In this chapter we have, I. Christs evading the snare which the Jews laid for him, in bringing to him a woman taken in adultery (v. 1-11). II. Divers discourses or conferences of his with the Jews that cavilled at him, and sought occasion against him, and made every thing he said a matter of controversy. Concerning his being the light of the world (v. 12-20). Concerning the ruin of the unbelieving Jews (v. 21-30). Concerning liberty and bondage (v. 31-37). Concerning his Father and their father (v. 38-47). Here is his discourse in answer to their blasphemous reproaches (v. 48-50). Concerning the immortality of believers (v. 51-59). And in all this he endured the contradiction of sinners against himself.
Verses 1-11 Though Christ was basely abused in the foregoing chapter, both by the rulers and by the people, yet here we have him still at Jerusalem, still in the temple. How often would he have gathered them! Observe,I. His retirement in the evening out of the town (v. 1): He went unto the mount of olives; whether to some friends house, or to some booth pitched there, now at the feast of tabernacles, is not certain; whether he rested there, or, as some think, continued all night in prayer to God, we are not told. But he went out of Jerusalem, perhaps because he had no friend there that had either kindness or courage enough to give him a nights lodging; while his persecutors had houses of their own to go to ch. 7:53 ), he could not so much as borrow a place to lay his head on, but what he must go a mile or two out of town for. He retired (as some think) because he would not expose himself to the peril of a popular tumult in the night. It is prudent to go out of the way of danger whenever we can do it without going out of the way of duty. In the day-time, when he had work to do in the temple, he willingly exposed himself, and was under special protection, Isa. 49:2 . But in the night, when he had not work to do, he withdrew into the country, and sheltered himself there.II. His return in the morning to the temple, and to his work there, v. 2. Observe,1. What a diligent preacher Christ was: Early in the morning he came again, and taught. Though he had been teaching the day before, he taught again to-day. Christ was a constant preacher, in season and out of season. Three things were taken notice of here concerning Christs preaching. (1.) The time: Early in the morning. Though he lodged out of town, and perhaps had spent much of the night in secret prayer, yet he came early. When a days work is to be done for God and souls it is good to begin betimes, and take the day before us. (2.) The place: In the temple; not so much because it was a consecrated place (for then he would have chosen it at other times) as because it was now a place of concourse; and he would hereby countenance solemn assemblies for religious worship, and encourage people to come up to the temple, for he had not yet left it desolate. (3.) His posture: He sat down, and taught, as one having authority, and as one that intended to abide by it for some time.2. How diligently his preaching was attended upon: All the people came unto him; and perhaps many of them were the country-people, who were this day to return home from the feast, and were desirous to hear one sermon more from the mouth of Christ before they returned. They came to him, though he came early. They that seek him early shall find him. Though the rulers were displeased at those that came to hear him, yet they would come; and he taught them, though they were angry at him too. Though there were few or none among them that were persons of any figure, yet Christ bade them welcome, and taught them.III. His dealing with those that brought to him the woman taken in adultery, tempting him. The scribes and Pharisees would not only not hear Christ patiently themselves, but they disturbed him when the people were attending on him. Observe here,1. The case proposed to him by the scribes and Pharisees, who herein contrived to pick a quarrel with him, and bring him into a snare, v. 3-6.(1.) They set the prisoner to the bar (v. 3): they brought him a woman taken in adultery, perhaps now lately taken, during the time of the feast of tabernacles, when, it may be, their dwelling in booths, and their feasting and joy, might, by wicked minds, which corrupt the best things, be made occasions of sin. Those that were taken in adultery were by the Jewish law to be put to death, which the Roman powers allowed them the execution of, and therefore she was brought before the ecclesiastical court. Observe, She was taken in her adultery. Though adultery is a work of darkness, which the criminals commonly take all the care they can to conceal, yet sometimes it is strangely brought to light. Those that promise themselves secrecy in sin deceive themselves. The scribes and Pharisees bring her to Christ, and set her in the midst of the assembly, as if they would leave her wholly to the judgment of Christ, he having sat down, as a judge upon the bench.(2.) They prefer an indictment against her: Master, this woman was taken in adultery, v. 4. Here they call him Master whom but the day before they had called a deceiver, in hopes with their flatteries to have ensnared him, as those, Lu. 20:20 . But, though men may be imposed upon with compliments, he that searches the heart cannot.[1.] The crime for which the prisoner stands indicted is no less than adultery, which even in the patriarchal age, before the law of Moses, was looked upon as an iniquity to be punished by the judges, Job. 31:9-11 ; Gen. 38:24 . The Pharisees, by their vigorous prosecution of this offender, seemed to have a great zeal against the sin, when it appeared afterwards that they themselves were not free from it; nay, they were within full of all uncleanness, Mt. 23:27, Mt. 23:28 . Note, It is common for those that are indulgent to their own sin to be severe against the sins of others.[2.] The proof of the crime was from the notorious evidence of the fact, an incontestable proof; she was taken in the act, so that there was no room left to plead not guilty. Had she not been taken in this act, she might have gone on to another, till her heart had been perfectly hardened; but sometimes it proves a mercy to sinners to have their sin brought to light, that they may do no more presumptuously. Better our sin should shame us than damn us, and be set in order before us for our conviction than for our condemnation.(3.) They produce the statute in this case made and provided, and upon which she was indicted, v. 5. Moses in the law commanded that such should be stoned. Moses commanded that they should be put to death (Lev. 20:10 ; Deu. 22:22 ), but not that they should be stoned, unless the adulteress was espoused, not married, or was a priests daughter, Deu. 22:21 . Note, Adultery is an exceedingly sinful sin, for it is the rebellion of a vile lust, not only against the command, but against the covenant, of our God. It is the violation of a divine institution in innocency, by the indulgence of one of the basest lusts of man in his degeneracy.(4.) They pray his judgment in the case: "But what sayest thou, who pretendest to be a teacher come from God to repeal old laws and enact new ones? What hast thou to say in this case? If they had asked this question in sincerity, with a humble desire to know his mind, it had been very commendable. Those that are entrusted with the administration of justice should look up to Christ for direction; but this they said tempting him, that they might have to accuse him, v. 6. [1.] If he should confirm the sentence of the law, and let it take its course, they would censure him as inconsistent with himself (he having received publicans and harlots) and with the character of the Messiah, who should be meek, and have salvation, and proclaim a year of release; and perhaps they would accuse him to the Roman governor, for countenancing the Jews in the exercise of a judicial power. But, [2.] If he should acquit her, and give his opinion that the sentence should not be executed (as they expected he would), they would represent him, First, As an enemy to the law of Moses, and as one that usurped an authority to correct and control it, and would confirm that prejudice against him which his enemies were so industrious to propagate, that he came to destroy the law and the prophets. Secondly, As a friend to sinners, and, consequently, a favourer of sin; if he should seem to connive at such wickedness, and let it go unpunished, they would represent him as countenancing it, and being a patron of offences, if he was a protector of offenders, than which no reflection could be more invidious upon one that professed the strictness, purity, and business of a prophet.2. The method he took to resolve this case, and so to break this snare.(1.) He seemed to slight it, and turned a deaf ear to it: He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. It is impossible to tell, and therefore needless to ask, what he wrote; but this is the only mention made in the gospels of Christs writing. Eusebius indeed speaks of his writing to Abgarus, king of Edessa. Some think they have a liberty of conjecture as to what he wrote here. Grotius says, It was some grave weighty saying, and that it was usual for wise men, when they were very thoughtful concerning any thing, to do so. Jerome and Ambrose suppose he wrote, Let the names of these wicked men be written in the dust. Others this, The earth accuses the earth, but the judgment is mine. Christ by this teaches us to be slow to speak when difficult cases are proposed to us, not quickly to shoot our bolt; and when provocations are given us, or we are bantered, to pause and consider before we reply; think twice before we speak once: The heart of the wise studies to answer. Our translation from some Greek copies, which add, me prospoioumenos (though most copies have it not), give this account of the reason of his writing on the ground, as though he heard them not. He did as it were look another way, to show that he was not willing to take notice of their address, saying, in effect, Who made me a judge or a divider? It is safe in many cases to be deaf to that which it is not safe to answer, Ps. 38:13 . Christ would not have his ministers to be entangled in secular affairs. Let them rather employ themselves in any lawful studies, and fill up their time in writing on the ground (which nobody will heed), than busy themselves in that which does not belong to them. But, when Christ seemed as though he heard them not, he made it appear that he not only heard their words, but knew their thoughts.(2.) When they importunately, or rather impertinently, pressed him for an answer, he turned the conviction of the prisoner upon the prosecutors, v. 7.[1.] They continued asking him, and his seeming not to take notice of them made them the more vehement; for now they thought sure enough that they had run him aground, and that he could not avoid the imputation of contradicting either the law of Moses, if he should acquit the prisoner, or his own doctrine of mercy and pardon, if he should condemn her; and therefore they pushed on their appeal to him with vigour; whereas they should have construed his disregard of them as a check to their design, and an intimation to them to desist, as they tendered their own reputation.[2.] At last he put them all to shame and silence with one word: He lifted up himself, awaking as one out of sleep (Ps. 78:65 ), and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. First, Here Christ avoided the snare which they had laid for him, and effectually saved his own reputation. He neither reflected upon the law nor excused the prisoners guilt, nor did he on the other hand encourage the prosecution or countenance their heat; see the good effect of consideration. When we cannot make our point by steering a direct course, it is good to fetch a compass.Secondly, In the net which they spread is their own foot taken. They came with design to accuse him, but they were forced to accuse themselves. Christ owns it was fit the prisoner should be prosecuted, but appeals to their consciences whether they were fit to be the prosecutors.a. He here refers to that rule which the law of Moses prescribed in the execution of criminals, that the hand of the witnesses must be first upon them (Deu. 17:7 ), as in the stoning of Stephen, Acts. 7:58 . The scribes and Pharisees were the witnesses against this woman. Now Christ puts it to them whether, according to their own law, they would dare to be the executioners. Durst they take away that life with their hands which they were now taking away with their tongues? would not their own consciences fly in their faces if they did?b. He builds upon an uncontested maxim in morality, that it is very absurd for men to be zealous in punishing the offences of others, while they are every whit as guilty themselves, and they are not better than self-condemned who judge others, and yet themselves do the same thing: "If there be any of you who is without sin, without sin of this nature, that has not some time or other been guilty of fornication or adultery, let him cast the first stone at her. Not that magistrates, who are conscious of guilt themselves, should therefore connive at others guilt. But therefore, (a. ) Whenever we find fault with others, we ought to reflect upon ourselves, and to be more severe against sin in ourselves than in others. (b. ) We ought to be favourable, though not to the sins, yet to the persons, of those that offend, and to restore them with a spirit of meekness, considering ourselves and our own corrupt nature. Aut sumus, aut fuimus, vel possumus esse quod hic estWe either are, or have been, or may be, what he is. Let this restrain us from throwing stones at our brethren, and proclaiming their faults. Let him that is without sin begin such discourse as this, and then those that are truly humbled for their own sins will blush at it, and be glad to let it drop. (c. ) Those that are any way obliged to animadvert upon the faults of others are concerned to look well to themselves, and keep themselves pure (Mt. 7:5 ), Qui alterum incusat probri, ipsum se intueri oportet. The snuffers of the tabernacle were of pure gold. c. Perhaps he refers to the trial of the suspected wife by the jealous husband with the waters of jealousy. The man was to bring her to the priest (Num. 5:15 ), as the scribes and Pharisees brought this woman to Christ. Now it was a received opinion among the Jews, and confirmed by experience, that if the husband who brought his wife to that trial had himself been at any time guilty of adultery, Aquae non explorant ejus uxoremThe bitter water had no effect upon the wife. "Come then, saith Christ, "according to your own tradition will I judge you; if you are without sin, stand to the charge, and let the adulteress be executed; but if not, though she be guilty, while you that present her are equally so, according to your own rule she shall be free.d. In this he attended to the great work which he came into the world about, and that was to bring sinners to repentance; not to destroy, but to save. He aimed to bring, not only the prisoner to repentance, by showing her his mercy, but the prosecutors too, by showing them their sins. They sought to ensnare him; he sought to convince and convert them. Thus the blood-thirsty hate the upright, but the just seek his soul. [3.] Having given them this startling word, he left them to consider of it, and again stooped down, and wrote on the ground, v. 8. As when they made their address he seemed to slight their question, so now that he had given them an answer he slighted their resentment of it, not caring what they said to it; nay, they needed not to make any reply; the matter was lodged in their own breasts, let them make the best of it there. Or, he would not seem to wait for an answer, lest they should on a sudden justify themselves, and then think themselves bound in honour to persist in it; but gives them time to pause, and to commune with their own hearts. God saith, I hearkened and heard, Jer. 8:6 . Some Greek copies here read, He wrote on the ground, enos hekastou auton tas hamartias the sins of every one of them; this he could do, for he sets our iniquities before him; and this he will do, for he will set them in order before us too; he seals up our transgressions, Job. 14:17 . But he does not write mens sins in the sand; no, they are written as with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond (Jer. 17:1 ), never to be forgotten till they are forgiven.[4.] The scribes and Pharisees were so strangely thunderstruck with the words of Christ that they let fall their persecution of Christ, whom they durst no further tempt, and their prosecution of the woman, whom they durst no longer accuse (v. 9): They went out one by one. First, Perhaps his writing on the ground frightened them, as the hand-writing on the wall frightened Belshazzar. They concluded he was writing bitter things against them, writing their doom. Happy they who have no reason to be afraid of Christs writing!Secondly, What he said frightened them by sending them to their own consciences; he had shown them to themselves, and they were afraid if they should stay till he lifted up himself again his next word would show them to the world, and shame them before men, and therefore they thought it best to withdraw. They went out one by one, that they might go out softly, and not by a noisy flight disturb Christ; they went away by stealth, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle, 2 Sa. 19:3 . The order of their departure is taken notice of, beginning at the eldest, either because they were most guilty, or first aware of the danger they were in of being put to the blush; and if the eldest quit the field, and retreat ingloriously, no marvel if the younger follow them. Now see here, 1. The force of the word of Christ for the conviction of sinners: They who heard it were convicted by their own consciences. Conscience is Gods deputy in the soul, and one word from him will set it on work, Heb. 4:12 . Those that had been old in adulteries, and long fixed in a proud opinion of themselves, were here, even the oldest of them, startled by the word of Christ; even scribes and Pharisees, who were most conceited of themselves, are by the power of Christs word made to retire with shame. The folly of sinners under these convictions, which appears in these scribes and Pharisees. (1.) It is folly for those that are under convictions to make it their principal care to avoid shame, as Judah (Gen. 38:23 ), lest we be shamed. Our care should be more to save our souls than to save our credit. Saul evidenced his hypocrisy when he said, I have sinned, yet now honour me, I pray thee. There is no way to get the honour and comfort of penitents, but by taking the shame of penitents. (2.) It is folly for those that are under convictions to contrive how to shift off their convictions, and to get rid of them. The scribes and Pharisees had the wound opened, and now they should have been desirous to have it searched, and then it might have been healed, but this was the thing they dreaded and declined. (3.) It is folly for those that are under convictions to get away from Jesus Christ, as these here did, for he is the only one that can heal the wounds of conscience, and speak peace to us. Those that are convicted by their consciences will be condemned by their Judge, if they be not justified by their Redeemer; and will they then go from him? To whom will they go?[5.] When the self-conceited prosecutors quitted the field, and fled for the same, the self-condemned prisoner stood her ground, with a resolution to abide by the judgment of our Lord Jesus: Jesus was left alone from the company of the scribes and Pharisees, free from their molestations, and the woman standing in the midst of the assembly that were attending on Christs preaching, where they set her, v. 3. She did not seek to make her escape, though she had opportunity for it; but her prosecutors had appealed unto Jesus, and to him she would go, on him she would wait for her doom. Note, Those whose cause is brought before our Lord Jesus will never have occasion to remove it into any other court, for he is the refuge of penitents. The law which accuses us, and calls for judgment against us, is by the gospel of Christ made to withdraw; its demands are answered, and its clamours silenced, by the blood of Jesus. Our cause is lodged in the gospel court; we are left with Jesus alone, it is with him only that we have now to deal, for to him all judgment is committed; let us therefore secure our interest in him, and we are made for ever. Let his gospel rule us, and it will infallibly save us. [6.] Here is the conclusion of the trial, and the issue it was brought to: Jesus lifted up himself, and he saw none but the woman, v. 10, v. 11. Though Christ may seem to take no notice of what is said and done, but leave it to the contending sons of men to deal it out among themselves, yet, when the hour of his judgment is come, he will no longer keep silence. When David had appealed to God, he prayed, Lift up thyself, Ps. 7:6 , and Ps. 94:2 . The woman, it is likely, stood trembling at the bar, as one doubtful of the issue. Christ was without sin, and might cast the first stone; but though none more severe than he against sin, for he is infinitely just and holy, none more compassionate than he to sinners, for he is infinitely gracious and merciful, and this poor malefactor finds him so, now that she stands upon her deliverance. Here is the method of courts of judicature observed.First, The prosecutors are called: Where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? Not but that Christ knew where they were; but he asked, that he might shame them, who declined his judgment, and encourage her who resolved to abide by it. St. Pauls challenge is like this, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods elect? Where are those their accusers? The accuser of the brethren shall be fairly cast out, and all indictments legally and regularly quashed.Secondly, They do not appear when the question is asked: Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. She speaks respectfully to Christ, calls him Lord, but is silent concerning her prosecutors, says nothing in answer to that question which concerned them, Where are those thine accusers? She does not triumph in their retreat nor insult over them as witnesses against themselves, not against her. If we hope to be forgiven by our Judge, we must forgive our accusers; and if their accusations, how invidious soever, were the happy occasion of awakening our consciences, we may easily forgive them this wrong. But she answered the question which concerned herself, Has no man condemned thee? True penitents find it enough to give an account of themselves to God, and will not undertake to give an account of other people.Thirdly, The prisoner is therefore discharged: Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more. Consider this,(a. ) As her discharge from the temporal punishment: "If they do not condemn thee to be stoned to death, neither do I. Not that Christ came to disarm the magistrate of his sword of justice, nor that it is his will that capital punishments should not be inflicted on malefactors; so far from this, the administration of public justice is established by the gospel, and made subservient to Christs kingdom: By me kings reign. But Christ would not condemn this woman, (a. ) Because it was none of his business; he was no judge nor divider, and therefore would not intermeddle in secular affairs. His kingdom was not of this world. Tractent fabrilia fabriLet every one act in his own province. (b. ) Because she was prosecuted by those that were more guilty than she and could not for shame insist upon their demand of justice against her. The law appointed the hands of the witnesses to be first upon the criminal, and afterwards the hands of all the people, so that if they fly off, and do not condemn her, the prosecution drops. The justice of God, in inflicting temporal judgments, sometimes takes notice of a comparative righteousness, and spares those who are otherwise obnoxious when the punishing of them would gratify those that are worse than they, Deu. 32:26, Deu. 32:27 . But, when Christ dismissed her, it was with this caution, Go, and sin no more. Impunity emboldens malefactors, and therefore those who are guilty, and yet have found means to escape the edge of the law, need to double their watch, lest Satan get advantage; for the fairer the escape was, the fairer the warning was to go and sin no more. Those who help to save the life of a criminal should, as Christ here, help to save the soul with this caution.(b. ) As her discharge from the eternal punishment. For Christ to say, I do not condemn thee is, in effect, to say, I do forgive thee; and the Son of man had power on earth to forgive sins, and could upon good grounds give this absolution; for as he knew the hardness and impenitent hearts of the prosecutors, and therefore said that which would confound them, so he knew the tenderness and sincere repentance of the prisoner, and therefore said that which would comfort her, as he did to that woman who was a sinner, such a sinner as this, who was likewise looked upon with disdain by a Pharisee (Lu. 7:48, Lu. 7:50 ): Thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace. So here, Neither do I condemn thee. Note, (a. ) Those are truly happy whom Christ doth not condemn, for his discharge is a sufficient answer to all other challenges; they are all coram non judicebefore an unauthorized judge. (b. ) Christ will not condemn those who, though they have sinned, will go and sin no more, Ps. 85:8 ; Isa. 55:7 . he will not take the advantage he has against us for our former rebellions, if we will but lay down our arms and return to our allegiance. (c. ) Christs favour to us in the remission of the sins that are past should be a prevailing argument with us to go and sin no more, Rom. 6:1, Rom. 6:2 . Will not Christ condemn thee? Go then and sin no more.
Verses 12-20 The rest of the chapter is taken up with debates between Christ and contradicting sinners, who cavilled at the most gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. It is not certain whether these disputes were the same day that the adulteress was discharged; it is probable they were, for the evangelist mentions no other day, and takes notice (v. 2) how early Christ began that days work. Though those Pharisees that accused the woman had absconded, yet there were other Pharisees (v. 13) to confront Christ, who had brass enough in their foreheads to keep them in countenance, though some of their party were put to such a shameful retreat; nay perhaps that made them the more industrious to pick quarrels with him, to retrieve, if possible, the reputation of their baffled party. In these verses we have,I. A great doctrine laid down, with the application of it.1. The doctrine is, That Christ is the light of the world (v. 12): Then spoke Jesus again unto them; though he had spoken a great deal to them to little purpose, and what he had said was opposed, yet he spoke again, for he speaketh once, yea, twice. They had turned a deaf ear to what he said, and yet he spoke again to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Note, Jesus Christ is the light of the world. One of the rabbies saith, Light is the name of the Messiah, as it is written, Dan. 2:22 , And light dwelleth with him. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God; God of gods, Light of lights. He was expected to be a light to enlighten the Gentiles (Lu. 2:32 ), and so the light of the world, and not of the Jewish church only. The visible light of the world is the sun, and Christ is the Sun of righteousness. One sun enlightens the whole world, so does one Christ, and there needs no more. Christ in calling himself the light expresses, (1.) What he is in himselfmost excellent and glorious. (2.) What he is to the worldthe fountain of light, enlightening every man. What a dungeon would the world be without the sun! So would it be without Christ by whom light came into the world, ch. 3:19 .2. The inference from this doctrine is, He that followeth me, as a traveller follows the light in a dark night, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. If Christ be the light, then, (1.) It is our duty to follow him, to submit ourselves to his guidance, and in every thing take directions from him, in the way that leads to happiness. Many follow false lightsignes fatui, that lead them to destruction; but Christ is the true light. It is not enough to look at this light, and to gaze upon it, but we must follow it, believe in it, and walk in it, for it is a light to our feet, not our eyes only. (2.) It is the happiness of those who follow Christ that they shall not walk in darkness. They shall not be left destitute of those instructions in the way of truth which are necessary to keep them from destroying error, and those directions in the way of duty which are necessary to keep them from damning sin. They shall have the light of life, that knowledge and enjoyment of God which will be to them the light of spiritual life in this world and of everlasting life in the other world, where there will be no death nor darkness. Follow Christ, and we shall undoubtedly be happy in both worlds. Follow Christ, and we shall follow him to heaven.II. The objection which the Pharisees made against this doctrine, and it was very trifling and frivolous: Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true, v. 13. In this objection they went upon the suspicion which we commonly have of mens self-condemnation, which is concluded to be the native language of self-love, such as we are all ready to condemn in others, but few are willing to own in themselves. But in this case the objection was very unjust, for, 1. They made that his crime, and a diminution to the credibility of his doctrine, which in the case of one who introduced a divine revelation was necessary and unavoidable. Did not Moses and all the prophets bear witness of themselves when they avouched themselves to be Gods messengers? Did not the Pharisees ask John Baptist, What sayest thou of thyself? 2. They overlooked the testimony of all the other witnesses, which corroborated the testimony he bore of himself. Had he only borne record of himself, his testimony had indeed been suspicious, and the belief of it might have been suspended; but his doctrine was attested by more than two or three credible witnesses, enough to establish every word of it.III. Christs reply to this objection, v. 14. He does not retort upon them as he might ("You profess yourselves to be devout and good men, but your witness is not true ), but plainly vindicates himself; and, though he had waived his own testimony ch. 5:31 ), yet here he abides by it, that it did not derogate from the credibility of his other proofs, but was necessary to show the force of them. He is the light of the world, and it is the property of light to be self-evidencing. First principles prove themselves. He urges three things to prove that his testimony, though of himself, was true and cogent.1. That he was conscious to himself of his own authority, and abundantly satisfied in himself concerning it. He did not speak as one at uncertainty, nor propose a disputable notion, about which he himself hesitated, but declared a decree, and gave such an account of himself as he would abide by: I know whence I came, and whither I go. He was fully apprised of his own undertaking from first to last; knew whose errand he went upon, and what his success would be. He knew what he was before his manifestation to the world, and what he should be after; that he came from the Father, and was going to him ch. 16:28 ), came from glory, and was going to glory, ch. 17:5 ). This is the satisfaction of all good Christians, that though the world know them not, as it knew him not, yet they know whence their spiritual life comes, and whither it tends, and go upon sure grounds.2. That they are very incompetent judges of him, and of his doctrine, and not to be regarded. (1.) Because they were ignorant, willingly and resolvedly ignorant: You cannot tell whence I came, and whither I go. To what purpose is it to talk with those who know nothing of the matter, nor desire to know? He had told them of his coming from heaven and returning to heaven, but it was foolishness to them, they received it not; it was what the brutish man knows not, Ps. 92:6 . They took upon them to judge of that which they did not understand, which lay quite out of the road of their acquaintance. Those that despise Christs dominions and dignities speak evil of what they know not, Jude, v. 8, v. 10. (2.) Because they were partial (v. 15): You judge after the flesh. When fleshly wisdom gives the rule of judgment, and outward appearances only are given in evidence, and the case decided according to them, then men judge after the flesh; and when the consideration of a secular interest turns the scale in judging of spiritual matters, when we judge in favour of that which pleases the carnal mind, and recommends us to a carnal world, we judge after the flesh; and the judgment cannot be right when the rule is wrong. The Jews judged of Christ and his gospel by outward appearances, and, because he appeared so mean, thought it impossible he should be the light of the world; as if the sun under a cloud were no sun. (3.) Because they were unjust and unfair towards him, intimated in this: "I judge no man; I neither make nor meddle with your political affairs, nor does my doctrine or practice at all intrench upon, or interfere with, your civil rights or secular powers. He thus judged no man. Now, if he did not war after the flesh, it was very unreasonable for them to judge him after the flesh, and to treat him as an offender against the civil government. Or, "I judge no man, that is, "not now in my first coming, that is deferred till I come again, ch. 3:17 . Prima dispensatio Christi medicinalis est, non judicialisThe first coming of Christ was for the purpose of administering, not justice, but medicine. 3. That his testimony of himself was sufficiently supported and corroborated by the testimony of his Father with him and for him (v. 16): And yet, if I judge, my judgment is true. He did in his doctrine judge ch. 9:39 ), though not politically. Consider him then,(1.) As a judge, and his own judgment was valid: "If I judge, I who have authority to execute judgments, I to whom all things are delivered, I who am the Son of God, and have the Spirit of God, if I judge, my judgment is true, of incontestable rectitude and uncontrollable authority, Rom. 2:2 . If I should judge, my judgment must be true, and then you would be condemned; but the judgment-day is not yet come, you are not yet to be condemned, but spared, and therefore now I judge no man; so Chrysostom. Now that which makes his judgment unexceptionable is, [1.] His Fathers concurrence with him: I am not alone, but I and the Father. He has the Fathers concurring counsels to direct; as he was with the Father before the world in forming the counsels, so the Father was with him in the world in prosecuting and executing those counsels, and never left him inops consiliiwithout advice, Isa. 11:2 . All the counsels of peace ( and of war too) were between them both, Zec. 6:13 . He had also the Fathers concurring power to authorize and confirm what he did; see Ps. 89:21 , etc.; Isa. 42:1 . He did not act separately, but in his own name and his Fathers, and by the authority aforesaid, ch. 5:17 , and ch. 14:9, ch. 14:10 . [2.] His Fathers commission to him: "It is the Father that sent me. Note, God will go along with those that he sends; see Ex. 3:10, Ex. 3:12 : Come, and I will send thee, and certainly I will be with thee. Now, if Christ had a commission from the Father, and the Fathers presence with him in all his administrations, no doubt his judgment was true and valid; no exception lay against it, no appeal lay from it.(2.) Look upon him as a witness, and now he appeared no otherwise (having not as yet taken the throne of judgment), and as such his testimony was true and unexceptionable; this he shows, v. 17, v. 18, where,[1.] He quotes a maxim of the Jewish law, v. 17. That the testimony of two men is true. Not as if it were always true in itself, for many a time hand has been joined in hand to bear a false testimony, 1 Ki. 21:10 . But it is allowed as sufficient evidence upon which to ground a verdict (verum dictum), and if nothing appear to the contrary it is taken for granted to be true. Reference is here had to that law (Deu. 17:6 ), At the mouth of two witnesses shall he that is worthy of death be put to death. And see Deu. 9:15 ; Num. 35:30 . It was in favour of life that in capital cases two witnesses wee required, as with us in case of treason. See Heb. 6:18 .[2.] He applies this to the case in hand (v. 18): I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me. Behold two witnesses! Though in human courts, where two witnesses are required, the criminal or candidate is not admitted to be a witness for himself; yet in a matter purely divine, which can be proved only by a divine testimony, and God himself must be the witness, if the formality of two or three witnesses be insisted on, there can be no other than the eternal Father, the eternal Son of the Father, and the eternal Spirit. Now if the testimony of two distinct persons, that are men, and therefore may deceive or be deceived, is conclusive, much more ought the testimony of the Son of God concerning himself, backed with the testimony of his Father concerning him, to command assent; see 1 Jn. 5:7, 1 Jn. 5:9-11 . Now this proves not only that the Father and the Son are two distinct persons (for their respective testimonies are here spoken of as the testimonies of two several persons), but that these two are one, not only one in their testimony, but equal in power and glory, and therefore the same in substance. St. Austin here takes occasion to caution his hearers against Sabellianism on the one hand, which confounded the persons in the Godhead, and Arianism on the other, which denied the Godhead of the Son and Spirit. Alius est filius, et alius pater, non tamed aliud, sed hoc ipsum est et pater, et filius, scilicet unus Deus estThe Son is one Person, and the Father is another; they do not, however, constitute two Beings, but the Father is the same Being that the Son is, that is, the only true God. Tract6, in Joann. Christ here speaks of himself and the Father as witnesses to the world, giving in evidence to the reason and conscience of the children of men, whom he deals with as men. And these witnesses to the world now will in the great day be witnesses against those that persist in unbelief, and their word will judge men.This was the sum of the first conference between Christ and these carnal Jews, in the conclusion of which we are told how their tongues were let loose, and their hands tied.First, How their tongues were let loose (such was the malice of hell) to cavil at his discourse, v. 19. Though in what he said there appeared nothing of human policy or artifice, but a divine security, yet they set themselves to cross questions with him. None so incurably blind as those that resolve they will not see. Observe,a. How they evaded the conviction with a cavil: Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? They might easily have understood, by the tenour of this and his other discourses, that when he spoke of his Father he meant no other than God himself; yet they pretend to understand him of a common person, and, since he appeals to his testimony, they bid him call his witness, and challenge him, if he can, to produce him: Where is thy Father? Thus, as Christ said of them (v. 15), they judge after the flesh. Perhaps they hereby intend a reflection upon the meanness and obscurity of his family: Where is thy Father, that he should be fit to give evidence in such a case as this? Thus they turned it off with a taunt, when they could not resist the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. b. How he evaded the cavil with a further conviction; he did not tell them where his Father was, but charged them with wilful ignorance: "You neither know me nor my Father. It is to no purpose to discourse to you about divine things, who talk of them as blind men do of colours. Poor creatures! you know nothing of the matter. (a. ) He charges them with ignorance of God: "You know not my Father. In Judah was God known (Ps. 76:1 ); they had some knowledge of him as the God that made the world, but their eyes were darkened that they could not see the light of his glory shining in the face of Jesus Christ. The little children of the Christian church know the Father, know him as a Father (1 Jn. 2:13 ); but these rulers of the Jews did not, because they would not so know him. (b. ) He shows them the true cause of their ignorance of God: If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. The reason why men are ignorant of God is because they are unacquainted with Jesus Christ. Did we know Christ, [a. ] In knowing him we should know the Father, of whose person he is the express image, ch. 14:9 . Chrysostom proves hence the Godhead of Christ, and his equality with his Father. We cannot say, "He that knows a man knows an angel, or, "He that knows a creature knows the Creator; but he that knows Christ knows the Father. [b. ] By him we should be instructed in the knowledge of God, and introduced into an acquaintance with him. If we knew Christ better, we should know the Father better; but, where the Christian religion is slighted and opposed, natural religion will soon be lost and laid aside. Deism makes way for atheism. Those become vain in their imaginations concerning God that will not learn of Christ.Secondly, See how their hands were tied, though their tongues were thus let loose; such was the power of Heaven to restrain the malice of hell. These words spoke Jesus, these bold words, these words of conviction and reproof, in the treasury, an apartment of the temple, where, to be sure, the chief priests, whose gain was their godliness, were mostly resident, attending the business of the revenue. Christ taught in the temple, sometimes in one part, sometimes in another, as he saw occasion. Now the priests who had so great a concern in the temple, and looked upon it as their demesne, might easily, with the assistance of the janizaries that were at their beck, either have seized him and exposed him to the rage of the mob, and that punishment which they called the beating of the rebels; or, at least, have silenced him, and stopped his mouth there, as Amos, though tolerated in the land of Judah, was forbidden to prophesy in the kings chapel, Amos, 7:12, 13. Yet even in the temple, where they had him in their reach, no man laid hands on him, for his hour was not yet come. See here, 1. The restraint laid upon his persecutors by an invisible power; none of them durst meddle with him. God can set bounds to the wrath of men, as he does to the waves of the sea. Let us not therefore fear danger in the way of duty; for God hath Satan and all his instruments in a chain. The reason of this restraint: His hour was not yet come. The frequent mention of this intimates how much the time of our departure out of the world depends upon the fixed counsel and decree of God. It will come, it is coming; not yet come, but it is at hand. Our enemies cannot hasten it any sooner, nor our friends delay it any longer, than the time appointed of the Father, which is very comfortable to every good man, who can look up and say with pleasure, My times are in thy hands; and better there than in our own. His hour was not yet come, because his work was not done, nor his testimony finished. To all Gods purposes there is a time.
Verses 21-30 Christ here gives fair warning to the careless unbelieving Jews to consider what would be the consequence of their infidelity, that they might prevent it before it was too late; for he spoke words of terror as well as words of grace. Observe here,I. The wrath threatened (v. 21): Jesus said again unto them that which might be likely to do them good. He continued to teach, in kindness to those few who received his doctrine, though there were many that resisted it, which is an example to ministers to go on with their work, notwithstanding opposition, because a remnant shall be saved. Here Christ changes his voice; he had piped to them in the offers of his grace, and they had not danced; now he mourns to them in the denunciations of his wrath, to try if they would lament. He said, I go my way, and you shall seek me, and shall die in your sins. Whither I go you cannot come. Every word is terrible, and bespeaks spiritual judgments, which are the sorest of all judgments; worse than war, pestilence, and captivity, which the Old-Testament prophets denounced. Four things are here threatened against the Jews.1. Christs departure from them: I go my way, that is, "It shall not be long before I go; you need not take so much pains to drive me from you, I shall go of myself. They said to him, Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways; and he takes them at their word; but woe to those from whom Christ departs. Ichabod, the glory is gone, our defence is departed, when Christ goes. Christ frequently warned them of his departure before he left them: he bade often farewell, as one loth to depart, and willing to be invited, and that would have them stir up themselves to take hold on him. 2. Their enmity to the true Messiah, and their fruitless and infatuated enquiries after another Messiah when he was gone away, which were both their sin and their punishment: You shall seek me, which intimates either, (1.) Their enmity to the true Christ: "You shall seek to ruin my interest, by persecuting my doctrine and followers, with a fruitless design to root them out. This was a continual vexation and torment to themselves, made them incurably ill-natured, and brought wrath upon them (Gods and their own) to the uttermost. Or, (2.) Their enquiries after false Christs: "You shall continue your expectations of the Messiah, and be the self-perplexing seekers of a Christ to come, when he is already come; like the Sodomites, who, being struck with blindness, wearied themselves to find the door. See Rom. 9:31, Rom. 9:32 .3. Their final impenitency: You shall die in your sins. Here is an error in all our English Bibles, even the old bishops translation, and that of Geneva (the Rhemists only excepted), for all the Greek copies have it in the singular number, en te hamartia hymon in your sin, so all the Latin versions; and Calvin has a note upon the difference between this and v. 24, where it is plural, tais hamartiais , that here it is meant especially of the sin of unbelief, in hoc peccato vestroin this sin of yours. Note, Those that live in unbelief are for ever undone if they die in unbelief. Or, it may be understood in general, You shall die in your iniquity, as Eze. 3:19 , and Eze. 33:9 . Many that have long lived in sin are, through grace, saved by a timely repentance from dying in sin; but for those who go out of this world of probation into that of retribution under the guilt of sin unpardoned, and the power of sin unbroken, there remaineth no relief: salvation itself cannot save them, Job. 20:11 ; Eze. 32:27 .4. Their eternal separation from Christ and all happiness in him: Whither I go you cannot come. When Christ left the world, he went to a state of perfect happiness; he went to paradise. Thither he took the penitent thief with him, that did not die in his sins; but the impenitent not only shall not come to him, but they cannot; it is morally impossible, for heaven would not be heaven to those that die unsanctified and unmeet for it. You cannot come, because you have no right to enter into that Jerusalem, Rev. 22:14 . Whither I go you cannot come, to fetch me thence, so Dr. Whitby; and the same is the comfort of all good Christians, that, when they get to heaven, they will be out of the reach of their enemies malice.II. The jest they made of this threatening. Instead of trembling at this word, they bantered it, and turned it into ridicule (v. 22): Will he kill himself? See here, 1. What slight thoughts they had of Christs threatenings; they could make themselves and one another merry with them, as those that mocked the messengers of the Lord, and turned the burden of the word of the Lord into a by-word, and precept upon precept, line upon line, into a merry song, Isa. 28:13 . But be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong. 2. What ill thoughts they had of Christs meaning, as if he had an inhuman design upon his own life, to avoid the indignities done him, like Saul. This is indeed (say they) to go whither we cannot follow him, for we will never kill ourselves. Thus they make him not only such a one as themselves, but worse; yet in the calamities brought by the Romans upon the Jews many of them in discontent and despair did kill themselves. They had put a much more favourable construction upon this word of his ch. 7:34, ch. 7:35 ): Will he go to the dispersed among the Gentiles? But see how indulged malice grows more and more malicious.III. The confirmation of what he had said.1. He had said, Whither I go you cannot come, and here he gives the reason for this (v. 23): You are from beneath, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. You are ek ton kato of those things which are beneath; noting, not so much their rise from beneath as their affection to these lower things: "You are in with these things, as those that belong to them; how can you come where I go, when your spirit and disposition are so directly contrary to mine? See here, (1.) What the spirit of the Lord Jesus wasnot of this world, but from above. He was perfectly dead to the wealth of the world, the ease of the body, and the praise of men, and was wholly taken up with divine and heavenly things; and none shall be with him but those who are born from above and have their conversation in heaven. (2.) How contrary to this their spirit was: "You are from beneath, and of this world. The Pharisees were of a carnal worldly spirit; and what communion could Christ have with them?2. He had said, You shall die in your sins, and here he stand to it: "Therefore I said, You shall die in your sins, because you are from beneath; and he gives this further reason for it, If you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins, v. 24. See here, (1.) What we are required to believe: that I am he, hoti ego eimi that I am, which is one of Gods names, Ex. 3:14 . It was the Son of God that there said, Ehejeh asher EhejehI will be what I will be; for the deliverance of Israel was but a figure of good things to come, but now he saith, "I am he; he that should come, he that you expect the Messias to be, that you would have me to be to you. I am more than the bare name of the Messiah; I do not only call myself so, but I am he. True faith does not amuse the soul with an empty sound of words, but affects it with the doctrine of Christs mediation, as a real thing that has real effects. (2.) How necessary it is that we believe this. If we have not this faith, we shall die in our sins; for the matter is so settled that without this faith, [1.] We cannot be saved from the power of sin while we live, and therefore shall certainly continue in it to the last. Nothing but the doctrine of Christs grace will be an argument powerful enough, and none but the Spirit of Christs grace will be an agent powerful enough, to turn us from sin to God; and that Spirit is given, and that doctrine given, to be effectual to those only who believe in Christ: so that, if Satan be not by faith dispossessed, he has a lease of the soul for its life; if Christ do not cure us, our case is desperate, and we shall die in our sins. [2.] Without faith we cannot be saved from the punishment of sin when we die, for the wrath of God remains upon them that believe not, Mk. 16:16 . Unbelief is the damning sin; it is a sin against the remedy. Now this implies the great gospel promise: If we believe that Christ is he, and receive him accordingly, we shall not die in our sins. The law saith absolutely to all, as Christ said (v. 21), You shall die in your sins, for we are all guilty before God; but the gospel is a defeasance of the obligation upon condition of believing. The curse of the law is vacated and annulled to all that submit to the grace of the gospel. Believers die in Christ, in his love, in his arms, and so are saved from dying in their sins. IV. Here is a further discourse concerning himself, occasioned by his requiring faith in himself as the condition of salvation, v. 25-29. Observe,1. The question which the Jews put to him (v. 25): Who art thou? This they asked tauntingly, and not with any desire to be instructed. he had said, You must believe that I am he. By his not saying expressly who he was, he plainly intimated that in his person he was such a one as could not be described by any, and in his office such a one as was expected by all that looked for redemption in Israel; yet this awful manner of speaking, which had so much significancy in it, they turned to his reproach, as if he knew not what to say of himself: "Who art thou, that we must with an implicit faith believe in thee, that thou art some mighty HE, we know not who or what, nor are worthy to know? 2. His answer to this question, wherein he directs them three ways for information:(1.) He refers them to what he had said all along: "Do you ask who I am? Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. The original here is a little intricate, ten archen ho ti kai lalo hymin which some read thus: I am the beginning, which also I speak unto you. So Austin takes it. Christ is called Arche the beginning (Col. 1:18 ; Rev. 1:8 Rev. 21:6 Rev. 3:14 ), and so it agrees with v. 24, I am he. Compare Isa. 41:4 : I am the first, I am he. Those who object that it is the accusative case, and therefore not properly answering to tis ei , must undertake to construe by grammar rules that parallel expression, Rev. 1:8 , ho en . But most interpreters agree with our version, Do you ask who I am? [1.] I am the same that I said to you from the beginning of time in the scriptures of the Old-Testament, the same that from the beginning was said to be the Seed of the woman, that should break the serpents head, the same that in all the ages of the church was the Mediator of the covenant, and the faith of the patriarchs. [2.] From the beginning of my public ministry. The account he had already given of himself he resolved to abide by; he had declared himself to be the Son of God ch. 5:17 ), to be the Christ ch. 4:26 ), and the bread of life, and had proposed himself as the object of that faith which is necessary to salvation, and to this he refers them for an answer to their question. Christ is one with himself; what he had said from the beginning, he saith still. His is an everlasting gospel. (2.) He refers them to his Fathers judgment, and the instructions he had from him (v. 26): "I have many things, more than you think of, to say, and in them to judge of you. But why should I trouble myself any further with you? I know very well that he who sent me is true, and will stand by me, and bear me out, for I speak to the world (to which I am sent as an ambassador) those things, all those and those only, which I have heard of him. Here,[1.] He suppresses his accusation of them. He had many things to charge them with, and many evidences to produce against them; but for the present he had said enough. Note, Whatever discoveries of sin are made to us, he that searches the heart has still more to judge of us, 1 Jn. 3:20 . How much soever God reckons with sinners in this world there is still a further reckoning yet behind, Deu. 32:34 . Let us learn hence not to be forward to say all we can say, even against the worst of men; we may have many things to say, by way of censure, which yet it is better to leave unsaid, for what is it to us?[2.] He enters his appeal against them to his Father: He that sent me. Here two things comfort him:First, That he had been true to his Father, and to the trust reposed in him: I speak to the world (for his gospel was to be preached to every creature) those things which I have heard of him. Being given for a witness to the people (Isa. 55:4 ), he was Amen, a faithful witness, Rev. 3:14 . He did not conceal his doctrine, but spoke it to the world (being of common concern, it was to be of common notice); nor did he change or alter it, nor vary from the instructions he received from him that sent him. Secondly, That his Father would be true to him; true to the promise that he would make his mouth like a sharp sword; true to his purpose concerning him, which was a decree (Ps. 2:7 ); true to the threatenings of his wrath against those that should reject him. Though he should not accuse them to his Father, yet the Father, who sent him, would undoubtedly reckon with them, and would be true to what he had said (Deu. 18:19 ), that whosoever would not hearken to that prophet whom God would raise up he would require it of him. Christ would not accuse them; "for, saith he, "he that sent me is true, and will pass judgment on them, though I should not demand judgment against them. Thus, when he lets fall the present prosecution, he binds them over to the judgment-day, when it will be too late to dispute what they will not now be persuaded to believe. I, as a deaf man, heard not; for thou wilt hear, Ps. 38:13, Ps. 38:15 . Upon this part of our Saviours discourse the evangelist has a melancholy remark (v. 27): They understood not that he spoke to them of the Father. See here, 1. The power of Satan to blind the minds of those who believe not. Though Christ spoke so plainly of God as his Father in heaven, yet they did not understand whom he meant, but thought he spoke of some father he had in Galilee. Thus the plainest things are riddles and parables to those who are resolved to hold fast their prejudices; day and night are alike to the blind. The reason why the threatenings of the word make so little impression upon the minds of sinners; it is because they understand not whose the wrath is that is revealed in them. When Christ told them of the truth of him that sent him, as a warning to them to prepare for his judgment, which is according to truth, they slighted the warning, because they understood not to whose judgment it was that they made themselves obnoxious.(3.) He refers them to their own convictions hereafter, v. 28, v. 29. He finds they will not understand him, and therefore adjourns the trial till further evidence should come in; they that will not see shall see, Isa. 26:11 . Now observe here,[1.] What they should ere long be convinced of: "You shall know that I am he, that Jesus is the true Messiah. Whether you will own it or no before men, you shall be made to know it in your own consciences, the convictions of which, though you may stifle, yet you cannot baffle: that I am he, not that you represent me to be, but he that I preach myself to be, he that should come! Two things they should be convinced of, in order to this:First, That he did nothing of himself, not of himself as man, of himself alone, of himself without the Father, with whom he was one. He does not hereby derogate from his own inherent power, but only denies their charge against him as a false prophet; for of false prophets it is said that they prophesied out of their own hearts, and followed their own spirits. Secondly, That as his Father taught him so he spoke these things, that he was not autodidaktos selftaught, but Theodidaktos taught of God. The doctrine he preached was the counterpart of the counsels of God, with which he was intimately acquainted; kathos edidaxe, tauta lalo I speak those things, not only which he taught me, but as he taught me, with the same divine power and authority.[2.] When they should be convinced of this: When you have lifted up the Son of man, lifted him up upon the cross, as the brazen serpent upon the pole ch. 3:14 ), as the sacrifices under the law (for Christ is the great sacrifice), which, when they were offered, were said to be elevated, or lifted up; hence the burnt-offerings, the most ancient and honourable of all, were called elevations (Gnoloth from Gnolah, asendithe ascended ), and in many other offerings they used the significant ceremony of heaving the sacrifice up, and moving it before the Lord; thus was Christ lifted up. Or the expression denotes that his death was his exaltation. They that put him to death thought thereby for ever to have sunk him and his interest, but it proved to be the advancement of both, ch. 12:24 . When the Son of man was crucified, the Son of man was glorified. Christ had called his dying his going away; here he calls it his being lifted up; thus the death of the saints, as it is their departure out of this world, so it is their advancement to a better. Observe, He speaks of those he is now talking with as the instruments of his death: when you have lifted up the Son of man; not that they were to be the priests to offer him up (no, that was his own act, he offered up himself ), but they would be his betrayers and murderers; see Acts. 2:23 . They lifted him up to the cross, but then he lifted up himself to his Father. Observe with what tenderness and mildness Christ here speaks to those who he certainly knew would put him to death, to teach us not to hate or seek the hurt of any, though we may have reason to think they hate us and seek our hurt. Now, Christ speaks of his death as that which would be a powerful conviction of the infidelity of the Jews. When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know this. And why then? First, Because careless and unthinking people are often taught the worth of mercies by the want of them, Lu. 17:22 . Secondly, The guilt of their sin in putting Christ to death would so awaken their consciences that they would be put upon serious enquiries after a Saviour, and then would know that Jesus was he who alone could save them. And so it proved, when, being told that with wicked hands they had crucified and slain the Son of God, they cried out, What shall we do? and were made to know assuredly that this Jesus was Lord and Christ, Acts. 2:36 . Thirdly, There would be such signs and wonders attending his death, and the lifting of him up from death in his resurrection, as would give a stronger proof of his being the Messiah than any that had been yet given: and multitudes were hereby brought to believe that Jesus is the Christ, who had before contradicted and opposed him. Fourthly, By the death of Christ the pouring out of the Spirit was purchased, who would convince the world that Jesus is he, ch. 16:7, ch. 16:8 . Fifthly, The judgments which the Jews brought upon themselves, by putting Christ to death, which filled up the measure of their iniquity, were a sensible conviction to the most hardened among them that Jesus was he. Christ had often foretold that desolation as the just punishment of their invincible unbelief, and when it came to pass (lo, it did come) they could not but know that the great prophet had been among them, Eze. 33:33 .[3.] What supported our Lord Jesus in the mean time (v. 29): He that sent me is with me, in my whole undertaking; for the Father (the fountain and first spring of this affair, from whom as its great cause and author it is derived) hath not left me alone, to manage it myself, hath not deserted the business nor me in the prosecution of it, for do I always those things that please him. Here is,First, The assurance which Christ had of his Fathers presence with him, which includes both a divine power going along with him to enable him for his work, and a divine favour manifested to him to encourage him in it. He that sent me is with me, Isa. 42:1 ; Ps. 89:21 . This greatly emboldens our faith in Christ and our reliance upon his word that he had, and knew he had, his Father with him, to confirm the word of his servant, Isa. 44:26 . The King of kings accompanied his own ambassador, to attest his mission and assist his management, and never left him alone, either solitary or weak; it also aggravated the wickedness of those that opposed him, and was an intimation to them of the premunire they ran themselves into by resisting him, for thereby they were found fighters against God. How easily soever they might think to crush him and run him down, let them know he had one to back him with whom it is the greatest madness that can be to contend. Secondly, The ground of this assurance: For I do always those things that please him. That is, 1. That great affair in which our Lord Jesus was continually engaged was an affair which the Father that sent him was highly well pleased with. His whole undertaking is called the pleasure of the Lord (Isa. 53:10 ), because of the counsels of the eternal mind about it, and the complacency of the eternal mind in it. His management of that affair was in nothing displeasing to his Father; in executing his commission he punctually observed all his instructions, and did in nothing vary from them. No mere man since the fall could say such a word as this (for in many things we offend all ) but our Lord Jesus never offended his Father in any thing, but, as became him, he fulfilled all righteousness. This was necessary to the validity and value of the sacrifice he was to offer up; for if he had in any thing displeased the Father himself, and so had had any sin of his own to answer for, the Father could not have been pleased with him as a propitiation for our sins; but such a priest and such a sacrifice became us as was perfectly pure and spotless. We may likewise learn hence that Gods servants may then expect Gods presence with them when they choose and do those things that please him, Isa. 66:4, Isa. 66:5 .V. Here is the good effect which this discourse of Christs had upon some of his hearers (v. 30): As he spoke these words many believed on him. Note, 1. Though multitudes perish in their unbelief, yet there is a remnant according to the election of grace, who believe to the saving of the soul. If Israel, the whole body of the people, be not gathered, yet there are those of them in whom Christ will be glorious, Isa. 49:5 . This the apostle insists upon, to reconcile the Jews rejection with the promises made unto their fathers. There is a remnant, Rom. 11:5 . The words of Christ, and particularly his threatening words, are made effectual by the grace of God to bring in poor souls to believe in him. When Christ told them that if they believed not they should die in their sins, and never get to heaven, they thought it was time to look about them, Rom, 1:16, 18. Sometimes there is a wide door opened, and an effectual one, even where they are many adversaries. Christ will carry on his work, though the heathen rage. The gospel sometimes gains great victories where it meets with great opposition. Let this encourage Gods ministers to preach the gospel, though it be with much contention, for they shall not labour in vain. Many may be secretly brought home to God by those endeavours which are openly contradicted and cavilled at by men of corrupt minds. Austin has an affectionate ejaculation in his lecture upon these words: Utinam et, me loquenti, multi credant; non in me, sed mecum in eoI wish that when I speak, many may believe, not on me, but with me on him.