30. I can do nothing of myself; as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me.31. If I testify concerning myself, my testimony is not true.32. There is another who testifieth concerning me, and I know that the testimony which he testifieth concerning me is true.
30. I can do nothing of myself. It would be superfluous here to enter into abstruse reasonings, whether the Son of God can do any thing of himself or otherwise, so far as relates to his eternal Divinity; for he did not intend to keep our minds employed about such trifles. Consequently there was no reason why the ancients should have given themselves so much anxiety and distress about refuting the calumny of Arius. That scoundrel gave out that the Son is not equal to the Father because he can do nothing of himself The holy men reply, that the Son justly claims for himself all that can be ascribed to the Father, from whom he takes his commencement, with respect to his person. But, in the first place, Christ does not speak of his Divinity simply, but warns us that, so far as he is clothed with our flesh, we ought not to judge of him from the outward appearance, because he has something higher than man. Again, we ought to consider with whom he has to deal. His intention was, to refute the Jews who were endeavoring to contrast him with God. He therefore affirms that he does nothing by human power, because he has for his guide and director God who dwells in him.
We ought always to keep in remembrance that, whenever Christ speaks concerning himself, he claims only that which belongs to man; for he keeps his eye upon the Jews, who erroneously said that he was merely one of the ordinary rank of men. For the same reason, he ascribes to the Father whatever is higher than man. The word judge belongs properly to doctrine, but is intended also to apply to the whole of his administration, as if he had said, that he acts by the Father's direction in all things, that the Father's will is his rule, and therefore that He will defend him against all adversaries.
And my judgment is just. He concludes that his actions and sayings are beyond the risk of blame, because he does not allow himself to attempt anything but by the command and direction of the Father; for it ought to be regarded as beyond all controversy that whatever proceeds from God must be right. This modesty ought to be held by us as the first maxim of piety, to entertain such reverence for the word and works of God, that the name of God would alone be sufficient to prove their justice and rectitude; but how few are to be found who are ready to acknowledge that God is just, unless they are compelled to do so! I acknowledge, indeed, that God demonstrates his righteousness by experience; but to limit it to the perception of our flesh, so as to have no opinion respecting it but what our own mind suggests, is wicked and daring impiety. Let us, therefore, set it down as certain and undoubted, that whatever is from God is right and true, and that it is impossible for God not to be true in all his words, just and right in all his actions. We are likewise reminded that the only rule for acting well is, to undertake nothing but by the direction and commandment of God. And if after this the whole world should rise against us, we shall still have this invincible defense, that he who follows God cannot go astray.
Because I seek not my own will. He does not here make his own will and that of his Father to clash with each other, as if they were contrary things, but only refutes the false opinion which they entertained, that he was impelled by human presumption rather than guided by the authority of God. He affirms, therefore, that he has no disposition which is peculiar to himself and separate from the command of the Father.
31. If I testify concerning myself. He does not here take any thing away from the credit due to his testimony, which he elsewhere asserts in strong terms, but he speaks by way of concession; for Christ, having been in other respects most abundantly supported, consents that they should not believe his word. |If my testimony concerning myself,| says he, |is suspected by you according to the ordinary custom of men, let it go for nothing.| Now we know that what any man asserts about himself is not reckoned to be true and authentic, although in other respects he speak truth, because no man is a competent witness in his own cause. Though it would be unjust to reduce the Son of God to this rank, yet he prefers to surrender his right, that he may convince his enemies by the authority of God.