1 Jesus entertained at supper at Bethany, anointed by Mary Magdalene, defends her against the murmurings of the Jews. 12 Enters Jerusalem riding upon an ass. 24 In a parable He foretells His coming passion; is glorified by a voice from heaven; foretells that He would draw all to Himself. 37 Announces the unbelief of the Jews in general, though some believed on Him secretly.
HEN Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
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.
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.
Douay Rheims Version
The anointing of Christ's feet. His riding into Jerusalem upon an ass. A voice from heaven.
ESUS therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life.
Ver. 1.—Then Jesus six days before the Passover, &c. He came from Ephraim, as the Passover was drawing on when He was to die. And He came to Bethany to prepare Himself for it; nay more, to offer Himself for death, and furnish an opportunity for it through the covetousness of Judas. This explains why He first went to Bethany. For the chief priests had ordered that He should be seized. And He, knowing this by divine inspiration, came to Bethany, where He had many well-wishers, among whom He could remain in security, and might thence shortly afterwards enter Jerusalem in solemn pomp on Palm Sunday, as the Paschal Lamb who was to be offered for the sins of the world.
Bethany, which is close to Mount Olivet, signifies in Hebrew the house of obedience. From this place He wished to go to His Cross. For as the Gloss says, By being obedient even as far as to the death of the Cross, He taught His Church obedience, on the Mount of Oil, i.e., the Mount of Mercy, which cannot be hid, and by which He raises up those who are buried in grievous sins. A supper is there made by the faith and devotion of the righteous. Martha ministers, when each of the faithful offers to the Lord works of devotion, and Lazarus, i.e., those who have been raised up (from sin), with those who have remained stedfast in their righteousness, joyfully feast on the Lord’s presence.
Six days before the Passover. It was on the Friday evening that He came from Ephraim. On the following Sabbath they made Him a feast, and on the next day (Palm Sunday) He in solemn manner entered Jerusalem. For the Passover that year fell on the Thursday of that week. He came to Bethany on the Friday, because it was not lawful to journey on the Sabbath.
Symbolically, The Gloss says, “God made all things in six days. On the sixth He made man; in the sixth age of the world He willed to redeem him. He suffered on the sixth day of the week, and died at the sixth hour.”
Whom Jesus raised from the dead. That by His presence He might revive the memory of this miracle, and arouse the people to attend Him on His solemn entry into Jerusalem, and shout Hosanna.
Ver. 2.—There they made Him a supper, &c. To show that He had really risen; as S. Augustine says (in loc.). “He lived, He talked, He partook of the meal: the truth was set forth, the unbelief of the Jews was confounded.”
Ver. 3.—Mary (Magdalene) therefore (that she might not be wanting on her part, and in order specially to honour Christ, and to surpass all others in her services, as she surpassed them in love) look a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly. Ointment of nard was composed of several sweet scents (see Pliny H. N. xiii. 2), and was thick. But this was liquid, as S. Matt. (xxvi. 7) says that it was poured on His head. Liquids are very often weighed in vessels, or anyhow the nard itself from which the ointment was made. Or this pound was rather a measure of quantity, not of weight.
Mystically. S. Augustine says, “The ointment was righteousness. Therefore it was of due weight” (libra). The Gloss says, “Mary before anointed His feet as a penitent; but now, when the righteousness of the perfect, and not the mere rudiments of penitence, are designated, she anoints His head and His feet. The pound of ointment is the perfection of righteousness. He anoints the head, who preaches high doctrines respecting Christ; He anoints the feet who respects the least commandments.”
But what is “pistic nard”? (1.) The Commentary on S. Matthew (in S. Jerome) says “mystic,” which is absurd. (2.) S. Augustine says it is so called from the place whence it was brought. But the place itself is uncertain. (3.) Maldonatus derives it α̉πὸ του̃ πίνειν, meaning that it was liquid, and so could be drunk, other ointments being thick and clotted. (4.) Others derive it from πιέξω, squeezed or pressed out. (5.) As if from πίστις, pure, unadulterated, as nard frequently was. (See Pliny H. N. xii. 13.) So Euthymius, Theophylact, on Mark xii., Baronius, Ribera, Jansenius, Toletus and others. (6.) Pistici is the same as spicati by a change of letters. This was the best kind of ointment. (This point treated at very great length.)
Morally. Here learn that the good works, with which we anoint Christ, ought to be quite free from fault, and of the very best kind. Compare the offerings of Cain and Abel. (See Ps. lxvi., xx. 4, and Dan. iii. 40 (Vulg.), Lev. iii. 16, Num. xviii. 17, 29, and Lev. xxiii. 19.)
And anointed the feet of Jesus. S. Matt. adds “and the head.” Alcuin explains mystically, “The Head is the loftiness of the Godhead, the feet the humility of the Incarnation. Or the Head is Christ, the feet the poor who are His members. We anoint them when we give them alms.”
And wiped His feet with her hair. A hysteron proteron. For first she wiped, and then anointed His feet. For had she anointed His feet first, and then wiped them with her hair, she would have anointed her own hair, (which she did not wish to do,) and which indeed she counted unworthy of such anointing, and not His feet. Moreover, this sweet-scented and precious ointment was not to be wiped off, but left on His feet, to give them ease.
Her hair. To soil those hairs, of which she used to be vain, with the dust of His feet, and also that she might with the deepest reverence and humility place her whole head beneath His feet. For S. Chrysostom says, she placed the noblest part of her body beneath His feet, and she approached Him not as man but as God.
And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. S. Augustine says, mystically, the whole world was filled with the good fame of her piety and virtue. As S. Paul says, “We are a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Cor. ii. 14)—to the good, of life unto life; to the wicked, of death unto death—as was here the case. Whence it follows:
Ver. 4.—Then said one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, (5.) why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? SS. Matt. and Mark add, “Why was this waste of the ointment made?” Bede replies, “It was no waste, but for the rite of burial; nor is it wonderful that she offered Me the sweet savour of Faith, when I am about to shed my blood for her.”
Ver. 6.—This he said, &c. Nay worse, sacrilegious, “for he seized for his own use, that which was given for a sacred purpose,” says Theophylact. “He carried the money by his office, he carried it off by theft,” says S. Augustine. He wished the ointment to be sold, and the price of it given to him; and since he knew that Christ did not wish so large a sum to be kept in his purse, but rather to be distributed amongst the poor, he would have distributed some of it to the poor, and have purloined the rest for himself. See here how opportunity makes the thief, and how dangerous it is for holy men in “religion” to handle moneys, those especially which belong to the whole community. For if covetousness suggests it, a portion is easily diverted to the use of themselves or their families.
But why did Jesus entrust to him the bag, knowing him to be a thief? I answer, Because Judas was more qualified than the other Apostles to make purchases. And He allowed the theft, because an opportunity was furnished thereby for the betrayal and death which He courted. Again S. Augustine, “Because the Church would afterwards have its coffers, He admitted thieves, in order that His Church might tolerate powerful thieves, even when suffering from them, to teach us that the wicked must be tolerated, for fear of dividing the body of Christ. Do thou, the good, bear with the evil, that thou mayest attain to the reward of the good.” S. Chrysostom adds, “The Lord committed the bags to a thief, in order to cut off any excuse for betraying Him, and that it might not seem as if he betrayed Him from want of money.” But Theophylact says, “Some maintain that as the least of the Apostles he undertook the management of the money.”
Lastly, S. Bernard (de Consid. iv. 6) teaches us “that Christ wished in ‘this’ way to teach Prelates readily to entrust the management of temporal affairs to any one, but to reserve the ordering of spiritual matters to themselves: though many do exactly the contrary.” Again, Christ acted thus, to keep us from being surprised, if in the assemblies, monasteries, and congregations of holy men, there be occasionally found some vicious and scandalous persons; and accordingly S. Augustine (Epist. 137, nunc 75), when one of his monks had caused scandal, at which the people cried out against him, prudently replied, “However vigilant may be the discipline of my house, I am but a man, I am living among men: nor do I dare to claim for myself, that my house should be better than Noah’s ark, where among eight men one was found reprobate, or better than the house of Abraham, when it was said, Cast out the bond-woman and her son; or better than the house of Isaac, to whom it was said respecting the twin children, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated: or better than the house of Jacob, when his son defiled his father’s bed; or better than the house of David, whose son lay with his sister, and where another son rebelled against his holy and gentle father; or better than they who were associated with the Lord Christ Himself, where eleven righteous men tolerated Judas, that perfidious thief; or, lastly, better than heaven from which the angels fell.”
Doubtless God permits it in His wise providence, in order that by the wickedness of one or two the goodness and sanctity of others may shine out the more by way of contrast, as light amid darkness, gold amongst lead, the sun between the clouds, a wise man among fools, shines forth only the more resplendently. For contraries opposed to each other are the more marked. (See. Ecclus. xxxiii. 15, and notes in loc.)
And had the bag, &c. From this Jansen and others rightly gather that it is lawful for the Church to have coffers and wealth, and that it does not derogate from perfection to have a common purse, for reasonable and moderate expenses. For Jesus did nothing which implied imperfection, being the teacher of all perfection.
In order to understand this thoroughly, observe that though Christ, by reason of His Hypostatic Union with the Word, had a pre-eminent and (as it were) Divine dominion over all creatures, yet professed poverty, that is, an abandonment of ownership, special ownership, in order to be the teacher and example of a more perfect life. See Matt. viii. 20, xix. 21, 27.
Observe, secondly, that Christ had absolute control of the offerings made to Him by the faithful, for the common good, and not for His special use. They belonged to the whole College of the Apostles. He held them not as though He were their sole owner. See John iv. 8, vi. 5.
It follows therefore that it does not in any way detract from their perfection for Religious orders to have goods in common. (See John xxii. Extravag. Ad Conditorem.) In some cases this is the most perfect way, in others not. But Christ at one time seemed to have lost all claim even to a share of the common property. (See Luke viii. 3.) This seems to be all that Nicholas IV. means. (Can. Exiit qui seminat. De Verb. Signif. in vi., though he apparently contradicts John xxii.)
S. Thomas (see Secund. Quæst. clxxxviii. Art. 7) proves à priori that the possession of goods in common does not hinder perfection. Poverty, he says, is only an instrument of perfection, as taking away anxiety in acquiring and preserving riches, the love of them, and our priding ourselves in them. But to have goods in common does not give rise to any of these evils; and so far from hindering charity, it even promotes it. “For it is manifest,” says S. Thomas, “that to store up things which are necessary to man, and purchased at a fitting time, causes the least possible anxiety.”
All founders of Religious Orders have sanctioned this. And hence resulted the Constitution of Justinian, that the goods of those who became monks should belong as a matter of course to their monasteries. For the whole meaning of poverty turns on not having anything belonging especially to one’s own self, though there may be some common fund, from which, according to the Apostolic Rule, distribution should be made to each, as need may require. (See Acts ii. 44-45; iv. 35, and the Notes thereon.) This is just what S. Jerome says to the “Religious” of his own day (Epist. xxii.) “No one has any right so say, I have not a tunic, or a coat, or a bed of plaited bulrushes. For the head of the Community so divides the common stock, that every one has what he asks for. And if any begins to fall ill, he is transferred to a larger cell, and is so carefully attended by the older monks, that he longs not for the delights of cities, or the tenderness of a mother.”
The fathers and schoolmen teach everywhere the same thing. (See Suarez par. iii. Quæst. xl. disp. xxviii. § 2, Bellarm. de Summo Pont. iv. 14, Soto de Just. iv. Quæst. i. art. 1.)
Nicolas IV. (ut supr.) says that to have common purses is to detract from perfection, for Christ in this matter adapted Himself to the weaker brethren, that He might be an example to all. Suarez replies, that Nicolas only asserted that in the matter of poverty that was the least rigid rule which allowed them to have common purses, but that it must not be concluded from this that the other rule was absolutely the most perfect. For though less perfect, as common poverty, it may be more perfect in charity, or some other virtue. For Nicolas is speaking of the Franciscans (of whom he was one), whose Order had for its scope and end the extremest poverty, in order to be conformed to S. Francis. But other orders have other pious and holy ends, for which it is more convenient to have goods in common. And therefore this is more fitting and perfect in their case. Carthusians observe silence and solitude. Others practise great austerity. But those who are employed in preaching and missions to unbelievers, need great strength to endure the great labours of their order, and make up for austerity of living by charity towards their neighbours. Both act in a manner suited to their order, and the end they propose to themselves. Different ends require different means. The Council of Trent allows all “Religious,” except the Franciscans, to own Real Property (bona immobilia).
Ver. 7.—Then said Jesus, Suffer her to keep this for the day of my burial. In the Greek it is “for the day of my burial hath she kept this,” and also in the Syriac (see notes on Matt. xxvi. 12, &c.) Hear S. Augustine, “He saith not to him, It is on account of thy thefts that thou speakest thus. He knew he was a thief, but was unwilling to expose him. He chose rather to bear with him, and to set us an example of patience in tolerating evil men in the Church.”
Ver. 9.—Much people of the Jews, &c. “Curiosity led them,” says S. Augustine, “not charity,” to see and hear Lazarus, and to ask him where he had been after death, what he had seen, what he had done? So Cyril, Theophylact, Leontius.
Ver. 10.—But the chief priests thought (ε̉βουλεύσαντο consulted) that they might put Lazarus also to death. See here their virulent envy and malice: envying Jesus His glory. They grudge also Lazarus his life, lest it should add to the glory of Jesus. For the feast of the Passover was at hand, at which all the Jews who flocked together would see Lazarus and wondering at the power of Jesus who had raised him from the dead, would consequently believe on Him. And in order to prevent this, they determine to put him out of the way. But S. Augustine (in loc.) rightly exclaims against them, “0 foolish thought, and blind cruelty! For could not the Lord, who had power to raise him from the dead, have power to raise him up also if he had been put to death? In putting him to death, could ye take away Christ’s power? If a dead man seems to you one thing, and one who is put to death another, behold the Lord did both, for He both raised Lazarus who was dead, and Himself also who had been put to death.”
Lastly, the raising of Lazarus was especially the work of God, and they therefore who were so eager to put him to death, were fighting against God, and challenging Him, as it were, to the contest.
Ver. 11.—Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus—ύπη̃γον, withdrew themselves, deserted their party. This may mean either, “many of the Jews went their way,” or else “many went away from the unbelieving Jews, and followed Christ.”
Ver. 12.—But on the next day, i.e. on Palm Sunday, five days before the Passover; the tenth day of the month Nizan, on which day the Lamb (the type of Christ) was to be killed, and on the fourteenth to be brought to Jerusalem. (Exod. xii. 3.) See notes to Matt. xxi. 7.
Ver. 17.—The people therefore . . . bare witness, &c., to the raising of Lazarus.
Ver. 18.—For this cause the people also met Him, for that they had heard that He had done this miracle. The people who were present at the raising of Lazarus spread abroad the miracle, affirming that they had seen it. And the strangeness of it so excited the people that they ran in crowds to meet Jesus, and to hail Him as the Messiah.
Ver. 19.—The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how that ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after Him. This is an hyperbole. But a large body, of every age, sex, and rank had gone after Him, old and young, Jews and Gentiles. S. Cyril observes that the Pharisees tacitly prophesied that all the world would be converted to Christ, though they themselves did not understand this.
S. Chrysostom and Theophylact consider that they who spoke thus were believers in Christ, or anyhow disposed to believe in Him, and that they addressed in these words those who disbelieved in Him.
But S. Cyril, Euthymius, and others, think that they were unbelievers, and enemies of Christ, explaining it thus:—We have all of us decided to put Jesus to death. Why do we delay? We have gained nothing by it. It would have been far better, if we had put Him to death at once, before His party had increased, and become so well known. What now is our course of duty? To carry out our intention as quickly as possible. Why do we delay? lf we delay much longer all will go after Him. We shall be beaten by numbers, unless we prevail by craft.
Ver. 20.—And there were certain Greeks, &c. Some strangely suppose these to have been Jews who lived among the Gentiles, when S. John expressly says that they were Gentiles. These were partly proselytes, who had already embraced Judaism, or at least were thinking about it (so Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius), and partly Gentiles, who believed that there was One God, and who on seeing Him worshipped so reverently in the Temple, and by such multitudes at the Passover, resolved to do the same, being specially attracted by the fame of Christ’s holiness and miracles, and being desirous of seeing Him. So S. Cyril, Leontius, and Theophylact. Just as the Eunuch of Queen Candace went up to Jerusalem to worship (Acts viii. 27); and Gentile kings also reverenced the Temple of Jerusalem and sent offerings to it, as Cyrus, Darius Hystaspes (Ezra i. and vi.), Seleucus, and other kings of Asia (2 Mace. iii. 3).
Ver. 21.—The same came therefore to Philip (the Apostle), who was of Bethsaida, &c. They went to Philip, in preference to the other Apostles, either because he was known to them, or was the first they met, or because in his voice and bearing he exhibited greater affability and candour, which attracted all men to him. For they did not venture as Gentiles to approach Jesus Himself, a person of such great holiness, and a Prophet, and moreover a Jew, say S. Cyril, Chrysostom, and Leontius. They request Philip therefore to mediate in their behalf.
Ver. 22.—Philip cometh and telleth Andrew (as the greater and elder Apostle), and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. Andrew had the greater authority with Jesus, as having been the first called, and as having brought to Him his brother Peter. Having consulted together, they mention the whole matter to Jesus before introducing the Gentiles: for they had heard Jesus say, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” (Matt. x. 5).
Ver. 23.—But Jesus answered them, &c. Do not drive away the Gentiles from me, but bring them to me. What I said before was at the beginning of my preaching, which was intended for the Jews only; but now, when my preaching as well as my life is coming to an end, and the Jews reject my preaching, I will pass over to the Gentiles. For the hour is coming, when I shall be glorified, not only by the Jews, but also by the Gentiles, throughout the whole world; I shall be acknowledged, that is, as the Messiah and the Saviour, and worshipped and adored by means of your preaching in every place.
Moreover, the glorification of Christ is the glorification of all Christians. For S. Augustine says (Serm. clxxvi. de temp.)—The Death of Christ hath quickened us; His Resurrection hath raised us up; His Ascension hath dedicated us; and (Serm. clxxxiv.) the Lord Jesus Christ ascends, the Holy Spirit descends [Both these, not S. Augustine].
Ver. 24.—Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat, &c. Christ teaches us that His glorification would come to Him through the death of the Cross, lest the Apostles and the faithful should be offended at it. Hear S. Augustine (in loc.), “Jesus by this meant Himself. For He was the grain of wheat which had to die, and be multiplied; to die through the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied by the faith of all people.” This means, that as a grain of wheat thrown into the ground does not germinate except it die, but if it die it germinates and brings forth much fruit; so, in like manner, I must needs die, that by the merits and through the example of my death, I may bring forth many eminent and striking fruits of virtue and faith: I mean the many thousands of Martyrs, Virgins, Doctors, and Confessors, all over the world in the present and future ages. This also comes to pass in the death of Martyrs, when one dies, and many spring up in his place, and embrace the faith of Christ. The Church reads this passage on the Feast of S. Lawrence, and other Martyrs. Tertullian truly says (in fin. Apol.), “The Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church,” and adds, “Torture us, rack us, condemn us, crush us: your iniquity is the proof of our innocence.” And again, “The more exquisite your cruelty, the more does it attract to our sect; we increase in number the oftener you mow us down.” S. Gregory (Dialog. lib. iii. cap. 39) gives a remarkable instance in S. Hermengild. He was killed by his father Leovigild, an Arian king, and thus won the king himself and his brother Recared, and the whole nation of the Visigoths, to the orthodox faith. “One, then,” says S. Gregory, “died in that nation, that many might live; and while one grain fell to the ground in faith, to win the faith of souls, an abundant harvest sprang up.”
Anagogically. Bede says, “Jesus was sown of the seed of the Patriarchs, on the field of this world, that is, He was incarnate: He died Himself alone, He arose in company with many.” Hear S. Bernard (Serm. xv. in Cant.), “Let the grain die; let the harvest of the Gentiles spring up. It was needful that Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name, not to Judea only, but to all nations; to the end that from that one Name of Christ thousands of thousands should be called Christians, and say ‘Thy Name is as ointment poured forth.’” (Cant. i. 3).
Ver. 25.—He that loveth his life, &c. He that so preferreth his life to my Faith and its profession, as rather to deny the Faith than lose his life, shall incur eternal death. But he who hateth his life, so as to prefer losing it to losing the Faith, will live in eternal happiness in heaven. Again, the same is true of those who prefer their own evil desires to my Law: and of those who hate their life by resisting its desires which are contrary to God’s Law, and thus keep it unto life eternal. Such as Martyrs, Anchorites, “Religious,” and all other holy people. Either meaning is suitable, and was intended by Christ. Both meanings are conjoined by SS. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. For Christ foresaw that the Apostles, and Christians in general, would after His death suffer persecution, and accordingly He here wished to forewarn and forearm them. Again, Christ wished to teach all Christians, that they should constantly resist all evil desires and strive against them. (See Gal. v. 17; Matt. x. 39, xvi. 25; Ecclus. xviii. 30. See notes on this last passage.)
But the Circumcelliones misinterpreted this passage, for, as S. Augustine testifies (in loc), they used to kill themselves in order to obtain the eternal life here promised by Christ. For it is one thing to hate one’s life, and another to make away with it, an act forbidden by every law.
Lastly, hear S. Augustine (in loc.), “He that loveth his life shall lose it. Which can be understood in two ways. He who loves will lose; i.e., if thou lovest, thou wilt lose: if thou wishest to have life in Christ, fear not to die for Christ. Or, in the other sense, love not thy life, lest thou lose it,—love it not in this life, lest thou lose it in life eternal. This latter meaning more accords with the mind of the Gospel.” And a few sentences after, “A great and marvellous saying, that a man should so love his life as to lose it, and so hate it as not to lose it. If thou hast loved it ill, then dost thou hate it; if thou hast hated it rightly, then hast thou loved it. Happy they who hate their souls and keep them, that they lose them not by loving them.” And then he concludes, “When therefore it comes to the point, that we must either do contrary to the commandment of God, or else depart this life, and a man is obliged to choose either the one or the other, when the persecutor threatens his death, let him rather choose to die through loving God, than to die through offending Him. Let him hate his life in this world, that he may keep it unto life eternal.” Hear S. Chrysostom, “He loves his life in this world, who obeys its unseemly desires. He hates it, who yields not to its hurtful desires. He says ‘hate’ because as we cannot bear to hear the voice of those we hate, so should a soul resolutely turn away from one who wishes what is contrary to God.” And Theophylact adds (by way of consolation, and as knowing how grievous it is to hate one’s soul), “In this world,” indicating the shortness of the time, and speaking of the eternal reward. S. Chrysostom adds, “that Christ, when He saw that His disciples would be saddened at his death, raised up their thoughts to higher things, as if He said —If ye will not bear my death manfully, no benefit will accrue to you unless ye die yourselves. These words of Christ are an axiom, and a summary of a Christian’s life. It is the root and foundation of all virtues, which are deduced from it, as conclusions from their premises. He therefore who wishes to become specially learned and perfect in the school of Christ, should constantly ruminate on this saying, weigh it, impress it on his will and carry it out in act, try all his actions by it as a touchstone, adapt and conform himself to it. For thus will he become a pre-eminently true disciple and follower of Christ, and in return for this brief life which he counts but nought, will obtain the joys of life eternal.
Ver. 26.—If any man love Me, let him follow Me. “Let him imitate Me by death and mortification, and by good works,” says S. Chrysostom, “walk in my ways, and not his own, and not seeking his own, but the things which are Jesus Christ’s (Phil. ii. 21); and whatever good he does, either in temporal or spiritual things, doing it for Him.”
And where I am, there shall my servant be. “Behold the fruit and the reward,” S. Augustine proceeds; “He is loved freely, and the reward of His ministration is to be with Him, to be adopted by Him to whom he is united, in heaven, i.e. in the vision and possession of God, in happiness and joy eternal.” So S. Chrysostom. See notes on Luke xxii. 7.
If any man serve Me, him will me Father honour, with heavenly honour, before the angels and the whole world. He says not, “I will honour him, for they had not yet attained a right knowledge of Him, but thought more of the Father,” says S. Chrysostom.
Ver. 27.—Now is My soul troubled. Because He had mentioned His approaching death, He allowed the natural dread of it to be aroused in His mind (as is the case with ourselves), and so was troubled. “Father,” He said, “save Me from this hour.” Just as in the garden he prayed, “Let this cup pass from Me.”
(1.) S. Chrysostom gives the reason, “Having exhorted His disciples to follow Him even to death, for fear they should say that He could easily philosophise about death, He showed that He was in an agony, and yet that He did not refuse to die, to teach us to do the same, when dreading death and self-denial.
(2.) S. Cyril says, He did it to show that He was not only God, but true man, subject to all our passions and sorrows.
(3.) S. Augustine, and after him Bede, “that Christ by taking on Him our infirmities might heal and strengthen us. Thou tellest my soul to follow Thee. But I see that thy soul is troubled. What foundation shall I seek, if the Rock gives way? But I recognise thy compassion therein. For by being thus troubled by thy voluntary act of love, Thou comfortest the weak, lest they should perish through despair. Our Head took on Himself the feelings of His members.” And again, “As He has raised us up to things which are highest, so does He feel sympathy for us in those which are lowest.” And he brings in Christ as thus speaking “Thou hast heard my mighty voice addressed to thee. Thou hast heard in Me the voice of thine own weakness: I give thee strength that thou mayest run; I check not thy speed, but I take upon Myself thy fear, and make a way for thee to pass over.”
And what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour. Theophylact and Leontius explain thus: “I know not what to do or say. Shall I say then, Father, save Me from this hour? Shall I shrink from death? By no means, I will master my agony, I will go willingly to meet my death.”
Others express it more simply and plainly, as expressing His natural dread of death, corrected at once by the exercise of His superior will. As in the Agony in the garden. For He immediately adds,
Yet for this cause have I come to this hour. Though I naturally dread death, yet I do not wish this natural desire of Mine to be fulfilled. For I came into the world for the very purpose of drinking this cup of the Passion. So S. Augustine, Bede, Rupertus, and others.
Ver. 28.—Father, glorify thy Name. That in My death, which I willingly undertake, I may glorify thy Name, by the entire obedience and devotion with which I will offer myself as a Victim for the sins of the whole world, thus restoring to the life of grace men who were lost in sin, reconciling them to Thee, and taking them to heaven to glorify Thee for ever. So S. Augustine, Chrysostom, Euthymius. It was said in like manner to S. Peter, that He would by his death glorify God (John xxi. 19). Hear S. Augustine: “Glorify Me by my Passion and Resurrection.” And S. Chrysostom: “His dying for the truth He calls ‘the glory of God:’ for after His death the Name of God would be acknowledged by the world.” And the gloss, “I seek salvation, but I refuse not to suffer, and for the sake of this passion glorify Me, for that is the glory of thy Name.”
Ver. 28.—Glorify Me at this very instant; that both Gentiles and Jews may acknowledge that I have been sent by Thee to redeem man, and will therefore glorify Thee for thy goodness. So Theodore of Heraclæa.
Then came there a voice, &c. I have glorified It—(1) By communicating to Him, as my only begotten Son, my majesty, glory, and Godhead from all eternity. As He said chap. xvii. 5. So S. Augustine and Bede.
(2.) In creating the world, and all things therein by Him. So Rupertus.
(3.) Most sensibly. By the voice from heaven at His Baptism, and by the miracles and mighty works which He wrought. And also by the voice at this time uttered from heaven. He glorified Him also by His death and resurrection, His ascension, His sending the Holy Spirit, by the preaching of the Apostles, and the miracles, which will lead all nations to acknowledge, worship, love and adore Him as the Son of God. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril, and others.
Ver. 29.—The people therefore that stood by, and heard it (this trumpet voice of God the Father) said that it thundered. Because it was very loud and resonant. Or perhaps because it was not articulate, but like the confused sound of thunder. S. Chrysostom says, “The voice was clear and significant enough, but they being dull and carnal, it soon passed away, and they retained merely the sound of it.” And further on, “They knew it was articulate, but did not take in its meaning.” But the truer meaning, Rupertus, and after him Maldonatus, say is this, “That they all heard this articulate voice and understood its meaning, viz., that Jesus was the Son of God; but that on account of the loudness of the voice they could not persuade themselves it was really a voice, but that either it was thunder, and that they were mistaken in supposing they had heard an articulate voice as of a man, or that it was certainly the voice of an angel.” They thought also that the Evangelist mentioned this, in order to show that it was not a low or indistinct voice, such as Christ only could hear, and that there were no other witnesses, but that it was so loud and so clear that they not only all heard it, but heard it so plainly that some thought it was thunder, some the voice of an angel, while none considered it to be the voice of a man. And this consequently proved that what they considered thunder was in truth the voice of God, for thunder is commonly spoken of as His voice.
Symbolically. This thunder signified that Jesus was the Son of God, who thunders from heaven, and consequently that He Himself was God. For the thunder’s voice refers us back to its source, and leads us to venerate Him, and announce Him to the Gentiles. Again, it signified that Jesus, even as man, not merely thundered Himself with His mouth and flashed forth from His heart, to move hard hearts to penitence and to warm cold hearts with love; but also that He caused the Apostles and His followers to thunder and lighten. In fact, He gave that name to James and John, calling them Sons of Thunder (Mark iii. 17). And S. Paul is called by S. Jerome (Epist. lxi.) “The trumpet of the Gospel, the roaring of our Lion, the thunder of the Gentiles,” adding, “for as often as I read him, I seem not to hear words only, but thunder.” Hear S. Chrysostom (Hom. xxxii. in Rom.), “Thunder is not so terrible, as was his voice to the devils. For if they dreaded his garments, much more did they dread his voice. For it led them bound and captive, it purified the world, it cured diseases, it expelled vice, it brought in truth; it had Christ dwelling within. For He accompanied him everywhere, and just as were the Cherubim, so also was the voice of Paul. For as God sat in the midst of these heavenly Powers, so sat He on the tongue of S. Paul.” And Nazianzen (Orat. xx.) says, “The words of S. Basil were as thunder, because his example shone as lightning.” Hence the voice of Christ is compared to the voice of many waters (Rev. i. 15) and to the voice of a multitude (Dan. x. 6).
Others said, an angel spake to Him. For this voice was more dignified than that of a man. It was therefore angelic, or rather divine. For an angel, assuming the Person of God the Father, had uttered it.
Ver. 30.—Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes. In order that ye may believe in Me, and be saved. I need not this voice for my own sake, for I am the Word of the Father, whom the Father and the Holy Spirit glorify with increate and boundless glory. But ye need it, because some of you object, that I am not the Son of God, nor sent by God; others have doubts on the matter. But this voice of the Father proclaims the contrary of both these statements, so as to remove all doubt. So SS. Augustine, Bede, Rupertus, &c.
Ver. 31.—Now is the judgment of this world, &c. Judgment here signifies condemnation, the condemnation of the Jews for condemning Me to death. So SS. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. But others understand it to mean judgment in favour of the innocent. It means, in this sense, the time is at hand for the deliverance of the world from the tyranny of Satan. For my death is at hand, by which this deliverance will be effected, and Satan will be cast out of the hearts of the faithful. Rupertus acutely observes, “Two worlds are here spoken of, one the enemy of God, the other reconciled to Him —the one lost, the other saved.” He founds this distinction on the absence or the presence of the article [but this does not appear in the Greek]. But what then is the judgment of this world, and the casting out of the prince of this world? Surely the coming Passion of Him who is speaking: for that is the judgment of this world, its salvation indeed, as separating from the reprobate the whole body of the elect from the beginning of the world to the hour of His Passion: and the casting out of the prince of this world, holding sway over the lovers of the world, is the reconciliation of the elect Gentiles. “Christ therefore here signifies (1) that He would by His death free the world (that is the Gentiles who would believe in Him) from sin and the devil; (2) that He would drive out the devil from the hearts of the faithful, and also from the temples, that the true God might be worshipped therein; (3) that He would deprive the devil of the power he had heretofore exercised in tempting men, and would also bestow all-powerful grace, by which, if they willed, they would be able to resist temptation; (4) Christ cast out many devils from the bodies of men, and consigned them to hell. So Prosper (in Dem. Temp.); and see Luke viii. 31. S. Augustine writes, “He foresaw that after His Passion and glorification many people throughout the whole world would believe on Him, out of whose hearts the devil is cast when they renounce him by their faith. He was also cast out of the hearts of righteous men of old. But it is said here that he will be cast out, because that which then took place in a very few cases, would hereafter take place in many and great multitudes. He is cast out, but yet ceases not to tempt. But it is one thing to rule within, and another to assail from without.” S. Chrysostom in like manner says, “As if a man who assaults his debtors and casts them into prison, and with like madness throws another into prison, who owes him nothing at all, will have to pay the penalty for the wrongs he has done; so will the devil pay the penalty for the wrongs he has done us, by his bold, assaults against Christ.”
Just as He Himself says, Luke xi. 21.
Christ, therefore, knowing that the Gentiles longed to see Him, was grieved that the whole world was overwhelmed with heathenism, and therefore wishes His death to be hastened, in order that He might obtain for them faith and grace from God, and might send His apostles to convert them to God. And in like manner S. Gregory greatly desired the conversion of the Angles. [This Cornelius tells at length]:
Ver. 32.—And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all Things unto Me. “Exalted by my resurrection and ascension,” says S. Chrysostom. But other commentators refer it to the Cross, as S. John himself explains it. “Christ,” says Maldonatus, “speaks of Himself as a soldier contending with the devil. For as a soldier has an advantage over his enemy if he is on higher ground, so would He, from His Cross, as from a very high and well-defended post, fight against the devil and overcome him. And therefore He called this kind of death an exaltation. When exalted He drew all to Himself, as an eagle carries his prey aloft with him.”
In like manner Mark, the Bishop of Arethusa in Syria, when lifted up on high, and besmeared with honey to attract the bees, laughed at his torturers, and said that they were grovelling on the earth, while he was lifted up above them. (See Theodoret, Hist. iii. 7, Soz. v. 10.) But Christ alludes to the lifting up of the brazen serpent (see chap. iii. 14), and thus teaches us that the Cross is not to be dreaded, but desired, for it alone exalts.
A1l things. (1) “Soul and body,” say S. Augustine and Bede. (2) But Rupertus says: “Heaven and earth, men, angels, and devils. Because I will cause ‘every knee to bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth’” (Phil. ii. 10). (3) All men who will believe in Me, all nations of men. The Greek Fathers read πάντας. But Cornelius prefers the Vulgate “omnia” as more expressive, signifying all the choicest things of the world, all the spoils of the devil. The Arabic version has “each one,” the Syriac “all.”
Draw. Will withdraw from the devil against his will, and not against their own will. For I will sweetly allure, and effectually draw them to Myself, and make them My brethren; nay more, My children, that as I am the Son of God by nature, so they may be the sons of God by adoption. The Greek word έλκύσω means, I will draw them by force, snatch them out of the power of the devil against his will, and strengthen men, moreover, to withstand their several temptations. See Matt. xi. 12.
Hear S. Leontius (Serm. viii. de Pass.), treating this whole passage with grace and tenderness. “0 wondrous power of the Cross! 0 ineffable glory of the Passion, wherein is seen the tribunal of Christ, the judgment of the world and the power of the Crucified! For Thou didst draw, 0 Lord, all things unto Thee. And when Thou didst stretch forth Thine hands all the day to a disobedient and gainsaying people, the whole world felt the force of Thine acknowledged Majesty. Thou didst draw all things to thyself, 0 Lord, when in execration of the sin of the Jews all the elements pronounced one and the same sentence, when the luminaries of heaven were obscured, and night was turned into day, the earth also was shaken with unwonted quakings, and the whole creation refused its aid to the service of the wicked.” He afterwards follows up the subject, and urges it still more forcibly. “Thou hast drawn all things to Thee, 0 Lord. When the veil of the temple was rent, and the holy of holies withdrawn from the unworthy priesthood, in order that the figure might be changed into Truth, prophecy into manifestation, and the Law into the Gospel. Thou didst draw all things to Thee, in order that that which was kept hid in the Jewish temple, by shadows and outward signs, the devotion of all nations might everywhere set forth in its full sacramental force before the eyes of all. For now there is a more illustrious order of Levites, a higher dignity of elders, and a more sacred unction of priests. Because thy Cross is the Fount of all blessings, the Source of all graces, and by it believers obtain strength out of weakness, glory out of shame, and life out of death.”
Moreover, Christ, when exalted on the Cross, between heaven and earth, drew all things to Himself. (1) Because He reconciled heaven and earth, Angels to the Gentiles, Gentiles to Jews, and God to men. For He is our peace, &c., Eph. ii. 14. (2) Because He drew all nations of the world to the faith and love of Himself. He drew them from the earth to the Cross; to penitence, that is, to continual mortification and martyrdom; and from the Cross to heaven. He drew them by the merits and price of His Blood; by His example, and by His Blood. For if Christ, of His own accord, died for us on the Cross, who would not love Him in return? Who would not say with S. Ignatius among the lions, “My love is crucified?” See Zech. xiii. 6 on the words, “I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (3) Christ on the Cross drew all things to Himself, i.e. the Creator and His creatures. For God by this sacrifice was propitiated towards men, the sun and the heavens were astonished, and as though bewailing the death of their Creator, withdrew their rays from the earth, the air was involved in the thickest darkness, the whole earth, convulsed and shaken, trembled from its very centre; the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened, that both the dead as well as the living might bewail the death of Christ. All creatures therefore looked up towards Christ crucified, as if in amazement, and as offering themselves to fight in His behalf against His murderers and to scatter them abroad.
The Origenists wrongly inferred from this passage, that Christ brought the lost out of hell, and saved them. But as S. Gregory explains (Epist. lib. vi. 15), Christ drew all, that is, the elect. “For a man cannot be drawn to God after death who has separated himself from God by his evil life.”
Symbolically. S. Bernard (Serm. xxi. in Cant.) applies Christ’s words to himself, and all “Religious.” For they, by contempt of earthly and love of heavenly things, are lifted up from the earth, and therefore draw all things to them. For all things, whether adverse or prosperous, work together for their good: and they themselves possess a source of wealth by trampling it as it were under foot. “For to a faithful man the whole word is full of riches.”
Ver. 33.—But this He said, &c. The death of the Cross. These are the words of S. John inserted parenthetically.
Ver. 34.—The people answered Him, We have heard out of the Law, that Christ abideth ever, and how sayest Thou, the Son of Man must be lifted up? The Jews understood that Christ spake of His death on the Cross. How then does He say that He would die, when the Law says that He would not die? S. Augustine says, “They understood Him to mean the very thing which they were contemplating. It was not inspired wisdom, but the sting of their conscience which disclosed to them the meaning of these obscure words.”
Out of the Law. By the Law is meant the whole of the Old Testament. They understood this from the following passages, Micah, v. 2; PS. cx. 14, lxxxix. 30, 38, lxxii. 5; Is. ix. 7, xl. 8; Ezek. xxxvii. 27; Dan. ix. 26. But these passages speak of the kingdom of Christ after His ascension. This kingdom will be eternal. But Christ elsewhere foretold His death. See Is. liii 3; Ps. xxii. 12, 17; Dan. ix. 26; Jer. xi. 19.
Who is this Son of Man? Meaning thereby, “If Thou art that Son of Man, as Thou art wont to call Thyself, how dost Thou wish to be regarded as the Christ? For Christ according to the Scriptures, as has just been said, is eternal, and cannot die. Whereas Thou sayest, on the contrary, that the Son of Man must die and be raised up on the Cross. If there be any other Son of Man, tell us plainly who he is.”. So Toletus and Jansen. Maldonatus somewhat differently; he thinks that the Jews insulted Christ as if they had refuted His claims, and taunted Him, as a conqueror would taunt a king whom he had taken captive. As the Jews afterwards said (tauntingly) to Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Ver. 35.—Jesus therefore said unto them, Yet a little while is the Light with you, &c. “Christ would not answer their objections directly, as knowing that they deserved not a reply” says S. Cyril. He therefore answers indirectly, that they should use Him as a light; for that that light would be soon extinguished by death, when they would have to seek for Him in vain. But if they desired to use that light they would be enlightened by it, so as to find an answer to their objection, and know other things which were necessary for their salvation. The Latin commentators take the word “modicum” as referring to the light, thus, “a little light.” Ye have but little light in thinking that Christ will abide for ever. But ye know not that He will also die and rise again. Walk therefore while ye have the light. Go on to investigate the truth. Ye will then learn how Christ will die, and yet rise again, and abide for ever. (So S. Augustine, S. Bernard, Serm. xlix. in Cant. Lyra, and others). But the word “modicum” does not refer to the light, but to the word “time” as is plain in the Greek. He calls Himself the light of the world, for the reasons which are mentioned in notes to chap. i., and also 1 John i. 5.
(1.) S. Chrysostom and Theophylact think that Christ here likened Himself to the Light, or Sun, because as the light of the sun is not extinguished by night, but is only hid for awhile, and rises again in the morning, and shines throughout the day, so He would die and rise again, and reign for ever, which was the very thing the Jews were inquiring about.
(2.) It may be explained more clearly and to the point in this way,—1, Christ, the Light of the world, enlightening it with the doctrine and knowledge of God, of salvation and of things eternal, shall be but a short time (only three days) with you in the body. And, therefore, if ye are wise, as long as you have Me with you, embrace and follow this light, believe in Me, hearken unto Me, question Me, I will resolve all your doubts, especially how Christ will die, and yet abide for ever. But if ye do it not now, the light will shortly be taken from you. I shall soon die, and then the darkness of error will overwhelm you. For though I shall leave the Apostles after Me, to carry on the light of the Gospel which I brought: yet ye will not value them, and will persecute them, and then ye will in vain seek for Me, who am the very source of light. Just as He spake to the same Jews, John vii. 33.
Christ calls Himself the Light. Wherefore S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Rupertus less appropriately understand by the light, the life of each faithful Christian, which is as it were to each one his own day. Believe in Me while the light of life lasts, for after it comes the darkness of death, when ye will not be able to believe, and do what is right.
Symbolically. Leontius by darkness understands sins; Rupertus, the sufferings of the lost in outer darkness.
Ver. 36.—While ye have the light, walk as children of the light. Believe in Me, who am the light of the world; believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world; believe in Me and my Gospel (so S. Cyril and Theophylact), that ye may be my children, and consequently the children of grace, charity, virtue, and sanctity in this life, and the children of the Resurrection, of happiness, and glory in the next life (see notes on 1 John i. 5, John i. 4., Eph. v. 8).
Tropologically. When thou feelest the enlightenment, the emotions, the breath of the Holy Spirit, act on them at once, for they come and go like lightning. As S. Francis, when he heard the voice of God, stopped short even on a journey, that he might listen to it, and at once put it into practice.
These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them. Because He knew that they wished to take Him before the time appointed of the Father. So S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others. He hid Himself, probably at night, for by day He taught in the temple, and at night He withdrew to Mount Olivet, and thence to Bethany (see Luke xxi. 37).
“He withdrew Himself not,” says S. Augustine and Bede, “from those who began to believe in Him and to love Him. Not from those who came out with palm branches and praises to meet Him. But from those who saw Him indeed, but with an evil eye; because in truth they saw Him not, but in their blindness stumbled at that stone of offence.”
Symbolically. Rupertus says, “He hid Himself from them not in place but in grace; because He left them in their unbelief, He blinded and hardened them.”
Ver. 37.—But though He had done so many (τοσαυ̃τα, so great) miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him. S. Chrysostom and Euthymius think that He wrought many miracles at this special time to lead the Jews to believe in Him, which S. John omitted for the sake of brevity. But others consider, more correctly, that S. John spoke of the many miracles Christ had wrought during the whole course of His ministry. As if Christ said, I have proved by so many miracles that I am the Messiah, why have ye not believed in Me? Ye cannot expect more. I am about to die: believe on Me at once, before I go hence.
The reason why so few believed on Jesus, and the many did not was partly their animal life, by which they were tied down to earthly desires, and did not understand the heavenly blessings and that contempt for worldly things which Christ taught: and partly their fear of the Scribes and Chief Priests, whom they knew to be opposed to Christ, for the people follow the belief of those above them: and, partly the poverty, lowliness, and humility of Christ, which they themselves despised. For they hoped, and even now hope, that their Messiah would come with great pomp and wealth, as a second Solomon.
Ver. 38.—That the saying of Esaias, &c. The word “that” does not signify the end and purpose intended by God, but simply the result. The fulfilment of the prophecy resulted from the unbelief of the Jews. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril, and others.
The passage quoted is Is. liii. 1, on which see a full comment.
Our report. Our hearing, the Hebrew word scemaa, hearing, being put for that which was heard by an ordinary Hebraism.
The arm of the Lord. That is Christ. (1.) So called as being “of one Substance with the Father,” as the arm is of the same substance as the body. (2.) Because Christ, as God, is the “arm” of the Father, His virtue and strength, whereby He works all things mightily. (3.) Because as man He performed, in the flesh, the mighty and powerful works of God. (So S. Augustine, Maldonatus, and others, on this passage; and S. Jerome on Is. liii. and S. Athanasius, “De communi essentia Patris et Filii et S . Sancti opus dubium.”) But it may be more simply understood of the Divine power which manifested itself in Christ’s miracles. The meaning being, How few Jews recognised the power of God, working as it did in Christ’s Person so many and great miracles. So Jansenius and Maldonatus.
Ver. 39.—Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, &c. The words “therefore” and “because” signify not the cause of their unbelief, as Calvin supposes, but marking the necessary consequence. It could not but be so, because it had been foretold, and Scripture cannot lie. But God foretold it, because He foresaw that through their freedom of will, their obstinacy and malice, they would not believe in Christ. God therefore saw that they would not believe, because they, of their own free will, would not do so. But they did not refuse to believe, because God foresaw that they would not believe. For their unbelief was prior to God’s foreseeing. God foresees the future, because it will surely come to pass. For God cannot foresee anything, unless it is presupposed that it will really take place. For the object which is seen is prior to the act of seeing it. For nothing can be seen but that which either now is, or hereafter will be. So S. Chrysostom, Jansenius, Maldonatus, and others.
But S. Augustine, and after him Toletus, explain it thus: the Jews could not believe in Christ, because they were hardened and blinded, as Isaiah foretold. But then the words “could not” do not signify absolute necessity, but either a moral, that is a great, difficulty, or else a conditional difficulty. That is to say, the Jews could not believe in Christ, supposing they continued to hold fast to their sins, darkness, and ignorance; and therefore blinded and hardened themselves by their own wickedness. For otherwise, though they were blinded and hardened, yet as having free will, and sufficient grace to enable them, they could (speaking abstractedly) give up their hardness of heart and turn to God.
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts. Christ quotes Is. vi. 9, 10. Having fully explained this passage before, I will here briefly repeat what I there said. Observe then (1) that properly speaking the intellect is said to be blinded, but the affections and will to be hardened; (2) that the direct and proper cause of a man’s blindness and hardening, is his own free will and wickedness. See Wisdom ii. 21. The Arabic and Syriac versions understand it in this way, “their eyes are blinded, and their heart is hardened.” But yet God is said indirectly and in a less strict sense (improprie) to harden a man, because He gradually withdraws from Him the light of truth and grace, and allows opportunities of error and sin to be presented to him by the world, the flesh, and the devil, in punishment for his former sins.
Moreover, in Isaiah we read “blind thou the heart of this people,” these being the words of God to Isaiah. But it comes to the same meaning. For “blind thou,” is the same as “foretell that a man will, indirectly, be blinded by Me.” “He blinded” is then the same as “ He will blind.” The past is put for the future, to signify the certainty of the thing, that it will as surely come to pass as though it had already happened; that the Jews will be as surely blinded, as though they had been blinded already.
Ver. 41.—These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him. The glory of Christ the Incarnate Son of God, who is spoken of in what preceded, and what follows. So SS. Augustine, Cyril, and all the Fathers, as against the Arians. It is therefore quite clear that Christ the Son of God is “of one substance ” with the Father, having the same substance, majesty, and glory with Him. For the Jews deny not that these words and that Divine glory pertain to God the Father, nor can there be any doubt on the matter. But here it is said that the same glory belongs to the Son. And it is plain that the same is the glory of the Holy Ghost (Acts xxviii. 25). And therefore when the Holy Trinity thus appeared to Isaiah, the Seraphim thrice exclaimed, Holy, Holy, Holy, &c.
This glory then which Isaiah saw, was that glorious vision in which the Essential Nature of the Holy Trinity and the Three Persons severally were represented in some ineffable manner by some outward symbol addressed to the imagination. But yet it was a kind of human appearance; for God appeared to Isaiah as a king seated on a lofty throne, and the prophet describes His countenance and His feet. And this appearance was most glorious, bright, and majestic. And accordingly, S. John terms it “glory.” Therefore Ribera, Maldonatus, Toletus, and others say that Isaiah in that vision most clearly discerned (as far as man can discern in this mortal state) the Three Persons in Unity of Essence. And this too both from the words of the Seraphim, as also from that most exalted revelation which was made to him. And therefore he says, “When he saw His glory,” when there was shown to him by revelation the Person of the Son as co-equal and consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Ghost. (See more on Is. vi. z).
Ver. 42.—Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him, &c. By the chief rulers are not meant the chief priests and the magistrates, for they shortly afterwards took Jesus and put Him to death. But the chief persons, those who were pre-eminent for their wisdom, their authority, and their means, both among the priests and the common people. S. Rupertus. They therefore were convinced by the truth of Christ’s doctrine, by His holiness and miracles, but yet did not dare to confess Him openly, for the reason mentioned above, chap. ix. 22.
Ver. 43.—For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God. “Glory” may here be taken in an active sense. They loved to give glory to men—to the Jews, e.g., and the Pharisees—by saying that they were wise and sound teachers of the Law, rather than to Jesus Christ, by acknowledging Him to be the Messiah.
Secondly, in the passive sense (and this is the best meaning), they preferred to be glorified by men rather than by God, to hear the Pharisees say, “Ye are the true Israelites, who abide in the faith of your fathers, and prefer Moses to this innovator Jesus, and the ancient religion of the Israelites to the novelties of this sect of Christians.” So Augustine, Cyril, Bede, Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others. They therefore had the faith of Christ, but not charity. For if they had had it they would have loved the glory of Gad, rather than that of men, and would have professed with their lips the faith of Christ which they held in their heart. See Rom. x. 10.
Many such are found at the present time in England, Germany, and Poland, who cherish in their minds faith and piety, but who dare not profess them outwardly, for fear of incurring the derision and scoffs of worldlings or heretics. Against these Christ thunders forth, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of my words,” &c. (Luke ix. 26.)
The Gloss says wisely (quoting S. Augustine in loc.) The Cross is marked on the forehead, which is the seat of shame, to keep us from blushing at the Name of Christ, and seeking the praise of men rather than the praise of God.”
Ver. 44.—Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me (“only” as adds the Arabic version) but (also) on Him that sent Me. It is uncertain whether Jesus said these words at the same time as those which precede them (ver. 35), as Maldonatus thinks, i.e., before he hid Himself and withdrew (as I said, ver. 36), being there mentioned by anticipation, when in the regular order it should be placed at the end of the chapter; or at another time, as Theophylact supposes. It is in fact a question to be solved. For Christ in these last three days of His life, came back in the morning to the Temple. But when He saw that some believed not, and that others believed but did not dare to profess their faith, for shame, and for fear of the Pharisees, He cried with a loud voice, to drive away this shame and fear: “He that believeth in Me” believeth not in a mere poor and wretched man, but in a man who is also God, and he therefore “believes in God who sent Me,” in God the Father with Whom I am consubstantial. Be not ashamed of my poverty and humility, for though I am outwardly poor and humble, yet in my inward nature I am rich and highly exalted. For I am God of God. And therefore he that believeth in Me believeth in God. But what is more noble and glorious than to believe in God? What can he fear or be ashamed of who believes in God? S. Cyril adds, “Jesus cried out to signify that He did not wish to be worshipped in a cowardly and stealthy way, but that He wished us boldly and clearly to profess and proclaim the faith.” “Again He cried out,” says Rupertus, “because He had but little time left Him to preach in. He then who wishes to hear Me, to believe and be saved, should do so at once, for after three days no one will be able to hear Me.” And so S. Chrysostom says, “Why do ye fear to believe in Me? Faith in God comes through Me. just as he who drinks the water of the river, drinks he not of the source?” And S. Augustine, “Because the manhood only appeared to men, and the Godhead was latent, lest they should think Him to be only that which they saw (a man), and He wished Himself to be believed in (as God) the same and as great as the Father; He saith, ‘He that believeth in Me, believeth not in Me,’ that is, in that which He seeth, ‘but in Him who sent Me, that is, in the Father.’”
It is, however, quite plain that the Son is God, consubstantial with God the Father. The Arians denied this, and objected: He who believeth in the Apostles who were sent by God, believeth in God, and yet does not believe that the Apostles are gods. I reply by denying the conclusion. We believe the Apostles, but not in the Apostles. But Christ here says, “He who believeth in Me, believeth in Him who sent Me.” But no one believes in any one, excepting in Him who is God. If, then, we believe in Christ, we believe that He is God: and since there is but one God, we believe that He is numerically the same God with God the Father. And therefore He says, “He that believeth in Me, believeth in Him that sent Me;” He who believes in Me as God the Son, believes also in God My Father, for we have both one nature and one majesty. So SS. Augustine, Cyril, Theophylact, Euthymius, and others. Whence Christ adds, to make it clearer still, —
Ver. 45.—And he that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent Me. Because the nature of us both is one only. And just as through My manhood he sees the Godhead which is latent therein, so does he also see the Godhead of My Father, since it is one and the same. And so S. Augustine says, “He shows that there is no difference whatever between Himself and the Father, insomuch that He who seeth Him seeth the Father.”
Hear S. Cyril in the Council of Ephesus (speaking in our Lord’s name): “Oh, my faithful hearers, do not think meanly and humbly of Me. But rather be most fully persuaded of this respecting Me, that if ye believe in Me, ye will believe in Him who is not merely one among many, but in the Father Himself through Me His Son, and that though I became man for your sakes, yet am I in every respect equal to the Father, and in no respect whatever severed or separated from Him, inasmuch as I am endowed with the same nature, power, and glory with Him.”
Ver. 46.—I am come a Light into the world, &c. Christ calls Himself again and again the Light of the world, which sets forth the true faith in God, His worship, devotion towards Him, virtue, and all things which tend to our salvation, and also dispels the darkness of unbelief, idolatry, and all errors and vices, so that what the sun is in the material world, is He in the spiritual. “The word light,” says S. Cyril, “indicates Godhead, for it is the property of God to be the Light of the world. For God in His Essence is spiritual, uncreate, boundless Light, from which every created light, whether spiritual or material, whether of angels or men, whether of the sun or stars or of the elements, is derived as a ray from the Sun.” But it is the peculiar property of the Son that He proceeds from God the Father after the manner of a ray, and of light, according to the Nicene Creed: “Light of Light, Very God of Very God.” For He proceedeth from the Father by understanding and knowledge, as the verbal expression of the mind, which, like the brightest mirror, represents all things. As the Book of Wisdom says (vii. 26), “It is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness.” And Heb. i. 3, “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the image of His substance.” And Ecclus. xxiv. 6 (Vulg.), “I made the never-failing Light to arise in the heavens.” These things are spoken of Christ as God. But as man He was sent by God the Father into the world, to enlighten it as the sun in the heavens, when overwhelmed with the darkness of ignorance, unbelief, and sin. See S. John, i. 6, 7.
Symbolically, S. Gregory (Moral. xxv. 4) says that eternal Light, which is God, the more changelessly it shines the more piercingly does it see. Even things which are hid it knows well, for it penetrates through all things, and keeps them in memory, because it changelessly abides. And consequently, whenever we conceive in our minds an unworthy thought, we sin in the light. Because It is present to us, even when we are not present to It. And when we walk in crooked ways we stumble against that, from which we are in our deserts far away. But when we believe that we are not seen, we keep our eyes closed in the sunlight. That is, we hide Him from ourselves, but not ourselves from Him.
The same S. Gregory (Epist. vii. 32, ad Dom.) says, “The warmth of the shepherd is the light of the flock. For the priest of the Lord should shine forth in his conduct and life, in order that the people committed to his charge may be able in the mirror of his life to choose what to follow, and see what to correct.”
Ver. 47.—And if any hear My words, and keep them not, I judge him not. That is, does not retain them in his mind, “believes them not,” as in the Greek, though the Vulgate, agreeing with the Syriac and Arabic, reads “Keep them not;” as Christ explains in the next verse. By the words “I judge him not,” Christ means, I came not into the world to judge it but to save it. But a man who believes not on Me, is at once condemned and judged by his own wickedness and unbelief, and also by the eternal decree of the Father. This is plain from what follows. So S. Cyril, Theophylact, Leontius, and others. See notes on chap. iii. 18. This decree of the Father I will execute at the day of judgment, when I shall return to judge the world, as I have now come to redeem it. S. Chrysostom says, “I judge not,” that is, I am not the cause of his ruin, but he is himself its cause in despising My words.
For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. That is, the inhabitants of the world. “Now,” says S. Augustine, “is the time of mercy, hereafter the time of judgment.”
Ver. 48.—He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him. He that believeth not My words will have God as his judge, who will judge him by Me at the judgment day. For, as S. Augustine says (de Trinit. i. 28), Christ will not judge by His human power, but by the power of the Word of God.
The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day. S. Augustine (in loc.) understands by the “Word” Christ Himself, for He will be the judge. “He has sufficiently set forth that He will be the judge at the last day, for He spake of Himself. He announced Himself, He placed Himself as the Door by which He as Shepherd came in to the sheep.” Others more clearly, and with greater force, say, My word heard and not believed in by the Jews will accuse them at the day of judgment, and with mute voice will proclaim them worthy of hell. “That word,” says Rupertus, “which they heard, which they could not but know to be true, as approved by the wondrous testimony of His miracles, that word will judge, will reprove, will convict. But where will that judge be seated? What sentences of judgment will He give from His throne? He will be close at hand. He will hold His court within. He will proclaim full terribly in the conscience of each one His just sentence. There is a prosopopœia. The word of Christ is here introduced as a person, and as a witness against unbelievers before Christ as Judge in the day of judgment.
Ver. 49.—For I have not spoken of Myself, &c. This gives the reason why the word of Christ would condemn the Jews, because He spake at the command of the Father, and therefore he who believed not in Him believed not in God. He who despised Him despised God, and would therefore experience Him as his judge. So the Syriac version. Rupertus somewhat differently says, “The word which I spake has the force of a judgment, for I speak not of Myself.” SS. Augustine, Ambrose, and Bede think that Christ is here speaking of Himself as God. I, as God, speak not from Myself, but from the Father who gave Me My Divine Nature, and with It omniscience, and My full power of saying and speaking. Hear S. Augustine, “In the Wisdom of the Father, which is the Word, are all the commands of the Father. But the command is said to be given, since He to whom it is given, is not of Himself. But to give to the Son is the same as begetting the Son.” “All these things were said,” says S. Chrysostom, “for their sakes that they might have no excuse.” And the Gloss, “The Father gave the command to the Son, by begetting Him, as His Very Word and Wisdom, as He gave Him life by begetting Him who is life.”
More simply S. Cyril and Chrysostom think that Christ is here speaking of Himself as man. For thus did He properly receive a command from the Father to say or speak this or that, and nothing else. Christ speaks of Himself in an humble manner, in order to move the haughty Jews, who believed Him not to be God. As if He said, “Granting that I am a mere man, as ye think, yet ye ought to believe Me, for I speak nothing of Myself, but all things which I speak I have heard of the Father.” Hence theologians infer (though some deny it) that Christ received a command from God for saying everything He said, and for doing everything He did. For if the Father commanded Him in these lesser matters, He did so in greater matters, as the working of miracles and mighty deeds. What Rupertus says is an adaptation to circumstances. “I have received a commandment from the Father what to say now forbearingly to those who gainsay Me, and what I shall pronounce terribly in the last judgment, when no one will dare to gainsay Me.”
What I shall say, and what I shall speak. Between saying and speaking there is this difference. To say (dicere) is solemnly to assert anything, to teach, to preach. To speak (loqui) is to say anything in a more familiar manner, colloquially. (See Varro, de Lingua Latina, lib. v., Cicero, de Oratore, and Quintilian, lib. x. chap. 7.)
Ver.50.—And I know that His commandment is life everlasting. The way which leads to eternal life. “If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments.” It is also formally eternal life because the commandment of God is that eternal Law which lives in the eternal reason of things, in the living mind of God. But Christ is not speaking of this. And therefore He asserts that the command is eternal life, causally, because it causes, merits, and brings about eternal life. Christ says this, says S. Chrysostom, to induce the Jews to believe Him in those things which He spake by the command of the Father, to induce them by the hope of the highest reward, and consequently by the fear of the heaviest punishment if they do not believe in Him. He tacitly threatens them with this by way of antithesis. And to keep them from doubting this He boldly asserts it. I maintain, says Christ, and assert of My own sure knowledge, that the command of God is the cause of eternal life. I have heard it from God Himself, and I therefore know fully and surely that it has been decreed by Him as an inviolable law. In like manner Christ says, “This is life eternal” (that is, the way to life eternal), “to know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John xvii. 3).
Christ alludes to Ecclus. i. 5, “The Word of God Most High is a fountain of wisdom, and the entrance thereto everlasting commandments;” and to Baruch iii. 9. “If then,” says S. Augustine (Serm. clxxxvi. (nunc cclxvii.) De Temp.), “ye wish to have the Holy Spirit, hold fast to charity, love the truth, long for unity, and ye will attain to eternity.”
Christ therefore summed up all His teaching to the people in this saying, “His commandment is eternal life,” in order, when he was now going to death, to impress on the Jews and on all who should come after the perpetual memory of eternity, and a longing for life everlasting; to stimulate them to follow His faith and examples. For nothing so stimulates the mind for good, as a serious and frequent meditation on eternity. As the Psalmist says (Ps. cxix. 96), “I have seen an end of all perfection, but Thy commandment is exceeding broad.” This means, all sublunary things have an end, but the commandment of God has no end. It endures for ever, and leads those who keep it to a blessed eternity, but those who despise it to eternal punishments. Sufferings are momentary, but delights are eternal. But momentary are our delights, our sufferings eternal.
Symbolically, S. Augustine says, “If the Son Himself is eternal life, and the commandment of God is eternal life, what else is meant, but that I am the commandment of the Father?”
Whatsoever I speak therefore (“in announcing Myself to be the Word,” says the Interlinear Gloss), even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak. That is, “As He who is True begat Me who am Truth, so I the Truth proclaim Myself as Truth.” And S. Augustine, “Just as the Father spake as being True, so does the Son speak as being the Truth; the True begat the Truth.”
The genuine printed commentary of S. Cyril here begins again.