples: "I go, that I may awake him out of sleep" (11). But ere doing that He manifested His deep sympathy with those sorrowing ones. He groaned, and He wept. It was the sympathy of One who had almighty power, and was about to exercise it. The display of power is one thing; the expression of true, deep sympathy is quite another. The last is an index to the heart of the sympathiser. Is it not that we want to know, and of it to be assured? The dead in Christ shall rise. Meanwhile the Lord would have His people comforted by the consciousness of His sympathy — the sympathy of Him who is man, and can feel as a man, but who is the Son of the living God, and the Resurrection as well.

He wept that day, and the sisters as well as the Jews could see it. He shed tears, as the word used implies, expressive of His feelings. When He wept on another and later occasion over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), lamenting her future, the result of her indifference and impenitence, He gave expression in words to His lamentation. At Bethany He wept, and apparently in silence; for we have no words uttered by Him between this question, "Where have ye laid him?" (34), and His command, "Take ye away the stone" (39). Tears make no noise, yet they can speak as loudly as the voice of lamentation, and witness of the feelings within thus finding an outgate. Here, and here only, are we told that He shed tears.* That short verse (35) in our Authorised Version, consisting of but two words, how full of comfort is it for sorrowing saints! What a heart was His! Shall we only say was? No. He lives, alive in resurrection. And what He was when on earth, that He is still towards His own. We prove now His sympathy as we need it. We shall prove His power as the Resurrection, or as the Life, when He calls us up who are believers to be with Him for ever. It was in this order, as we see, that He acted that day — first showing His sympathy, and then putting forth His power to raise the dead.

{* Meyer remarks on the verb selected by John: "It is worthy of notice, that dacruein is here used, and not again claiein. His lamenting is a shedding of tears in quiet anguish, not a weeping with loud lamentation, not a clauthmos, as over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). It is a delicate discrimination of expressions, unforced, and true."}

We have headed this division of our Gospel (11, 12), The Testimony of the Father to the Son. This appears in chapter 11, as the Lord, standing at the mouth of the cave, addressed Himself audibly to His Father, ere speaking that word which called forth Lazarus from the tomb. Appealing thus openly to the Father, His act of power was clearly acquiesced in by the Father. For we cannot suppose, that He, who will not give His glory to another, would have suffered a mere creature to claim to be the Son, and to be accredited as such by that miracle. He must be the Son, and, as He elsewhere affirmed of Himself, the only begotten Son of God (3:16, 18). He was, He is, the Son of God.

A Council. — Of the sisters' feelings, when Lazarus emerged alive again from the sepulchre, as we have said, we read nothing. Many, however, of the Jews, who had come to bewail with them over his death, beholding his resurrection, believed on the Lord. But some of the Jews, the unbelieving ones we suppose * (for all who came from Jerusalem to Bethany did not believe on Him at that time), went and told the Pharisees what had taken place. These summoned a council, with the chief priests, professing to be alarmed for the welfare of the city and the nation. Had this been their first attempt to stop the Lord, one might have thought them sincere. Their repeated attempts, however, to seize Him on previous occasions deprives their professed reason for interposing now of any manner of force. This man, they agreed, did many miracles. They could not deny them, nor could they conceal from themselves the effect made by them on the multitude. "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." We get here an insight into their deliberations, and can listen, as it were, at the door of the council chamber to their consultation within. But who had kicked at the Roman yoke, and would fain get rid of it? The Lord? Or the Pharisees? We all know. Hypocrisy surely was displayed at this time, coupled with indecision in the council, till Caiaphas delivered himself.

{*But Meyer, followed by Alford, thinks, they were some who believed who thus acted.}

Caiaphas. — Here he first comes into notice, destined shortly afterwards to be the man, who, in the council of the Sanhedrin, as the high priest, condemned the Lord to death, first charging Him with the guilt of blasphemy. He appears again in the Acts. Before him, in conjunction with Annas, Peter and John were brought by the officers of the Temple (Acts 4:6). He was a Sadducee, and received his office A.D. 17 or 18, at the hand of the Roman Procurator, Valerius Gratus, who made and unmade high priests, one might say, at his will. For between Annas and Joseph Caiaphas, Josephus tells us (Ant., XVIII. 2:2), there were three who filled the office: (1) Ishmael, the son of Phabi; (2) Eleazar, a son of Annanus, or Annas, who had formerly held the office; and (3) Simon, the son of Camithus. God's order in the high priesthood was set aside; and a Gentile, Valerius Gratus, put in, it would seem, whom he would of the house of Aaron. Of Joseph Caiaphas little is recorded by Josephus. Made high priest by Valerius Gratus, he was deposed by Vitellius, A.D. 36. We get more about him in Scripture than in the pages of the Jewish historian.

High priest at this time near the Lord's death, he spoke in the council, when they were deliberating what they should do to Christ; and declared, but really writes John, by the spirit of prophecy, that the Lord's death was necessary to save the nation. "Ye know nothing at all," Caiaphas said to the Pharisees (and being himself a Sadducee may explain his way of speaking at that council). "Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for you [not, us], that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not" (49, 50). This was the last real prophetic announcement that fell from an occupant of the pontifical office in Israel. Little, indeed, could he have understood what the Evangelist discerned lay hid in those words. Caiaphas only thought of allaying Roman jealousy by putting the Lord to death. John saw in them a prediction of the Lord as the sin offering, meeting the claims of a holy God on behalf of the godly remnant of the nation. "That the whole nation perish not," said Caiaphas. Precisely so, John could have replied. But the thought of the high priest and the understanding of his words by John were widely different. Caiaphas considered the Roman power, and feared its wrath. John thought of Divine judgment, and of God's provision to escape it by the substitute of His choice. And more, God's thoughts reached out beyond the limits of the nation, and embraced Gentiles within the Divine purpose. For Christ by His death was to gather together into one the children of God that were scattered abroad (52). Of sheep not of the fold of Judaism the Lord had already spoken (10:16) — sheep outside the company even of those of the dispersion, to whom Peter in later years ministered (1 Peter 1:1). Them also the Lord would bring, and they should hear His voice; and there should be one flock and one Shepherd.

Caiaphas' advice was taken. Indecision was at once at an end in the council. The two great parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, were henceforth at one in the matter. The Lord must die. But when? Who of them knew? However, they would wait for their opportunity, and issued a notification as the Passover approached, that if any man knew where the Lord was in Jerusalem, he should disclose it to the authorities, that they might take Him.

Ephraim. — Meanwhile the Lord, without entering Jerusalem, and fully aware of the design of the council, retired for a brief season to a city called Ephraim, near to the wilderness, and there tarried with His disciples. This city is supposed to be the modern Et-Taiyibeh — "a village" (we quote from Smith's Dictionary of the Bible), "on a conspicuous conical hill, commanding a view 'over the whole eastern slope, the valley of the Jordan, and the Dead Sea.' It is situated four miles north-east of Bethel, and fourteen from Jerusalem." From thence the Lord returned to Bethany six days before the Passover. Comparing John's Gospel with that of the Synoptics, we see that he omits all reference to the Lord's visit to Jericho, and the healing of Bartimaeus. That could not have taken place after the raising of Lazarus. As far as we know, it must be viewed as happening on His way to Bethany from the east of Jordan. At Ephraim He remained; but what length of time our only informant, the Apostle John, has not stated, nor do we know of any service undertaken by Christ during that interval. As yet Judas had not betrayed Him, nor had that rebuke been administered, which was the exciting cause for that awful crime.

Passover was drawing nigh, and multitudes were flocking up to the holy city to keep that feast. A question was now freely discussed amongst the assembled company, whether or not the Lord would present Himself. A little time only was to elapse, ere He would settle that point, and appear in the city, entering it in a manner never expected. Of that we read in chapter 12, so defer any notice of it till the following paper.

The Father's Voice

John 12.

To keep the Passover the Lord left His retreat, and proceeded to Bethany, on the way to Jerusalem. At this point in the narrative John recounts events which others have recorded. In common with Matthew and Mark, he will draw attention to Mary's act of devotedness and love. In common with Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he will notice the Lord's entry into Jerusalem. Since the feeding of the five thousand, and the recrossing of the lake (6), all that John has told us is peculiar to his Gospel. Now for a little, though we shall read of events which others have also noticed, we shall find that his narrative contains facts passed over by them, showing how wholly independent he was in his labours of those of his fellow-historians who preceded him.

The Supper at Bethany. — And now as to the supper at Bethany. John alone has fixed the date of it. It took place six days before the Passover, and so preceded the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was the rebuke then administered to Judas, in the house of Simon the leper, that was the exciting cause, which led to his betrayal of his Master for thirty pieces of silver. Hence both Matthew and Mark introduce their notice of that night at Bethany in connection with the traitor's voluntary offer to betray Christ. That the rebuke so acted on Judas, Matthew pretty plainly intimates (Matt. 26:14). How, then, must it have rankled in his mind! It was no sudden impulse by which he was irresistibly impelled. With the train of events arising out of the supper Matthew and Mark were specially concerned, so mention the supper when they do. John, on the other hand, introduces his notice of the meal in its proper historical order.

The supper was made for the Lord, who had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 12:1-2). And Lazarus, we here learn, formed one of the company; whilst Martha, true to her natural character, was serving. But where did the supper take place? On this John is silent; but his brother Evangelists, the son of Alphaeus and the son of Mary, have both placed on record. It took place in the house of Simon the leper. Of him, as we have before remarked (p. 239), we know nothing more, than that he, who had been a leper, owned a house at Bethany, in which they now made a supper for the Lord. Our knowledge, however, of the supper being in his house, explains why Lazarus is mentioned by John as sitting at the table on that occasion with the Lord. For if the supper had been in Lazarus' house, such a notice would have been superfluous.

A happy company it must have been. For if Simon was healed by the Lord at some previous time, as has been supposed, full to overflowing must his heart have been for the mercy vouchsafed. No wonder he would make Him a feast. And Lazarus there, raised from the dead, what proofs were two of that company of the Lord's power and goodness! God only could heal the leper; God only could raise the dead. A leper healed, a dead man raised, and the Son of God, who had healed the one, and had raised the other, here also at the table — never before, we may say it without fear of contradiction, had a supper taken place under such circumstances. Nor is that all; for Lazarus at the table, after he had been in the tomb, seems a foreshadowing of Israel's history, when the nation will emerge, as it were, from their grave (Ezek. 37:12-14), and enjoy the blessing of the Lord's presence with them. Millennial anticipations are by no means infrequent in the Word.

Mary. — Martha serving, Lazarus feasting, what was Mary about? Her history, as previously recorded (Luke 10:39), would lead to the supposition that she was not unconcerned with the Lord in their midst. Her love to Christ, and her gratitude for what He had done to her brother, were no less fervid than those of her sister, and of her brother. If Martha would show her gratitude in serving, Mary would show hers in anointing the Lord. And to John are we indebted for our knowledge that it was Mary. He alone mentions the name of the woman. Matthew and Mark tell us that it was a woman. All three are agreed that the ointment was very precious, Mark and John tell us it was spikenard, and John has preserved from oblivion that it was a pound in weight. The Holy Spirit delights, we may say, in recording service done to Christ.

A pound of ointment! Twelve ounces of spikenard, very costly! On whom before had so much been bestowed? But nothing was too costly for her to expend on Him. Mary's estimate of Christ remained unchanged and unchangeable. She had sat at His feet, and had drunk in His words (Luke 10). She had rejoiced with Martha in the restoration to them of their brother Lazarus from the tomb (John 11). Now she testified by her act before all what Christ was to her. Sitting formerly at His feet, she now anointed them, — so John writes; whilst Matthew and Mark relate that she poured the ointment on His head. And John only tells us of her wiping His feet with her hair. A woman's natural ornament and covering was honoured by being put to such a use.

Doubtless, without taking counsel with any one, she made use of her ointment — breaking, too, the alabaster box, or cruse, in which it was (Mark 14:3). No one else should ever be anointed out of that box. It was broken. That ointment she destined for Him, and for Him alone. No word, that we read of, as she anointed Him, escaped her lips. Her act, however, spoke louder than words. Of the best that she had He was worthy, and no one else should ever share in it. But her act could not escape notice; for "the house," writes the Evangelist, "was filled with the odour of the ointment" (John 12:3). Every one present must have perceived its fragrance. And surely its sweetness ascended heavenward, "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God" (Phil. 4:18), being the homage of a grateful heart rendered to His beloved Son.

Judas. — There was, however, one present who had no appreciation of Mary's act, no sympathy with Mary's token of affection. Enjoying opportunities of learning about the Lord far more than she ever had, his heart had remained unattracted, and to any love for Christ he was an utter stranger. His name was Judas, commonly called in addition Iscariot. He was the son of Simon, who was also called Iscariot in the better reading of John 6:71; and the city to which he and his father belonged was Kerioth in Judaea. So he was a man of Kerioth, as Iscariot really implies. The Eleven were probably all Galileans. He alone belonged to Judaea — a fact not without significance, when we remember that the Lord's bitterest opponents were from the Jews. Chosen by the Lord to fulfil the prophetic word (John 13:18), who knew all about him, and the awful crime of which he would be guilty (6:71), the others had no conception till after the betrayal of his duplicity and his cupidity. He bore the bag, writes John, and, being a thief, purloined that which was put therein, as it seems the Evangelist meant his readers to understand (12:6). The first words in the Gospel attributed to Judas are those uttered on this occasion: "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?" His last words were addressed to the chief priests, as, casting down in the Temple court the reward of iniquity, he exclaimed in remorse, "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood." Then suicide effected, he went, Peter said, to his own place (Acts 1:25), being, as the Lord called him, "the son of perdition" (John 17:12), saying also of him, "Woe to that man, by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! good were it for that man, if he had never been born" (Mark 14:21). Words these are of awful import when we consider from whose lips they fell.

The first utterance of Judas was characteristic of the man. Posing as the friend of the poor, but in reality dominated by cupidity, he appraised the ointment at three hundred pence, about 10, and grudged that sum being expended on the Lord, to betray whom he was willing afterwards to receive thirty shekels of silver — i.e. less than 4. The Lord's answer rebuked Judas. "Suffer her," He said (we quote the Revised Version), "to keep it against the day of My burying. For the poor ye have always with you; but Me ye have not always." Neither to make money of it, nor to bestow it on the poor, was her intention. And the Lord interprets her act, as He viewed it in connection with His burial.* Judas had raised the question of waste. Others, we learn in Matthew and Mark, joined in that. The Lord's answer evidently shut every mouth, for no one said a word after His interposition. But the answer which silenced all objectors was the exciting cause, as we have said, in the heart of Judas to betray His Master (Matt. 26:14). John here tells us enough of the answer to see what a rebuke it was. Mark gives a much fuller account of what the Lord said. Doubtless John, guided of the Spirit, felt no need to reiterate all that passed. We are, however, indebted to him for three statements in this short history: first, the time of the occurrence; next, the name of the woman, who anointed the Lord; and thirdly, the name of the one who started the objection. And Mary's act and Judas' words have been kept, and will be, in imperishable remembrance. Mary surely never thought of that. Judas surely would wish his part in the matter to have sunk into oblivion.

{*We have given above the text of the Revised Version. Its marginal note runs, "Let her alone: it was that she might keep it against the day of My burying." It is questioned exactly what was intended, when we follow the better reading. Some would think that only a portion of the ointment was then used, and the rest was kept for the Lord's burial. Looking at Matthew and Mark, we do not think that the Lord meant that, since she poured it also on His head.}

To turn to the history. Jesus' presence again at Bethany attracted some of the common people thither. His fame from raising Lazarus had spread. Numbers would, therefore, go to Bethany to see Him, and Lazarus also. To the chief priests such a move seemed like a check to their purpose. For many of the Jews went away, and believed on the Lord. The miracle struck them. No one could deny it. There was Lazarus, the raised one. There was Jesus, the raiser from the dead. The effect on people evidently spreading, might well have made the chief priests pause and reflect. Instead of that, counsel afresh was taken. The death of Lazarus was now mooted, as well as the death of Christ. No wickedness was too great, if only thereby the spread of the movement could be arrested. And, like many others in later times, they thought to act on people's fears by taking the life of Christ, and that of Lazarus as well. What had the latter done to deserve death? He had been the subject of almighty power, over which he had no control. Yet he, too, must die (9-11). But a greater apparent check were those people about to receive.

The King entering the Capital. — For from the house of Simon at Bethany we are taken to the Mount of Olives and to Jerusalem, as the Evangelist briefly notices the Lord's public entry into the city. We say briefly, since incidents related by the other Evangelists John passes over in silence. The commotion in Jerusalem caused by the Lord's entrance Matthew recounts (Matt. 21:10). The fullest particulars about the ass, and the promise to send it back,* Mark has stated (11:2-4). The Lord's lamentation over Jerusalem, as He surveyed it from the Mount of Olives, Luke has put on record (19:41-44). All this John omits, yet confirms the statement of his brother Evangelists, as he explains how it was there was a crowd, which preceded the Lord on that day, and a multitude also which followed. A crowd went out from Jerusalem to meet Him, hearing that He was coming to the city. And a crowd accompanied him from Bethany (John 12:12-13, 17-18). The former, meeting the Lord, would naturally turn and precede Him. Thus the history of this triumphal entry, recorded by all four Evangelists, needs that which each has supplied to fill up the picture. Briefly we have said of John's account. In other points is that seen. The language of the crowd, more fully given elsewhere, is shortly stated by John. And the quotation from Zechariah, given more fully by Matthew, meets us here (15) somewhat curtailed.** What, then, the disciples witnessed that day of the Lord riding on the ass, the prophet Zechariah had foretold, though it needed the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost to lead the disciples to understand it (16). The Lord entered Jerusalem as her King. She was to reject Him as such.

{*This appears in the better-attested reading of Mark 11:3: "He will send him back hither."

**John rarely quotes the Old Testament in support of that which he is stating. This is the first place in his Gospel that he has done that. Elsewhere he does it. See John 12:38, 40; 19:24, 36-37. At times in reporting the Lord's words he informs his readers, that the Master quoted Old Testament revelation (John 6:45, 8:17, 10:34, 13:18, 15:25). Once of a crowd is that said (6:31). Once also is the Baptist reported as quoting it (1:23). Then the multitude, meeting the Lord on His triumphal entry, used the language of Ps. 118:26. And the disciples in the Temple remembered (2:17) the words of Ps. 69:9. These are all the passages in which quotations from the Old Testament occur in this Gospel.}

Pharisees Discomfited. — And now we have a further confession on the part of Pharisees of the apparent hopelessness of arresting the movement. Witnessing, as they did, the enthusiasm of the crowd, and the commotion in the city caused by the Lord's approach in that fashion, their feelings found expression in words among themselves: "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after Him" (19).

Greeks. — In these last words some of the disciples would very likely have intimated their concurrence. And John, now again parting company from the other Evangelists, tells his readers of an incident unnoticed elsewhere — an incident, however, which had a very important development. Greeks desired to see the Lord — Greeks who went up to Jerusalem to worship at the approaching feast. That triumphal entry, and what took place in the Temple subsequently — the courts of the house cleansed; children crying there, "Hosanna to the Son of David"; and some afflicted with lameness, and others with blindness, healed within the sacred precincts (Matt. 21:12-15); all this may well have stimulated the desire of the Greeks to see the Lord. Yet not just as a matter of curiosity; for then why have approached Philip to gratify their desire? We presume they really desired to become acquainted with Christ; and for that purpose they applied to one of the Twelve, even Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, the city of Andrew and Peter. These Greeks may have known Philip in his native city. Philip did not at once tell the Lord, knowing of course that Christ's mission was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and to them only (Matt. 15:24). Seeking out Andrew, his fellow-citizen and fellow-Apostle, he communicated to him the desire of these Greeks. Both together tell Jesus. "Sir, we would see Jesus," they had said. Their request now laid before the Lord, it was for Him to deal with it as He chose.

He did not reply to it directly, but said to the disciples, "The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified" (John 12:23). Was the hour of His exaltation and final triumph so near at hand? Would the world now go after Him? Was this expressed desire of the Greeks just another step in the path to His exaltation as the King of the Jews? Was that His meaning? Very different were His thoughts. He thought indeed of the distant future, but He thought of the near future likewise. Death lay in His path, ere He would be glorified, and that death was the death of the cross. If Philip, Andrew, and others hoped that the kingdom in power was near at hand, He would undeceive them. "Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone [or, by itself alone]: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will the Father honour" (24-26).

Present appearances all might think would favour the popular feeling to seat the Lord on the throne of His father David. Had not the multitude so lately cried, "Hosanna; Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord: Blessed is the kingdom that comes, the kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest?" (Mark 11:9-10). And now Greeks wanting to see Him, the hour must surely be nigh at hand, when He will make good His undoubted claim to be the long-expected Messiah. The Messiah He was, and He is; but how much according to the Divine counsels had to take place, ere the day of His glory should dawn? He had spoken in an impressive strain, prefacing His communication with words so frequently met with in John: "Verily, verily, I say to you." Then the need for His death He declared, if He was not to abide alone. His followers, His companions in glory, but disciples down here, what must they expect, if He would die? Discipleship in the day of His power would be an easy thing; but discipleship for those following a rejected Christ would involve trial, trouble, and it might be martyrdom. In earnest must His followers be, soldiers indeed, soldiers ready to suffer, and to endure hardness (2 Tim. 2:3-4:5), and if need be to die for Christ.

What, therefore, would be their reward? Surrendering all that men prize here, what could be their recompense? Ah! that was not then all unfolded; but enough was said to stimulate weak ones, and to encourage wavering ones. "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will the Father honour" (John 12:26). The Son of Man was speaking, under whom all things would be put (Heb. 2:8). The Son of God, too, it was who was speaking, and announced, as He well could, in what light the Father would view servants faithful to Himself. "Where I am, there shall also My servant be." The servant with his Master! What honour! "Him will the Father honour." Reputation amongst men; wealth, honours, dignities, on earth: put them all in one scale, and in the other the promises here made. This latter scale will far outweigh the other. Temporal honours and ruling power may seem valuable, and to be grasped at; yet all that in time must fade away. But the being with Christ on high, and the being honoured of the Father — these will be everlasting favours, and so can never pass away. What encouragement to faithful servants!

Favours indeed for His disciples; but sorrows, such as none save He could ever know, were awaiting Him. Of His death He has spoken (John 12:24). For He, like a corn of wheat, would die to bring forth fruit. The one grain produces many. His death would result in a countless number of souls, redeemed by His precious blood — a company we cannot now number, who will be with Him for ever. The Pharisees and the chief priests might plot to compass His death, hoping thereby to crush the movement which they hated. Vain hope! His death would result in an expansion of it, such as never had been witnessed, and no man had conceived. And discipleship to an extent not then known would ensue, which persecution, imprisonment, and even martyrdom would be powerless to arrest. So, after giving the illustration of the one corn of wheat, the Lord sketched out, as we have seen (26), that which His disciples must be prepared to face, with the assured prospect, so graciously unfolded, of His delight in His faithful servants, and of His Father's welcome honouring of each one.

The Father's Voice. — But His death, fruitful in blessing to saints, was no light thing to Him. All should learn that. He would therefore at this point declare it. "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (27, 28). The hour had come for the Son of Man to be glorified. For that to be effected death first lay in His path, and that the death of the cross. Would He shrink back? No. He had come to die, ere He should return to the glory. His prayer, then, would not be that He might escape death. It was, on the contrary, that the Father's name should be glorified. He, the perfect Son, cared for His Father's glory. We have seen this in the sickness and death of Lazarus. We shall meet with this desire again. Here, with the cross before Him, and fully conscious of all that it involved, He could say, "Father, glorify Thy name." At once came the answer, audible, though not intelligible, to all: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (28). He had glorified it in the resurrection of Lazarus. He would glorify it in the resurrection of His Son (Rom. 6:4).

A voice was heard. It was a voice from heaven. Loud it must have sounded, since the multitude said that it thundered. Others, discerning that it was articulate speech, said, "An angel has spoken to Him." The Lord then declared, "This voice came not because of Me [rather, for My sake], but for your sakes." And now something further is unfolded, as the Lord surveyed the future. "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 to Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die" (31-33). Soon would the multitude be clamouring for His death — to be crucified as a blasphemer against God, and a traitor to Caesar. The prince of this world, leading men to crucify Him, might seem, when that crime should be effected, to have signally triumphed. Could that really be the case? Quite the reverse. Leading the world to crucify Christ would bring down certain and final judgment on the world. Leading the world at the cross as its prince, he will nevertheless assuredly be cast out. And the crucified One will appear yet in glory, the object for all to see, and the One to draw all to Himself (Ps. 72:11-17). Then there will be but One to look at, but One to be hearkened to. The power of the enemy broken, his influence destroyed, he himself cast out, bound too, as he will be, and in the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1-3), the Nazarene will reign alone. To millennial days these words of Christ look forward: "I will draw all men to Me." Men of various nationalities are now drawn to Him, as a work of grace has gone on in their souls. Then all will be drawn, converted and unconverted; for it will be the day of His power, His triumph, and His supremacy.

A Recapitulation. — Wide-reaching results have we set before us in these verses (John 12:20-32). Let us recapitulate them. The Greeks desiring to see the Lord foreshadowed the time, when the world will see Him as the glorified One. Till that day dawn, as we have learnt in chapter 7, the time to show Himself to the world will not come. His death on the cross was to precede that. So His people were to be prepared to share in His rejection, and discipleship might involve suffering even to death, but with the assured enjoyment of the everlasting blessedness of being with Christ, and in the Father's unchanging favour. Then the world, by its rejection of Christ at the cross, must infallibly have judgment meted out to it. And the devil, its prince, will be cast out, suffering irretrievable and everlasting defeat. But He who hung on the cross, a spectacle to men, scorned and derided, will be the one object to whom all eyes will turn, and for the continuance of whose reign daily prayers will ascend. A forecast like this God alone could have given. And He who does it is the Son of the Father.

Persons in the Godhead. — The Father's voice was heard in response to the request of His Son. Different Persons in the Godhead there are. In the Gospels that is made plain. At the Lord's baptism the three were distinguished. Here we have the Father and the Son. The multitude on this occasion were witnesses of the Father and the Son being distinct Persons. The voice of the former was heard. The latter interpreted its bearing. Public attestation, therefore, was given to the Son. He spoke. All could hear what He said. An answer came at once from heaven. The Father was taking note of that which was passing on this little globe, insignificant in size compared with those vaster heavenly bodies moving around us in space. The Father was near at hand. He answered at once. One God there is. There cannot be two supreme Beings. This was the mission of Judaism to maintain (Deut. 6:4). Three Persons there are in the Godhead, perfectly distinct from one another. This is part of the Christian man's creed to confess. And these are called in Scripture the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19).

A Question. — The Lord had spoken on an earlier occasion (John 8:28) of His being lifted up, and here again (12:32), thus signifying by what death He should die (33). The people now put in a word on a matter for which they felt light was needed. "We have heard," they said, "out of the law, that the Christ abides for ever: and how sayest Thou, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" (34). It was a difficulty, the solution of which they had not got. True, the Christ will abide for ever (Ps. 72:15-17; Isa. 9:7; Ezek. 37:25; Dan. 7:14). That, however, would be in resurrection, and when reigning in power. His humiliation and death, equally predicted, they had not grasped. Hence their difficulty. He did not, however, reply directly to their question, but exhorted them, as His last public ministry related in this Gospel, to avail themselves of the light. All then would be made plain. "Yet a little is the light with [rather, among] you. Walk while ye have light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walks in darkness knows not whither he goes. While ye have light, believe on the light, that ye may become sons of light" (35-36).

Christ's last words in general ministry, as recorded by John, had now been spoken. The true light was there. It would soon be withdrawn, and darkness then settle down on the nation. A true forecast, is it not, of that people's history from the cross to this day? Blest had their fathers been with revelation after revelation, whilst Gentiles remained enshrouded in darkness. Blest, how blest, had that generation been, having Christ ministering among them. Now, would they show, that they valued their opportunity, believing on the light, to become sons of light? Or, would a darkness, more intense than that which once visited Egypt, enshroud them — a darkness settling down on souls, which have definitely and wilfully rejected the light? The Lord's response, then, to their question was one of true wisdom. It set forth what they needed. If they followed the light then shining, their difficulty would soon be cleared up. And their following Him, or the reverse, would manifest, whether or not they had a real desire to understand what they professed had puzzled them.

Christ had spoken. Introduced at the commencement of the Gospel as the light of men (1:4), He had proclaimed Himself to be the light of the world, that whosoever would follow Him should not abide in darkness, but have the light of life (8:12). He had also said, that, as long as He was in the world, He was the light of it (9:5). Soon would the light be withdrawn, His death being near at hand. Is there not, then, something awfully solemn in these few words of our chapter (35, 36)? He had preached among them. He had wrought miracles among them. He had kept, too, in His ministry to the land which God had promised to Abraham. He never ministered outside of it. He never even left it. The people in it had enjoyed opportunities granted to none others. What now was the result, as His public ministry was thus terminating? "He departed, and did hide Himself from them." Who of them all mourned over His departure? or sought where to find Him? And when was this departure?

In the Gospel of Mark we get the different days at Jerusalem of the last week of the Lord's life on earth more distinctly noted than elsewhere. He reached Bethany six days before the Passover, as John states (12:1). Henceforth Mark must be our guide. He entered Jerusalem on the ass on the fifth day (Mark 11:1-11). He cleansed the Temple on the fourth day (12-19). He taught in the Temple, and answered the different questions put to Him, on the third day at the close of which, sitting on the Mount of Olives with His disciples, He foretold the future of the nation and of the city. From that time to the evening of the Passover we read of nothing that He did, with the exception of giving directions to Peter and to John to prepare that supper. There was a short time apparently of quiet before the Passover day arrived. It may be,* therefore, that it was at the close of the third day before the Passover that the Lord hid Himself from the people; His public ministry terminating probably with the withering denunciation of the Pharisees, and the announcement on His part that their house was left to them desolate, and they should not see Him henceforth, till they should say, "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:39).

{*We thus write, remembering Luke 21:37.}

A Retrospect. — At this point our Evangelist pauses, to take a retrospective glance of the past in connection with the Lord's ministry in miracles and in teaching. Unbelief still characterised the nation, though Christ had done so many miracles. Was that unbelief to be wondered at? It might well be, if we think only of the Lord's ministry; but not, if the prophetic words of Isa. 53:1 are remembered. And John, guided of the Spirit, here takes us back to them. The rejection of Christ by the nation was foreseen, and also foretold. Further, judicial blindness came upon them, in accordance with another word from the same prophet (Isa. 6:9-10), who in the vision, therein recorded, had seen as the Lord Jehovah in His Temple the very One people rejected, when He appeared in humiliation. If, however, the nation refused Him, many of the rulers believed on Him, though they did not confess it, for fear of the Pharisees, loving, as the Evangelist remarks, the glory of men more than the glory of God (John 12:37-43). How will their conduct appear in the light of the day of Christ's glory? A test this is surely for men now.

"Many miracles," John says; yet he has mentioned distinctly very few. Surely he counted on his readers being acquainted with some, if not with all three, of the other Gospels, when he wrote "so many miracles." His Gospel has its special place in the New Testament Canon, but was never meant to supersede the use of those written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

A Summary of the Lord's Teaching. — Following on the retrospect, John now gives us a summary of the Lord's teaching. For, as He had hid Himself, and left the people, we must not take what follows (44-50) as fresh ministry from the Master. So, reading the verses, we are reminded of teaching met with in chapters 3, 5, 7, — 10, which furnish us with His ministry in Jerusalem. Of the danger of rejecting Him we are once more reminded (48). For there is a judgment to come, when men's opportunities, if now neglected, will rise up in condemnation against them at the bar of the unerring Judge. Moreover, seeing Christ, they saw Him that sent Him. To profess to own God, therefore, but to refuse Christ, would not avail any in that coming day. On the other hand, believing on Christ, men would not abide in darkness. And His words were to be rested upon, for He spoke as commanded of His Father; and life everlasting flowed to those who received them. What opportunities had been afforded! But how many had misused them.

Such is the conclusion to this part of the Gospel, which seems very fitting. And here we would remind the reader, that three great divisions of this book have now passed before us, furnishing a threefold testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have had John the Baptist's testimony in chapters 1 — iii. We have had the Lord's testimony to Himself in chapters 4 — 10. And the Father's testimony to His Son we have found in chapters 11, 12. The Lord's public ministry ended, we shall next read of Him as alone with His disciples on the memorable evening before His cross.

4. Alone with the Disciples.

John 13 — 17.

At Supper

John 13.

We have seen the Lord in varied circumstances in this Gospel. As the Son of the Father He cleansed the Temple (2). He raised Lazarus from the dead (11), and received an answer from heaven, which attested the reality of His Divine Sonship (12). As God He walked on the water (6), and at Cana turned water into wine (2). As the Word He expressed God, and declared Him in His teaching and in His acts, and especially as the Son He revealed the Father (8). As the Light of the world He gave sight to one born blind (9). Then He was equally at home at the marriage feast (2), and in the company of broken-hearted mourners at Bethany (11), providing at the former wine which did not fail, and at the latter removing sorrow by the exercise of His power. He could rejoice with them that rejoiced. He wept with them that wept. He taught, too, the teacher (3), and talked freely with the Samaritan woman at the well (4). As the Messiah He could thus talk with her, and as the Saviour of the world He abode two days in a Samaritan village (4); and as the Messiah of Israel He could seek out and minister to the heart of the excommunicated beggar in Jerusalem (9). Then He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself (5, 8), yet dealt patiently and graciously with objectors, both in Galilee and Jerusalem, freely offering salvation and refreshment to any who would come to Him to receive it (6, 7). In every condition in which He was found He was perfect. No man could convict Him of sin (8:46); and as for His words, "never man so spake," was the spontaneous testimony of officers sent to apprehend him (7:46). God and man in one Person, He entered Jerusalem as her King; in that city declared Himself the Son of Man; and received, as we have already stated, a Divine attestation that He is the Son of God. Then, too, He was the Quickener, imparting everlasting life to dead souls; and He will one day be fully manifested as the Raiser of the dead.

Opposition in Jerusalem constantly beset Him. Adjudged a sinner, because He healed on the Sabbath day (5, 9), the accusation was really groundless, being based on the traditional teaching of the scribes, which had supplanted in authority the Word of God. The Pharisees might affirm that He was a sinner and a Sabbath-breaker but that beggar in Jerusalem refuted them. What the Lord had done in opening his eyes was sufficient to disprove their allegation. "God hears not sinners," said he: "but if any man be a worshipper of God, and does His will, him He hears" (9:31). The miracle worked refuted the opponents, and left them no answer. So they cast the man out. Then the Lord, accused of blasphemy, by His quiet answer left the Jews without a word to say in return (10:31-35). Told to His face that He had a demon, He told the Jews that He honoured His Father, and His Father honoured Him (8:49, 54). And His Father they called their God, yet they received not His Son. His miracles disposed of that awful accusation, as many of the common people acknowledged (10:21). And as for the assertion that He was mad, that was too ridiculous to sway the crowd. And He knowing all that was said, hearing too what His opponents thought of Him, patiently and graciously continued His ministry, promising everlasting life to all who would receive it, and offering to all those who should believe on Him to become channels of refreshment to others (7:38-39).

What a history has passed before us! Increasing hatred manifested on the one hand, with attempts time after time to arrest Him, and to kill Him. Love, forbearance, goodness, and meekness on the other. Thus had it been. Now the opposition He had met with ceased for a little time not, indeed, that men were changed, but the Object of their enmity had hid Himself from the public gaze. Henceforth in this Gospel, till His arrest in the garden, we shall see Him alone with His disciples on the last evening of His life.

And here we note that love unchanging was His towards His own. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end": so writes John (13:1). But what were they whom He thus loved? Peter had been sternly rebuked by Him in Galilee (Matt. 16:23), and was forewarned of His fall in Jerusalem. James and John had been rebuked for excessive zeal against Samaritans (Luke 9:55). And John on another occasion was checked for his treatment of one who was casting out devils in Christ's name (Luke 9:49-50). Then Philip would be rebuked for slowness to apprehend, that, seeing Christ, they could see the Father (John 14:9); and ere the Lord died the Eleven would forsake Him (Mark 14:50). Further, the three specially asked to watch in the garden were found sleeping instead (Mark 14:37-40). Yet He loved them, and would give a new proof of it. For He loved them to the end.

A Difficulty. — But here a difficulty appears, from the way our Evangelist writes: "Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour was come, that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end" (13:1). How are we to understand this note of time, "before the feast of the Passover"? Some have concluded, from the language of the writer, that the Lord ate His Last Supper with His disciples a day earlier than that appointed for the Paschal Supper. There is, however, no authority for supposing that the Passover could be thus anticipated. For only on the evening of the 14th of Nisan was the lamb appointed to be slain. Clearly the Lord would not have violated the law. And when we turn to Matt. 26:17, Mark 14:12, and Luke 22:7, it is plain He did not. He ate the Passover at the legally prescribed time, the lamb having been slain between the evenings of the 14th of the month, Peter and John first making all necessary arrangements for it. Now John, who knew full well when it was that with Peter he prepared it, could not have meant, that the Lord and His disciples sat down to eat of the lamb on the evening of the 13th of Nisan. Luke's mention of John's appointment with Peter, to prepare the meal on "the day when the Passover must be killed," effectually negatives that supposition.

Then did John refer to a meal partaken of on the 13th of Nisan, whilst his brother Evangelists only notice that one on the 14th? That, too, is impossible. For John relates how Judas' treachery was announced to the company by the Lord as they reclined at table (13:21-26). It is inconceivable that there could have been two communications about that awful crime on successive evenings, and that the Eleven were each and all so taken aback on each occasion, as to ask, "Is it I?" (Matt. 26:22). John, then, we feel sure, must refer, in that which we are about to read, to the Last Supper, that meal of which the other three confessedly wrote. Then could John have meant by the "feast of the Passover" the feast of Unleavened Bread, which directly followed it? The mention of the feast in verse 29 might give some support to such a supposition, remembering that the Lord was crucified on the fifteenth day of Nisan, the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread. Without pronouncing definitely on such a solution of the difficulty, we would be inclined to regard the first verse of the thirteenth chapter as a general introduction to what he was about to write, rather than an indication of some special point of time. And "hour," we must remember, is used by our Evangelist in rather an elastic way, of which the Lord's words in 12:23 may be cited as an example.

We take it, then, that of the Paschal Supper John was writing, at which time the Lord's Supper was instituted, though of neither does he make definite mention. Others, and especially Luke, had distinguished the two. John passed over all that. What need again to record what they had mentioned? So he proceeds to recount, that which none of the others had even hinted at, that proof the Lord gave of His love by washing the feet of the Twelve. None of the Eleven could ever after have forgotten it, and we may well believe that the whole scene must have been vividly impressed on their remembrance — the Lord at their feet, girded with the towel, and with the bason, into which He had poured the water, performing such lowly service for each of them. But Matthew has wholly passed it over, as John, in like manner, tells us nothing about the institution of the Lord's Supper. Each one, perfectly independent of his fellows, recorded just that, which by the Spirit he was guided to relate.

Washing their Feet. — And now we are reminded of the devil's hostility to the Lord, and of his readiness to ruin for ever an immortal soul, as contrasted with the unchanging love of Christ towards His own. The devil, we read, put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him. To the suggestion from the devil Judas yielded. The bargain with the chief priests had been struck. It only awaited the safe arrest of the Lord for Judas to pocket the coveted money, those paltry shekels of silver, which he afterwards found too burdensome to keep, when his conscience awoke to that which he had done. Who was Judas betraying? He little knew. But here the Evangelist tells us. It was the One into whose hands the Father had given all things. Judas, therefore, the chief priests, and the devil must all be subject to His power, to be dealt with as He will. All absolutely are at His disposal. As a man Judas saw Him. He betrayed a man; very likely hoping, that, by some act of power the Lord escaping from His enemies, they would be balked of their prey, whilst he would keep the money. But who was He whom he betrayed? What about His past? He came forth from God. What was to be this One's immediate future? He was going to God. A man! Yes; but more — a Divine Person, whom we know as the only begotten Son of God. The Lord, then, fully conscious of His past and of His future, as well as of His relationship to His Father, "rises from supper [for they had sat down to it],* and lays aside His garments; and He took a towel, and girded Himself. Then He pours water into the bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded" (13:4-5). How graphically is all this told! One might almost picture the scene. The Lord rising up from supper, whilst the rest were reclining at it, and divesting Himself of the long flowing robe, which might hinder Him in the service in which He was about to engage. Then, taking a towel, He girded Himself, and poured water into the bason. He acted wholly by Himself, no one here waiting on Him, no one assisting Him. He, to whom the whole angelic host would joyfully have ministered, was acting quite alone in all that He now did. One can almost picture, too, the mute astonishment on every face, as they followed Him in His different acts, and wondered, as surely they did, what He was about to do, in getting the towel, girding Himself with it, and getting the bason, and pouring water into it. In all their past experience in company with Him, who had ever seen Him act like that?

{*It being supper-time; so some understand the Evangelist. And perhaps that was his meaning; it being more consonant with practice in those days to have the feet washed before they ate, than to do it whilst eating, or after it. The R.V. translates, "during supper."}

Peter. — Wonderment, too, must have increased, as the Lord began to wash their feet one after another. Some permitted it evidently without remonstrance. On the part of Peter, however, when his turn came, there was a distinct refusal to allow it. The Lord was precious to Peter. He was the Master; Peter the servant, the disciple. "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" were the first words that escaped his lips. "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shall know [or, understand] hereafter" (7), was the Lord's immediate reply. The time to interpret the need of such service was future. We understand that it awaited the coming of the Holy Ghost. It was no mistake, however, on the Master's part. He was perfectly aware of that which He was doing, but could not then explain it. It was one of the many things referred to by the Lord in chapter 16:12.

But Simon Peter, son of Jonas, not submissive even after those words of the Master, would refuse the ministration of Christ, and declared emphatically, "Thou shalt never wash my feet." He knew not, indeed, what he said. But He, who loved him with an unchanging love, quietly replied, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me." That settled the matter. To have part with Christ was a prospect prized dearly by Peter. He loved, he valued, the Master. To lose having part with Christ was not to be thought of for a moment. Peter could not risk that. So, if washing by Christ was needful to ensure such a blessing, his wish only was, that it should be done thoroughly. "Lord," he said, "not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." What Christ was to Peter that Apostle here expresses. To have part with Christ, let the washing be full and thorough. Did Judas hear what passed? What must have been the feelings in his soul? He had arranged to betray his Master for less than 4 sterling. Peter could not bear the thought of a separation from Christ. Enjoying, as these two had done, common outward privileges, being numbered among the Twelve, how differently had they thought of Christ. Judas would secure a little temporal gain from his intimate acquaintance with the Lord's habits (18:2). Peter desired everlasting blessing, a portion for ever and ever with Christ. For "part" here, of which the Lord had spoken, referred to a portion which never will end. We read of those finally impenitent having their part in the lake of fire for ever and ever (Rev. 14:11, 21:8). Saints will be for ever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17).

It is to this the Lord referred, and not just to the enjoyment of present communion in spirit. Heaven is a clean place; so the Lord would wash the feet of His own in view of that place. "If I wash thee not," He said — words which are intended to convey, that the act, symbolised by the outward application of the water and the towel, may have to be repeated. As often, however, as it would be needed, He would do it. What grace! His condition of humiliation over, and over for ever, as it was when He had risen from the dead, this service of washing would nevertheless be carried on, whilst Peter, walking down here, had need of it. "He loved them to the end." How true! And we can say, in other words of the same Apostle, He "loves," as we should read in Rev. 1:5. As often as we, too, need the washing, He in love will stoop to do it for us, as He did for Peter.

Here let us pause to seize the bearing of this. Peter had said, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." Again we must say, he knew not what he said. How graciously was he instructed, as the Lord replied, "He that is washed [rather, bathed] needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit" (10). Language this is in conformity with the custom of bathing. In that Peter must have been quite at home. The body washed all over in the bath, the individual would only need to wash his feet afterwards. The Lord, it should be stated, here uses (verse 10) two words for washing — first the one translated in the Revised Version by bathed, then that which is rendered by wash.* This last is only applied here by Him to the washing of the feet. Analogous to that which the Lord mentions was the law as to the priests. Washed all over at their consecration, that ablution was never repeated; yet ever after, however, as often as they entered into the court of the Tabernacle to perform their service, they had to wash their hands and feet at the brazen laver. Lev. 8:6 tells us of the former. In Ex. 30:19-21 was prescribed the latter. Now, as Christians are part of a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5), thus resembling the priests of Aaron's line, we can understand, not merely the figurative language of the Lord drawn from the common custom of the bath in that day, but also the deep meaning of His reply. There is a washing all over, a bathing, analogous to that of the priests when consecrated, of which Christians have been the subjects, called the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) — i.e. the washing in connection with that new order of things (Matt. 19:28), not yet outwardly established, but into which, as born again, we have entered in spirit; for by the new birth we enter the kingdom. This washing is never repeated. But as the feet-washing after the bath might be needed, so the individual saint, contracting defilement in his walk on earth, needs that service done for him, to which the Lord here refers. To keep him clean for heaven, the Lord washes his feet.

{*The reader may see in the LXX., in the passages to which we here refer, the same distinctive use of the terms bathing and washing.}

And how? It is by the water of the Word — i.e. applying the Word to the individual when needed. Water as a figure of the Sacred Word we meet with elsewhere (John 3:5; Eph. 5:26). Cleansing in walk is by the Word. Ps. 119:9 expresses that; and the Lord also teaches it (John 15:3). Christ tells us in our chapter of that service He was and is ready to perform — part of His present service, which, though He has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, He carries on for His people. How little have we thought of it! Who, had it not been revealed, could have supposed it?

Varied in display is the present service of Christ, carried on, we must state, wholly for His people. In such no unconverted person has part. For these last there is the atoning sacrifice. Till that is believed and rested on for salvation, they have no part in the benefits of the Lord's present service for His own.* At the outset of the Lord's ministry in Jerusalem we read of the new birth. Here at the close we learn of this service, which He would perform. Suited indeed was the time of introducing this subject. Shortly going on high, He would teach here His servants what He would do for them when up there, a service absolutely needed by them on earth, if heaven is to be their final resting-place.

{*Into this large and most interesting subject we cannot enter here at length. The reader, if minded to study it, is referred to a pamphlet to be had of our publishers, entitled The Present Service of the Lord Jesus Christ.}

Then be it remarked, that the washing of the feet, even by the Lord, imparted neither life nor salvation. It is not, as we have said, for sinners, but for saints, and is done only for the latter. That it imparts neither life nor salvation is made plain from the fact, that from the washing on this occasion with actual water Judas was not excepted. The time to unmask him had not arrived. With the rest his feet were washed.* Was the Lord ignorant of the man's real character? He told them all that He was not. "Ye are clean," He said, "but not all" (13:10). And the Evangelist explains the Master's meaning, adding, "For He knew who should betray Him. Therefore said He, 'Ye are not all clean.'" In the washing of regeneration Judas had no part. The being born of water and of the Spirit was an inward change to which he was an entire stranger. It is only those who have part first in this last for whom the Lord does the other now.

{*We may learn an important lesson here as to dealing with offenders in the assembly. The Lord knew all about Judas, and all he was doing; but treated him as one of the Apostles, till he displayed himself. There may be suspicion about some individual, that all is not right with him; but mere suspicion will not suffice to act on. The matter must come clearly out, ere it can be rightly dealt with. Were this remembered, cases of discipline, instead of causing trouble in the assembly through lack of common judgment, would be clear to all unprejudiced persons, and the judgment of the assembly be accepted as correct. Has it not at times been the reverse?}

We need not wonder at Peter's reluctance to allow the Lord thus to serve. The Master at the feet of the servant naturally seemed incongruous. But what shall we say, as we remember, that He now in glory stoops to minister in that lowly service to the humblest saint on earth? Love to the end it was. Love to the end it manifests indeed — love which no creature could have predicted, nor even surmised.

The Lesson. — Now resuming His garments and His seat, He is once more the Master in the midst of His disciples. As that He addresses them all. "Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say to you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (12-17). Care for each other, and interest in each other, could be manifested by washing the feet — i.e. bringing the Word of God to bear on the other, if occasion call for it. Much wisdom and grace is surely needed for such a service to be rightly performed. Love, unchanging love, for His own moves the Lord to do it. Real love for another, and a true desire for his welfare, are needful for any of us to undertake such a work. And we do well to remember, that beside the washing there is the wiping. The service, when done, should be reckoned a service of the past; and the failure, which called for it, should then be buried, so as not to be cast up against the individual in the future. A lowly service it might seem; yet it was to be viewed as beneath none of them. If the Lord and Master would do it, the disciple, the Apostle, must not be above it.

An Apostle, an Elder, a Bishop, or an Overseer, washing the feet of a disciple of Christ, by bringing the Word to bear on him — men might think that beneath such an one. But how could it be, if the Master Himself could do it? And valuable would such a ministry be, if done in the right spirit by one fellow-Christian to another.* Yet it could never be a substitute for this character of ministry from Christ. He must wash His people's feet as they need it. Who but He knows the cleanness of the place into which He will take them? To keep them clean for that is His desire. So, whilst letting others have part in measure in such a service, He will do it — do it as needed, do it thoroughly, and do it graciously.

{*The annual public washing of the feet of pilgrims by the Pope has nothing in common with that which the Lord did, or allows the disciples to have part in. The Lord washes our feet to keep us clean for heaven, when needed, and as needed.}

The Coming Betrayal. — Astonished as all must have been at what they had just seen, amazement seized each one of the Eleven, when the next announcement came from the lips of the Lord. "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eats bread with Me [or, My bread] has lifted up his heel against Me. Now I tell you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He. Verily, verily, I say to you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me" (18-20). A traitor in the company of the Twelve! Which of them could believe it? And so taken aback were they at such an announcement, that in the Gospel of Matthew (26:22) each one of them asked, "Lord, is it I?" No one of the Eleven could suppose, that any other could be guilty of such an act. The treachery of Judas was undreamt of by the rest; and as yet the traitor was not marked out. The Lord at this stage told them of that which was before Him; and foretold it, that, when it came to pass, their faith in Him should not be shaken. How the enemy would have used the fact of the Lord's apprehension and death to shake their faith in the truth of His person! He, well knowing — for all hearts, even the devil's, are open to Him — here foretold His betrayal, that, instead of their faith in Him being weakened, it would only be strengthened. What care did He evince for His own! How true that He loved them to the end!

But why was such an one admitted into the ranks of the Apostles? If the Lord could foresee what Judas would do, why was he chosen? Would such a question raise a doubt about the Master in any one of the Eleven? At an earlier date in His ministry He had signified, there was one of them whom He then termed a devil (6:70). Of that same one, still unnamed, He now spoke, intimating, however, why he had been numbered among the Twelve — viz, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. The treachery about to be manifested had been foreknown, and predicted too. So nothing predicted in connection with the humiliation of Christ should remain unfulfilled, thus leaving no loophole for the injecting of doubts about the Lord Jesus in the minds of any one of the Apostles.

But who had foretold what Judas would do? That, which might hitherto have been viewed as an incident in David's history, is found to have been prophetic of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. "He that eats bread with Me [or as some authorities read, My bread] has lifted up his heel against Me" (Ps. 41:9), is found to be the scripture applicable to the case; whilst Ps. 109 referred also to Judas, as Peter in Acts 1 so applies it. The dastardly nature of the crime Ps. 41 exposed. The result to the traitor Ps. 109 foretold. Forewarned now of the Lord's betrayal, a word was needed, that none should discredit any service in the past, in which Judas with the rest had been engaged. The Twelve went out two and two, Judas being in company with Simon the Canaanite (Matt. 10:4); for Matthew marks them off in couples. They were all empowered to heal the sick, to raise the dead, and to cast out demons, as well as to preach the Gospel of the kingdom, which was the Gospel for that day. Doubtless Judas had worked miracles, had effected cures, as the rest, and had preached, too, the Gospel of the kingdom. A worker, therefore, had he appeared in the past — an authorised worker, really commissioned by Christ. Was all he had done as an Apostle to be discredited, when his real character became known? An important principle the Lord here states applicable to his case. "He that receives whomsoever I send receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me" (John 13:20). A principle this is for Christians to remember. If a labourer breaks down in testimony, how apt are men to discredit all that he has done! Let these wholesome words of Christ have their place and effect. If that principle could be applied in the case of Judas, how much more when a Christian labourer breaks down! Let us look beyond the instrument to the One who sent Him. That will keep us clear in a matter of this kind.

The Traitor Marked. — As yet Judas was at the Supper. Had he heard what had been said? Now the Lord proceeded to point out the individual — not publicly, it would seem, but privately. And troubled in spirit, as John tells us, He said first to them all, "Verily, verily, I say to you, that one of you shall betray Me" (21). If Judas was unconcerned, the Lord was not. Unattracted to Christ by all he had heard and seen during years of intercourse with Him, utterly unaffected too by His grace, caring for nothing but paltry temporal gain, self dominating him, and the rebuke he had received in Simon the leper's house rankling in his bosom, he turned against the Master, and arranged to betray Him to His enemies. Such conduct none of the rest could understand, for the Lord had become precious to them. No wonder the Lord was troubled in spirit, as He thought of Judas' deceit, treachery, and cupidity. But surely He thought, too, of the awful future that unhappy man was preparing for himself. No wonder, then, that He was troubled in spirit, when announcing the presence of the traitor in the room. "One of you shall betray Me." Which of the Eleven could be indifferent to that?" They looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake." A sign from Peter to John, who was reclining on Jesus' bosom, and a request, probably preferred in an undertone, elicited from the Lord that He would point the man out. "He it is, for whom I shall dip the sop, and give it him."* The sop was dipped in the dish. John and Peter could see that. Surely with bated breath they must have watched for the next movement on the part of the Master. He handed the sop to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. Then the devil took possession of the traitor. To halt and to change his course was now impossible. That miserable one, the son of perdition (how rightly named!), was henceforth wholly under Satanic power. A few words to him from the Lord, "That thou doest, do quickly," and the traitor went out, never again to be found in the company of the Lord's disciples. The door, that closed on him, severed his connection from the company left behind for ever. But, oh what an awfully solemn thought! he, who had been so much in the company of Christ, must meet Him as his Judge on the great white throne. Evidently what had passed between the Lord and John was unknown to the rest, save probably to Peter. The Lord's last words to Judas all, however, heard. And still unsuspecting, they supposed that he had gone to buy needful things for the feast which followed the Passover, and lasted a week, or that he should give something to the poor (29). For he carried the bag, thus filling the place of collector and treasurer. It was night when he went out, John tells us. The 14th of Nisan was over; the 15th of Nisan had begun. Judas went out, not to give, but to get. He went to earn the price of blood and appeared again but once more — viz. in the garden, guiding the company sent to arrest the Lord.

{*We follow here the better reading, as exhibited by the Revised Version.}

With the Eleven. — Of the Twelve we have been accustomed to read, those chosen by the Lord on the mount in Galilee, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to cast out demons. Now that number was reduced by one. Neither death, ordinary defection, nor martyrdom was the cause. The son of perdition had gone out finally from the company. Soon would the rest discover his long-practised deceit and inveterate cupidity. And the Lord, thus relieved of his presence, was no longer occupied with the treachery about to be consummated, so spoke of Himself, and of His desires for the Eleven.

Glorified. — Of Himself He first spoke. "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; and God shall glorify Him in Himself, and straightway shall He glorify Him" (31, 32). We have followed the Revised Version and better reading. In 12:27, the Lord, looking forward to the sufferings on the cross, that dark hour through which He had to pass, was troubled in soul. In 13:21, as He thought of the betrayal, He was troubled in spirit. Now, contemplating that which would result from His death, He could strike a different note. By dying on the cross He would be glorified. Obedience and love would be displayed, as they never had been since man had dwelt on the earth — obedience on His part to death to do God's will, and love to His Father (14:31), as well as love to His own. He would suffer, the just One for unjust ones. He would bear the sins of many, being made sin, who knew no sin. His perfectness as the obedient One would shine out in a way it never had done, and never can again. For He cannot die a second time. Besides that, God would be glorified. What He is as righteous, holy, gracious, merciful, and faithful to His Word would all be displayed, righteousness and grace being harmoniously manifested, and holiness and love exhibited to all the world. And there would follow as a consequence God glorifying Him in Himself, by putting Him on high at His right hand, who had come down from heaven to do, and had done, the will of Him that sent Him.*

{*"In Himself" in verse 32 refers to God. "His heavenly glory will be contained in God's own peculiar glory; His glory will be none other than the Divine glory itself, completed in God Himself (cf. Col. 3:3), through the return into the fellowship of God out of which He had come forth, and had been made man" (Meyer). Shortly would that be done, for "straightway shall He glorify Him."}

A New Commandment. — So far what concerned Him. But what about His disciples, left here below for a time? Changed indeed would be their condition, as bereft of the Lord's fostering care! So dissensions and divisions might rear their heads, and go far to break up the company. Already had such a danger been seen. A question had been debated among them, as to which of them should be the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 18:1); and even disputing had arisen with reference to it (Mark 9:34). And such a hold had that spirit got of individuals, that James and John, with their mother Salome, came, and asked, she being the mouthpiece, for the two best places of honour for her sons in the coming kingdom (Matt. 20:20). Such a spirit, though checked by the Lord each time it had appeared, might readily break out afresh, and bear bitter fruit, when He should be no longer with them on earth. For even on the night of that Supper there was a contention as to this matter among them (Luke 22:24). Hence the new commandment now given was opportune and needful. We quote it: "A new commandment I give to you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (34). His disciples they had been. His disciples they were to continue. As His disciples men had known them accompanying their Master in His movements in Galilee, Samaria, and Judaea. As His disciples they were still to be known; and that henceforth as loving one another, the new, the Divine nature seen active in each of them. Profession of faith, confession of a creed, would not settle the reality of discipleship, though a necessary part of it. But love to another would attest that Christ's word was hearkened to, His command obeyed. Truly the Lord loved them. So "as I have loved you" was the example put before them. The command followed, any attempt of the enemy to divide them would be defeated.

A Warning. — But what is man? What were they? Simon, son of Jonas, was now to show what he was. "Lord, whither goest Thou?" he asked. Jesus answered, "Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow afterwards" (36). A separation must take place. He was going to glory. They would still be on earth. Only temporary, however, would that separation be. Then they should be where He was going. To the unconverted Jews the Lord had foretold of the separation there would be between Him and them, but held out no hopes of its being but for a season. With regard to the disciples, it would be but temporary. Peter, not understanding what was meant, at once replied, "Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake. Jesus answers, Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake? Verily, verily, I say to thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied Me thrice" (36-38). How soon would he fall! Ere cock-crowing he would show what his boast was worth. The Lord knew Judas. He knew, too, Peter. Judas would betray Him for a little temporal gain, a few pieces of silver. Peter would deny Him from fear of man. Peter, in the depth of his heart, dearly loved the Lord, but was unconscious of his real weakness, if left to himself. The other disciples, we read elsewhere, averred the same thing. They were as ready, each and all intimated, to die with Christ (Mark 14:31). Peter, first and foremost in that assertion, was to manifest openly his weakness. Brave words without corresponding acts, what are they worth?

We have headed this paper At Supper. It was the Paschal Supper, the lamb having been slain on the evening of the 14th of Nisan, and the occasion, too, on which the Lord instituted His Supper. How different is the account by John of that which went on during it from that met with elsewhere! All four notice the Supper, but the account of the three is much shorter than what the son of Zebedee has recorded. Mark (14:17-26) devotes just ten verses to the occurrences in that upper room. Matthew (26:20-30) compresses his account into eleven verses. Luke (22:14-38) enlarges his record, till it occupies twenty-five verses. But John cannot confine all that he has to tell within the limits of even one chapter. Much then of deep interest there was to relate after the three earlier historians had completed their task. Into some of this John enters; yet he mentions neither the Paschal Supper, as Luke so distinctly does (22:15-18), nor the Lord's Supper, which Luke, as remarked above, has so carefully marked off (19, 20), though partaken of at the same table, and on the same evening. We have said some, because our Evangelist by no means indicates that he has now supplied all that could have been written. But he gives us, what is precious, a ministry of Christ distinct from anything the others have recorded. He brings Him before us as loving His disciples, and loving them to the end; and gives us proofs of this, for which we may look in vain elsewhere.

Three special examples of it have passed before us in chapter: the first, connected with the future of the disciples; the second, to establish their faith in Him, when He should be away; and the third, to provide a safeguard against disunion breaking out among them. He washed their feet, indicative of a service He would do to them, when He should be on high, in order to keep them clean for heaven. He foretold the treachery of Judas, that, when manifested, instead of their faith being thereby weakened, it should be strengthened. And He gave them a new commandment, keeping which, united by the bond of love, peace and fellowship would be maintained unbroken. Of all this John is our only informant. The disciple, whom Jesus loved, presents to us these proofs of the love of the Master. But he has yet more to relate. For this we must turn to that which follows in his Gospel.

Love to the End

John 14.

The Lord had spoken of His near departure (13:33). It would not be a short absence. Its duration He nowhere specified. He would go whither they could not then follow Him. Great of course would be the change to them, when that should become an accomplished fact, — a change such as none of us can fully understand; for His disciples, since first called to follow Him, had never known this world without Him. 'Tis true for a few hours He had once left them, when they were on the sea and He on the land (John 6). True, too, that once for some hours only Peter, James, and John had been with Him on the mount, whilst the rest awaited His return at its foot (Luke 9:37). Shortly, however, He would take His departure from earth, never again to abide with the Apostles on this side of death. Hence in His love and care for them He speaks a little word: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in [or better, on] God, believe also in [or, on] Me" (14:1). God was an object of faith to them, though they had never seen Him. The Lord was to be that likewise, when He should have left this scene. Lost to sight, to faith He was to be still very real.

The Father's House. — But whither was He going? That, which He had never told the Jews, He now tells the Apostles. It was to the Father's house, the natural, the proper, abode of the Son. And the Son it is who teaches us about it. Three passages indicate something concerning it. First of all, in John 2 we learn, that the Temple on earth the Lord regarded as His Father's house down here. "Make not," He said, as He purged it, "My Father's house an house of merchandise." If the Temple on earth could be called the Father's house, the sanctuary in heaven in the fullest sense must be that house. It is where God dwells. The second place to which we would refer, is the passage before us in this fourteenth of John, which confirms the thought that the heavenly sanctuary is the Father's house, inasmuch as the Lord speaks in language of the house on high in character with that which was true of the Temple of Solomon, and probably of the Temple each time it was restored. There were many chambers in that structure, three stories of them (1 Kings 6:5-6). In this it differed from the Tabernacle. So we can understand that there can be many mansions in the Father's house on high. And the Lord has gone to prepare a place there for His own. The Tabernacle, we have said, had none. In this the latter corresponds to God's present dwelling-place on earth, that habitation of God, builded together by the Spirit. But as the Temple of old, with its many chambers, succeeded the Tabernacle, so the Father's house will be the abode of saints, when God's habitation on earth will be here no longer. The third passage which speaks of that house, tells us of the prodigal's entrance into it (Luke 15:25) — a foreshadow in its teaching of the fulfilment of the Lord's promise on the night before His death. On each occasion, then, we see that it is the Son who mentions the subject. Fitting it was, all will own, that He should be the One to treat of it.

Room on high for them all in the brightest and happiest place the Lord here declares. And He has gone to make all ready for the reception of His saints. For God never has, and never will, take His people into a place not ready for them. In Eden God first planted the garden, and then placed Adam in it (Gen. 2:8). It was the same with Israel, when they entered the land. They found houses full of all good things, which they filled not; and wells digged, which they digged not; and vineyards and olive trees, which they planted not (Deut. 6:11). By-and-by, when the time for the nation's return to their land shall come, fruitfulness in it will be displayed afresh. The mountains shall shoot forth their branches, and yield their fruit; "for they," i.e. Israel, adds the prophet, "are at hand to come" (Ezek. 36:8). And the earliest visible token of the nearness of the second advent of Christ to deliver His people will be seen in the earth yielding her increase* (Ps. 67:6); for God, according to His promise, will then have remembered the land (Lev. 26:42).

{*It may interest some to understand, that Ps. 67:6 should be translated, "The earth has yielded her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us." The earth's returning fertility will assure them of coming blessing from their God.}

But what can we say of the love manifested by the Lord, the Son of the Father, in going to make ready the mansions for His people? This is love indeed — love to the end. Nor is it exhausted in that gracious act of preparing the place. For He will come to receive His people to Himself, as He said: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3). What words to have fallen from His lips, an index to the feelings and the desires of His heart! What are His saints to Him!

Ere, however, dwelling on this, we would trace out for the reader an order of thought in the communications in this chapter. About to tell them of the coming of the Holy Ghost, the other Comforter, to be with them whilst in this scene, when He Himself should have left it, He announces first that He will take His people out of it altogether, though in His own time and way. With that hope before them, of final departure from earth, to be for ever with Him on high, thus placed in the foreground, He subsequently proceeds to acquaint them with the Father's provision for the way. The final, though distant, prospect thus first put before them, of the near future He would then speak. Were it simply one man encouraging others, what tenderness, should we say, was thus exhibited, and how really the individual entered into the feelings of those he was comforting! But, remembering it is the Lord who thus speaks, poor indeed is human language to characterise His grace, who entered so fully into the circumstances of His sorrowing disciples! (16:6).

The Parousia. — And now turning back to the more distant proof of His love, we are taught that He will come to receive His disciples to Himself, which in the Greek is elsewhere called the Parousia, in contrast to the appearing to the world, called the Epiphaneia. He, the Lord of glory, will come in person for His own. Had He promised to send an angel, or had He spoken of a company of angels, grace indeed would that have betokened. We might in that case have thought of Him on His throne, summoning His saints as the One who had the full right to command, and sending servants, even angels, to conduct them into His presence. But what no man could have conceived will be then done. He who has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, crowned too with glory and honour, will come Himself. Yet not as a King, accompanied by His guards, even myriads of angels, delighting to do His bidding, will it be for, as far as Scripture teaches us, He will come without any angelic escort. It is a family matter, rather than one of display. It is to introduce His people into the Father's house, not then to seat them on His own throne. In a previous chapter He had spoken of faithful servants being with Him where He is (12:26). Here we learn exactly where that will be, even the Father's house — His own home. Love indeed it must be which could move Him thus to act.

We have mentioned the Parousia and the Epiphaneia. These events can be distinguished, and should be kept distinct by all who would have clear thoughts of the future. The Lord will come first for His saints. He will subsequently come, and appear to the world, with all His heavenly saints. The Old Testament treats of this last event, which is connected with the establishment of the kingdom in power, that joyous time for creation, that deliverance from all trial for the earthly saints. New Testament Scripture, whilst also treating of the Epiphaneia, reveals the earlier event, even the Lord coming into the air to take up His saints to be with Him, a necessary prelude, as all may see, to His coming in the clouds of heaven with them. It is of this, the earlier event, that the Lord here (14:3) speaks. And three other scriptures there are, which especially refer to it: 1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 4; Rev. 22. Here (John 14) He first announced, that with His saints, and with them alone, will He be then concerned. Of judging the world, or of setting up the kingdom, there is not in these scriptures a trace. Then in 1 Cor. 15:51-53 we are warned as to the suddenness of His return. In 1 Thess. 4:15-17 we learn of the order of the events connected with it. The Lord will descend into the air, and will wake the slumbering bodies of the saints, both Christians and Old Testament worthies. Then they, the dead in Christ, will rise first, after which all the Christians still alive on earth will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and to be for ever with Him. The fourth passage is that of Rev. 22:20, in which the Lord at the close of that book renews and confirms His promise, "Surely I come quickly." To this John answers, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." Just one other passage may be referred to, as setting forth how that hope acted on Christians in early days. It is found in 1 Thess. 1:10. Those saints, we learn, were turned to God, and to wait for His Son from heaven. We have said that in John 14 is the first announcement of this coming. How suitable was this! It only concerns directly true saints, and who are now partakers of the heavenly calling. Hence its unfolding is fitly found in the New Testament. And the revelation about it by the Lord speaks to us of His inexhaustible love for His people.

Doubtless to each of the Eleven, as years rolled by, that promise and that hope were cheering and precious. But to one of them they must have been especially so. We refer to Simon Peter, whose impending fall of thrice denying his Master the Lord had just foretold (13:38). The Lord knew Peter's heart. He knew how warmly he loved his Master. Grievous, then, as would be his fall, it would not shut him out from everlasting blessing. He was a true child of God, though too confident of his own strength and courage. By sorrowful experience he was to learn his weakness. And we all know how he learnt that lesson, and then wept bitterly. And so, years after, he could write and warn Christians of the wiles and snares of the devil, whom they were to resist steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:8-9). Comforting for him, we may be sure, it must have been to remember, that in the Lord's declaration of that which He would do for the disciples on high, and in His promise to return for them, he, Peter, was not left out, as unworthy of such favours. "I go to prepare a place for you," "I will come again, and receive you to Myself," told him, as it told the rest, that not one of the Eleven would be forgotten, nor be left outside the circle of those with Christ.

Thomas and Philip. — With rapt attention they all had doubtless listened; nor was it relaxed, we may believe, as the Lord proceeded, "And whither I go, ye know the way" (John 14:4); for such seems to have been the next utterance of Christ. Upon that we read of an immediate question from Thomas, and a little later a request from Philip. To both of these Apostles we have already been introduced. We have learnt of the devotedness of Thomas to Christ (11:16), and of the desire of Philip to bring Nathanael to Christ (1:45-46). The question of Thomas was this, "Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; how know we the way?" (14:5). That no uncertainty should remain as to this, the Lord at once replies, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me" (6). Solemn yet blessed words! Solemn for any who reject or ignore Christ; for no man comes to the Father, but by Him. Blessed words! for He is the way, and, drawing nigh on the ground of His atoning sacrifice, we are sure of acceptance. "Through Him we both [those once Jews, and those once Gentiles] have access by one Spirit to the Father" (Eph. 2:18). Moreover, He is the truth.* He is in the Father, and the Father in Him (John 14:9-10). He is the true light (1:9). He is the word of life (1 John 1:1). In Him the Divine nature has in a man been perfectly displayed. Then, too, He is the life. From Him have we spiritual life. In coming to Him could the Jews alone get life. The way, the truth, and the life. What was needed was found in Him. And in Him the Father is revealed. "If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him" (John 14:7).

{*"He is the truth, the full expression of every one and of everything as they are. He tells us in His own person what God is; He shows us the Father being Himself the Son. But He, not Adam, shows us man. Adam, no doubt, shows us falling or fallen man; Christ alone is man according to God, both morally as once here below, and in counsel as now risen and in heaven …. He is the truth, the exhibition of the true relation of all things with God, and consequently of the departure of any from God" (Exposition of the Gospel of John, by Mr. William Kelly, p. 287).}

A Request. — Throughout these chapters (14 - 16) the Lord speaks to the disciples of the Father. Philip then prefers his request: "Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us" (14:8). That the Lord was a distinct Person from the Father Philip was assured. The Lord's teaching made that plain. Yet His words to Thomas, speaking of the Father, "From henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him," raised a difficulty in Philip's mind. One sees the freedom of spirit there was in their intercourse with the Lord, and we mark the Lord's readiness to meet their difficulties. He has replied to Thomas. He will now to Philip. "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that has seen Me has seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwells in Me does His works.* Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works' sake" (9-11). To see the person of the Father was a request that could not then be granted. On high in His house we shall surely see Him, as the prodigal son his father. But even now He is to be known as revealed in the Son. The words and works of the Son declared Him. The Father was in the Son, and the Son in the Father. A mystery, of course, to us. Faith, therefore, must be in exercise about it. The secret as to the Lord's person it is not given us to fathom, nor are we able to explain how He was the exponent of the Father in His words and in His works. The Lord did not ask Philip to understand it, nor to explain it. He was to believe it. There, too, we must rest. The mystery connected with the Persons in the Godhead is beyond human power to solve.

{*So we should read.}

Consequences. — Thomas and Philip both answered, the Lord was free to continue His discourse. This He does, till Judas asks his question (14:22). And now, turning from the truth as to His person, He begins to enumerate consequences to the disciples from His going on high. Two favours would the disciples enjoy — first as to works, and next as to prayer. Of works we read, that "he that believes on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the [not, My] Father" (12). The history of the Acts illustrates this. Peter's first sermon arrested about three thousand people. His address in the house of Cornelius was blest to the whole company present — a result such as we never read of elsewhere. Then his shadow, as he passed along the street, was looked for to heal sick folk. And from Paul's body handkerchiefs or aprons were taken, and diseases departed from the sick, and evil spirits went out from those possessed by them. Special miracles these are called (Acts 19:11). Truly they were such.

Then as to prayer we read: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it" (13, 14). With what power would they be endowed! What favours would be bestowed on them! What watchful interest would the Lord manifest! If they asked in His name, He would do it; so they would assuredly know whither He had gone, as answers came to their prayers. In His name is the condition; and asking, as they would be permitted, the Lord Himself would answer. "In My name." Let us mark this. Three times does the Lord annex this, then a new, condition (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:24-26). It is a real thing to use the name of Christ in prayer. In that case the petition ascends to the Father in connection with all that the Son is to Him; and the answer to such prayers the Lord has promised, that the Father should be glorified in the Son. But what a wholesome check could that prove on rash and inconsiderate requests! How many a prayer would never have been uttered, if the petitioner had but stopped to ask himself: Can I present this in that name? What says the reader to this?

The Other Comforter. — And now a further proof of the Lord's love comes before us. For not only would He respond to the desires of His people, but He Himself would pray the Father on their behalf. "And He shall give you another Comforter," so the Lord proceeds, "that He may abide [rather, be] with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: ye know Him; for He dwells with you, and shall be in you" (16-17). Already had the Lord indicated (John 7:39) (though without mentioning the Spirit by name) the effect of His coming as regards the ministry of believers. Now He will begin to unfold teaching about the Holy Ghost's presence here, teaching distinctively Christian; for the Holy Ghost is only dwelling on earth in person, since the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to the right hand of God. He is here, because the Lord is away. Two terms now describe Him — one what He would be for believers, the other what He is in Himself. As to the believer, He is the Comforter, or Advocate.* In Himself He is the Spirit of truth. As Comforter, or Advocate, He takes up the cause of God's saints. To this Rom. 8:26 refers. But remark, He was not just to replace Christ as an Advocate for the disciples. The Lord is our Advocate on high (1 John 2:1). The Holy Ghost is the Advocate on earth. So He is another Comforter. Believers now have two such. What fulness of provision is made for us! Would they lose by the Lord's departure? Immensely would they gain. They would get another Advocate, and He the Spirit of truth. Bereft of the Lord's personal presence, and so unable to carry their difficulties to Him as they had done, the Spirit of truth would be with them. Nothing, therefore, of Divine teaching could they possibly lack. Further, He would never leave them, whilst they remained on earth. Unseen He would be, and would remain unseen, to mortal eyes; yet really would He be present down here. The world would not receive Him, not seeing Him, not knowing Him; but, continued the Lord, "Ye know Him; for He dwells with you, and shall be [or, as some would read, is] in you" (17). The present tenses are here characteristic, denoting results of the Holy Ghost's coming, which at that moment was a future event. A Divine Person, the Third Person of the Godhead, would come, and dwell on earth. Surely we must say, very little is that consciously known, or even is it believed in this our day. Why pray for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, if He is here, and has been uninterruptedly since Pentecost?

{* Comforter, or Advocate, in Greek Paracletos, is one who takes up the cause of another, helps him. The Lord does that for us, when we sin. The Holy Ghost does that, when we know not from the surrounding circumstances what to ask.}

Not Orphans. — Nor would that be all. The Lord continued: "I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world sees Me no more; but ye see Me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.* He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me: and he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (18-21). Previously the Lord had said, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" (15). Obedience to His commands would be the proof of love by the individual. Here (21) we learn, what the fruits of that love will be. The Father will love such an one. The Son, too, will love him, and will manifest Himself to him. What can each one of us say as to all this?

{*Through the coming of the Holy Ghost would they know that. He the Spirit of Christ, dwelling in them, would thus teach them.}

Judas. — Another disciple here breaks in — Judas, called in Matt. 10:3 really, and in Mark 3:18, by the name of Thaddaeus. He is specially distinguished in our Gospel (14:22) from the traitor Iscariot. Here we have the only remark recorded as falling from him. He was connected with James the son of Alphaeus in the relationship, some would say, of son; but others, and we think with more reason, would call him his brother. Nothing further is stated of him in the Gospels, save that we learn from Matt. 10:3, that he was coupled by the Lord with James the son of Alphaeus in that service of the mission of the Twelve. And noting that brothers were thus coupled, as Simon and Andrew, and James and John, the supposition that Judas was the brother of James the son of Alphaeus would be strengthened.

He now asks his question, and receives an answer. He could not understand how the Lord would manifest Himself to them, and not to the world. A spiritual presence of Christ, apart from a corporeal one, they of course had never known. The Lord answers him: "If a man love Me, he will keep My word:* and My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him. He that loves Me not keeps not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's which sent Me" (22-24). Coupling the Father with Himself, it was plain, and Judas doubtless understood it, that of a manifestation in spirit, and not in corporeal presence, the Lord was speaking.

{*"Word" the Lord said, not "words."}

Here we may call attention to the blessings promised unconditionally, and the blessings dependent on the individual's responsibility (15, 23). The coming of the Spirit, sent from the Father at the request of the Son, and the Lord coming to them in spirit (18), that they should not be as orphans, with the results of all that (16-20) — these were promised unconditionally, and to the whole company. The blessings promised (21-23) are offered to individuals, and depend for their enjoyment on the individual's responsibility. And we would add, that the commandments are what the Lord has enjoined; the word, or words, which He has made known, are more comprehensive, therefore, than commandments.

The Lord had spoken with them. They must, however, in the future look for the Spirit to teach them. A second time Christ foretells His coming (26). And coming, sent by the Father, but in Christ's name, He would teach them all things; nor that only, but would bring back to their remembrance whatever the Lord had said to them (25, 26). Fully provided for would they indeed be. Were they left to discover that by degrees? The grace of such a provision, when proved, would surely in that case have been impressed on them. But to learn of it beforehand, and that from the Master Himself, was another intimation (how many had they received!) of His unchanging and undying interest in them?

Peace. — But yet another proof would He furnish, as He spake next of something which He would leave with them, and of something which He would give to them. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said to you, I go away, and I come to you. If ye loved Me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I" (27-28). We follow the Revised Version in the translation of verse 28. "Peace," He says, and then with emphasis, "My peace." Are these the same? We think not. Peace He could leave with them as the fruit of His atoning sacrifice, having made propitiation by His blood, which, when believed, and the individual justified by faith, gives peace with God, the whole question of acceptance on the ground of that sacrifice being acknowledged as settled, and settled for ever. But Christ's peace is a different matter. He never needed peace of conscience, based on the Divine acceptance of an atoning sacrifice. His peace is that which He enjoyed on earth as subject to His Father's will. This He gives His people to enjoy. He knew the value of it; He would have them prove it. So in Col. 3:15, when rightly read, we have the wish of the Apostle, as indeed we may say of the Spirit of God, thus expressed: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Now that peace — peace in circumstances — is given to us to prove and to enjoy. It is ours. We have not to ask for it, and then wait for the answer. It is ours, a gift from Christ, to be known at the moment that it is needed. We see in Matt. 11:25-26, how perfectly satisfied the Lord could be, that His Father should work as He pleased. In proportion as we enter into that spirit shall we enjoy this gift. The peace of Christ! What can equal this? The world may offer much, and hold out a promise of peace. But in vain. Christ gives what is real and what is abiding. Pointed, then, is the exhortation, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (27).

Going and coming. So would it be. The Lord would go away — go to the Father. But He would come to His disciples likewise (18). Sorrow was filling their hearts as they thought of His departure; but they should rejoice, if they loved Him, because He was going to His Father. He would leave this scene of trouble and opposition, and be with His Father in the unruffled atmosphere of peace and rest, which surrounds the throne above. Yet not just to rest for Himself would He go. He would care for His own, and ask the Father on their behalf — His Father, who was greater than He, the Son. And telling them all this beforehand, their faith was to be strengthened as it came to pass.

The Prince of the World. — He had been speaking of His Father. He had been speaking of the Holy Ghost. He now mentions another — the prince of the world. Who is this one but Satan, who was about to lead the world to crucify the Lord? The world would yield itself to his guidance, so he would come out in the character of its prince. Between him and the Lord there was, there could be, nothing in common. He had nothing in Christ. How, then, could he effect his purpose of putting the Lord to death? The secret comes out. "That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do" (31). Love to the Father, and obedience to the Father, were motives which led the Lord to the cross. He bowed to the Father's will. So Satan might have his way.

Now rising, it would seem, from the supper table, they were ready to leave the room, yet remained in it (18:1) till after the Lord's prayer to His Father in chapter 17

We have headed this paper Love to the End. How fully is that illustrated by the Lord's revelations of so much which was then future, but which so closely concerned the Eleven! Going to prepare a place for His own in the Father's house, Christ will come again to receive them to Himself. They shall be with Him for ever and ever. Meanwhile greater works than He did the Apostles would do. And prayer in His name He would assuredly answer. For He adds, "If ye ask anything in My name, I will do it" (14).* He would thus minister to them. Then of the other Comforter to be sent by the Father at His request He foretells them, assuring them also that He Himself would come to them. Further, of blessing connected with personal responsibility He speaks; declaring, too, that the coming Comforter would teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance that He, i.e. Christ, had said to them; and then announcing the legacy of peace, and acquainting them with the gift of His peace; what would, what could, there be lacking, that in His love He had not promised to provide? Yet, proving that love whilst on earth, they could never here fully apprehend it. For in the Father's house they would find fresh and abiding proofs of it. Till then none of His own will fully understand the love of Christ. We here close with two lines from R. McCheyne:
"Then, Lord, shall we fully know —
Not till then — how much we owe."

{*Some would read, "If ye ask Me anything," etc. This, followed by the Revised Version, seems, nevertheless, a doubtful addition.}

Fruitfulness and Service

John 15.

There are three trees mentioned in the New Testament to illustrate scriptural teaching — the olive, the fig, and the vine. The olive is introduced by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 11:17-24; whilst the fig tree and the vine are both selected by the Lord in illustration of teaching He desired to convey. The former is met with in Luke 13:6-9. The latter is found in John 15

The olive tree is introduced by the Apostle for teaching as to the sharing in the promises made to Abraham, who is represented as the root of the tree. Jews by natural birth belonged to the tree. Gentiles were now, like branches of a wild olive, grafted into a good one — grafted into the olive tree, and so partaking of its root and fatness. The fig tree illustrates religious profession. Plenty of leaves there might be on a fig tree, and yet it be destitute of fruit. An example of that we have in Mark 11:13. How like such a state were the Jews in the Lord's day — much profession, but, as a nation, no real fruit. Then the vine is brought forward to teach that fruitfulness of the branches could only be produced if in living connection with the vine stem. So there is the need of abiding in Christ, the true vine, in order to be fruitful for God. This subject now comes before us in the Lord's teaching for His disciples on that night before His cross.

The True Vine. — Israel in the Old Testament is likened to a vine (Jer. 2:21), and to a vine brought by God out of Egypt. A branch of it portrayed the royal house, from which after the flesh the Lord was to come — the Man of God's right hand, the Son of Man whom He made strong for Himself (Ps. 80:8-11, 17). But the Lord in our Gospel here presents Himself (15), not as Messiah, the Son of David, a branch, but as the true vine — the stem, of which the Apostles whom He was addressing were the branches, whilst the Father was the husbandman. True blessing and fruitfulness for God depended not now on being children of Abraham by natural descent, able to call Jacob their father; but all depended on vital connection with Christ. He was the true vine here on earth; for, as one has remarked, there are no vines in heaven. No forgiveness is there apart from the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:22) no fruitfulness apart from vital association with Christ. Hence the question of profession comes up, and that of fruitfulness is now brought forward. Branches in a vine there might be which did not bear fruit. Profession of discipleship to Christ there could be, yet lacking in reality. And as the husbandman removes the barren branches of a vine, so the Father, presented here as the husbandman, takes away those who are not real as to discipleship. "Every branch in Me that bears not fruit He takes away" (John 15:2). Here we must note the difference of being in the vine from being in Christ, of which last we are taught elsewhere. And noting the difference will serve to help us to interpret rightly our passage. The being in Christ, or being Christ's, for these mean the same (Gal. 3:28-29), is true only of real children of God. And such come to be in Christ, or Christ's, through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost (Rom. 8:9). Those of whom this is true can never be lost. Of them there is no question of excision from Christ. With the branches in the true vine we are taught it is different. A branch, if unfruitful, will be taken away. So it is plain, that being in Christ and being in the vine are very different matters. And the last indicates profession, which, whether it be real or not, is demonstrated by fruitfulness or the reverse. So Judas, as numbered among the Twelve, appeared as a branch in the vine. But unfruitful, he was to be taken away.

Cleansing. — Not only, however, would the Father remove any unfruitful branch, but He would purge or cleanse the fruitful ones, that they might bring forth more fruit. We all know how in the cultivation of a vine cleansing is necessary. So with the fruitful branches of the true vine. But this purging or cleansing is done by the Father. Such dealing, therefore, is not to be viewed as governmental for something done wrong, and so the individual be suffering from the fruit of his ways. It is the Father's dealing to get more fruit. Now the Eleven were already clean by the word which Christ had spoken to them. Yet the Father would cleanse them, to remove anything which might hinder increased fruitfulness. Was not the Lord here preparing them for that which they might be called to pass through, when He should have left earth? The fruitful and unfruitful branches first spoken of, the next question that would arise would be, How could fruitfulness be assured?

Abiding in Christ. — And now follows an exhortation and an illustration from the figure of the vine and its branches. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing" (4, 5). The illustration of the branch and the vine will help us to understand what abiding in Christ must mean. The branch draws its life, its strength, its nourishment from the vine, being entirely dependent on it for all that it needs in order to be fruitful. So believers are as really dependent on Christ to bring forth fruit for God. "Without Me," says the Lord, "ye can do nothing" (5) — a word to be remembered by each one. The new birth is one thing; fruit-bearing is another. Salvation from the wrath to come is a wonderfully blessed portion; but fruitfulness, it should be remembered, is God's desire for His people, and the Lord would provide for that. To be receivers, without caring to bear fruit, would indicate neglect of God's gracious provision for the outflow of life down here. On the other hand, if we abide in Christ, we know He abides in us. All that we need we can therefore receive. Life in its fulness, wisdom, and strength, all are in Him for us. And he that abides in Him brings forth much fruit. Habitual dependence on Christ will result in fruitfulness indeed. What can the reader and the writer say as to this?

Still the Lord speaks, and now in words of warning, as well as in words of encouragement. And here, when warning, we should observe the change in His language. He has been addressing the Eleven as true branches of the vine. He will address them again as such (7, 8). But in the word of warning He changes from "ye" to "a man." "If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (6). Empty profession, if persisted in to the end, will meet with its deserts. Condemnation must be the portion of all those characterised by it. Was any doubt then to be harboured by a real believer, lest such after all might be his doom? The language of verse 6, "If a man," etc., clearly shows that none of the Eleven were there contemplated. Had the Lord said, "If ye abide not in Me," etc., or had He been thus reported by the Evangelist, some justification might be pleaded for the grave mistake, that a real believer could after all be lost — a child of God to-day, a lost soul tomorrow. But the Lord's language was guarded. And the Apostle, guided of the Spirit, faithfully reproduced it, we may be sure. No room for a doubt as to a true believer can be evolved from it.

And now for the encouragement. "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask what ye will, and it shall be done to you. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples" (7, 8). Christ's words abiding in the individual, the desire of his heart would be in unison with the thoughts of the Master, and his prayer would be in accordance with them. Hence a favourable answer would result. "Ask* what ye will, and it shall be done to you." May not the prayer of the assembled company, related in Acts 4:24-30, exemplify this?

{*"Ask," not "ye shall ask," is the better reading.}

To gather up what has been stated. No fruit can there be without abiding in Christ, and He in the believer. Much fruit can then be produced. Abiding in Christ, and Christ's words abiding in the believer, an answer to his prayer is assured him. And if bringing forth much fruit, the Father would be glorified, and the individual be indeed Christ's disciple. Searching teaching is all this.

Christ's Desires for His Own. — How the love of Christ to His own has already shone out! Still it is displayed. Of what He would do for them we have read of in chapters 13 and xiv. Here in chapter 15 we learn especially what He desired for them — first, fruit-bearing, and then the continued enjoyment of His love. "As My Father has loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might remain [or, be] in you, and that your joy might be full" (9-11). The Lord here speaks of that which He had proved as a man upon earth, — love and joy; His Father's love as the obedient One keeping His commands, and the joy which He experienced for Himself as the dependent One in this world. These were His desires for His people, — the sustaining power of His love, consequent on the keeping His commands; and the joy, which He had known, for them to know, that their joy might be full. For it is not Christ's joy in them of which He speaks, but the joy that He as the obedient and dependent man had known. Christ's peace given us in chapter 14, His joy He would have us know in chapter 15. Here we get a little intimation of the Lord's inner life whilst in humiliation. We have seen in previous chapters what He had to meet from the opposition and hatred of men. We learn here that He was abiding in His Father's love, and had withal a joy with which neither His enemies nor His disciples would have credited the "Man of Sorrows." Now telling His disciples of it, He desired that they, bereft though they would be of His personal presence, facing, too, a hostile world, and suffering from it — He desired, we say, that they should continue in His love, and have a joy within, of which none could deprive them (Acts 2:46-47; 5:41; 13:52; 16:25).

Friends. — Now the disciples are reminded of the new commandment of 13:34 — told to love one another as Christ had loved them (John 15:12). And again it is mentioned in this chapter (17) — a needful admonition in the prospect of the Lord's near departure. And the limit to which it could be extended is here stated, even to the surrender to death of the individual for his brother's welfare. Of this John reminds us elsewhere (1 John 3:16). But if that be the full proof of the love, who has exhibited it? We know. And it is stated now, and reiterated in that passage of the Epistle just referred to. The Lord has furnished its full proof in laying down His life for His friends. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). All will admit the truth of this statement. But friends! Who are friends of Christ? The disciples were now to hear. They were His friends. He who died the Just for the unjust, died also for His friends. His friends! How should such be known? Two characteristics would mark them out. 1st, "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." And 2nd, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known to you" (14, 15). Into the intimacy of friends had He admitted them, making known all things that He had heard of His Father. He had kept back nothing. And what brought them into such intimacy with Christ He states. "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you" (15, 16). A person on earth chooses his friends. Christ has chosen His. And since one mark of His friends is obedience to His commands, He again reminds them of the command to love one another (17).

The World. — Needful indeed would that be, when they should consciously find themselves face to face with a hostile world. Indifference is one thing, hostility is another. Hostility would they experience. How soon were they conscious of that? For on the day of the Lord's resurrection they were meeting with closed doors for fear of the Jews (20:19). Now of the world's true character the Lord will speak. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word which I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do to you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me" (15:18-21). Of the world's hostility, and the manifestation of it, shortly indeed to be experienced by them, the Lord thus forewarns His own. It had hated Christ. What an awful indictment He formulates against it! That being so as regards Him, its hatred they would also prove, and persecution from it they would experience, — its hatred, because the Lord had chosen them out of the world, thus making plain that they were not of it; its persecution for Christ's sake, because the world knows not Him that sent Him. Evidence of all this the history of the Acts supplies, and notices elsewhere in the New Testament corroborate. What indeed is the world! It loves its own, but hates those who are Christ's. And His mission to earth, and His ministry amongst men, demonstrated of what spirit it is, and has left it without the least excuse. We quote the solemn words of Christ, before whom all must stand one day: "If I had not come, and spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father. But this comes to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated Me without a cause" (22-25). Solemn words we say, for they express the Saviour's judgment of the world after His public ministry in it was over.

Solemn words truly, for the professing people of God, which the Jews were, are here viewed as the world, sharing in and displaying its spirit — hatred of Christ, and hatred of His Father. The professing people of God part of the world? Yes, where profession is not real. And what was true then is true still.

The Holy Ghost. — Would the Lord leave the world without further attempt to rescue individuals out of it? He would not. Leaving earth Himself, His ministry in humiliation amongst men terminating, never to be resumed, He would send the Holy Ghost to testify of Him. Grace indeed on His part! Hostility and hatred had not quenched His bowels of compassion. If possible, souls should be rescued from everlasting perdition, and for that a fresh, a new testimony should go forth, inaugurated and continued consequent on the coming of the Spirit of God. "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me. And ye also shall bear witness [or, testify], because ye have been with Me from the beginning" (26, 27). In chapter 14 it is the Father who sends the other Comforter, for there the Lord was setting forth the provision for disciples. But when it is a question of the Spirit's testimony to the world, it is the Lord who sends Him (15:26, 16:7). Grace this is indeed! He, rejected by the world, and crucified by it in its hatred to Him — He would send the Holy Ghost to bear witness to it of the One whom they have cast out. The Father thinks of the children. The Lord yearns over the world. The Spirit, we here learn, proceeds from the Father, and is sent by the Son. And as before (14:17), so again the Lord avers that He is the Spirit of truth. He would testify of Christ, and the Eleven should also. Of the fulfilment of this Peter bears witness in the presence of the rest and before the council of the Jews, saying, "Him has God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey Him" (Acts 5:31-32). And Paul writes in a similar strain: "And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us: we pray in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:18-21). We have given the passage as it should probably be rendered. Christ rejected in person, Divine grace would display itself in the inauguration of a ministry of reconciliation, to the vessels for which would be entrusted the word of reconciliation, the fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence and teaching.

Here, then, we learn something of the future service marked out for the Apostles. Fruitful for God as branches abiding in the true vine were they to be; and a ministry of reconciliation for men was committed to them — a ministry such as never before had been known on earth. It would be a ministry by human instrumentality, carried on consequent on the Holy Ghost's abiding presence here; the instruments how feeble in themselves, but energised by the might of the Spirit. And here (John 15:26) the first place of testimony is assigned to the Spirit. "He shall testify of Me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning." How this testimony of the Spirit would be effected we shall learn in the next chapter, as well as what those might experience, who were entrusted with this holy, honourable, and blessed service.

The Discourse continued

John 16.

The Lord's communications as regards the world are continued in 16:1-11. He had spoken of the world's hatred. Now He will enlarge a little on its persecuting spirit. "If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (15:20), had been His words. And knowing what man is, what even saints are in themselves, He now graciously foretold the treatment they must expect. "These things have I spoken to you, that ye should not be offended" (16:1) — or, made to stumble, as rendered by the Revised Version. Persecution from the heartless might not seem so unnatural; but persecution from the professed people of God, who had a zeal for God, might stagger some; as in these days, whilst persecution from unconverted, godless people may be expected, persecution from professing Christians for the truth's sake does to some seem almost incomprehensible. Yet such can be the fact. The Jews, we see in the Acts of the Apostles, were the chief instigators of persecution of the disciples, stirring up for the most part in heathen countries the hostility of the Gentiles. And this characteristic of the nation Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, sadly confirms: "Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and the prophets,* and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for [or, but] the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" (1 Thess. 2:15-16).

{*"The [not, their own] prophets" is the better reading. The Apostle knows no prophets, but the true messengers of God.}

Persecutions. — What the disciples were to expect the Lord now foretells: "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time comes, that whosoever kills you will think that he does God service. And these things will they do, because they have not known the Father, nor Me. But these things have I told you, that when the time [or, their hour] shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not to you at the beginning, because I was with you" (16:2-4). Excommunication, the severest ecclesiastical dealing, and death, the last act of judicial power — such treatment must they expect. To any not established in the faith these consequences would seem terrible. To nature it is no light thing to be deprived of ecclesiastical rites and associations, one's name cast out as evil, and to be viewed as a moral leper, unfit to associate with those of one's own nation or kindred. Then death — cut off from life here, with consequences affecting, it may be, those nearest and dearest — all this is hard, very hard, to flesh and blood. And some, we learn from Acts 26:11, quailed before such terrible dealing, preserving their lives and their place in the synagogue by blaspheming that name which they had professed to honour, having in measure confessed Him to whom it belongs as the One they would follow. None of them, of course, were of the Eleven. But their defection, just referred to, furnishes us with some idea of what it must have been for faithful souls to brave such terrors and calmly die for Christ's sake. So, lest it might come on them unawares, the Lord in plain language foretells their future, when He should have left this earth. What care does He manifest that the enemy should not get an advantage over them!

He was going to Him that sent Him. The purpose for which He had come into the world would shortly be fully accomplished. Devoted though they all were to Him, no one, He says, was asking Him, "Whither goest Thou?" True, Peter had asked that question in 13:36. The Lord, however, was referring to the present. His words make that plain. "None of you asks [not, have asked] me, Whither goest Thou?" He knew why, and stated the cause. Sorrow filled their hearts (16:6). Deeply attached to Him, the thought of their impending loss was uppermost in each heart. Judas could coldly bargain to betray Him. The rest were filled with grief at the announcement of His departure. How much was Christ to them! And now fully aware of what was passing within each one, in His love He would console them. The loss would be turned into gain. He must go, else the other Comforter could not come. Never has there been two Persons of the Godhead dwelling on earth at the same time. Of old, Jehovah dwelt first in the Tabernacle, and then in the Temple. Forsaking the latter in the days of Ezekiel (10, 11), the Divine Presence had never been dwelling on earth, till the Son, the Second Person of the Godhead, became incarnate. Now, if the Holy Ghost was to come, and abide with the disciples, as the Lord had promised (14:16), He Himself must necessarily first depart. By-and-by, ere He returns to reign, the Spirit will go with the Church, no longer to dwell on earth as now (Rev. 22:17).* Meantime the Spirit is here because Christ is absent. To us all this is simple and consistent. To them it was wholly new. And knowing the thoughts in each heart, the Lord would cheer them. "I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [or, Advocate] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you" (7). Love indeed on the Lord's part, and to be manifested after He should have gone to the Father — that is, after His ascension. For till that had taken place, the Holy Ghost did not come — sent as He was to be by the Father (14), and sent also by the Son (15, 16). And the words of Christ in Acts 1:8 confirm this.

{*We would remind the reader that in Rev. 22:17 the Spirit and the Bride address Christ, the Morning Star, asking Him to come. The invitation to souls is given at the end of the verse: "And let him that is athirst come."}

Convicting the World. — And now for the fourth time in this long discourse, all in the upper room as we believe, the Lord announced the coming of the Holy Ghost (John 16:8-15). To the disciples, be it remarked, the Spirit would come — not to the world, though He would, as being on earth, bear testimony to the world. Here of this last the Lord speaks, ere completing His communication to the disciples about the world (8-11), and before referring afresh to the blessed results of the Spirit's coming to the Apostles: "When He is come, He will reprove [better, convict] the world of [or, in respect of] sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see Me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged" (8-11). The Spirit's presence on earth, because the Lord is no longer here, would convict the world of all this. Were no active ministry going forward, His presence would do it. He is here the witness that Christ is on high and with the Father. For Christ has sent Him from the Father (15:26). The world's sin is therefore patent. It crucified Him, who is now with the Father. It crucified Him as a blasphemer, for declaring that He was the Son of God (Matt. 26:65; Luke 22:68-71). The Jews further demanded His death as a traitor, because He averred that He was a king (John 19:12-16), thus conflicting, as they said, with the claims of Caesar. Where is He who was condemned as a blasphemer and as a traitor? At the right hand of God. And the Spirit is here, the witness that He is there. On which side, then, was righteousness? On that of the world, or on that of Christ? His session now at the right hand of God refutes the charges made against Him, vindicates Him completely, and convicts the world as to righteousness. The crucified One was righteous. The world was not. Then, too, it is convicted of judgment. Such conduct cannot be passed over by God. He must, He will, take note of it, and deal with the world by-and-by. Meanwhile its prince, who led it to crucify Christ, is judged. What his action is in God's sight there can be no doubt, for Christ is at the right hand of the Majesty on high. How this teaching of the Lord's ascension can act on honest souls Peter's first sermon illustrates. His hearers "were pricked to the heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). What must be the condemnation of those who hear it and remain unmoved!

Revealing to the Apostles. — The Lord has done speaking of the world. It hates the Father and the Son. It would hate and persecute the disciples. Power it would wield, and put them to death. But its end will be in judgment. Of the Spirit's testimony to the disciples how different! Expedient for them that the Lord should go away in order that the Comforter might come, the Apostles now further learn, that more Divine communications were in store for them, than all they had yet received. "I have yet," the Lord proceeds, "many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all the truth [as we should read]: for He shall not speak of [rather, from] Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine: therefore said I, that He takes of Mine, and shall show it to you" (John 16:12-15).

What consideration did the Lord manifest! Many things He had to say to them, but then they could not bear them. He would not therefore press on them, that which they were not in a condition to receive. Would they lose by that? Should they afterwards have to speak of an opportunity, of which they had not availed themselves, lost for ever? No. He would provide against that. The Comforter sent by Him would come, and guide them into all the truth. In 14:26 He had promised that they should lose nothing, of all that He said to them, through failure of memory at the moment to retain it. The Holy Ghost would recall it to their remembrance. Here (16:13) more is promised. The Spirit would guide them into all the truth. For — and this would assure them of it — He would not speak from Himself; but whatsoever He should hear, that would He speak. How graciously did the Lord deal with them in saying this, treating them as friends indeed, as He acquainted them with the character of the Spirit's ministry, and the certainty of its fulness! Further, the Holy Ghost would declare to them things to come. A prophetic ministry there would be, as well as a teaching ministry. A full revelation would therefore result. "All the truth," as we should read in verse 13, implies that. The revelation by Moses was but partial, for the people were to expect the prophet who was to come like to the lawgiver, and to whom they were to hearken (Deut. 18:15). What the Lord too communicated, when on earth, was not all that the disciples should receive. By the ministry of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, Christian revelation would, however, be completed.

Two New Testament writers were especially used for this. To Paul it was given to fulfil (or, complete) the word of God, by the revelation of the mystery, the last great line of truth revealed in the Word (Col. 1:25-26). And to John's prophetic ministry in the Revelation nothing was to be added (Rev. 22:18). All the great lines of truth had been revealed, when the special revelation given to Paul was made known (Eph. 3:3); and things to come were all set forth, for Christian times at least, when the son of Zebedee put on record the revelations vouchsafed to him in Patmos. We look, then, for no more. Professed additions to revealed truth are not the fruit of the Holy Spirit's teaching now. Additions to the Christian faith, not found in the Word, are not of Divine origin.

Glorifying Christ. — A special feature of the Spirit's ministry we must now notice. "He shall glorify Me," said the Lord: "for he shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you." What the things of Christ are the words which follow explain: "All things that the Father has are Mine: therefore said I, that He takes of Mine, and shall show it to you" (John 16:14-15). Of His own Divinity He Himself here reminds us. "In Him," as we read elsewhere, "dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). And New Testament teaching abundantly demonstrates how the Spirit glorifies Him. "Lord and Christ," it declared Him (Acts 2:36). The Prince of life, and the Judge of quick and dead, Peter proclaimed Him (Acts 3:15, 10:42). Then, too, glories of Christ Paul set forth in Col. 1:15-19. And in the Epistles to the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Hebrews, we have a ministry of Christ, varied in character, but presenting Him in one or more of His excellencies and glories. In short, turn where we will, Christ is presented; for the Spirit glorifies Him.

Speaking in Proverbs. — Still the Lord speaks. He has finished His teaching about the Spirit, and for a few minutes speaks about Himself, foretelling His disappearance by death, and His reappearance in resurrection. "A little while, and ye shall see Me no more: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me." Here for the moment He stopped, the concluding clause of verse 16 being really an interpolation. When risen, they should see Him again. When He should go to His Father, they should see Him no more (10). That settles this point that the words are an interpolation. The words of Christ in that tenth verse show plainly, that He did not speak the last clause of the sixteenth verse.

To the disciples His words now were an enigma. And speaking among themselves, they expressed to each other their inability to understand His meaning. Yet none of them asked Him for an explanation. That omission furthered really, as we shall see, the establishment of their faith in the Lord, as come from God. But we must not anticipate. To the difficulty the disciples felt the Evangelist will now introduce us. "Then said some of the disciples among themselves, What is that He says to us, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that He says, A little while? we cannot tell what He says" (17, 18). They thus put together their two difficulties, quoting first and foremost what the Lord had just said (16); and adding to that words which He had uttered, as given in verse 10.

Thereupon the Lord, aware of their two difficulties, first notices that of the "little while," though speaking still in proverbs, or allegorically: "Verily, verily I say to you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy" (20). And as a woman in travail has anguish because her hour is come, but the anguish is forgotten when a man-child is born, so would it be with them. Sorrow now, but joy afterwards; and their joy be consequent on seeing Him again. "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you" (22). The woman's anguish is all forgotten in the joy of a son. Their sorrow would be like a passing cloud, never to return. A joy then would be theirs of which none could deprive them. Here we have the prediction. In chapter 20:20 we read of its fulfilment. Then again have we from the Lord a word about prayer. No longer would they be questioning Him, as they had hitherto done; but taught of the Spirit, they would approach the Father in prayer (Rom. 8:15; Eph. 2:18), and pray to Him in the name of Christ, which they had never done before. For atonement then, effected by the Lord's sacrifice of Himself, they could in His name present their petitions, making use of an all-prevailing plea with God, and such as no saint before the cross had ever been instructed to urge. "Verily, verily, I say to you, If ye shall ask the Father anything, He will give it you in My name." So seems the best punctuation. "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full [i.e. completed]" (23, 24).

Expedient for them that He should go away, the Lord had said (7). Richly indeed would they be gainers thereby, as the Spirit would come to guide them into all the truth, and prayer in Christ's all-prevailing name the Apostles would be allowed to present to the Father. The God of Israel indeed He was, but they would approach Him in the consciousness of relationship, as children addressing their Father. Then, too, no longer in proverbs would the Lord speak to them, but openly would He show them of the Father. And yet more. "At that day ye shall ask in My name; and I say not to you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father Himself loves you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God [or perhaps, from the Father]" (26, 27). What words for them to hear! And again we would remark, there was no one of the Eleven excepted. All of them loved the Lord, Peter with the rest, grievously though he would fall. All of them, as loving the Lord, were loved of the Father — a revelation to rejoice their hearts, a revelation made by One competent to make it. The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, here assured them that the Father loved them.

And now speaking plainly, He said, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" (28). The disciples understand His meaning, and see that He has correctly read their thoughts, and unasked solved their difficulties. So they said, "Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee: by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God" (29, 30). Yet their confession fell short of the Lord's revelation. Of God they spoke. Of the Father He had made mention. Of course the Father is God. But God recalls to us the one Divine Being, the powerful One; whilst the thought of the Father reminds us of relationship. And here it is relationship to Him who spoke of Him as the Father, even to Him who is the only begotten Son of God.

"We believe," they had averred, that He had come forth from God. The Lord challenges that, though graciously; for He knew what a very few hours, if indeed hours, would manifest. "Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour comes, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me" (31, 32). Forsaken by men, the Father would be with Him. Graciously we have said had the Lord challenged their confession of belief as to Him. Surely it was that, for He continued, "These things have I spoken to you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (33). He knew their love for Him. He knew their weakness too. Tribulation they would have in the world, but He had overcome the world. For a brief moment would the world be rejoicing (20). For a brief moment indeed would the prince of this world seem to triumph. But by Christ's death he who had the power of death, and could use it as a terror for souls, would be annulled (Heb. 2:14), and the display of his apparent triumph would be the earnest of his everlasting condemnation.

The Spirit. — Here this long discourse (13 — 16) comes to an end. What subjects of deep interest had been broached! Four times has the Lord foretold the coming of the Comforter — twice in chapter 14, and once each in chapters 15 and 16. In the first of these chapters, as we have previously remarked, it is the Father who sends the Holy Ghost, and that for the special blessing of the disciples. The Spirit's testimony to the world has in that chapter no place. The disciples, and they alone, are there viewed as profiting by His coming. How gracious to them was this. The Father thinks of and provides for His children. But more, the Father would send the Spirit at the request of the Son; for the Lord's first thought, when on high, would be for the disciples whom He had left upon earth. Love indeed would this manifest on His part; and love to those who forsook Him, and fled from Him, on His apprehension in the garden (Matt. 26:56). And though the Spirit would come, sent by Christ to bear testimony of Him to the world, yet on each occasion, as said above, He would be sent to the disciples. He was not sent to the world. What objects of interest were the disciples to both the Father and the Son!

Prayer. — Four times also is the subject of prayer touched on in this discourse — once in chapters 14 and 16, and twice in chapter 15. Four distinct points come out. 1st. In whose name we are to pray (14). 2nd. Conditions on which, if fulfilled, we can be sure of answers to our requests. 3rd. The One to whom we are to pray (15). And 4th. The time when the Lord's instructions were first to apply (16).

Then, too, we have learnt of the Lord's personal service to His people, to keep them clean for heaven (13); and of His service for them, in preparing a place in the Father's house, He made mention; accompanied by the promise of His return to receive them to Himself (14). Of the works that the Apostles would do, consequent on His departure to heaven, and of His responding then to their prayers, He assured them (14:12-14). His peace, too, He gave to them: His love, also, He would have them abide in: and His joy He desired that they should experience. Of fruitfulness, too, from abiding in Him He spoke. And now no longer as servants merely, though always must they be that, but as friends, He would regard them (15). Of His near departure, to be absent for a little while, He also told them foretelling thereby His death, and promising to reappear to them in resurrection (16:17). And when on high, He would still have an interest in them, to be manifested by not leaving them as orphans, for He would come to them. Much of this they did not understand, till it came to pass. Precious, however, all this manifested, were the disciples to Christ. Precious to Him, we may say, are true disciples still. And now, following on this discourse, He hands them over to His Father to keep whilst down here, for which we are next turned to that wonderful prayer which follows in the seventeenth chapter of our Gospel.

The Prayer of the Son to the Father

John 17.

From addressing the disciples the Lord turned to address His Father. Often had they been aware that He prayed. At His baptism He prayed (Luke 3:21); and before His transfiguration He prayed (Luke 9:28). When about to call out the Twelve, beginning thus a new departure in the work of God, He spent the whole night in prayer (Luke 6:12). After some marked service, as on that memorable Sabbath day at Capernaum, He was found next morning in prayer in a desert place (Mark 1:35). And again, after the feeding of the five thousand on the east of the lake, He retired into the mountain, and prayed (Mark 6:46). On some of these occasions He was alone. Whether on any others the disciples heard His requests we know not. But on this the last night of His life, on two occasions was He engaged in prayer, and on each of them what He said was heard by others. On the first of these, that stated in John 17, and by this Evangelist alone, He was praying chiefly for His disciples, addressing the Father on their behalf. On the second occasion, that in Gethsemane, He was praying wholly for Himself. And what He then said has been preserved likewise, but most fully only by one Apostle — Matthew, the son of Alphaeus; who, though in the garden with the rest of the Eleven, was not very near Him at those solemn moments.

With that long prayer in John 17 it is that we are at present concerned. It was a prayer of the Son addressing His Father. "Jesus," writes the Evangelist, "lifting up His eyes to heaven, said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son [or, the Son] may glorify Thee." To One in heaven He spoke, so turned His eyes thitherward. To glorify the Father had been the purpose of the Son all His life; and that purpose had been carried out fully indeed, and He could rightly affirm it (4). He had spoken of it before the Jews (7:18), and had looked for the sickness of Lazarus to further it (11:4). Now, what as the Son He had desired and furthered on earth, He still desired on His return to heaven. The hour had come. The train of events which would culminate in His being glorified was commencing its unfolding. He looked beyond His death and beyond His resurrection. He was thinking of His ascension. The end of His path (Heb. 12:2), and not the stages of the way, was specially before Him. His return to the glory was the thought. His going to the Father was the prospect He kept in view (John 17:1, 5, 11-13).

Often had the disciples heard Him speak of the Father. Now they heard Him address the Father at some length. He had said His Father was greater than He was (14:28). He here gives proof of it. He addressed Him in prayer. Teaching, too, which they had heard from Him must have been confirmed, if confirmation were needed, as point after point was now noticed, on which He had touched in His ministry amongst men. Power over all flesh He had declared He had received (17:2). Of His power to raise the dead, and to judge all, He had told the Jews (5:22, 27-29). Able, too, to give eternal life He again states (17:2), just what He had taught in ministry to the people (v. 21-25, 6:37-40). His sent One He here tells the Father that He was (17:8, 18), just what He had taught in Jerusalem (7:33, 10:36), and had reaffirmed to the disciples, for He had come from above (16:28). Then He declares, that He had finished the work given Him to do (17:4). Of that work the Lord had spoken time after time (5:36 9:4 10:37-38). Further, of His disciples He makes mention. They were given Him, He states, of the Father (17:11) and they were not of the world (17:14, 16). Statements like these they had heard — the former in Galilee (6:37-39), and the latter in the upper room (15:19). What encouragement then must all this have afforded, and confidence in Him it must have increased! For what He had taught them, He could turn and speak of to His Father in heaven. All that must then be true.

With these general remarks we would enter more in detail on this prayer. The Son speaks, and speaks about, and asks His Father for Himself but, as was proper for the Son, He prays in submission to His Father's will. He who could say, "All things that the Father has are mine" (16:15), and who had glory with the Father before the world was, would not return to that glory without the Father's full acquiescence. He keeps His place as Son. Hence He says, "Glorify Thy Son." Of His relationship to His Father the disciples had often heard Him speak. Here He affirmed it as He spoke in prayer. But, though asking to be glorified, the right thought of the Son is expressed — viz. "that the Son may glorify Thee." How would that be effected? He states for our instruction, "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give everlasting life to as many as Thou hast given Him."

Authority. — Power or authority over all flesh! Who would have supposed that, when the Jews were plotting against His life? Who on the morrow, unless divinely taught, surmised that, when they saw Him stretched apparently helpless on the cross, put to death by His creatures, and His body then hidden in the dark recesses of the tomb? Power over all flesh! Could that possibly be, when His enemies were allowed to do with Him as they would? How would He display the power? How has He displayed it, but in giving everlasting life to as many as the Father has given Him? Solemn but blessed announcements we have in this second verse. Solemn indeed for all unreconciled. To the crucified One is given power over all flesh. All then must own Him, when He pleases. All must obey Him, if He commands them. And He will command all who are in the grave to come forth. He will sit and judge every one of Adam's race. And a more extended authority is even now His, for all authority is given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, when He stooped to wash the feet of the Apostles. He declared it when here addressing His Father. He announced it, too, to His disciples ere He ascended. All will own it as true of Him in the coming day. But now He is acting in quickening power, giving, as He declares, everlasting life to dead souls — an exhibition this of power, which none would have naturally expected. And the blessed effect He states. Those receiving that life know thereby the Father, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. Without everlasting life no man has that knowledge. The need for it is thus declared and the fact, that it is a gift from the Son, is here asserted. He quickens whom He will (v. 21).

What He will do simply stated, what He has done He next declared. "I have glorified Thee on the earth, having finished," as we should read, "the work which Thou gavest Me to do" (17:4). What had He finished? We take it, comparing this last clause with v. 36, "the works that the Father has given Me to finish," that it is His life-work in service, which had now come to an end, not including His death, then not accomplished. We are aware, of course, that this view is not that commonly entertained. We lay it, however, before the reader, with the ground for our conclusion, that he may judge for himself of the correctness, or otherwise, of that which we have advanced.

And now, looking away from earth, and far beyond it, the Lord presents His second request regarding Himself. "O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (17:5). The eternal Son thus prays to the eternal Father. His making Himself equal with God was blasphemy in the eyes of the Jews, and deserving of death. Equal with the Father He now declared Himself as He prayed, "Glorify Thou Me with Thine own self." What mere creature could look for that? What mere creature could, if solemnly addressing the Father, ask for that? But He could, and He did. He had a history before the world was. He had His part in essential Divine glory before time began. In the beginning He was with God. In the beginning He was God. What words, then, for the disciples to listen to! What confirmation for their faith! He spoke and prayed to His Father as no mere creature, that they had heard, ever addressed the Most High God. Their faith in Him as the eternal Son would surely be strengthened, remembering ever after, that on the near approach of His death, and He fully aware of it, He thus addressed God in heaven. Who thus prayed? A man? Yes. And He would prove that by dying. But He was God also, returning to the glory He had with His Father before the world was. Of His Divinity there was to be no doubt. Whither He was going was to be no longer a matter of opinion, nor open to dispute.

Prayer for the Disciples. — From asking for Himself He began now to pray for His disciples. And, as they had heard Him speak about Himself, they were next to hear Him speak about them, and that from His point of view. Let us read this in His own words. "I have manifested Thy name to the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given to them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me" (6-8). What a Master to serve! The Lord's estimate of the disciples which of them would endorse as true of himself? The Jews had not the Father's word abiding in them (5:38). The disciples, however, had kept it. For, what the Lord had taught, was that which the Father had given Him. All things that He had heard of the Father He had made known to them (15:15). So hearkening to Christ, receiving His testimony, they kept the Father's word, and they believed in the Divine mission of the Son. For them then He prayed. The incarnate Son petitioned His Father for them. Grace indeed it was. His prayers as the Son, and He the obedient One, must infallibly be answered. They had an interest in them. What saint of God would not value the intercession of Christ on his behalf? What responsible creature in a coming day will not understand the immense favour of any one having been prayed for by the Son of God? Bowing the knee as all will at the mention of His name (Phil. 2:10), every one will assuredly feel, that those were favoured indeed for whom He prayed.

And now with the Apostles alone in His company, and apart from the world, He lets them hear for whom it was that He was asking the Father. "I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them" (John 17:9-10). A company still in the world, though not of it, for they belonged to the Father! It is the Son declares it. He, who was in the bosom of the Father (1:18), was competent to state it. And though they were given by the Father to the Son, they were still the Father's, yet the Son's likewise. What a revelation for them indeed! Then, too, the Son was glorified in them. How clearly was that displayed, when in after-years they preached Christ! Precious to the Father they must be, for they were His. Precious to the Son too, for they were His Father's gift to Him. And though given to the Son, they ceased not to be the Father's still. Men on earth give, but they do not retain what they give. The Father gave them to the Son, yet they remained the Father's; "for all Mine," the Lord had said, "are Thine." Why should the Son be so interested in them? They were His, the Father's gift to Him. Why should the Father take an interest in them? Two reasons are assigned. 1st. They were the Father's. 2nd. The Son was glorified in them. Here, then, are we permitted to learn something of what the saints are to the Father and to the Son. What mortal man could have of himself affirmed this? What confidence of heart should the assurance of it impart! The Father can never drop them. The Son will never relax His grasp of them.

Why He prays for Them. — He was leaving the world, returning to His Father. His personal care, guidance, and teaching they would no longer enjoy. He hands them, therefore, over to the care of His Father to keep. "Holy Father, keep them in Thy name* which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We" — i.e. in counsel, aim, and object (17:11). Kept in the Father's name — and there is but one Father — that would result. Hitherto the Lord had done it, not one of them having been lost, but the son of perdition. We have learnt how the Lord could speak of the Eleven. We here learn how He speaks to His Father of Judas. Solemn words indeed, "son of perdition"! spoken of one once numbered among the Twelve, but only that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Of Judas He said no more. His thoughts and desires were all for true disciples. He spake thus in the world, that they might have His joy fulfilled in themselves (13). Relationship to His Father, and His Father's love, had been joy to Him whilst on earth. That joy He desired for His disciples, so He let them hear what it was that He was saying to the Father.

{*So the better reading, adopted by all the chief textual critics on overwhelming uncial MS. authority.}

Hated of the World. — Valued indeed would be that joy, as they experienced the world's hatred after the Lord's departure. He had warned them about this. He here speaks to His Father about it. In the world they were to be, but of it they were not. Of God they were as born of Him, and so partakers of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Therefore the Lord could say, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14, 16). Because of that the world would hate them. For the same cause the Lord would pray for them. And two requests does He now make. 1st. That the Father would keep them from the evil* (15). And 2nd. That He would sanctify them through the truth, adding, "Thy word is truth." Members of a fallen race, with the evil nature within them, and weak indeed in themselves, they would need to be kept, and would need to be sanctified. Further, they were sent into the world, as the Lord had been. Keeping then, and sanctifying, they would need. For of any thought of being freed from the evil nature derived from Adam, whilst they should remain on earth, there was no trace. If, then, the Apostles needed to be kept and sanctified, all other Christians need that likewise. We have marked the Lord's undying interest in His own. Here a fresh proof of it appears. "For their sakes," He continues, "I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth" (19). He would go on high, thus setting Himself apart as an object for their hearts, whilst the truth was to act on them in daily life. The word to guide; the object, Christ in glory, to attract them — these were to be the means to sanctify them. The Father was to effect the first. Christ would provide the second.

{*Or as some, with the Revised Version, "from the evil one."}

Service. — And now appears the reason why they were not to be taken out of the world. They were to engage in a service of ministry and of preaching. In chapter 15:26-27, we have read of a testimony by the Holy Ghost to the world concerning Christ. In this the Apostles were to have part, as having been with the Lord from the beginning. But no results from it were there predicted. Here we learn. (17:20), that the service would not be in vain. Blessed and far-reaching consequences would follow. There would be those who would believe on the Lord through their word. What could the Apostles naturally have expected from their ministry in a hostile world? Who would listen to them, the professed followers and servants of a crucified man? How could they hope to gain adherents to their cause, when it received to all appearance its death-blow by the judicial execution of its Leader and Founder? A few men not of liberal education, what could they look to effect against the wisdom of the Greeks, and the instructed teachers of their own nation? Hopeless, humanly speaking, their service might seem. Yet it would be fruitful in results. And to them the Lord here looked forward (20). Men would give heed. Souls should be saved. The company of the Lord's disciples was to be largely increased. And it was so. Three thousand were added at the first preaching. Soon the number reached to five thousand. In Judea, too, converts were made. In Samaria and among Gentiles the work spread. And in the face of intense opposition and determined persecution converts increased in numbers, drawn from Jews, Samaritans, the Roman army, ignorant heathens, as well as highly educated Greeks. It was a work such as never had been known. It is a work which has never died out. It meets the spiritual need of men, providing a definite and immediate answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" It ministers peace, joy, and everlasting salvation to those who implicitly believe the Gospel, as preached by the Apostles and early labourers. It meets the need of the conscience, which heathen rites could never do. It imparts to the soul a freedom before God, which under Judaism could not be enjoyed. Shortly would that be demonstrated. So, in view of the results to be effected by this ministry, the Lord prayed.

Converts. — He prayed, not just that apostolic labour might be successful. There was no doubt about that. He prayed for those, who should believe on Him through their word. So now each truly converted soul can say, "He prayed for me." All such were included in His prayer that night. Who can reckon up the numbers which have been saved? Who can say how many more will be brought to swell the dimensions of the one flock, ere Christian testimony shall have attained its predestined consummation? Till then the full tale of those for whom the Lord prayed will not be disclosed.

And for what did He pray? "That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us: that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me" (21). Oneness in real fellowship of communion was His desire, and the burden of His petition. The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father; hence full communion there must be between Them. The thoughts, the wishes, of the Father are the thoughts and wishes of the Son. No divergence of view, no conflict of opinion, can possibly exist between Them. A oneness, then, of communion between all believers, for that He prayed. And remembering that the company to be gathered out by apostolic ministry would embrace men of all ranks, and people of very varied nationalities, the need of the Saviour's prayer is at once made apparent. And the resulting consequence was one concerning the world: "That the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.'' Those formerly Jews, or Gentiles, or Barbarians, or Scythians, or bond or free, all united in one fellowship, owning and serving the same Lord — what short of Divine power could effect this? And if Divine power could accomplish it, what a testimony it would be to the Divine mission of the Son! That effect on the world He desired; and surely in early days, as long as all believers continued in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship (Acts 2:42), there was that testimony. But how soon was the beautiful picture blotted! How sadly has it become marred!

Here the Saviour's petitions end. He prayed for the Apostles to be kept in the Father's name — to be kept from the evil, and to be sanctified by the truth. He prayed for their converts, that all might exhibit a oneness of communion, which would be a testimony to the world of His Divine mission. And now in concluding He will speak of that which He has given (John 17:22), of that which He desires (24), and of that which He would do (26).

Of the gift we first read. It is of glory, as He says, "And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them." All real Christians will share in this. For a purpose He has in it, and He now disclosed it. He had prayed for the Apostles to be one. He had prayed for their converts at any one time on earth to be one. Now He speaks of the whole company to be collected on high. He will provide that they shall be one, as in heavenly glory with Him. And the character of this oneness He states: "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me" (23). Unity in glory — Christ in them, and the Father in Him! This displayed, the world will know, that Christ, whom it has rejected, was the sent One of the Father, and that believers, whom it hated, are loved by the Father, as He loves His Son — a love of relationship, but never said to be of the same degree. John 10:17 would indeed militate against such a supposition. What an awful discovery will that be for the world beholding despised saints in glory with Christ!

Next His desire He made known. His people shall be with Him where He is. Of this He had previously spoken, when teaching that He would keep them clean for heaven (13), and also when announcing that He would come to receive them to Himself (14). Now He reveals something more — something they will then see — a joy indeed to them, who owe all to His atoning sufferings; for they shall behold the glory which the Father has given to Christ, as they will see Him, the beloved One, arrayed in tokens of His Father's love. That we shall behold, a glory peculiar to Him, and conferred on Him by His Father. Here we would notice the different ways in which glory is spoken of in this prayer. There is the Divine essential glory belonging to God, which the Son had with the Father before the world was. He would return to that, which was always His, never conferred. There is also the glory which He will bestow on His people — viz. to be in glory with Him. And there is glory conferred on Him by the Father, which we shall behold as we gaze on the Son when on high, but shall not share in.

That for us is future. He now returns to the present, and declares what He would still do for His own. He had declared the Father's name. He would declare it still. That parental love, so precious to Him as a man, His own should know as children of the same Father. And He would be in them — "Himself the strength, the life, the competency, the right, and the means of enjoying it in the heart."*

{* Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by J. N. Darby, new edition, vol. iii., p. 519.}

Here this prayer ends, and His intercourse as alone with His disciples is in this Gospel concluded. Love to the end was surely displayed — love, too, all along the road. And the disciples would learn, that, having had a mission when Christ was on earth to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, they were now to be entrusted with a yet wider mission, and their field of labour to be the world and men upon earth. Whatever the nationality, whatever the social position, of those to whom they would be sent, Christ's cause would not be a lost one. Far from it. Proconsuls, as Sergius Paulus; men of high rank, as the Ethiopian eunuch; men held in honour, as Theophilus, needed the message of salvation, as much as the slave or the most ignorant of the heathen. To the upright, to the amiable, to the moral, as well as to the most depraved, were they to go. For the strict Jew, as for the most licentious Corinthian, they had the same message — viz. to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. A worldwide sphere indeed it was, and favourable results would assuredly follow. Their future, too, was sure; whilst in the present they would be kept by Divine power. They were commended to the holy Father to be kept; and the righteous Father* was counted upon, that His love those might richly enjoy who knew that He had sent His Son, the Holy One of God. From being alone with His disciples, the Evangelist next presents Him to us in the hands of men.

{*It is peculiar to the Son in the New Testament to apply any epithet to the Father. In Matt. 6:14, 26, 32; 15:13; 18:35, He calls Him "heavenly Father." In John 6:57 He terms Him the "living Father." In 17:11 He addresses Him as "holy Father," and in verse 25 He styles Him "righteous Father." New Testament writers speak of that which characterises Him — as, "Father of mercies" (2 Cor. 1:3), "Father of lights" (James 1:17); but an epithet, when speaking of Him, seems carefully avoided.}

5. Arrest, Trial, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

John 18 — 21.

In the Hands of the Jews

John 18.

The Lord now left Jerusalem, to re-enter it shortly afterwards as a prisoner. He went over the brook Cedron with His disciples to a garden well known to Him and to them. Now this garden, as John calls it (18:1), is termed by Matthew (26:36) and by Mark (14:32) a place, and is named by them Gethsemane.* Our Evangelist locates it beyond the Cedron, that well-known brook which flows in the deep valley between Mount Moriah and the Mount of Olives, and which is now known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And Luke (22:39) tells Theophilus that it was situated on the Mount of Olives.

{*The word means "an oil press": probably the olive berries were there crushed for their oil.}

In what direction then it was, with reference to the holy city, there is no doubt. But it is questioned whether the chief traditional site by the Latin Convent is really the spot. Porter, in his Giant Cities of Bashan, p. 160, writes, as one who knows well that site: "Eight venerable olive trees rivet our attention. They are real patriarchs their huge trunks are rent, hollowed, gnarled, and propped up, and their boughs hoary with age. They seem old enough, and probably are old enough, to have formed an arbour for Jesus. How often have I sat on a rocky bank in that garden! How often, beneath the grateful shade of the old olives, have I read and re-read the story of the Betrayal! How often have I fondly lingered there far on into the still night, when the city above was hushed in sleep, and no sound was heard save the sighing of the breeze among the olive branches, thinking and thinking on those miracles of love and power which He performed there!" In Porter's judgment this spot may have been the real Gethsemane.

Dean Stanley, in Sinai and Palestine, new edition, p. 455, writes of this traditional site with which are connected the grotto of the Agony, the rocky bank of the three Apostles, the "terra damnata" of the Betrayal, that "in spite of all the doubts that can be raised against their antiquity or the genuineness of their site, the eight aged olive trees, if only by their manifest difference from all others on the mountain, have always struck even the most indifferent observers. They are now indeed less striking in the modern garden enclosure built round them by the Franciscan monks, than when they stood free and unprotected on the rough hill side; but they will remain, so long as their already protracted life is spared, the most venerable of their race on the surface of the earth; their gnarled trunks and scanty foliage will always be regarded as the most affecting of the sacred memorials in or about Jerusalem; the most nearly approaching to the everlasting hills themselves, in the force with which they carry us back to the events of the Gospel history."

Thus far these two writers, both personally acquainted with this spot, have written about it. Other sites are contended for. The Armenian Christians have selected one a little to the north of it. And some have located it farther up the valley, and to the north of the Church of St. Mary. But those ancient and venerable trees give a prestige to the garden of the Latin Convent, and will, till the exact spot, if it be elsewhere, can be really identified. For the general reader it is, however, sufficient to know the landmarks given us in the Gospels by Luke and by John. To the Mount of Olives the Lord frequently retired, and to that garden He often resorted, so John informs us (18:2). Probably the garden was owned or tenanted by some disciple, as was the case, it would seem, with the upper room. But though often visited by the Lord (so Judas knew where he would find Him), we have no mention of it after that night of the Agony. It was clearly not the mind of the Holy Ghost to have the holy places, as they are called, for ever identified. God, who buried the body of Moses, so that no man knew of his sepulchre, has not seen fit to authenticate by reliable tradition places in the Holy Land specially connected with the life and even death of the Lord. The stable at Bethlehem, the house at Nazareth, as well as the place of the Crucifixion, and even the new tomb hewn by Joseph out of the rock, whatever tradition may assert, are places still lacking verification. Occupation with holy places on earth is foreign to the spirit of Christianity, of which the only holy Temple on earth is composed either locally of all professing Christians in any one place (1 Cor. 3:17), or generally of the whole company of professing Christians alive here at any one time (2 Cor. 6:16).*

{*The better reading in 2 Cor. 6:16 is we, not ye, thus including all Christians on earth.}

The Arrest. — Into that garden, hallowed by so many associations, the Lord entered with the Eleven; and there took place the Agony related in the three Synoptic Gospels, but wholly passed over by John. Yet he was very near the Lord, being one of the three taken apart from the rest by Christ, and asked to watch with Him. The rest were told to sit down a little way off from the Master. If any of the Evangelists then could have written with authority of that solemn time, John was the one best fitted to do it. Yet he is the one who omits all reference to it. It might be thought that what the others had written was sufficient. Why, then, did he describe so minutely circumstances connected with the Lord's apprehension? The special line of his Gospel, presenting the Lord as a Divine Person, will alone explain this. As Son of God incarnate he presents Him, and not as the suffering Son of Man. We shall learn, then, from him, that which none of the others mention, though Matthew was present with him, how the Lord's personal presence at first overawed Judas and the company with that traitor.

John is now again on the same ground as the three Synoptic Gospels, being concerned with the history of the Lord's apprehension, condemnation, and crucifixion. But though he must have seen and heard things which the others relate, he shows his independence of them all, by giving us details passed over by every one of them. And first as to the company with Judas, who suddenly appeared on the scene. What the Lord had said to him in the upper room, not understood by the rest, "That thou doest, do quickly," was now plain indeed to every one of the Eleven. He, who had companied with the Lord and the rest from the time that the Twelve were chosen, who had preached, too, the Gospel of the kingdom, and had worked miracles like the others (Mark 6:12-13), now appeared to them all in his true character, known as it had been to Christ from the beginning (John 6:70). Providing for the feast had not been in his thoughts that night. To gratify his cupidity had been his desire.

He now came with the band — Roman soldiers from the fortress of Antonia, under the command of a chief captain, a military tribune; and with them officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, with lanterns, torches, and weapons (18:3), those lanterns and torches casting a lurid light on the scene. Under what guise the help of the Roman soldiers had been requisitioned is not mentioned. But there they were. And the Jewish authorities, apparently afraid of any disturbance, decided that the arrest should take place at night; and to overawe the disciples against any attempt at a rescue, this formidable force had evidently been marshalled. Crossing the valley, they made for the garden under the sole guidance of Judas. These details as to the company are peculiar to John. Now follows what is also peculiar to him — the self-surrender of the Lord to those sent to apprehend Him.

But who was it that they were seeking to take? Ah! they little knew. Born, as men thought, of humble parents, a Galilean too, and a native of that despised city of Nazareth, He was a Divine Person; and as to His Divinity the Second Person of the Godhead. What company of men, or all His creatures, however well armed and however bold, could take Him prisoner without His free leave? This would be demonstrated. "Jesus therefore," we read, "knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth,* and said to them, Whom seek ye? They answered Him, Jesus the Nazorean. Jesus says to them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them." Never before had Judas been afraid of Christ. But now, with all his company, he went backwards, and fell to the ground (6). A sense that the Lord was no mere man, we suppose, took possession of them. When had that band of Roman soldiers, with the chief captain, or chiliarch, at their head, quailed before one in human form? When before had they prostrated themselves in the presence of one whom they would regard as a Jew? Doubtless many a wrongdoer had the officers of the chief priests arrested, without on their part any feeling or manifestation of fear. Here how different! In the presence of a little company of just twelve, and that company unarmed — for what were two swords against the military weapons of trained Roman soldiers? — they were all on the ground. Afraid of the disciples confronting them? How could that be? They were overawed by the presence of just One, but that One the Lord of glory. A dread, an awe, which perhaps they could not define, forbade their approaching Jesus the Nazorean. How easily can God confound His enemies! The Lord said nothing to deter them from their purpose. His presence, however, made them all afraid. Silence on their part there must now have been, whilst prostrate on the ground — a silence broken by the Lord reiterating His question, upon which they returned the same answer. A rejoinder came from Him: "I have told you that I am He. If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way." And, the Evangelist added, He spake thus, that the saying of Jesus (17:12) might be fulfilled, "Of them which Thou gavest Me have I lost none" (18:7-9).

{* It is a question whether John meant his readers to understand, that the Lord went forth from the garden, and so the arrest took place outside. The word taken alone might mean that, but we think the remark of a servant to Peter (26), "Did not I see thee in the garden?" makes against that.}

At this juncture Peter, naturally of a forward disposition, drew a sword, and cut off the right ear of a servant of the high priest, whose name, we learn, was Malchus. Natural feeling, and a true love for his Master, prompted him to this act. But natural feeling is not always a safe guide. In this case it was not. God's work is not to be propagated now by the sword; and the Lord's kingdom being not "from hence," as He subsequently told Pilate, He did not require His servants to fight for it (36). Of old God's cause was furthered by the sword. The earthly people were concerned in that. Now there was the heavenly calling, and the kingdom of the heavens was not to be advanced by carnal weapons. Besides, what was taking place in the Lord's arrest was the carrying out of the Divine purpose. So, rebuking the zeal of His disciple, Christ added, "The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" The soldiers, with the chief captain and the Jewish officers, now surrounding Him, bound Him, and led Him away first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest. The Lord had thus surrendered Himself.

Other incidents connected with the Arrest are related elsewhere, as the flight of the young man (Mark 14:51-52); the desertion of the disciples (Matt. 26:56); the healing of the servant's ear (Luke 22:51); the solemn statement addressed to the company, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53); and the Lord's words to Judas, recorded by Matthew (26:50), "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" as well as, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:48). All these are left unnoticed by the son of Zebedee, who here presents the Lord in the light of the willing Offerer, surrendering Himself into the hands of men, to drink the cup given to Him by His Father. For His life, which no man could take from Him, He would now lay down of Himself (John 10:18). One more incident is omitted by our Evangelist — that look of the Lord on Peter after the third denial, a look surely never forgotten by the son of Simon. At the garden Judas and the Lord parted to meet once more, and only once more, never again on earth, but at the great white throne. The man's hypocrisy unmasked, as the Lord by His last words made plain, what must have been the reflection of the traitor during the few hours that he survived in this world? For ere the Lord had died, Judas, we may believe, had gone to his own place.

Annas. — To Annas the Lord was first taken. Who he was Josephus has told. The son of Seth, he was appointed high priest by Cyrenius, A.D. 6, and was deposed by Valerius Gratus, A.D. 15. "Now," writes Josephus (Ant., XX. 9:1), "the report goes, that this elder Ananus [or Annas] proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and he had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests." From Scripture we learn that he was of the sect of the Sadducees (Acts 4:6, 5:17); and our Evangelist tells us that Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest at the time of the Lord's death, was his son-in-law. Probably being regarded as a man of some experience in judicial matters may account for this informal examination, before remitting the Lord to Caiaphas. And it may be the chief priests hoped, that Annas could extract some admission from the Lord, which might further His condemnation. But as he was not high priest, and therefore had no authority, the Lord did not enter into matters with him. Real jurisdiction in such a case he did not possess. "Why askest thou Me?" was the Lord's reply. "Ask them which heard Me, what I have said to them: behold, they know what I said" (21). Who could find fault with that? One of the officers, however, struck the Lord with the palm of his hand, saying, "Answerest Thou the high priest so?" An indignity this was wholly undeserved, but, we must add, not resented. A calm, dignified answer left nothing more to be said: "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou Me?" If the smiter had any sense of justice, he must have felt keenly this calm rebuke. The interview with Annas, of which John alone has made mention, now terminated. Annas could extract nothing from his prisoner to further His condemnation. He then sent Him bound to Caiaphas, as we should read* (18:24). For any account of the examination before Caiaphas we must turn to Matthew and to Mark; whilst for the recital of the trial before the Sanhedrin we have an account, and the only one, in the Gospel of Luke (22:66-71). Matthew and Mark mention it, but give no details of it. To sum up the matter, Matthew it is and Mark who record the examination before Caiaphas, and they only. Luke it is who tells us of the legal condemnation by the Sanhedrin. And John, noticing not what the Synoptic Gospels record, acquaints his readers with the first attempted examination on that night which was undertaken by Annas. To understand what went on between the Lord's apprehension in the garden and His standing before Pilate, we must consult all four Evangelists; then we shall be informed.

{*"Annas therefore sent Him [not, had sent Him] bound to Caiaphas the high priest" is what the Apostle wrote.}

Peter's Denial. — And now, whilst Annas was questioning the Lord about His disciples and His doctrine, Peter was questioned in the court about His connection with Christ. All four Evangelists tell us about this, though their accounts vary in details. Have any of them fallen into mistakes? We believe not. Who could now correct them, or demonstrate what are their mistakes? Nor could we allow that their differences militate against verbal inspiration, as some have attempted to set forth. Patient examination will, we believe, bear us out in this. Into it we need not, however, here enter, having done so at length on a previous occasion.* We would only here notice what is peculiar to John, a personal friend before and after the fall of Peter. How Peter got access to the court of the high priest's house John relates. He, personally known to the high priest, spoke to the doorkeeper, and so got Peter admitted. It was the damsel door-keeper who first challenged him, and whose affirmation, that he must be a disciple of Christ, he distinctly refused. But why should John ask for his admittance, if he was not one of that company? Then a second denial followed, in response to the accusation of the company, in the midst of which Peter had been warming himself. A direct challenge was made by one man, Luke tells us, after a damsel, addressing the company, had told them that Peter was one of the disciples. She did not address Peter. One man, however, did, and probably the whole company joined in with that one; hence the way John puts it. About an hour now intervened, so writes Luke, when, as John specifically states, a servant of the high priest, and a kinsman of Malchus, declared that he had seen Peter in the garden with the Lord. A third time he denied, and immediately the cock crew. So far writes John. But of his friend's bitter weeping he says nothing.

{*See From Advent to Advent, pp. 268-272.}

The Paschal Feast. — Led from Caiaphas to the palace, where the Procurator dwelt when at Jerusalem, the Lord was now to be arraigned before Pilate. But the Jews entered not within, lest they should be defiled, for they had not yet eaten of the Passover. Difficulties have been raised by this statement, as to whether the Lord had really kept the Passover, or had anticipated it. Now, remembering that the day, according to Jewish computation, began at sunset, not at midnight, there need not, we believe, be any real difficulty about it. The Paschal lamb was to be slain between the evenings of the fourteenth of Nisan. But when was it eaten? It had to be prepared, skinned, and roasted, ere they could partake of it. So the Paschal feast took place probably in the beginning of the fifteenth of Nisan — i.e. at sunset or later. In Ex. 12, at the institution of the feast, this seems pretty clear. "They shall eat the flesh that night" (8); so runs the direct revelation about it. And that night began the feast of Unleavened Bread (14, 18); for it was the fifteenth of Nisan.

Will it be said that Ex. 12:18 contradicts this, as it states, "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even."? Let it be remarked that the time here noted is "at even" not "between the evenings," as we really read in verse 6. The lamb slain between the evenings of the fourteenth, the eating with the unleavened bread was to begin "at even," i.e. at sunset, when the fifteenth of Nisan was commencing. That this must be the meaning, a reference to Lev. 23:6 will show. Unleavened bread was to be eaten for seven days, closing with the twenty-first at even. Hence it is plain, that the eating unleavened bread must have commenced with the beginning of the fifteenth of Nisan, else they would have eaten the unleavened bread for eight days, and not for seven. The "at even" of Ex. 12:18 refers to sunset, when the new day would just begin.

Turning to 2 Chron. 35:11-14, we have confirmation of this, as we read the account of Josiah's Passover. The priests were so busy in their ministrations at the altar till night, that the Levites prepared for them. Evidently they did not eat of the Paschal feast till the fifteenth of Nisan had begun. Now at that Passover everything was done in order. The Chronicler writes, "There was no Passover like to that kept in Israel, from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a Passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (2 Chron. 35:18). Nothing out of order would, we may be sure, have been allowed on that occasion. If the Passover had to be eaten ere the fourteenth of Nisan ran out, Josiah would not have sanctioned the priests delaying to eat of it till the fifteenth. But since the priests were busy at the altar till night, they certainly could not have eaten of the Paschal feast till the fifteenth of the month had well begun, though the lambs were all slain on the fourteenth between the evenings. They ate their Paschal feast at the time that it was eaten at its institution in the land of Egypt.

Turning to the New Testament, we think there is support for this. In Mark 14:12, 17, we find that the two disciples detailed for the work went and made ready the Passover on the day on which it should be killed — i.e. between the evenings of the fourteenth of the month. And when the evening was come, the Lord, with the Twelve, assembled to eat of it. Killed between the evenings, they ate of it after its due preparation in the evening — i.e. the commencement of the fifteenth of Nisan — in accord with its original institution in Ex. 12; for the phrase in Mark, "when the evening was come," admits of such an interpretation, commencing really a new day (Matt. 8:16; Mark 1:32). Then John (13:30) confirms it, as he tells his readers, that it was night when Judas left the upper room. The fifteenth day had certainly begun ere they rose from the table. So far Scripture. And, of course, that is the only real authority in this matter.

We would, however, now direct attention to some Jewish testimony on the subject. And first we quote from the Talmud, which tells us what was the practice in Jerusalem ere the Temple was destroyed, and all sacrifices ceased. "The Passover was slaughtered for three bands in succession. … The first band went out, the second entered; the second went out, the third entered. … The first party went out, and sat down on the Mountain of the House. The second party were in the Chel And the third party remained in their places. When it grew dark, they went out, and roasted their Passovers."*

{* Barclay's Talmud, pp. 104, 105. The Chel, we learn, was a space round the court, between the smaller wall and the wall of the court. The breadth was ten cubits.}

Having cited a witness to the practice in the Temple, the credibility of which none can now call in question, we next adduce testimony as to the way the eighth and eighteenth verses of chapter twelve of Exodus were understood and explained in the Targum of Palestine, called also that of Jonathan Ben Uzziel. We quote from the translation of it by Etheridge, vol. i., pp. 474, 476. Giving the sense of Ex. 12:8, the Targumist says, "You shall eat the flesh on that night, the fifteenth of Nisan." And on verse 18 it says, "In Nisan, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall kill the Passover, and at evening on the fifteenth you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month." The Targumist, of course, gives his readers his interpretation of Exodus, but doubtless it was looked on as correctly conveying the meaning of the verses, though it is a less literal version than that by his brother Targumist Onkelos.

We have dwelt on this point at some length, to clear up what to some minds has been regarded as a difficulty. If we have seemed to linger on it too long, our excuse must be, that no trouble is too great, if a Scripture difficulty can be thereby removed.

The Pharisees, then, though they had not eaten of the Passover at the commencement of the fifteenth of Nisan, hoped to do so before it ended. They would conform to the ordinance so far as to the day; but, having put off their Paschal feast so long, they could not obey the command to let none of it remain until the morning (Ex. 12:10). Seeing, however, that they would without compunction clamour for an innocent man's death (for Pilate averred that the Lord had done nothing deserving it), it might not trouble their consciences, so long as they ate of the Paschal feast some time on the fifteenth, that they had broken the Divine command to let none of it remain until the morning. Viewing the matter in the light we have presented it, we see no difficulty in the statement, that "they themselves entered not into the judgment hall [or, palace], that they might not be defiled; but might eat the Passover" (John 18:28). At this point we may pause, reserving the history of the Lord before Pilate for another paper.

In the Hands of the Romans

John 18: 28 — 19: 42.

The Lord had foretold the disciples what things should happen to Him at Jerusalem. That city, which killed the prophets, would kill One greater than any of them. "For the Son of Man shall be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock. Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall kill Him: and after three days He shall rise again" (Mark 10:33-34). Such was the forecast of events sketched out on the last journey to Jerusalem, when east of Jordan, before He reached Jericho. All was foreknown by Him. All that He said came, as we know, to pass. Of the fulfilment of part of this prediction we have already read. He had been betrayed to the chief priests and scribes. They had condemned Him to death. And now they handed Him to the civil power to deal with, as one who opposed the rights of Caesar. The case, no longer in the hands of the Sanhedrin, was thus placed in those of Pilate.

The Indictment. — Of an indictment under four counts we now read. First. The Lord was a malefactor (John 18:30). Second. He made Himself a King (33-37). Third. He declared that He was the Son of God (19:7). Fourth. He spoke against Caesar (12). Heavy charges indeed! Were they true? Could the Jews substantiate them? Could the Roman law take cognisance of them? These were important questions for Pilate to determine. On him the whole responsibility now rested. He sat in the judgment seat alone, with no assessor to aid him in judgment, and with no jury to judge of matters of fact. But strange was it, that in all this the Jews should be the only accusers. If the Lord was really opposing Caesar's claims and rights, how was it that the Roman power had not taken the initiative in the matter? Were all the Roman officials in the province so indifferent to their master's interests? Now Pilate knew well that for envy the Jews had delivered the Lord to him. He knew that He was no malefactor. So he tried, if possible, to escape condemning Him. And, as the examination of the Lord went on, he saw clearly, that He was innocent of any crime for which He could be dealt with by the Roman tribunal. But the Lord's prediction as to His death had to be fulfilled (18:32).

Examination. — Brought before Pilate in the Praetorium, or palace, the Jews kept without, so as not to be defiled before they had eaten their Paschal supper. So Pilate, considering their religious scruples, went out to them, and asked what accusation had they against Him, whom they had brought to the governor as a prisoner. "If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him to thee," was their cry (18:30). Something more definite than that, however, would certainly be required, ere judgment could go forth against the Lord. Why not deal with the malefactor by their law? That was in effect the governor's answer. Would not that satisfy them? No. They desired His death, which they were incompetent to award. Pilate must carry out their desire, and deal with Him, who averred that He was a King. Pilate, re-entering the Praetorium, now began to question the Lord inside, whilst the Jews remained without. Here John's Gospel furnishes information not given by any of the rest, as he introduces his readers to the hall of audience within the palace, and acquaints them with the governor's questions, and with the Lord's replies, in a fulness, a minuteness, not elsewhere reported.

"Art Thou the King of the Jews?" was Pilate's first question. What made him ask that "Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?" was the Lord's reply. Pilate told Him. It was His own nation and the chief priests who had delivered Him up. Those whose King He was had thus publicly refused Him. His own nation and their religious leaders sought His execution. Pilate, therefore, was justified in putting his next question: "What hast Thou done?" Again the Lord spoke: "My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence" (36). A King whose kingdom was not of this world could be no rival to Caesar. A King whose servants fought not on His behalf was clearly not one who had by His claim brought Himself within the meshes of Roman law as a traitor. He was a King; but His kingdom was not from hence. He was not a malefactor. He had done nothing wrong. That of which the Jews accused Him He admitted, but explained. He owned He was a King. He thus witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate (1 Tim. 6:13). But as His kingdom was not of earth, it conflicted not with the Emperor's throne. The things, the rights of Caesar were left untouched. The Lord's answer a few days before to the Pharisees and the Herodians about paying tribute to Caesar (Matt. 22:21) should have brought blushes to their cheeks, as they formulated such a charge against Him.

A second time Pilate asked the question, "Art Thou a King then?" Was he surprised at the Lord's answer, viewing Him, it may be, as a mere visionary, and that a harmless one? A kingdom He had, but not of this world. A King He was, whose servants were not called to fight with weapons of earthly warfare in their Sovereign's interest. Who before had seen a King like that? But more surprises were in store for the governor as the Lord replied, "Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears My voice" (John 18:37). Who ever heard a prisoner thus speak before his judge? He who spoke was a man, for He was born. But He came into the world for a purpose. He does not now say that He was sent. Is there not here an intimation of His existence before His conception in the womb of the Virgin? What mere man could say, "For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth"?

This was language to which Pilate was a stranger — language such as never before proceeded from the mouth of one in the condition of a prisoner. Many an one may say, as life goes on, that he has a mission to fulfil. But which of them could really say he came for that purpose?

And now more. Standing before Pilate without a following, or even the countenance of a friend, He told the governor, that He had a following, He had servants, He had indeed, as we know, friends. For He added, "Every one that is of the truth hears My voice." Did Pilate regard Him as a visionary, when He confessed that He was a King, and spake of His servants, of whom the judge had no cognisance? A visionary none will call Him, when He comes out of heaven on the white horse, and His servants, the heavenly saints, come out after Him in His train (Rev. 19:11-16). He had servants on earth then. He has servants here still, even every one that is of the truth. Pilate and all belonging to him have long since passed away. All connection between them and earth has for centuries ceased. But He, who then stood a prisoner before the governor, has a large, an increasing following still. And blessed indeed will it be to be found in the ranks of His servants in that day. Would any one ask how can he know that he now is of the truth? The Sacred Word supplies a direct answer, leaving none in doubt: "Little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we shall know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him" (1 John 3:18-19). Whoever shows himself to be a partaker of the Divine nature, evidenced by loving in deed and in truth, is of the truth, hears Christ's voice, and will be found in His train among the armies of heaven, when He comes forth to deal with the apostate power on earth. But to Pilate what was truth? To him that seemed a matter of little moment (John 18:38). He stayed to hear no more.

An Admission, and an Offer. — For very likely desirous to terminate the matter, the governor left the Praetorium and his prisoner and went to the Jews outside. He had heard the Lord, he had examined Him, but found no fault in Him (38). Placed by the Jews in a very difficult position, what was he now to do? The multitude, led by the chief priests, were clamorous for the Lord's execution according to the Roman custom by crucifixion. But how condemn to that agonising death one innocent of anything worthy of it? Now at the Passover it was the custom for the governor to release a prisoner, whom the Jews would. Why not, to get out of the present difficulty, propose to the Jews to accept the Lord as the one to be released? So addressing the multitude outside the palace he said, "Ye have a custom, that I should release to you one at the Passover: will ye therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews?" (39). If he really hoped to find in that custom a door of exit from the difficulty, he soon found out his mistake. "They cried out again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas." Now Barabbas was a robber, of whose guilt and therefore desert there was not the smallest question. He had been in an insurrection, and had committed murder in it. Laws, human and Divine, called for his death. The multitude, however, clamoured for the release of the murderer, and the death of Him in whom was no sin.

Scourging and Mocking. — It rested with Pilate to speak the irrevocable word. Still he hesitated. Conscience, that monitor placed by God in every responsible creature, was perhaps speaking, and we learn from Matthew (27:19) of his wife's entreaty to let the matter alone, and not to condemn an innocent man. But weak in character, and fearing to offend the Jews, he could not bring himself to refuse outright. He would, however, now try another expedient, if possible, to escape from his position. He would scourge the Lord, an unlawful act against one innocent and uncondemned. All four Evangelists tell us of this, but John and Luke, it would seem, introduce the mention of it in proper historical order. By Gentile hands was this punishment now inflicted; and not a word have we, not a remonstrance from the Lord. Nor was any voice raised, that we read of, to deprecate such an unlawful exercise of authority. The Lord submitted to it. He had foretold it. He endured it. But would that scourging contribute to His release?

He was in the hands of the Gentiles, and further indignities were heaped upon Him. The soldiers mocked Him, and, having platted a crown of thorns, put it on His head. Then, arraying Him in a purple* garment, they saluted Him in mockery as King. "Hail, King of the Jews!" were their words. And to show their contempt of Him, they struck Him with their hands; and, as we elsewhere read, spat upon Him. Already had Herod with his men of war mocked Him, and sent Him back to Pilate arrayed in gorgeous apparel. Now Pilate's object in scourging Him became apparent. "Behold, I bring Him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault [or, crime] in Him," the governor now said; and forthwith he led out the Lord Jesus with the crown of thorns, the purple robe, and the reed doubtless in His hand — those mock emblems of sovereignty. Evidently he hoped to act on the people's compassion, and thereby to dissuade them from extremities. "Behold the man!" he exclaimed. But all this was in vain. A cry now arose at the sight of the Lord, not of pity, but of determined resentment. "Crucify Him, crucify Him," resounded from all sides. Again Pilate demurred to this, and for the third time to the multitude, and now in the Lord's presence, proclaimed the innocence of his prisoner (19:4, 6).

{*"They arrayed Him in a red sagum, the ordinary military cloak, for the purpose, however, of ridiculing His pretensions to the dignity of king. … According to the other Evangelists, the cloak made use of on this occasion was of a purple colour but Matthew would intend scarlet to be taken as at least conveying the idea of purple. — Meyer on Matt. 27:28.}

Son of God. — The chief priests and others, bent on His death, now took up another count in the indictment. "We have a law, and by the [not, our] law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God" (19:7). Poor Pilate! What was he to do? His prisoner, he was told, declared Himself to be the Son of God. The more afraid, therefore, became the governor. He had scourged the Lord unlawfully. He heard the multitude clamouring for the crucifixion, and that of Him who called Himself the Son of God. Now, though Pilate by Roman law could not take cognisance of such a charge against his prisoner, yet the accusation might well make him pause. Was the Lord's claim true? Was He indeed the Son of God? A heathen could understand, that it would be no light matter to put to death one who was Divine. To risk the vengeance of the Son of God, who in their senses would do that? But was this accusation true? How should he settle that? Reentering the palace with the Lord, whilst the Jews remained outside, further examination should take place. "Whence art Thou?" said the governor, addressing the Lord. He Himself, who knew whence He was (8:14), was now silent. Previous questions He had answered. He witnessed a good confession. But since Pilate had thrice declared Him innocent, what further need of examining Him? The Lord was silent. His questioner, nettled perhaps at that, again addressed Him: "Speakest Thou not to me? knowest Thou not that I have power to release* Thee, and have power to crucify Thee?" (19:10).

{*This is considered the better order — the releasing spoken of before the crucifying.}

Now the count in the indictment just mentioned by the Jews was one Pilate could not ignore, if substantiated by proof. For the Romans allowed the Jews the exercise of their laws, though the power of carrying out capital punishment was denied them. That allegation, then, on the part of the people raised a grave question. Still it lay with Pilate to see if there was anything in it. This he endeavoured to find out. But the silence on the Lord's part acted as a check. Would He treat the governor in that way? Was He not aware of the large powers with which as Procurator Pilate was entrusted? A word from him could set the Lord free. A word from him could consign Him to death by crucifixion. A last rejoinder from the Lord now came. Pilate's authority was not disputed. But whence came it? "Thou couldest have no power against Me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered Me to thee has greater sin" (11). "There is no power but of God; and those that be are ordained of God"; so wrote the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (13:1). "By Me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By Me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth"; so speaks Wisdom in the Old Testament (Prov. 8:15-16). Pilate had authority, but it was delegated authority. It was from above — i.e. from God. To judge righteous judgment therefore became him. This the high priest, as the official voice of the Sanhedrin, had not done in delivering the Lord to the secular power — the Roman Procurator. In righteousness he should have acted differently. He had condemned the Lord for blasphemy; but Dan. 7:13, 22, showed, that One who is man could also be God. To that Scripture the Lord had twice referred him (Matt. 26:64; Luke 22:69). He had therefore greater sin. Would Pilate follow his example, and condemn the Lord? If the high priest had greater sin, Pilate in such a case would not be guiltless.

These last words of Christ, the last that Pilate heard from His lips, till they shall meet again, when the Procurator will be before Him whom he was about to condemn to death, and then hear the Lord's judgment about him — these last words evidently impressed the governor. What prisoner had ever spoken in that way to him? No such words, we may be sure, fell from the lips of the two thieves, when their sentence was to be pronounced. But the words of Christ, "the greater sin," apparently struck home to that man of the world. Conscience may for a time be stifled, but conscience has a voice. Was Pilate's conscience aroused, warning him against injustice? It looked like it; for he sought, we read, to release his prisoner (John 19:12). But, unhappy man! the Jews, bent on the Lord's condemnation and execution, cried out, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend; whosoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar" (12). Conscious that his government had not been always upright, Pilate feared exposure to the emperor at the hands of the Jews. "The fear of man brings a snare" (Prov. 29:25). So he prepared to yield to their wishes. And now outside the Praetorium, at a place called in Aramaic Gabbatha,* where the judgment seat was set, Pilate appeared again in public, and made one more, though feeble, attempt to escape condemning the Lord. "Behold your King!" he exclaimed. But the fresh sight of the Lord only evoked a fresh demand for His death. "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him," were cries which rent the air. Interposing anew with the question, "Shall I crucify your King?" the answer came from the chief priests, "We have no king but Caesar." The Lord rejected as their Messiah, the die was cast. Pilate pronounced sentence, and gave his prisoner to the Jews to crucify. So Antichrist some day must come (v. 43) to bring awful trouble on the nation, ere their King, their rejected Messiah, shall appear to deliver and to bless them (Zech. 12).**

{*The Aramaic word means probably height or roundness, designating very likely the place on which the judgment seat was planted; whilst the "pavement" was some Mosaic flooring around the seat.

**Two notes of time have we in 19:14 — viz. the hour and the day. As to the hour, it was "about the sixth," John says. A difficulty this makes, as compared with Mark 15:25, who distinctly states that it was the third hour when they crucified Him. Mark is precise as to the hour. John is not definite — about the sixth hour. As yet this difference has not been satisfactorily explained. It awaits solution. For that we must wait. Then as to the day. "It was the Preparation of the Passover." That meant the preparation before the Sabbath in the Passover week. Mark states this clearly (15:42). Matthew tells us that the Sabbath was the day after the preparation (27:62). Luke (23:54) agrees with his brother Evangelists. Nor does John really differ. The Paschal lamb was killed on the fourteenth of Nisan between the evenings. The Paschal feast, at which it was eaten, began on that night, the fifteenth of the month. On that same day the Lord was crucified. His body lay in the tomb all the sixteenth. He rose early on the morning of the seventeenth of Nisan, the first day of the week.}

We have now seen the Lord in new and peculiar circumstances. He, who had shown His power over demons, and had made them confess it, was a prisoner in the hands of the Roman Procurator, and was condemned to die on the cross. What calm dignity characterised Him throughout His examination by Pilate! Though the only begotten Son of God, He owned the authority of Pilate as the judge. He answered him, confessing that He was a King; and admitted Pilate's power to crucify Him. Refusing to reply to the accusations of the Jews, how differently do we see that He acted towards Pilate! The governor bore the sword. Yet there was nothing but calmness, dignified calmness, in the Lord's answers. Words, however, weighty words, sufficient to make Pilate pause, fell from His lips. And, if not during the still hours of the next night, surely in his banishment, that wretched man, ere he ended his life, must have recalled this scene, and his part in it; and the Lord's words "greater sin" must have made him tremble; since, with his eyes open, and his sober judgment impressed with the Lord's innocence, he, yielding to Jewish clamour, consigned Him to an ignominious and awfully cruel death. True was it, that in the purpose of God the Lord should die. True, too, was it, that He came to die. Pilate's responsibility, however, remained, and he incurred the guilt of sending One, whom he knew was innocent, to die on the cross. What the Lord said, when speaking of Judas, may be repeated: "The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him." If Judas' guilt was in no way lessened by the Divine predetermined purpose, was Pilate's guilt lessened either? The Lord's words with reference to the high priest betokened, that, if acting unrighteously, neither would he, the governor, be held guiltless.

The Crucifixion. — The end now approached. A few hours, and the Lord's life on earth would terminate; the world to see Him no more, till to its astonished gaze the spectacle will appear of opened heavens, and the exit of a train, such as never yet has been seen, headed by the crucified One, arrayed in the emblems, not of mock, but of real sovereignty. The world might see Him going to Golgotha and bearing His cross. It will see Him with many diadems on His brow, returning to deal with His enemies, and to have them put completely under His feet. But the day of which John now writes was the day of the Lord's deepest humiliation, and most awful sufferings. To the cross He was going. "They took Jesus therefore,"* we read, "And He went out, bearing the cross for Himself, to a place called The place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha" (17) — very likely so named from "the look or form of the spot itself, bald, round, and skull-like."** Several details noticed by others are here omitted, — as the Lord's words to the women on the way; His prayer to His Father for His murderers; and the wine mingled with myrrh, offered him by the soldiers before crucifixion, which was customarily provided, it is said, to deaden the sensibility of the crucified ones to the pain of that death. Nor have we any notice of the mockings, of the chief priests, the jeers of the mob, nor the revilings of the two thieves, followed by the conversion of one of them.

{*"And led Him away," should be omitted.

** Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, second edition.}

Much is omitted by John. Yet in his turn he supplies us with incidents unnoticed by the rest. He tells us of the chief priests objecting to the title Pilate put on the cross. It was a trilingual inscription, and John has recorded it. As written in Hebrew, or Aramaic, for he mentions the one in that language first, he tells his readers what it was: "Jesus the Nazoraean, the King of the Jews." In every one of the inscriptions was it made plain, that the King of the Jews was there crucified; though there were verbal differences, as well might be, where different languages were employed, and diverse nationalities addressed. For the Jews it would increase their scorn, as they read, "Jesus the Nazoraean," etc. And perhaps, like Nathanael, many would be ready to ask, "Can there any good thing come out of that northern city?" Then the Romans, as they read in their own tongue, "King of the Jews," which Mark gives, might look with contempt on Him who there hung a spectacle to all. And for the Greeks, the calling their attention to the crucified One, "This is the King of the Jews," as stated by Luke, would be sufficient to excite derision. What a King, who could not save Himself! Very likely in contempt of the Jewish nation Pilate wrote the title; and written as stated in three languages, there would not be a person who looked on, but could find in a tongue he could understand, the announcement of the Messianic claim of the Lord Jesus Christ. Public was the execution. Far and wide would the tidings run, that the King of the Jews was on the cross. Jews, Romans, Greeks, each in their own tongue, or in one with which he was familiar, could read the authoritative statement of the crucifixion of the King of the Jews. Pilate wrote the title; Pilate had it affixed to the cross.

But to the chief priests such a title was an offence. It stated that which they refused to admit, so they wanted Pilate to alter it, and to write, "that he said, I am the King of the Jews." Pilate refused to comply with their request. He could be firm when he wished it. Firmness he now manifested. "What I have written I have written" (22), was the Procurator's curt reply. That settled the matter. Well had it been for him, if he had manifested similar firmness, when pressed to consign to the cross One whom he well knew was innocent. The title then remained unaltered, which publicly declared that the Jews had crucified their King. Many read it; for Golgotha was nigh to the city, and probably near some thoroughfare. That name Golgotha will never be forgotten. Whatever may have been the association connected with it previously, that name can now never drop into oblivion. It lies embalmed in the Sacred Word. Golgotha was its name before the Lord's crucifixion; Golgotha is the name it has borne ever since. Yet its site is still a matter of discussion. Through the vicissitudes of the city and nation certainty as to its recognition, for the present at least, has perished. And surely we may trace Divine wisdom in that. God would guard His people, if possible, from idolatry. What more sacred spot could there be, than that where the Redeemer breathed His last? And if people now would, in lands far distant from Palestine, falling down, venerate a cross, many a devotee, if the actual spot could be definitely identified, would be ready to prostrate himself on it. Matthew, Mark, and John knew it well, and could have conducted pilgrims to the place; yet none of them have left sufficient indications to enable modern travellers to cry Eureka — i.e. I have found it.*

{*We are aware, of course, of the existence of the "Skull Hill" and Jeremiah's Grotto outside the Damascus Gate, and are familiar with the drawing of the hill in Sir W. Dawson's Egypt and Syria, published by the R.T.S. It may be the site, but at present it lacks confirmation.}

Two Companies. — Whilst some might be reading the title, and making their comments on it, and others engaged in reviling the Lord, "wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the Temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself: if Thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matt. 27:39-40), the soldiers were busy with His garments, the usual perquisite of executioners, unconscious that they were fulfilling the prophetic word written ten centuries previously. The cross and all connected with it had been then under the eye of God; and David by the Spirit wrote of events about it, as an historian writing past history might have done. Which of the soldiers knew of the deep interest the Crucifixion had for God? Four soldiers, it seems, were on duty at the cross, and into five lots the garments were divided. But to whom would fall the fifth lot? That was a coat woven without seam throughout. To divide it would spoil it. Hence they cast lots for it, and thus fulfilled the words of Ps. 22:18. Who gained the garment we know not. John, if he knew, has not handed down the name. But he, and he alone, really* has noticed the prophetic word as thus accomplished (John 19:24). The disposal of the garments interests us all. "They parted My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture" so wrote the royal Psalmist, David the son of Jesse. Why there should be such a difference in the disposal of them the Psalm tells us not. Why there was such a procedure our Evangelist explains. All foreknown to God, the fulfilment came about in what might be called a natural way. The nature of the garment induced the soldiers to cast lots for it.

{*We have said really for though in the received text of Matthew the same quotation from the Psalm appears, the better reading of Matt. 27:35 omits the quotation altogether.}

Providing for His Mother. — The soldiers were at the cross in the path of duty. To another group are we now introduced, drawn there by affection, mourners indeed. Just five composed it, and all standing by the cross — viz. the Lord's mother, her sister Salome, Mary the wife of Cleophas or rather Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and John, Salome's son, and so the nephew of the Virgin. The Lord's mother was, it would seem, a widow, and probably had been that for some time. Fresh sorrow now befell her. Her Son was crucified. Old Simeon's words were coming true, "Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul" (Luke 2:35). Had she wondered what they could mean, when that aged saint uttered them? All was plain now. He was foretelling her sorrow at the crucifixion of her Son. She spoke not a word to her Son at the cross that we read of. But her Son spoke to her, a lasting comfort for that mother's heart, till she should be with Him in the other world. We quote the Evangelist's account. "When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He says to His mother, Woman, behold, thy son! Then says He to the disciple, Behold, thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home" (John 19:25-27). This Gospel, which tells us of the rebuke administered to her at Cana, tells us of the Lord's thought for her when dying on the cross. Natural ties had no claim on Him to guide Him in His service. Natural ties were not meant to be disowned, or considered as beneath recognition. He, about to leave the world, provided a home for her for the rest of her life.

The End. — The Lord had interceded for His murderers (Luke 23:34). He had assured the penitent thief of being with Him that day in Paradise, granting more than the man had asked (43). He had commended His mother to the care of John the son of Zebedee (John 19:26-27). The awful cry, recorded by Matthew (27:46) and by Mark (15:34), had been heard proceeding from His lips. The three hours of darkness were, we presume, now passed. All, too, that He had to suffer at the hands of His creatures, short of actual death, He had patiently endured. So writes John: "Jesus, knowing that all things are now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, says, I thirst" (19:28). It is questioned, whether the clause "that the Scripture might be fulfilled" is to be connected with "all things are now finished," or with "I thirst." Many names may be cited for the one and for the other. We would rather connect it with "I thirst." All that the Lord had to suffer of indignity from man and the forsaking of God was over. But a scripture had spoken of giving Him to drink vinegar, or sour wine (Ps. 69:21). Was that to be left unfulfilled? No. So thirsty, the common effect of crucifixion, the Lord said, "I thirst." Really a man, the natural feelings of a man He experienced. And provision had been made to meet such a want. A vessel with the sour wine,* the drink of common soldiers, was there. A sponge was at hand, and a stalk of hyssop was in readiness. To His utterance attention was given, and one of the soldiers proceeded to administer to the want. Just when crucified He had been offered wine mingled with myrrh to deaden the pain. He refused that. Then Luke informs us (23:36), that the soldiers in mockery offered Him of their sour wine to drink. But now it was not in mockery, but to relieve His thirst, that one ran, we elsewhere read, dipped the sponge in the wine, and gave Him to drink. He received it, and said, "It is finished."** No Scripture now remained unfulfilled of all that had been written of Him ere He should die; hence His word, but one word in the Greek, "It is finished." And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

{*It was "small sour wine (from the skin of grapes already pressed), which served as a drink for labourers and soldiers." — Meyer.

**Many know how these words, "It is finished," have been applied by preachers. The context makes the meaning plain. Atonement clearly was not completed, for He had not died. His blood, therefore, had not been shed; nor had propitiation been made (Heb. 9:12); nor was the receiving of the vinegar a completing of atonement. The mistaken application must therefore be rejected; and the simple and true thought be apprehended, that all that had to take place before His death, as foretold in the Word, had been accomplished. He declared that, and then died.}

John, an eyewitness of what passed, and near enough to hear whatever the Lord said, thus tells his readers of these last moments of the Saviour's life. And, in character with the special feature of this Gospel, presents Him as a Divine Person. We meet not with any reference to the agony in the garden, nor does John record those solemn words addressed to God on the cross; whilst we learn how His presence overawed those sent to apprehend Him, and how His words made an impression on Pilate, to which we may safely say Pilate had previously been a stranger. Then in perfect calmness on the cross He provided a home for His mother, taking care, too, that Scripture should be fulfilled, not one prediction failing of its accomplishment. And as the One from whom no one could take His life (John 10:18), He laid it down of Himself, as He gave up His spirit. "The Word became flesh," wrote John (1:14), speaking of Him as a Divine Person. "He gave up His spirit," we here read, reminding all, that, as Divine, He had power over His life. Does not that make the surrender of it more precious?

A Request. — The Son of God was no longer on earth in humiliation. Nor was a Divine Person now dwelling in the midst of Israel. Cast out by those whose King He was, all trace of Him the Jews desired to be put out of sight. In their anxiety for this they now approached Pilate, requesting that the bodies of the three, who had suffered capital punishment, should be taken away. By the law of Moses one hung was buried by sunset (Deut. 21:22-23). Now the next day, which began with the Jews at sunset, was a high day, being the Sabbath of the Passover week, a very important Sabbath in the Jewish ecclesiastical year (Lev. 23:9-16). From it was reckoned the offering of the wave sheaf; and from the morrow of that Sabbath were reckoned the weeks which determined the feast of First-fruits. Whether Pilate would have listened to their request, if based on the law of Deuteronomy, may have been doubtful. For the Roman custom was to let those crucified hang till the body putrefied on the cross. The governor, however, assented to their request. To get the bodies out of sight was all that the Jews cared for. What became of them was a matter of no concern, they thought. Little did they think that seven centuries before His crucifixion the fact of His burial had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah (53:9): "They made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death." God would take care of the body of His Son. Little, too, did they suppose, that the sepulchre was ready, and was nigh at hand, only waiting for its Occupant, a new tomb hewn out in the rock.

The Burial. — But ere burying, the certainty that He was dead must be ascertained. The Jews desired, therefore, that the legs of the three should be broken to accelerate their decease, so as to permit of burial before sunset. So the soldiers were commissioned to break their legs. Carrying this out as regarded the two thieves, they perceived, when they approached the Lord, that He was dead already. For, crucified between the thieves, the soldiers would naturally give the finishing stroke to those two, ere they approached the Lord, hanging between them. Dead already, His legs were not broken, but a soldier pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. One scripture was thus fulfilled, and provision was being made for that of another in a yet coming day.

Two Scriptures. — All that concerned the Lord after His death was to be carried out, as foreshadowed in the Old Testament. He was the true Paschal Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7). The ordinance, then, about it had reference to Him. So "neither shall ye break a bone thereof" (Ex. 12:46) was specially enjoined on the children of Israel when preparing their Paschal lamb. Why that injunction was given to the people in Egypt was not at the time apparent. Many and many a Passover had subsequently been kept, and that ordinance attended to. Yet the reason for it remained a mystery. Now it was discovered. And John marks it, in that the soldiers brake not the Lord's legs. God, it was now manifested, had been looking forward in that command to the death of His Son, who would give up His life, no man taking it from Him. Perfectly natural was it to refrain from breaking His legs, seeing that the real reason for that finishing stroke to the crucified ones was not needed in His case. Yet in wantonness the soldiers might have done it. But God, we must say, withheld them from it. For those Roman soldiers, in what they did not do, knew not that they were carrying out the Divine mind.

But one of them pierced His side, though they knew that He was dead. Was it a thoughtless act on the part of the individual who did it? Was it out of contempt for the King of the Jews? Who can now say what moved the man to use the spear? But we know that in that act provision was being made for the fulfilment in a coming day of the prophetic words of Zechariah (12:10). And John calls attention to this. The mark, too, of that spear-thrust remained after His resurrection (John 20:20, 27). Will it not be a mark for the remnant by which to recognise Him when He returns? Thus Scripture in the past was fulfilled, as Scripture regarding the future will receive its accomplishment.

Blood and Water. — From the Lord's pierced side there came forth blood and water (19:34). To this John draws particular attention, as something unusual, if not unique. Of what did that speak? Of the Lord's death from a broken heart, as some have thought? How could that be, with His last words addressed to His Father before us (Luke 23:46)? Was it from natural causes, as others have sought to explain it? We believe not. John attests what he saw in a very solemn and special manner. "He knows," he writes, "that he says true, that ye also might believe" (John 19:35). No New Testament writer refers to it, save our Apostle, who in his First Epistle (5:6), speaking of Jesus as the Son of God, states, "This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood." And in chapter 4:9-10, of the same Epistle we have the deep meaning of it taught us. Life and propitiation come to us through Christ who died. Water illustrates the cleansing action of the new life. Blood makes propitiation. These flowed forth from Christ when dead, for He is a Divine Person; and we profit by that of which they speak by virtue of the death of the Son of God. In the Gospel the blood is first mentioned, since that meets our need before God. In the Epistle water comes first; for it is only as we have spiritual life, that we come consciously to share in the propitiation for our sins.

Joseph and Nicodemus. — The soldiers were unconscious instruments for the fulfilment of God's word. Now "Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took His body" (John 19:38). Any difficulty as to the burial, if there had been one, was quickly thereby removed. The Jews wanted the body taken down from the cross. Joseph desired to bury it. And we learn a little of the strength of the current still flowing against the Lord, since Joseph went secretly for fear of the Jews, though he went in boldly to Pilate (Mark 15:43). An honourable man and a councillor, how should he care for the body of the crucified One? He was a disciple of Jesus, writes our Evangelist. The ten Apostles were scattered. John, who had remained at the cross till after the Lord's death, had probably, in company with his mother Salome, led away her sister, the sorrowing mother of Christ. But nothing was lacking that could be done in the short time which remained, ere the Sabbath began. For, if Joseph got leave to bury, and bought fine linen cloths, in which to enwrap the body, Nicodemus joined him at the cross with a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight (John 19:39). These two did all the work of taking the body down from the cross, wrapping it in the cloths with the spices, and placing it reverently in that tomb, ready for its reception — a new tomb, wherein was man never yet laid. We have said these two, for it was not the duty of the guard to bury the dead. Very likely they had left the spot, ascertaining that all the crucified were dead. All the crowd, too, had surely departed. And now would be seen, besides those two pious men, but two women, as far as we know — Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses (Mark 15:47). No one molested Joseph and Nicodemus in their service. They carried it out to its completion, rolled the stone to the door, and departed (Matt. 27:60).

They had done what they could. That service done to Christ has never been forgotten. The names of these two are embalmed in the volume of inspiration, and the amount in weight of the spices that Nicodemus brought is likewise recorded. Service done to Christ, or in His name, is never by God forgotten. Joseph, we read, was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews, which is commonly identified with Ramathaim Zophim, rendered in the Greek Septuagint (1 Sam. 1:19) by Armathaim. Nicodemus is only met with in our Gospel, and when the Lord is at Jerusalem (John 3:1, 7:50, 19:39). He was probably, like Joseph, a native of Judaea. That province, the inhabitants of which were such bitter opponents of Christ, furnished, we may surely believe, the two men, appointed by God for the service of burying the dead body of His Son. No glory could they look for from men at that time by rendering such a service. True, however, in heart to the Lord, they performed the last rites, as far as time would permit. A rich man and a councillor, and a Pharisee and teacher (who would have thought it?), came forward at the right moment. And if but two women were spectators on earth, the heavenly host, we may be sure, looked down, and looked on with the deepest interest. Did Nicodemus, when engaged in that service, recall the Lord's words to him foretelling the Crucifixion (3:14)? What a light, if such was the case, must have been cast on them that day, affording sufficient food for devout meditation on the Sabbath which was close at hand. Certainly afterwards, when the Holy Ghost had come, that conversation, held when alone with the Lord in Jerusalem, must have been recalled by the former teacher in Israel, who had become openly a disciple of Christ. How his faith must have been strengthened, as he meditated upon it. Of these two, prepared by God for their work, and led to the place to do it, we never read again. Women had ministered to the Lord when in life. The Apostles had companied with Him till His arrest. The Apostles and others were especially called to witness to His resurrection. Joseph and Nicodemus performed their special work at the cross and at the tomb. Having buried the Lord, they disappear from the pages of Scripture.

The Chief Priests. — We must call attention to the chief priests as they are noticed in this Gospel. Appearing first in the narrative in chapter 7:32, they are seen to be the foremost in seeking to apprehend Christ. We say the foremost, because the better-attested reading in that verse transposes "the Pharisees" and "the chief priests." Disappointed on that occasion in their purpose, we next read of them in company with the Pharisees assembling a council to consider what they should do, having heard of the resurrection of Lazarus (11:47). Again, in their eager desire to arrest the Lord, with their allies the Pharisees they issued a command in Jerusalem, that if any one knew where Christ was he should disclose it, that they might take Him (11:57). Next, in their intense opposition to Him, they were consulting to put Lazarus to death (12:10). Later on, in conjunction with the Pharisees again, they sent the officers, under the guidance of Judas, to apprehend the Lord in Gethsemane (18:3). Having this time accomplished their purpose, they handed Him over on the following morning to Pilate, to condemn to the death of crucifixion (35). The governor, hesitating to carry out their wish, they clamour for the Lord's death (19:6), at last saying that they had no king but Caesar (15). One more appearance do they specially make. Their purpose carried out, the Lord now being on the cross, they approach the governor with a request to alter the inscription which he had put over His head (21). After this John ceases to name them. Persistent enmity and untiring opposition to Christ characterised them. They effected their fell purpose at last. Did they really triumph? Which of them would not now gladly recall, if possible, what they did? Of Pilate we need say nothing. His end, if tradition speaks true, was anything but happy. Either, like Judas, he committed suicide, or died in banishment at Vienne in Gaul. True in these cases were the words of Zophar (Job 20:5): "The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite [or, godless] but for a moment." The world saw the Lord no more. But He rose on the third day and He lives, and is seated now at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3). To the Lord's resurrection John will next introduce his readers.

The Resurrection and Three Manifestations

John 20; 21.

The two Marys had seen the Lord's body placed in the tomb, and the stone rolled to the door (Mark 15:46). All had left the spot on the evening of the Crucifixion. Joseph and Nicodemus had done their appointed work. The women re-entered the holy city, to make ready for their service on the first day of the week, by preparing spices before the Sabbath began (Luke 23:56). During the first night after the Crucifixion, the garden, a precious spot to the women, was deserted, and quietness reigned round the tomb. On the next day, which was the Sabbath, Pilate was visited by the chief priests and Pharisees to request him to put a guard around it, lest, as they said, the disciples, under cover of the next night, should steal the body, and then assert that He was risen. An uneasy feeling evidently possessed them. The guard was set; the tomb was watched. That did not, however, prevent the resurrection. It only attested it. How the enemy outwits himself!*

{*Resurrection from the dead was unknown till the Lord rose. The chief priests never dreamt of resurrection to die no more. Did the enemy even suppose it possible?}

Meanwhile, on the evening* after the guard had been posted, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary visited the tomb (Matt. 28:1). All was quiet. All seemed secure. That body, so precious to them, still lay where it had been placed twenty-four hours previously. Hoping, therefore, to anoint it on the following morning, these two, in common with Salome and others, bought sweet spices for their expected service (Mark 16:1). These movements of the women John passes over, and hastens to tell us of that which befell Mary Magdalene. Visiting the tomb in the early morning, her quick sight discovered that the stone, which she had seen in its place on the previous evening, was rolled away. Had the tomb been rifled? That could not have been done. Had the disciples eluded the watchfulness of the soldiers, and stolen the body? She knew that had not been the case. Had the authorities surreptitiously removed it? That, she might think, was possible. In her excitement she ran for Peter and John, exclaiming, "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him" (John 20:2). "We know not," she said, indicating, we believe, that other women had been with her, as we should gather from the Synoptic Gospels. Very likely Mary from a distance discerned the opened door, and ran at once to the two Apostles, whilst the other women went forward for a closer inspection of the tomb.

{*This we believe is what Matthew meant to be understood. The verb in the original, translated to dawn, can be applied to the evening as well as to the morning. See Luke 23:54, R.V., in margin for an instance of the former. The purpose of the two women in the evening was to see the sepulchre (Matt. 28:1). Their purpose on the next morning was to visit the tomb with the spices they had prepared, in order to anoint the body, for which of course they needed the stone to be rolled away (Mark 16:3).}

Our Evangelist, about to relate the Lord's first appearance that day, which was to Mary Magdalene and in the garden, necessarily occupies us with a relation of her movements, to explain how it was that she was alone, when the Lord made Himself known to her. At the tomb early, and other women then with her, she had left it for Peter and John, and returned with them to it. The Apostles, after entering the tomb, left it, and she was now there alone. To harmonise fully the different accounts of the movements of that morning seems quite impossible. No Evangelist has done that, so we must leave it as a task beyond our powers to accomplish. Doubtless the four historians of the Resurrection could have done it, if so minded; but each had a purpose of his own, and followed that out. Should these differences in the accounts trouble any, and weaken confidence in the authenticity of the narratives? Quite the contrary. Impostors would have sought to harmonise the accounts. The sacred writers, however, assured of the truthfulness of their statements, leave that unattempted. On one fact, however, Mark and John are agreed. The first appearance was made to Mary (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-16), and with that the son of Zebedee begins his account of that ever-memorable morning, but how it came about John is our only informant.

Appearance to Mary Magdalene. — Peter and John, receiving Mary's report, ran to the sepulchre. John outran Peter, and, stooping down, saw the linen cloths lying, but went not in. The body was not there, but the cloths lying in the tomb did not bear out the suspicion that the body had been removed. Peter, more forward than John, went boldly in on his arrival. Neither of them saw any angel, inside or outside, though they were there. The women had seen them, and Mary afterwards saw them. To the Apostles they did not appear. Entering the tomb, nothing striking met the gaze of Peter, that we read of. The body cloths were there which Joseph had brought; and the napkin, that was about the Lord's head, was seen wrapped together in a place by itself. There were no indications of any hasty removal of the body. So from what they saw — for John now entered the tomb — they believed. Believed what? Why, that He was risen — "for as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead" (John 20:9). But where was He? None could tell them. Clearly the body was not in the grave. He must be risen. To seek Him, however, was impossible. They returned, therefore, to their own home.

Peter and John gone home, all the other women having previously returned at the angels' command to the city with the tidings of the Lord's resurrection, Mary, who had not heard the angels, and who had not previously inspected the tomb like the Apostles, and so had not arrived at the same conclusion with them — Mary remained in the garden, and near the tomb. The loved form she knew was not there. Strong in her attachment to the Lord, whither should she go? His form, His body, even if lifeless, was dear to her. The tomb, though empty, attracted that weeping woman. Now for the first time, it would seem, did she look into it. What a sight met her gaze! She saw two angels inside it, and sitting in white, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Angels, and not Mary only, had an interest in that empty sepulchre. The body of the Lord, the Lord of glory, had lain within it in death. His lifeless form had been its occupant. She saw the angels. They spoke to her. "Woman, why weepest thou?" Her ready answer disclosed to them the warm affection of her heart. Why should she weep? How could she help it? "Because they have taken away my Lord, and* I know not where they have laid Him" (11-13). Her answer indicated that she had not perceived what the two Apostles now believed, and what the other women had heard, and were carrying the news of to the city. To her He was still dead, but the dead body even would be a precious possession.

{*When she went to Peter and John she said, "We know not, speaking surely for the rest of the women who had gone to the garden with her as well as for herself. Now she said, "I know not," for she was then alone. Her answer, too, implies, we think, that, after looking into the tomb, she saw nothing remarkable about the appearance of the cloths; certainly nothing to indicate that He had miraculously withdrawn Himself from them, leaving them as if they still bore the appearance or form of His body encased within. Evidently those who saw the cloths — Peter, John, and Mary — discerned nothing of that kind connected with them.}

The Lord. — The angels said no more, for the Lord was near. One feels that in the presence of Christ it would not have been for them to announce His resurrection. Mary, now turning herself back, perceived that a man, not another angel, was near. That one now addressed her: "Woman, why weepest thou, whom seekest thou?" Wholly occupied with her sorrow, she explained not for whom she wept. Her questioner must surely know. So, supposing that he was the gardener, she replied, "Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away." Staunch and true was her love for Christ. A risen Christ was beyond her thoughts. To care for the lifeless frame was all her expectation, all that was left to her. But what could He do for her now? Ah! that was not her thought. But what had He done for her when in life? She, once possessed by seven demons, had been set free by His mighty power. Hence to minister to Him whilst in life had been, and to care for His body when dead was, the desire of her heart.

A Message. — Again the Person spoke — this time but one word. It was enough. "Mary," He said. The voice she knew; the Person she recognised. It was the Lord. "Rabboni!" was her exclamation. One word from Him. One word from her. The Teacher stood before her. She would embrace Him. He had said that He would return. Had He really come back to the disciples, to be with them as before? Did she think that? The Lord would teach her differently. He had said before His cross, that He would go to the Father (John 14:12, 28; 16:10, 28). That must precede His return to earth. The kingdom would, indeed, be established in power; but first He would ascend, and sit at Jehovah's right hand (Ps. 110:1). To this He here directs her attention, saying, "Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to the Father: but go to My brethren, and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God" (20:17). Did He mean by these words to speak of an ascension before that related in Acts 1, and then immediately to come back to her and to others? There is no trace of that in His words. He spoke of ascending, but said not a word in this passage of immediate return. We know of but one ascension, even that which took place from near Bethany.

His Brethren. — He had brethren on earth. To them He sent this message. He had spoken before the cross of them as friends (15:15). He now owns them as His brethren. Would any presume on that account to think of themselves as on an equality with Him? His words uttered to Mary forbid such a thought. "My Father and your Father" — not our Father. "My God and your God" — not our God. He was the Son, and all true Christians are children, sons of the same Father. But He was Son in a way very different from any of His disciples, whether we contemplate Him as the only begotten Son of God, or as Son of God born in time. Believers have been born of the Spirit. He was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and so was as to His human person perfectly holy. "My Father and your Father" marks this distinction, though His Father is our Father. Then "My God" He could say, for He was and is a man, yet He ever reminds us of the great difference between Himself and His own by adding, "and your God." His full humanity we must ever tenaciously hold and confess, yet never dream of being on an equality with Him. We who believe are His brethren. He is not ashamed to call us that (Heb. 2:11). But who with right perceptions would call Him Elder Brother? Ps. 22:1, 7-8, 16, 18, had their fulfilment at the cross. Verse 22 began its fulfilment now.

Charged with that message, Mary, her sorrow turned into joy, went to deliver it. First saying, "I have seen the Lord" (John 20:18), as we should rightly read, she communicated what the Lord had said to her by the tomb. What reception she met with John does not tell us. We learn elsewhere (Mark 16:11) that they believed not that she had seen the Lord alive from the dead. Her testimony not credited, Peter's testimony (Luke 24:54) met with a different result.

First Manifestation. — To one and another did the Lord appear. First after Mary Magdalene He was seen by the women on their way to the city; then by the two on their way to Emmaus; and also by Peter. What interest He had in His people! He knew about them, and where to meet with them. Distance was nothing. Where they were, He could and did come. And now a fresh proof of His unchanging interest in His followers would be afforded. The two who went to Emmaus had hastily returned, and rejoined the company of the Eleven and the others with them. The doors of the room were closed for fear of the Jews. For of that enmity, of which the Lord had forewarned them (15:19, 20), they began to be aware, ere, as far as we know, any outward evidence of hostility towards them had been displayed. "If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you," He had said. And doubtless His enemies thought they had by His death effectually severed all links between Him and His followers. Had they? A look into that room, if it had been possible, would have convinced them of the futility of any such effort. He who had been crucified and buried was risen, and was again in the company of His followers. No power in the universe could prevent His presence in that room. His disciples were there. He would be among them. So suddenly, without noise, without the opening of a door, came Jesus, and stood in their midst, and says to them, "Peace be to you." This was the usual greeting in that day. It is the same in the East still. How gracious was the Lord in thus appearing to them at a time, and in circumstances, when His encouragement would be specially valued! He had appeared to Mary, and dried her tears. He had walked with the two to Emmaus, and settled their faith on the written Word. And now the Eleven, and those with them, being together apart from the Jews, having interests to which their unconverted countrymen were strangers, were favoured by the appearance of the Lord in their midst. Neither bolts, bars, nor any other material substance could hinder His presence with them. Then, knowing how they had discredited previous reports of His resurrection, He attracted their attention to His hands and His side. All uncertainty was removed from each one present. Unbelief fled, never to return. He was indeed risen. They were glad, for they saw the Lord.

A Commission. — Repeating the salutation, "Peace be to you," and the reality of His resurrection now apprehended, the Lord acquainted them with a commission with which He would entrust them: "As My Father has sent Me, even so send I you" (20:21). In His prayer to His Father He had spoken of a mission to the world which would be fruitful in results. And in view of that, as gathering power would be manifested, and the number of His adherents be increased, He here breathed on them, "saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit [or, forgive], they are remitted [or, forgiven] to them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (22, 23). Was this communication the gift of the Spirit, spoken of in John 7:39; 14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-13? No. For the Lord in Acts 1:4, at a date subsequent to that of which John here writes, told His disciples that they were still to wait for the promise of the Father. What then was this of which the Lord spoke? The context makes plain. He was communicating of His Spirit to the company to act for Him upon earth, when He should have left it; empowering them thereby to receive and to reject any who would join them professedly as believers. As such were received to their company, they were forgiven their sins. Their past history, their acts, their ways, before conversion were not to be remembered against them. They were forgiven. So Paul, the former persecutor of the Church, was received by believers at Damascus. His sins were forgiven. And those at Jerusalem, when assured of his conversion, never, we may be certain, cast up to him his former ways, grievously though he may once have injured some of them. It was administrative forgiveness. Who can forgive sins but God only (Mark 2:7) is indeed true in an absolute sense. No fellow-sinner can blot out the sins of another before God. That is a matter solely for God. He has never delegated jurisdiction in that to any individual. It is a domain in which no creature has power or authority. The blood of Christ, too, alone cleanses from all sin.

Administrative Forgiveness. — But what is called administrative forgiveness is a power entrusted by the Lord to the Assembly to exercise on earth. This may be called for either on the occasion of receiving individuals into fellowship at the Lord's Table, or on that of restoring one who has been put away in the exercise of discipline. Of this last Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning the offending brother: "To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for what I also have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ" (2 Cor 2:10). The Assembly at Corinth would forgive the brother, and would show it by restoring him to Christian fellowship. On that occasion it was a question of restoration to communion with the saints on earth. In our Gospel it is the question of receiving into fellowship. But in neither case would administrative forgiveness be rightly called for, till forgiveness on the part of God had been first accorded to the individual. In neither case would it be a substitute for this last. The passage in this Gospel (20:23), we would add, is the only authority from the Lord to receive people to the Table, as that in Matt. 18:17-18, is the scriptural authority from the Lord Himself to bind and to loose in connection with the exercise of discipline. The reader will perceive the difference between these passages, as he marks, that in John's the forgiving is mentioned before the retaining, in Matt. 18 the binding precedes the loosing. Of retaining sins we have an instance in the case of Simon Magus, whom Peter, detecting his spirit, refused to accredit as a Christian. He was still in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity (Acts 8:21-23). The disciples had now seen the Lord. And from this time the first day of the week became the recognised meeting day for Christians. Jews met on the Sabbath. Christians felt constrained to meet on the first day of the week.

Second Manifestation. — Thomas, whose name in Hebrew means a twin, the Greek equivalent of which is Didymus, was not with the rest on the first occasion. Why he was absent is not stated. Told by the rest that they too had seen the Lord, he refused to accredit the fact of the Resurrection, unless he was furnished with ocular and tangible proof of it. He must see the Lord, he must touch Him, he must put his hand into His side, else he could not believe. That people had been brought back to life from death he of course was aware. He had seen that in the case of Lazarus. But resurrection, never to die any more, was quite a new thought for the time present, seeing that the resurrection morning for saints in general had not then, nor has it yet, dawned. But how could Thomas's requirements be provided? No one knew where to find the Lord. He had disappeared from their midst as suddenly as He had appeared among them. What, however, none of them could have furthered — viz. a meeting between Thomas and Christ — was, and that unexpectedly, brought about.

A week after the disciples were again within, and Thomas this time with them. No one, that we are aware of, was expecting a fresh appearance of Christ. They were gathered there, a company apart from their countrymen, but not on the Sabbath, with objects and interests widely different from them and, conscious of the world's enmity, they met again with closed doors. A second time the Lord came, and stood in their midst. Saluting them afresh with "Peace be to you," He addressed Himself directly to Thomas: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing" (27). Why such a pointed address to Thomas? No one had seen the Lord as visibly present, when Thomas gave utterance to his unbelief. No one of the rest had told the Lord about it. Of that we may be sure. But He knew it. He had heard the words of His disciple, and now made Thomas aware of it. Unperceived by human vision, He sees, He hears, He knows all that goes on. He walks, so we read (Rev. 2:1), in the midst of the golden candlesticks. Thomas now needed nothing more. He did not, it would seem, touch the Lord, nor probe the wound which the spear had made. It was, indeed, the crucified One that He beheld. What could he say? But few words escaped his lips, just two in Aramaic, "My Lord and my God." He was his Lord whom he had known before the cross. He was his God, for He had heard the unbelieving remarks of His Apostle. After that Thomas must have relapsed into silence. But the Lord again spoke: "Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

The resurrection of Christ is a cardinal truth of Christianity, of which every believer needs to be assured. How much hangs on it? "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." So writes the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15:17-18). But if ocular demonstration was needed for each one to embrace that article of the faith, how could we receive it, who have never seen the Lord personally present with His own?

What grace did He display as risen! His people should be assured of His perfect knowledge of them. He would visit them in the room, when the doors were shut. He would let all understand that, if invisible, He sees and knows all that goes on. Then, too, when He might appear, none of them could say. Yet nothing should keep him out. No power could hinder His presence in their midst. His love to them, His interest in them, was unabated. With the world He held no further intercourse. It saw Him no more. But the faithful, yet humanly speaking feeble ones, should have a privilege which the great, the noble, the powerful of earth knew not. The Lord alive from the dead could manifest Himself to His disciples. Of the dispensational bearing of these manifestations we will speak further on. Here we would just impress on the reader the grace of Christ, and His real interest in His own. An interest we have to say, as real now and as deep as ever.

Mark, Luke, and John. — John has told us much that we read not of elsewhere. Much that the others have recorded he has passed over. How different, to take one instance, are the accounts of the first appearance to the Apostles and others in that room with closed doors, related by Mark and by Luke, from that given us by John! Matthew, who was certainly present, omits all mention of the interview. Mark tells us, that the Lord upbraided the company, as they sat at meat, for their unbelief and hardness of heart in not crediting the testimony of those who had seen Him after His resurrection. Then he mentions the charge given them to preach the Gospel in all the world, but does not state in detail what they were to preach, and closes his account of that day's interview with enumerating signs that should follow those who believed (Mark 16:14-18). Luke acquaints us with the proof Christ gave to the disciples that it was really Himself. Then we learn that He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and communicated the character of the tidings with which they were to evangelise on earth (Luke 24). Now John, omitting much that they have written, tells His readers, that the Lord breathed on those present, and gave them the Holy Ghost, thus empowering, as we have said, the Assembly to act for Him in the matter of receiving or rejecting professed believers. Of facts, then, do we learn in each Gospel not stated by any of the others yet all needful for us to understand, as fully as now may be, what took place in that room. And not the least important is that which the son of Zebedee has preserved.

Reasons for writing this Gospel. — More John could have written (John 20:30). But having a distinct purpose, as led of the Spirit, he carried that out. Two reasons he had for writing, of which he here tells us. 1st. That his readers might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus, then, of whom he writes, was the theme of prophecy, the true Messiah and, further, He is the Son of God, truly Divine, yet really also human. 2nd. John wrote, that, believing, they might have life through His name (20:31). Did, then, this Gospel originally end there? Is chapter 21 a supplement written at a later date? Was it really written by John? Or was it composed and appended by some unknown individual? These have been questions raised in modern times.

First, as to the Gospel originally ending there. No uncial MS. presents the Gospel without the closing chapter as part of it. No ancient version omits chapter 21. From the earliest times that testimony can be adduced, the closing chapter has appeared as part of the Fourth Gospel. That point then settled on overwhelming evidence, was it an appendix written subsequently by John? Why should we suppose that? Why should 20:30, 31, be held to have been the original conclusion of the book? In this case we can appeal to John's method of writing, an opportunity as is not often afforded us in the case of the sacred writers. Let us turn to 1 John 5:13. There he states why he wrote that Epistle. Did that verse originally conclude that letter? Who would assert that? Then ere finishing he adds some fresh remarks, not immediately connected with those which had just preceded them. Nobody suggests that 1 John 5:14-21 were added at some later date. If John could thus compose his Epistle, why may he not have similarly written his Gospel — i.e. stating his reasons for writing it before bringing it to a conclusion?*

{*The genuineness of 21:25 has been questioned. Tischendorf thinks that the original scribe of the Codex Sinaiticus omitted it. That even is questioned. Certainly it now appears as an integral part of the Gospel of John. The ornament, which is appended in the MS. to each book of Scripture, is appended after verse 25. And, as was the custom with the scribe to state at the close of each book what the book was, so after verse 25 we read, "Gospel according to John," evidently including that verse as part of it. We would add, that, according to Westcott and Hort, a considerable series of Fathers, as Origen, Pamphilus, Eusebius, Cyril, etc., all viewed it as part of John's Gospel.}

Then, too, chapter 21 really continues the subject of chapter 20, in that the Apostle narrates the circumstances of a third manifestation of the Lord to disciples, and calls it the "third time," so connecting the two chapters very closely together. How could he, who was present at each manifestation of Christ, have forgotten, when he wrote chapter 20, this third appearance of the Lord as risen? Who could believe that? And with 14:26 before us, in which the Holy Spirit was promised to bring all things to their remembrance, whatever Christ had said to them, it would seem strange, that only after a lapse of time, subsequent to the writing of chapter 20, John wrote as an appendix what is found in chapter 21. To view the chapter as an appendix written by the Apostle some time after the rest of his Gospel raises, we think, more difficulties than believing that chapter 21 formed a part of the original composition. Into questions of Greek expressions in that chapter it would be out of place to enter in this volume. Others have done that. And we believe, with them, that there is nothing on that ground which can legitimately be affirmed to demonstrate that the writer of chapters 1 to 20 did not write chapter 21 also.

Third Manifestation. — We would now turn to a consideration of chapter 21. The experience of the disciples during the forty days after the Resurrection must have been peculiar indeed. As yet they had not received power for their future service (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). Nothing definite seemed for that time marked out for them. They were separated as disciples in truth from the rest of their countrymen, by following and confessing the Lord. But He was not always with them, as He had been before the cross; appearing only from time to time, just as He pleased, and without any warning beforehand. What, then, were they to do till the Ascension? We read of no occupation to which they were directed to resort. After the Ascension they all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, and selected Matthias as the successor of Judas. During the forty days, however, though enjoying as the Lord pleased His personal presence and His ministry to them, they seem to have had nothing definite put before them save the appointment to meet Him in Galilee, to the fulfilment of which Matthew refers (28:16-20). Shall we wonder, then, at some of them spending a night on the lake in their former occupation of fishing? Would any blame them for that? Certainly the Lord did not, who told them on the following morning to cast their net on the right-hand side of the vessel, and they would find fish. And then, when they had come to land, He told them to bring of the fish which they had now caught. If the Master did not blame them, whose servants they were, fellow-servants should be careful lest they apply the lash where He did not.

There were seven engaged that night in the fishing, and all in one boat. Where were the rest? Where were Andrew and Philip and Matthew, all of whom were well acquainted with the lake, and the two first with its fisheries also? What, too, had taken the seven disciples to Galilee at this time? Had they remained there after the visit which Matthew records? At what time, too, was this manifestation of Christ at the lake? These are questions easily asked, but impossible now to be answered. Very likely, from the history of Peter which follows, the fishing was very early in the forty days. More we cannot say. Conjectures might be made, theories formed, but all to no purpose. We can never on earth know more than what John has here related. Peter, so generally forward, still maintains that character. "I go a fishing," he said, apparently without consulting the others. They then followed him, and soon, we may suppose, were all in the boat, and prepared for work. But fruitless were their attempts. No fish that night came to their net. A reason for that the sequel doubtless made plain to them. The night passed, and morning dawned, day was breaking, which gave light enough to show them a Person standing on the shore about a hundred yards off. A Stranger to them, as they thought. He accosted them. "Children [or lads, using a common term applied to men at work] have ye any meat [or better, aught to eat]?" Such a question would doubtless not sound strange, for there, we may well believe, as elsewhere in places in our day, fish might be bought out of the boat. Not discerning who was speaking, they answered, "No." The toil of the night had been barren of results. "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find," was the Stranger's next word. Still in ignorance about the One who had accosted them, but obeying His directions, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, so great that they were not able to draw into the boat the great haul that they had got. Dawning then on John that it was the Lord who had directed them, he communicated the thought to Peter. "It is the Lord," he said. Upon that Peter, without delay, and apparently again without consulting even with John, jumped into the water, and went to the Lord, who was on the land. He left the others in the boat engaged with the great draught of fishes. They finally reached the shore in their boat, but dragging the net with them.

We see what the sense of Divine grace in the heart could do. Peter, who might naturally have been the last to go to the Lord, seeing that he had so openly denied Him in the high-priest's palace, is the first here to go to Him. Assured by the Lord's interview with him on the day of the Resurrection, all fear of Christ was removed from the Apostle's heart, and he hastened to meet Him. All the publicans and sinners could gather round the Lord when on earth, and feel at home in His presence (Luke 15). So Peter, having learnt of the grace in the heart of Christ, finds no place where he is more at his ease than in the presence of his Lord. Getting thus quickly to Him, he was ready, when the boat came to shore, to draw up the net out of the water. In it were found one hundred and fifty-three big fish. Great must have been the strain on the meshes of the net; yet — and John marks it as to be specially noticed — the net was not broken. Never, we may surely believe, from the Evangelist's remark, had he, or James, or their partners had such an experience as that.

The Meal. — All now on shore, a sight met them which must have astonished them. There was a fire of coals, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Who had kindled the fire, and prepared the meal? To the ministrations of women in the past they must have been often indebted, when the Lord was alive in humiliation (Luke 8:2-3). Here no woman is mentioned. We know who formed the company, and all of them with Peter had just come off the lake. Who, then, had thought of their need, and would supply it, but the Lord? A fire to cook, fish laid thereon, and bread; nothing had been forgotten, which could minister to their wants. All was provided, and provided by the Lord. He, too, as the host, invited them to partake, and to break their fast (for it was a morning, and not an evening meal), after their night on the lake; and He Himself distributed to them both of the fish and of the bread (John 21:13). He prepared the meal, and presided at it. The Lord knew about them. He came to them. He ministered to them. What favour! what thought! what consideration on His part! Blessed, how blessed were they, to have the risen Lord so occupying Himself with them. People of no account among the great ones of the earth, humble fishermen, natives of Galilee — these were provided for by the Lord of men and angels, as saints, and excellent ones of the earth, in whom was His delight (Ps. 16:3). It is in that class He delights still.

Typical Teaching. — The third manifestation of the Lord to His disciples thus took place. As history we read of each of them. As containing typical teaching we can also view them. Appearing to Mary Magdalene on the day He rose, and then to those gathered together, we see portrayed an intimation of the character of the Christian dispensation. The Lord risen was to be known not as He had been present with His disciples before the cross. And work for Him was to proceed in His absence. That was and is still confided to His people on earth; and increase, enlargement, of the company of disciples was and is to go on, the Assembly accrediting those who are true believers, and rejecting others, thus forgiving or retaining sins.

Then, when Christian times shall have passed, God will take up afresh His earthly people; now as a people cast away, but by-and-by to be owned again (Rom. 11:15), when all Israel shall be saved. And when that is to be brought about, the Lord will return in person and in power. They shall look on Him whom they pierced, and mourn. So declared Zechariah (12:10); and John (19:37) referred to it. Then they will find suited expression for real confession provided in the prophet Isaiah. In 52:13-15 of that prophet, the Lord is foretold appearing in power, and consequent on that the godly remnant of the nation, beholding Him, will make their confession in the language of chapter 53, rejoicing, too, as they then learn, what He has done for them by His atoning sacrifice. Of this Thomas's history is a foreshadowing, who only believed that the Lord had risen when he saw Him.

The third manifestation foreshadows millennial times. No failure then, no breaking of nets, but all on earth coming to own the Lord Jesus, according to Ps. 72, and in accord with His own word, "I will draw all men to Me" (John 12:32). Then the Lord appearing, the godly remnant will find their labours, toils, and trials all over; no longer to run the risk of battling with circumstances, like men on the water, exposed to winds, waves, and tempests, but safe on firm ground with Christ.

So as we had a week of time in John 1:19 — 2:11, affording dispensational teaching, we have in chapters 20 and 21 these three manifestations of Christ when risen, of distinct dispensational bearing. In John 1:19 — 2:11 there is an outline dating from the ministry of the Baptist, and reaching on to the millennium, that last typified in the water made wine at the marriage of Cana in Galilee. In chapters 20 and 21 the dispensational teaching only starts from the Resurrection, but reaches on also to that to which the Word so often points — millennial days. God's thoughts do not stop short of that.

Peter Challenged. — To return. More than caring for the temporal need of disciples was to be effected that morning. Peter had thrice denied the Lord, after boasting of his devotedness and ability to stand the test to which he might be put. Restored in soul on the day of the Resurrection, when the Lord appeared to him privately — and that restoration seen to be complete, as he jumped into the water on this occasion, to be the first to join the Lord on the shore — his restoration to service, a public matter, was now to take place. Such a matter after his fall was not to be left to conjecture on the part of any, nor of uncertainty either. So three times over was he challenged by Christ: "Lovest* thou Me?" The first time the Lord added the words, "more than these." Peter answered each time, affirming always in the same words, that he did love Him. But where was the proof? The Lord read his heart, and knew his thoughts. To this Peter turns, and on it he casts himself. "Thou knowest that I love Thee" — twice uttered; "Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee," was his reply to the third challenge. To what else could he turn? Bold indeed had he seemed, when he drew his sword; but his three denials shortly afterwards showed what the vaunted devotedness was worth. The Lord knew Peter. Of that the Apostle was assured, and he could only take refuge in that, when challenged in such a public manner. Humbling must this have been for the son of John.** But balm was to be poured into the wound. The Lord could, and would, yet use him. His lambs, His sheep, were to be entrusted to Peter's care. And, further, to die for Christ he would be permitted, thus by his death glorifying God (21:15-19). So by Christ Himself, and before the others, Peter was restored to a place of service. To feed Christ's lambs, and to tend and to feed His sheep would be service in which he was to engage. And surely, when Peter wrote to the strangers scattered abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, he was carrying it out. "My lambs," "My sheep," the Lord had said. Peter never forgot that, and urged on the elders, to whom he wrote, that the flock was God's, and the heritage was God's (1 Peter 5:2-3). Would that this had been and was more remembered! Now John alone writes of this. And composing his Gospel as he did, if tradition is true, after Peter's martyrdom, he sets his seal on the fulfilment of the Lord's words as to that Apostle's death.

{*There are two verbs for "to love" here used by the Lord: agapa? (verses 15, 16), and phile? (verse 17). Peter uniformly uses the second of these. "The distinction seems to be that the former is more used of that reverential love, grounded on high graces of character, which is borne towards God and man by the child of God; whereas the latter expresses more the personal love of human affection." — Alford. If the Lord spoke in Aramaic, judging from the Peshito Syriac Version, there was the same verb used by Him and by Peter. But John, writing in Greek, where different shades of meaning could be better expressed, must have been guided by the Spirit to show plainly what the Lord intended.

**"Son of John," not "Son of Jonas," is the better-attested reading in these verses (15-17).}

Meantime to follow Christ was the course marked out for him (22). What grace was thus displayed! Peter was permitted to serve. Peter, too, was permitted to follow Christ. Peter was to die for Him. The Lord would not be ashamed of such a disciple. What a Master indeed to serve!

John. — At this juncture probably Christ was leaving the company, and Peter was following Him. Then looking backward, and seeing John coming after them, Peter asked the Lord, "And what shall this man do?" Now that was a matter between the Master and His servant John. The Lord would not enter on it with Peter, only replying, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me (22). "Till I come," said the Lord. Then He was, and is, coming back. He had promised that in 14:3. He here reaffirmed it. And His last words to John in Patmos, "Surely I come quickly" (Rev. 22:20), confirm it. He will come. But when? The disciples in early days misapprehended the Lord, thinking that He meant to return in the lifetime of John, so that John would never die. This was a misapprehension, which John here corrects (23). But it shows us how soon in those days was the coming of the Lord expected. And no event was looked for to precede it.

Now this Gospel will close; and John's task, one surely of love, would be done. He had related much that others had omitted. He authenticates it all as proceeding from his pen. Yet he intimates that much more could have been told (24, 25). The Gospels are not, even all together, an exhaustive biography of Christ in this world. And as the last of the Gospels in their general order (for Codex Bezae alone of uncial MSS. puts John after Matthew, and Mark after Luke), and as the latest written, John suitably gives us, in the Lord's last words in his Gospel, an intimation of His return. In this he is peculiar. Matthew closes his Gospel (28:20) with the Lord's promise to be with His people to the end of the age. Mark (16:17-20) recounts the fulfilment of that promise to the date of his writing; and foretells the signs, which should follow those that believed. In Luke (24:49-50) the Lord bids the disciples tarry in Jerusalem for the promise of the Spirit; and then in the act of blessing them ascended up to heaven. But not one in their closing words takes the disciple in thought outside this scene save John. He, by the last words of Christ which he quotes, bids us look on beyond earth, even to the Lord's coming for His own.

With this bright hope before us we can close this volume by the son of Zebedee, which he authenticates, we believe, himself as proceeding from his pen. The authenticity of the last verse has been questioned, but no one can definitely prove it proceeded from another pen than that of the Apostle. There we would leave it.

And now what a picture does John give us as his last sketch of the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, ere He left earth! A most attractive one it surely is. Christ is here seen as risen, but occupied like a shepherd with His own. He knew then where His people were. He knows still where they are; and if need be can give them a taste of His presence, though not in person, as at the lake-side; but ministering to them a joy, an encouragement, of which the world knows nothing. He takes note, too, of temporal need, and can surely supply it. He provides also for the spiritual wants of His sheep, and sends those who can tend them. He is coming, too, to receive them to Himself, thus taking them out of this scene altogether. A connection we may trace, therefore, between the Gospel and the Revelation. In the former He promises to come for Christians. In Rev. 4, 5, that promise is seen to have been fulfilled. Meanwhile, if, at the close of the Gospel, He is seen as the risen One with His people, in the Revelation, though ascended, He walks in the midst of the candlesticks. Blessing He provides for believers in the present. Everlasting joy He secures to them in the future. John's records of the Incarnate Word on earth have now, and how suitably, ended.

We will close this volume with the papers bearing on subjects connected with the Fourth Gospel — the one entitled Everlasting Life, the other headed The First Man and the Second Man.

Everlasting life.

"That believing ye might have life through His name" (20:31). This was the second end John had in view in writing this Gospel. A few remarks, then, on the subject of life will not be out of place, to gather up the teaching about it.

Life everlasting is mentioned in each of the Gospels, though in the first three comparatively rarely, and always in connection with the future. In John's Gospel it is treated of both as a present blessing, and also as connected with a future state — soul blessing now (6:47), blessing for the whole person of the saint in the coming day (John 5:29, 11:25, 12:25). Soul blessing in the present we have said. This is distinctive Christian teaching, flowing from the full revelation of grace consequent on the sacrifice of Christ, just as the salvation of the soul, of which Peter writes (1 Peter 1:9). Under the law everlasting life to be enjoyed now could never have been proclaimed, those in that dispensation being necessarily shut up to keeping the law for life, to the end of their temporal existence. So in Ezek. 33:18, where God's dealings in government are set forth, "When the righteous," we read, "turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall even die thereby." For under the law any one, if there had been one, who kept it all his days would never have died (Deut. 30:15, 19). But who could answer to that, and live for ever? Grace now, not law, tells us of life everlasting as present soul blessing, which, as the very term everlasting implies, once possessed, can never be lost. Of this our Gospel, as we have said, treats.

At times we find mention simply of "life"; at others of "eternal" or "everlasting life." Between these there is no difference. Life, spiritual life, and eternal or everlasting life, are one and the same. For this John 3:36 may be adduced as proof: "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life; he that believes not [or rather, obeys not] the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Then, as to eternal and everlasting, there is but one word to represent them in the original. But we possess in English the advantage of these two terms for the one Greek word. And we prefer to use the adjective everlasting rather than eternal, when applied to spiritual life possessed by the believer, because there was a time when he had it not. But possessing it, he will never lose it. It will be everlasting, for it will never die out.

With this explanation of terms we would look now into the development of the subject by our Evangelist. That takes us back to the beginning — the eternity of the past. And we learn of One then existing — "the Word, in whom was life" (1:4). Life was always in Him, the Word. And as there never was a time when He did not exist — for "in the beginning was the Word" — so there never was a time when in Him there was not life. Who could conceive of the Word — i.e. the One by whom God has been expressed — without life? Now when we speak of the Word, we speak of One Person of the Godhead — not the Father, not the Holy Ghost, but the One whom we know as the Son. As Son He is the Son of the Father. As the Word He is the Word of God (Rev. 19:13). From all eternity He existed; and from all eternity, as distinct from the Father and the Holy Ghost, we have to say, that "in Him was life; and the life [we learn] was the light of men" (John 1:4). For man there is no spiritual light apart from this life. Without it man is in darkness, and walks in darkness (1 John 2:11) Hence the importance of those words of Christ, "I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12).

Man, therefore, must be a recipient of this life, for he has it not as a source in himself. So we learn of a characteristic mark of those who now have received it. They are all believers, not simply in God, but on the Son of God. "For as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of God be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should have everlasting life." And this is the revealed will of God: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (3:14-16). Of blessing through believing, the first quotation assures us. With the alternative — and there is but one — the second quotation acquaints us. The reference to the brazen serpent intimates the urgency of the need. From temporal death the bitten Israelite could only be saved, as he looked, told to do it by God, to the serpent of brass. From the second death the believer on the Lord Jesus Christ is for ever saved. So this chapter of the Gospel fittingly closes with the words already quoted, "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him" (3:36).

The next point opened up is, that the Son Himself now imparts it. In the midst of a hostile crowd in Jerusalem the Lord revealed this: "As the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them; even so the Son quickens whom He will" (v. 21). The Jews had just sought to kill Him, because He made Himself equal with God. He let them know, that life, spiritual life, they could only receive from Him, and as He should be willing to impart it. He quickens whom He will. Men, then, are absolutely at His mercy for the receiving of life. He quickens. Those on whom He thus works cannot have had spiritual life previously. They were dead; and, as creatures who had failed in their responsibility, they were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5). He quickens!

And now He announced, in a fuller way than He had done to Nicodemus, the blessed result of believing the testimony of God: "He that hears My word, and believes Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death to life" (John 5:24). Here let it be remarked, that life and everlasting life are viewed again as the same. To the teacher the Lord had described the class of people who enjoy this life — believers. Here, having just declared that He quickens whom He will, He speaks of all such as hearing His word, and believing God that sent Him. Hearing His word — for He speaks to the soul, and so quickens the individual.

But when? Of that we next learn: "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" (25). He was quickening at that time. He is quickening still. He speaks, and souls hear; and He is able to do this. "For as the Father has life in Himself; even so has He given the Son to have life in Himself" (26). Here the Father is again introduced in connection with the teaching about life. He quickens the dead, the Lord had said. Now He declares that the Father has life in Himself, and has given the Son to have life in Himself. Life is in the Father. One could not conceive of the Father without it. As being in Himself, He can give to the Son to have it in Himself. The Son, then, has it in Himself as a source, and gives it to others. All believers on Him have this life; but of none of them can it be said, that they have life in themselves. It is for them in the Son. So, as we read elsewhere, "He that has the Son has life; he that has not the Son of God has not life" (1 John 5:12). To get it we must come to Christ, and go nowhere else. For, as he told the Jews at Jerusalem, "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40).

He who quickens was then on earth. Now further teaching is unfolded. He is "the Bread of God," "the Bread of Life," "the Bread which came down from heaven," "the Living Bread," of which all who are partakers have everlasting life. But this involves His death. For to profit by "the True Bread," we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Hence not only incarnation, but death, His death on the cross, was requisite. And all sharing now in everlasting life must acknowledge this. For the Lord's announcement, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you" (6:53), shuts the door against spiritual blessing for any who refuse to be indebted to His atoning death; whilst the following verse, "Whoso eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has everlasting life" (54), assures all who believe on Him of abiding blessing.

And here we learn, that the teaching about the Bread from heaven involves the truth of the resurrection of the body. For the body, as well as the soul of the believer, is to share in everlasting life. So four times over in this chapter (6:39-40, 44, 54) the Lord declares, "I will raise him up at the last day." Of resurrection by His voice of power He had spoken in chapter 5:28-29, distinguishing there the resurrection to life from the resurrection to judgment. Here in chapter 6 He announces who they are who can share in the former: those who now eat His flesh and drink His blood — i.e. feed spiritually on Him as dead. Such live for ever (58). The whole person of the saint is to share in this blessing. With this the Lord's discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum comes to a close. In John's Gospel He never taught therein again.

We are next to hear of the perfectness of this blessing communicated by the Lord, and of the abiding condition, as well as of the security, of all who receive it. Addressing the Pharisees at Jerusalem, who had gathered round Him after He had opened the eyes of the man born blind, He told them that He had come to give life to His sheep, and to give it to them abundantly (10:10). Of the sheep He spoke, His sheep — a class amongst men, for there were those then present who were not His sheep. Such were easily known by this — that they did not act like His sheep, neither hearing His voice, nor following Him. Life abundantly He here spoke of — life in all its fulness — life to which nothing could be added to complete it: this His sheep would for ever possess, now in the soul, by-and-by in the whole person.

But more. In chapter 3:16 He had stated the alternative, which is either to perish, or to have everlasting life. Now walking in Solomon's porch at the feast of Dedication, He assured all, first of the imperishable condition of His sheep, and second of their everlasting security. "They shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of My hand" (10:28). No perishing of life from within — no separation by external power from the grasp of Christ. Doubly secure, too, would they be. For He adds, "My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of the Father's hand" (29). And in proof that temporal death cannot destroy this life, we would quote the Lord's words on reaching the grave of Lazarus: "I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believes on Me, though He were dead, yet shall He live: and whosoever lives and believes on Me shall never die" (11:25-26). Those of His sheep who shall pass through death before He comes will be raised at His call. Those that will be then alive will never die.

To the Jews the Lord's ministry was coming to a close. We get a summary of it in 12:44-50. There, too, life is mentioned as one of the subjects of His teaching. The Prophet like to Moses completed His public service in that line. Henceforth the multitude would hear Him no more. But for disciples, for those who like Peter had proved that He had the words of everlasting life (6:68), there was more to be revealed. So replying to Thomas, in answer to his question, "How can we know the way?" He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me" (14:6). Christ is for us the life — our life. It is in Him as a source for us. Paul taught this (Col. 3:4), and John affirmed it. "God has given to us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son," we quote it again, "has the life; and he that has not the Son of God has not the life" (1 John 5:11-12).

Just one more lesson on this important subject, and the teaching about it in our Gospel will conclude. It is found in the Lord's prayer to His Father (17:2-3). Authority conferred on Him, that He should give everlasting life to as many as the Father has given Him, the Lord said, "And this is life everlasting, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." It is only as possessing this life, that we can really know, and show practically that we do know, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. Without it we can neither really know the One nor the Other.

This, the last teaching in this Gospel about life, is the starting-point really for the teaching about the display of it in John's First Epistle. This passage, therefore, is the connecting link between the Gospel and that Epistle.

A few remarks ere closing.

In all that has passed before us it should be noted, that we have no definition given us of life. John 17:3 is no definition of it. It speaks of a result of it. What is life, then? we may ask, but ask in vain. As with physical, so with spiritual life, what each is no man as yet can define. That lies, as far as we know, beyond human ken. If we ask, Who is our Life? the answer is furnished us. Christ is it (John 14:6; Col. 3:4). It has been displayed in Him. But what is life? That remains a question unanswered.

Now we would call attention to the importance of observing the scriptural way of describing it. When speaking of it in relation to the Father, the Word, or the Son, it is, we believe, simply called life; when speaking of it as manifested to or possessed by men, it can be described as everlasting life. To this 1 John 1:2 offers no real exception, if we follow the Revised Version: "The life was manifested, and we have seen it, and show to you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us." Once is it called the life of God (Eph. 4:18), but never is it termed Divine life. The Divine nature and eternal life — in these distinct ways are the nature and the life characterised. Again remembering that the Father has life in Himself, we shall be kept from using a phrase somewhat current of late — viz. "personality of life." Life is not a person, though it has been manifested on earth in a Person. And further, as the Father has life in Himself, and in the Word was life, in our teaching about this subject these truths must be firmly held and confessed, else the teaching will be defective, if not erroneous.

The First Man and the Second Man

Gen. 1 — 5; John 1 — 5.

{*This paper, which originally appeared in a periodical long since defunct, is now reproduced, as in character with the subject of this volume.}

As we read the opening verses of the Gospel of John, the mind instinctively recurs to the commencement of the Book of Genesis. Both speak of the beginning — the former of Him who already existed, the latter of that which was first called into being. "In the beginning was the Word." "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." But the similarity between these two books does not end there. With different themes for their subjects — Genesis treating of the first Adam and his descendants, John of the last Adam, His words and His works — there is nevertheless so marked an agreement in the subjects of the first few chapters, and the order in which they are narrated, as to lead the reader to the conclusion, that He, who sees the end from the beginning, was so directing what should take place from the commencement of this world's history, that, when the events of Genesis and John should be recorded and compared, the master mind, the guiding hand should be discerned. Nor this only, but that all that is related of the first Adam, when compared, or contrasted, with that which is told us of the last Adam, should bring out the surpassing glory and excellence of the latter, and the rich grace of God in sending Him into the world.

The earth prepared for man, all the animals also over which he was to rule having been created, the first chapter of Genesis tells us of his appearance fresh from the creative hand of his God. "God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them "(Gen. 1:26-27). A creature representing God on earth, and, like Him, pure, free from spot and sin — such was the one placed as head over this then new creation. And God expressed His approval of this His latest work, the head. He had on the previous day blessed the fowls and all that moved in the seas; now He blesses man, that he be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. It was man's place to rule over it.

Turning to the first chapter of John, we have mention of the appearance of another Man on this earth, a Head like Adam, but a Head of a new race — and He, the Word, became flesh. And as of Adam and of all His work God expressed His emphatic approval, so we get a no less decisive mark of His delight in the Word made flesh, when the Spirit of God descended like a dove and rested upon Him. The Firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15), His only begotten Son, when He appears, must be signalled out by a mark of the special favour of Heaven. On Him the heavens opened.

But what comparison with any of the sons of men can bring out His excellency, or delineate His glory? There must be contrasts to show what they had not, and what He has. Adam was made after the likeness of God: He of whom we speak was God. Adam was made in the image of God: of Him it can be said, He is the image of the invisible God. All creation could see in the first Adam one representing God upon earth: all who had opened eyes and prepared hearts could discern in the Lord Jesus "a glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father." Moreover, He declared the Father (John 1:18), which Adam, though made in the image of God, could never do. Again, Adam was created: the Word became flesh. Both had a beginning in flesh on earth. The first had none before he lived here: by the second, the first was created. Adam appeared on a scene prepared to receive him: the Lord Jesus entered a world ready to reject Him. Adam walked about surrounded by the works of God's hands: the Lord came to His own things. And whilst He came to give grace upon grace, and to give authority to become children of God to all who would receive Him, Adam was to receive the unqualified submission of all God's creatures upon the earth. He was to be lord of all here. This is next brought out. It was God's expressed will when He created him. It was carried into execution by God Himself, when He brought all creatures to be named by him. "And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."

Placed in the garden to dress it and to keep it, all acknowledged his sway. To own Adam was to submit to God. To receive a name from him was as if it had been conferred by the Lord God Himself. Beautiful picture of order and subjection to the one set over the works of God's hands! But he was only the type of Him that was to come (Rom. 5:14). So when that One came, He could not do less than give names likewise. To Simon He gave the name of Cephas, signifying, as Head of the new creation, the use to which He would put him. Afterwards the sons of Zebedee He surnamed Boanerges (Mark 3:17). By-and-by He will give to each member of His Church a new name, which no man knows but he who receives it (Rev. 2:17). And just as we read of Adam in the garden, surrounded by all the living creatures, and owned by them as head of that creation, so we have the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King, enforcing subjection of all to His authority and will. The second chapter of Genesis presents to us the one. The second chapter of John's Gospel gives us the other. Alike in this, each one the centre in the scene as appointed by God, how great is the difference! The glory of Adam, seen that day in Eden, passed away, never to be restored. The glory of the Lord, displayed on earth in a brief, passing way, can never pall, can never decay. "He shall be great to the ends of the earth"; "Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end" (Micah 5:4; Isa. 9:7).

And differing as Adam did from the Lord in the transient character of his glory, we may trace a difference in the circumstances connected with it. The former was commissioned to subdue the earth, but had no rival to dispute his sway, and no unruly spirit to reduce to subjection. The latter came on this earth, on which His glory is one day to be revealed, and His kingdom to be established over all, with every opposition from men to encounter, and the ruling spirit of evil to overcome. In Eden there was real subjection to God. In Jerusalem it was professed subjection to Him, coupled with the strongest manifestation of personal hostility to the One whom He had sent, and the most determined opposition to the authority of God's King. Yet as God's anointed He must exercise the rights of sovereignty over the world.

To come more to particulars. The second chapter of our Gospel gives us, as we peruse its contents, a glimpse of what it will be. The happiness of Eden gone, and gone for ever, we learn how happiness can and will yet be enjoyed on this earth. The Lord provided the wine for the disciples, and for those who called Him to the feast. But it was when their provision was exhausted that He came in, and gave sufficient to last throughout it. What He provides can never end, depending as it did and must for its origin and continuance on the will and power of Him who bestows it. So He will minister everlasting joy, when He comes back to earth in power to reign. The happiness of Eden, brought to its climax when Adam received his bride, was soon alloyed with trouble, the bitter fruit of sin. In the happiness of the coming kingdom the Lord's people will know no admixture of bitterness, for "the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord has spoken it" (Isa. 25:8; Rev. 7:16-17). We speak here of the kingdom as it will be displayed on earth, for our subject is the contrast between Adam and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then passing from Galilee to Jerusalem, another work presented itself to be accomplished. He must vindicate God's authority where it has been disowned. He purged therefore His Father's house: oxen, sheep, doves, their vendors, the money-changers, all departed at His bidding. He drove them out with a scourge, acting as none had acted before Him, and as none did after Him. For to Him, and to Him alone, this place of pre-eminence belongs. He is the Son.

Such is a brief glimpse of the double work of the last Adam in His kingdom. To both the first was a stranger. He sat in Eden to receive the homage of God's creatures. The Lord will give of His bounty to make glad the hearts of His saints, a more blessed position surely than Adam ever occupied (Acts 20:35); and He will act in judicial power to assert the just claims of God. At Cana inanimate creation owned His power. At Jerusalem living creatures, men, beasts, birds, obeyed His will — a foreshadowing of that which the Psalmist predicts, "Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under His feet (Ps. 8:6).

This display of power, as of blessing, leads to the consideration of the need of such a work. Gen. 3 tells us of the entrance of sin, what caused it, and the sad consequences of disobedience. John 3 speaks of the remedy, and of its blessed results. In both chapters we get God and man brought face to face. In the former is the last meeting before they parted, never again to meet on earth as they had done. In the latter we learn how they can meet, so as never again to part, if man will only hearken to God. At that meeting in Eden God passed sentence of temporal death as the penalty of disobedience. At the interview between the Lord and Nicodemus the Saviour spoke of everlasting life as the gift of God. And here another parallel in these histories comes out. In both cases we have the mention of a third party. But again we have a marked contrast. For, in the one, the third party is the serpent, the seducer of Eve, and the would-be destroyer of Adam and of his race. In the other, the third party is the woman's seed, the Son of Man, the Saviour of the lost. And what formed the chief topic of the serpent's conversation with Eve, and the snare by which he entrapped her, is the subject the Lord takes up and deals with when Nicodemus comes to Him. The serpent persuaded Eve that God had withheld something from them which they ought to enjoy. He made her doubt the reality of God's love. The Lord, when teaching the master in Israel, tells out the exceeding greatness of that love, which would stop not short of the giving up of His only begotten Son for a ruined, sinful world.

Adam and Eve should have resented any doubt thrown over the reality and fulness of God's love. What they failed to do, that the Son of Man takes up and carries through. They had proofs in abundance of His real interest in them and the very presence of Eve was enough to show, that what was good for Adam to have God would provide. "It is not good," God said, "that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Gen. 2:18). He saw his need, and let none but Himself supply it. Would He act differently about that tree, concerning which He had given such a particular injunction? Should any one of God's creatures be allowed to supply the lack which He, conscious of, had left unfilled? They failed to repudiate the insidious attack on their Creator. It remained, therefore, for the Son of Man to show how entirely contrary to truth it was. And how does He do that? By pointing to that which Adam and Eve had received, and the place they had occupied as sinless creatures? No; but by showing that God could manifest love to a sinful world. Adam had evidence of God's love in plenty to adduce, as he freely enjoyed the provision for his temporal comfort and welfare. The Lord gives a new and undreamt-of proof of it in coming to die for His guilty creatures. And so after four thousand years had rolled by the lie of the serpent was contradicted. God could so love the world, as to give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). As far as the misery and ruin of man's sin had reached, so far could the remedy now announced go forth. Wherever there was a child of Adam, there was one for whom God in His love had provided a Saviour. Now God and man would meet on terms which would never be altered: no longer on the ground of man's innocence, nor on the ground of man's responsibility, for on that he had signally failed; but on the ground of a gift which God had given, and of a sacrifice which the Son of Man would effect.

Another point in these two narratives must be noticed. Gen. 3 tells of a voluntary act on the part of Adam, and an act of necessity on the part of God — the driving the man out of Paradise, lest he should take of the tree of life and live for ever. John 3 tells us of a spontaneous act, and of an act of necessity. The spontaneous act was on the part of God, and the act of necessity on the part of the Son of Man — the being lifted up on the cross. Adam's act was a gratuitous assumption that he knew better than God. God's act in driving him out of Eden was one of mercy to His rebellious creatures. In John 3, however, we get something more than mercy — we get grace, God showing favour to sinners in giving them what none would have dreamt of, and no child of Adam would have dared to ask. Adam in Gen. 3 stands forth as the author of the ruin of his race, as far as he was concerned. The Son of Man appears in John 3 as "the author [or, cause] of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:9). It was needful to banish Adam from Eden, lest he should perpetuate his sinful condition for ever by eating of the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-23). It was needful for the Son of Man to be lifted up, that any who have sinned might live for ever. And the same God, so grossly misrepresented by the devil, and who appeared as a Judge to pronounce sentence in Eden, is brought before us by the Son in a different character, even as a gracious God, able and desirous to save the world (John 3:17).

The next subject that the historian of Genesis takes up is that of the family of Adam, and the respective sacrifices of Cain and of Abel. How to approach God with acceptance is a question of all importance to fallen creatures, and of necessity follows closely on the Fall. How to worship God aright is a question which must follow closely on the unfolding of Divine grace. These questions are respectively taken up in Genesis and in John, and the first is fully answered in the sacrifice of Abel, and God's acceptance of it. He brought of the flock. He owned thereby his condition, and his desert — death — and that life for one born in sin could only be procured at the expense of the death of a substitute. Did the consequences of the Fall stop there the solution of the question how to approach God with acceptance — how many a dark and blood-stained page of history had never been written! But sin being in the world, its fruits are quickly made apparent, not only in entailing death on Adam and on his children; but in inciting Cain to stain the earth with the blood of his brother Abel. Worship and death are the prominent subjects of Gen. 4. Worship and life are brought before us in John 4

And now we get more than the acceptance of an offering. For it is the Father who is seeking worshippers. "The hour comes, and now is," were the words of Christ at the well, "when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him" (John 4:23). "By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Heb. 11:4). How he learnt of the Divine requirement we know not. But it is revealed, and we read of it, how the Head of the new creation communicated to a poor, abandoned woman, by the side of Jacob's well, the true principles on which acceptable worship must now be founded. And further, He unfolded to her, the last person in the world we, in our ignorance, would have thought of, the relationship in which God will now stand to all who believe on His Son. And as we read in Gen. 4:8, 23, of man taking the life of his fellow-creature, the contrast is fully maintained as we have set before us in John 4 the Lord restoring to health one who was nigh to death, and in the next chapter reinvigorating the limbs of one who had an infirmity for thirty and eight years. How great is the difference here between the offspring of Adam, begotten in his own likeness after his image, and the Virgin's Child, conceived of the Holy Ghost!

This leads us to the following chapter in Genesis, where sentence, pronounced in Eden, is seen carried out on Adam and his descendants till the days of Noah. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12). Cain could shorten the life of his brother Abel, but sooner or later death must have overtaken him, for "it is appointed to men once to die." So this is the solemn record of Gen. 5 "He died" is the simple statement of the inspired historian, appended to the close of the lives of all but one therein named. "There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war," are the words of the Preacher (Eccles. 8:8). And the one exception mentioned to the common lot of man forms no exception to the rule, that none can deliver himself from death, for we read of Enoch, "He was not, for God took him." It was God's act, not Enoch's effort, which kept his body from the grave.

Turning to John 5, we find death and the grave brought before us again; but how different is the way in which they are presented! It is not the common, the inevitable lot of man on which we are called to meditate, but the power of the Son of Man over "the king of terrors." The grave closed on Adam and his descendants, and hid them one by one from the gaze of their families and friends. The grave shall one day open at the voice of the Son of Man. None could by themselves escape the consequences of Adam's transgression. None will remain in captivity to death, when the Son of Man shall speak. "For the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29). Death by Adam's fall obtained power over all his offspring. By the Lord Jesus it shall be swallowed up in victory, and finally be destroyed. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. … The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He has put all things under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:21-22, 26-27). How cheering that this enemy, which entered the world by one man, shall be overcome by Another! Yet small comfort would that be to us, if we had no hope of sharing in the victory. This, too, is presented to us. And here again comes out the difference between these two heads in a bright and glorious contrast. Adam involved all in death, and that not merely of the body, but it might go on to the lake of fire. The Lord can give life in resurrection to the body. He can also quicken dead souls. "The first man. Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam a quickening spirit." How this work is carried on is unfolded in verses 24, 25, of the chapter. "For as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given the Son to have life in Himself" (John 5:26),

With Gen. 5 the history of Adam closes. Of his career after the Fall, beyond that he had sons and daughters, Scripture says nothing. We read in Heb. 11 of a catalogue of worthies, but his name is not in the list. His future position, too, is shrouded, in mystery, as far as definite statement is concerned. Before the Second Man, whose genealogy in Luke 3 is traced up to him, he will one day stand. His voice he will one day hear, and obey. But of Him, before whom he will stand, there is no uncertainty now. He, like Adam, passed out of this world by death. But we know He lives, and lives for evermore. He has life in Himself, and He gives it to others. And thus John 5 discloses at once what He was and what He is. Son of God and Son of Man, He has full authority from God, and all shall honour Him as they honour the Father. He has full power too; "for what things soever the Father does, these also does the Son likewise" (19). And the place of pre-eminence, from which Adam fell, is filled, and more than filled, by Him. He quickens whom He will. He will judge all. His voice, when heard, now gives life. His voice, as the Son of Man, when heard, shall raise the dead. Another Man, therefore, is found to be set over the works of God's hands, worthy to be there, able also to maintain His place. For He seeks not His own will, but the will of the Father which sent Him. We, who never saw Adam as head of this creation, will see Him of whom he was a type wielding supreme power, and all creation brought into subjection to His sway.

From Adam what have we received? Of what have we to boast? A nature wholly corrupt, flesh not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; for an inheritance, a life of sorrow and vexation of spirit; for a prospect, death and "the house appointed for all living" (Job 30:23). What did he give creation? By him the living creatures were indeed named. But by him all this creation was made subject to vanity, and because of him the ground was cursed. Blessed be God, this condition is not irremediable, because another Man has been found who was obedient to death. Through Him we receive, but how unlike that which our first parents entailed on us, a nature which cannot sin, an inheritance which cannot fade away, and a prospect of life beyond death — nay, the assurance of everlasting life, of which the grave cannot cheat us, nor the great enemy deprive us. And this is unchangeable to those who possess it. And the universe, too, shall rejoice in Him. The curse shall be removed, and the groaning creation shall be brought into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

Ruin, misery, death, follow the track of the first man; blessing, happiness, everlasting life, flow from the Second. He gives — gives to the unworthy, gives to the undone, gives to sinners. This characterises Him. Of Adam we have to say, he entailed on his posterity the consequences of his sin; of the Lord we have to record, He gives everything the sinner needs, and to His death we owe everything that as saints we can throughout eternity enjoy.