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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

John 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 12-15

DISCOURSE: 1678

CHRIST’S CONDESCENSION

John 13:12-15. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I there, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

THERE are some fanciful interpreters of Scripture, who find mysteries in every thing; while others, who affect a supereminent regard for man’s reasoning powers, banish mysteries altogether, and say, “Where mystery begins religion ends.” These are equally distant from the true method of interpreting the sacred oracles; and are almost equally adverse to the interests of religion: the former bring the truth into contempt; the latter utterly discard it. The proper medium evidently is, to follow the direction which the Scripture itself gives us. The fundamental doctrines of the Gospel are professedly mysterious, even “the wisdom of God in a mystery.” There are many of the historical parts also, to which a mystical interpretation is given by the inspired writers: and, of the actions of our Lord there are some, into which a deeper insight is given us than into others; to which therefore we may safely assign a more mysterious import. The action referred to in the text was very significant, and may, with the greatest propriety, be considered,

I. As illustrative of his character—

[No one can behold Jesus washing his Disciples’ feet, without feeling a reverence for his august character: and the more we contrast his dignity with their meanness, the more are we constrained to admire his condescension and love.

But we shall have a very partial and inadequate view of this action, if we regard it merely as a single and detached instance of humility. To understand it aright, we must see it as exhibiting in a very lively manner his general character.

What a beautiful illustration does it give us of his incarnation! Behold him laying aside his robes of majesty, and clothing himself in our flesh, and coming, “not to be ministered unto, but to minister” to our guilty race [Note: Philippians 2:6-8. Matthew 20:28. Mark 10:45.]!

How aptly does it represent to us the whole tenour of his life! From the cradle to the grave his humility was uniformly conspicuous. Born in a stable, and of mean parents, he wrought at the trade of a carpenter till the age of thirty: then, submitting to baptism, as though he had been a sinner, he entered on his ministry, and prosecuted it in the midst of temptations, of want, and ignominy, till his obedience was consummated in the accursed death of the cross. And to all this he condescended for our benefit, for our salvation.

Nor does this action less fitly characterize him in his present exalted state. “Though he is high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly [Note: Psalms 138:6.]:” though “he is that high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, yet will he dwell with him that is of an humble and contrite spirit [Note: Isaiah 57:15.].” There is no one upon earth so mean and vile, but this exalted Saviour is ready to visit him, to dwell with him, and to minister unto him [Note: John 14:23.]: nor is there any office which he will not gladly execute for the good of our souls.

Even the character he will sustain among the glorified saints in heaven is also represented in this significant action: for though he will ever be the head of his people, yet will he gird himself as their servant, and minister unto them in the most humble and affectionate manner, while they are partaking of the feast which his heavenly Father has provided for them [Note: Luke 12:37.].

How admirable does this action appear when considered in this extensive view! and in what endearing light does it exhibit our blessed Lord!]

But this action is further to be considered,

II. As emblematical of his work—

[Our blessed Lord himself shews us that there was a mystical signification in what he did to his Disciples: for, when he had washed them, he asked them, “Know ye what I have done unto you?” for which question there could have been no room if there had been nothing mysterious in the transaction. He also said to them, “Ye are clean; but not all;” because the traitor, though washed equally with the rest, was yet under the power and guilt of all his sins [Note: ver. 11.].

So particularly were the circumstances of this event ordered and overruled, that they marked in the most striking manner the nature, the necessity, and the excellency of that work which Christ came to accomplish.

Its nature is declared: for he came to wash men from the guilt of sin by his blood, and from the pollution of it by his Spirit. In this very view the prophet spake of him long before as a fountain that should be opened to cleanse men from their sin and uncleanness [Note: Zechariah 13:1.]: and the Apostles represent the great end of his incarnation and death to have been, “to sanctify and cleanse the Church with the washing of water, by the word [Note: Ephesians 5:25-26.].”

Peter’s inconsiderate, though well-meant, opposition to his Master’s will, gave occasion for that solemn declaration, whereby our Lord has made known the universal necessity of submitting to him, and to the method prescribed by him for the salvation of our souls. His words may be applied to every child of man, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me:” there is no other way whereby we can obtain a saving interest in Christ: we must be washed in his blood; and we must be sanctified by his Spirit: “he came not by water only, but by water and blood [Note: 1 John 5:6.];” and we must experience the virtue of both, if ever we would participate the blessings of his kingdom.

The vehemence of the same ardent Disciple was yet further overruled for the making known the excellency of Christ’s work. When told, that he must submit, he exclaimed, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” Our Lord informed him, that, as a person who has been bathing, needs no more than to wash his feet from the defilement they have contracted in coming from the bath: so they who have been washed by his blood and Spirit, need a partial purification indeed every day and hour, on account of the defilement they contract every step they take in this polluted world; but they never will need the same universal cleansing as before [Note: ver. 10.], seeing that they are purified from all their former guilt, and are “renewed in the spirit of their minds:” in respect of such an universal washing, “he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified [Note: Hebrews 10:14.].”]

We shall have a very incomplete view of this action, unless we still further consider it,

III. As explanatory of his will—

[A declaration to this effect is made by our Lord himself. He tells us that he intended, in what he now did, to set an example to all his Disciples; and to teach them, that they should not affect a superiority above each other; that they should rather delight themselves in all offices of love; and that they should account nothing too humiliating or self—denying, if by any means they might promote each other’s welfare.

The Disciples had been disputing which of them should be the greatest: and he had told them, that they ought not to resemble the Gentiles, who loved to have pre-eminence, and were applauded in proportion as they gained an ascendant over others: on the contrary, they should measure their honours by the degree in which they stooped for the good of others, and by the exertions they made in administering to their fellow-creatures [Note: Luke 22:24-27.]. How happy would it have been for the Church, if all its ministers, and all its members, had attended to this rule! How happy if, instead of being “lords over God’s heritage,” they had submitted themselves one to another in the fear of God [Note: 1 Peter 5:3; 1 Peter 5:5.], and had striven only, who should be least of all and servant of all!”

To abound in offices of love is an ambition infinitely more worthy of the followers of Christ. Love is the fulfilling of the law: love is that which above all things characterizes the true Christian: love is the image of God upon the soul: love is the antepast of heaven. To inculcate the necessity of love, to exemplify it in his own conduct, to impress it on the hearts of his Disciples, and to stir them up to a holy imitation of his example, were the more immediate objects of our Lord’s solicitude: nor will our admiration of his conduct profit us at all, if it have not this effect on our hearts and lives.

In many instances much self-denial is required, in order to impart any substantial benefit to our fellow-creatures. The visiting of the sick, especially when poverty and disease combine to render our access to them unpleasant, is an irksome task to those whose hearts are not penetrated with love to God and man. This indeed is less felt when humanity stimulates us to assist in the recovery of their bodies; but when we have no view but only to benefit their souls, then to instruct them, then to pray with them, then to repeat our visits, when perhaps we see scarce any prospect of doing them good, or any desire in them to receive benefit; and then to persevere in our endeavours, when they madly say, like Peter, “Thou shalt never wash my feet;” this is the love we are called to manifest; and in comparison of this, the most liberal bestowment of alms is as nothing: it is far easier to give away thousands of silver and gold, than to spend our lives in such acts of kindness to man, and of zeal for God. But this is to “love others as Christ has loved us,” and “to do to others as Christ has done to us:” and to exercise less love than this, is to “love in word and in tongue only, instead of loving in deed and in truth [Note: 1 John 3:17-18.].”]

As an improvement of this subject our Lord suggests a most solemn warning; “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them [Note: ver. 17.]:” and this would I also adopt as my monition to you from the text,

1. In allusion to its mystical and emblematic import—

[Instructed as you have been, few can be ignorant of the efficacy of Christ’s blood to cleanse from sin, or of his Spirit to renew and sanctify the heart. But what will this knowledge avail you, if you do not experience both the one and the other in your souls? — — — I pray you to remember, that our Lord does not say, ‘if ye know these things, happy are ye:’ No: an unproductive knowledge of them will only aggravate your guilt and condemnation: it is then only that ye can be accounted happy, “if ye do them,”]

2. In allusion to its spiritual and practical import—

[It is intimated that some know these things, but do them not; but that others both “know and do them.”

How lamentable is it that any should know the character of Christ, and profess to experience the benefits of his salvation, while yet they bear no resemblance to him in their spirit and conduct! Alas! whatever they may imagine, “they have no part with him!” without a conformity to him m the unfeigned exercise of love, we are only as sounding brass, or as tinkling cymbals [Note: 1 Corinthians 13:1. James 1:27.].

To those who delight in every office of love we say, “Happy are ye:” for it is a most unquestionable truth, that the more lowly we are in our own eyes, the higher we are in God’s; and the more we delight in doing good to others, the more richly will the blessing of God rest upon ourselves [Note: Isaiah 58:10-11.].]


Verse 17

DISCOURSE: 1679

PRACTICAL RELIGION ENFORCED

John 13:17. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

SO little was the virtue of humility understood among the heathen, that neither the Greeks nor Romans had a word whereby to express the idea. The lowliness of mind and poverty of spirit which we admire as the summit of Christian excellence, they would have accounted meanness and pusillanimity. But our blessed Lord has instructed us in a far clearer manner than the philosophers of old could do, and has illustrated every one of his instructions by his own example. The act of condescension that is recorded in the chapter before us, very strongly exemplifies the virtue of which we are speaking: though Jesus was the Lord both of heaven and earth, and his Disciples were no higher than poor fishermen, he made himself their servant, and performed for them the meanest office, even that of washing their feet: and then told them that such was the spirit which he would have them cultivate, and such the conduct he would have them pursue towards all their fellow—disciples. He declared, moreover, that such views of Christian excellence, attended with a corresponding practice, would prove to them a source of the richest happiness.

We shall not however confine our views to this particular virtue; but shall take occasion from the words of our text to point out, in a more general manner, the connexion between “knowing and doing” the will of God. We shall shew,

I. Their worthlessness when separate—

As for doing, without knowing, the will of God, that is impossible; since knowledge is, and must be, the foundation of all practice. No act can be a religious act, unless it be done with a direct reference to the will of God ordering and directing it to be done. But knowledge may exist without practice: and when it does so, it is altogether worthless.

1. It has no intrinsic excellence—

[The devils have knowledge in common with us, and probably to a far greater extent: but do they possess any thing that is truly good? Virtue is good, even though it reside only in the mind, and have no scope for exercise; but knowledge, when considered without reference to practice, is as empty and worthless as ignorance itself.]

2. It is productive of no good—

[The science of astronomy, and the knowledge of the magnet, are among the most useful of human attainments: but of what use would they be, if not applied to practical purposes? In the same manner, the knowledge of medicine would never benefit any one, if it were not improved for the healing or preventing of disorders. Thus it is also with respect to divine knowledge. We may be able to delineate all the perfections of God, to trace all the ways of his providence, and to open all the wonders of redemption; we may be able to descant upon virtue, in all its bearings and relations; yea, as the Apostle says, we may “understand all mysteries and all knowledge;” and what are we the better for it all, or what good do we effect by it, if it float only upon the mind, and never operate upon our life and conversation? We are only “as sounding brass or as tinkling cymbals [Note: 1 Corinthians 13:1-2.]. If it be said, that, by communicating our knowledge, we may influence others; this only amounts to what we are insisting on, that knowledge is of use only in reference to practice; and that it then only does good, when it stirs men up to a suitable improvement of it.]

3. It only aggravates our condemnation—

[We are assured, that “to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin [Note: James 4:17.].” Exactly as much good therefore as “sin” does us, so much does unimproved knowledge. Knowledge is a talent, of which we are to give an account: and “to whom much is given, of him will the more be required.” The man who knew his Lord’s will, and did it not, was beaten with many stripes; while the ignorant offender was beaten with comparatively few [Note: Luke 12:47-48.]. Thus shall we find it in the day of judgment. If, on the one hand, unavoidable ignorance will be considered as an extenuation of our guilt, so, on the other hand, will unsanctified knowledge prove a fearful aggravation of it.]

We would not, however, depreciate either knowledge or practice; but rather point out,

II. Their excellence when combined—

When connected with each other as the root and the fruit, they have an efficacy,

1. To please God—

[The fruits of righteousness that spring from an enlightened mind, are truly acceptable to God [Note: Hebrews 13:16. 1 Peter 2:5.]. They answer the end for which he originally gave us to his Son [Note: Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 2:10.], and for which his Son laid down his life [Note: Titus 2:14.]. There is not any one act that can flow from just views of ourselves and of Christ, which God will not behold with complacency and accept with joy [Note: Matthew 10:42. Jeremiah 9:24.].]

2. To bring comfort into the soul—

[Works of piety are like the incense which, when offered by the priest, not only honoured God, but also regaled the offerer. It is truly said (though many who admire the expression, have very inadequate notions of its import), that religion’s “ways are ways of pleasantness and peace,” and that “in keeping God’s commandments there is great reward.” Who ever set himself to serve and honour God, without finding that “the work of righteousness was peace, and the effect of righteousness was quietness and assurance for ever?” It cannot fail but that those who abound in the exercise of virtue, must have the testimony of their own consciences respecting it; and wherever that is, there must be a never-failing source of joy and peace [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:12.].]

3. To embolden us in reference to the day of judgment—

[That there is no merit in our works is certain; and if we were to found our hopes of acceptance with God upon them as meritorious, we should delude ourselves to our eternal ruin. Nevertheless we are authorized to expect that God will deal with us according to our works: and, if we have the testimony of our own consciences that it is our endeavour to “walk worthy of God unto all pleasing,” we may “assure our hearts before him,” and “have confidence towards him” in reference to his future judgment [Note: 1 John 3:18-21; 1 John 4:17.]. Knowing in our own souls that we have fought a good fight and kept the faith, we may say without doubt or fear, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me [Note: 2 Timothy 4:7-8.].”]

4. To augment our everlasting happiness—

[Who need be told, that men will be rewarded in proportion to their improvement of their talents [Note: Luke 14:14; Luke 19:16-17. 1 Corinthians 3:8.]? This is so plain a truth, that it cannot be denied; and so encouraging a truth, that it ought not to be concealed. A life of holiness is even now recompensed by the richest consolations: but its full value will be known only in heaven.]

From this subject we shall take occasion to,

1. Condole with the ignorant—

[We have before observed, that knowledge is the parent of all acceptable obedience. What then must be your state while you are ignorant of those great things which belong unto your peace? God himself has told you, that you will find “no favour” at his hands [Note: Isaiah 27:11.], but will inevitably and eternally perish [Note: Hosea 4:6.]. Do but reflect on the condition of a soul that finds “no favour” at the hands of an angry God: surely “better were it for that person that he had never been born.”]

2. Counsel the enlightened—

[Value not yourselves upon your knowledge, if you have not a practice suitable to it: for, it is “not the hearer of the law that is just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified [Note: Romans 2:13.].” You may say, “Lord, Lord,” and profess to have known and served him in many things; but you can never enter into the kingdom of heaven, if you have not cheerfully and unreservedly performed his will [Note: Matthew 7:21; Matthew 7:23.]. Take care therefore that you “be not hearers only of his word, deceiving your own selves; but be doers of it also; for then only shall ye be blessed in your deed [Note: James 1:22-25.].”]

3. Congratulate the practical Christian—

[“Happy are ye,” God himself being witness. Every prominent feature of your character has been mentioned by our Lord as a distinct and certain ground of blessedness [Note: Matthew 5:3-12.]. You are fitly “compared to a wise man who built his house upon a rock [Note: Matthew 7:24-27.].” Compare the difference between such a man, and a foolish man that builds his house upon the sand: and you will then see your own happiness in a just point of view. Hold on then in this good way; and “as you have learned how to walk and to please God, see that ye abound more and more [Note: 1 Thessalonians 4:1.].”]


Verse 18

DISCOURSE: 1680

INGRATITUDE DEPICTED

John 13:18. That the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me.

THERE was scarcely any circumstance relating to the death of our blessed Lord which was not the subject of prophecy. That to which my text refers, was the betraying of our blessed Lord by one of his own Disciples. This event was shadowed forth by the treachery of Ahithophel at the time of Absalom’s rebellion. He was the intimate friend and counsellor of David: yet, in the hour of David’s extremity, he forsook him, and by his counsel laboured to effect his destruction. Of this David complains, saying, “Mine own familiar friend, whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, hath lift up his heel against me [Note: Psalms 41:9.].” But, under these circumstances, David was a type of Christ, as Ahithophel was of Judas: and the complaint which, in its primary sense, was a mere historical record, in its secondary and subordinate sense was a prophecy relating to the manner in which our blessed Lord should be delivered into the hands of his enemies.

In considering this prophecy, I shall shew,

I. In whom it may be said to be fulfilled—

We need not confine our attention to Judas: we may well extend it generally to all who partake of God’s mercies, and requite them only with ingratitude. It may be considered, then, as fulfilled in,

1. The Atheist—

[God, in the works of creation, has loaded us with benefits; so that, whether we survey the heavens or the earth, we cannot but acknowledge, that his mercies have greatly abounded towards us — — — But what is the return which many make? They endeavour to shut him out, as it were, from the universe, saying, “Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” They deny that he takes any cognizance of the affairs of men; saying, “He seeth us not; the thick clouds are a covering to him: He regardeth us not;” “nor will he do to us either good or evil.” They even go further still, and say in their hearts, “There is no God [Note: Psalms 14:1.].” Now, what a base return is this for all the benefits they receive; and what an impiety to deny the Providence, if not also the very existence, of Him, “in whom they live, and move, and have their being!” Truly they are justly called “Atheists in the world [Note: Ephesians 2:12. the Greek.];” and are eminently guilty of the wickedness that is described in my text.]

2. The infidel—

[The revelation which God has given us is a stupendous display of his goodness. In it he has shewn us how we are to obtain his favour; and how, notwithstanding all our past impieties, we may be ultimately saved — — — But many make no other use of the sacred volume, than to hold it up to scorn and derision. They examine it, not to find instruction for their own souls, but rather to find occasion against it. Now, persons of this description do, in fact, tread in the very steps of Judas. He knew the Saviour personally, and availed himself of that knowledge to render his treachery the more effectual for the destruction of his Lord: and these persons acquaint themselves with the Scriptures only with a view to undermine their authority, and destroy their influence in the world.]

3. The hypocrite—

[By assuming the Christian name, we, in effect, declare ourselves servants of Christ. But, behold, the Christian world! wherein do the great mass of them differ from the heathen themselves, except in the performance of some occasional rites, which have no effect whatever upon their character? Persons of this class are ready to condemn others as hypocrites, never once suspecting that they themselves are guilty of the crime which they profess to abhor. Why do they profess to believe the Scriptures, when they will not regulate themselves by them; and “call Christ, Lord, Lord, when they will not do any one thing that he commands?” To “name the name of Christ, whilst they will not depart from iniquity,” is hypocrisy of the basest kind. And of such persons Christendom is full, even of persons “professing that they know God, whilst in works they openly and habitually deny him.”]

4. The apostate—

[Rich is the grace, and sweet the peace, which the Lord Jesus Christ vouchsafes to the returning penitent. Where is there one, upon the face of the whole earth, who did not find him slow to anger, and ready to forgive, yea, to forgive without upbraiding? But yet, how many are drawn aside from the good way, and “leave off to behave themselves wisely!” One, like Demas, is turned aside by the love of this present evil world: another, like the stony-ground hearers, by the fear of persecution: another runs after some vain conceit, and “denies the Lord who bought him.” Never do they reflect what dishonour they do to Christ, or what a base return they make him for all his love. They are intent only, like Judas, on the gratification of their lusts; and they sacrifice him and his interests for a thing of nought. See this man, whoever he may be, who, “after having escaped the pollutions of the world, is again entangled therein and overcome; and say, whether he be not obnoxious to the charge before us,” and awfully accomplishing the prediction in my text.]

Thus extensively is the prediction verified. Let us now consider,

II. What we may learn from the accomplishment of it—

No doubt it is an instructive circumstance that our blessed Lord should be so betrayed by one of his own Disciples. We may surely learn from it,

1. That Christianity must be true—

[Had there been any collusion betwixt Christ and his Disciples, Judas would now most assuredly have made it known. But when he had agreed to betray his Master, he could do nothing more than point out his person: he could not allege any thing against him: he could not divulge any secret confided to him. And after he had betrayed his Master, so far was he from finding in his own mind any thing to justify his conduct, that he went to the chief priests, and confessed that he had betrayed innocent blood: nay more, he cast back the money that he had received, and went away and hanged himself. This was a clear proof, that, as far at least as he knew, there was nothing in Christianity which would not bear the light. If it be said, that the circumstance of our Lord’s being betrayed by one of his own Disciples was suspicious, and tended to cast a reflection on our Lord himself; I answer, that our Lord himself predicted it; and declared it to all the other Apostles, on purpose that, instead of being stumbled at it, they might rather make it an additional ground for believing in him [Note: ver. 19.].]

2. That the falls of its professors afford no just argument against it—

[In all ages of the world have the falls of religious professors afforded occasion to the ungodly to pour contempt on religion itself. The sins of David prompted them, not to condemn David only, but to “blaspheme God himself.” And in the apostolic age, “the way of truth was evil spoken of,” when its adherents did any thing unworthy of their high calling. So at this day, if there be any one of public notoriety or eminence that has conducted himself amiss, the blame is cast, not on him only, but on the Gospel itself; as though that sanctioned, and even promoted, unholy tempers and immoral conduct. But how unreasonable would it be to impute the wickedness of Judas to the principles in which he had been instructed, and to represent Jesus himself as the abettor of such impiety! There was nothing in the doctrines of Christ which could lead to such conduct; and therefore to impute evil to him and to his religion for Judas’ sake, would be as absurd as to impute to the orb of day that darkness which it was created to dispel. The Gospel must be tried by a far different standard: it must stand or fall, not according to the conduct of its professors, but according to its own proper tendencies and effects. It is “a doctrine according to godliness;” and if any walk unworthy of it, the fault is not in it, but in them.]

3. That no man can tell what evil he may perpetrate, if Satan be permitted to assault him—

[Judas, no doubt, was unsound from the beginning: for being, from the first, the depositary of the stock by which our Lord and his Apostles subsisted, he appropriated sums to his own personal use: “he held the bag, and was a thief.” But it was not so with Peter, or the rest of the Apostles; yet he denied his Lord; and all the rest, in his extremity, forsook him. In vain were all their resolutions and engagements when the hour of trial came: and who can tell what he himself may do, if Satan be permitted to assail him. Of all men upon the face of the earth, David was the last whom we should suppose likely to commit the enormous sins of adultery and murder: yet, in the hour of temptation he fell. And there is no man living who has not reason to cry continually, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” To every one amongst you, then, I would say, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” “Be not high-minded but fear.”]

4. That God’s conduct towards us is the very reverse of ours towards him—

[We, “after eating bread with him, are ever ready to lift up our heel against him.” But he, on the contrary, after we have dealt ever so ungratefully towards him, is ever ready to receive us, and to admit us to the most endeared intercouse with him. He has even spread a table for us, even “a feast of fat things, of fat things full of marrow, and wines on the lees well refined;” and he invites us to partake of it. When we ungratefully refuse his invitations, he renews them with greater urgency, and directs his servants to compel us to come in. He sends them into the highways and hedges for this express purpose; and commissions them to declare, that whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast him out. Not sins of a scarlet or a crimson die shall be deemed any disqualification for his favours, if only we will accept his proffered mercy in Christ Jesus. Come then, brethren, into this state of holy intercourse with your gracious God and Saviour. Let not a sense of your past rebellion discourage you. The Prodigal Son is a just image of a returning sinner; and the reception which he met with shall be yours — — —]


Verse 31-32

DISCOURSE: 1681

GOD GLORIFIED IN HIS SON

John 13:31-32. Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.

IF it were asked, at what time, and on what occasion, God and his dear Son were more dishonoured than at any other period of the world, the answer probably would be, that it was in that hour, when, by the united voice of all his own countrymen, the Lord Jesus Christ was delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, to be crucified. Doubtless this would be the judgment of all who viewed that event merely with the eye of sense. But to the eye of faith it will appear in far different colours. The whole design of God in it will then be seen, and all the glory of the Godhead will be found to shine forth in it. This was the judgment of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who, at the moment that Judas went forth for the purpose of betraying him into the hands of the chief priests and rulers, said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.”

In opening to you these most important declarations, I will endeavour to shew what glory accrued from the sufferings of Christ.

I. To the Son himself—

To enter fully into this subject, would occupy far too long a time for one discourse: I must content myself, therefore, with stating, under each head of my discourse, only the more prominent points, for the elucidation of it.

The Lord Jesus Christ was now glorified, in that he was about,

1. To complete his engagements with the Father—

[From all eternity had a council of peace been held between the Father and the Son [Note: Zechariah 6:13.]; the Father agreeing to give to his Son a chosen people; and the Son agreeing, on his part, to assume our nature, and in that nature to offer himself as the substitute and surety of sinful man. The Lord Jesus was first “to make his soul an offering for sin, and then was to see a seed who should prolong their days; and the pleasure of the Lord was to prosper in his hand [Note: Isaiah 53:10.].” The agreement is thus stated by the Psalmist; and thus recorded also by an inspired Apostle, as in part already fulfilled: “When he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me. In burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God [Note: Psalms 40:6-8. with Hebrews 10:5-7.].” But now the time was arrived for its completion. He was now about to endure the whole load of suffering which he had engaged to bear; and he was ready to drink to the very dregs the cup which had been put into his hands. Of the extent of its bitterness no finite imagination could conceive: but, “bloody as the baptism was, wherewith he was to be baptized, he was quite straitened till it should be accomplished [Note: Luke 12:50.].” And in this unshaken fortitude and fidelity he was greatly glorified.]

2. To redeem from death a ruined world—

[This was the end of all his sufferings. They were altogether an atonement made for sin. Without such an atonement no human being could be saved. By it, a way was opened for the salvation of every living man. It was for this that he had become a man: it was for this that he had fulfilled all righteousness: it was for this that he had endured his agony in the garden of Gethsemane: it was for this that he was about to expire upon the cross: and, if only he might “see of the travail of his soul” in the salvation of men, “he was satisfied [Note: Isaiah 53:11.].” This was “the joy that was set before him:” and, for the attainment of it, “he endured the cross, and despised the shame [Note: Hebrews 12:2.];” and rested not till he could say, “It is finished [Note: John 19:30.].” Well, therefore, might he, in the near prospect of these events, say, “Now is the Son of man glorified.”]

We are next to contemplate the glory accruing,

II. To the Father, through the Son—

Now is the Son of Man glorified, and “God is glorified in him.” Here, as before, we must contract our observations to the smallest space, lest we detain you too long. The Father was here greatly honoured,

1. In the display of all his perfections—

[There was not an attribute of the Deity which did not here shine forth in its utmost splendour. His wisdom, in having devised such a stupendous plan for the salvation of men: his love, in having given his only-begotten Son to die for them: his justice, in exacting of him the utmost farthing of their debt: his mercy, in receiving all who should come to him in the name of this divine Saviour. His power, too, was displayed, in upholding his Son under all his various and complicated trials [Note: Isaiah 42:1.], and in enabling him to finish the work he had begun. His holiness, too, was made known, in that not a human being should ever find acceptance with him, but by acknowledging his own desert of condemnation, and pleading the merits of this vicarious sacrifice. All these perfections were now made to harmonize, and every one of them to reflect a glory on the rest: a glory of which it would never have been susceptible, if this plan had not been devised and executed for the manifestation of it.]

2. In the accomplishment of all his purposes—

[Salvation may be considered as originating with the Father, who sent his Son for the attainment of it. For the fallen angels he prepared no such mercy: but for the sons of men he determined to execute this stupendous plan, that so mercy might be exercised towards them in consistency with the demands of justice, and holiness, and truth. And all was now brought to maturity. Justice was about to be satisfied for the sins of the whole world, and a jubilee was now to be proclaimed to every child of man. Now all the millions of the redeemed stood, as it were by anticipation, around his throne, and gave him glory, such as had not yet been given from the foundation of the world: and this glory was obtained for him through the intervention of his Son: so that it might well be said, that, whilst the Son himself was glorified, the Father was glorified in him.]

We have yet further to notice the glory added,

III. To the Son, by and with the Father—

The Father now, in his turn, glorified his Son:

1. In the testimonies borne to him under his sufferings—

[Not only did several of our Lord’s enemies proclaim his innocence, but universal nature bore witness to him. The sun at mid-day veiled his face in darkness; the earth quaked; the rocks rent; the dead arose: and all in attestation, that the person who had just expired was no other than our incarnate God. To these events our Lord more immediately referred, when he said, “He shall straightway glorify him.”]

2. In the triumphant issue of them—

[It seemed as if the Saviour was vanquished, when he died: but it was “by death that he overcame him that had the power of death, that is, the devil [Note: Hebrews 2:14.].” Yes, upon the very cross itself “he spoiled principalities and powers, triumphing over them openly in it [Note: Colossians 2:15.].” In vain were the stone, the seal, the watch: they were placed by man, to prevent his resurrection; but, overruled by God, to attest it. In the presence of no less than five hundred brethren at once did he ascend to heaven; from whence he sent down the Holy Ghost to bear witness to him, by mighty signs and wonders that were wrought by his Apostles in his name. Our Lord had said of the Holy Spirit, “He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you [Note: John 16:14.]:” and agreeably to this prediction did the Holy Spirit descend at the appointed time, and impart to the Apostles such powers as had never been communicated since the foundation of the world. Jesus himself, too, was then invested with all power in heaven and in earth, as the reward of his own sufferings [Note: Philippians 2:9.], and for the benefit of those for whom he died: and together with the Father is he made the object of adoration amongst all the hosts of heaven. Hereafter, too, shall he come again to judge the world, and shall assign to all, whether friends or enemies, their proper portion.]

3. In the benefits conferred in consideration of them—

[Speedily after his ascension were not less than three thousand souls converted to him, and all the blessings of salvation were poured out upon them for his sake. From that day great numbers, in every quarter of the globe, have found mercy through him: millions are already seated with him upon thrones of glory, as monuments of his grace: millions, too, are at this very moment rejoicing in him upon earth: and, in due time, multitudes, countless as the sands upon the sea-shore, will glory in him as the one Author of their happiness; and will to all eternity adore him, as having “loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and made them kings and priests unto their God.” They will all unite in ascribing “salvation to God and to the Lamb for ever and ever.”

Thus, whilst the Father is glorified in him, shall he himself also be glorified by, and with, the Father, as the Redeemer and Saviour of the world.]

Let me now, in conclusion, entreat you, my brethren, to be like-minded with God, and to glorify the Lord Jesus,

1. By an humble affiance in him—

[In this is he glorified, as much as by the saints before his throne. This is what he expects at our hands. This he regards as answering the end of all that he has done and suffered for us. Go then to him, brethren, with all your sins. Let nothing keep you from him. Never, for a moment, limit either his grace or mercy; but believe him “able to save to the uttermost all that shall come unto God by him.” Expect also from him all those supplies of grace and peace which are needful for you in this vale of tears. Let your expectations be enlarged to the full extent of your own necessities, and to the full extent also of all his great and precious promises. This is to glorify him: as he has said, “All mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them [Note: John 17:10.].”]

2. By an entire surrender of yourselves to him—

[This also is required of you: “You are not your own: you have been bought with a price: and therefore you should glorify him with your bodies and your spirits, which are his [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.].” Our Lord himself has said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit [Note: John 15:8.].” And I may add, that herein is Jesus glorified also. Let it be seen, then, what the effect of his sufferings is, and what is the redemption that he has purchased for you. This is the way to honour him: this is the recompence he expects at your hands. And if you glorify him thus in this world, you shall assuredly be “glorified together with him” in the world to come.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on John 13:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/john-13.html. 1832.


Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, August 20th, 2017
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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