(In the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
d JOHN 12:20-50.
d 20 Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast [The language indicates that they were Greek converts to Judaism, such as were called proselytes of the gate. It is also noted that as Gentiles came from the east at the beginning of Jesus' life, so they also came from the west at the close of his ministry]:
21 these therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee [See Section 21. They were possibly drawn to Philip by his Greek name], and asked him, saying, Sir [the dignity of the Master elevates the disciple], we would see Jesus. [Jesus was evidently still in the court of the women, where the treasury was, and this court, being part of the sanctuary, no Gentile was permitted to enter it.]
23 And Jesus answereth them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. [The humble seeking of these Gentiles formed a striking contrast to the persistent rejection of the Jews. And the occasion forcibly suggested that the gospel invitation, which had hitherto been confined to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, should be extended to the vast throng of waiting Gentiles. But, according to the counsel of God, this extension was not to take place until Jesus had been glorified by his death, resurrection, and enthronement. The demand for extension, therefore, suggested the advisability of a speedy glorification, which accorded with the plans of God.]
24 Verily, verily, [with these emphatic words Jesus prepares for a hard saying], wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit. [As the germ of life in the grain of wheat can only pass into other grains by departing from the original grain and leaving it dead, so the life which was in Christ Jesus could only pass into his disciples by his death.]
25 He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. [Though Jesus had his own death in view, yet he shows himself governed by a principle which he had already declared to be of universal application. See Section 61. If a grain of wheat saves itself, it remains but one grain until it rots; but if it yields up its life-germ as a sacrifice to the law of growth, it multiplies itself thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold and continues its multiplication through an innumerable posterity.]
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 the Father honor. [Jesus here recommends to his disciples that they follow him in fruit-bearing self-sacrifice, promising them the joy of being with him and the honor of the Father. The joy of being with Christ is the chief expectation of the Christian-- 2 Corinthians 5:8 ; Philippians 1:23 ; Revelation 21:3 ; 22:20 .]
27 Now is my soul troubled [Thus Jesus admits that it was difficult for him to live up to the principle of sacrifice which he had just enunciated. Had it not been thus difficult for him, he would hardly have been a fitting example for his disciples; for certainly it is and has always been difficult for them]; and what shall I say? [In his trouble Jesus raises the question as to what prayer he shall offer to the Father.] Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause [for this purpose of imparting life through a sacrificial death] came I unto this hour. [Thus Jesus proposes a prayer for deliverance, but repudiates it as contrary to the very purpose of his life.]
28 Father, glorify thy name. [Having refused to ask for deliverance, Jesus prays that he may glorify the Father by suffering according to his original statement contained in verses 23 and 24. Two two ( Luke 22:42 ). The prayer here is the climax of the thought begun at verse 23. We are first shown that nature is glorified by sacrifice (verse 24). Then that discipleship is so glorified (verses 25, 26) and this prayer shows that our Lord himself is glorified by the same rule.] There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. [The Father had glorified his name in the Son. By words of commendation at his baptism ( Matthew 3:17 ) and at his transfiguration ( Matthew 17:5 ), and by the performance of miracles ( John 11:40 ), and he would glorify it again by the preaching of the universal gospel, and by making Jesus head over all to the church and the final judge of all men.]
29 The multitude therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it had thundered: others said, An angel hath spoken to him. [Those who thought it thundered were nervous persons who were so startled as not to distinguish the words.*]
30 Jesus answered and said, This voice hath not come for my sake, but for your sakes. [The voice was not spoken to encourage Jesus in his hour of suffering, but to aid the Jews to believe on him, and to warn them of the coming judgment which would follow their disbelief, and make them partakers in the condemnation of Satan.]
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. [The Greek word for "judgment" survives in our English word "crisis," but conveys much more meaning, since it embraces also the idea of final settlement and adjudication. The crucifixion God. See Genesis 3:15 . "The meaning of it," says Barnes, "may be thus expressed: Now is approaching the decisive scene, the eventful period--the crisis--when it shall be determined who shall rule this world." In the long conflict which had hitherto been carried on, Satan had earned for himself the name "prince of this world," and it was no empty title ( Matthew 4:8 Matthew 4:9 ; 2 Corinthians 4:4 ; Ephesians 6:12 ); but by his approaching death Jesus would break down the power of Satan, and cast him out, not suddenly, but by the advancing power of a superior kingdom. The kingdom of darkness recedes before the kingdom of light as the night withdraws before the rising sun.]
33 But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die. [Jesus thrice speaks of his death as a lifting up, a euphemism for being crucified ( John 8:28 ). While the distinctions between the three statements are not to be insisted upon, yet they suggest that the first is a saving sacrifice, a priestly work ( John 3:14 ); the second is mentioned as the convincing credential that he is the prophet sent from God, speaking the message of God ( John 8:26-28 ); and in the passage before us, he is evidently the king who shall wrest his kingdom from the usurping Satan.]
34 The multitude therefore answered him, We have heard out of the law that the Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? [The term "law" is used loosely for the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures ( John 10:34 ). The people were persuaded by certain passages such as Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:7 ; Psalms 89:36 ; 110:4 ; Daniel 7:13 Daniel 7:14 ; 37:25 , etc. that the Messiah would abide forever. They knew that Jesus in his triumphal entry had received honors which they thought belonged to the Messiah, but when they hear him use words indicating that he should die, and thus (as they construed) not abide forever, they felt that he was openly disavowing all claim to Messiahship. Having heard him style himself the Son of man (verse 23), they now catch Messiah, and ask with more or less contempt, "Who is this Son of man?" Thus blinded by their preconceived opinions and misconstructions of Scripture, the people wavered in their loyalty to Jesus, and Watkins well says, "This question came midway between the 'Hosanna' of the entry into Jerusalem and the 'Crucify him' of the trial."]
35 Jesus therefore said unto them, Yet a little while is the light among you. [The phrase "little while" stands in contrast with "abideth for ever."] Walk while ye have the light, that darkness overtake you not: and he that walketh in the darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
36 While ye have the light, believe on the light, that ye may become sons of light. [Jesus did not reply to their question, because it was asked contemptuously and not seriously, and because any effort to make their carnal mind grasp the idea that he could be lifted up, and yet still abide, would have resulted in more contempt. He therefore speaks a solemn warning to them, counseling them to make use of his presence while they had it, even if his fleshly abiding with them was but brief; and promises that a proper use of the light then given them would make them sons of light.] These things spake Jesus, and he departed and hid himself from them. [This was his last public appeal to the people. He now retired, probably to Bethany, and they saw him no more until he was a prisoner in the hands of his enemies.]
37 But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him. [the multitude had long oscillated between belief and unbelief, but, despite all his past miracles and the marvelous wisdom shown on this the day of hard questions, they settled down in unbelief]:
38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet [ Isaiah 53:1 ] might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 For this cause they could not believe, for that Isaiah said again [ Isaiah 6:10 ],
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and he hardened their heart; Lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, I should heal them.tfg.cgi?section=T#">Section The quotation from Isaiah is not exact, for there God enjoins on the prophet the duty of hardening the people's hearts, while here it is spoken of as God's own act. Had God, however, hardened their hearts by a direct act and without any reference to their moral or spiritual condition, they could not have been held morally responsible for their disbelief. But this God did not do. He hardened their hearts and blinded their eyes by the manner in which he approached them through the person of his Son, Christ Jesus. Jesus so came, so loved, and so taught that those who hunger for godliness are drawn to him and enlightened by him, while those who despise the grace and love of God are repelled and blinded. John here recognizes that the type (Isaiah) should be fulfilled in the antitype (Christ). If Isaiah was to preach that the wicked would be blinded, then Christ in his ministry should likewise so teach and preach as to produce similar results.]
43 for they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God. [These members of the Sanhedrin believed with the head rather than with the heart ( Romans 10:10 ); their hearts already being occupied with the love of praise or man-glory. Their disbelief accorded with the words of Jesus ( John 5:44 ). As to expulsion from the synagogue, see Section 81.]
44 And Jesus cried and said [These words were of course spoken before the departure mentioned in verse 36. They are placed here to bring out in stronger light the final unbelief of the Jews and the patient, persistent effort which Jesus had made to win those who were the better inclined], He that believeth on me, believeth not one, but on him that sent me.
50 And I know that his commandment is life eternal: the things therefore which I speak, even as the Father hath said unto me, so I speak. [The Father had sent the Son into the world to bring life and immortality to light in the gospel. Jesus therefore here declared that men will be tried by the gospel law and that some will be saved and some condemned by it.]
* I dissent here, as in the case of a similar passage found at Section 18, and for like reasons. The apprehension of the divine voice depends upon the soul's capacity for hearing it, as appears from Saul's conversion ( Acts 9:7 ; 22:9 ; 26:13 f .). To the mass, therefore, the voice was a mere sound; to others, the utterance was articulate though incomprehensible, while to John, and perhaps to all the disciples, the voice communicated a thought. "Thus," says Godet, "the wild beast perceives only a sound in the human voice; the trained animal discovers a meaning; a command, for example, which it immediately obeys; man alone discerns therein a thought." (P. Y. P.)