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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels
John 12

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-11

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 odor of the ointment. 4. Then says 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 clay of my burying has she kept this. 8. For the poor always you have with you; but me you 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 that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

ALCUIN. As the time approached in which our Lord had resolved to suffer, He approached the place which He had chosen for the scene of His suffering: Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany. First, He went to Bethany, then to Jerusalem; to Jerusalem to suffer, to Bethany to keep alive the recollection of the recent resurrection of Lazarus; Where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.

THEOPHYL. On the tenth day of the month they took the lamb which was to be sacrificed on the passover, and from that time began the preparation for the feast. Or rather the ninth day of the month, i.e. six days before the passover, was the commencement of the feast. They feasted abundantly on that day.

Thus we find Jesus partook of a banquet at Bethany: There they made Him a supper, and Martha served. That Martha served, shows that the entertainment was in her house. See the fidelity of the woman: she does not leave the task of serving to the domestics, but takes it upon herself. The Evangelist adds, in order, it would seem, to settle Lazarus, resurrection beyond dispute, But Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.

AUG. He lived, talked, feasted; the truth was established, the unbelief of the Jews confounded.

CHRYS. Mary did not take part in serving the guests generally, but gave all her attention to our Lord, treating Him not as mere man, but as God: Then took Mary, a pound of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.

AUG. The word pistici seems to be the name of some place, from which this precious ointment came.

ALCUIN. Or pistici means genuine, non-adulterated. She is the woman that was a sinner, who came to our Lord in Simon"s house with the box of ointment.

AUG. That she did this on another occasion in Bethany is not mentioned in Luke"s Gospel, but is in the other three. Matthew and Mark say that the ointment was poured on the head, John says, on the feet. Why not suppose that it was poured both on the head, and on the feet? Matthew and Mark introduce the supper and the ointment out of place in the order of time (Matthew 26:9 and Mark 14:3). When they are some way farther on in their narration, they go back to the sixth day before the passover. And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.

AUG. Remember the Apostle"s words: To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life (2 Corinthians 11:16).

AUG. Then said one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon"s son, which should betray Him,

Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? In the other Gospels it is the disciples who murmured at the waste of the ointment. I think myself that Judas is put for the whole body of disciples; the singular for the plural. But at any rate we may supply for ourselves, that the other disciples said it, or thought it, or were persuaded by this very speech of Judas.

The only difference is, that Matthew and Mark expressly mention the concurrence of the others, whereas John only mentions Judas, whose habit of thieving He takes occasion to notice: 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.

ALCUIN. He carried it as a servant, he took it out as a thief.

AUG. Judas did not perish at the time when he received money from the Jews to betray our Lord. He was already a thief, already lost, and followed our Lord in body, not in heart; wherein we are taught the duty of tolerating wicked men, lest we divide the body of Christ.

He who robs the Church of anything may be compared to the lost Judas. Tolerate the wicked, you that are good, that you may receive the reward of the good, and not fall into the punishment of the wicked. Follow the example of our Lord"s conversation upon earth. Wherefore had He bags, to whom the Angels ministered, except because His Church should afterwards have bags?

Why did He admit thieves, but to show that His Church should tolerate thieves, while it suffered from them. It is not surprising that Judas, who was accustomed to steal money from the bags, should betray our Lord for money.

CHRYS. But why was a thief entrusted with the bags of the poor? Perhaps it was to give him no excuse of wanting), money, for of this he had enough in the bag for all his desires.

THEOPHYL. Some suppose that Judas had the keeping of the money, as being the lowest kind of service. For that the ministry of money matters ranks below the ministry of doctrine, we know from what the Apostle says in the Acts, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables (Acts 6:2).

CHRYS. Christ, with great forbearance, does not rebuke Judas for his thieving, in order to deprive him of all excuse for betraying Him.

ALCUIN. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the clay of My burying has she kept this: meaning that He was about to die, and that this ointment was suitable for His burial. So to Mary who was not able to be present, though much wishing, at the anointing of the dead body, was it given to do Him this office in His lifetime.

CHRYS. Again, as if to remind His betrayer, He alludes to His burial; For the poor you have always with you, but Me you have not always: as if He said, I am a burden, a trouble to you; but wait a little, and I shall be gone.

AUG. He was speaking of His bodily presence; for in respect of His majesty, providence, ineffable and invisible grace, those words are fulfilled, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). Or thus: In the person of Judas are represented the wicked in the Church; for if you are a good man, you have Christ now by faith, and the Sacrament, and you shall have Him always, for when you have departed hence, you shall go to Him who said to the thief, Today shall thou be with Me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

But if you are wicked, you seem to have Christ, because you are baptized with the baptism of Christ, because you approach to the altar of Christ: but by reason of your wicked life, you shall not have Him always. It is not you (singular) have, but you (plural) have, the whole body of wicked men being addressed in Judas.

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. Curiosity brought them, not love.

THEOPHYL. They wished to see with their own eyes him who had been raised from the dead, and thought that Lazarus might bring back a report of the regions below.

AUG. When the news of this great miracle had spread everywhere, and was supported by such clear evidence, that they could neither suppress or deny the fact, then, The chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus to death. O blind rage! as if the Lord could raise the dead, and not raise the slain. Lo, the Lord has done both. He raised Lazarus, and He raised Himself.

CHRYS. No other miracle of Christ excited such rage as this. It was so public, and so wonderful, to see a man walking and talking after he had been dead four days. And the fact was so undeniable. In the case of some other miracles they had charged Him with breaking the Sabbath, and so diverted people"s minds: but here there was nothing to find fault with, and therefore they vent their anger upon Lazarus.

They would have done the same to the blind man, had they not had the charge to make of breaking the Sabbath. Then again the latter was a poor man, and they cast him out of the temple, but Lazarus was a man of rank, as is plain from the number who came to comfort his sisters. It vexed them to see all leaving the feast, which was now coming on, and going to Bethany.

ALCUIN. Mystically, that He came to Bethany six days before the passover, means, that He who made all things in six days, who created man on the sixth, in the sixth age of the world, the sixth day, the sixth hour, came to redeem mankind. The Lord"s Supper is the faith of the Church, working by love. Martha serves, whenever a believing soul devotes itself to the worship of the Lord.

Lazarus is one of them that sit at table, when those who have been raised from the death of sin, rejoice together with the righteous, who have been ever such, in the presence of truth, and are fed with the gifts of heavenly grace. The banquet is given in Bethany, which means, house of obedience, i.e. in the Church: for the Church is the house of obedience.

AUG. The ointment with which Mary anointed the feet of Jesus was justice. It was therefore a pound. It was ointment of spikenard (pistici) too very precious. Greek for faith. Do you seek to do justice? The just live by faith

(Hebrews 10:38). Anoint the feet of Jesus by good living, follow the Lord"s footsteps: if you have a superfluity, give to the poor, and you have wiped the Lord"s feet; for the hair is a superfluous part of the body.

ALCUIN. And observe, on the first occasion of her anointing, she anointed His feet only, but now she anoints both His feet and head. The former denotes the beginnings of penitence, the latter the righteousness of souls perfected. By the head of our Lord the loftiness of His Divine nature, by His feet the lowliness of His incarnation are signified; or by the head, Christ Himself, by the feet, the poor who are His members.

AUG. The house was filled with the odor; the world was filled with the good fame.


Verses 12-19

On the next day many 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 comes 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, your King comes, 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 to him. 17. The people therefore that were with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bear record. 18. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive you how you prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him.

CHRYS. The Law enjoined, that on the tenth day of the first month a lamb or a kid should be shut up in the house, and be kept to the fourteenth day of the same month, on the evening of which day it was sacrificed. In accordance with this law, the Elect Lamb, the Lamb without spot, when He went up to Jerusalem to be immolated for the sanctification of the people, went up five days before, i.e. on the tenth day.

AUG. See how great was the fruit of His preaching and how large a flock of the lost sheep of the house of Israel heard the voice of their Shepherd: On the next day many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, tookbranches of palm trees. The branches of palms are songs of praise, for the victory which our Lord was about to obtain by Hisdeath over death, and His triumph over the devil, the prince of death, by the trophy of the cross.

CHRYS. They showed now at last that they thought Him greater than a prophet: And went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel, that comes in the name of the Lord.

AUG. Hosanna is a simple exclamation, rather indicating some excitement of the mind, than having any particular meaning; like many interjections that we have in Latin.

BEDE. It is a compound of two words; Hosi is shortened into save; Anna a mere exclamation, complete. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord here is the name of God the Father; though we may understand it as His own name; inasmuch as He also is the Lord. But the former sense agrees better with the text above, I am come in My Father"s name. He does not lose His divinity, when He teaches us humility.

CHRYS. This is what more than anything made men believe in Christ, viz. the assurance, that He was not opposed to God, that He came from the Father. The words show us the divinity of Christ. Hosanna is, Save us; and salvation in Scripture is attributed to God alone. And comes, it is said, not is brought: the former befits a lord, the latter a servant. In the name of the Lord, goes to prove the same thing. He does not come in the name of a servant, but in the name of the Lord.

AUG. It were a small thing to the King eternal to be made a human king. Christ was not the King of Israel, to exact tribute, and command armies, but to direct souls, and bring them to the kingdom of heaven. For Christ then to be King of Israel, w as a condescension, not an elevation, a sign of His pity, not an increase of His power. For He who was as called on earth the King of the Jews, is in heaven the King of Angels.

THEOPHYL. The Jews, when they called Him King of Israel, dreamed of an earthly king. They expected a king to arise, of more than human greatness, who would deliver them from the government of the Romans. But how did our Lord come? The next words tell us; And Jesus when He had found a. young ass, sat thereon.

AUG. John relates the matter briefly, the other Evangelists are more full. The ass, we read in them, was the foal of an ass on which no man had sat: i.e. the Gentile world, who had not received our Lord. The other ass, which was brought, (not the foal, for there were two,) is the believing Jew.

CHRYS. He did this prophetically, to figure the unclean Gentiles being brought into subjection to the Gospel; and also as a fulfillment of prophecy.

AUG. This act of our Lord"s is pointed to in the Prophets, though the malignant rulers of the Jews did not see in it any fulfillment of prophecy: As it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Sion, behold your King comes sitting on an ass"s colt." Yea, in that nation though reprobate, though blind, there remained still the daughter of Sion; even Jerusalem. To her it is said, Fear not, acknowledge Him whom you praise, and tremble not when He suffers. That blood it is which shall wipe away your sins, and redeem your life

CHRYS. Or thus: Whereas they had had wicked kings, who had subjected them to wars, He said to them, Trust Me, I am not such as they, but gentle and mild: which He showed by the manner of His entrance. For He did not enter at the head of an army, but simply riding on an ass. And observe the philosophy of the Evangelist, who is not ashamed of confessing his ignorance at the time of what these things meant:These things understood not the disciple at the first, but when Jesus was glorified.

AUG. i.e. When He showed the power of His resurrection, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him, i.e. those things that were written of Him.

CHRYS. Our Lord had not then revealed these things to them. Indeed it would have been a scandal to them had they known Him to be King at the time of His sufferings. Nor would they have understood the nature of His kingdom, but have mistaken it for a temporal one.

THEOPHYL. See then the consequences of our Lord"s passion. It was not to no purpose that He had reserved His greatest miracle for the last. For the resurrection of Lazarus it was that made the crowd believe in Him. The people therefore that were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bear record.

For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle.

Hence the spite and plotting of the Pharisees: The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive you how you prevail nothing? behold the world is gone after Him.

AUG. The crowd was disturbed by the crowd. But why grudge that blind crowd, that the world should go after Him, by Whom the world was made?

CHRYS. The world means here the crowd. This seems to be the speech of that part who were sound in their faith, but dared not profess it. They try to deter the rest by exposing the insuperable difficulties they would have to contend with.

THEOPHYL. As if they said, The more you attack Him, the more will His power and reputation increase. What use then of these attempts?


Verses 20-26

Ver 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 comes and tells Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24. Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. 25. He that loves his life shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to 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 honor.

BEDE. The temple at Jerusalem was so famous, that on the feast days, not only the people near, but many Gentiles from distant countries came to worship in it; as that eunuch of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, mentioned in the Acts. The Gentiles who were at Jerusalem now, had come up for this purpose: And there were certain Gentiles among them who came to worship at the feast.

CHRYS. The time being now near, when they would be made proselytes. They hear Christ talked of, and wish to see Him: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired: him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

AUG. Lo! the Jews wish to kill Him, the Gentiles to see Him. But they also were of the Jews who cried, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. So behold them of the circumcision, and them of the uncircumcision, once so wide apart, coming together like two walls, and meeting in one faith of Christ by the kiss of peace. Philip comes and tells Andrew.

CHRYS. As being the elder disciple. He had heard our Savior say, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and therefore he communicates with his fellow-disciple, and the refer the matter to their Lord: And again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus

AUG. Listen we to the voice of the corner stone: And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Did He think Himself glorified, because the Gentiles wished to see? No. But He saw that after His passion and resurrection, the Gentiles in all lands would believe in Him; and took occasion from this request of some Gentiles to see Him, to announce the approaching fullness of the Gentiles, for that the hour of His being glorified was now at hand, and that after He was glorified in the heavens, the Gentiles would believe; according to the passage in the Psalm, Set up Yourself, O God, above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth (Ps 56 and 107).

But it was necessary that His exaltation and glory should be preceded by His humiliation and passion; wherefore He says, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: out if it die, it brings forth much fruit. That corn was He, to be mortified in the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied in the faith of the Gentiles.

BEDE, He Himself, of the seed of the Patriarchs, was sown in the field of this world, that by dying, He might rise again with increase. He died alone; He rose again with many.

CHRYS. He illustrates His discourse by an example from nature. A grain of corn produces fruit, after it has cried. How much more then must the Son of God? The Gentiles were to be called after the Jews had finally offended; i.e. after His crucifixion. Now then that the Gentiles of their own accord offered their faith, He saw that His crucifixion could not be far off. And to console the sorrow of His disciples, which He foresaw would arise, He tells them that to bear patiently not only His death, but their own too, is the only way to good:He that loves his life shall lose it.

AUG. This may be understood in two ways: 1. If you love it, lose it: if you would preserve your life in Christ, fear not death for Christ. 2. Do not love your life here, lest you lose it hereafter. The latter seems to be the more evangelical sense; for it follows, And he that hates his life in this world, shall keep it to life eternal.

CHRYS. He loves his life in this world, who indulges its inordinate desires; he hates it, who resists them. It is not, who cloth not yield to, but, who hates. For as we cannot bear to hear the voice or see the face of them whom we hate; so when the soul invites us to things contrary to God, we should turn her away from them with all our might.

THEOPHYL. It were harsh to say that a man should hate his soul; so He adds, in this world: i.e. for a particular time, not forever. And we shall gain in the end by so doing: shall keep it to life eternal.

AUG. But think not for an instant, that by hating your soul, is meant that you may kill yourself. For wicked and perverse men have sometimes so mistaken it, and have burnt and strangled themselves, thrown themselves from precipices, and in other ways put an end to themselves. This did not Christ teach; nay, when the devil tempted Him to cast Himself down, He said, Get you hence, Satan. But when no other choice is given you; when the persecutor threatens death, and you must either disobey God"s law, or depart out of this life, then hate your life in this world, that you may keep it to life eternal.

CHRYS. This present life is sweet to them who are given up to it. But he who looks heavenwards, and sees what good things are there, soon despises this life. When the better life appears, the worse is despised. This is Christ"s meaning, when He says, If any man serve Me, let him follow Me, i.e. imitate Me, both in My death, and life. For he who serves, should follow him whom he serves.

AUG. But what is it to serve Christ? The very words explain. They serve Christ who seek not their own things, but the things of Jesus Christ, i.e. who follow Him, walk in His, not their own v ways, do all good works for Christ"s sake, not only works of mercy to men"s bodies, but all others, till at length they fulfill that great work of love, and lay down their lives for the brethren. But what fruit, what reward? you ask. The next words tell you: And where I am, there shall also My servant be. Love Him for His own sake, and think it a rich reward for your service, to be with Him.

CHRYS. So then death will be followed by resurrection. Where I am, He says; for Christ was in heaven before His resurrection. Thither let us ascend in heart and in mind.

If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor. This must be understood as an explanation of the preceding. There also shall My servant be. For what greater honor can an adopted Son receive than to he where the Only Son is?

CHRYS. He says, My Father will honor him, not, I will honor him; because they had not yet proper notions of His nature, and thought Him inferior to the Father.


Verses 27-33

27. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hourBut for this cause came I to this hour. 28. Father, glorify your 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 spoke to him. 30. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. 31. 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 to me. 33. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

CHRYS. To our Lord"s exhortation to His disciples to endurance, they might have replied that it was easy for Him, Who was out of the reach of human pain, to talk philosophically about death, and to recommend others to bear what He is in no danger of having to bear Himself. So He lets them see that He is Himself in an agony, but that He does not intend to decline death, merely for the sake of relieving Himself: Now is My soul troubled.

AUG. I hear Him say, He that hates his life in this world, shall keep it to life eternal; and I am ravished, I despise the world; the whole of this life, however long, is but a vapor in My sight; all temporal things are vile, in comparison with eternal. And again I hear Him say, Now is My soul troubled. You bid my soul follow You; but I see your soul troubled.

What foundation shall I seek, if the rock gives way? Lord, I acknowledge your mercy. you of your love was of your own will troubled, to console those who are troubled through the infirmity of nature; that the members of your body perish not in despair. The Head took upon Himself the affections of His members. He was not troubled by anything, but, as was said above, He troubled Himself.

CHRYS. As He draws near to the Cross, His human nature appears, a nature that did not wish to die, but cleaved to this present life. He shows that He is not quite without human feelings. For the desire of this present life is not necessarily wrong, any more than hunger. Christ had a body free from sin, but not from natural infirmities. But these attach solely to the dispensation of His humanity, not to His divinity.

AUG. Lastly, let the man who would follow Him, hear at what hour he should follow. A fearful hour has perhaps come: a choice is offered, either to do wrong, or suffer: the weak soul is troubled. Hear our Lord. What shall I say?

BEDE. i.e. What but something to confirm My followers? Father, save Me from this hour.

AUG. He teaches you Whom you should call on, whose will prefer to your own. Let Him not seem to fall from His greatness, because He wishes you to rise from your meanness. He took upon Him man"s infirmity, that He might teach the afflicted to say, Not what I will, but what you will. Wherefore He adds, But for this cause came I to this hour. Father, glorify your name: i.e. in My passion and resurrection.

CHRYS. As if He said, I cannot say why I should ask to be saved from it; For this cause came I to this hour. However you may be troubled and dejected at the thought of dying, do not run away from death. I am troubled, yet I ask not to be spared.

I do not say, Save Me from this hour, but the contrary, Glorify your name. To die for the truth was to glorify God, as the event showed; for after His crucifixion the whole world was to be converted to the knowledge and worship of God, both the Father and the Son. But this He is silent about.

Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.GREG. When God speaks audibly, as He does here, but no visible appearance is seen, He speaks through the medium of a rational creature: i.e. by the voice of an Angel.

AUG. I have glorified it, i.e. before I made the world; and will glorify it again, i.e. when you shall rise from the dead. Or, I have gloried it, when you were born of a Virgin, did work miracles, was made manifest by the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove; and will glorify it again, when you shall rise from the dead, and, as God, be exalted above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth. The people therefore that stood by and heard it, said that it thundered.

CHRYS. The voice though loud and distinct, soon passed off from their gross, carnal, and sluggish minds; only the sound remaining. Others perceived an articulate voice, but did not catch what it said: Others said, An Angel spoke to Him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes.

AUG. i.e. It did not come to tell Him what He knew already, but them what they ought to know. And as that voice did not come for His sake, but for theirs, so His soul was not troubled for His sake, but for theirs.

CHRYS. The voice of the Father proved what they were so fond of denying, that He was from God. For He must be from God, if He was glorified by God. It was not that He needed encouragement of such a voice Himself, but He condescended to receive it for the sake of those who were by. Now is the judgment of this world: this fits on to the preceding, as strewing the mode of His being glorified.

AUG. The judgment at the end of the world will be of eternal rewards and punishments. But there is another judgment, not of condemnation, but of selection, which is the one meant here; the selection of His own redeemed, and their deliverance from the power of the devil: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

The devil is not called the prince of this world, in the sense of being Lord over heaven and earth; God forbid. The world here stands for the wicked dispersed over all the world. In this sense the devil is the prince of the world, i.e. of all the wicked men who live in the world. The world also sometimes stands for the good dispersed throughout the world: God, was in Christ reconciling the world, to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). These are they from whose, hearts the prince of this world shall be cast out.

Our Lord foresaw that after His passion and glorifying, great nations all over the world would be converted, in whom the devil was then, but from whose hearts, on their truly renouncing him, he would be cast out. But was he not cast out of the hearts of the righteous men of old?

Why is it, Now shall be cast out? Because that which once took place in a very few persons, was now to take place in whole nations. What then, does the devil not tempt at all the minds of believers? Yea, he never ceases to tempt them. But it is one thing to reign within, another to lay siege from without.

CHRYS. What kind of judgment it is by which the devil is cast out, I will explain by an example. A man demands payment from his debtors, beats them, and sends them to prison. He treats with the same insolence one who owes him nothing. The latter will take vengeance both for himself and the others too. This Christ does. He revenges what He has suffered at the devil"s hands, and with Himself He revenges us too.

But that none may say, How will he be cast out, if he overcome you? He adds, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Me. How can He be overcome, who draws others to Him? This is more than saying, I shall rise again. Had He said this, it would not have proved that He would draw all things to Him; but, I shall draw, includes the resurrection, and this besides.

AUG. What is this all that He draws, but that from which the devil is cast out? He does not say, All men, but, All things; for all men have not faith. He does not mean then all mankind, but the whole of a man, i.e. spirit, soul, and body; by which respectively we understand, and live, and are visible. Or, if all means all men, it means those who are predestined to salvation: or all kinds of men, all varieties of character, excepting in the article of sin.

CHRYS. Why then did He say above, that the Father drew men? Because the Father draws, by the Son who draws. I shall draw, He says, as if men were in the grasp of some tyrant, from which they could not extricate themselves.

AUG. If I be lifted up from the earth, He says, i.e. when I shall be lifted up. He does not doubt that the work will be accomplished which He came to do. By His being lifted up, He means His passion on the cross, as the Evangelist adds: This He said, signifying by what death He should die.


Verses 34-36

Ver 34. The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abides for ever: and how say you, "The Son of man must be lifted up?" Who is this Son of man?"35. Then Jesus said to them, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he goes. 36. While you have light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them."

AUG. The Jews, when they understood that our Lord spoke of His own death, asked how that could be: The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abides for ever: and how say you, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?

Though our Lord did not call Himself the Son of man here, they remembered that He often called Himself so; as He had just before: The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. They remember this, and ask, If Christ abides forever, how will He be lifted up from the earth; i.e. how will He die upon the cross?

CHRYS Hence we see, that they understood many of the things that He spoke in parables. As He had talked about death a little time before, they saw now what was meant by His being lifted up.

AUG Or they interpreted the word by their own intended act. It was not wisdom imparted, but conscience disturbed, which disclosed its meaning to them.

CHRYS. And see how maliciously they put the question. They do not say, We have heard out of the law, that Christ cloth not suffer; for in many places of Scripture His passion and resurrection are spoken of together, but, abides forever. And yet His immortality was not inconsistent with the fact of His suffering. They thought this proved however that He was not Christ.

Then they ask, Who is this Son of man? another malicious question; as if to say, Do not charge us with putting this question out of hatred to you; for we simply ask for information.

Christ shows them in His answer that His passion does not prevent Him from abiding for ever: Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you: as if His death were but going away for a time, as the sun"s light only sets to rise again.

AUG. Yet a little while is the light with you. Hence it is that you understand that Christ abides forever. Wherefore walk while you have the light, approach, understand the whole, that Christ will both die, and live for ever: do this while you have the light.

CHRYS. He does not mean only the time before His crucifixion, but the whole of their lives. For many believed on Him after His crucifixion. Lest darkness come upon you.

AUG. i.e. if you so believe in the eternity of Christ, as to deny His humiliation and death. For he that walks in darkness, knows not where he goes.

CHRYS. What things do the Jews now, and know not what they do; thinking, like men in the dark, that they are going the right road, while they are taking directly the wrong one.

Wherefore He adds, While you have the light, believe in the light.

AUG. i.e. While you have any truth, believe in the truth, that you may be born again of the truth: That you may be the children of the light.

CHRYS. i.e. My children. In the beginning of the Gospel it is said, Born of God, i.e. of the Father. But here He Himself is the Begetter. The same act is the act both of Father and Son. These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them.

AUG. Not from those which began to believe in and love Him, but from those who saw and envied Him. When He hid Himself, He consulted our weakness, He did not derogate from His own power.

parCHRYS. But why did He hide Himself, when they neither took up stones to cast at Him, nor blasphemed? Because He saw into their hearts, and knew the fury they were in; and therefore did not wait till they broke out into act, but retired to give their envy time to subside.


Verses 37-43

Ver 37. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:38. That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?39. Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again,40. He has 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 Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke 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.

CHRYS. And thus the Evangelist tacitly explains it, when he adds, But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him.

THEOPHYL. He means the miracles related above. It was no small wickedness to disbelieve against such miracles as those.

CHRYS. But why then did Christ come? Did He not know that they would not believe in Him? Yes: the Prophets had prohibited this very unbelief, and He came that it might be made manifest, to their confusion and condemnation; That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which He spoke, Lord, who has believed, our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

ALCUIN. Who, i.e. So very few believed.

AUG. It is evident here that the arm of the Lord is the Son of God Himself. Not that the Father has a human fleshly form; He is called the arm of the Lord, because all things v ere made by Him. If a man had power of such a kind, as that without any motion of his body, what he said was forthwith done, the word of that man would be his arm. Here is no ground to justify, however, the error of those who say that the Godhead is one Person only, because the Son is the arm of the Father, and a man and his arm are not two persons, but one.

These men do not understand, that the commonest things require to be explained often by applying language to them taken from other things in which there happens to be a likeness, [and that, when we are upon things incomprehensible, and which cannot be described as they actually are, this is much more necessary.

Thus one man calls another man, whom he makes great use of, his arm; and talks of having lost his arm, of having his arm taken away from him.] But some mutter, and ask, What fault was it of the Jews, if it was necessary that the sayings of Esaias should be fulfilled? We answer, that God, foreseeing the future, predicted by the Prophet the unbelief of the Jews, but did not cause it. God does not compel men to sin, because He knows they will sin. He foreknows their sins, not His own. The Jews committed the Sin, which He who knows all things foretold they would commit.

CHRYS. That the saying of Isaiah might be fulfilled: that here is expressive not of the cause, but of the event. They did not disbelieve because Esaias said they would; but because they would disbelieve, Esaias said they would.

AUG. But what follows involved a deeper question: Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and 1 should heal them. That they should not believe; but if so, what sin is there in a man doing what he cannot help doing?

And what is a graver point still, the cause is assigned to God; since He it is who blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart. This is not said to be the devil"s doing, but God"s. Yet if any ask why they could not believe, I answer, because they would not. For as it is to the praise of the Divine will that God cannot deny Himself, so is it the fault of the human will that they could not believe.

CHRYS. This is a common form of speech among ourselves. I cannot love such a man, meaning by this necessity only a vehement will. The Evangelist says could not, to show that it was impossible that the Prophet should lie, not that it was impossible that they should believe.

AUG. But the Prophet, you say, mentions another cause, not their will; viz. that God had blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart. But I answer, that they well deserved this. For God hardens and blinds a man, by forsaking and not supporting him; and this He may by a secret sentence, by an unjust one He cannot.

CHRYS. For He does not leave us, except we wish Him, as He said in Hosea, Seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children. Whereby it is plain that we begin to forsake first, and are the cause of our own perdition. For as it is not the fault of the sun, that it hurts weak eyes, so neither is God to blame for punishing those who do not attend to His words.

AUG And be converted, and I should heal them. Is not to be understood here, from the beginning of the sentence - that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor be converted; conversion being the free gift of God? or, shall we suppose that a heavenly remedy is meant; whereby those who wished to establish their own righteousness, were so far deserted and blinded, as to stumble on the stumbling stone, till, with confusion of face, they humbled themselves, es, and sought not their own righteousness which puffs up the proud, but God"s righteousness, which justifies the ungodly.

For many of those who put Christ to death, were afterward troubled with a sense of their guilt; which led to their believing in Him. These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him. He saw Him not really, but figuratively, in prophetic vision. Be not deceived by those who say that the Father is invisible, the Son visible, making the Son a creature. For in the form of God, in which He is equal to the Father, the Son also is invisible; though He took upon Him the form of a servant, that He might be seen by men. Before His incarnation too, He made Himself visible at times to human eyes; but visible through the medium of created matter, not visible as He is.

CHRYS. His glory means the vision of Him sitting on His lofty throne: I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

ALCUIN. 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.

For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. The praise of God is publicly to confess Christ: the praise of men is to glory in earthly things.

AUG. As their faith grew, their love of human praise grew still more, and outstripped it.


Verses 44-50

Jesus cried and said, He that believes in me, believes not on me, but on him that sent me. 45. And he that sees me sees him that sent me. 46. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believes in 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 rejects me, and receives not my words, has 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 to me, so I speak.

CHRYS. Because the love of human praise prevented the chief rulers from believing, Jesus cried and said, He that believes in Me, believes not on Me, but on Him that sent Me: as if to say, Why are you afraid to believe in Me? Your faith through Me passes to God.

AUG. He signifies to them that He is more than He appears to be, (for to men He appeared but a man; His Godhead was hid.) Such as the Father is, such am I in nature and in dignity; He that believes in Me, believes not in Me, i.e. on that which He sees, but in Him that sent Me, i.e. on the Father. [He that believes in the Father must believe in Him as the Father, i.e. must believe that He has a Son; and reversibly, he who believes in the Son thereby believes in the Father.] And again, if anyone thinks that God has sons by grace, but not a Son equal and coeternal with Himself, neither does he believe in the Father, who sent the Son; because what he believes in is not the Father who sent Him.

And to show that He is not the Son, in the sense of one out of many, a son by grace, but the Only Son equal to the Father, He adds And He that sees Me, sees Him that sent Me; so little difference is there between Me and Him that sent Me, that He that sees Me, sees Him. Our Lord sent His Apostles, yet none of them dared to say, He that believes in Me. We believe an Apostle, but we do not believe in an Apostle. Whereas the Only Begotten says, He that believes in Me, does not believe in Me, but on Him that sent Me. Wherein He does not withdraw the believer"s faith from Himself, but gives him a higher object than the form of a servant, for that faith.

CHRYS. He that believes on Me, believes not in Me, but on Him that sent Me: as if He said, He that takes water from a stream, takes the water not of the stream, but of the fountain. Then to show that it is not possible to believe on the Father, if we do not believe in Him, He says, He that sees Me, sees Him that sent Me. What then; Is God a body? By no means; seeing here is the mind"s vision.

What follows still further shows His union with the Father. I am come a light into the world. This is what the Father is called in many places.

He calls Himself the light, because he delivers from error, and disperses the darkness of the understanding; that whosoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

AUG. Whereby it is evident, that He found all in darkness. In which darkness if they wish not to remain, they must believe in the light which is come into the world. He says in one place to His disciples, you are the light of the world; but He did not say to them, you are come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on you should not abide in darkness. All saints are lights, but they are so by faith, because they are enlightened by Him, from Whom to withdraw is darkness.

CHRYS. And to show that He does not let His despisers go unpunished, from want of power, He adds, And if any man hear My words and believe not, I judge him not.

AUG i.e. I judge him not now. He does not say, I judge him not at I the last day, for that would be contrary to the sentence above, The Father has committed all judgment to the Son. And the reason follows, why He does not judge now; For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. Now is the time of mercy afterward will be the time of judgment.

CHRYS. But that this might not serve to encourage sloth, He warns men of a terrible judgment coming; He that rejects Me, and hears not My words, has one that judges him.

AUG. Mean time they waited to know who this one was; so He proceeds: The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day. He makes it sufficiently clear that he Himself will judge at the last day. For the word that He speaks, is Himself. He speaks Himself, announces Himself. We gather too from these words that those who have not heard, will be judged differently from those who have heard and despised.

AUG. I judge him not; the word that I have spoken shall judge him: for I have not spoken of Myself. The word which the Son speaks judges, because the Son did not speak of Himself: for I have not spoken of Myself: i.e. I was not born of Myself.

AUG. I ask then how we shall understand this, I will not judge, but the word which I have spoken will judge? Yet He Himself is the Word of the Father which speaks. Is it thus? I will not judge by My human power, as the Son of man, but as the word of God, because I am the Son of God.

CHRYS. Or, I judge him not, i.e. I am not the cause of his destruction, but he is himself, by despising my words. The words that I have just said, shall be his accusers, and deprive him of all excuse; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him.And what word? This, viz. that I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father which sent Me gave Me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. All these things were said on their account, that they might have no excuse.

AUG. When the Father gave the Son a commandment, He did not give Him what He had not: for in the Wisdom of the Father, i.e. in the Word, are all the commandments of the Father. The commandment is said to be given, because it is not from him to whom it is said to be given. But to give the Son that which He never was without, is the same as to beget the Son who never was not.

THEOPHYL. Since the Son is the Word of the Father, and reveals completely what is in the mind of the Father, He says He receives a commandment what He should say, and what He should speak: just as our word, if we say what we think, brings out what is in our minds.

And 1 know that His commandment is life everlasting.

AUG. If life everlasting is the Son Himself, and the commandment is life everlasting, what is this but saying, I am the commandment of the Father? And in the same way in the following; Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said to Me, so I speak, we must not understand, said to Me, as if words were spoken to the Only Word.

The Father spoke to the Son, as He gave life to the Son; not that the Son knew not, or had not, but that He was the Son. What is meant by, as He said to Me, so I speak, but that I am the Word who speaks. The Father is true, the Son is truth: the True, begat the Truth. What then could He say to the Truth, if the Truth was perfect from the beginning, and no new truth could be added to Him? That He spoke to the Truth then, means that He begat the Truth.

 


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Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 12:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/john-12.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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