25. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem therefore said, Is not this he whom they seek to kill? 26. And, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing to him. Do the rulers actually know that this is truly the Christ? 27. But we know whence this man is; but when Christ shall come, no man will know whence he is.28. Jesus therefore exclaimed in the temple, teaching and saying, You both know me, and you know whence I am; and I did not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you know not.29. But I know him, for I am from him, and he hath sent me.30. Therefore they sought to seize him; but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
25. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; that is, those to whom the rulers had communicated their plots, and who knew how much Christ was hated; for the people at large -- as we saw lately -- looked upon this as a dream, or as madness. Those persons, therefore, who knew with what inveterate rage the rulers of their nation burned against Christ, have some reason for wondering that, while Christ in the temple not only converses openly but preaches freely, the rulers say nothing to him. But they err in this respect, that in a miracle altogether Divine they do not take into account the providence of God. Thus carnal men, whenever they behold any unusual work of God, do indeed wonder, but no consideration of the power of God ever enters into their mind. But it is our duty to examine more wisely the works of God; and especially when wicked men, with all their contrivances, do not hinder the progress of the Gospel so much as they would desire, we ought to be fully persuaded that their efforts have been rendered fruitless, because God, by interposing his word, has defeated them.
27. But we know whence this man is. Here we see not only how great is the blindness of men, when they ought to judge about the things of God, but this vice is almost natural to them, to be ingenious in contriving what may hinder them from arriving at the knowledge of the truth. It is frequently, indeed, from the craft of Satan that offenses arise, which cause many to turn away from Christ; but though the road were plain and smooth, every man would contrive an offense for himself. So long as the rulers were opposed to Christ, their unbelief would of itself have kept back this multitude; but when that obstacle has been removed, they contrive a new reason for themselves, that they may not come to the faith. And even though it were proper that they should be influenced by the example of their rulers, they are so far from following what is right, that they willingly stumble at the first step. Thus it frequently happens, that men who had begun well fall away quickly, unless the Lord conduct them to the very end of their career.
But when Christ shall come. The argument by which they obstruct their own progress is this: |The Prophets have testified that the origin of Christ will be unknown. Now we know whence this man is, and therefore we cannot reckon him to be the Christ.| Hence we are reminded how pernicious it is to mangle the Scriptures, and even Christ himself, so as not to admit more than the half of him. God promised that the Redeemer would be of the seed of David; but he frequently claims this office as peculiar to himself; therefore, he must have been God manifested in the flesh, that he might be the Redeemer of his Church. Thus Micah points out the place where Christ would be born. Out of thee, Bethlehem, he says, a Prince shall come, to govern my people But, immediately afterwards, he speaks of another going forth which is far loftier, and then he says that it is hidden and secret, (Micah 5:2.) Yet those wretched men, when they perceived in Christ nothing but what is liable to contempt, draw the absurd conclusion, that he is not the person who had been promised. On the mean condition of Christ in the flesh let us therefore learn to look in such a manner, that this state of humiliation, which is despised by wicked men, may raise us to his heavenly glory. Thus Bethlehem, where the man was to be born, will be to us a door by which we may enter into the presence of the eternal God.
28. Jesus therefore exclaimed in the temple. He bitterly reproaches them for their rashness, because they arrogantly flattered themselves in a false opinion, and in this manner excluded themselves from a knowledge of the truth; as if he had said, |You know all things, and yet you know nothing.| And, indeed, there is not a more destructive plague than when men are so intoxicated by the scanty portion of knowledge which they possess, that they boldly reject every thing that is contrary to their opinion.
You both know me, and you know whence I am. This is ironical language. With the false opinion which they had formed concerning him, he contrasts what is true; as if he had said, |While you have your eyes fixed on the earth, you think that every part of me is before your eyes; and therefore you despise me as mean and unknown. But God will testify that I have come from heaven; and though I may be rejected by you, God will acknowledge that I am truly his own Son.|
But he who hath sent me is true. He calls God true in the same sense that Paul calls him faithful
If we are unbelievers, says he, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself,
(2 Timothy 2:13.)
For his object is to prove, that the credit due to the Gospel is not in the smallest degree diminished by the utmost exertions of the world to overthrow it; that though wicked men may attempt to take from Christ what belonged to him, still he remains unimpaired, because the truth of God is firm and is always like itself. Christ sees that he is despised; but so far is he from yielding, that, on the contrary, he boldly repels the furious arrogance of those who hold him in no estimation. With such unshaken and heroic fortitude all believers ought to be endued; nay, more, our faith will never be solid or lasting, unless it treat with contempt the presumption of wicked men, when they rise up against Christ. Above all, godly teachers, relying on this support, ought to persevere in maintaining sound doctrine, even though it should be opposed by the whole world. Thus Jeremiah appeals to God as his defender and guardian, because he is condemned as an impostor:
Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, says he, and I was deceived, (Jeremiah 20:7.)
Thus Isaiah, overwhelmed on all sides by calumnies and reproaches, flies to this refuge, that God will approve his cause, (Isaiah 50:8.) Thus Paul, oppressed by unjust judgments, appeals against all to the day of the Lord, (1 Corinthians 4:5,) reckoning it enough to have God alone to place against the whole world, however it may rage and storm.
Whom you knew not. He means that it is not wonderful that he is not known by the Jews, because they do not know God; for the beginning of wisdom is, to behold God.
29. But I know him. When he says that he knoweth God, he means that it is not without good grounds that he has risen to so great confidence; and by his example he warns us not to assume lightly the name of God, so as to vaunt of Him as the patron and defender of our cause. For many are too presumptuous in boasting of the authority of God; and, indeed, it is impossible to imagine greater readiness and boldness in rejecting the opinions of all men, than is to be found among fanatics who give out their own inventions as the oracles of God. But we are taught by these words of our Lord Jesus Christ that we ought especially to beware of proud and foolish confidence; and that, when we have fully ascertained the truth of God, we ought boldly to resist men. And he who is fully aware that God is on his side has no reason to dread the charge of being insolent, in trampling under foot all the haughtiness of the world.
Because I am from him, and he hath sent me. Some distinguish these two clauses in this manner. They refer the former clause -- I am from him -- to the Divine essence of Christ; and the latter clause -- he hath sent me -- to the office enjoined on him by the Father, for the sake of executing which he took upon him the flesh and human nature. Though I do not venture to reject this view, still I do not know if Christ intended to speak so abstrusely. I readily acknowledge that Christ's heavenly descent may be inferred from it, but it would not be a sufficiently strong proof of his eternal Divinity against the Arians.
30. Therefore they sought to seize him. They had no want of will to do him mischief; they even made the attempt, and they had strength to do it. Why, then, amidst so much ardor, are they benumbed, as if they had their hands and feet bound? The Evangelist replies, because Christ's hour was not yet come; by which he means that, against all their violence and furious attacks, Christ was guarded by the protection of God. And at the same time he meets the offense of the cross; for we have no reason to be alarmed when we learn that Christ was dragged to death, not through the caprice of men, but because he was destined for such a sacrifice by the decree of the Father. And hence we ought to infer a general doctrine; for though we live from day to day, still the time of every man's death has been fixed by God. It is difficult to believe that, while we are subject to so many accidents, exposed to so many open and concealed attacks both from men and beasts, and liable to so many diseases, we are safe from all risk until God is pleased to call us away. But we ought to struggle against our own distrust; and we ought to attend first to the doctrine itself which is here taught, and next, to the object at which it aims, and the exhortation which is drawn from it, namely, that each of us, casting all his cares on God, (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7,) should follow his own calling, and not be led away from the performance of his duty by any fears. Yet let no man go beyond his own bounds; for confidence in the providence of God must not go farther than God himself commands.