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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

John 12

Verse 1

On the tenth day of the month the Jews were accustomed to collect the lambs, and other things in preparation for the ensuing great feast. On this day, likewise, they generally had a small feast, or treat for their friends, at which time Jesus coming to Bethania, joined his friends in their entertainment. This was most likely in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha served at the table herself, thinking herself happy in waiting on Jesus, whom she considered as her Lord and God. Lazarus was one of them that were at table, to shew himself alive, by speaking and eating with them, and thus confounding the inexcusable incredulity of the Jews. And Mary too shewed her loving attachment to Jesus, by anointing his feet with her precious ointment. (Theophylactus, St. Augustine, and St. John Chrysostom)

Verse 6

Judas did not then begin to be wicked: he followed Christ, not in heart, but in body only. This our Master tolerated, to give us a lesson to tolerate the bad, rather than divide the body. (St. Augustine, in Joan. tract. 50.)

Verse 8

Me you have not always with you. He speaks of his corporal presence; for by his majesty, by his providence, by his ineffable and invincible grace, he ever fulfils what he said, (Matthew xxviii.) Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (St. Augustine, tract. 50 in Joan.)

Verse 10

To kill Lazarus. A foolish thought, says St. Augustine, as if Christ who had raised him to life from a natural death, could not also restore him to life, when murdered by them. (Witham) --- O foolish thought, and blinded rage! As if you could, by putting Lazarus to death, take away power from the Lord; as if Christ, who had already raised one that had died, could not as easily have raised one that was slain. But, lo! he has done both. Lazarus dead, he hath restored to life, and himself slain, he hath raised to life. (St. Augustine, tract 50. in Joan.)

Verse 19

Do you see that we prevail nothing? [1] Thus said the Pharisees, being vexed that so many followed Christ, even after they had ordered, that whosoever owned him, should be turned out of their synagogues; and after they had employed men to apprehend him, but to no purpose. (Witham)

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Quia nihil proficimus. In most Greek copies, and also in St. John Chrysostom, we read: you see that you prevail nothing; as if these words had been spoken by some of Christ's friends, to make his adversaries desist. Greek: Theoreite oti ouk opheleite ouden.

Verse 20

Gentiles ... come up to adore. These either were proselytes who had been Gentiles, and now had embraced the Jewish law: or they were such among the Gentiles, who owned and served the one true God, as Cornelius did, (Acts, chap. x.) but did not submit themselves to circumcision, and all the other Jewish rites and ceremonies. These could only enter into that part of the temple, called the court of the Gentiles. (Witham)

Verse 24

Unless the grain of wheat. The comparison is this, that as the seed must be changed, and corrupted in the ground, before it fructify, so the world would not be converted but by Christ's death. (Witham) --- By this grain of corn our Saviour means himself, who was to die by the infidelity of the Jews, and be multiplied by the faith of the Gentiles. (St. Augustine, tract. 51. in Joan.)

Verse 26

We must minister to Jesus by seeking not our own things, but the things of Christ; that is; we must follow him, we must walk in his footsteps, we must perform the corporal works of mercy, and every other good work, for his sake, till we come to put in practice the most perfect act of charity, the laying down our lives for our brethren. Then will he crown us with the greatest of rewards, the happiness of reigning with him. And where I am, there shall my minister be. (St. Augustine, tract. 51. in Joan.)

Verse 27

Now is my soul troubled. Christ permitted this fear and horror to come upon his human nature, as he did afterwards in the garden of Gethsemani. Father, save me from this hour; yet he presently adds, but for this cause I came unto this hour; that is, I came into this world for this end, that I might die on a cross for all mankind. In like manner, when he had said in the garden, let this cup pass from me, he presently joined these words: but not my will, but thine be done. (Witham) --- Lest the disciples, upon hearing our Saviour exhorting them willingly and courageously to suffer death, should think within themselves, that he could well exhort them to these things, being himself beyond the reach of human misery, he assures them in this place, that he himself is in agony, and yet does not refuse to die for them. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxvi. in Joan.)

Verse 28

Father, glorify thy name, by my sufferings and death, as well as by many miracles that shall follow. A voice came from heaven, and so loud, that some there present compared it to thunder: and at the same time these words were heard: I have glorified it, thy name, and I will glorify it again, by a number of ensuing miracles at Christ's death, at his resurrection and ascension, as well as by all those miracles, which the apostles and disciples wrought afterwards. (Witham)

Verse 30

As the soul of Christ was troubled, not on his own account, but for the sake of the people; so this voice came from heaven, not for his sake, but for that of the people. What it announced was already known to him; the advantage and instruction of the Jews was its end, object, and motive. (St. Augustine, 52. tract. in Joan.)

Verse 31

Now is the judgment of the world: their condemnation, says St. John Chrysostom, for not believing. --- The prince of this world, that is, the devil, shall be cast out from that great tyranny, which he had over mankind, before Christ's incarnation. (Witham) --- By these words Christ informs the Gentiles that wished to see him, that soon he would punish the incredulous Jews, and cast off their synagogue, for their malice and insatiable hatred against him; and that the prince of this world, that is, the worship of idols, should be destroyed, and all called to the true faith. (Calmet)

Verse 32

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth: that is, on the cross. See the same expression, John iii. 14. and viii. 28. --- I will draw all things, all nations, to myself by faith. (Witham)

Verse 34

How sayest thou the Son of man must be lifted up? By these words of the people, Christ, in this discourse must have called himself the Son of man, though it is not here mentioned by the evangelist. The people also tell him, they had heard that their Messias was to abide for ever: which was true as to his spiritual kingdom of grace, not as to such a glorious temporal kingdom, as they imagined. (Witham)

Verse 35

Yet a little while, [2] that is, for a very few days, I, who am the light of the world, am with you. (Witham) --- How much do the Jews now do, and yet they know not what they do: but like men that are walking in the dark, they think they are in the right way, when alas! they are quite the contrary. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxvi. in Joan.)

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Adhuc modicum lumen in vobis est, Greek: eti mikron chronon, to phos meth umon esti. They mistake, who take modicum for an adjective, that agrees with lumen.

Verse 39

They could not believe, [3] that is, they would not, says St. Augustine, or it could not be, considering their wilful obstinate blindness. (Witham) --- But where then is the sin, if they could not believe? They could not believe, because they would not. For as it is the glory of the will of God, that it cannot be averse to its own glory, so it is the fault of the will of man, that it cannot believe. (St. Augustine, tract. 53. in Joan.) They could not believe. Since the prophet has foretold it, and he cannot but say the truth, it is impossible that they should now believe. Not but they had it in their power to believe; and had they believed, the prophet would never have foretold the contrary. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxvii. in Joan.)

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Non poterant credere. St. Augustine (tract. 53.) Quare autem non potuerunt, si a me qu'e6ratur, cito respondeo, quia nolebant.

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Verse 40

He hath blinded their eyes, &c. See Matthew xiii. 14. (Witham) --- God blinded the Jews, not by filling them with malice, but by refusing them his graces, of which they had made themselves unworthy, and which they before abused and despised. It was their perverse will, their pride, presumption, and obstinacy, that brought on them this judgment. (St. Augustine)

Verse 43

For they loved the glory of men. This was one of the chief obstacles of their belief: yet many even of the chief of them believed in him; but durst not own it for fear of being disgraced, and turned out of their synagogues. Do not human considerations, and temporal advantages, hinder men from seeking out, and embracing the truth?

Verse 45

He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. In what sense these words are true, see John xiv. ver. 9. where they are repeated again, and with other expressions to the same sense. (Witham)

Verse 47

I do not judge him. To judge here, may signify to condemn. St. Augustine expounds it in this manner: I do not judge him at this my first coming. St. John Chrysostom says, it is not I only that judgeth him, but the works also that I do.

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 12". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/john-12.html. 1859.