John 12



The twelfth chapter neither belongs intrinsically to that which precedes nor

to that which follows. It is a paragraph of high significance, as bearing on

the construction of the Gospel. It is the transition between the public and

the private ministry of Jesus, the great pause between the two classes of

manifestation forming the climax of His public ministry.


1 “Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where

Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.”

Jesus therefore, six days before the Passover. Every preliminary of that solemn

feast is memorable to our evangelist. The coincidence of the Passover feast and

the killing of the Paschal lamb, with THE SACRIFICE OF “CHRIST, OUR

PASSOVER” cannot be concealed. [For the grammatical construction with

pro< – pro, compare note, ch.11:18, where a similar use of ajpo> - apo occurs.

The date from which the calculation is made is complicated with the intricate

controversy upon the day of our Lord’s death, i.e. whether He suffered on the

14th or 15th of Nisan, and whether a “harmony” is possible or not with the

statements of the synoptists, who all three assert that our Lord ate the Passover

with His disciples.  However this matter be finally settled, if the 14th

of Nisan was the day on which the Passover was killed, “between the

evenings,” the 13th was reckoned as the first day before the Passover, and

the sixth day would be the 8th of Nisan. If the weekly sabbath occurred on

the 16th, then the 9th also was a sabbath. The Lord would then have

reached Bethany on the eve of the sabbath, and have rested on the sabbath

itself. The evening of the 9th would be the occasion of the feast, and the

10th would correspond with Palm Sunday. If the Lord were crucified on

the 14th, and the weekly sabbath coincided with the Passover-day of

convocation, the 15th, then the previous sabbath was on the 8th, and our

Lord must have reached Bethany in “the end of the sabbath,” and then the

feast was on the following day. When Jesus halted at Bethany, the vast

crowd of pilgrims advanced into the suburbs of Jerusalem, encamping on

the Mount of Olives, and would be ready for the great demonstration of

the next day.  John’s Gospel begins and ends with a sacred week (compare

ch.1:29-35, 43; 2:1). Jesus therefore, six days before the Passover, came to

Bethany. The quiet rest of that last sabbath with the family at Bethany is a

thought full of suggestion. Thoma accounts for the triumphal feast and

anointing, “six days before the Passover,” as answering to the day on which

the lamb was separated from other and secular animals, and consecrated for

this holy service (Exodus 12:3-6; Hebrews 7:26). The segregation, however,

was partial or premature, and the anointing (see below) took place five

days before the Passover. It is not said that the day of His arrival at Bethany

is the day of the festive welcome. Bethany is described as the place where

Lazarus was. The explanatory clause he who had been dead, is not

necessary, as the evangelist limits and explains sufficiently the great motive

for His pause and presence at Bethany by adding, whom He (Jesus) raised

from the dead. It is extraordinary that some most able expositors should

be so unwilling to accept the synchronous statements of the synoptists.

Their narrative is not out of harmony with the hypothesis that our Lord

passed the previous days with the pilgrim-band from Peraea, and that,

taking the head of the procession as it was passing through Jericho., He

should thus have distinctly challenged the authorities, and taken up the

public position to which they were anxious He should lay claim. By His visit

to the house of Zacchaeus he proclaimed the new feature and spirit of His

kingdom; by healing the blind man He gave a typical illustration of the work

of grace needed by all His disciples; by resting at the home where human

love and Divine power had been so wonderfully blended He called the most

solemn attention to His supreme claims; by pressing on with urgency up the

steep mountain pathway at the head of His disciples He seemed to be ready,

in His own words, “to lay down his life, that he might take it again.” The

ou+n - ounthen -  according to Meyer, is simply the resumption of the

narrative, but surely those are right who regard it as a distinct reference to

ch.11:55. The Sanhedrists had given the ejntolh> - entolae – commandment –

that if any knew where He was, they should declare it. Christ was resolved,

now that His hour was come, to lift the whole responsibility from His friends,

and take it upon Himself. The other evangelists do not mention the halt.

Their purpose was not a chronological one. They give the narrative of the

anointing apart from its deepest meanings and consequences, apart from

any references to Lazarus (see Matthew 26:6-12; Mark 14:1-11). There are

other subtle omissions from the synoptists, the difficulties of which must be

settled as between themselves. Thus, according to Mark 11:12 and 20,

an interval of a whole day and night took place between the withering of

the fig tree and the conversation about it, but Matthew makes the

conversation follow immediately upon the miracle. In like manner, John

abstains from any reference to the discussions in the temple, to the

withering of the fig tree, to the cleansing of the temple, or to the parables

which followed.


2 “There they made Him a supper, and Martha served: but Lazarus was

one of them that sat at the table with Him.” John does not tell us in whose

house “they made the dinner” or supper, and unless Simon the leper (Matthew

26:6 and Mark 14:3) is a member of the family (or, as some suggest, the

husband of Martha), we cannot suppose that it was in the quiet home of

Bethany that this feast in honor of Jesus was held, but that it took place,

as the synoptists positively declare, in the house of Simon the leper.” Simon

may easily have been one of the many lepers whom our Lord had healed,

and whose soul was filled with accordant gratitude. At that table there

would be seated two transcendent; proofs of the power of Jesus to save, not

only from the semblance but from THE REALITY OF DEATH!   We

find that Martha showns her reverence by serving her Lord, according to her

wont, not necessarily as hostess, but as the expression of her devoted

thankfulness.  Lazarus sits at meat, reclined at table, like Christ as a guest.

Mary pours forth her costly spikenard, in royal self-forgetting love. The

conduct of all the three thus mentioned is compatible with the fact stated

in the synoptic narrative, that the festival was celebrated in the house of Simon

the leper. Our Lord had commented, in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke

7:44, etc.), on the absence of the customary anointing with oil. Mary knew of this,

and resolved that, whatever the woman who was a sinner had done, no similar

act of neglect should occur on that memorable evening. A chronological

discrepancy renders an identification of the synoptic narrative of Matthew with

this story perplexing. In Matthew 26:2 we are brought to within two days

of the Passover, whereas here we cannot well be less than five days before

it. However, there is nothing in Matthew 26:6-13 which indubitably

declares the date of the supper.   The “two days” may refer to the date of

Judas’s treachery, after mentioning which he goes back to an event which

furnished occasion and temptation to the avaricious mind of Judas.


3 “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and

anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the

house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Mary therefore took a

pound (the synoptists Matthew and Mark say “an alabaster,” i.e. a flask made

of the costly spar, which was peculiarly adapted to the preservation of liquid

perfume, hermetically sealed before it was broken for immediate use. The fact,

as stated by Matthew and Mark, is inconsistent with her reserving any of the

precious fluid for another occasion) of ointment (“liquid perfume,” sometimes

added to the more ordinary oil), of pure (or possibly; pistie) nard. Mark

uses this unusual word pistiko>v pistikosgenuine - which belongs to later

Greek.   There is evidence, however, that it was regarded as a technical term.

It has been suggested that the original reading was pistakesi.e. the

Pistacia Terebinthus, which grows in Cyprus, Syria, Palestine, etc. and

yields a resin of very fragrant odor, and in such inconsiderable quanities

as to be very costly.  Nard was frequently mixed with aromatic

ingredients so when scented with the fragrant resin of the pistake could

well be called nardos pistake.   The derivation of pistktiko>v pisktikos -  

from pi>nw pinodrink - equivalent to “potable,” is not

appropriate in meaning, though this “nard” was used for perfuming wine. 

In Mark 14:3 also the Authorized Version translates it “spikenard,” as

it does here (compare  also Song of Solomon 1:12 and 4:13-14, where

Hebrew D]r]ne corresponds with na>rdov nardos - nard ). But the one

 place where the word was supposed to be found in Aristotle is now seen

not to be pisttiko>v, but peistiko>v peistikos - trustworthy, or unadulterated.

It is possible   that the word may have had a local geographical value, belonging

to some proper name, and is untranslatable. Very precious. Mark (Mark 14:3)

uses the word polutelou~v polutelousexpensive; costly - and Matthew

(Matthew 26:7) baruti>mou barutimou – of great value - precious. John

appears to combine the idea of both words in his poluti>mon polutimon -.

very costly.   Each of the synoptists severally mentions a fact which John

omits — that Mary broke the alabaster box, and poured the costly unguent

on His head in rich abundance, as though hers had been the royal or high

priestly anointing (compare Psalm 133.); but John shows that this at least

was not all she did. She anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet

with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Thoma

thinks that, conformably with John’s idea, the anointing of the head of the

true High Priest was the work of God alone, quoting Philo’s comment on

Leviticus 21:10, etc., “The head of the Loges, as High Priest, is

anointed with oil, i.e. his innermost essence gleams with dazzling light;”

and adds, that as the feet of the high priest were washed with water from

recent defilement of the world’s dust, so God’s anointed Lamb and Priest

was anointed on His feet with the spikenard of faith, the best and costliest

thing that man could offer. So profound an analogy seems to us contrary to

the simplicity of the narrative, which is perfectly natural in its form. The

perfumed nard ran down to the Savior’s feet and the skirts of his garments,

and there accumulating, the significant act is further recounted how Mary

wiped off the superfluous perfume from His feet with the tresses of her

loosened hair. This simple act proclaimed the self-humiliation and

adoration of her unbounded love, seeing that the loosening of a woman’s

hair was a mark of unusual self-abandonment, Many most unnecessary

inferences have been drawn from this. John adds an interesting feature,

revealing the sensitive eye-witness of the scene, “and the house was filled

with the odor of the ointment;and the whole house of God ever since has

been fragrant with her immortal and prophetic act.


4 “Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which

should betray Him,”  The speaker here is singled out by name. Matthew

refers the speech to the disciples generally, in whom the suggestion of

Judas had stirred up (without guile or blame on their part) a not unnatural

inquiry. Mark says “some” murmured to themselves, “Why this waste?”

(loss, destruction). John mentions the source of the suggestion, “Judas

Iscariot, Simon’s son.” The word Si>mwnov SimonosSimon’s -,

contained in Textus Receptus, is omitted here in the best  texts. The fact

that he was the traitor, being one of the well-known and awful events of

the gospel history when John wrote some half a century later, might well be

introduced by the evangelist, with no other than a purely historical motive.


5 “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given

to the poor?”  Sinful motive often hides itself under the mask of reverence

for another virtue. In Mark’s Gospel the same price was put upon the pound

of pure nard as that which is mentioned here. Christ had given emphatic advice

about generosity to the poor, and even during this very week (ch.13:29) it is

clear that His words were not forgotten, and in His great discourse, probably

also delivered during this same week, He identified Himself with the poor

(Matthew 25:35, etc.), and called for unreserved consideration of them;

so that this language was not unnatural.  John adds that the utter lack of

perception on Judas’s part of Mary’s self-devotion was prompted by the

most unworthy motive. The suggestion of Judas is put down by the

evangelist to the sheerest covetousness. During the interval that elapsed,

Judas had revealed his character, and John did not hesitate to refer the

suggestion to the traitor.


6 “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a

thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”  Now this he said,

not because he cared for the poor. He really cared nothing for the poor. He was

ambitious, eager for the display of the Master’s power, anxious for the rewards

which might follow the Master’s assumption of supreme authority, turning to

his own account all that might happen. But because he was a thief, and having

possession of the common purse (the word glwsso>komov glossokomos

which occurs in the sense of a chest (II Chronicles 24:8), has a curious etymology,

which had passed out of recognition; from glw>ssa glossatongue -  and

kome>w komeo – to tend – comes glwssokomei~on glossokomeion - that in

which month-pieces of flutes might be kept in safety, and subsequently a chest or

box for the safe guardianship of other valuables), he was the bearer — perhaps,

bore away (see ch.20:15, and Josephus, ‘ Ant.,’ 7:15. 3, for this use of basta>zw

bastazo - bare), at all events had at his disposal — of the things which were cast,

in generous profusion, into it. The question is often asked — Why was Judas

entrusted with the common purse? Was it not likely to aggravate a disposition

to which he was prone? Did not Jesus know what was in man? and had He not

discerned the propensity of Judas (see ch.6:71)? In reply:


  • The appointment may have been made by the apostles themselves.
  • Our Lord may not have interfered with it, deeming confidence more

likely to help him than distrust.

  • It may also show how, if men will yield themselves to sin, God will not

and does not promise them immunity from temptation, but sometimes

even brings them into it.

  • The purse might have been a preservative against the vile temptation to

sell his Master, and a test and motive for self-conquest.


7 “Then said Jesus, Let her alone:  against the day of my burying hath she

Kept this.”  The two readings of the text must here be compared with one

another and with the synoptic narrative. The Textus Receptus reads, Let her alone:

unto the day of the preparation for my burial she has carefully guarded this

precious perfume. This is, in one sense, that very day, and she has found out

the solemn fact in a way in which the disciples had as yet failed to do. With

this agrees the language of the synoptists,  “Why trouble ye the woman? she

hath wrought a good work on me;… she hath done that which was possible to

her (o{ ejscen ejpoi>hsen - o eschen epoiaesenshe hath done)” of Mark 14:8.

In fact, Mark expressly conveys this thought — “she has anticipated the anointing

of my body for the burial.” If we have the direct testimony of Mark (i.e.

Peter), Christ must have expressed Himself thus. Matthew also in different

words records the same pathetic and subtle thought: “For in that she

poured [cast] this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for

burial” (Matthew 26:12) Hengstenberg, Godet, and Stier abide by the reading

of the T.R.; but the principal manuscripts, in most powerful combination,

have led Lachmann, Alford, Tischendorf, and Westcott and Hort to read

here, [Ina eijv th<n hJme>ran tou~ ejntafiasmou~ thrh>sh aujto>

 hina eis taen haemeran tou entaphiasmou taeraesae auto - “In order

that she may keep or guard this for the day of my burial.” Westcott says

that the synoptists imply rather, by the word kate>ceen  - katecheen

that she had not already consumed the whole of the ointment. Meyer, with

this text, translates, “Let her alone, that she may preserve it (this ointment,

of which she has just poured some over my feet) for the day of my embalmment.”

This certainly seems inconsistent with the complaint of the disciples or of

Judas, at the apparently superfluous expenditure, and would compel us to

restrict the auto to the unused portion. The advocates of the Textus Receptus

reading say that it represents the original text, which has been altered by

criticism arising from misunderstanding of the idea of the day of burial having

ideally arrived; but why did they not alter on the same principle the language of

the synoptists? The advocates of Lachmann’s text say that it has been

altered by copyists, to bring it into accord with the text of the synoptists.

Lange justifies the Revised Version, “Suffer her to keep it against the day

of my burying,” and puts it thus: “Permit her to keep it [i.e. to have kept

the ointment which she might have used at the burial of Lazarus] for the

day of my burial,” now ideally present in the outbreak of Judas’s devilish

malignity. So virtually Luthardt and Baumgarten-Crusius. Godet argues

that this is forced and ungrammatical. But there is this advantage in it, that

it brings the language into much closer relation with the synoptists.

Westcott prefers the idea of Meyer. The older view is to me far mere

satisfactory. Edersheim (2:35) adds to this, “Mary may have had that

alabaster box from early days, before she had learned to serve Christ.

When she understood that decease of which He constantly spake, she may

have put it aside, “kept it,” “against the day of His burying.” And now the

decisive hour is come.


8 “For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”

This verse is omitted in D, but abundantly attested here. It

occurs almost verbatim in Matthew and Mark, and cannot be set aside on

the authority of this one eccentric manuscript. For the poor ye have

always with you (compare Deuteronomy 15:11). You will always have

opportunity of doing to them, as to representatives of me, what is in your

heart of compassion (compare Matthew 25:40-45). But me, as an object of

personal, tangible regard and visible attention, deserving thus and ever the

affluence and exuberance of your love, ye have not always; and, though I

shall be with you always in my Divine power and Spirit, even unto the end

of the world, and though I shall always be with you in the person of the

poor and needy, yet in the sense in which this expression of love can be

made, I shall be absent. As though He had said, “After this very night, the

opportunity to offer me affectionate attention or symbolic homage, to give

expression to feelings in accordance with just presentiments as to my

mission, will be over forever, and belong to the irrecoverable past — Now

or never! She has done this thing, she will have everlasting remembrance

thereby.” The frankincense of the Wise Men, the ointment of Mary, the

homage of the Greeks, were symbols, and can never be repeated. The

greatest motive for generous and affectionate interest in the poor is that

they represent the Lord; but they are not to be rivals of the Lord Himself.

The very charity that cares for the poor whom we see has been kept alive

by faith in and devotion to the crucified Redeemer whom we cannot see.


9 “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and

they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus

also, whom He had raised from the dead.”  On much people of the Jews.

The article (oj – ho), which the best texts introduce before o]clov polu<v

ochlos polus – many; crowd; throng –  gives to these words an almost

technical force. The huge multitude of the Jews — the surging crowd of

ever-gathering pilgrims blended with the “common people,” the bulk of the

population of Jerusalem and its neighborhood (ch. 11:55-56) —

therefore — because, i.e., of the rumors of the feast, the news of the royal

consecration and sacred anointing, which had taken place in honor of Jesus

and His last great miracle — learned that He was there — that He had left

His unknown place of retirement at Ephraim. We gather from the synoptic

narrative that He had joined the pilgrim-throng, advancing first into Jericho,

and then, after a night spent there, had moved onwards to Bethany. The

dispersion of hundreds of these excited followers into Jerusalem had again

bruited abroad the fact of the resurrection of Lazarus, and, by reason of the

Lord’s return to Bethany, the Jerusalem-party at length learned where He

was. JO o]clov ejk tw~n jIoudai>wn - Ho ochlos ek ton Ioudaion – much

people of the Jews - shows an antithesis intended between  the Judaean and

the Galilean crowds. These the synoptists describe as “those that went before,

and those that followed after.” And they came, not for the sake of Jesus only,

but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He raised from the dead. Jesus

was not the only attraction; the risen man Lazarus was a rival in popularity,

and by this ocular, tangible specimen of the supernatural resources of Jesus,

they would deepen their interest and strengthen their convictions. Many

of this Jerusalem populace, on account of him (Lazarus), and the fact of his

resuscitation (uJph~gon - hupaegon),  went away, perhaps, though not

necessarily so, “apostatized,” from the high-priestly party, from the hostile

party in the capital, and separated themselves from the open but desperate

plot against the Divine Master, and believed on Jesus  (v.11) — threw in their

part and lot with the Lord and His disciples. This roused the malignity of the

unspiritual and unscrupulous party of Caiaphas, of Annas, and of the Pharisees

in the Sanhedrim


10 “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;

11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed

on Jesus.”  They deliberated to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus. It was not enough

that one man should die; another and another must follow if their plan is to succeed.

And now the hour had come (ch.2:4; 7:30), but not until our Lord once more

warned the disciples with intense significance and explicitness of His

approaching death and burial. Thus another striking illustration is given of

the judgment, the crisis, the sifting process, which is always going on in the

presence of Christ. His greatest signs, His wisest teachings, His most

amazing love, bring out the twofold result. Some receive, some reject,

some burst into louder acclaim, some try to slay.



The Supper at Bethany (vs. 1-11)


While the hostility of the Jews grows day by day, the devotion of our

Lord’s friends visibly increases.


  • THE TIME OF THE SUPPER. “Six days before the Passover.”


Ø      The most probable opinion is that it took place on the day after the

Jewish sabbath.

Ø      The edict of the authorities at Jerusalem respecting Jesus had no

deterrent effect upon His friends at Bethany. This feast is their

answer to it.




Ø      It was, as we learn from the other evangelists, held in the house of

Simon the leper. Probably he had been healed by Jesus, and gave the

feast as a sign of his gratitude and love.

Ø      The guests were:

o       Jesus and His apostles;

o       Martha, who gave her personal service;

o       Mary, whose extraordinary act showed equal faith and love; and

o       Lazarus, whose very presence glorified our Lord.


  • THE ACT OF MARY. “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of pure

nard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with

her hair.”


Ø      Other evangelists mention that she anointed His head; that, however,

was a common courtesy. Mary’s act was an extraordinary mark of

honor, for she anointed His feet as well as His head.

Ø      Her act was a virtual consecration of Jesus to a Divine work, involving


Ø      No apostle had ever, perhaps, sacrificed so much upon the Lord as

Mary, for her offering was “very costly.” A loving heart judges no

offering too precious for Christ.



“Why was not this perfume sold for two hundred pence, and the price

given to the poor?”


Ø      It was undoubtedly a large sum to expend for such a purpose. Says

Mark (Mark 14:5), “It might have been sold for more than three

hundred pence,” a sum equal to the support of a working man during

a whole year.

Ø      The complaint of Judas was echoed by the other apostles. “And they

murmured  against  her.” (Ibid)  How ready even good men are at

times to respond to the suggestions of selfish but plausible men!

Ø      The objection of Judas to Marys profusion was dictated in no degree

by a genuine regard for the poor. “Now he said this, not that he cared

for the poor, but because he was a thief, and kept the bag, and took

what was put in it.”

o       Judas thought it would have been a wiser act for Mary to

 entrust the value of this costly offering to his keeping.

o       It would have given him a fresh opportunity of purloining

from the common stock.

o       Note how a covetous heart grudges everything to Christ.

o       Note the false motive that prompted the remonstrance. How

common is the tendency to undervalue a generous act

through envy or selfishness!

§         He had no compassion for the poor.

§         The poor always had their share of the common

fund provided for the apostles (ch.13:29).



her alone: against the day of my burial hath she kept this. For the poor

always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”


Ø      Mary utters not a word in her own vindication.

Ø      Jesus vindicates her act, as having relation to His approaching burial.

o       It was usual to make such preparations for the grave.

o       Her act showed that she believed in His approaching death.

In this respect Mary saw further than the apostles themselves.

Ø      Faith honors a crucified as well as an ascended Lord.

Ø      The act of Mary now begun was completed by Nicodemus and Joseph of

Arimathaea. (ch. 19:40.)

Ø      There is a proper season for the honor or love to be shown to those

dear to us.

o       There will never be wanting the poor to receive the tokens of a

kindly heart. “For the poor shall never cease out of the land”

(Deuteronomy 15:11).

o       Jesus in His human life was soon to disappear from the world.



people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for

Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised

from the dead.”


Ø      The miracles He had wrought profoundly interested the people in the

Person of our Lord.

Ø      It was curiosity rather than conscience that led to the desire to see

Lazarus as well as Jesus. Curiosity, however, is lawful and right

when it leads to a serious inquiry into the facts.



CHIEF PRIESTS. “Now the chief priests consulted that they might put

Lazarus to death also.”


Ø      The sacrifice of one life often leads to the sacrifice of more. Yet what

injury had Lazarus done?

Ø      The idea of the authorities was to destroy the living evidence of a

most remarkable miracle.

Ø      The cause of the bloody design was the effects of the miracle in

adding to the number of Christs converts. “Because many of the

Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.”

o       They not only withdrew from the communion of Judaism and

the jurisdiction of the chief priests,

o       but became true disciples of Jesus. Nothing so enrages the

enemies of Christ as THE ENLARGEMENT OF HIS



Next (vs. 12-19) is related the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Christs

Challenge of the authorities, and its results. (On the differences between

John’s account of this transaction and that of the synoptic narrative, cf.

commentaries, Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29- 44.)  On the

precise order of events it is difficult to speak with absolute

decision. The main difference between the synoptists and John is in the

break at Bethany of the journey from Jericho to Jerusalem, to introduce a

feast, which is related afterwards by the synoptists, though not limited by

them to any later chronological position. It should be observed, moreover,

that the synoptic narrative contains numerous references to the residence in

Bethany during several days of the week (compare Mark 11:12; Matthew

21:17) which followed. John adds important details, and while he omits the

great discussions in the temple, the withering of the fig tree, the cleansing

of the temple, the parables of the judgments on scribes and Pharisees, and

the prophecy of the future, he portrays the inner life of the Lord, and

records His most gracious esoteric teaching and sublime prayer. The

current tradition of the Church, the distinct note of time for Christ’s arrival

at Bethany (six days before the Passover), make the triumphal entry take

place on Sunday afternoon (compare v. 1) of Passion week.


12 “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when

they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,” -  The next day (on

the morrow) must be the day after the feast. We have seen that that feast

probably took place on the evening of the sabbath. The events that happened

are far more abundantly described in Matthew, Mark, and Luke — the

excitement in Jerusalem, the method in which the triumph was carried through,

the mode adopted to secure “the young ass,” the weeping ever Jerusalem from

the summit of the hill; none of these circumstances are inconsistent with this

account. Brief, however, as our narrative is, it adds some features which are

peculiar and highly historic. A vast crowd that had come to the feast, when

they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. These that had come from

the country, and had already encamped near or in Jerusalem, came group after

group to Bethany to escort Him into the city. The synoptists, not

mentioning the pause of the sabbath at Bethany, and not clearly indicating

where and when the feast at Bethany took place, naturally connect the

journey from Jericho with the entrance into Jerusalem. John explains, in

addition, that there were of the Jerusalemites themselves certain who had

been led to go to Bethany and throw in their lot with the Lord. The early

pilgrims mentioned in ch.11:55-56, also came forth from the city to

hail and welcome His approach.


13 “Took branches of  palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and

cried, Hosanna: Blessed  is the King of Israel that cometh in the name

of the Lord.”  Took branches of the palm trees, and went forth to meet

Him. The synoptists had mentioned that the triumphant host

had cut “branches,” kla>douv kladous - (Matthew 21:8), from the trees,

and Mark (Mark 11:8) had said stiba>dav stibadus - fragments of trees,

grass, small branches, that could be strewn in the way. Luke (Luke 19:35)

simply mentions the garments thus strewn — a fact mentioned also by Mark

and Matthew. Our narrative gives greater definiteness, and even adds a new

feature, by speaking of ta< bai>a tw~n foini>kwn – ta baia ton phoinkon  -

the palm branches of  the palm trees -  which they waved probably in triumph,

as they had been accustomed to do in token of the approach of a conqueror

(compare I Maccabees 13:51, where Simon’s return to the city was celebrated

with “thanksgiving and bai`>wn baionbranches - and with harps and cymbals,”

etc.). The use  to which the branches of the well-known palm trees were put,

differs from, but does not  exclude, the use to which kla>doi and stoiba>dev

were also put. Bethany (see note, ch.11:1) was “the house of dates,” and the

palm branches for the Feast of Tabernacles, on its first celebration after the

Captivity (compare Leviticus 23:40), were fetched from the mount

(Nehemiah 8:15).  The palm tree was a sacred symbol for Israel “Tamar,”

a palm tree, was a favorite name for a woman. The Maccabaean coins were

decorated with the palm and vine. The medal struck by Titus represented

a captive sitting under a palm. Throughout their history, in their gorgeous

temple ritual, it continually reappears, and at the last the Apocalypse

represents the victorious songs of triumphant elders accompanied by the

waving of the palm. If we compare the four accounts of the demonstration,

we shall see again how in combination they vividly represent the whole

scene. The multitude cry, according to:


  • Matthew 21:9: “Hosanna (equivalent to “save I pray thee”)

 to the Son of David: Blessed be He that cometh in the Name

of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”  (a quotation from Psalm



  • Mark 11:9-10: “Hosanna; Blessed be He that cometh in the Name of

the Lord: Blessed be the coming kingdom of our father David:

Hosanna in the highest.”


  • Luke 19:38, remembering the angel’s song: “They praised God with a

loud voice.… Blessed be the King that cometh in the Name of the

Lord: in heaven peace, and glory in the highest.”


  • John says they went forth to meet Him, palm branch in hand, and

cried,  Hosanna: Blessed be he that cometh in the Name of the

Lord, and (blessed be) (even) the King of Israel.


These differences show how various groups used with freedom the tones

and sentiment of the hundred and eighteenth psalm, adopting the welcome

with which the priests were accustomed to greet the pilgrims to the

festival. But each account demonstrates that, on this occasion, there was a

general ascription to our Lord of MESSIANIC HONOR!   He is hailed by

the people as King of Israel, as the Head of the coming kingdom of their

father David, and as giving glory to God. The Name of the Lord is the

manifestation and compendium of all the perfections of the Lord. For

centuries the gracious hope had rung forth in the sacred liturgy, and now

the people see that the hope is on the point of realization.


14 “And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is

written.” The whole account of the process by which our Lord secured this

ojna>rion onarion – a young ass, or ass’s colt -  is described at great length

by the synoptists (see Matthew 21:2; Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). The foal implies

that the animal had never borne another burden. The account of Matthew refers

to the mother and the foal, as though they were inseparable, and together bore

the sacred burden. The entire process of securing both must have

taken time, and augmented the excitement. Christ at length, on the eve of

his Passion which He so distinctly foreshadowed, allowed the enthusiasm of

the people to prevail, and accepted the homage. The Galilee pilgrims take

up the demonstration, which was commenced, as we see from John’s

Gospel, by “the Jews” and those Jerusalemites who had been profoundly

moved by the significance of the resurrection of Lazarus. The

circumstances thus elucidated from the four narratives, reveal undesigned

coincidences. The entry into Jerusalem did not take place till the afternoon,

and so we find that all that our Lord did on arrival was to “go to the

temple, look round on all things, and, now that the even was come, to

revisit Bethany with the twelve” (Mark 11:11).


John, as well as Matthew, sees here a symbolical fulfillment of

what had been declared by one of the latest of the prophets, as the

peculiarity of the Messiah (Zechariah 9:9):


15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an

ass’s colt.”  This oracle is admitted by commentators of opposite schools

to refer to the Messiah. There was no need, in order to fulfill the spirit of

the whole passage, that the King should come to His own literally upon the

back of a beast of burden. The prophecy does, however, suggest the modesty,

the absence of all pomp or display of worldly wealth and power; nay, the

humiliation on the part of the true King. Both Matthew and John omit the

characteristics of “righteous and saved,” i.e. “delivered” from the hands

of His cruel enemies. The suffering Servant of God of the great oracle of

Isaiah 53. was in the mind of the Prophet Zechariah, and he adds this feature

to the triumphant coming of the true Prince of Peace, that He would “cut off

the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem, i.e. so act that even

the national pride and power and military prowess should come to an end;

“Speak peace to the nations; rule from sea to sea, from the river to the

ends of the earth.” As John and Matthew both see the symbolical

fulfillment of the prophecy, they doubtless would have us bear in mind the

whole passage. John transforms the “Rejoice greatly, shout,” etc., of the

prophet into Fear not.” He seems to take it at one stage only of

fulfillment, when anxiety might momentarily be put to rest. The “Fear not”

is a lower form of “great rejoicing.” It is something for men to dismiss their

doubts and hush their unrest, even when they cannot burst into song.

Some urge that the “meekness and lowliness” to which

the prophet referred, and which Matthew cited from him, was imaged in

the lowly beast on which never man sat. But it must not be forgotten that

the ass was used by distinguished personages (Judges 5:9-10; 10:4;

II Samuel 17:23; 19:26). And all that was really meant by it was the

choice of a creature associated rather with daily life than with military

display. It should be observed that, while John’s narrative is abbreviated,

it is  in harmony with the synoptists.


16 “These things understood not His disciples at the first: but

when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things

were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him.”

This verse shows that the disciples (of whom John was one) took part in

the celebration, though they did not see at the time, nor until after the

Ascension — not until they saw by faith the do>xa doxa – glory -  into

which the Lord had entered — that the honor which they had done to Him

had corresponded strangely with the marvelous words of the old prophecy.

And that they had done — clearly the disciples, on grammatical grounds;

oiJ maqhtai< oi mathaetai  - the disciples - is the subject of ejpoi>hsan

epoiaesan – they do; had done - these things unto Him.  jEdoxa>sqh 

 edoxasthaewas glorified -  is used of the uplifting to the glory which He

had before the world was; not until then was the Spirit given that explained

so much of the mysterious life. (For other illustrations of to< prw~ton

to proton –  in the rare sense of “at first,” see ch. 10:40; 19:39.)


  • Men often act and speak without perceiving the full meaning of deed or

word, not grasping the link of connection thus instituted between a

consecrated past and a predestined future.

  • Words and actions are freely done from personal motives and in entire

spontaneity when they are nevertheless fulfilling the Divine purpose

and working out the plan of God.

  • The revealing moment comes, and the whole significance flashes into



These verses (vs. 17-19) connect the enthusiasm of the multitudes

with the great miracle of John 11, indicating a point concerning which the

synoptic narrative is silent, and further they consociate the miracle and its

effect upon the multitude with aggravation of the malignant feeling of the

constituted authorities which leads to the capture and crucifixion of the

Lord Jesus.


17 The people therefore that was with Him when He called Lazarus out

of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.” This verse goes

back to the (o]clov  - multitude) who are mentioned in ch.11:42; i.e. to the

friends of Mary and Martha and to other inhabitants of Bethany, as well as

visitors from Jerusalem (Ibid. v.31). All these are involved in the explicit

declaration, oJ w]n met aujtou~ – ho on met autou -which was with Him -

when He called Lazarus out of his grave, and (not only so, but) raised him

from among the dead. Those who had actually beheld the miracle, and were

as eye and  ear witnesses of the event, who had hovered about Bethany

since His return to it, — these were bearing witness. They spread themselves

abroad in the crowd of Galilaean pilgrims and others, and were uttering their

testimony on all sides. The word is used absolutely, as in ch.19:35, and the

imperfect tense should not be turned here into a mere preterit.


18 “For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He

had done this miracle.”  For this cause also the (oJ o]clov) multitude

which here seems to be the aggregate of the (o]clov polu>v – see v. 9)

crowds made up of the Judaean and Galilaean pilgrims and “the Jews”

who had believed on Him met Him (see especially vs. 12-13) — went

forth, and cut down the branches of the palm trees, and came in high

jubilance to meet Him — because they heard that He had wrought this

sign. The resurrection of Lazarus is the motive of the triumphal procession.

The synoptists, who have omitted the whole episode of Bethany, are naturally

silent concerning the impression produced by it on the Passover pilgrims and

the Jerusalem crowd. John, more intimately acquainted with the currents of

thought in the capital than the rest, drew here from his experience and memory,

and has preserved historical features which they had ignored.


19 “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye

prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after Him.”  The Pharisees

therefore, at the sight of the popular enthusiasm, said to themselves; i.e. to their

own inner circle.   Here is a possible hint of some medium of communication

between John and the Pharisees,  that might be found through

Martha and Simon (her husband). Their language was, Perceive [ye] — or,

ye perceive (either imperative or indicative) — that ye prevail nothing!

The interrogative may also be a true translation. Do ye perceive that ye

prevail nothing? On either hypothesis, it cannot be, as Chrysostom says,

the language of the friends of Jesus among the Pharisees, but rather the cry

of despair and rage. Behold, the (ko>smov kosmos) world has gone away

 after  Him. They are repenting that they had not followed out the coercive plans

and murderous designs of Caiaphas, and had been content with half-measures.



The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (vs. 12-19)


On the day after the feast at Bethany, Jesus entered the city under

circumstances of unusual public enthusiasm.




crowd of people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus

was come to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to

Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the

Name of the Lord.”


Ø      They were not Jews of Jerusalem, who were almost entirely hostile to

Jesus, but Galilaeans who had come up to observe the Passover. These

people were far more receptive of truth than the people directly under

the guidance of the religious chiefs of the nation.  (ch. 1:11-12)

Ø      The palm branches were emblematic of triumph, strength, and joy.

Ø      The exclamation of the people, which is taken from Psalm 118., was

a recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus.



OF THE PEOPLE. “Jesus having found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is

written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an

ass’s colt.”


Ø      The action was a Messianic sign of humility. The ass is as despised in

the East as in the West. The entry of Jesus upon it set forth the

essentially spiritual aspect of His Kingship.

Ø      The quotation from ancient prophecy might assure the Jews that this

King would be no tyrant.

Ø      Yet the true import of the sign was not directly understood even by the

disciples. “Now the disciples understood not these things at the time.”

o       The disciples were often slow of heart to believe all that the

prophets had spoken.

o       But, in the light of our Lord’s ascension, they saw the import

of His action, and understood the part which they themselves

had contributed to it.



multitude therefore that was with Him when he called Lazarus out of his

grave, and raised him from the dead, bare Him witness; and for this cause

also the multitude met Him, because they had heard that He had done this

miracle.” Both the Jews of Jerusalem and the strangers bore witness to the

miracle which led to the demonstration it shows how profound was the

impression made by the miracle.



“Whereupon the Pharisees said among themselves, You see

that you prevail nothing; behold, the whole world is gone away after Him.”

Ø      This is the language of weak and irresolute despair.

Ø      They seem to blame each other for the frustration of their plans.

Ø      They evidently deem that the time is past for mere half-measures,

and are prepared to adopt the more energetic and extreme measures

suggested by Caiaphas.



The Desire of the Greeks” — the Representatives of

      the Western World — go see Jesus, and His Reply (vs. 20-30)


And now a scene is related of transcendent interest — the one solitary incident

of the Passion week between the triumph and the night of the Last Supper.

John assumes here a knowledge of all that, in current tradition and narrative,

had taken place between these two events:


  • The cleansing of the temple,
  • the solemn parables by which Jesus repulsed the Sanhedrin,
  • the conflict with Sadducees and scribes, and with the combined

forces of Herodians and Pharisees,

  • the denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees, and the prophetic


  • possibly the awful doom of Jerusalem, and
  • the departure from the temple.


This event may have occurred towards the close of this solemn and

crowded week, and it made profound impression upon John. The Hellenes

were probably “proselytes,” like the Ethiopian chamberlain (Acts 8:27).

Edersheim says they were “proselytes of righteousness,” for no others

would be allowed to worship at the feast. Whether they came from some

Greek city in Ituraea, or from Cyrene or Edessa, Ephesus or Alexandria,

we know not. As wise men came from the East to the cradle of the Lord,

some can imagine these Hellenes to have been Judaized thoughtful men

who were longing for the light and joy found in the Holy Scriptures, and

the religious teachings or ceremonial of the temple, into the outer courts of

which they would be admitted. When they saw the kind of reception which

this mighty Sage was receiving from His own people and from the

constituted authorities, they were ready to plead with Him to go among

them, and to offer His message to the Gentiles. For the most part He had

confined His mission to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” but in His

care for the Herodian nobleman, the Roman centurion, the Syro- Phoenician

woman, and His references to the “other sheep He had,” to the

“world” which His Father loved, etc., He partially revealed His ultimate

mission to the whole world, though He always implied that such a mission

presupposed His cruel cutting off and awful mysterious hour.


20 “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up

to worship at the feast.”   Tinev – Tines – certain - implies a group, and

a larger company of these ajnabaino>ntwn -  anabainonton – them that

came up – the ones going up - who were and are in the habit of going up

(perhaps were still doing it even when John, before writing his Gospel, had

first put the narrative into words). They went up with a view to worship in

the feast, that is, there were burnt offerings and thank offerings which they

were allowed to present. This shows that they were not heathen nor

uncircumcised Hellenists, whichever view of that word be accepted.


21 “The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of

Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.” The first

expression of that great yearning which, swollen by multitudes without

number, is loud as the voice of many waters and mighty thunderings. It is

the wail of every penitent; it is the birth-cry of every renewed soul; it is the

raptured burst of joy as each son of God passes behind the veil!   The

“therefore” implies some kind of previous relation with Philip, whose

somewhat timid, cautious, speculative mind, as hinted in the earlier

portions of the Gospel, made him accessible to them. Personal

acquaintance is, of course, possible. The mention of Bethsaida of Galilee

confirms the suggestion that they were inhabitants of one of the Greek

cities of Decapolis, or of the slopes of the Lebanon. Many commentators

refer to Philip’s Greek name as indicating proclivities or sympathies on

his part which would make him peculiarly accessible.



The Desire to See Jesus (v. 21)


The wish of these Greek-speaking Gentiles, who (being proselytes to the

faith of Israel) had come to Jerusalem to take part in the sacred festival, is

a wish not to be explained with certainty. How far they were animated by

mere curiosity, how far by intelligent interest and spiritual yearning, we

cannot say. But the language in which they expressed their desire is not

only beautiful in its simplicity, it is susceptible of appropriation by all those

who have felt their need of the Savior.



this question we must consider:


Ø      The spiritual impulse. Man is so made as that he desires

“to see good,” and that, if his soul be really awakened to

newness of life, he desires to see the highest and the purest

good. They who have seen many earthly objects and persons

have come to understand that all which this world can give is

in its very nature unsatisfying. If sought as the supremely

excellent, worldly good cannot fail to disappoint. Thus there

remains an aspiration which is unquenched, and, so far as

earthly streams are concerned, is unquenchable.  (Only

God can fulfill us and this is His design! – CY – 2103)

But we must consider:

Ø      The attractiveness of Christ. The Greeks had heard something,

perhaps much, of Jesus of Nazareth; in any case they had

heard enough to induce them to seek a personal interview

and acquaintance with the great Prophet.  When the gospel is

published, and the spiritual charms of the Savior set

forth, He is portrayed before men’s eyes as the “chief among

ten thousand,... the altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon

5:10,16).  To hear of Him “with the hearing of the

ear” (Job 42:5) is, where there is any susceptibility to

spiritual excellence and beauty, to desire closer knowledge

and fellowship. Thus the preaching of Christ is designed to

lead to the very application made by these inquiring Greeks.




Ø      A longing for acquaintance with the personal, historical,

Divine Savior.  They who ask to see Jesus imply by their

request that there is “one Jesus” who may be known;

not a fiction of the imagination, but a real and living

Being, who may be approached and studied.

Ø      A readiness of faith to find in Jesus all that He declares

Himself to be. The desire in question is not merely for

speculative satisfaction; it is for spiritual enrichment.

The soul hopes to see in Him a mighty Savior and a

gracious Friend.

Ø      An earnestness, candor, and teachableness of spirit,

such as become those who have nothing when they

draw near to One who has all.


Ø      He is willing to be sought. Never during His ministry did

He hide Himself from those who really wished to have

an interview with Him. He was ever accessible to the

needy, to the suffering and sorrowful, to the sinful and

penitent.  (“In Him we have access” – Ephesians 2:18)

Ø      He is ready to befriend and bless and save. Do men ask

to see Jesus?  His answer is, “Look unto me, and be ye

saved.” (Isaiah 45:22 – I recommend the three sermons

on this passage by Charles Spurgeon – this web site –

CY – 2013).  Do men timidly approach Jesus?  He

encourages them by saying, “Come unto me, and

I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)


Ø      It may lead to the action to which the soul is

encouraged by the Savior, i.e. to true spiritual

approach to Himself.

Ø      It may then lead to the enjoyment of the blessings

which, through the knowledge and fellowship of the

Lord Jesus, may be experienced by the soul that sees

the Savior with the gaze and vision of true faith.

The eyes of the understanding being opened, the

illumined nature looks upon the Lord; and to look

upon Him is to live.





Ø      The Greeks came to the disciples, and the disciples

introduced the strangers to the Lord.  They themselves

could give no satisfaction to the inquirers BUT THEY



those who themselves have seen Jesus, and who know Him,

may point to Him whom they know and love, and may say

in the hearing of others, Behold the Lamb of God which

taketh away the sin of the world!”


22 “Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell

Jesus.”  The slight modification of text preferred by the Revised

Version gives great vivacity to the picture (see below, note 1). Philip

receives the respectful request of the Greeks, Sir [my lord], we would see

Jesus,” i.e. “converse with.” They probably sought to bring some proposal

before Him. Surely they must have had, if they wished it, many

opportunities of merely seeing Jesus, when He crossed the Mount of Olivet

during those three days, or tarried in the court of the Gentiles; now they

pressed for an interview. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew. Andrew was

the earliest of the disciples, who brought his own brother Simon to Jesus

(ch.1:40-42). He is mentioned as in close association with Simon,

James, and John, as partners with them in the fishing-trade on the lake of

Galilee (see Mark 1:16, 29, and 3:18, compared with Luke 5:10).

LThere is some hint that Andrew and John, after the first call to become

followers of Christ, clung to Him, and went with Him to Jerusalem, and then

returned with Him through Samaria, after which occurred the second call of

the brothers Simon and James. The frequent references to Andrew and

Philip in this Gospel correspond with the tradition preserved in the

Muratorian Fragment on the Canon, touching Andrew’s part in the

composition of this Gospel. These two disciples are represented as

consulting with each other on previous occasions, as though peculiarly

related in sympathy. Philip sees certain difficulties, and Andrew has a

practical mind, and proposes a way out of them (see ch. 6:7-8).

There was something now to be said on both sides. Their ancient

prophecies anticipated a world-wide aspect of the Messianic kingdom

(Isaiah 55:4-5; 56:3, 7; as well as Genesis 49:10). Now, if this

incident occurred after Jesus had claimed the hundred and tenth psalm as

an oracle which described His own Divine claims and His universal victory

as the Lord and Son of David and royal Warrior-Prest (Matthew 22:41-46,

and parallel passages), Philip may have felt this moment to be a

most critical one in his history; for he may have been perfectly aware of the

outbreak of peril which converse with Greek proselytes might at that

moment have provoked in the minds of the turbulent populace.  (In a survey

of Western Palestine and Jerusalem, Warren and Conder tell of an

inscription written in monumental characters in seven lines:  No stranger

is to enter within the balustrade round the temple enclosure.  Whoever is

caught will be responsible to himself for the death which will ensue.”

Curiously, Josephus, in the passage referred to, speaks of the balustrade

Which surrounds the Temple.  The inscription also throws interesting

Light upon the episode in Acts 21:26-29).   Andrew cometh and Philip,

and they (together) tell Jesus. Jesus alone could solve the difficulty at

that time, and Jesus Himself is the just and reasonable Source of all

enlightenment. Jesus is at this hour the highest Expression of

man and his destiny, and He is also the perfect Manifestation of the Father,

the only Mediator between God and man, absolutely one with both. We

still go to Him to know what God is and what God would have us to think

and to be, and to learn what man may become. We take to Him the puzzles

of our logic, the accusations of our conscience, and the burdens of our

heart. Additional interest is thrown round this narrative by a suggestion of

Archdeacon Watkins, that, in the course of this week, our Lord had

cleansed the temple and courts of its profane traffic, and declared it to be a

house of prayer for all nations. Such grand revolutionary conceptions as

those of our Lord must have deeply stirred the souls of the susceptible

Greeks. Aliens were, as we know from Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 15:11.5),

forbidden to pass beyond the balustrade round the i[eron – heron – temple.

M. Ganneau   has found among the ruins of Jerusalem one of the slabs of

stone which  recorded this exclusion.



The Time has come for the Glorification of the Son of Man in

and through Death.  (vs. 23-26)


23 “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son

of man should be glorified.”  And Jesus answereth them. Many commentators 

think that Jesus did not address the following words to the Greeks, that until He

had gone through the agony of death, and entered in human nature on His Divine

and mediatorial reign, the mission to the Gentiles could not commence, that the

interview was over, and that the solemn words are addressed to the disciples in

the presence both of Greeks and of others afterwards; but there is no such

break suggested. It is more probable that the Greeks were close behind Andrew

and Philip, and that our Lord at once, for their advantage, as well as for that

of the disciples, proceeded to explain the solemn impression made upon Himself

by this remarkable desire. Surely it is unnecessary to say that our Lord was

anxious not to give umbrage to the priests, or to rouse the animosity of the

people. Every word of the terrible address of Matthew 23 (I am 70 years

old and this is the first time I have understood that the contents of the

above chapter was proclaimed during Jesus’ last week! – CY – 2013)

all the controversies in the temple, even the triumphal entry itself, would

and did give mortal umbrage to the priestly party and to the Sanhedrim.

He had boldly challenged their entire position, He had smitten down their

prejudices and assailed their notions of exclusive privilege, and therefore

would not have shrunk, on that ground, from a meeting with devout Greeks

worshipping at the feast.  The words are surely said to them and about them,

but in the main for the instruction of the disciples themselves. The hour is come

for which He had been waiting (see ch.2:4; 13:1) the mysterious “hour” on

which His glory would depend, AND THE DESTINY OF THE WORLD

TURN!   God not only contemplates great periods, eons of time, but “acceptable

years,” “days of the Lord,” “moments of time,” as parts of the eternal plan.

That the Son of man should be glorified. The “Son of man,” rather than

“Son of God,” is the term He uses in reference to, and in the presence of,

the Greeks. The highest Man is now about to assume His supreme glory,

to go forth, as the mighty Man, to rule the world of men. The Son of man

is about to ascend into HIS ETERNAL THRONE,  to clothe Himself with

all authority of judgment and mercy in heaven and earth. The glorification

of the Son of man is one of the high main themes of the Gospel, and its

justification is to be found in the fact that the Son of man is indeed the Logos

made flesh, and the Lamb slain, and like the Serpent in the wilderness,

is being lifted up (I highly recommend Spurgeon’s 1500th Sermon - # 6 –

this web site – CY – 2013), and  as the true Shepherd is

laying down his life that He might take it again. The advent of the Greeks

opens prophetic vistas which involve tremendous experiences of His own,

and also great principles of service for all His followers. His Passion was so

inextricably interwoven with His glory, that the former becomes verily the

prelude of His victory and supreme exaltation. His death is but His glory.

Moreover, the approach of the Gentiles suggested the universal belief in

Him which would follow upon His Passion and resurrection, and “He

foretells that the hour of His glorification was already come” (Augustine).

(There are  several epochs in this record of the Lord’s life, where the “hour”

 seems to strike, but is again and again postponed with a view to fresh

revelations, exactly as the climax is deferred throughout the Apocalypse –

the Book of Revelation.)


24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn (or, grain) of

wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone:  but

if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.   The oracle is introduced with

a solemn jAmh<n ajmh<n le>gw uJmi~n:  - Amen, amen, lego humin

 Verily, verily I am saying unto you - The simple illustration of life through 

death, life triumphing over death.  As long as the corn of wheat is

scrupulously kept from decomposition and death in the granary, the hidden

germ is dormant; let it be sown as “bare grain” (I Corinthians 15:36-37),

then the strange force within it puts forth its hidden faculty, the outer

covering of this point of energy falls away, and the new thing appears. God

gives it a body, and much fruit is brought forth. Paul grasped the thought of

Jesus, and applied a part of it to the grand argument for the resurrection, both

Of Christ and Christians! Compare with this the teaching of John 6., where the

Bread of life is given for the food of men. Even the “bread-making” for

man involves, in another way, the temporary destruction of the living germ

in the grain of which it is composed, that it may become the life of men.

Christ is Himself the “Son of God,” the “Logos incarnate,” the “Son of

man.” By becoming, in His death, the food of man’s soul, He created thus a

new life in the hearts of men. Over and over again our Lord has declared

Himself to be “the Life,” and “the Source of life,” for men; but He here lays

down the principle that this life-giving power of His is conditioned by His

death. The great harvest will be reaped only when He shall have sacrificed

His life and put away sin by THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF!   It is, too,

only as every believing man dies to himself, is crucified with Christ (“I am

crucified with Christ:  nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in

me:  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the

Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20),

is dead with Him to the world, that he rises again in the newness of life.


In vs. 25-26, the Lord introduces a solemn, almost oracular

utterance, which proves how close and intimate is the relationship between

the synoptics and the Fourth Gospel. On several great occasions our Lord

has impressed this law of the Spirit of life upon His disciples. Thus in

Matthew 10:37-39, in the lengthened commission given to the twelve,

after calling on His followers to place His own claim on their affection as

greater than that of father, mother, friend, and calling for self-sacrifice, and

self-crucifixion, He said, “He that findeth his life (yuch< - psuche) shall

lose it: he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Again (Matthew 16:25,

etc.), after rebuking Peter for his unwillingness to recognize the necessity

and significance of the killing of “the Son of the living God,” He laid down

the same law once more, calling for self-denial and daily cross-bearing, and

adds, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose

his life for my sake shall find it.” So also Luke 9:23-24. Luke 14:26 also

introduces the same solemn aphorism in our Lord’s discourse concerning the

close of the Jewish national life. Surely here He is applying to His own case

the law of the Divine life which He had shown to be universal, and of which

He was on the point of giving the crowning and climacteric expression.

He does it with amplifications and a supply of motives. If life be regarded

as an end in itself; if it be treated as complete when rounded with its own

individuality; if life shrink from sacrifice, if it “love itself,” and will at all

hazards preserve itself; if the natural and instinctive fear of death, and

instinct of self-preservation, become A SELF-IDOLATRY — that life will

“ABIDE ALONE.”  If it sacrifice itself for higher ends than self; if it

regard the higher end as more valuable than itself; if it lose itself in the

object to which it is consecrated; if it be content to “die;”it

abideth no longer “alone,” but “bringeth forth much fruit.”


25 “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this

world shall keep it unto life eternal.”  He that loves his own life (yuch>);

life used as equivalent to “self,” in that totality of being which, like the life

of the seed-corn, survives the accident of death — he that loves his own life

(self) is losing  it; or, perhaps, destroying it, ipso facto. There are ends and

objects of love so much greater than “the self,” that to keep it by some act

of will and recreant fear is to make it UTTERLY VALUELESS  and is really

to destroy its true vitality. And he that hateth his (yuch>) life (self) in this

world, wherever the greater claim of Christ and of the Father would be

compromised by loving it, shall veritably preserve it, viz. the self, unto eternal

(zwh> zoae - life) life; i.e. to the blessedness of eternal being. The yuch>

(life; soul) is a great possession; and “what advantageth a man if he should

gain the whole world, AND LOSE IT?”  But if a man persists in gaining

the world, and forgets that this earthly existence is not capable of satisfying

the demands or finding a sphere for the true self, and so makes the earthly

reign or enjoyment of the yuch> the end of all striving, — then he miserably

fails. So far it is clear that our Lord is applying a great principle of the true

 life to the case of His own Messianic work and ministry. He draws, from a

law of the superiority of the Divine life to the fear of death and to the fact

of death, a justification of His own approaching doom. He can only by dying

LIVE HIS PERFECT LIFE,  win His greatest triumph and reap His

world-wide harvest.


26 “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 my Father honor.”

In this verse the Lord brings the light of heaven down into this

deep paradox. He speaks like an anointed King and great Captain of

salvation, who has (dia>konoi diakonoi  - servants) willing to do His

bidding. If any man will be my servant, let him follow me along the line

which I am prepared to take, in the way of sacrifice and death, which is

THE TRUE GLORIFICATION; and where I am, there shall also my

servant be. This association of the servant with the Lord, as the sufficient

and the transcendent motive, pervades the Gospels (compare ch.14:3 and

17:24; compare also Luke 23:43, “with me in Paradise;” and II Corinthians

5:8; 12:2, 4; Philippians 1:23). It is remarkable that Christ chose the

twelve that they should be “with Him” (Mark 3:14). There is no greater

blessedness. Still, the Lord adds, If any man serve me, him will the

Father honor. For the Father to honor a poor child of the dust seems

almost more than we can receive. The conception of the steps by means of

which the Lord makes this possible to His followers and servants produced

in His own self-consciousness one of those sudden and overwhelming crises

and changes from joy to perturbation, as of agony to peace and to

reconcilement with the eternal Father’s will, which prove how certainly John

is always portraying the same Personage, the same transcendent

character whom the synoptists describe (Luke 12:49-50; compare

Luke 19:38, 41; Matthew 11:20, 25; 16:17-19,21). More

than this, the whole passage that follows is a solemn prelude to that agony

of the garden which the synoptists alone record, while they omit this.


The Anticipation of Gethsemane (vs. 27-30)


27 “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me

from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.”

Now, at this moment, has been and yet is my soul troubled.

In ch.11:33 we hear that He troubled Himself, and shuddered wrathfully in His

“spirit” (pneu>meti - pneumati) at the contemplation of all the evils and curse

of death;  now His whole yuch>, i.e. His life centered in its corporeal

environment as a man, the self which the Son of God had taken up into THE

DIVINE ESSENCE was in depth of agony, preluding the strong crying and

 tears to which Hebrews 5:7 refers. These perturbations of His soul and spirit

can only be accounted for by the uniqueness of His Personality, the capacity for

suffering, and the extent to which He was identifying Himself with the sinful

nature with which He had invested Himself. Sin is the sting of death. He had

by the nature of His incarnation BECOME SIN FOR US (II Corinthians 5:21).

Martyrs, freed from sin, delivered from its curse and shame and power through

Him, face it with calmness and hope; but there was infinite space in His breast

for all the curse of it to rain its horrible tempest. He felt that the hour of His

extremest travail had come upon Him. And what shall I (must I) say? What is

the regal passion of my heart? What is the right revelation for me to make to

you? What is the prayer for me to offer to the Father? It remains a great

question whether the next utterance is the primary answer of the question

itself, or whether it continues the interrogation — whether, i.e., the Lord

lifts up for a moment the cry of heart-rending grief, Father, save me from

this hour!   or whether He said, Shall I say, Father, save me from this

hour? The first view supposes in the first place actual uncertainty and

awful bewilderment, and then a most intense cry (Hebrews 5:7) to Him

who was able to save Him from death. Save me either from the death itself,

or from the fear and horror which accompanies it. It need not be a prayer to

leave the world unsaved, to sacrifice all the work on which He had come.

We are told by the apostle (Hebrews 5:7) that he was “heard”

(ajpo< th~v eujlabei>av apo taes eulabeias – in that He feared; from the

piety) and delivered from human weakness which might have rebelled in the

intolerable darkness of that hour. Father, save me from this hour; the

equivalent to the prayer, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” with

its grand “nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt” etc. If this be its meaning,

we have a scene nearly, if not closely, identifiable with the agony of the garden.

The correction which immediately follows augments the comparison with the

scene in Gethsemane recorded by the synoptists. The Received Text and Revised

Version have put their note of interrogation after tau>thv - tautaesthis –

into the margin, and not  into the text. The self-interrogation of the

previous utterance at least reveals the presence of such a desire, but one

which vanishes as the mysterious hour engulfs and wraps Him round. If this

be the true interpretation, then the clause that follows must be, Nay this I

cannot say, for on account of this very conflict — for this cause — only to

fight this great battle — I came steadily forward to this hour. I cannot

pray to escape from it. If, however, we have the expression of an actual

though momentary prayer, and if we give it the meaning, “bring me safely

through and out of this hour,” it corresponds with the Divine trust in the

Father’s love which, in the extremity of the anguish and desertion, He yet

reveals, and the ajlla> - alla – but -  becomes equivalent to “Pray, this I

 need not say; the  end is known.” I know that I shall be delivered, for this

cause, viz. that I should encounter and pass through the hour I came into the

world, AND HAVE REACHED THE FINAL CRISIS!   This is, to my mind,

more satisfactory; the interrogative prayer gives a sentimental character to the

utterance out of harmony with the theme.  The circumstance that He did offer

the prayer as interpreted above, a prayer which was veritably heard, is in

harmony with the narrative of the agony.


28 “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven,

saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

A heavy thunder-cloud seems to hang over Him; for a moment a break in

the darkness, a rift in the clouds, presents itself, and, though He might have

 prayed for legions of angels, He did not. The second Adam knows the issue

of the tremendous trial, and, in full apprehension of the answer to His deepest

prayer, He cries, Father, glorify thy Name. The “thy” is emphatic. A contrast

is implied between the eternal glory and the glory of the Christ.


  • “I am thine; thou art mine;”
  • “Thy will be done;”
  • “Not as I will, but as thou wilt;”
  • “If this cup cannot pass away from me except I

drink it, thy will be done;”

  • “Not my will, but thine be done.”


I bare my breast for the blow; I yield my yuch> absolutely to thy control!

God glorifies Himself in many ways, and here we see the highest point to

which the human can rise. The synoptists tell us that at the baptism

(Matthew 3:17) and at the Transfiguration (Ibid. ch. 17:5) a literal voice

of words was heard from heaven conveying intelligible ideas to John the

Baptist and subsequently to Peter, James, and John. And here the same

John (son of Zebedee) records, not only that such a kind of voice was

repeated on this occasion, but reports the very words themselves. There

came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it,

 and will glorify it again. These words many of the crowd round about

Him, as well as Jesus Himself, distinctly heard.



The Soul-Conflict of Christ (vs. 27-28)


Only now and again do we observe the Savior’s regard turned inwardly

upon Himself, upon His own feelings and anticipations. Usually His thoughts

and His speech concerned others. But in this passage of His ministry He

gives us an insight into His inmost heart.


  • THE CRISIS OF THIS CONFLICT. The approach of the Greeks marks

“the beginning of the end.” Now the Son of man began to feel by

anticipation the burden of the cross. Opposition and persecution were at

hand. He was about to tread the winepress alone (Isaiah 63:3).  Pain,

humiliation, sorrow, death, were close upon Him. The “hour” which He

had long foreseen was now nearly marked upon the dial of His life; it

was the hour of His enemies’ power and of the prince of darkness.




Ø      On the one side was personal feeling, which expressed itself in the

cry, so human, so touching, so sincere, “Father, save me from this

hour!” This was the voice of human weakness, to be repeated

afterwards in the form, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me!”

This shrinking from all that was involved in the sacrifice was real.

Our Lord’s human nature was reluctant to endure:

o       the anguish of Gethsemane,

o        the agony of Golgotha.

Ø      On the other side was the perception that all the past experience

of His humanity led up to just this distressful burden, the pressure

of which He was now beginning to feel. He had consented to live

in order THAT HE MIGHT CONSENT TO DIE!   The baptism

of sorrow must overwhelm Him, the bitter cup must be drained to

the dregs, in order that His ministry might be complete. The Incarnation

itself contemplated, and virtually included, the sacrifice. The past

would prove to have been endured in vain, if the future should be

evaded; and the life of the Savior, WITH THE CROSS LEFT OUT,

 if such a conception be possible, would be POWERLESS IN THE


Ø      Hence the distraction of mind evinced in the exclamation, “What

shall I say?” The two wishes were inconsistent with each other.

With which of them should the deliberate and decisive resolve

identify itself?



struggle within the Savior’s Spirit was apparent when He uttered the

exclamation, the prayer, “Father, glorify thy Name!” For this revealed the

fact that Jesus was turning away from Himself and from His own feelings,

and was turning to His Father. He was sinking the consideration of

Himself and His sufferings in a filial regard to His Father’s honor, to the

Divine purposes which underlay the whole of His mission. God was exalted

in the completion of the Mediator’s work. Jesus learned obedience, and

displayed obedience, in the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Our

salvation was assured when the decision was reached, when the cry was

uttered, when the Father’s glory, by its dazzling brightness, its burning

radiance, consumed all beside.


  • THE CLOSE OF THE CONFLICT. The solemnity and grandeur of

the crisis is shown by the audible interposition with which the Father

responded to the cry of His beloved, chosen Son.


Ø      The voice from heaven was a reminder. How the Father had glorified

His Son we know from the record of what took place at the baptism

and at the Transfiguration. But to the spiritually enlightened and

discerning there had been apparent, all through our Savior’s ministry,

A MORAL GLORY  which was hidden from the thoughtless world!

Ø      The voice from heaven was a promise. The further glory of the Father

in His Son was to be manifested in all the events to follow the perfect

obedience unto the death of the cross. Especially in the resurrection of

Christ did God “give Him glory.” The Ascension, the marvels of

Pentecost, the signs accompanying the preaching of the gospel, were

evidences that the Divine purposes were in course of fulfillment. The

whole dispensation of grace is “rather”i.e. in a superior measure

and degree — “rather glorious.” 

o       The establishment of the kingdom of God among men,

o       the introduction of a new and higher life into our humanity,

o       the salvation of untold myriads of sinners,

o       the peopling of heaven with the redeemed from every nation,

these are signs that the Lord has seen of the travail of His soul and is

satisfied (Isaiah 53:11), that:

o       the purposes of the Father are accomplished, and

o       the glory of the Father is secured.


29 “The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it

thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him.”  The multitude that

stood by said, It has thundered; hearing only a voice of thunder. It will not,

however, on that account be fair to this evangelist to say that there was no

objective audible voice which any ear beside that of Jesus could hear, and

which none but the mind of Jesus could interpret. It is not sufficient to say

that the thunder and the voice were identical.   There are numerous passages

from the Old Testament where thunder was interpreted to mean the “voice

of Jehovah” (I Samuel 12:18; Psalm 18:13; ch.29.; Job 37:4; and in the Gospels

and Acts where an objective voice was heard. Such voice was at times accompanied

by thunder, but not in the majority of cases. In the promises made in the

garden of Eden, in the call of Moses and Samuel, and in the communion

that passed between the Lord and Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon,

Samuel, Solomon, and Elijah, Jehovah spake in audible words without such

auxiliary. When communications were made to Eli, to David, to Hezekiah,

and others, they were given by the lips of prophetic men. When the Law

was given to all the tribes of Israel, the thunder-trumpet was exceeding

loud and long, and the people could not bear the awful experience, so that

the Lord was pleased to speak to Moses only, and he was to communicate

with the people. The case of Elijah is remarkable because the “still small voice”

(I Kings 19:12) is distinguished from the thunder, etc., which had preceded it.

The narrative itself recounts a varied appreciation of a distinct and objective

fact. Those who were not alive to any voice from heaven confounded it with

thunder, lowered the Divine communication down to an ordinary natural fact.

Others, i.e. “a few others,” were much nearer to the reality when they said,

An angel hath spoken to Him (compare reference to the angelic aid that came

to the Lord in Gethsemane – Luke 22:43). The voice of God’s plenipotentiary

angel speaking in His Name, was recognized as a supernatural communication,

though the meaning of it was not grasped (compare the voice with which Jesus

spoke to Paul on the way to Damascus Acts 9:3-7). But we may reasonably

suppose that these Greeks, that the disciples who surrounded Jesus, that the

beloved John, found in the voice A DIRECT ANSWER to the previous

sublime cry of the Lord.  The prayer, “Father, glorify thy Name,” received

the answer, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again; i.e. In thy work

and life hitherto, as Prophet, Master, Example, as my beloved Son, my Name

has already been glorified in thee, and now in thy approaching sacrificial

agony in which thou wilt become perfect as a Priest-King, and THE

AUTHOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION, “I will glorify it again.”


30 “Jesus answered (to the confused murmur of remark) and said,

This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.” This surely

establishes, on the authority of Jesus, the objective character of the

revelation. “It was necessary that you should hear and know and feel who

and what I am.” Ever thinking of others, living in them, He thinks of their

spiritual advantage now.



Through Trouble to Triumph (vs. 27-30)


  • JESUS IN TROUBLE. He was not a stranger to trouble, but this was a

special problem.


Ø      Trouble arising from a vivid realization of His approaching death and

sufferings. They already cast their awful shadows upon His pure soul.

The unparalleled tragedy of His death, with all its sinfulness on the part

of His foes, and all its cruelties, agonies, and shame, was now acted in

His soul, and it caused Him to shudder. He was far from being a

coward, but quite so far from being a heartless Stoic. He was

courageous, but human; most heroic, but still most sensitive.

Ø      Trouble arising from the immediate effect of his death on others. The

Gentiles were already knocking at His door for admission; but the

opening of the door involved His death and the rejection of that

people whom He came to save. The more remote joy of His death

was hushed in its immediate effects upon His own nation. This

judgment which His death involved troubled Him.

Ø      Trouble which affected His Whole nature. “Now is my soul troubled,”

etc. The soul here represents His whole human nature, of which it is

the highest and most important part, and most capable of refined and

spiritual sufferings, and even His flesh quivered at the prospect of

such treatment at the hands of those from whom He expected and

deserved kindness. There is a close connection between the soul and

the body — sympathy between them. Suffering is contagious.




Ø      It was a prayer in trouble, and trouble sent Him naturally to His Father

for succor. Inward and outward trouble naturally drives the devoted

soul to God. It had this effect on Jesus now. And who could approach

God with such confidence and certainty of success as He? He had not

brought the trouble upon Himself, but bore it for others in accordance

with the eternal will.

Ø      It was a prayer in which He found it difficult to express Himself.

“What shall I say?” This difficulty arose:

o       From the troubled state of His soul. When a man is in great

trouble, accurate expression to God or man is difficult.

“What shall I say?”

o       From a severe conflict between the flesh and the spirit. Jesus

was thoroughly human, and was now young and in the bloom

of life, and also innocent and pure. In Him the claims of life

and the terrors of death would be naturally great. There was a

severe conflict between the weakness of the flesh and the

readiness of the spirit; and the natural prayer of the former

would be, “Father, save me from this hour!”  (“Take with

you words, and turn to the Lord.”   Hosea 14:2 -CY – 2013)

o       From the conflict between the possibility of escape, and the law of

obedience in His heart. The possibility and advantages of escape

were now doubtless presented to His mind — one of the last

 temptations of the prince of this world. The temptation in the

wilderness was not the only one He encountered. It was only

the introduction. He was tempted through life.  His own power

and superiority were used as instruments of temptation.  (One

alternative:  Send twelve legions of angels to rescue Him!  - 

“But then how can the Scriptures be fulfilled? - Matthew

26:53-54 – CY  - 2013).   The possibility and present advantages

of escape were presented to Him to the last; and, if such a

consideration triumphed, His natural prayer would be, “Father,

save me,” etc.

o       The ruling principles of His soul immediately triumphed. The

question, “Shall I say, Father, save me from this hour?” The

loyalty of His soul immediately answered, “No, I shall not say


HOUR!” Such a prayer would be a contradiction to His whole

spirit and history before and after the incarnation; would be

against the very purpose of His coming, which was well known

to Him; would be a victory for the enemy. But His loyalty

triumphed, and the prince of this world WAS CAST OUT

and in the end will be PERMANENTLY UNDONE –

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake

of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet

are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and

ever.”  (Revelation 20:10)

Ø      It is a prayer, the burden of which is His Fathers glory. “Glorify

thyself.” This implies:

o       An intense desire that His Father should be glorified. This is the

prayer of His soul and the soul of His prayer, and the affectionate

cry of His agonies, that the Divine power, wisdom, goodness,

 justice, mercy, and love, should be crowned, and the reputation

of the Divine name should BE ADVANCED!

o       An intense desire that His Father should be glorified in Him —

in His life and death; that He should be the medium of His

glorification; that in His incarnate life and death His Father’s

glory should be increased here and everywhere.

o       A self-sacrificing submission to His Fathers will. He is entirely

lost in the Divine will. His prayer is not, “Father, save me,” but

“Glorify thyself.”  In what is coming never mind me; take care

of thy Name. He would not be saved at any risk to the

Divine Name.   (What about you or me?  What is our desire? –

CY – 2013)  He offers Himself A WILLING SACRIFICE

on the altar of His Father’s glory. Selfishness is conquered,

and love is all ABLAZE!

o       The highest note of devotion. “Glorify thy Name.” This, as

uttered by our Lord, is:

§         the highest note of human devotion,

§         the climax of human worship, and

§         the sweetest music of self-sacrifice.




Ø      The answer is full and direct. “I have both glorified it, and will

Glorify it again.”  We have here the glorification of the Divine

Name in Jesus.

o       In relation to the past. “I have,” etc. His past life and work

had been in the highest degree acceptable and efficient, and

satisfactory to the Divine Being, and served the highest

interests of the Divine nature.

o       In relation to the future. “And will,” etc. Jesus’s past is only

an earnest of even a brighter future. IN HIM:

§         the Divine Name will be ever glorious,

§         the Divine glory will ever shine, and

§         the Divine attributes blaze with special and

increasing brilliancy.

      In Him the Divine nature will reach its highest and

      brightest manifestations.


Ø      The answer was immediate. “There came a voice,” etc. There was

no delay. The prayer went up in agony, and immediately came

 back in glory.  Jesus was near heaven when on earth, and heaven

was near Him, and ever ready to respond. Heaven is ever near and


Ø      The answer was audible. A voice,” etc. The prayer went up in a

voice, and in a voice the answer returned. This was the third time

Heaven spoke audibly respecting Christ:

§         at His baptism,

§         transfiguration, and

§         now at His Passion.

o       All heard it. “The people who stood by and heard.” It was loud

enough for all to bear. This is like Heaven; when it speaks, it

speaks in

§         CLEAR and

§         MIGHTY TONES!

When the material heaven speaks, it often speaks in storms

and thunders.

o       A few only understood it. To the majority it was a mere sound

like thunder. To some it suggested the broken articulations of

an angel, whilst to the disciples, and perhaps many others, it was

THE VERY VOICE OF GOD!  John fully understood it, and

copied its Divine meaning, and handed it down to us. Only

those who have ears to hear can hear and understand

WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH!   John had a good ear for the

Divine voice. What seems to us only thunder may be the

immediate voice of God.

Ø      The answer was audible for the sake of others. Jesus required

no voice from Heaven. He understood the language and thoughts

of Heaven intuitively. Christ was not dependent upon the human

voice as a medium of revelation. He knew what was in man;

(ch. 2:24-25).  He was conscious of what was in God. God spoke

in Him; but man requires a voice, and HEAVEN SUPPLIED


o       As a public testimony to the life and death of Christ.

o       As a test and confirmation of faith.

o       As a Divine indication of the special importance of the hour

which included the Passion of Christ. Its importance to:

§         earth,

§         heaven,

§         the Gentiles,

§         Jesus,

§         the Father, and

§         to the universe.



The Judgment of this World (vs. 21-26)


31 “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this

world be cast out.”  Still more emphatically does Christ expound the heavenly

voice, and vindicate for Himself the most solemn position with reference to

the world and its prince. The “world,” or humanity evolving itself to the

highest form of a complicated civilization, was present to Him far more

vividly than when the tempter showed Him all the kingdoms of the world

and the glory of them (Matthew 4:8-10).  Instead of holding them in royal fee

of the devil, and of compelling them to do His bidding, He declares that His

hour, which had come, was AN HOUR OF JUDICIAL CONDEMNATION

OF THE WORLD!  The corruption of the world, the radical injury done to                      

human nature, starts out on its beautiful and decorated front like the leprosy

did on the face of Naaman.  Now is a judgment of the world. Observe, not

h kri>siv  - hae krisis - the Judgment) - This is compatible  with the statements

of ch. 3:17-19, and not inconsistent with the frequent references in ch.5. to the

“last day.” Because John gives prominence to the great principles of judgment,

and implies that the books of remembrance and condemnation are written all

over indelibly by the hand of the world itself, there is no proof that the Lord

(in John) says nothing of the great catastrophic judgments of which the

synoptic Gospels preserve the prophecy. Our Lord has rather revealed (according

to John) the principles which make the judgment of the great day credible.

What a man has become at any epoch of his existence, what a nation is about at

any crisis of its history, whatsoever act represents the spirit of the whole

world, is in each case the judgment which God, by His providence, passes

upon him or it. Still more impressively with a second, Now, He adds, shall

the prince of this world be cast out. The phrase, “archon of this world,”

is a well-known later Hebraic phrase for “the ruler of the darkness of this

world,” the shir-olam of the rabbinical books, the angel of death, to whom

was entrusted the rulership of the world outside of the sacred family. Christ

declares that His own hour, in which the world and its prince would seem

to be triumphant, would be the hour when He should be cast out of earth as

He had been already cast out of heaven. This expulsion and destruction of

the power and works of the devil was one great end assigned to the

manifestation of the Son of God (I John 3:8). It is important, however,

to notice the difference of tenses. “Now is the judgment of this world,”

this is the immediate result of His death; “Now shall the prince of this

world be cast out” describes the gradual victory of truth, which is pursued

more explicitly in the next verse.


32 “And I, if I be lifted from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

33 This He said, signifying what death He should die.” . JUywqw~  -

hupsotho  - I may be being exalted; be lifted up - has been by many of

the  Fathers, referred to the Lord’s resurrection and ascension. The

ejk th~v gh~v  ek taes gaesfrom the earth – would certainly be in

favor of it, and be a possible rendering if we hold that resurrection and

uplifting from the earth involve and presuppose a previous death, or that

John always speaks of Christ’s death as itself a glorious thing, as itself

the commencement of the supreme glory of the Son of man. On the other

hand, there is nothing in the New Testament which makes the cross of Christ

in itself a symbol of the exaltation of Jesus. Moreover, the next verse compels

a closer reference to the way in which He was about to die — a mode of

departure admirably expressed by the term “uplifting.” The language of

Jesus to Nicodemus, in which the same word occurs in describing the

lifting up of the Son of man after the fashion in which the serpent was

uplifted in the wilderness (ch. 3:14 – once again, I highly recommend

Spurgeon’s Sermon – Lifting up the Brazen Serpent - # 6 – this web site –

CY – 2013), confirms this interpretation of the evangelist, which we have

no claim to traverse (cf. also ch.18:32; 21:19). Christ declared that the attraction

of the cross would be mightier than all the fascination of the prince of this

world. The word ejlku>sw elkuso - I will draw - is applied elsewhere (ch.

6:44) to the Father’s work of grace, which preveniently prepares men to

come to Christ. In these words we learn that the attraction of the cross of

Christ will prove to be the mightiest and most sovereign motive ever

brought to bear on the human will, and, when wielded by the Holy Spirit as     

a revelation of the matchless love of God, and will involve THE MOST


UPON THE WORLD AND ITS PRINCE!   In ch.16:11 the belief or the

conviction that the prince of this world has been already condemned

 (ke>kritai kekritai) is one of the great results of the mission of



34 “The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ

abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be

lifted up? who is this Son of man?” The audience of Jesus on this occasion

has swollen into a vast group. The few Greeks, with Philip and Andrew, the

other disciples, the smaller circle of sympathetic listeners, the disturbed and

feverish crowd, are all about Him, as He claims:


  • by death itself to judge the world,
  • to win all men, and
  • cast out the spirit and prince of the world from  his usurped throne.


The multitude then answered Him, We heard — received

information by public teaching — out of the Law that the Christ abideth

forever. Numerous passages may have been reasonably in their minds —

Psalm 110.; Isaiah 9.; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Daniel 7:13-14 — in which

the glories of an everlasting kingdom were predicted. In v. 23 the Lord

had in their hearing spoken of Himself as “Son of man.” Meyer, by giving

the dominant sense of glorification to the uJyw>qw (be lifted up) thinks that

the people must be contrasting, in pert criticism, the lowly “Son of man”

before them with the “Son of man” of Daniel’s vision. But it would be far more

probable that the people accepted Christ’s intimation of the manner of His

death, and hence felt the incongruity of such a Son of man — One who

dies, and therefore lives again — with the glowing pictures of Daniel or the

‘Book of Enoch.’ “The Christ abideth forever.And how sayest thou

that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? They

did not identify “the Son of man” with the Messiah. They probably

supposed two manifestations. They may have doubted, as John the Baptist

did, whether Jesus had fulfilled the whole conception of the ejrco>menov

erchmenos (coming one). It  was once more a vague, dull inquiry,

“Who art thou?” We are still in doubt who thou art, and how thou canst

claim to be the Christ of our prophecies?  To be our Christ, and die, is a

contradiction in terms.


35 “Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you.

Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he

that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.”

 Christ’s reply is introduced with a simple ei+pen eipen - said. Jesus

therefore said to them, not in answer to their question, but by taking up a

title of dignity that He had claimed before, He evidently assumes to be the

Light of the world (ch. 8:12), and now the time is almost over when

they could see its luster or discern other things, either themselves, or their

sins, or this world, or the next world, by that Light. The time for further

instruction, or remonstrance, or declarations is at an end. The evangelist

sums up, in vs. 44-50, the general substance of our Lord’s teaching with

reference to Himself and His disciples and the world which would not

believe; and thus, then, in a wonderful way, justifies, as it were, the non

answer to the captious question, “Who is this Son of man?” Yet a little

while is the Light amongst you. The “little while” of our Lord’s day of

ministry was often upon His lips (ch. 7:33; 13:33; 14:19; 16:16).

Verily to His consciousness it must have been but as the twinkling of an

eye, and now it was a very little while even for His hearers. (“we spend

our years as a tale that is told” – Psalm 90:9; “For what is your life?

It is even as a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth

away.”  - James 4:14 – CY – 2013)  Based on this solemn fact, He makes

a last public appeal to individuals, propounding gracious invitation,

Divine promise, solemn warning; and so He terminated His public ministry,

and vanished from before them. As far as the memory of His living words

and deeds might influence them, the Light, though not among them, might

still shine, and the glory of Pentecost would RENEW THE APPEAL!

(Acts 2)  Walk as ye have the Light; make progress in the understanding of                       

 self, of duty, of time, of eternity, and ACT ACCORDINGLY!

According to the light that you see, walk, lest (i[na mh<,  - hina mae  -

in order that not) darkness overtake you: and he that walketh in the darkness

knoweth not whither he goeth; lest the possibility of seeing the Divine revelation

in me be taken from you, and lest there be taken away from you that which you

seem to have (compare Jeremiah 13:16). Then, in harmony with the great

sayings of ch. 9:4-5 and 11:9, “In the night no man can work;” “In

the night, when men cannot see the light of this world, they stumble over

unseen perils and pitfalls;” so here, He says, in the darkness that will come

upon men from making no use of THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD:


·         “they will not know whither they are going,”

·         they will find no work,

·         have no perception of IMMINENT DANGER, 


but, driven on and on by measureless force,  they will drift over the                      


SUSPENSE  (Matthew 7:13; Revelation 20:1,10-15).   When

the Light of the world is spurned, and a godless evolution made to supply

its place, humanity and the world have no goal set before them; there is no

end at which they aim — no mind or will to guide the progress of mankind.


36 “While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children                       

of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide

himself from them.” But He concludes with one more glorious invitation.

As, up to this moment, you have the Light, Believe in the Light; treat it as light —

receive the revelation I have given you (compare the ninth and eleventh

chapters); “Work while it is called today;” “stumble not;” make no

irreparable mistake. “Become “so walk that ye may become

yourselves sons of Light, illumined and luminous. This fine expression is

found in Luke 16:8; I Thessalonians 5:5; and, with alteration of

uiJoi< huioi  - sons; into te>kra tekna - children - in Ephesians 5:8.

This last word, public word, of Jesus, which was in part accepted by some

of His hearers, as we see from v. 42, corresponds with the Beatitudes, and

sustains one at least of the main theses of the prologue: “The Life was

 the Light of men.” These things spake Jesus, and departed, and was hidden

from them. This utterance records the close of the Lord’s public ministry, and

therefore the solemn termination of the various scenes and discourses preserved

in the synoptic narrative. The people of His love saw Him no more till He

appeared as a criminal in the hands’ of the officers of the Sanhedrin, on His

way to the Praetorium. In the silence of the home at Bethany He probably

spent the last day of His earthly ministry, which terminated in the marvelous

converse at the Last Supper. “This time it was no mere cloud which

obscured the sun, for to them the sun itself had set.” And now, through

several verses, the evangelist presents his own reflections on the cause of

the strange paradoxical proceeding which led “his own” not to receive





The Interview of the Greeks with Christ (vs. 20-36)


This is the only incident recorded between the entry into Jerusalem and the

institution of the Lord’s Supper.



certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast.”


Ø      They were not Gentiles, but-proselytes of the gate, of Gentile

extraction, who had been admitted to Jewish privileges. They

came to the Passover as reverent and earnest worshippers.

Ø      They probably belonged to one of the Greek cities of Decapolis,

which were full of Greeks. These cities were on the other side of

the sea of Galilee. Thus we understand their application to Philip

of Bethsaida in the first instance.

Ø      It is significant that Philip and Andrew were the only disciples

whose names are of Greek origin.

Ø      The request of the Greeks was for a private conversation with

Jesus on religious subjects. “We would see Jesus.”

Ø      It is significant that these Greeks should bring our Lord into

Relation with the Gentile world at the end, as the Magi from

the East did at the beginning.

Ø      It is still more significant that these proselytes of the Gentiles

should be so anxious to see Jesus at a time when the Pharisees

were taking steps for His destruction in a spirit of the deepest hate.

Ø      The interview was readily conceded, after the two disciples consulted

cautiously with one another about the matter, as they must have

remembered our Lord’s words, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep

of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)



GREEKS. It is, in substance, that the extension of the gospel to the

Gentiles was conditioned by His death.


Ø      The presence of the Greeks suggests the thought of the scattered

sheep for whose gathering the Shepherd must lay down His life.

(ch. 10:16-19.) Jesus sees already “the other sheep” as ready to

be gathered into the fold.

o       His language implies that the hour of His Passion was at hand.

“The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified”

o       It implies that the conversion of the Greeks would be a chief

feature in His glorification.

o       It implies that His human nature would be exalted. It is as the

Representative of humanity that Jesus is to be glorified.

Ø      Jesus states the condition of His communicating blessing to the

Gentiles. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the earth and die, it

Abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (v. 24)

o       The principle here stated is true of all life. The particle of

grain seems to be dead, but there is lodged in it the possibility

of a manifold life. The seed by dying is united to the life

that quickens all seeds.

o       The principle is illustrated in the life of Christ.

§         His death took Him out of the loneliness of His

unapproachable glory and connected Him with the

whole race of man. Through His death a new

life went forth to millions.

§         If He had not died, He would have been confined to

one spot of earth, and the Spirit’s influences would have

been confined to His own Person.  But by his death the

Spirit became universally diffused.

o       The principle is illustrated in Christian life.

§         Sin isolates the sinner.

§         But when he “dies unto sin and lives unto God,” he is

delivered from solitude. He is no longer alone. He is the

member of a heavenly family.

Ø      Jesus asserts His own subjection to that fundamental law which He

so often applied to His disciples. “He that loveth his life loseth it;

and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it in life eternal.”

(v. 25)

o       There is a love of this mere physical life THAT IMPERILS

 the higher life. If Jesus had not died, He would not have

been glorified. His life would have been sterile.

o       There is a reward involved in the sacrifice of the present life

in the cause of God.

Ø      The claims of discipleship.

o       The Lord’s service implies a close following of the Master.

“If any man serve me, let him follow me.”  (v. 26) They

must obey His doctrine and imitate His example.

o       Faithful service will be rewarded by the servant being

eternally associated in glory with the Master. “And where


o       The Father will crown with dignity those who serve His Son

in a holy obedience. “If any man serve me, him will my

Father honor.”  (Ibid)

Ø      Jesus is deeply moved at the prospect of His approaching sorrows.

“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me

 out of this hour; but for this cause came I to this hour. Father,

glorify thy Name.” (v. 27)  (Each of us will have to go down this

road, “that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection”

Philippians 3:10 - but for us it will be for our own sins whilst He

was “tasting death for EVERY MAN”  - Hebrews 2:9 – CY – 2013)

o       The shock had already come. John does not mention the

agony of Gethsemane (where Jesus sweat “great drops of

blood” – Luke 22:44), but it is really true. The very words

of that scene occur here.

o       There is one element of perplexity implied in this deep trouble.

“What shall I say?” The thought of deliverance was present to

the mind, but not admitted. The prayer which would have

delivered Him would have been THE RUIN OF THE WORLD!

The prayer actually offered was not for deliverance from death,

but for deliverance out of death, as the word signifies in the

original. It is a prayer to be brought safely out of the conflict.

The real design of this suffering was that He might win a

victory over SIN and DEATH.   “But for this cause came

I to this hour.” (v. 27)

o       His exemption from suffering would have been inconsistent

with the glory of God. “Father, glorify thou me.”

Ø      The Fathers approval of the Sons Consecration. “Then came there

a voice from heaven: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

(v. 28)

o       It was a real articulate voice, not a mere sound of thunder,

though the multitude may not have understood the words

uttered from heaven.

o       The glorification past referred to the voices at His baptism and

His transfiguration, in which the Father’s character was revealed

along with His own Sonship.

o       The glorification in the future would follow from the universal

proclamation of the gospel to a sinful world.

Ø      Jesus explains what is involved in the glorification of the Fathers

Name by Himself. “This voice came not because of me, but for

your sakes.”  (v. 30)  It was designed to convince the people of the

true purport of His mission.

o       It was for the judgment of the world. “Now is the judgment

of this world.” The cross would disclose the moral condition

of man, and reveal the secrets of all hearts; and, above all,

 their attitude toward Christ.

o       It was for the casting out of Satan. “Now shall the prince

of this world be cast out.”  (v. 31)

§         Satan is a usurper, and thus the “god of this world,”

(II Corinthians 4:4); “the spirit that worketh in the

children of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2)

§         It is natural that the judgment of the world should be

followed by the casting out of its ruler.  (Revelation


§         Christ, by His death, WILL DELIVER MEN from

the dominion of Satan and the slavery of sin.

o       It was for the accession of the true Sovereign to His kingdom.

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men

unto me.”  (v. 32)

§         He refers here to the manner of His death. He is to

be lifted up on the cross; yet He points likewise to

the ascension which is to follow His death.

He will thus be freed from all earthly ties, and placed

in immediate relation to the whole world of man, that

He may become “LORD OF ALL” (Romans 10:12).

§         The effect of His death and ascension. “I will draw

all men unto me.”

v     He is Himself the Center of the world’s attraction.

v     He will attract, but not force, men into saving

relationship with Himself. The language implies

that men are at a distance, and alienated from Him.

“Draw me, we will run after thee.”  (Song of

Solomon 1:4)  There is a marvelous drawing

power in the lifted-up Redeemer.  (Note

reference to Spurgeon sermon in v. 32 - CY)

v     He will draw all men unto Himself. Not only

Jews, but Gentiles.  The words cannot signify

that all men will be saved, for there are many

already lost, and there will be many at the last

day to whom He will say, “DEPART FROM


(Matthew 7:23)

Ø      The popular misapprehension of our Lords meaning. “The people

answered him, We have heard out of the Law that Christ abideth

 forever:  and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up?

 who is this Son of man?”

o       The question implied that they understood their own

Scriptures.  Yet they had no true insight into their meaning,

for they imagined the Messiah would be a temporal prince

who would deliver them from Roman bondage.

o       They could not reconcile their idea of the Messiah with the

idea of His death and His transportation from earth, for

earth was to be the scene of the achievements of their

Messiah.  (What Jesus’ goal was and what He is doing

and is to do is:  “… the dispensation of the fullness

of times…gather together IN ONE all things…both

which are in heaven, and which are in earth”

Ephesians 1:10 – CY – 2013)

Ø      The last appeal of Jesus to the Jews. “Yet a little while is the

light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness

come upon you.”

o       It is an appeal to the Jews to use their opportunities while

the light was among them, and NOT TO TRIFLE WITH

THEIR DESTINES  by captious and idle objections.

o       The words of Jesus imply that THE LAST HOUR OF

OPPORTUNITY WAS AT HAND!   He would be but

“a little time” with them.

o       They imply that progress heavenward was still possible

and necessary, for the darkness HAD NOT YET


The way to become children of light is TO BELIEVE


BELIEVE IN THE LIGHT  that ye may be THE


§         Believers become like Christ by believing in Him.

§         They will become “light-bearers”  - “in the


NATION, among whom ye shine as

LIGHTS in the world.”   (Philippians 2:15)

They will do this in proportion as they receive


Ø      Our Lords farewell. “These things spake Jesus, and departed,

and did hide himself from them.” Jesus had no other answer to

give, and here closed His ministry to the Jews. He then retired,

and. did not reappear on the morrow.  (Reader, I hope this

never happens for you!!!  I think of our culture today – there is

a popular entertainer who sings a popular song “Don’t Let the

Sun Go Down on Me” but his life style betrays him and he will,

unless trusting Jesus, no doubt spiritually and eternally

experience this!  - CY – 2013)  This time it was no mere

cloud which obscured the sun, but THE SUN ITSELF HAD




The Reflections of the Evangelist  (37-43)


37 “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they

believed not on Him:”   (Tosau~ta tusauta so many - is discriminated

from toiau~ta -  toiautasuch a quanity.  The passages in ch.6:9; 14:9; 21:11,

are generally held to establish the meaning of “so many,” rather “so great;” the

proof is not conclusive.) If “so many” be the correct reading, John is

simply implying what he elsewhere expresses, that a widespread knowledge

was possessed by him of groups of miraculous signs, of which he recorded

only seven crucial symbolic specimens;


(1) wine;

(2) bread;

(3) walking on the sea;

(4) healing nobleman’s son;

(5) healing impotent man;

(6) resurrection of Lazarus; to be followed by

(7) the healing of the ear of Malchus, and the resurrection of the

Lord Himself.


Signs in heaven, earth and sea; startling miracles on human nature, and

on dead men, did not compel belief.  The inaccessibility of the people

reveals their mental condition, but no reproach is thrown upon the method

which the Lord took to reveal His Divine mission. The tragic refrain still

echoes on:


 He came unto His own, and His own received Him not?


38 “That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he

spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the

arm of the Lord been revealed?” In order that the words of Isaiah the

prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who believed our report?

or the message which the prophets have delivered — the prediction they

made of a suffering and rejected Christ, of One who would “sprinkle many

nations,” and in the very “travail of His soul see His seed.” To whom was

the arm of the Lord revealed? It does not mean that no hearts responded to the

appeal, that the voice from heaven fell on no susceptible ears; but that it is

one of the anomalies of human life that man does seem SO INSENSIBLE

TO HIS OWN HIGHEST INTERESTS!   Prophets are always wondering at

the condition of mankind. Even Jesus marveled at the unbelief of His hearers.

(Mark 6:6)  The lo>gov  - logos – of Isaiah shows that prophets foresaw the

issue of the kind of reception that a  people who had been so faithless to

Jehovah’s lesser manifestations would give to THE MOST AMAZING

OF ALL HIS SELF-DISCLOSURES!   The i[na plhrwqh~| hina plaerothae

that may be being fulfilled - must not be explained away, the outline was presented

by Isaiah of the reception which the favored but prejudiced and hardened house

of Israel gave to Divine revelations. It would be filled in by the events which were

then about to be enacted. God’s intuition of actual facts, His unconditional                       

foreknowledge of all contingent phenomena, do not necessitate their

occurrence so as to deprive sinners of their guilt; yet when they have

occurred, the causes which produced the widespread unbelief in the days of

Isaiah were seen to be still at work, and to account for the strange

incomprehensible mystery that blindness in part had happened to Israel.

God works by law, and works freely by men and in them, not only

foreseeing the evil and blindness, but positively punishing sin by blindness,

taking away from a man that which he seemeth to have. By this means the

“altar was built, the wood and the knife” for THE GREAT SACRIFICE!

The use made of various portions of this oracle, by the Lord, by evangelists,

by the apostles, by the deacon Philip, by Paul and Peter, shows that the early

Church regarded it as the detailed description of the character suffering,

and work of Christ. It became virtually a portion of the New Testament,

and the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah may have been imperfectly understood

by its author, may in his mind have had this, that, or the other original reference,

and have suffered various Judaic interpretations.  Nearly all the writers

of the New Testament and numerous classes in the early Church used it as

descriptive of their idea of Christ’s work. It thus becomes of priceless value.


39 “Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,

40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they

should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and

be converted, and I should heal them.”  In these verses, however, a deeper

difficulty still is involved. The dia< tou~to... o[ti dia touto....hoti – because

of this…..seeing that - leave us no option (see ch.7:21-22)  but to translate:

For from this reason they were unable to believe (see other illustrations of

the usage, ch. 518; 8:47; 10:17). There was a moral impossibility inherited by

them through AGES OF REBELLION and INSENSIBILITY to Divine

grace, and through THEIR MISUSE of Divine revelation. The issue of it

was, “they could not believe.” Because Isaiah said again;

i.e. in another place; illustrative of this great Messianic oracle and the

reception it would meet with from the nation as a whole. In the passage

which follows we have a translation which does not directly correspond

with either the Hebrew or the Septuagint of Isaiah 6:9-10. The prophet is

bidden by the Lord to punish the people for their obduracy by blinding their

eyes and hardening their heart, and even arresting the conversion and

healing of the covenant people. This same solemn passage is quoted in four

other places in the New Testament. Perhaps Luke 8:10 is hardly to be

regarded as a citation; a small portion only of the passage is introduced

from the prophet without reference to him, and this is inverted in order. In

Matthew 13:14-15 there is the nearer approach to the Septuagint, which,

however, transforms the [μwOmv; W[m]vi, “to hear, hear ye,” into ajkoh~|

ajkou>sete - - akoae akousete - by hearing ye shall hear - and similarly with

the other clauses,— the imperative of God’s command to the prophet being

resolved into the future of most certain accomplishment, and in place of “Lest

 they understand with their heart, and convert, and He [God] heal them,” The

Septuagint  reads, “Lest... should convert, and I [who give you the command

to deliver such a message, notwithstanding its results upon them] heal them.”

This Matthew has followed. Mark 4:12 has given a different representation

again, and, while omitting a considerable portion of the passage, passes to

the climax, which is put thus: “Lest they should be converted, and their sin

should be forgiven them,” showing that the evangelist, looking to the

Hebrew rather than to the Septuagint, has resolved its meaning into a clearly

related paraphrase. In Acts 28:26-27 the passage almost verbally

follows the Septuagint. Here in the remarks of John the whole passage seems

independent of the Septugint, and to have resolved the Hebrew “imperative,”

addressed to the prophet, into an awful assurance of Divine agency in the

matter. Instead of “shut their eyes,” Hebrew imperative, or Septuagint “their

eyes they closed,ejka>mmusan ekammusan -  he says, tetu>flwken

tetuphloken – He has blinded -  He hath blinded their eyes; and so with the

other terms: He hardened their heart; in order that they should not (lest they

should) see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and should turn, and I

should heal them. In ija>swmai  - iasomaiI should be healing -  The evangelist,

returning to the first person, draws a  distinction between the retributive

activity of the pre-existent Christ of the earlier revelation and the historical

Savior. There is no slip or negligence.  That which in all the several quotations

of this passage we learn from Isaiah’s oracle is that THE UNFORCED AND

WILFULL RECJECTION of the Divine Word is visited by condign

withdrawment of the faculty to receive even more accessible and apprehensible

truth. (To this agree the Spirit’s working at the time of the Flood (Genesis 6:3)

and in the times prior to the anti-Christ – (II Thessalonians 2:7-12 – CY – 2013).

This is the great law of Divine operation in the nature of all moral beings. This

law is described as a distinctly foreseen event, and by Septuagint as an

apprehensible and even conspicuous fact, and it is quoted by John as the direct

consequence of the Divine activity. He does not mean to say that, because

Isaiah foretold this as a Divine reprobation, they, whether they would or not as

individuals, were fated to die the death of blindness, but they could not

believe, because, on the principle involved in Isaiah’s predictions, the

Divine government had fulfilled itself, had acted upon its universal law, and

in consequence of vows and ACTS OF WILFULL DISOBEDIENCE,

 they had thus fallen into THE CURSE THAT BELONGS TO A

NEGLECT OF THE DIVINE.  “They could not believe.” Thus even now

disinclination to God and to righteousness leads to:


  • moral incapacity,
  • sin is  punished by its natural consequences,
  •  unbelief is punished by unsusceptibility to clearest evidence;
  • prejudice by blindness;
  • rejection of Divine love by inability to see it at its best.


How is this natural evolution brought about? Surely by laws of God. What are

these laws but God’s ways of acting with all moral agents whatever?


41 “These things said Isaiah,  when  he saw His glory, and spake of Him.”

By this reference to the theophany of Isaiah 6:1-2 the evangelist here identifies

Christ with the Adonai whom the prophet saw in his vision, and thus expresses

his conception of the Christ (compare I Corinthians 10:4; Philippians 2:6).

Because the prophet saw the glory of Christ, the unutterable majesty of the

“Word of God,” he delivered, as we know, this tremendous burden. Few

utterances of the New Testament convey in more startling form the conviction

of the apostles touching the pre-existence of the Lord, and the identification

of the Divine Personality of the Christ, with the highest conception that the

Hebrew prophet entertained of the Almighty One, of the eternal Godhead.



The Causes of Jewish Unbelief (vs. 37-41)


The evangelist now turns to the remarkable failure of the Messiah’s work

in Israel, and proceeds to account for it.



though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed

not on Him.


Ø      It is implied that Jesus did many more miracles than the seven

recorded in this Gospel.  (ch. 20:30-31; 21:25)

Ø      The miracles were done “before them, so as to leave them

without this excuse of ignorance.

Ø      The imperfect tense of the verb,believed,emphasizes the

persistence of their unbelief.


  • THEIR UNBELIEF WAS PREDICTED. “That the saying of Esaias

the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed

our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?”


Ø      The unbelief of the large body of the Jewish nation was clearly

foreseen centuries before the advent of Christ, as well as their

disregard of the evidence of His miracles. “The arm of the Lord.”

Ø      Let not ministers be surprise g that their gospel is neglected or

refused, for their Master encountered a similar disappointment.

Ø      Yet the prediction was not the cause of Jewish unbelief.


  • THE TRUE CAUSE OF THEIR UNBELIEF. “Therefore they could

not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and

hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor

understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”


Ø      God in judgment gave them over to hardness of heart. It is a fixed

law that power disused destroys itself. Thus the persistent disregard

for religion makes it more difficult to obey or to believe. The callous

heart is the effect of willful unbelief.

Ø      What an obstacle it would have been to a pure spiritual Christianity if

the Jews had been received by Christ on their own conditions of a

carnal and legal Phariseeism!

Ø      The apostle does not attempt to explain or reconcile the mystery of

Gods sovereignty and mans responsibility, but simply accepts the

two facts as standing each on its own impregnable foundation.



“These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spake of Him.”


Ø      The glory was that of the pre-incarnate Word of God.

Ø      The supreme Deity of Christ is here implied.


42 “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but

because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should

be put out of the synagogue:” There are several illustrations in this verse that

the diction of the evangelist differs from that which he uses when recording the

words of Christ. Thus o[mwv me>ntoi – homos mentoinevertheless; likewise

howbeit - is peculiar to John himself, and thus is an a[pax lego>menon hapax

 legomenonone time saying ; but me>ntoi (yet) occurs five times in the style of

John himself (see ch.4:27; 7:13; here v.42; 20:5; 21:4), not once by our Lord.

JOmologei~n - omologeinconfess; to speak the same thing, declare,

acknowledgment - again is used four times by the evangelist, and seven times in

the Epistles and Apocalypse, but never put by him into the lips of Jesus.

Nevertheless many of the rulers believed on Him. These words are used, not to

mitigate the charge, but to show that, though individuals did believe, even

among the rulers, they had not courage to avow their faith. The instances

of Nicodemus and Joseph and others lie upon the surface, Gamaliel and the like,

“the Erasmuses of those days.” Theirs was, indeed, an hypocrisy of unbelief,

and it is not ‘altogether banished from the modem world, and notwithstanding

Christ’s rejection by the nation as a nation, individuals saw His glory and

BELIEVED.   It is still true of municipalities, nations, even Churches, that they

reject Christ, while individuals among them are molded by and obedient to the

faith. (i.e. – the great harlot of Revelation – “Come out of her, my people,

that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

Revelation 18:4).  But by reason of the Pharisees — our Lord’s most deadly

enemies, from chapters 1-12 — they were making no confession — or,

acknowledgment of His claims, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;

become the excommunicate, fall under the terrible ban (see ch.9:22). The fear

of class exclusion, the dread of running counter to the current opinion of

the Church or the world, has led to much of THE MISERY OF BOTH.


43 “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

The generalization is given as a reason, For they loved the glory (do>xa

doxa) very nearly in the original Greek use of the word, “opinion,”

“good reputation”) of men, very much more (h]per aeperor even –

another New Testament one-timer occurring in the narrative portion of John,

and a mode in which the negative force of the h] is heightened; than the

glory of God.  The form of the expressions, “of God’ and “of men,” is different

from the para< tou~ mo>nou Qeou~ para tou monon Theou   - beside the

only God - and para< ajllh>lwn para allaelon beside one another - of ch.5:44,

and the statement is apparently inconsistent with the declaration that those in such

a state of mind “could not believe.”. The glory of God Himself in His awful

holiness was of less interest than the glory of the Sanhedrin and THE

APPROVAL OF THE WORLD!   Alas! this glory is nearer, more

obvious and has more to do with tangible, sensuous, advantages, than THE




A Movement towards Christ among the Chief Rulers (vs. 42-43)


The unbelief of the Jews was neither total nor final.


  • THE ADHESION OF MANY CHIEF RULERS. “Nevertheless among

the chief rulers also many believed on him.”


Ø      Some of them, like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, were

true believers.

Ø      Others, probably, were inwardly persuaded that he was the

Messiah, but could not bring themselves to an open discipleship.

The causes were twofold:

o       The fear of excommunication. “But because of the

Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should

be put out of the synagogue.”

§         This proves at once the crushing tyranny exercised

by Christ’s most determined foes, and

§         the reality of the decree already mentioned (ch.9:22).

o       The fear of a loss of reputation. “For they loved the praise

of men more than the praise of God.”  This fear has often


OF RELIGION.   Yet confession is necessary to salvation

(Romans 10:10).



The Summation of the Supreme Conflict between Our

Lord and the World (vs. 44-50)


The portion of the chapter which follows is regarded by most commentators

as a summary of our Lord’s teaching, as a reiteration by the evangelist of

those salient points of the Lord’s ministry which, while they are the life of

the world, are nevertheless the grounds on which blinded eyes and

hardened hearts REJECTED HIM!   


  • Vs. 44-46 characterize the believer;
  • vs. 47-48 emphasize Christ’s relation to the unbeliever;
  • vs. 49-50 the principle upon which both deliverances turn and will

continue to turn.


There are those who think that these were special private addresses to the

disciples, uttered after our Lord (ejkru>bh ekrubae - was hidden), but the

word (e]kraxe ekraxe - cried aloud) would not then have been used, as it

was used for the most public expressions of His doctrine, when given once

for all.  Certain aorists suggest the idea that John has here given specimens

of our Lord’s appeals which had ended in His being rejected by the nation

as a whole. Though the expressions that follow are built upon the discourses

elsewhere uttered, we admit that there is no verbal parallel that is at all close,

and that therefore the evangelist must not be quoting from what he had already

reported, but giving the substance of a threefold class of observations found

from one end of the Gospel to the other, and in words that he had heard the

Master use.


44 “Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but

on Him that sent me;   45 And he that beholdeth me, beholdeth Him that

sent me.”  These words do not occur before, but in every form our Lord had

exalted “Him that sent Him.”


  • His doctrine or teaching,
  • His purpose in  manifestation,
  • the secret food that sustained Him,
  • the Divine presence that never left Him alone,
  • the entire background of the mission of His human will and life

into the world,

  • the object of faith to men as revealed in His humanity, and that

which the spiritual eye ought to see, nay — if the beholder did

but know it does see,


constitute an unveiling of the eternal Father who sent Him into the world

(see ch. 4:34; 5:36; 6:38; 7:17-18,29; 8:28, 42; 10:38; compare also

ch.14:1, 9, 24). It becomes, then, of high value to GRASP THE TRUTH!

We actually believe in God when believing in Him. His mission is lost in

the glory of God who appears in Him. So far as He is sent, He was necessarily

of lower order and rank than He who sent Him.


  • His humanity began to be in time;
  • it was generated in the womb of the Virgin;
  • it was sanctified and sent  into the world; and yet
  • through it there was THE HIGHEST REVELATION OF



 We cannot attribute so stupendous a thought to the evangelist, and at the

same time we admit the portentous singularity and uniqueness of the

consciousness which could thus aver identity of nature with God and

the completeness of revelation that the Speaker was making in Hhimself

of the Father.



The Knowledge of the Eternal through Christ (vs. 44-45)


The world’s great want is to believe in God. Men believe:

  • in power,
  • in wealth,
  • in pleasure,
  • in prosperity,
  • in science;

that is to say, they believe that such things are desirable and attainable, and worth

trying and toiling and suffering for. These are prized, and therefore sought. They

are more or less good. Yet they cannot satisfy, they cannot bless, man; for he has

a spiritual and imperishable nature, for which all earthly things are not enough,

which they cannot meet and satisfy. Yet MULTITUDES OF MEN HAVE FOUND

NOTHING BETTER.  Some believe that the good things of this world are man’s

highest good, and strive to bring down their souls to this level. Others know that

this cannot be, and are most unhappy, because they are strangers to aught

that is higher and better; because they are not convinced of their own

spirituality and immortality; because they do not feel assured that there is in

the universe a Being greater, holier, and more blessed than they are. It is

the childish fashion of the day to doubt all save what is often a most

doubtful kind of knowledge — the knowledge which we have by sense.

What men chiefly need is to believe in a Being who is both in and above all

things seen and temporal; who administers and governs all; who is ever

revealing Himself in all things, and to all His intelligent creation; who has

purposes, and purposes of wisdom and of love, towards all His children in

every place. In a word, what they need is TO BELIEVE IN GOD!  This is faith,

and faith is the essence of religion. Faith in a living Person, conscious and

moral; not in an impersonal intelligence (whatever that may be) inferior to

ourselves; but in a Father in heaven, in whom is every moral excellence

which we admire in our fellow-men, only in measure exceeding our

imagination and indeed altogether beyond measure. If men live, as millions

do, without this faith, they live below the possibilities of their nature and

calling. It is this faith that gives to the human heart peace, strength, and

hope; and to the human life and lot meaning, stability, and grandeur.

Without it, man is not truly man; with it, he is a son of God Himself. Yet

this faith is not easy to any of us; to multitudes it is, in their state, barely

possible, perhaps not possible at all. God knows this, and pities our

infirmity. Hence His interposition on our behalf, His revelation of Himself to

our ignorant, necessitous, and helpless souls. His mercy, His compassion,


The supreme manifestation of Himself is not in lifeless matter or in living forms,

is not even in the universal reason and conscience of mankind. He has come unto

us, and spoken in our hearing, and made Himself known to our spirits, in


In Him He appeals to us, summoning and inviting us to faith. No longer is

He hidden from our sight, no longer distant from our heart.



GOD. This, indeed, is the meaning of the incarnation of our Lord. God’s

works we see on every side, proofs of “His eternal power and Godhead:

so that they are without excuse”  (Romans 1:20) — witnesses without

which He has never left Himself (Acts 14:17). But God Himself no man

hath seen at any time. Yet He would have us know Him; not only know

something about Him, but know Himself. Hence “the Word became flesh,

and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only

Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (ch. 1:14).  He is “the Image

 of the invisible God,”  (Colossians 1:15); “the Brightness of His glory, and

the express Image of His Person”  (Hebrews 1:3).  Christ was conscious

of this relation, and both assumed and declared it. Nowhere in language more

definite and simple than here: “He that seeth me seeth Him that sent me.”

What wants were met in this manifestation! One fancies the exiled Hebrew,

panting forth his heart’s deep want, exclaiming in religious fervor, “My heart

and my flesh crieth out for the living God! When shall I come and appear

before God?”  (Psalm 42:2)  Some glimpse of His majesty and His grace the

devout psalmist might hope to gain in the temple, which was the scene of:


Ø      His presence,

Ø      His service, and

Ø      His praise.


But what language would that ardent spirit have found to express

its wondering gratitude, could the vision of Immanuel have flashed upon it?

One fancies the Athenian philosophers, “seeking the Lord, it haply they

might feel after Him and find Him” (Acts 17:27); the Athenian poet, by a

stretch of imagination and in a rapture of natural piety, rising to the conviction,

“We are also his offspring” (Ibid. v. 28).  But what satisfaction, what joy,

would have come to such hearts, yearning for the unknown God, had the Divine

Man come to them, with the declaration of marvelous simplicity and grace,

“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”!  But this was a revelation, not

only for saints and prophets, for sages and for poets, but for all mankind. When

the husbandman hailed the rising sun, and the seaman gazed upon the steadfast

pole-star, this question must have arisen — Is this the handiwork of God?

When the father looked upon the lifeless form of his beloved child, what

thought could soothe and temper the bitterness of his bereavement and his

woe, except his confidence in the supreme Father’s care and love? And

when the old man came to die, what could light up the dark future into

which he was hastening, save the uncreated light which comes from the

unseen? In their manifold questionings and doubts, sorrows, infirmities,

and fears, men have looked above, and we do not say they have not

received some tokens of Divine sympathy and love; they have ‘ cued unto

God with their voice,” and He has heard and succored them. But how dim

has been their vision! How faint their faith! How inarticulate the response

which has reached them from afar! They would fain have believed; from

many a soul went up the eager and intense inquiry, “Who is he, that I might

believe?” Nothing did they so deeply desire as to see Him, who is the

Author of all being and the Arbiter of all destinies; but as they strained their

vision, it was as those peering into the scarcely penetrable twilight, with

eyes suffused with tears. Who can by searching find out God, or know the

Almighty to perfection?   (Job 11:7)  Why this want was at once awakened,

and allowed to remain so long unsatisfied, we cannot tell. It is one of those

mysteries upon which eternity may shed some light; for time has little to yield.

It is enough for us that in the fullness of the time God sent forth His Son”

(Galatians 4:4), that this Son of God is the one Object of human belief, the

Center attracting the gaze of all eyes, and the love and reverence of all hearts.

In human form, through human life and death, with human voice, God, the

unknown, makes Himself known to us; God, the unseen, makes Himself visible

to us.  For we can believe on Christ, our Friend, our Brother; we can behold

Him, the human Immanuel. We greet Him as He comes to us from heaven; we

listen to Him as He speaks to us in earthly language. For us the problem is

solved, the chasm is bridged, the impossible is achieved; as Jesus says, “He

that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me. And he

that seeth me seeth Him that sent me.” Some persons have found it hard to

believe that “God was manifest in the flesh.” But it seems far harder to

believe that God was not in Christ, that Christ was not “God with us.” It

seems hard to imagine how otherwise we could be brought to realize the

unspeakable nearness of our heavenly Father, how otherwise we could:


Ø      look into His face,

Ø      recognize His voice,

Ø      love Him and delight in Him.


God is in nature; but can it be said, “He that believeth in physical law, that

Seeth material glory, believes in and beholds the Father above”? He spake

by the prophets; but could Moses assert, or Elijah, “He that seeth me seeth

Him that sent me”? The incongruity must strike every mind; such language

From human lips would send a shock through every Christian heart. There are

good men living now; will the best of them stand up before the world, and,

claiming to come from God, declare, “He that seeth me seeth him that sent

me”? But how naturally do such words come from Jesus of Nazareth! How

simple! How free from exaggeration and assumption!  And how justly and

confidently do many hearts rest in:


Ø      His Divine,

Ø      His welcome,

Ø      His precious,



He that hath seen me hath seen the Father!”


  • CHRIST’S WORDS ARE THE WORDS OF GOD. This is indeed the

meaning of the ministry of Jesus, as a ministry of teaching. In the context

this truth is brought out with special distinctness and power. “I have not,”

says the great Teacher, “spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me,

he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak

Whatsoever I speak, therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I

speak.” It is true that all human language is imperfect, and that, if it is not

capable of expressing all the thoughts, and especially all the feelings of

men: it is not reasonable to expect that it shall utter in completeness the

mind of the infinite God. This objection is brought by some against a

revelation in words — against the Bible itself. But it is no valid objection.

Because the most high and eternal God cannot make Himself fully known

to man, inasmuch as no means by which He can communicate can do other

than partake of human imperfection, shall He therefore refuse to commune

with us at all? His fatherly pity will not consent to this. He “spake to the

fathers by the prophets,” and “in these last days he has spoken to us by His

Son.”  (Hebrews 1:2).  And what words they are in which our Lord has

addressed us! Who can believe them without believing the Father, who sent

as Messenger His own honored and beloved Son? He is indeed “the Word,”

being, in His own faultless Person and sacred ministry, the very speech of the

Divine mind, appealing to humanity with the summons, “He that hath ears

to hear, let him hear.”  His words were true. Of Himself He could speak as

“a Man who telleth you the truth.” The unbeliever may come to believe His

words, and so to believe in himself; the Christian believes in Him, and

therefore receives His utterances with an unquestioning faith. On the highest

themes, on themes of the deepest and most imperishable interest for man,

Christ has spoken; and His words are final, never to be questioned, never to

be disproved. His words are words of power. As He Himself declared, “The

words which I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (ch. 6:63).

His words are immortal. “Heaven and earth,” said He, “shall pass away,

but my words shall not pass away.”  (Matthew 24:35).  His words are more

than human.  The officers were conscious of the authority of His teaching,

when they returned and said, “Never man spake like this Man!”  (ch. 7:46)


  • CHRIST’S LOVE IS THE LOVE OF GOD. This is the meaning of

the ministry of Jesus as a display of character and disposition, as a constant

extension to men of healing, pardon, grace, and help. Our Savior struck the

key-note of His ministry in the words He addressed to Nicodemus: “God

sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, BUT THAT


The worst evils which men suffer they inflict upon themselves; the greatest

blessings which they experience are given them by God. How could men be

convinced that God is a Savior? The best answer to this question is the fact

that they have been so convinced by the mission and the ministry of Christ.

As He “went about doing good”  (Acts 10:38); as “He healed all manner of

sickness and disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23); as He

pronounced to the contrite and believing sinner the gracious words, “Be of

good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee!”  (Matthew 9:2) — men felt, as they

had never felt before, that God was visiting and redeeming His people.

Human sorrow awakened the response of Divine sympathy, and human sin

the response of Divine clemency and forgiveness. It was not the timely but

casual interposition of a human friend; it was the ONE TYPICAL

ETERNAL INTERVENTION OF A GOD!   The ministry of our Redeemer

in Judaea and in Galilee was the outward and visible sign of the unchanging

pity of our Father’s heart. It was “the acceptable year of the Lord,”  (Isaiah

61:2; Luke 4:19) but it was a year that has no end. In Christ, the God of all

grace is forever addressing mankind in the language of an unfailing gospel,

and is saying, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

(Isaiah 45:22 – I recommend the three Spurgeon sermons from Isaiah 45 –

about looking – this web site – CY – 2013)  “Herein is love, not that we

 loved God, but that God loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation

for our sins?  (I John 4:10)



the meaning of Immanuel’s death and sacrifice. What it is wished especially

to draw from this passage, as elucidating redemption and salvation, is this

— that in the cross of Christ we do not so much behold Christ reconciling

us unto God, as God in Christ reconciling us unto Himself. The gospel is

the setting forth and publication in time of the great truth and reality of

eternity — that GOD IS A JUST GOD AND A SAVIOUR!   To believe

in Christ is to believe in:


Ø      God’s purposes of mercy;

Ø      God’s method of mercy;

Ø      God’s promise of mercy.


What follows from the truths now stated? How do they practically affect us?



ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION OF GOD. These words were uttered at

the close of our Lord’s public ministry in Jerusalem, probably on the

Wednesday of the Passion week. On the whole, Christ’s teaching had met

with unbelief and hostility. Pharisees and Sadducees had been rather

silenced than convinced. Many of the chief rulers, indeed, believed on

Jesus, yet they had not the courage and honesty to confess Him. In this very

chapter, whilst we read that “many believed” on Jesus, we are informed of

others that “they believed not on Him.” It is clear that there was general

interest in Christ’s teaching and claims; but that those who acknowledged

the Prophet of Nazareth as the Messiah were few and timid, whilst His

opponents were bold and bitter and determined. It was the very crisis of

our Lord’s ministry. His “hour was come.” The cycle of His public teaching

and beneficence was complete. He had now only to lay down His life, and

thus to carry out His fore-announced intentions, and to finish the work His

Father had given Him to do. And these words and those which follow are

Christ’s final testimony to the Jews. He sums up in a brief compass the

truth concerning Himself, and then the practical bearing of that truth upon

His hearers. He has come from God. He has come, with Divine authority,

as the world’s Light, and as the world’s Savior. He has come with

everlasting life in His hands, as Heaven’s choicest gift. Yet He sees around

Him, not only those who hear, believe, and receive Him, but those also who

reject Him. It is not for Him to judge; for He has come to save. But

judgment awaits the unbeliever. And what is the witness which the

compassionate Savior bears as His last solemn message to mankind? How

does He bring home to their souls the awful responsibility of association

with Him, of enjoying a day of Divine visitation? He does this in this

sublime statement, in which He identifies Himself with the Father from

whom He came. No one can disbelieve and reject Him, can close the eye to

His glory, without in so doing rejecting God, turning away from the sight

of God, and stopping the ear against the voice of God. This was, and is, a

truth at which men may well tremble. Here we are brought face to face

with the great probation, the great alternative, of human life and destiny.

Only those who are thoughtless or hardened can think of this truth without

the deepest seriousness and solemnity. It may justly be said to men, “You

have been so framed by the Divine Maker of all that you must either accept

or reject Him. In either case it must be your act, and you must be

answerable for it. And there is no third course open to you; FOR NOT TO

acknowledge, honor, and trust the Christ of God, to be indifferent to Him

and to His salvation,this is to spurn the most sacred privilege, to neglect

the most precious opportunity with which God Himself can favor you. It is

to shut the eyes to the light of heaven; IT IS TO DISBELIEVE AND TO



46 “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should

not abide in darkness.”  The revelation of God becomes the light of the soul

and the light of the world. The evangelist had said, in his prologue, “In him was

life,” and the Life (the eternal Logos of life) was “the Light of men.” All

true understanding, all purifying, gracious influence shed on human affairs,

nature, or destiny, are the issue and result of the Divine Life which, under

every dispensation, has wrought in humanity. Above all, “the Light that

lighteth every man,” namely, that which has always and which ever will

radiate from the life conferred on our humanity by the Logos, the life of

God in mind and conscience, “came into the world” — came, that is, in a

new and more effective form, came in the radiance of a perfect human life.

The evangelist has sustained his teaching by quoting the solemn words of

Jesus in ch.3:19; 8:12; also ch. 9:5, where a special narrative of

miraculous love typified both the need in which the human family, the

sacred Israel, and even His own disciples, stood of light, and of the light

which He could pour upon the sightless eyeballs. And now the connection

of this passage is — You could not behold me if light did not stream forth

from me. I have come, and am come (ejlh>luqa elaeluthahave come –

 this has been and is my  abiding purpose; compare ch. 5:43; 7:28) a Light into

the world, and my object has been and is that whosoever believeth on me

whosoever sees by the inward eye that which I really am, sees how my life ]

stands related to the Father, whosoever assents to the new revelation thus given,

even over and above the “inward light” of the Logos should not abide

in the darkness which enwraps all souls; for, as said in the prologue, “the

Light (the archetypal Light) shineth upon the darkness of human nature,

and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” It should be especially noticed

that in II Corinthians 4:6 Paul had grasped and uttered the fullness of this



47 “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not:

for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”

If any one shall have heard my sayings, and have (guarded)

kept  them not. Here our Lord passes from the effect of his earthly life,

which is light, to that of the (rJhma>ta  rhaemata words) by which the

whole future of mankind will be affected, and one is reminded of the close

of the sermon on the mount, where the condition of that man is portrayed who

hears the lo>gouv logous sayings - of Christ and doeth them not, whose

destiny will be determined by the natural course of things (see Matthew 7:26-27).

Keep (guard) them not (see Matthew 19:20). The “hearing” is clearly not identical

With spiritual acceptance, but is restricted to the awful charge of responsibility

that comes upon every man who simply hears, knows what Christ’s words

are, and then keeps” them not so as to fulfill their intention. Christ says, I

judge him not. I am not now pronouncing a sentence upon him; I am his

Savior; but this is his condemnation, that he believes not, etc. (ch. 3:17-19).

Our Lord claimed, in the sermon on the mount, to be the Executor of a judgment,

and in ch.5:22-29 He declared that He would be as Son of man, the final

Adjudicator of doom on the disobedient (compare Matthew 25:31-46), and in

many places He made this thought even more solemn by speaking of Himself on

that occasion, not as the compassionate Savior, but the Administrator of AN

INVIOLABLE LAW which cannot be swayed by immediate emotion, but will

effectuate itself on ETERNAL and UNSWERVING PRINCIPLES.   The Law

 accuses the old Law (ch.5:45) — but I judge him not; for I came (h+lqon

aelthonI came) not to judge, but to save the world, referring to the Incarnation

in its purport and supreme motive.


48 “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that

judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him

in the last day.”  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings

(rJh>mata – as in v. 47), hath one that judgeth him — perhaps, that which

Judgeth him — the word (lo>gov - logos – word) which I spake, that will

judge him at the last day. There is no more awful utterance than this (compare

I John 4:17; II Corinthians 5:10, where the irresistible power of a searching

inviolable Law is vindicated).


49 “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He

gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should

speak.  50 And I know that His commandment is life everlasting:

whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”

There is much emphasis to be laid upon the o[ti -  hoti -  for; seeing that -  which

implies that our Lord would give a sacred reason for the tremendous

power with which His lo>gov – logos – word) would be invested. The lo>gov

(word; expression of thought)  the rJh>ma rhema – a word – is not simply His;

it did not proceed from Himself only, from His humanity, oroida -

even His Divine Sonship alone, but from the Father which sent me. He

stood and spake always as the Voice of the Eternal One, from whom He

came, WITH SAVING POWERS!   He has given me commandment what I

should say, and what I should speak. The two words ei+pw  eipo – I should

say  and lalh>sw lalaeso – I should speak (dicam and loquar, Vulgate),

“What I should say, and how I should say it.” My words and their manner and

opportunity and tone are all of them the outcome of the Father’s ejntolh< entolae

commandment. It certainly is incredible that John could have put these words into

the lips of Jesus. They are no mere summary. They are set down with awful

sincerity as having burned themselves into his memory. But the Lord added,

“I may be rejected and my words spurned, and yet they may go on as

APPARITORS OF JUDGMENT but however that may be, and I know

(oi+da - oida) that His commandment, His commission to me, is life eternal

 is so now” (compare ch. 3:36; 17:3’ I John 5:12-13). “The Law is ordained

unto life,” (Romans 7:10) said Paul, and “the goodness of God leadeth us

unto repentance” (Ibid. ch. 2:4)).  The depth of this sublime experience

goes down and back into THE ETERNAL COUNSELS.   The things

which therefore I speak (am speaking even at this moment), even as the

Father has said unto me, so I speak. “In rejecting me and my words, MEN

REJECT AND INSULT THE FATHER!   His word they dare to renounce,

AS SOLEMN AND UNALTERABLE as the word spoken on Sinai. They


ETERNAL LIFE!    They not only SPURN LAW but LOVE ALSO! 

Thus, at the conclusion of the public ministry, the evangelist sets

forth, in a few burning words, the theme of the prologue, so far as it is

realized in the offer of A FULL REVELATION OF THE LOGOS TO

THE WORLD IN HUMAN FLESH!  This Logos found adequate utterance

through THE HUMAN LIFE AND LIPS OF JESUS!   The Father has been

so amply revealed that the NON-BELIEVER and REJECTER,  who hears

 and does not keep my sayings, is disbelieving and rejecting GOD THE

FATHER!   These potent words, and this wonderful conclusion of the

entire record of the public ministry of Jesus, is the appropriate summary of

teachings which were now brought to a close. Without any exact parallels,

they breathe the spirit of the whole teaching, they supply the basis of the

prologue. It is, however, clear that the style is different from the prologue,

and from the reflection of the evangelist in previous verses. Just as the

whole Gospel is a series of recollections which form from their own

intrinsic glory and truth a sacred inimitable whole, so this spicilegium is a

brief evangelium in evangelio a gathering up of the whole in the narrow

compass of a few precious lines. Though “the hour” HAS COME it waits.

The comparison between this method of the evangelist and that of the

apocalyptist is very impressive.



The Responsibilities Attaching to Jewish Unbelief (vs. 44-50)


The evangelist now takes a retrospective glance at the unbelief of Judaism.

What follows is but a summary of our Lord’s past teaching.



“He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me.

And He that seeth me seeth Him that sent me.”  (v. 44)


Ø      The believer recognizes Jesus as the Messiah sent by the Father,

as the Revelation of the Father’s love and mercy and

righteousness. The Jew, therefore, who believed in Christ did

not believe in man, but in God.

Ø      He recognizes the doctrine of Jesus as the clear manifestation of

the Fathers mind. “I am come a Light into the world, that

whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”

Thus the believer becomes a son of light.



hear my words, and keep them not, I judge him not: for I came not to

judge the world, BUT TO SAVE T HE WORLD!


Ø      The fate of those who reject Christs Word.   IT IS JUDGMENT!

Ø      The Judge is not Christ, though HE IS TO BE THE FINAL JUDGE

 but He will then only apply the rule of THE WORD  to EACH LIFE!

 The Law, in the nature of things, is the accuser.



WORD OF JUDGMENT. “For I have not spoken of myself; but the

Father who sent me has Himself commanded me what I should say,

and how I should say it.”  (v. 49)


Ø      His teaching, as to matter, is from the Father. Its essential principle


o       It tells of life;

o       it offers life;

o       it is “spirit and life.”

Ø      His teaching, as to its variety of form, is FROM THE FATHER!

Thus THE MESSAGE OF MERCY  comes to man with every

equipment of TRUE WISDOM, and bears the very accent of

Heaven in its utterance.


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