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The Lord Jesus is at a Supper. Mary anointeth his Feet. He entereth Jerusalem, as foretold by the Prophet. He maketh a very blessed Discourse; and is answered by a Voice from Heaven.
Then Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. (2) There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. (3) Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (4) Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, (5) Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? (6) This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (7) Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. (8) For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. (9) Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. (10) But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; (11) Because t h at by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
The Passover here mentioned, was the fourth during our Lord's ministry. Jesus was looking forward to it with peculiar satisfaction; and he very earnestly wished to eat it with his disciples before his death. Luke 22:15 . With the celebration of this Passover, the ordinance of it was to cease forever. Christ, the substance, being come, to which it all along ministered; the shadow died away. Heb 9:26 ; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ; Colossians 2:17 .
I hope the Reader will pause with me to remark, with what earnestness those lovers of Jesus sought after his company. Here were two Suppers made for Christ, in one week; and both in Bethany. This, here spoken of, at the house of Lazarus and his sisters; which was six days before the Passover. And that, at the house of Simon the Leper, which was but two days preceding it. Compare Matthew 26:2-6 , with what is here said. The Reader, if he be a lover of Jesus, will not be surprized, that the company of the Lord should be so sought after. See how the Church longed for it! Song of Solomon 1:13; Song of Solomon 1:13 . See how the faithful individual in the Church desired it. Psalms 101:2 . See how Jesus hath all along promised it to his people. Revelation 3:20 ; Song of Solomon 5:2 .
There is somewhat beautifully interesting, in the account given of Mary, anointing the feet of Christ. I feel a certain undescribable pleasure, while I read it. What a wonderful condescension in Christ, when it be considered who Christ is! What a privilege to the woman, when considered who she was! There are in it, many things which interest our feelings, as we read the relation. And very sure I am, had it not been in itself important, never would it have been recorded, and handed down as it is, through all ages by the Holy Ghost, for the mediation of the Church of God. Jesus himself took notice of that instance of it, which took place in the house of Simon the leper; and declared that it should be as memorable as his Gospel. See Matthew 26:7-13 . And the Lord appears to have taken equal pleasure, in the instance of the poor woman, which anointed his feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee. See Luke 7:37 .
It may not be amiss to remark, that though some, through mistake, have confounded those acts of the Maries, as if they were one and the same; yet very certain it is, that they were different persons, and the acts themselves were at different times, and places, and upon different occasions. Mary the sister of Lazarus, as this scripture relates, anointed Christ's feet. The other woman, (if her name was Mary, for it is not said,) which anointed Christ, in the house of Simon the leper, poured the costly ointment on his head. And both these again, differed from the instance recorded Luke 7:37 . For that was in the house of Simon the Pharisee. And both the former were in Bethany: this latter in Galilee. Perhaps the mistake arose from the name of Simon. For Jesus was anointed twice in the house of Simon. But then it was not the same house, nor the same person. The one was Simon the Pharisee, and the other Simon the Leper. So that it is most clear and evident there were three of those anointings of the Lord Jesus, while upon earth.
But while I thought it right to put this matter in a clear light; I think it yet more to our purpose, to consider, as far as we have ability to do so, under divine teaching, what may be supposed as veiled under it. Jesus hath informed the Church, in relation to one of those acts, that it was an anointing for his burial. Matthew 26:12-13 . Probably, Mary herself had no consciousness of this, when she found her mind prompted to the deed. And how often are the Lord's people under such influences, in administering to the mystical body of Christ; and they themselves not in the least apprehensive of it? One thing is certain. Jesus hath noticed such love tokens in his people. And blessedly the Church speaks of her enjoyments, when in those hallowed seasons, she found her soul going forth in the exercises of faith and love, upon the Person of Christ; and when her Spikenard sent forth the smell of those graces the Lord had given her, while the king himself sat at the table! Song of Solomon 3:11 . There is much in the expression; the house filled with the odour of the ointment. Christ's house, the Church, both in heaven and on earth, is filled with the odour of his Person. Song of Solomon 1:3 .
On the next day, much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, (13) Took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord! (14) And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, (15) Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh sitting on an ass's colt.
(16) These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
(17) The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
(18) For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
In addition to what was offered by way of observation, on the similar passage to this, on our Lord's entrance into Jerusalem, Matthew 21:0 , to which I refer: I would beg to remark, (and to remark it with suitable emphasis) that the Hosannas, which were offered to Jesus, could be offered to him in no other light, but as the Christ of God. The words were applicable to none but Christ. For the Psalmist, under the spirit of prophecy, a thousand years before, so expressed himself. Psalms 8:0 with Hebrews 2:6-9 ; Psalms 118:25-26 . with Acts 4:11-12 . And the recollection, which the disciples are said to have had of those things in the after day of the Church, when their understanding had been opened by the coming of the Holy Ghost; very decidedly proves, that the sole application of those words, and the scriptures referring to them, could be to no other than the Lord Jesus. Reader! I entreat you to be very cheery of those things; their testimony is precious! John 14:26; John 14:26 ; Acts 1:8 .
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. (20) And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: (21) The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. (22) Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
The Reader, if his views are at all in correspondence with mine, will not be offended that I so often call him, to remark the awful character of those Pharisees. It is not surely without design, that God the Holy Ghost hath interspersed so much of their history, worthless as it is, with that of Christ, which is so infinitely endearing; but with an eye to the Church's improvement. The Lord knew, that such characters from generation to generation would arise, like weeds, in the garden of the Church; and scatter their baleful seed in every direction. The Lord therefore hath marked their prominent appearances, that they may be everlastingly distinguished from plants of the Lord's right hand planting, and separated from what is pure. Ye shall know them by their fruits. They profess great sanctity of character, great zeal for promoting their own tenets, they long to proselyte the world; they abound, or would have the world suppose they abound, in good deeds, alms-giving, and unbounded charity. But in the same moment, they burn with the bitterest rancour of heart against that faith in Christ, as their forefathers, the Pharisees in Christ's days, did before them; which hangs the whole of salvation upon the Person, Blood, and Righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ only. They desire it may be considered, that they profess Christ, and hope to be saved by Christ: but they consider their good works, as partly recommendations. To rob them of these, would be like Micah's gods taken from him, having nothing left. Judges 18:24 . They have never known, neither felt, the plague of their own hearts; and therefore are more in enmity against the faith once delivered to the saints, than the openly profane. May the Lord the Spirit, who hath so graciously watched over his Church, in holding forth so frequently the awful history of such men, keep his people from being tainted with their doctrine. Luke 12:1 .
And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. (24) Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (25) He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (26) If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
What a blessed discourse we have of our Lord's in those few, but striking verses! All the great events approaching, no doubt arose to the view of his divine mind. And never surely did the glory of Jesus break forth with equal lustre during the whole of his ministry upon earth, than in the garden and on the cross. The triumphs of the Son of God incarnate, in those seasons, far exceeded all the miracles of his former ministry. It was by death, Jesus conquered death. He was indeed crucified in weakness; but in that weakness, sin, death, hell, and the grave, were overcome. The Lord entered their territories, and destroyed their empire forever. Then was that glorious prophecy fulfilled, which ages before, the Lord had spoken by the Prophet: I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. Zechariah 3:9 .
If I trespass a little longer on the Reader's time, in meditating on these sweet verses of our Lord; it shall only be to observe, the beauty of that similitude which the Lord Jesus was pleased to make use of, in allusion to his own death; when describing it, under the figure of a corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying, thereby to bring forth much fruit. And if it be true, as it is said, that corn is nearly the only grain, if not the only, which must die before it can take root: the image is yet more beautiful and express. And if it be further true, as it is said, that pure corn falling into a moist and favourable soil, begins to put on the appearance of a change the third day from the time sown, the figure increaseth in its similarity, considered as to the third day, Christ arose from the dead. But passing by these things, I beg the Reader to attend to such points in the similitude, as are most obvious and unquestionable.
When our Lord saith, that except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, Jesus did not mean that wheat falls by accident and without design, into the earth. For corn is too highly prized, and in itself too highly valuable, to be thus dealt with. The Husbandman, who is said to wait for the precious fruit of the earth; is also supposed to observe seed time and harvest. For his God (saith the Prophet,) doth instruct him to discretion. See James 5:7 ; Genesis 8:22 ; Isaiah 28:24-29 . And Christ, that one, single, pure, and invaluable grain of Corn, did not fall into the ground of our nature, nor die to bring forth fruit to his Church, without design; for the whole of his mission was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. My Father (saith Jesus,) is the Husbandman. Acts 2:23 ; John 15:1 .
And as corn wheat is the most precious of all grain, so our nature in the Person of Christ, is the most precious of all seed. He is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. Hebrews 7:26 . And as the bread which perisheth with using, is necessary to support our bodies, and therefore called the staff of life: so Christ the living bread which came down from heaven, is essential to give life to our souls: and therefore called the bread of life. Jesus saith, he that eateth of it shall live forever. And, to add no more; as the corn of the earth must be bruised, in order to be worked up into food for our natural life; so it pleased the Father to bruise Christ, and put him to grief, that he might become the true sustenance for our spiritual life, that we might eat and live forever. Isaiah 53:10 . Yea, so very necessary is it that all his mystical body should eat of this bread, that Jesus himself saith; Except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
John 6:1 . But in relation to his body the Church: she must have remained without the possibility of recovery, in the awful state of the dead in trespasses and sins, in which the whole nature was involved by the means of Adam's transgression; and so must have continued unawakened, unregenerated, unrenewed, and without hope, and without God forever. Reader! pause over the subject. Behold the love of God in Christ which passeth all understanding. God the Father will not suffer those whom he hath given to his dear Son thus to perish. God the Son will not leave his spouse the Church, notwithstanding all her adulteries, so to be everlastingly ruined. God the Holy Ghost will regenerate the Church, whom he hath loved in Christ before all worlds. Jesus, therefore, the pure, the single grain of corn, falls into the ground, and by dying, brings forth fruit; yea a full complete harvest, of every individual seed, which were his seed from all eternity: and finally gathers the whole into the garner of heaven. Oh! the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments; and his ways past finding out. Romans 11:33 ; Psalms 126:5-6 ; Isaiah 59:21 ; Matthew 13:24-52 .
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour, but for this cause came I unto this hour. (28) Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. (29) The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. (30) Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
In reading the first of these verses, in consequence of the words of the Lord Jesus being improperly marked in the stops, the sense is apt to be overlooked. The Lord speaks of his soul being troubled. And, as the words are in our Bibles, it seems to convey an idea, as if the Lord was at a loss what to say. And what shall I say? But this could not be the case. He, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, could never pause, by way of considering what to say. Neither do our Lord's words convey any such meaning, when the words themselves are placed as they ought to have been. Now is my soul troubled. And what. Shall I say Father save me from this hour? As if the Lord had said. Now is my soul troubled. And what if it be so. Shall I call upon the Father to save me from this hour? Oh! no. This were to defeat the very purpose for which I came. But for this cause came I unto this hour. I will therefore say, Father glorify thy Name. By reading the verse in this manner, we have the whole rendered perfectly clear and intelligible, And what a blessed view, the words give us of the Lord Jesus, at this solemn season. He had in full prospect before him, those tremendous exercises both of body and soul, which as the Head and Surety of his people, he had to go through. He felt, all that human nature could feel, upon the occasion. (See Hebrews 5:7-9 ) But in the midst of all, nothing of personal sorrow would he allow to stand in the way to obstruct the divine glory. Yea, the Lord intimated by his expressions, that in those humiliations, the divine glory should be the more manifested.
And the answer from heaven became the most blessed confirmation of what Christ had said. I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. This was the third time, during our Lord's ministry upon earth, in which God the Father had publicly proclaimed his perfect approbation to the Person, and Office-work, as Mediator, of his dear Son. Once, at Christ's entrance upon it at his baptism, Matthew 3:16-17 . Once again at Mount Tabor, at the transfiguration. Matthew 17:5 . And now just before the close of his ministry, in the garden, and at the cross. I beg the Reader to ponder the subject well, for it is most blessed. All the words of the Lord are precious words, when at any time he speaks in love and mercy to his Church. But those are eminently so, in which God the Father, or God the Holy Ghost, speak to Christ as Mediator. For they confirm Christ's authority, and prove that he was called of God, to be the servant and High Priest of Jehovah, as was Aaron. Hebrews 5:4-5 . The perfection of Christ's person, and the perfection of his office, as our surety, are blessed things. But it forms a most essential part to our assurance in pleading both before God, when we can and do tell him, that the Lord himself both ordained the plan of mercy, and consecrated Christ his dear Son into the office of performing it. For when Christ took both the names and the nature of his people, to bear their sins, and to become their righteousness; the whole was in consequence of covenant-agreement between the persons of the Godhead. Hence the Church is represented as pleading this in prayer, and in which every child of God, truly taught of God, finds joy and comfort to join. Behold, O God! our shield! and look upon the face of thine anointed! Psalms 84:9 .
In relation to the soul-troubles of Christ, and God's glorifying his name in Christ; these are subjects in which our most earnest enquiries go but a little way. Who indeed can be competent to the apprehension of the soul agonies of the Redeemer, when the frowns and rebukes of his Father, as the Sinner's Surety, went so near, as he saith himself, to break his heart, Psalms 69:20 . And we must be possessed of somewhat more than human, or even angelic intellect, before we can enter into an apprehension of the full extent of the glory of Jehovah's name, in the great events connected with the person and offices of Christ. It may not be improper, however, to attend to the scriptural account of this wonderful subject, in order to gather some few glimpses of the Lord's manifested glory, when in answer to Christ's prayer for the glorifying of his name, the Lord said, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
That Jehovah in his three-fold character of person can receive no possible addition to his essential glory, by any act of his creatures, is a truth which both Scripture and reason loudly confirm. The everlasting obedience of the whole creation of God, had it been so without interruption, could not have added to God's glory. Yea, the obedience and death of Christ did not. For the being and glory of Jehovah is incapable of accession or increase. And hence Christ himself, under the spirit of prophecy, saith, My goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight. Psalms 16:2-3 . But, there is a glory which the Lord hath been pleased to manifest of himself, in his three-fold character of person, in covenant engagements towards the Church, whereby his name is glorified in every display of it, when at any time the Lord is pleased to make it known in any of the departments of nature, providence, and grace. And it is in this sense we are to consider the words of the Lord, when in answer to Christ's prayer, God the Father said, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again,
And hath not the Lord done so, in all the revelations he hath been pleased to make of himself, in his three-fold character of person, when in Christ, God-Man united, he hath communicated all that is capable of communication, in relation to his love to the Church from all eternity? Hath he not glorified himself to our apprehension, in the personal glory put upon Christ, as God-Man, when before a single revelation was made of him to the Church, yea, before the Church had been called into being, in this time-state of her existence, Christ was set up from everlasting, the wonder of heaven, the adoration of angels, and the present, future, and eternal praise of all his saints? Proverbs 8:22-23 ; Isaiah 9:6 ; Hebrews 1:6 ; Psalms 148:14 .
And, to come down to the time-state of the Church, when we behold with what a vast apparatus Jehovah introduced Christ into the world, commanding all the angels to worship him, and the Church to love and adore him, what greater demonstrations could be given of Jehovah's glorifying his name, than in such decided tokens of glory? In short, what is the Bible itself, from beginning to end, but one continued manifestation of Jehovah's glory, set forth and magnified in all the riches of it, in the Person, Work, Offices, Relations, and Characters of the Lord Jesus Christ? And what but Jehovah's glory is the ultimate object of the innumerable instances of love shewn to the Church in the Father's favor, the Redeemer's grace, and the communion and fellowship of the Holy Ghost? Revelation 4:11 .
And, as in every manifestation Jehovah hath glorified his name in all that is past, so will he glorify it again in all that is to come. Particularly in reference (as this scripture might be supposed to have in view) to what remained, in the personal work and offices of Christ. God's glory had been displayed in the whole of Christ's ministry to the present hour, and God the Father engaged that it should be to the end . And when did ever the glory of God shine with more lustre than in the day of Christ on the cross, when he made his soul an offering for sin. Reader! let you and I attend to those gracious words of our God and Father to his dear Son, as they relate to the divine glory in Jesus Christ; and then, under the Holy Ghost's teaching, we shall have a more sure word to take heed to, than all our own reasoning's, or all those men here spoken of debated upon, whether it thundered, or whether it was an angel which spake to Jesus.
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (32) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me, (33) This he said, signifying what death he should die.
I only pause over those verses to remark, what a beautiful correspondence there is between what the Lord Jesus here saith of divine drawing, and the uniform language of scripture on this point. The gracious act belongs to the whole persons of the Godhead, and every poor sinner drawn to Christ hath the witness in himself that it is so. Read these scriptures in proof. Jeremiah 31:3 ; John 6:63; John 6:63 ; 1 John 5:7 .
The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? (35) Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. (36) While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. (37) But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: (38) That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? (39) Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, (40) He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. (41) These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. (42) Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: (43) For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. (45) And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. (46) I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (47) And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. (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. (50) And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
I have only to lament that the limits of a Poor Man's Commentary will not grant me the indulgence to enlarge as I could wish on this very blessed discourse of Christ. Every verse, more or less, is full of divine instructions. But I will only detain the Reader on that part of it which respects the vision of Esaias, which is here most decidedly declared to be the glory of Christ which he saw. And the Reader will observe, that the observation is not the Evangelist's, but God the Holy Ghost's. In proof, I beg of him first to read the Prophet's own account of it, Isaiah 6:0 . Then I wish him to consult Acts 28:26-27 . And when he hath done both these things, let the Reader himself determine what less than the glory of God could have been set forth in the presence of Christ, in that vision which the Prophet saw. The train of the Lord, which filled the temple, was a beautiful representation of God in his divine nature filling the temple of Christ's body, agreeably to what the Holy Ghost hath said, that in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:9 . God the Holy Ghost be praised and adored; first, for explaining to the Church the Prophet's vision; and, secondly, in causing it to be recorded for the everlasting instruction and comfort of the Church in all ages.
Ponder well, my soul, the many blessed things contained in this chapter concerning thy God and Savior. And while thou beholdest the gracious condescension of Jesus in the days of his flesh, granting his sweet presence and divine discourses, in supping with his people, as in the house of Lazarus, and Simon the Leper; do not for a moment question, but that now, in the day of his power, he will come, as he hath said, and sup with his people, and cause them by faith to sup with him. And what though thou hast no costly ointment, as Mary had, to anoint thy Lord's feet, yet, when Jesus comes, he will bring everything that is blessed with him. Remember, that thy Lord comes not to receive, but to give, not that He may be made more blessed, for that is impossible, but that thou mayest be made more happy. It is enough when through his grace enabling them, his people lay low at his feet, and while the king sitteth at the table of his own providing, he will cause the spikenard of his own graces, called forth into exercise from thine heart by his Holy Spirit, to send forth the smell thereof
Blessed Lord Jesus! may I never forget that soul trouble of thine which is here spoken of! Give me grace to meditate on the wondrous subject. Oh! for a solemnity of soul always suited to the contemplation. The very recollection is enough to damp all unsuited and unbecoming lightness of mind at all times. Did Jesus feel soul-heaviness on the account of his redeemed, and shall they be light minded? Did Jesus groan, and shall I be unconcerned? Blessed be my God and Father, who so graciously answered his dear Son by a voice from heaven. And blessed be the Lord for his mercy to all his redeemed by the act, since it came for their sakes. And oh! for grace, to rejoice with a joy unspeakable, and full of glory, in what God the Father then declared to his dear Son, concerning his Mediator-office and character, that the Lord had glorified his name, and will glorify it again, yea, forever! And blessed be God for that precious assurance, more precious than the gold of Ophir, it was the glory of Christ, which Esaias saw when he spake of Him. It is, and everlastingly must be the glory of Christ, which is the joy of all his people. Oh! thou dear Lord! write these blessed words of thine in my heart, to lift up my soul with joy forever: I am come (saith my Lord,) a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me shall not abide in darkness.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on John 12". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter