Fathers of the Church
Homilies 33-48 on the Gospel According to St. John
by John Chrysostom in 389 | translated by The Oxford Translation Edited By Rev. Philip Schaff, D.d., Ll.d
"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews."
[1.] Everywhere, beloved, we have need of faith, faith the mother of blessings, the medicine of salvation; and without this it is impossible to possess any one of the great doctrines. Without this, men are like to those who attempt to cross the open sea without a ship, who for a little way hold out by swimming, using both hands and feet, but when they have advanced farther, are quickly swamped by the waves: in like manner they who use their own reasonings, before they have learnt anything, suffer shipwreck; as also Paul saith, "Who concerning faith have made shipwreck." (1 Tim. i. 19.) That this be not our case, let us hold fast the sacred anchor by which Christ bringeth over the Samaritan woman now. For when she had said, "How say yea that Jerusalem is the place in which men ought to worship?" Christ replied, "Believe Me, woman, that the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in Jerusalem, nor yet in this mountain, worship the Father." An exceedingly great doctrine He revealed to her, and one which He did not mention either to Nicodemus or Nathanael. She was eager to prove her own privileges more honorable than those of the Jews; and this she subtly argued from the Fathers, but Christ met not this question. For it was for the time distracting to speak on the matter, and to show why the Fathers worshiped in the mountain, and why the Jews at Jerusalem. Wherefore on this point He was silent, and having taken away from both places priority in dignity, rouses her soul by showing that neither Jews nor Samaritans possessed anything great in comparison with that which was to be given; and then He introduceth the difference. Yet even thus He declared that the Jews were more honorable, not preferring place to place, but giving them the precedence because of their intention. As though He had said, "About the 'place' of worship ye have no need henceforth to dispute, but in the 'manner' the Jews have an advantage over you Samaritans, for 'ye,' He saith, 'worship ye know not what; we know what we worship.'"
How then did the Samaritans "know not" what they worshiped? Because they thought that God was local and partial; so at least they served Him, and so they sent to the Persians, and reported that "the God of this place is wroth with us" (2 Kings xxvi.), in this respect forming no higher opinion of Him than of their idols. Wherefore they continued to serve both Him and devils, joining things which ought not to be joined. The Jews, on the contrary, were free from this supposition, at least the greater part of them, and knew that He was God of the world. Therefore He saith, "Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship." Do not wonder that He numbereth Himself among Jews, for He speaketh to the woman's opinion of Him as though He were a Jewish Prophet, and therefore He putteth, "we worship." For that He is of the objects of worship is clear to every one, because to worship belongs to the creature, but to be worshiped to the Lord of the creature. But for a time He speaketh as a Jew; and the expression "we" in this place meaneth "we Jews." Having then exalted what was Jewish, He next maketh Himself credible, and persuadeth the woman to give the greater heed to His words, by rendering His discourse above suspicion, and showing that He doth not exalt what belongs to them by reason of relationship to those of His own tribe. For it is clear, that one who had made these declarations concerning the place on which the Jews most prided themselves, and thought that they were superior to all, and who had taken away their high claims, would not after this speak to get favor of any, but with truth and prophetic power. When therefore He had for a while removed her from such reasonings, say-
ing, "Woman, believe Me," and what follows, then He addeth, "for salvation is of the Jews." What He saith is of this kind: neither, that blessings to the world came from them, (for to know God and condemn idols had its beginning, from them, and with you the very act of worship, although ye do it not rightly, yet received its origin from them,) or else, He speaketh of His own Coming. Or rather, one would not be wrong in calling both these things "salvation" which He said was "of the Jews"; which Paul implied when he said, "Of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all." (Rom. ix. 5.) Seest thou how He commendeth the old Covenant, and showeth that it is the root of blessings, and that He is throughout not opposed to the Law, since He maketh the groundwork of all good things to come from the Jews?
Ver. 23. "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father."
"We, O woman," He saith, "excel you in the manner of our worship, but even this shall henceforth have an end. Not the places only, but even the manner of serving God shall be changed. And this change is at your very doors. 'For the hour cometh, and now is.'"
[2.] For since what the Prophets said they said long before the event, to show that here it is not so, He saith, "And now is." Think not, He saith, that this is a prophecy of such a kind as shall be accomplished after a long time, the fulfillment is already at hand and at your very doors, "when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth." In saying "true," He excludeth Jews as well as Samaritans; for although the Jews be better than the Samaritans, yet are they far inferior to those that shall come, as inferior as is the type to the reality. But He speaketh of the Church, that she is the "true" worship, and such as is meet for God.
"For the Father seeketh such to worship Him."
If then He in times past sought such as these, He allowed to those others their way of worship, not willingly, but from condescension, and for this reason, that He might bring them in also. Who then are "the true worshipers"? Those who confine not their service by place, and who serve God in spirit; as Paul saith, "Whom I serve in my spirits in the Gospel of His Son": and again, "I beseech you that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service." (Rom. i. 9 and xii. 1.) But when he saith,
Ver. 24. "God is a Spirit" [God is spirit]. He declareth nothing else than His incorporeal Nature. Now the service of that which is incorporeal must needs be of the same character, and must be offered by that in us which is incorporeal, to wit, the soul, and purity of mind. Wherefore He saith, "they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth." For because both Samaritans and Jews were careless about the soul, but took great pains about the body, cleansing it in divers ways, it is not, He saith, by purity of body, but by that which is incorporeal in us, namely the mind, that the incorporeal One is served. Sacrifice then not sheep and calves, but dedicate thyself to the Lord; make thyself a holocaust, this is to offer a living sacrifice. Ye must worship "in truth "; as former things were types, such as circumcision, and whole burnt offerings, and victims, and incense, they now no longer exist, but all is "truth." For a man must now circumcise not his flesh, but his evil thoughts, and crucify himself, and remove and slay his unreasonable desires." The woman was made dizzy by His discourse, and fainted in at the sublimity of what He said, and, in her trouble, hear what she saith:
Ver. 25, 26. "I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I am that speak unto thee."
And whence came the Samaritans to expect the coming of Christ, seeing that they received Moses only? From the writings of Moses themselves. For even in the beginning He revealed the Son. "Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness" (Gen. i. 26), was said to the Son. It was He who talked with Abraham in the tent. (Gen. xviii.) And Jacob prophesying concerning Him said, "A ruler shall not fail from Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until He come for whom it is reserved, and He is the expectation of nations." (Gen. xviii.) And Moses himself saith, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto you a Prophet of your brethren like unto me, unto Him shall ye hearken." (Deut. xviii. 15.) And the circumstances attending the serpent, and the rod of Moses, and Isaac, and the sheep, and many other things they who chose might select as proclaiming His coming.
"And why, pray," saith one, "did not Christ lead on the woman by these means? why did He instance the serpent to Nicodemus, and mention prophecy to Nathanael, but to her say nothing of the kind? For what reason, and why?" Because they were men, and were versed in these things, she a poor ignorant woman unpracticed in the Scriptures. Wherefore He doth not speak to her from them, but draweth her on by the "water" and by prophecy, and bringeth her to make mention of Christ and then revealeth Himself; which had He at first told the woman when she had not questioned Him, He would have seemed to her to trifle and talk idly, while as it is by bringing her little by little to mention Him, at a fitting time He revealed Himself. To the Jews, who continually said, "How long dost Thou make us to doubt? tell us if Thou art the Christ" (c. x. 24), to them He gave no clear answer, but to this woman He said plainly, that HE IS. For the woman was more fair-minded than the Jews; they did not enquire to learn, but always to mock at Him, for had they desired to learn, the teaching which was by His words, and by the Scriptures, and by His miracles would have been sufficient. The woman, on the contrary, said what she said from an impartial judgment and a simple mind, as is plain from what she did afterwards; for she both heard and believed, and netted others also, and in every circumstance we may observe the carefulness and faith of the woman.
Ver. 27. "And upon this came His disciples," (very seasonably did they come when the teaching was finished,) "and marveled that He talked with the woman, yet no man said, What seekest Thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?"
[3.] At what did they marvel? At His want of pride and exceeding humility, that looked upon as He was, He endured with such lowliness of heart to talk with a woman poor, and a Samaritan. Still in their amazement the); did not ask Him the reason, so well were they taught to keep the station of disciples, so much did they fear and reverence Him. For although they did not as yet hold the right opinion concerning Him, still they gave heed unto Him as to some marvelous one, and paid Him much respect. Yet they frequently are seen to act confidently; as when John lay upon His bosom, when they came to Him and said, "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" (Matt. xviii. 1), when the sons of Zebedee entreated Him to set one of them on His right hand, and the other on His left. Why then did they not here question Him? Because since all those instances related to themselves, they had need to enquire into them, while what here took place was of no such great importance to them. And indeed John did that a long time after towards the very end, when He enjoyed greater confidence, and was bold in the love of Christ; for he it was, he saith, "whom Jesus loved." What could equal such blessedness?
But, beloved, let us not stop at this, the calling the Apostle blessed, but let us do all things that we also may be of the blessed, let us imitate the Evangelist, and see what it was that caused such great love. What then was it? He left his father, his ship, and his net, and followed Jesus. Yet this he did in common with his brother, and Peter, and Andrew, and the rest of the Apostles. What then was the special thing which caused this great love? Shall we discover it? He saith nothing of this kind about himself, but only that he was beloved; as to the righteous acts for which he was beloved he has modestly been silent. That Jesus loved him with an especial love was clear to every one; yet John doth not appear conversing with or questioning Jesus privately, as Peter often did, and Philip, and Judas, and Thomas, except only when he desired to show kindness and compliance to his fellow Apostle; for when the chief of the Apostles by beckoning constrained him, then he asked. For these two had great love each for the other. Thus, for instance, they are seen going up together into the Temple and speaking in common to the people. Yet Peter in many places is moved, and speaks more warmly than John. And at the end he hears Christ say, "Peter, lovest thou Me more than these?" (c. xxi. 15.) Now it is clear that he who loved "more than these" was also beloved. But this in his case was shown by loving Jesus, in the case of the other by being beloved by Jesus
What then was it which caused this especial love? To my thinking, it was that the man displayed great gentleness and meekness, for which reason he doth not appear in many places speaking openly. And how great a thing this is, is plain also from the case of Moses. It was this which made him such and so great as he was. There is nothing equal to lowliness of mind. For which cause Jesus with this began the Beatitudes, and when about to lay as it were the foundation and base of a mighty building, He placed first lowliness of mind. Without this a man cannot possibly be saved; though he fast, though he pray, though he give alms, if it be with a proud spirit, theses things are abominable, if humility be not there; while if it be, all these things are amiable and lovely, and are done with safety. Let us then be modest, beloved, let us be modest; success is easy, if we be sober-minded. For after all what is it, O man, that exciteth thee to pride? Seest thou not the poverty of thy nature? the unsteadiness of thy will? Consider thine end, consider the multitude of thy sins. But perhaps because thou doest many righteous deeds thou art proud. By that very pride thou shall undo them all. Wherefore it behoveth not so much him that has sinned a as him that doeth righteousness to take pains to be humble. Why so? Because the sinner is constrained by conscience, while the other, except he be very sober, soon caught up as by a blast of wind is lifted on high, and made to vanish like the Pharisee. Dost thou give to the poor? What thou givest is not thine, but thy Master's, common to thee and thy fellow- servants. For which cause thou oughtest especially to be humbled, in the calamities of those who are thy kindred foreseeing thine own, and taking knowledge of thine own nature in their cases. We ourselves perhaps are sprung from such ancestors; and if wealth has shifted to you, it is probable that it will leave you again. And after all, what is wealth? A vain shadow, dissolving smoke, a flower of the grass, or rather something meaner than a flower. Why then art thou high-minded over grass? Doth not wealth fall to thieves, and effeminates, and harlots, and tomb-breakers? Doth this puff thee up, that thou hast such as these to share in thy possession? or dost thou desire honor? Towards gaining honor nothing is more serviceable than almsgiving. For the honors arising from wealth and power are compulsory, and attended with hatred, but these others are from the free wilt and real feeling of the honorers; and therefore those who pay them can never give them. Now if men show such reverence for the merciful, and invoke all blessings upon them, consider what return, what recompense they shall receive from the merciful God. Let us then seek this wealth which endureth forever, and never deserts us, that, becoming great here and glorious there, we may obtain everlasting blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a Man which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?"
[1.] We require much fervor and uproused zeal, for without these it is impossible to obtain the blessings promised to us. And to show this, Christ at one time saith, "Except a man take up his cross and follow Me, he is not worthy of Me" (Matt. x. 38); at another, "I am come to send fire upon the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?" (Luke xii. 49); by both these desiring to represent to us a disciple full of heat and fire, and prepared for every danger. Such an one was this woman. For so kindled was she by His words, that she left her water pot and the purpose for which she came, ran into the city, and drew all the people to Jesus. "Come," she saith, "see a Man which told me all things that ever I did."
Observe her zeal and wisdom. She came to draw water, and when she had lighted upon the true Well, she after that despised the material one; teaching us even by this trifling instance when we are listening to spiritual matters to overlook the things of this life, and make no account of them. For what the Apostles did, that, after her ability, did this woman also. They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord, without the command of any, leaves her water pot, and winged by joy performs the office of Evangelists. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him.
Observe too how prudently she speaks; she said not, "Come and see the Christ," but with the same condescension by which Christ had netted her she draws the men to Him; "Come," she saith, "see a Man who told me all that ever I did." She was not ashamed to say that He "told me all that ever I did." Yet she might have spoken otherwise, "Come, see one that prophesieth"; but when the soul is inflamed with holy fire, it looks then to nothing earthly, neither to glory nor to shame, but belongs to one thing alone, the flame which occupieth it.
"Is not this the Christ?" Observe again here the great wisdom of the woman; she neither declared the fact plainly, nor was she silent, for she desired not to bring them in by her own assertion, but to make them to share in this opinion by hearing Him; which rendered her words more readily acceptable to them. Yet He had not told all her life to her, only from what had been said she was persuaded (that He was informed) as to the rest. Nor did she say, "Come, believe," but, "Come, see".; a gentler expression than the other, and one which more attracted them. Seest thou the wisdom of the woman? She knew, she knew certainly that having but tasted that Well, they would be affected in the same manner as herself. Yet any one of the grosser sort would have concealed the reproof which Jesus had given; but she parades her own life, and brings it forward before all men, so as to attract and capture all.
Ver. 31. "In the mean time His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, eat." "Asked," here is "besought," in their native language; for seeing Him wearied with the journey, and the oppressive heat, they entreated Him; for their request concerning food proceeded not from hastiness, but from loving affection for their Teacher? What then saith Christ?
Ver. 32, 33. "I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore" (saith the Evangelist) "said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him aught to eat?"
Why now wonderest thou that the woman when she heard of "water," still imagined mere water to be meant, when even the disciples are in the same case, and as yet suppose nothing spiritual, but are perplexed? though they still show their accustomed modesty and reverence toward their Master, conversing one with the other, but not daring to put any question to Him. And this they do in other places, desiring to ask Him, but not asking. What then saith Christ?
Ver. 34. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work."
He here calleth the salvation of men "meat," showing what an earnest desire He hath of providing for us; for as we long for food, so He that we may be saved. And hear how in all places He revealeth not all off-hand, but first throweth the hearer into perplexity, in order that having begun to seek the meaning of what has been said, and then being perplexed and in difficulty, he may when what he sought appears, receive it the more readily, and be made more attentive to listening. For wherefore said He not at once, "My meat is to do the will of My Father?" (though not even this would have been clear, yet clearer than the other.) But what saith He? "I have meat to eat that ye know not of"; for He desireth, as I said, first to make them more attentive through their uncertainty, and by dark sayings like these to accustom them to listen to His words. But what is "the will of the Father"? He next speaketh of this, and explaineth.
Ver. 35. "Say ye not, that there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look upon the fields, for they are white already to harvest."
[2.] Behold, He again by familiar words leadeth them up to the consideration of greater matters; for when He spoke of "meat," He signified nothing else than the salvation of the men who should come to Him; and again, the "field" and the "harvest" signify the very same thing, the multitude of souls prepared for the reception of the preaching; and the "eyes" of which He speaketh are those both of the mind and of the body; (for they now beheld the crowd of Samaritans advancing;) and the readiness of their will He calleth, "fields already white." For as the ears of corn, when they have become white, and are ready for reaping, so these, He saith, are prepared and fitted for salvation.
And wherefore instead of calling them "fields" and "harvest," did He not plainly say, that "the then were coming to believe and were ready to receive the Word, having been instructed by the Prophets; and now bringing forth fruit"? What mean these figures used by Him? for this He doth not here only, but through all the Gospel; and the Prophets also employ the same method, saying many things in a metaphorical manner. What then may be the cause of this? for the grace of the Spirit did not ordain it to be so without a reason, but why and wherefore? On two accounts; one, that the discourse may be more vivid, and bring what is said more clearly before our eyes. For the mind when it has laid hold on a familiar image of the matters in hand, is more aroused, and beholding them as it were in a picture, is occupied by them to a greater degree. This is one reason; the other is, that the statement may be sweetened, and that the memory of what is said may be more lasting. For assertion does not subdue and bring in an ordinary hearer so much as narration by objects, and the representation of experience. Which one may here see most wisely effected by the parable.
Ver. 36. "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." For the fruit of an earthly harvest profiteth not to life eternal, but to this which is for a time 5; but the spiritual fruit to that which hath neither age nor death. Seest thou that the expressions are of sense, but the thoughts spiritual, and that by the very words themselves He divideth things earthly from heavenly? For when in discoursing of water He made this the peculiar property of the heavenly Water, that "he who drinketh it shall never thirst," so He doth here also when He saith," that this fruit is gathered unto eternal life."
"That both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
Who is "he that soweth"? Who "he that reapeth"? The Prophets are they that sowed but they reaped not, but the Apostles. "Yet not on this account are they deprived of the pleasure and recompense of their labors, but they rejoice and are glad with us, although they reap not with us. For harvest is not such work as sowing. I therefore have kept you for that in which the toil is less and the pleasure greater, and not for sowing because in that there is much hardship and toil. In harvest the return is large, the labor not so great; nay there is much facility." By these arguments He here desireth to prove, that "the wish of the Prophets is, that all men should come to Me." This also the Law was engaged in effecting; and for this they sowed, that they might produce this fruit. He showeth moreover that He sent them also, and that there was a very intimate connection between the New Covenant and the Old, and all this He effecteth at once by this parable. He maketh mention also of a proverbial expression generally circulated.
Ver. 37. "Herein," He saith, "is that saying true, One soweth and another reapeth."
These words the many used whenever one party had supplied toil and another had reaped the fruits; and He saith, "that the proverb is in this instance especially true, for the Prophets labored, and ye reap the fruits of their labors." He said not "the rewards," (for neither did their great labor go unrewarded,) but "the fruits." This also Daniel did, for he too makes mention of a proverb, "Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked"; and David in his lamenting makes mention of a similar proverb. Therefore He said beforehand, "that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." For since He was about to declare, that "one hath sowed and another reapeth," lest any one should deem that the Prophets were deprived of their reward, He asserteth something strange and paradoxical, such as never chanceth in sensual things, but is peculiar to spiritual only. For in things of sense, if it chance that one sow and another reap, they do not "rejoice together," but those who sowed are sad, as having labored for others, and those who reap alone rejoice. But here it is not so, but those who reap not what they sowed rejoice alike with those who reap; whence it is clear that they too share the reward.
Ver. 38. "I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labors; other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors."
By this He the more encourageth them; for when it seemed a very hard matter to go through all the world and preach the Gospel, He showeth them that it is even most easy. The very difficult work was that other, which required great labor, the putting in the seed, and introducing the uninitiated soul to the knowledge of God. But wherefore uttereth He these sayings? It is that when He sendeth them to preach they may not be confounded, as though sent on a difficult task. "For that of the Prophets," He saith, "was the more difficult, and the fact witnesseth to My word, that ye are come to what is easy; because as in harvest time the fruits are collected with ease, and in one moment the floor is filled with sheaves, which await not the revolutions of the seasons, and winter, and spring, and rain, so it is now. The facts proclaim it aloud." While He was in the midst of saying these things, the Samaritans came forth, and the fruit was at once gathered together. On this account He said, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white." Thus He spake, and the fact was clear, and the words seen (true) by the event. For saith St. John,
Ver. 39. "Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman which testified, He told me all that ever I did."
They perceived that the woman would not from favor have admired One who had rebuked her sins, nor to gratify another have paraded her own course of life.
[3.] Let us then also imitate this woman, and in the case of our own sins not be ashamed of men, but fear, as is meet, God who now beholdeth what is done, and who hereafter punisheth those who do not now repent. At present we do the opposite of this, for we fear not Him who shall judge us, but shudder at those who do not in anything hurt us, and tremble at the shame which comes from them. Therefore in the very thing which we fear, in this do we incur punishment. For he who now regards only the reproach of men, but when God seeth is not ashamed to do anything unseemly, and who will not repent and be converted, in that day will be made an example, not only before one or two but in the sight of the whole world. For that a vast assembly is seated there to behold righteous actions as well as those which are not such, let the parable of the sheep and the goats teach thee, as also the blessed Paul when He saith "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. v. 10), and again, "Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness." (1 Cor. iv. 5.) Hast thou done or imagined any evil thing, and dost thou hide it from man? yet from God thou hidest it not. But for this thou careth nothing; the eyes of men, these are thy fear. Think then that thou wilt not be able to escape the sight even of men in that day; for all things as in a picture shall then be set before our very eyes, so that each shall be self-condemned. This is clear even from the instance of Dives, for the poor man whom he had neglected, Lazarus I mean, he saw standing before his eyes, and the finger which he had often loathed, he intreats may become a comfort to him then. I exhort you therefore, that although no one see what we do, yet that each of us enter into his own conscience, and set reason for his judge, and bring forward his transgressions, and if he desire them not to be exposed to public view then in that fearful day, let him now heal his wounds, let him apply to them the medicines of repentance. For it is in the power, yea, it is in the power of one full of ten thousand wounds to go hence whole. For "if ye forgive," He saith, "your sins are forgiven unto you." (Matt. vi. 14, not verbally quoted.) For as sins buried in Baptism appear no more, so these also shall disappear, if we be willing to repent. And repentance is the not doing the same again; for he that again puts his hand to the same, is like the dog that returneth to his own vomit, and like him in the proverb who cards wool into the fire, and draws water into a cask full of holes. It behooves therefore to depart both in action and in thought from what we have dared to do, and having departed, to apply to the wounds the remedies which are the contraries of our sins. For instance: hast thou been grasping and covetous? Abstain from rapine, and apply almsgiving to the wound. Hast thou been a fornicator? Abstain from fornication, and apply chastity to the wound. Hast thou spoken ill of thy brother, and injured him? Cease finding fault, and apply kindness. Let us thus act with respect to each point in which we have offended, and let us not carelessly pass by our sins, for there awaiteth us hereafter, there awaiteth us a season of account. Wherefore also Paul said, "The Lord is at hand: be careful for nothing." (Phil. iv. 5, 6.) But we perhaps must add the contrary of this, "The Lord is at hand, be careful." For they might well hear, "Be careful for nothing," living as they did in affliction, and labors, and trials; but they who live by rapine, or in luxury, and who shall give a grievous reckoning, would in reason hear not this, but that other, "The Lord is at hand, be careful." Since no long time now remains until the consummation, but the world is hastening to its end; this the wars declare, this the afflictions, this the earthquakes, this the love which hath waxed cold. For as the body when in its last gasp and near to death, draws to itself ten thousand sufferings; and as when a house is about to fall, many portions are wont to fall beforehand from the roof and walls; so is the end of the world nigh and at the very doors, and therefore ten thousand woes are everywhere scattered abroad. If the Lord was then "at hand," much more is He now "at hand." If three hundred years ago, when those words were used, Paul called that season "the fullness of time," much more would he have called the present so. But perhaps for this very reason some disbelieve, yet they ought on this account to believe the more. For whence knowest thou, O man, that the end is not "at hand," and the words shortly to be accomplished? For as we speak of the end of the year not as being the last day, but also the last month, though it has thirty days; so if of so many years I call even four hundred years "the end," I shall not be wrong; and so at that time Paul spoke of the end by anticipation. Let us then set ourselves in order, let us delight in the fear of God; for if we live here without fear of Him, His coming will surprise us suddenly, when we are neither careful, nor looking for Him. As Christ declared when He said, "For as in the days of Noah, and as in the days of Lot, so shall it be at the end of this world." (Matt. xxiv. 37, not verbally quoted.) This also Paul declared when he said, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child." (1 Thess. v. 3.) What means, "as travail upon a woman with child"? Often have pregnant women when sporting, or at their meals, or in the bath or market-place, and foreseeing nothing of what was coming, been seized in a moment by their pains. Now since our case is like theirs, let us ever be prepared, for we shall not always hear these things, we shall not always have power to do them. "In the grave" saith David, "who shall give Thee thanks?" (Ps. vi. 5.) Let us then repent here, that so we may find God merciful unto us in the day that is to come, and be enabled to enjoy abundant forgiveness; which may we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days. And many more believed because of His own Word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee."
Nothing is worse than envy and malice, nothing more mischievous than vainglory; it is wont to mar ten thousand good things. So the Jews, who excelled the Samaritans in knowledge, and had been always familiar with the Prophets, were shown from this cause inferior to them. For these believed even on the testimony of the woman, and without having seen any sign, came forth beseeching Christ to tarry with them; but the Jews, when they had beheld His wonders, not only did not detain Him among them, but even drove Him away, and used every means to cast Him forth from their land, although His very Coining had been for their sake. The Jews expelled Him, but these even entreated Him to tarry with them. Was it not then rather fitting, tell me, that He should receive those who asked and besought Him, than that He should wait upon those who plotted against and repulsed Him, while to those who loved and desired to retain Him He gave not Himself? Surely this would not have been worthy of His tender care; He therefore both accepted them, and tarried with them two days. They desired to keep Him among them continually, (for this the Evangelist has shown by saying, that "they besought Him that He would tarry with them,") but this He endured not, but stayed with them only two days; and in these many more believed on Him. Yet there was no likelihood that these would have believed, since they had seen no sign, and had hostile feelings towards the Jews; but still, inasmuch as they gave in sincerity their judgment on His words, this stood not in their way, but they received a notion which surmounted their hindrances, and vied with each other to reverence Him the more. For, saith the Evangelist, "they said to the woman, Now we believe because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." The scholars overshot their instructress. With good reason might they condemn the Jews, both by their believing on, and their receiving Him. The Jews, for whose sake He had contrived the whole scheme, continually were for stoning Him, but these, when He was not even intending to come to them, drew Him to themselves. And they, even with signs, remain uncorrected; these, without signs, manifested great faith respecting Him, and glory in this very thing that they believe without them; while the others ceased not asking for signs and tempting Him.
Such need is there everywhere of an honest soul; and if truth lay hold on such an one, she easily masters it; or if she masters it not, this is owing not to any weakness of truth, but to want of candor in the soul itself. Since the sun too, when he encounters clear eyes, easily enlightens them; if he enlightens them not, it is the fault of their infirmity, not of his weakness.
Hear then what these say; "We know that this is of a truth the Christ, the Saviour of the world." Seest thou how they at once understood that He should draw the world to Him, that He came to order aright our common salvation, that He intended not to confine His care to the Jews, but to sow His Word everywhere? The Jews did not so, but going about to establish their own righteousness, submitted not themselves to the righteousness of God; while these confess that all are deserving of punishment, declaring with the Apostle, that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace." (Rom. iii. 23, 24.) For by saying that He was "the Saviour of the world," they showed that it was of a lost world, and He not simply a Saviour, but one of the very mightiest. For many had come to "save," both Prophets and Angels; but this, saith one is the True Saviour, who affordeth the true salvation, not that which is but for a time. This proceeded from pure faith. And in both ways are they admirable; because they believed, and because they did so without signs, (whom Christ also calleth "blessed," saying, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,") (c. xx. 29,) and because they did so sincerely. Though they had heard the woman say doubtfully, "Is not this the Christ?" they did not also say, "we too suspect," or, "we think," but, "we know," and not merely, "we know," but, "we know that this is of a truth the Saviour of the world." They acknowledged Christ not as one of the many, but as the "Saviour" indeed. Yet whom had they seen saved? They had but heard His words, and yet they spake as they would have spoken had they beheld many and great marvels. And why do not the Evangelists tell us these words, and that He discoursed admirably? That thou mayest learn that they pass by many important matters, and yet have declared the whole to us by the event. For He persuaded an entire people and a whole city by His words. When His hearers are not persuaded, then the writers are constrained to mention what was said, lest any one from the insensibility of the hearers should give a judgment against Him who addressed them.
"Now after two days He departed thence and went into Galilee."
Ver. 44. "For Jesus Himself testified that a Prophet hath no honor in his own country."
Wherefore is this added? Because He departed not unto Capernaum, but into Galilee, and thence to Cana. For that thou mayest not enquire why He tarried not with His own people, but tarried with the Samaritans, the Evangelist puts the cause, saying that they gave no heed unto Him; on this account He went not thither, that their condemnation might not be the greater. For I suppose that in this place He speaketh of Capernaum as "His country." Now, to show that there He received no honor, hear Him say, "And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell." (Matt. xi. 23.) He calleth it "His own country," because there He set forth the Word of the Dispensation, and more especially dwelt upon it. "What then," saith some one, "do we not see many admired among their kindred?" In the first place such judgments must not be formed from rare instances; and again, if some have been honored in their own, they would have been much more honored in a strange country, for familiarity is wont to make men easily despised.
Ver. 45. "Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast, for they also came unto the feast."
Seest thou that these men so ill spoken of are found most to come to Him? For one said, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (c. i. 46), and another, "Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." (c. vii. 52.) These things they said insulting Him, because He was supposed by the many to be of Nazareth, and they also reproached Him with being a Samaritan; "Thou art a Samaritan," said one, "and hast a devil." (c. viii. 48.) Yet behold, both Samaritans and Galilaeans believe, to the shame of the Jews, and Samaritans are found better than Galilaeans, for the first received Him through the words of the woman, the second when they had seen the miracles which He did.
Ver. 46. "So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine."
The Evangelist reminds the hearer of the miracle to exalt the praise of the Samaritans. The men of Cana received Him by reason of the miracles which He had done in Jerusalem and in that place; but not so the Samaritans, they received Him through His teaching alone.
That He came then "to Cana," the Evangelist has said, but he has not added the cause why He came. Into Galilee He had come because of the envy of the Jews; but wherefore to Cana? At first He came, being invited to a marriage; but wherefore now? Methinks to confirm by His presence the faith which had been implanted by His miracle, and to draw them to Him the more by coming to them self-invited, by leaving His own country, and by preferring them.
"And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum."
Vet. 47. "When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto Him and besought Him that He would come down and heal his son."
This person certainly was of royal race, or possessed some dignity from his office, to which the title "noble" was attached. Some indeed think that this is the man mentioned by Matthew (Matt. viii. 5), but he is shown to be a different person, not only from his dignity, but also from his faith. That other, even when Christ was willing to go to him, entreats Him to tarry; this one, when He had made no such offer, draws Him to his house. The one saith, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof"; but this other even urges Him, saying, "Come down ere my son die." In that instance He came down from the mountain, and entered into Capernaum; but here, as He came from Samaria, and went not into Capernaum but into Cana, this person met Him. The servant of the other was possessed by the palsy, this one's son by a fever.
"And he came and besought Him that He would heal his son: for he was at the point of death." What saith Christ?
Ver. 48. "Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe."
Yet the very coming and beseeching Him was a mark of faith. And besides, after this the Evangelist witnesses to him, declaring that when Jesus said, "Go, thy son liveth," he believed His word, and went. What then is that which He saith here? Either He useth the words as approving of the Samaritans because they believed without signs; or, to touch Capernaum which was thought to be His own city, and of which this person was. Moreover, another man in Luke, who says, "Lord, I believe," said besides, "help Thou mine unbelief." And so if this ruler also believed, yet he believed not entirely or soundly, as is clear from his enquiring "at what hour the fever left him," since he desired to know whether it did so of its own accord, or at the bidding of Christ. When therefore he knew that it was "yesterday at the seventh hour," then "himself believed and his whole house." Seest thou that he believed when his servants, not when Christ spake? Therefore He rebuketh the state of mind with which he had come to Him, and spoken as he did, (thus too He the more drew him on to belief,) because that before the miracle he had not believed strongly. That he came and entreated was nothing wonderful, for parents in their great affection are also wont to resort not only to physicians in whom they have confidence, but also to talk with those in whom they have no confidence, desiring to omit nothing whatever. Indeed, that he came without any strong purpose appears from this, that when Christ was come into Galilee, then he saw Him, whereas if he had firmly believed in Him, he would not, when his child was on the point of death, have hesitated to go into Judaea. Or if he was afraid, this is not to be endured either. Observe how the very words show the weakness of the man; when he ought, after Christ had rebuked his state of mind, to have imagined something great concerning Him, even if he did not so before, listen how he drags along the ground.
Ver. 49. "Sir," he saith, "come down ere my child die."
As though He could not raise him after death, as though He knew not what state the child was in. It is for this that Christ rebuketh him and toucheth his conscience, to show that His miracles were wrought principally for the sake of the soul. For here He healeth the father, sick in mind, no less than the son, in order to persuade us to give heed to Him, not by reason of His miracles, but of His teaching. For miracles are not for the faithful, but for the unbelieving and the grosser sort.
[3.] At that time then, owing to his emotion, the nobleman gave no great heed to the words, or to those only which related to his son, yet he would afterwards recollect what had been said, and draw from thence the greatest advantage. As indeed was the case.
But what can be the reason why in the case of the centurion He by a free offer undertook to come, while here though invited, He goeth not? Because in the former case faith had been perfected, and therefore He undertook to go, that we might learn the rightmindedness of the man; but here the nobleman was imperfect. When therefore he continually urged Him, saying, "Come down," and knew not yet clearly that even when absent He could heal, He showeth that even this was possible unto Him in order that this man might gain from Jesus not going, that knowledge which the centurion had of himself. And so when He saith," Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe," His meaning is, "Ye have not yet the right faith, but still feel towards Me as towards a Prophet." Therefore to reveal Himself and to show that he ought to have believed even without miracles, He said what He said also to Philip, "Believest thou that the Father is in Me and I in the Father? Or if not, believe Me for the very works' sake." (c. xiv. 10, 11.)
Ver. 51-53. "And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house."
Seest thou how evident the miracle was? Not simply nor in a common way was the child freed from danger, but all at once, so that what took place was seen to be the consequence not of nature, but the working of Christ. For when he had reached the very gates of death, as his father showed by saying, "Come down ere my child die"; he was all at once freed from the disease. A fact which roused the servants also, for they perhaps came to meet their master, not only to bring him the good news, but also deeming that the coming of Jesus was now superfluous, (for they knew that their master was gone there,) and so they met him even in the way. The man released froth his fear, thenceforth escaped into faith, being desirous to show that what had been done was the result of his journey, and thenceforth he is ambitious of appearing not to have exerted himself to no purpose; so he ascertained all things exactly, and "himself believed and his whole house." For the evidence was after this unquestionable. For they who had not been present nor had heard Christ speak nor known the time, when they had heard from their master that such and such was the time, had incontrovertible demonstration of His power. Wherefore they also believed.
What now are we taught by these things? Not to wait for miracles, nor to seek pledges of the Power of God. I see many persons even now become more pious, when during the sufferings of a child or the sickness of a wife they enjoy any comfort, yet they ought even if they obtain it not, to persist just the same in giving thanks, in glorifying God. Because it is the part of right-minded servants, and of those who feel such affection and love as they ought for their Master, not only when pardoned, but also when scourged, to run to Him. For these also are effects of the tender care of God; "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth," it says, "every son whom He receiveth." (Heb. xii. 6.) When therefore a man serves Him only in the season of ease, he gives proofs of no great love, and loves not Christ purely. And why speak I of health, or abundant riches, or poverty, or disease? Shouldest thou hear of the fiery pit or of any other dreadful thing, not even so must thou cease from speaking good of thy Master, but suffer and do all things because of thy love for Him. For this is the part of right- minded servants and of an unswerving soul; and he who is disposed after this sort will easily endure the present, and obtain good things to come, and enjoy much confidence in the presence of God; which may it be that we all obtain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee. After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem."
[1.] As in gold mines one skillful in what relates to them would not endure to overlook even the smallest vein as producing much wealth, so in the holy Scriptures it is impossible without loss to pass by one jot or one tittle, we must search into all. For they all are uttered by the Holy Spirit, and nothing useless is written in them.
Consider, for instance, what the Evangelist in this place saith, "This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee." Even the word "second" he has added not without cause, but to exalt yet more the praise of the Samaritans, by showing that even when a second miracle had been wrought, they who beheld it had not yet reached as high as those who had not seen one.
"After this there was a feast of the Jews." What "feast"? Methinks that of Pentecost. "And Jesus went up to Jerusalem." Continually at the feasts He frequenteth the City, partly that He might appear to feast with them, partly that He might attract the multitude that was free from guile; for during these days especially, the more simply disposed ran together more than at other times.
Ver. 2, 3. "Now there is at Jerusalem a sheep pool, called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of halt, blind, withered, waiting for the moving of the water."
What manner of cure is this? What mystery doth it signify to us? For these things are not written carelessly, or without a purpose, but as by a figure and type they show in outline things to come, in order that what was exceedingly strange might not by coming unexpectedly harm among the many the power of faith. What then is it that they show in outline? A Baptism was about to be given, possessing much power, and the greatest of gifts, a Baptism purging all sins, and making men alive instead of dead. These things then are foreshown as in a picture by the pool, and by many other circumstances. And first is given a water which purges the stains of our bodies, and those defilements which are not, but seem to be, as those from touching the dead, those from leprosy, and other similar causes; under the old covenant one may see many things done by water on this account. However let us now proceed to the matter in hand.
First then, as I before said, He causeth defilements of our bodies, and afterwards infirmities of different kinds, to be done away by water. Because God, desiring to bring us nearer to faith in baptism, no longer healeth defilements only, but diseases also. For those figures which came nearer [in time] to the reality, both as regarded Baptism, and the Passion, and the rest, were plainer than the more ancient; and as the guards near the person of the prince are more splendid than those before, so was it with the types. And "an Angel came down and troubled the water," and endued it with a healing power, that the Jews might learn that much more could the Lord of Angels heal the diseases of the soul. Yet as here it was not simply the nature of the water that healed, (for then this would have always taken place,) but water joined to the operations of the Angel; so in our case, it is not merely the water that worketh, but when it hath received the grace of the Spirit, then it putteth away all our sins. Around this pool "lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water"; but then infirmity was a hindrance to him who desired to be healed, now each hath power to approach, for now it is not an Angel that troubleth, it is the Lord of Angels who worketh all. The sick man cannot now say, "I have no man"; he cannot say, "While I am coming another steppeth down before me"; though the whole world should come, the grace is not spent, the power is not exhausted, but remaineth equally great as it was before. Just as the sun's beams give light every day, yet are not exhausted, nor is their light made less by giving so abundant a supply; so, and much more, the power of the Spirit is in no way lessened by the numbers of those who enjoy it. And this miracle was done in order that men, learning that it is possible by water to heal the diseases of the body, and being exercised in this for a long time, might more easily believe that it can also heal the diseases of the soul.
But why did Jesus, leaving the rest, come to one who was of thirty-eight years standing? And why did He ask him, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Not that He might learn, that was needless; but that He might show the man's perseverance, and that we might know that it was on this account that He left the others and came to him. What then saith he? "Yea Lord," he saith, but "I have no man when the water is troubled to put me into the pool, but while I am coming another steppeth down before me."
It was that we might learn these circumstances that Jesus asked, "Wilt thou be made whole?" and said not, "Wilt thou that I heal thee?" (for as yet the man had formed no exalted notions concerning Him,) but "Wilt thou be made whole?" Astonishing was the perseverance of the paralytic, he was of thirty and eight years standing, and each year hoping to be freed from his disease, he continued in attendance, and withdrew not. Had he not been very persevering, would not the future, if not the past, have been sufficient to lead him from the spot? Consider, I pray you, how watchful it was likely that the other sick men there would be since the time when the water was troubled was uncertain. The lame and halt indeed might observe it, but how did the blind see? Perhaps they learnt it from the clamor which arose.
[2.] Let us be ashamed then, beloved, let us be ashamed, and groan over our excessive sloth. "Thirty and eight years" had that man been waiting without obtaining what he desired, and withdrew not. And he had failed not through any carelessness of his own, but through being oppressed and suffering violence from others, and not even thus did he grow dull; while we if we have persisted for ten days to pray for anything and have not obtained it, are too slothful afterwards to employ the same zeal. And on men we wait for so long a time, warring and enduring hardships and performing servile ministrations, and often at last failing in our expectation, but on our Master, from whom we are sure to obtain a recompense greater than our labors, (for, saith the Apostle, "Hope maketh not ashamed"—Rom. v. 5,) on Him we endure not to wait with becoming diligence. What chastisement doth this deserve! For even though we could receive nothing from Him, ought we not to deem the very conversing with Him continually the cause of ten thousand blessings? "But continual prayer is a laborious thing." And what that belongs to virtue is not laborious? "In truth," says some one, "this very point is full of great difficulty, that pleasure is annexed to vice, and labor to virtue." And many, I think, make this a question. What then can be the reason? God gave us at the beginning a life free from care and exempt from labor. We used not the gift aright, but were perverted by doing nothing, and were banished from Paradise. On which account He made our life for the future one of toil, assigning as it were His reasons for this to mankind, and saying, "I allowed you at the beginning to lead a life of enjoyment, but ye were rendered worse by liberty, wherefore I commanded that henceforth labor and sweat be laid upon you." And when even this labor did not restrain us, He next gave us a law containing many commandments, imposing it on us like bits and curbs placed upon an unruly horse to restrain his prancings, just as horse breakers do. This is why life is laborious, because not to labor is wont to be our ruin. For our nature cannot bear to be doing nothing, but easily turns aside to wickedness. Let us suppose that the man who is temperate, and he who tightly performs the other virtues, has no need of labor, but that they do all things in their sleep, still how should we have employed our ease? Would it not have been for pride and boastfulness? "But wherefore," saith some one, "has great pleasure been attached to vice, great labor and toil to virtue?" Why, what thanks wouldest thou have had, and for what wouldest thou have received a reward, if the matter had not been one of difficulty? Even now I can show you many who naturally hate intercourse with women, and avoid conversation with them as impure; shall we then call these chaste, shall we crown these, tell me, and proclaim them victors? By no means. Chastity is self- restraint, and the mastering pleasures which fight, just as in war the trophies are most honorable when the contest is violent, not when no one raises a hand against us. Many are by their very nature passionless; shall we call these good tempered? Not at all. And so the Lord after naming three manners of the eunuch state, leaveth two of them uncrowned, and admitteth one into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. xix. 12.) "But what need," saith one, "was there of wickedness?" I say this too. "What is it then which made wickedness to be?" What but our willful negligence? "But," saith one, "there ought to be only good men." Well, what is proper to the good man? Is it to watch and be sober, or to sleep and snore? "And why," saith one, "seemed it not good that a man should act rightly without laboring?" Thou speakest words which become the cattle or gluttons, or who make their belly their god. For to prove that these are the words of folly, answer me this. Suppose there were a king and a general, and while the king was asleep or drunk, the general should endure hardship and erect a trophy, whose would you count the victory to be? who would enjoy the pleasure of what was done? Seest thou that the soul is more especially disposed towards those things for which she hath labored? and therefore God hath joined labors to virtue, wishing to make us attached to her. For this cause we admire virtue, even although we act not rightly ourselves, while we condemn vice even though it be very pleasant. And if thou sayest, "Why do we not admire those who are good by nature more than those who are so by choice?" we reply, Because it is just to prefer him that laboreth to him that laboreth not. For why is it that we labor? It is because thou didst not bear with moderation the not laboring. Nay more, if one enquire exactly, in other ways also sloth is wont to undo us, and to cause us much trouble. Let us, if you will, shut a man up, only, feeding and pampering him, not allowing him to walk nor conducting him forth to work, but let him enjoy table and bed, and be in luxury continually; what could be more wretched than such a life? "But," saith one," to work is one thing, to labor is another." Yea, but it was in man's power then to work without labor. "And is this," saith he, "possible?" Yea, it is possible; God even desired it, but thou enduredst it not. Therefore He placed thee to work in the garden, marking out employment, but joining with it no labor. For had man labored at the beginning, God would not afterwards have put labor by way of punishment. For it is possible to work and not to be wearied, as do the angels. To prove that they work, hear what David saith; "Ye that excel in strength, ye that do His word." (Ps. ciii. 20, LXX.) Want of strength causeth much labor now, but then it was not so. For "he that hath entered into His rest, hath ceased," saith one, "from his works, as God from His" (Heb. iv. 10): not meaning here idleness, but the ceasing from labor. For God worketh even now, as Christ saith, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." (c. v. x 7.) Wherefore I exhort you that, laying aside all carelessness, you be zealous for virtue. For the pleasure of wickedness is short, but the pain lasting; of virtue, on the contrary, the joy grows not old, the labor is but for a season. Virtue even before the crowns are distributed animates her workman, and feeds him with hopes; vice even before the time of vengeance punishes him who works for her, wringing and terrifying his conscience, and making it apt to imagine all (evils). Are not these things worse than any labors, than any toils? And if these things were not so, if there were pleasure, what could be more worthless than that pleasure? for as soon as it appears it flies away, withering and escaping before it has been grasped, whether you speak of the pleasure of beauty, or that of luxury, or that of wealth, for they cease not daily to decay. But when there is besides (for this pleasure) punishment and vengeance, what can be more miserable than those who go after it? Knowing then this, let us endure all for virtue, so shall we enjoy true pleasure, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"Jesus saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered Him, Yea, Sir, but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool."
[1.] Great is the profit of the divine Scriptures, and all-sufficient is the aid which comes from them. And Paul declared this when he said, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written aforetime for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Rom. xv. 4, and 1 Cor. x. 11.) For the divine oracles are a treasury of all manner of medicines, so that whether it be needful to quench pride, to lull desire to sleep, to tread under foot the love of money, to despise pain, to inspire confidence, to gain patience, from them one may find abundant resource. For what man of those who struggle with long poverty or who are nailed to a grievous disease, will not, when he reads the passage before us, receive much comfort? Since this man who had been paralytic for thirty and eight years, and who saw each year others delivered, and himself bound by his disease, not even so fell back and despaired, though in truth not merely despondency for the past, but also hopelessness for the future, was sufficient to over-strain him. Hear now what he says, and learn the greatness of his sufferings. For when Christ had said "Wilt thou be made whole?" "Yea, Lord," he saith, "but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool." What can be more pitiable than these words? What more sad than these circumstances? Seest thou a heart crushed through long sickness? Seest thou all violence subdued? He uttered no blasphemous word, nor such as we hear the many use in reverses, he cursed not his day, he was not angry at the question, nor did he say, "Art Thou come to make a mock and a jest of us, that Thou asketh whether I desire to be made whole?" but replied gently, and with great mildness, "Yea, Lord"; yet he knew not who it was that asked him, nor that He would heal him, but still he mildly relates all the circumstances and asks nothing further, as though he were speaking to a physician, and desired merely to tell the story of his sufferings. Perhaps he hoped that Christ might be so far useful to him as to put him into the water, and desired to attract Him by these words. What then saith Jesus?
Ver. 8. "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk."
Now some suppose that this is the man in Matthew who was "lying on a bed" (Matt. ix. 2); but it is not so, as is clear in many ways. First, from his wanting persons to stand forward for him. That man had many to care for and to carry him, this man not a single one; wherefore he said, "I have no man." Secondly, from the manner of answering; the other uttered no word, but this man relates his whole case. Thirdly, from the season and the time; this man was healed at a feast, and on the Sabbath, that other on a different day. The places too were different; one was cured in a house, the other by the pool. The manner also of the cure was altered; there Christ said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," but here He braced the body first, and then cared for the soul. In that case there was remission of sins, (for He saith, "Thy sins be forgiven thee,") but in this, warning and threats to strengthen the man for the future; "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." (Ver. 14.) The charges also of the Jews are different; here they object to Jesus, His working on the Sabbath, there they charge Him with blasphemy.
Consider now, I pray you, the exceeding wisdom of God. He raised not up the man at once, but first maketh him familiar by questioning, making way for the coming faith; nor doth He only raise, but biddeth him "take up his bed," so as to confirm the miracle that had been wrought, and that none might suppose what was done to be illusion or a piece of acting. For he would not, unless his limbs had been firmly and thoroughly compacted, have been able to carry his bed. And this Christ often doth, effectually silencing those who would fain be insolent. So in the case of the loaves, that no one might assert that the men had been merely satisfied, and that what was done was an illusion, He caused that there should be many relics of the loaves. So to the leper that was cleansed He said, "Go, show thyself to the priest" (Matt. viii. 4); at once providing most certain proof of the cleansing, and stopping the shameless mouths of those who asserted that He was legislating in opposition to God. This also He did in like manner in the case of the wine; for He did not merely show it to them, but also caused it to be borne to the governor of the feast, in order that one who knew nothing of what had been done, by his confession might bear to Him unsuspected testimony; wherefore the Evangelist saith, that the ruler of the feast "knew not whence it was," thus showing the impartiality of his testimony. And in another place, when He raised the dead, He said, "Give ye him to eat"; supplying this proof of a real resurrection, and by these means persuading even the foolish that He was no deceiver, no dealer in illusions, but that He had come for the salvation of the common nature of mankind.
[2.] But why did not Jesus require faith of this man, as He did in the case of others, saying, "Believest thou that I am able to do this?" It was because the man did not yet clearly know who He was; and it is not before, but after the working of miracles that He is seen so doing. For persons who had beheld His power exerted on others would reasonably have this said to them, while of those who had not yet learned who He was, but who were to know afterwards by means of signs, it is after the miracles that faith is required. And therefore Matthew doth not introduce Christ as having said this at the beginning of His miracles, but when He had healed many, to the two blind men only.
Observe however in this way the faith of the paralytic. When he had heard, "Take up thy bed and walk," he did not mock, nor say, "What can this mean? An Angel cometh down and troubleth the water, and healeth only one, and dost Thou, a man, by a bare command and word hope to be able to do greater things than Angels? This is mere vanity, boasting, mockery." But he neither said nor imagined anything like this, but at once he heard and arose, and becoming whole, was not disobedient to Him that gave the command; for immediately he was made whole, and "took up his bed, and walked." What followed was even far more admirable. That he believed at first, when no one troubled him, was not so marvelous, but that afterwards, when the Jews were full of madness and pressed upon him on all sides, accusing and besieging him and saying, "It is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed," that then he gave no heed to their madness, but most boldly in the midst of the assembly proclaimed his Benefactor and silenced their shameless tongues, this, I say, was an act of great courage. For when the Jews arose against him, and said in a reproachful and insolent manner to him,
Ver. 10. "It is the Sabbath day, it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed"; hear what he saith:
Ver. 11. "He that made me whole, the Same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk."
All but saying, "Ye are silly and mad who bid me not to take Him for my Teacher who has delivered me from a long and grievous malady, and not to obey whatever He may command." Had he chosen to act in an unfair manner, he might have spoke differently, as thus, "I do not this of my own will, but at the bidding of another; if this be a matter of blame, blame him who gave the order, and I will set down the bed." And he might have concealed the cure, for he well knew that they were vexed not so much at the breaking of the Sabbath, as at the curing of his infirmity. Yet he neither concealed this, nor said that, nor asked for pardon, but with loud voice confessed and proclaimed the benefit. Thus did the paralytic; but consider how unfairly they acted. For they said not, "Who is it that hath made thee whole?" on this point they were silent, but kept on bringing forward the seeming transgression.
Vet. 12, 13. "What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place."
And why did Jesus conceal Himself? First that while He was absent, the testimony of the man might be unsuspected, for he who now felt himself whole was a credible witness of the benefit. And in the next place, that He might not cause the fury of the Jews to be yet more inflamed, for the very sight of one whom they envy is wont to kindle not a small spark in malicious persons. On this account He retired, and left the deed by itself to plead its cause among them, that He might not say anything in person respecting Himself, but that they might do so who had been healed, and with them also the accusers. Even these last for a while testify to the miracle, for they said not, "Wherefore hast thou commanded these things to be done on the Sabbath day?" but, "Wherefore doest thou these things on the Sabbath day?" not being displeased at the transgression, but envious at the restoration of the paralytic. Yet in respect of human labor, what the paralytic did was rather a work, for the other was a saying and a word. Here then He commandeth another to break the Sabbath, but elsewhere He doth the same Himself, mixing clay and anointing a man's eyes (c. 9); yet He cloth these things not transgressing, but going beyond the Law. And on this we shall hereafter speak. For He cloth not, when accused by the Jews respecting the Sabbath, always defend Himself in the same terms, and this we must carefully observe.
[3.] But let us consider awhile how great an evil is envy, how it disables the eyes of the soul to the endangering his salvation who is possessed by it. For as madmen often thrust their swords against their own bodies, so also malicious persons looking only to one thing, the injury of him they envy, care not for their own salvation. Men like these are worse than wild beasts; they when wanting food, or having first been provoked by us, arm themselves against us; but these men when they have received kindness, have often repaid their benefactors as though they had wronged them. Worse than wild beasts are they, like the devils, or perhaps worse than even those; for they against us indeed have unceasing hostility, but do not plot against those of their own nature, (and so by this Jesus silenced the Jews when the said that He cast out devils by Beelzebub,) but these men neither respect their common nature, nor spare their own selves. For before they vex those whom they envy they vex their own souls, filling them with all manner of trouble and despondency, fruitlessly and in vain. For wherefore grievest thou, O man, at the prosperity of thy neighbor? We ought to grieve at the ills we suffer, not because we see others in good repute. Wherefore this sin is stripped of all excuse. The fornicator may allege his lust, the thief his poverty, the man-slayer his passion, frigid excuses and unreasonable, still they have these to allege. But what reason, tell me, wilt thou name? None other at all, but that of intense wickedness. If we are commanded to love our enemies, what punishment shall we suffer if we hate our very friends? And if he who loveth those that love him will be in no better a state than the heathen, what excuse, what palliation shall he have who injures those that have done him no wrong? Hear Paul, what he saith, "Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1 Cor. xiii. 3); now it is clear to every one that where envy and malice are, there charity is not. This feeling is worse than fornication and adultery, for these go no farther than him who doeth them, but the tyranny of envy hath overturned entire Churches, and hath destroyed the whole world. Envy is the mother of murder. Through this Cain slew Abel his brother; through this Esau (would have slain) Jacob, and his brethren Joseph, through this the devil all mankind. Thou indeed now killest not, but thou dost many things worse than murder, desiring that thy brother may act unseemly, laying snares for him on all sides, paralyzing his labors on the side of virtue, grieving that he pleaseth the Master of the world. Yet thou warrest not with thy brother, but with Him whom he serves, Him thou insultest when thou preferest thy glory to His. And what is in truth worst of all, is that this sin seems to be an unimportant one, while in fact it is more grievous than any other; for though thou showest mercy and watchest and fastest, thou art more accursed than any if thou enviest thy brother. As is clear from this circumstance also. A man of the Corinthians was once guilty of adultery, yet he was charged with his sin and soon restored to righteousness; Cain envied Abel; but he was not healed, and although God Himself continually charmed the wound, he became more pained and wave-tossed, and was hurried on to murder. Thus this passion is worse than that other, and doth not easily permit itself to be cured except we give heed. Let us then by all means tear it up by the roots, considering this, that as we offend God when we waste with envy at other men's blessings, so when we rejoice with them we are well pleasing to Him, and render ourselves partakers of the good things laid up for the righteous. Therefore Paul exhorteth us to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Rom. xii. 15), that on either hand we may reap great profit.
Considering then that even when we labor not, by rejoicing with him that laboreth, we become sharers of his crown, let us cast aside all envy, and implant charity in our souls, that by applauding those of our brethren who are well pleasing unto God, we may obtain both present and future good things, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
"Afterward Jesus findeth him in the Temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."
[1.] A fearful thing is sin, fearful, and the ruin of the soul, and the mischief oftentimes through its excess has overflowed and attacked men's bodies also. For since for the most part when the soul is diseased we feel no pain, but if the body receive though but a little hurt, we use every exertion to free it from its infirmity, because we are sensible of the infirmity, therefore God oftentimes punisheth the body for the transgressions of the soul, so that by means of the scourging of the inferior part, the better part also may receive some healing. Thus too among the Corinthians Paul restored the adulterer, checking the disease of the soul by the destruction of the flesh, and having applied the knife to the body, so repressed the evil (1 Cor. v. 5); like some excellent physician employing external cautery for dropsy or spleen, when they refuse to yield to internal remedies. This also Christ did in the case of the paralytic; as He showed when He said, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."
Now what do we learn from this? First, that his disease had been produced by his sins; secondly, that the accounts of hell fire are to be believed; thirdly, that the punishment is long, nay endless. Where now are those who say, "I murdered in an hour, I committed adultery in a little moment of time, and am I eternally punished?" For behold this man had not sinned for so many years as he suffered, for he had spent a whole lifetime in the length of his punishment; and sins are not judged by time, but by the nature of the transgressions. Besides this, we may see another thing, that though we have suffered severely for former sins, if we afterwards fall into the same, we shall suffer much more severely. And with good reason; for he who is not made better even by punishment, is afterwards led as insensible and a despiser to still heavier chastisement. The fault should of itself be sufficient to check and to render more sober the man who once has slipped, but when not even the addition of punishment effects this, he naturally requires more bitter torments. Now if even in this world when after punishment we fall into the same sins, we are chastised yet more severely then before, ought we not when after sinning we have not been punished at all, to be then very exceedingly afraid and to tremble, as being about to endure something irreparable? "And wherefore," saith some one, "are not all thus punished? for we see many bad men well in body, vigorous, and enjoying great prosperity." But let us not be confident, let us mourn for them in this case most of all, since their having suffered nothing here, helps them on" to a severer vengeance hereafter. As Paul declares when he saith, "But now that we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. xi. 32); for the punishments here are for warning, there for vengeance.
"What then," saith one, "do all diseases proceed from sin?" Not all, but most of them; and some proceed from different kinds of loose living, since gluttony, intemperance, and sloth, produce such like sufferings. But the one rule we have to observe, is to bear every stroke thankfully; for they are sent because of our sins, as in the Kings we see one attacked by gout (1 Kings xv. 23); they are sent also to make us approved, as the Lord saith to Job, "Thinkest thou that I have spoken to thee, save that thou mightest appear righteous?" (Job xl. 8, LXX.)
But why is it that in the case of these paralytics Christ bringeth forward their sins? For He saith also to him in Matthew who lay on a bed, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee" (Matt. ix. 2): and to this man, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more." I know that some slander this paralytic, asserting that he was an accuser of Christ, and that therefore this speech was addressed to him; what then shall we say of the other in Matthew, who heard nearly the same words? For Christ saith to him also, "Thy sins be forgiven thee." Whence it is clear, that neither was this man thus addressed on the account which they allege. And this we may see more clearly from what follows; for, saith the Evangelist, "Afterward Jesus findeth him in the Temple," which is an indication of his great piety; for he departed not into the market places and walks, nor gave himself up to luxury and ease, but remained in the Temple, although about to sustain so violent an attack and to be harassed by all there. Yet none of these things persuaded him to depart from the Temple. Moreover Christ having found him, even after he had conversed with the Jews, implied nothing of the kind. For had He desired to charge him with this, He would have said to him, "Art thou again attempting the same sins as before, art thou not made better by thy cure?" Yet He said nothing of the kind, but merely secureth him for the future.
[2.] Why then, when He had cured the halt and maimed, did He not in any instance make mention of the like? Methinks that the diseases of these (the paralytic) arose from acts of sin, those of the others from natural infirmity. Or if this be not so, then by means of these men, and by the words spoken to them, He hath spoken to the rest also. For since this disease is more grievous than any other, by the greater He correcteth also the less. And as when He had healed a certain other He charged him to give glory to God, addressing this exhortation not to him only but through him to all, so He addresseth to these, and by these to all the rest of mankind, that exhortation and advice which was given to them by word of mouth. Besides this we may also say, that Jesus perceived great endurance in his soul, and addressed the exhortation to him as to one who was able to receive His command, keeping him to health both by the benefit, and by the fear of future ills.
And observe the absence of boasting. He said not, "Behold, I have made thee whole," but, "Thou art made whole; sin no more." And again, not, "lest I punish thee," but, "lest a worse thing come unto thee"; putting both expressions not personally, and showing that the cure was rather of grace than of merit. For He declared not to him that he was delivered after suffering the deserved amount of punishment, but that through lovingkindness he was made whole. Had this not been the case, He would have said, "Behold, thou hast suffered a sufficient punishment for thy sins, be thou steadfast for the future." But now He spake not so, but how? "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more." Let us continually repeat these words to ourselves, and if after having been chastised we have been delivered, let each say to himself, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more." But if we suffer not punishment though continuing in the same courses, let us use for our charm that word of the Apostle, "The goodness of God leadeth [us] to repentance, but after [our] hardness and impenitent heart, [we] treasure up unto [ourselves] wrath." (Rom. ii. 4, 5.)
And not only by strengthening a the sick man's body, but also in another way, did He afford him a strong proof of His Divinity; for by saying, "Sin no more," He showed that He knew all the transgressions that had formerly been committed by him; and by this He would gain his belief as to the future.
Ver. 15. "The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus that had made him whole."
Again observe him continuing in the same right feeling. He saith not, "This is he who said, Take up thy bed," but when they continually advanced this seeming charge, he continually puts forward the defense, again declaring his Healer, and seeking to attract and attach others to Him. For he was not so unfeeling as after such a benefit and charge to betray his Benefactor, and to speak as he did with an evil intention. Had he been a wild beast, had he been something unlike a man and of stone, the benefit and the fear would have been enough to restrain him, since, having the threat lodged within, he would have dreaded lest he should suffer "a worse thing," having already received the greatest pledges of the power of his Physician. Besides, had he wished to slander Him, he would have said nothing about his own cure, but would have mentioned and urged against Him the breach of the Sabbath. But this is not the case, surely it is not; the words are words of great boldness and candor; he procaims his Benefactor no less than the blind man did. For what said he? "He made clay, and anointed mine eyes" (c. ix. 6); and so this man of whom we now speak, "It is Jesus who made me whole."
Ver. 16. "Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day." What then saith Christ?
Ver. 17. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."
When there was need to make excuse for the Disciples, He brought forward David their fellow-servant, saying, "Have ye not read what David did when he was an hungered?" (Matt. xii. 2.) But when excuse was to be made for Himself, He betook Himself to the Father, showing in two ways His Equality, by calling God His Father peculiarly, and by doing the same things which He did. "And wherefore did He not mention what took place at Jericho?" Because He wished to raise them up from earth that they might no longer attend to Him as to a man, but as to God, and as to one who ought to legislate: since had He not been The Very Son and of the same Essence, the defense would have been worse than the charge. For if a viceroy who had altered a royal law should, when charged with so doing, excuse himself in this manner, and say, "Yea, for the king also has annulled laws," he would not be able to escape, but would thus increase the weight of the charge. But in this instance, since the dignity is equal, the defense is made perfect on most secure grounds. "From the charges," saith He, "from which ye absolve God, absolve Me also." And therefore He said first, "My Father," that He might persuade them even against their will to allow to Him the same, through reverence of His clearly asserted Sonship.
If any one say, "And how doth the Father 'work,' who ceased on the seventh day from all His works?" let him learn the manner in which He "worketh." What then is the manner of His working? He careth for, He holdeth together all that hath been made. Therefore when thou beholdest the sun rising and the moon running in her path, the lakes, and fountains, and rivers, and rains, the course of nature in the seeds and in our own bodies and those of irrational beings, and all the rest by means of which this universe is made up, then learn the ceaseless working of the Father. "For He maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt. v. 45.) And again; "If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the fire " (Matt. vi. 30); and speaking of the birds He said, "Your Heavenly Father feedeth them."
[3.] In that place then He did all on the Sabbath day by words only, and added nothing more, but refuted their charges by what was done in the Temple and from their own practice. But here where He commanded a work to be done, the taking up a bed, (a thing of no great importance as regarded the miracle, though by it He showed one point, a manifest violation of the Sabbath,) He leads up His discourse to something greater, desiring the more to awe them by reference to the dignity of the Father, and to lead them up to higher thought. Therefore when His discourse is concerning the Sabbath, He maketh not His defense as man only, or as God only, but sometimes in one way, sometimes in the other; because He desired to persuade them both of the condescension of the Dispensation, and the Dignity of His Godhead. Therefore He now defendeth Himself as God, since had He always conversed with them merely as a man, they would have continued in the same low condition. Wherefore that this may not be, He bringeth forward the Father. Yet the creation itself "worketh" on the Sabbath, (for the sun runneth, rivers flow, fountains bubble, women bear,) but that thou mayest learn that He is not of creation, He said not, "Yea, I work, for creation worketh," but, "Yea, I work, for My Father worketh."
Ver. 18. "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God."
And this he asserted not by words merely, but by deeds, for not in speech alone, but also yet oftener by actions He declared it. Why so? Because they might object to His words and charge Him with arrogance, but when they saw the truth of His actions proved by results, and His power proclaimed by works, after that they could say nothing against Him.
But they who Will not receive these words in a right mind assert, that "Christ made not Himself equal to God, but that the Jews suspected this." Come then let us go over what has been said from the beginning. Tell me, did the Jews persecute Him, or did they not? It is clear to every one that they did. Did they persecute Him for this or for something else? It is again allowed that it was for this. Did He then break the Sabbath, or did He not? Against the fact that He did, no one can have anything to say. Did He call God His Father, or did He not call Him so? This too is true. Then the rest also follows by the same consequence; for as to call God His Father, to break the Sabbath, and to be persecuted by the Jews for the former and more especially for the latter reason, belonged not to a false imagination, but to actual fact, so to make Himself equal to God was a declaration of the same meaning.
And this one may see more clearly from what He had before said, for "My Father worketh and I work," is the expression of One declaring Himself equal to God. For in these words He has marked no difference. He said not, "He worketh, and I minister," but, "As He worketh, so work I"; and hath declared absolute Equality. But if He had not wished to establish this, and the Jews had supposed so without reason, He would not have allowed their minds to be deceived, but would have corrected this. Besides, the Evangelist would not have been silent on the subject, but would have plainly said that the Jews supposed so, but that Jesus did not make Himself equal to God. As in another place he doth this very thing, when he perceiveth that something was said in one way, and understood in another; as, "Destroy this Temple," said Christ, "and in three days I will raise It up" (c. ii. 19); speaking of His Flesh. But the Jews, not understanding this, and supposing that the words were spoken of the Jewish Temple, said, "Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt Thou rear it up in three days?" Since then He said one thing, and they imagined another, (for He spake of His Flesh, and they thought that the words were spoken of their Temple,) the Evangelist remarking on this, or rather correcting their imagination, goes on to say, "But He spake of the Temple of His Body." So that here also, if Christ had not made Himself equal with God, had not wished to establish this, and yet the Jews had imagined that He did, the writer would here also have corrected their supposition, and would have said, "The Jews thought that He made Himself equal to God, but indeed He spake not of equality." And this is done not in this place only, nor by this Evangelist only, but again elsewhere another Evangelist is seen to do the same. For when Christ warned His disciples, saying, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matt. xvi. 6), and they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread," and He spake of one thing, calling their doctrine "leaven," but the disciples imagined another, supposing that the words were said of bread; it is not now the Evangelist who setteth them right, but Christ Himself, speaking thus, "How is it that ye do not understand, that I spake not to you concerning bread?" But here there is nothing of the kind.
"But," saith some one, "to remove this very thought Christ has added,
Ver. 19. "'The Son can do nothing of Him self.'"
Man! He doth the contrary. He saith this not to take away, but to confirm, His Equality. But attend carefully, for this is no common question. The expression "of Himself" is found in many places of Scripture, with reference both to Christ and to the Holy Ghost, and we must learn the force of the expression, that we may not fall into the greatest errors; for if one take it separately by itself in the way in which it is obvious to take it, consider how great an absurdity will follow. He said not that He could do some things of Himself and that others He could not, but universally,
[4.] "The Son can do nothing of Himself." I ask then my opponent, "Can the Son do nothing of Himself, tell me?" If he reply. "that He can do nothing," we will say, that He hath done of Himself the very greatest of all goods. As Paul cries aloud, saying, "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant." (Phil. ii. 6, 7.) And again, Christ Himself in another place saith, "I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again": and, "No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself." (c. x. 18.) Seest thou that He hath power over life and death, and that He wrought of Himself so mighty a Dispensation? And why speak I concerning Christ, when even we, than whom nothing can be meaner, do many things of ourselves? Of ourselves we choose vice, of ourselves we go after virtue, and if we do it not of ourselves, and not having power, we shall neither suffer hell if we do wrong, nor enjoy the Kingdom if we do right.
What then meaneth, "Can do nothing of Himself"? That He can do nothing in opposition to the Father, nothing alien from, nothing strange to Him, which is especially the assertion of One declaring an Equality and entire agreement.
But wherefore said He not, that "He doeth nothing contrary," instead of, "He cannot do"? It was that from this again He might show the invariableness and exactness of the Equality, for the expression imputes not weakness to Him, but even shows His great power; since in another place Paul saith of the Father, "That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie" (Heb. vi. 18): and again, "If we deny Him—He abideth faithful," for "He cannot deny Himself." (2 Tim. ii. 12, 13.) And in truth this expression, "impossible," is not declaratory of weakness, but power, power unspeakable. For what He saith is of this kind, that "that Essence admitteth not such things as these." For just as when we also say, "it is impossible for God to do wrong," we do not impute to Him any weakness, but confess in Him an unutterable power; so when He also saith, "I can of Mine own Self do nothing" (v. 30), His meaning is, that "it is impossible, nature admits not, that I should do anything contrary to the Father." And that you may learn that this is really what is said, let us, going over what follows, see whether Christ agreeth with what is said by us, or among you. Thou sayest, that the expression does away with His Power and His proper Authority, and shows His might to be but weak; but I say, that this proves His Equality, His unvarying Likeness, (to the Father,) and the fact that all is done as it were by one Will and Power and Might. Let us then enquire of Christ Himself, and see by what He next saith whether He interpreteth these words according to thy supposition or according to ours. What then saith He?
"For what things soever the Father doeth these also doeth the Son likewise."
Seest thou how He hath taken away you assertion by the root, and confirmed what is said by us? since, if Christ doeth nothing of Himself, neither will the Father do anything of Himself, if so be that Christ doeth all things in like manner to Him. If this be not the case, another strange conclusion will follow. For He said not, that "whatsoever things He saw the Father do, He did," but, "except He see the Father doing anything, He doeth it not"; extending His words to all time; now He will, according to you, be continually learning the same things. Seest thou how exalted is the idea, and that the very humility of the expression compelleth even the most shameless and unwilling to avoid groveling thoughts, and such as are unsuited to His dignity? For who so wretched and miserable as to assert, that the Son learneth day by day what He must do? and how can that be true, "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail"? (Ps. cii. 27), or that other, "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made" (c. i. 3); if the Father doeth certain things, and the Son seeth and imitateth Him? Seest thou that from what was asserted above, and from what was said afterwards, proof is given of His independent Power? and if He bringeth forward some expressions in lowly manner, marvel not, for since they persecuted Him when they had heard His exalted sayings, and deemed Him to be an enemy of God, sinking a little in expression alone, He again leadeth His discourse up to the sublimer doctrines, then in turn to the lower, varying His teaching that it might be easy of acceptance even to the indisposed. Observe, after saying, "My Father worketh, and I work"; and after declaring Himself equal with God, He addeth, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." Then again in a higher strain, "What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." Then in a lower,
Ver. 20. "The Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth; and He will show Him greater works than these."
Seest thou how great is the humility of this? And with reason; for what I said before, what I shall not cease to say, I will now repeat, that when He uttereth anything low or humbly, He putteth it in excess, that the very poverty of the expression may persuade even the indisposed to receive the notions with pious understanding. Since, if it be not so, see how absurd a thing is asserted, making the trial from the words themselves For when He saith, "And shall show Him greater works than these," He will be found not to have yet learned many things, which cannot be said even of the Apostles; for they when they had once received the grace of the Spirit, in a moment both knew and were able to do all things which it was needful that they should know and have power to do, while Christ will be found to have not yet learned many things which He needed to know. And what can be more absurd than this?
What then is His meaning? It was because He had strengthened the paralytic, and was about to raise the dead, that He thus spake, all but saying, "Wonder ye that I have strengthened the paralyzed? Ye shall see greater things than these." But He spake not thus, but proceeded somehow in a humbler strain, in order that He might soothe their madness. And that thou mayest learn that "shall show" is not used absolutely, listen again to what followeth.
Ver. 21. "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will."
Yet "can do nothing of Himself" is opposed to "whom He will": since if He quickeneth "whom He will," He can do something "of Himself," (for to "will" implies power,) but if He "can do nothing of Himself," then He cannot "quicken whom He will." For the expression, "as the Father raiseth up," showeth unvarying resemblance in Power, and "whom He will," Equality of Authority. Seest thou therefore that "cannot do anything of Himself" is the expression of One not taking away His (own) authority, but declaring the unvarying resemblance of His Power and Will (to those of the Father)? In this sense also understand the words, "shall show to Him"; for in another place He saith, "I will raise him up at the last Day." (c. vi. 40.) And again, to show that He doth it not by receiving an inward power from above, He saith, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." (c. xi. 25.) Then that thou mayest not assert that He raiseth what dead He will and quickeneth them, but that He doth not other things in such manner, He anticipateth and preventeth every objection of the kind by saying, "What things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise," thus declaring that He doeth all things which the Father doeth, and as the Father doeth them; whether thou speakest of the raising of the dead, or the fashioning of bodies, or the remission of sins, or any other matter whatever, He worketh in like manner to Him who begat Him.
[5.] But men careless of their salvation give heed to none of these things; so great an evil is it to be in love with precedence. This has been the mother of heresies, this has confirmed the impiety of the heathen. For God desired that His invisible things should be understood by the creation of this world (Rom. i. 20), but they having left these and refused to come by this mode of teaching, cut out for themselves another way, and so were cast out from the true. And the Jews believed not because they received honor from one another, and sought not the honor which is from God. But let us, beloved, avoid this disease exceedingly and with all earnestness; for though we have ten thousand good qualities, this plague of vainglory is sufficient to bring them all to nought. (c. v. 44.) If therefore we desire praise, let us seek the praise which is from God, for the praise of men of what kind soever it be, as soon as it has appeared has perished, or if it perish not, brings to us no profit, and often proceeds from a corrupt judgment. And what is there to be admired in the honor which is from men? which young dancers enjoy, and abandoned women, and covetous and rapacious men? But he who is approved of God, is approved not with these, but with those holy men the Prophets and Apostles, who have shown forth an angelic life. If we feel any desire to lead multitudes about with us or be looked at by them, let us consider the matter apart by itself, and we shall find that it is utterly worthless. In fine, if thou art fond of crowds, draw to thyself the host of angels, and become terrible to the devils, then shalt thou care nothing for mortal things, but shalt tread all that is splendid underfoot as mire and clay; and shall clearly see that nothing so fits a soul for shame as the passion for glory; for it cannot, it cannot be, that the man who desires this should live the crucified life, as on the other hand it is not possible that the man who hath trodden this underfoot should not tread down most other passions; for he who masters this will get the better of envy and covetousness, and all the grievous maladies. "And how," saith some one, "shall we get the better of it?" If we look to the other glory which is from heaven, and from which this kind strives to cast us out. For that heavenly glory both makes us honored here, and passes with us into the life which is to come, and delivers us from all fleshly slavery which we now most miserably serve, giving up ourselves entirely to earth and the things of earth. For if you go into the forum, if you enter into a house, into the streets, into the soldiers' quarters, into inns, taverns, ships, islands, palaces, courts of justice, council chambers, you shall everywhere find anxiety for things present and belonging to this life, and each man laboring for these things, whether gone or coming, traveling or staying at home, voyaging, tilling lands, in the fields, in the cities, in a word, all. What hope then of salvation have we, when inhabiting God's earth we care not for the things of God, when bidden to be aliens from earthly things we are aliens from heaven and citizens of earth? What can be worse than this insensibility, when hearing each day of the Judgment and of the Kingdom, we imitate the men in the days of Noah, and those of Sodom, waiting to learn all by actual experience? Yet for this purpose were all those things written, that if any one believe not that which is to come, he may, from what has already been, get certain proof of what shall be. Considering therefore these things, both the past and the future, let us at least take breath a little from this hard slavery, and make some account of our souls also, that we may obtain both present and future blessings; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"For My Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son; that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father."
[1.] Beloved, we need great diligence in all things, for we shall render account of and undergo a strict enquiry both of words and works. Our interests stop not with what now is, but a certain other condition of life shall receive us after this, and we shall be brought before a fearful tribunal. "For we must appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor. v. 10.) Let us ever bear in mind this tribunal, that we may thus be enabled at all times to continue in virtue; for as he who has cast out from his soul that day, rushes like a horse that has burst his bridle to precipices, (for "his ways are always defiled" —Ps. x. 5,) and then assigning the reason the Psalmist hath added, "He putteth Thy judgments far away out of his sight";) so he that always retains this fear will walk soberly. "Remember," saith one, "thy last things, and thou shalt never do amiss." (Ecclus. vii. 40.) For He who now hath remitted our sins, will then sin in judgment; He who hath died for our sake will then appear again to judge all mankind. "Unto them that look for Him," saith the Apostle, "shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb. ix. 28.) Wherefore in this place also He saith, "My Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son; even as they honor the Father."
"Shall we then," saith some one, "also call Him Father?" Away with the thought. He useth the word "Son" that we may honor Him still remaining a Son, as we honor the Father; but he who calleth Him "Father" doth not honor the Son as the Father, but has confounded the whole. Moreover as men are not so much brought to by being benefited as by being punished, on this account He hath spoken thus terribly, that even fear may draw them to honor Him. And when He saith "all," His meaning is this, that He hath power to punish and to honor, and doeth either as He will. The expression "hath given," is used that thou mayest not suppose Him not to have been Begotten, and so think that there are two Fathers. For all that the Father is, this the Son is also, Begotten, and remaining a Son. And that thou mayest learn that "hath given" is the same as "hath begotten," hear this very thing declared by another place. "As," saith Christ, "the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." (Ver. 26.) "What then? Did he first beget and then give Him life? For he who giveth, giveth to something which is. Was He then begotten without life?" Not even the devils could imagine this for it is very foolish as well as impious. As then "hath given life" is "hath begotten Him who is Life," so, "hath given judgment" is "hath begotten Him who shall be Judge."
That thou mayest not when thou hearest that He hath the Father for His cause imagine any difference of essence or inferiority of honor, He cometh to judge thee, by this proving His Equality. For He who hath authority to punish and to honor whom He will, hath the same Power with the Father. Since, if this be not the case, if having been begotten He afterwards received the honor, how came it that He was afterwards [thus] honored, by what mode of advancement reached He so far as to receive and be appointed to this dignity? Are ye not ashamed thus impudently to apply to that Pure Nature which admitteth of no addition these carnal and mean imaginations?
"Why then," saith some one, "doth Christ so speak?" That His words may be readily received, and to clear the way for sublime sayings; therefore He mixeth these with those, and those with these. And observe how (He doth it); for it is good to see this from the beginning. He said, "My Father worketh, and I work" (c. v. 17, &c.): declaring by this their Equality and Equal honor. But they "sought to kill Him." What doth He then? He lowereth His form of speech indeed, and putteth the same meaning when He saith, "The Son can do nothing of Himself." Then again He raiseth His discourse to high matters, saying, "What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." Then He returneth to what is lower, "For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth; and He will show Him greater things than these." Then He riseth higher, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." After this again He joineth the high and the low together, "For neither doth the Father judge any one, but hath given all judgment to the Son"; then riseth again, "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." Seest thou how He varieth the discourse, weaving it both of high and low words and expressions, in order that it might be acceptable to the men of that time, and that those who should come after might receive no injury, gaining from the higher part a right opinion of the rest? For if this be not the case, if these sayings were not uttered through condescension, wherefore were the high expressions added? Because one who is entitled to utter great words concerning himself, hath, when he saith anything mean and low, this reasonable excuse, that he doth it for some prudential purpose; but if one who ought to speak meanly of himself saith anything great, on what account doth he utter words which surpass his nature? This is not for any purpose at all, but an act of extreme impiety.
[2.] We are therefore able to assign a reason for the lowly expressions, a reason sufficient and becoming to God, namely, His condescension, His teaching us to be moderate, and the salvation which is thus wrought for us. To declare which He said Himself in another place, "These things I say that ye might be saved." For when He left His own witness, and betook Himself to that of John, (a thing unworthy of His greatness,) He putteth the reason of such lowliness of language, and saith, "These things I say that ye might be saved." And ye who assert that He hath not the same authority and power with Him who begot Him, what can ye say when ye hear Him utter words by which He declareth His Authority and Power and Glory equal in respect of the Father? Wherefore, if He be as ye assert very inferior, doth He claim the same honor? Nor doth He stop even here, but goeth on to say,
"He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him." Seest thou how the honor of the Son is connected with that of the Father? "What of that?" saith one. "We see the same in the case of the Apostles; 'He,' saith Christ, 'who receiveth you receiveth Me.'" (Matt. x. 40.) But in that place He speaketh so, because He maketh the concerns of His servants His own; here, because the Essence and the Glory is One (with that of the Father). Therefore it is not said of the Apostles." that they may honor," but rightly He saith, "He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father." For where there are two kings, if one is insulted the other is insulted also, and especially when he that is insulted is a son. He is insulted even when one of his soldiers is maltreated; not in the same way as in this case, but as it were in the person of another, while here it is as it were in his own. Wherefore He beforehand said, "That they should honor the Son even as they honor the Father," in order that when He should say, "He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father," thou mightest understand that the honor is the same. For He saith not merely, "he that honoreth not the Son," but "he that honoreth Him not so as I have said" "honoreth not the Father."
"And how," saith one, "can he that sendeth and he that is sent be of the same essence?" Again, thou bringest down the argument to carnal things, and perceivest not that all this has been said for no other purpose, but that we might know Him to be The Cause, and not fall into the error of Sabellius, and that in this manner the infirmity of the Jews might be healed, so that He might not be deemed an enemy of God; for they said, "This man is not of God" (c. ix. 16), "This man hath not come from God." Now to remove this suspicion, high sayings did not contribute so much as the lowly, and therefore continually and everywhere He said that He had been "sent"; not that thou mightest suppose that expression to be any lessening of His greatness, but in order to stop their mouths. And for this cause also He constantly betaketh Himself to the Father, interposing moreover mention of His own high Parentage. For had He said all in proportion to His dignity, the Jews would not have received His words, since because of a few such expressions. they persecuted and oftentimes stoned Him; and if looking wholly to them He had used none but low expressions, many in after times might have been harmed. Wherefore He mingleth and blendeth His teaching, both by these lowly sayings stopping, as I said, the mouths of the Jews, and also by expressions suited to His dignity banishing from men of sense any mean notion of what He had said, and proving that such a notion did not in any wise apply to Him at all.
The expression "having been sent" denoteth change of place—but God is everywhere present. Wherefore then saith He that He was "sent"? He speaketh in an earthly way, declaring His unanimity with the Father. At least He shapeth His succeeding words with a desire to effect this.
Ver. 24. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life."
Seest thou how continually He putteth the same thing to cure that feeling of suspicion, both in this place and in what follows by fear and by promises of blessings removing their jealousy of Him, and then again condescending greatly in words? For He said not, "he that heareth My words, and believeth on Me," since they would have certainly deemed that to be pride, and a superfluous pomp of words; because, if after a very long time, and ten thousand miracles, they suspected this when He spake after this manner, much more would they have done so then. It was on this account that at that later period they said to Him, "Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, how sayest Thou, If a man keep My saying, he shall never taste of death?" (c. viii. 52.) In order therefore that they may not here also become furious, see what He saith, "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life." This had no small effect in making His discourse acceptable, when they learned that those who hear Him believe in the Father also; for after having received this with readiness, they would more easily receive the rest. So that the very speaking in a humble manner contributed and led the way to higher things; for after saying, "hath everlasting life," He addeth,
"And cometh not into judgment, but is passed from death unto life."
By these two things He maketh His discourse acceptable; first, because it is the Father who is believed on, and then, because the believer enjoyeth many blessings. And the "cometh not into judgment" meaneth, "is not punished," for He speaketh not of death "here," but of death eternal, as also of the other "life" which is deathless.
Ver. 25. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that have heard shall live."
Having said the words, He speaketh also of the proof by deeds. For when He had said, "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will," that the thing may not seem to be mere boasting and pride, He affordeth proof by works, saying, "The hour cometh"; then, that thou mayest not deem that the time is long, He addeth, "and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have heard shall live." Seest thou here His absolute and unutterable authority? For as it shall be in the Resurrection, even so, He saith, it shall be "now." Then too when we hear His voice commanding us we are raised; for, saith the Apostle, "at the command of God the dead shall arise." "And whence," perhaps some one will ask, "is it clear that the words are not mere boast?" From what He hath added, "and now is"; because had His promises referred only to some future time, His discourse would have been suspected by them, but now He supplieth them with a proof: "While I," saith He, "am tarrying among you, this thing shall come to pass"; and He would not, had He not possessed the power, have promised for that time, lest through the promise He should incur the greater ridicule. Then too He addeth an argument demonstrative of His assertions, saying,
Ver. 26. "For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself."
[3.] Seest thou that this declareth a perfect likeness save in one point, which is the One being a Father, and the Other a Son? for the expression "hath given," merely introduceth this distinction, but declareth that all the rest is equal and exactly alike. Whence it is clear that the Son doeth all things with as much authority and power as the Father, and that He is not empowered from some other source, for He "hath life" so as the Father hath. And on this. account, what comes after is straightway added, that from this we may understand the other also. What is this then? It is,
Ver. 27. "Hath given Him authority to execute judgment also."
And wherefore doth He continually dwell upon "resurrection" and "judgment"? For He saith, "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will": and again, "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son": and again, "As the Father hath life in Himself so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself"; and again, "They that have heard [the Voice of the Son of God] shall live"; and here again, "Hath given to Him authority to execute judgment." Wherefore doth He dwell on these things continually? I mean, on "judgment," and "life," and "resurrection"? It is because these subjects are able most of any to attract even the obstinate hearer.
For the man who is persuaded that he shall both rise again and shall give account to Christ of his transgressions, even though he have seen no other sign, yet having admitted this, will surely run to Him to propitiate his Judge.
"That He is the Son of Man (v. 28), marvel not at this."
Paul of Samosata rendereth it not so; but how? "Hath given Him authority to execute judgment, 'because' He is the Son of Man." Now the passage thus read is inconsequent, for He did not receive judgment "because" He was man, (since then what hindered all men from being judges,) but because He is the Son of that Ineffable Essence, therefore is He Judge. So we must read, "That He is the Son of Man, marvel not at this." For when what He said seemed to the hearers inconsistent, and they deemed Him nothing more than mere man while His words were greater than suited man yea, or even angel, and were proper to God only, to solve this objection He addeth,
Ver. 28, 29. "Marvel not [that He is the Son of Man,] for the hour is coming in the which they that are in the tombs shall hear His voice and shall go forth, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment."
And wherefore said He not, "Marvel not that He is the Son of Man, for He is also the Son of God," but rather mentioned the "resurrection"? He did indeed put this above, by saying, "shall hear the Voice of the Son of God." And if here He is silent on the matter, wonder not; for after mentioning a work which was proper to God, He then permitteth His hearers to collect from it that He was God, and the Son of God. For had this been continually asserted by Himself, it would at that time have offended them but when proved by the argument of miracles it rendered His doctrine less burdensome. So they who put together syllogisms, when having laid down their premises they have fairly proved the point in question, frequently do not draw the conclusion themselves, but to render their hearers more fairly disposed, and to make their victory more evident, cause the opponent himself to give the verdict, so that the by-standers may the rather agree with them when their opponents decide in their favor. When therefore He mentioned the resurrection of Lazarus, He spake not of the Judgment (for it was not for this that Lazarus arose); but when He spake generally He also added, that "they that have done good shall go forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment." Thus also John led on his hearers by speaking of the Judgment, and that "he that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him" (c. iii. 36): so too Himself led on Nicodemus: "He that believeth on the Son," He said to him, "is not judged, but he that believeth not is judged already" (c. iii. 18); and so here He mentioneth the Judgment-seat and the punishment which shall follow upon evil deeds. For because He had said above, "He that heareth My words and believeth on Him that sent Me," "is not judged," lest any one should imagine that this alone is sufficient for salvation, He addeth also the result of man's life, declaring that "they which have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment." Since then He had said that all the world should render account to Him, and that all at His Voice should rise again, a thing new and strange and even now disbelieved by many who seem to have believed, not to say by the Jews at that time, hear how He goeth to prove it, again condescending to the infirmity of His hearers.
Ver. 30. "I can of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him which sent Me."
Although He had but lately given no trifling proof of the Resurrection by bracing the paralytic; on which account also He had not spoken of the Resurrection before He had done what fell little short of resurrection. And the Judgment He hinted at after He had braced the body, by saying, "Behold, thou art made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee"; yet still He proclaimed beforehand the resurrection of Lazarus and of the world. And when He had spoken of these two, that of Lazarus which should come to pass almost immediately, and that of the inhabited world which should be long after, He confirmeth the first by the paralytic and by the nearness of the time, saying, "The hour cometh and now is"; the other by the raising of Lazarus, by what had already come to pass bringing before their sight what had not yet done so. And this we may observe Him do everywhere, putting (forth) two or three predictions, and always confirming the future by the past.
[4.] Yet after saying and doing so much, since they still were very weak He is not content, but by other expressions calms their disputations temper, saying, "I can of Myself do nothing; as I hear I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him which sent Me." For since He appeared to make some assertions strange and varying from those of the Prophets, (for they said that it is God who judgeth all the earth, that is, the human race; and this truth David everywhere loudly proclaimed, "He shall judge the people in righteousness," and, "God is a righteous Judge, strong and patient" (Ps. xcvi. 10, and vii. xx, LXX.); as did all the Prophets and Moses; but Christ said, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son": an expression which was sufficient to perplex a Jew who heard it, and to make him in turn suspect Christ of being an enemy of God,) He here greatly condescendeth in His speech, and as far as their infirmity requireth, in order to pluck up by the roots this pernicious opinion, and saith, "I can of Myself do nothing"; that is, "nothing strange, or unlike, or what the Father desireth not will ye see done or hear said by Me." And having before declared that He was "the Son of Man," and because they supposed Him to be a man at that time, so also He putteth [His expressions] here. As then when He said above, "We speak that we have heard, and testify that we have seen"; and when John said, "What He hath seen He testifieth, and no man receiveth His testimony" (c. iii. 32); both expressions are used respecting exact knowledge, not concerning hearing and seeing merely; so in this place when He speaketh of "hearing," He declareth nothing else than that it is impossible for Him to desire anything, save what the Father desireth. Still He said not so plainly, (for they would not as yet have at once received it on hearing it thus asserted;) and how? in a manner very condescending and befitting a mere man, "As I hear I judge." Again He useth these words in this place, not with reference to "instruction," (for He said not, "as I am taught," but "as I hear";) nor as though He needed to listen, (for not only did He not require to be taught, but He needed not even to listen;) but it was to declare the Unanimity and Identity of [His and the Father's] decision, as though He had said, "So I judge, as if it were the Father Himself that judged." Then He addeth, "and I know that My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." What sayest Thou? Hast Thou swill different from that of the Father? Yet in another place He saith, "As I and Thou are One," (speaking of will and unanimity,) "grant to these also that they may be one in Us" (c. xvii. 21; not verbally quoted); that is, "in faith concerning Us." Seest thou that the words which seem most humble are those which conceal a high meaning? For what He implieth is of this kind: not that the will of the Father is one, and His own another; but that, "as one will in one mind, so is Mine own will and My Father's."
And marvel not that He hath asserted so close a conjunction; for with reference to the Spirit also Paul hath used this illustration: "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." Thus Christ's meaning is no other than this: "I have not a will different and apart from that of the Father, but if He desireth anything, then I also; if I, then He also. As therefore none could object to the Father judging, so neither may any to Me, for the sentence of Each is given from the same Mind." And if He uttereth these words rather as a man, marvel not, seeing that they still deemed Him to be mere man. Therefore in passages like these it is necessary not merely to enquire into the meaning of the words, but also to take into account the suspicion of the hearers, and listen to what is said as being addressed to that suspicion. Otherwise many difficulties will follow. Consider for instance, He saith, "I seek not Mine own will": according to this then His will is different (from that of the Father), is imperfect, nay, not merely imperfect, but even unprofitable. "For if it be saving, if it agree with that of the Father, wherefore dost Thou not seek it?" Mortals might with reason say so because they have many wills contrary to what seemeth good to the Father, but Thou, wherefore sayest Thou this, who art in all things like the Father? for this none would say is the language even of a "man" made perfect and crucified. For if Paul so blended himself with the will of God as to say, "I live, yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. ii. 20), how saith the Lord of all, "I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me," as though that will were different? What then is His meaning? He applieth His discourse as if the case were that of a mere man, and suiteth His language to the suspicion of His hearers. For when He had, by what had gone before, given proof of His sayings, speaking partly as God, partly as a mere man, He again as a man endeavoreth to establish the same, and saith, "My judgment is just." And whence is this seen? "Because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." "For as in the case of men, he that is free from selfishness cannot be justly charged with having given an unfair decision, so neither will ye now be able to accuse Me. He that desireth to establish his own, may perhaps by many be suspected of corrupting justice with this intent; but he that looketh not to his own, what reason can he have for not deciding justly? Apply now this reasoning to My case. Had I said that I was not sent by the Father, had I not referred to Him the glory of what was done, some of you might perhaps have suspected that desiring to gain honor for Myself, I said the thing that is not; but if I impute and refer what is done to another, wherefore and whence can ye have cause to suspect My words?" Seest thou how He confirmed His discourse, and asserted that "His judgment was just" by an argument which any common man might have used in defending himself? Seest thou how what I have often said is clearly visible? What is that? It is that the exceeding humility of the expressions most persuadeth men of sense not to receive the words off hand and then fall down [into low thoughts], but rather to take pains that they reach to the height of their meaning; this humility too with much ease then raiseth up those who were once groveling on the ground.
Now bearing all this in mind, let us not, I exhort you, carelessly pass by Christ's words, but enquire closely into them all, everywhere considering the reason of what has been said; and let us not deem that ignorance and simplicity will be sufficient to excuse us, for He hath bidden us not merely to be "harmless," but "wise." (Matt. x. 16.) Let us therefore practice wisdom with simplicity, both as to doctrines and the right actions of our lives; let us judge ourselves here, that we be not condemned with the world hereafter; let us act towards our fellow-servants as we desire our Master to act towards us: for (we say), "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matt. vi. 12.) I know that the smitten soul endureth not meekly, but if we consider that by so doing we do a kindness not to him who hath grieved us but to ourselves, we shall soon let go the venom of our wrath; for he who forgave not the hundred pence to him who had transgressed against him, wronged not his fellow-servant but himself, by rendering himself liable for the ten thousand talents of which he had before received forgiveness. (Matt. xviii. 30-34.) When therefore we forgive not others, we forgive not ourselves. And so let us not merely say to God, "remember not our offenses"; but let each also say to himself, "let us not remember the offenses of our fellow-servants done against us." For thou first givest judgment on thine own sins, and God judgeth after; thou proposest the law concerning remission and punishment, thou declarest thy decision on these matters, and therefore whether God shall or shall not remember, rests with thee. For which cause Paul biddeth us "forgive, if any One hath cause of complaint against any" (Col. iii. 13), and not simply forgive, but so that not even any remnants be left behind. Since Christ not only did not publish our transgressions, but did not put us the transgressors in mind of them, nor say, "in such and such things hast thou offended," but remitted and blotted out the handwriting, not reckoning our offenses, as Paul hath also declared. (Col. ii. 14.) Let us too do this; let us wipe away all [trespasses against us] from our minds; and if any good thing hath been done to us by him that hath grieved us, let us only reckon that; but if anything grievous and hard to bear, let us cast it forth and blot it out, so that not even a vestige of it remain. And if no good has been done us by him, so much the greater recompense and higher credit will be ours if we forgive. Others by watching, by making the earth their bed, by ten thousand hardships, wipe away their sins, but thou by an easier way, I mean by not remembering wrongs, mayest cause all thy trespasses to disappear. Why then thrustest thou the sword against thyself, as do mad and frantic men, and banishest thyself from the life which is to come, when thou oughtest to use every means to attain unto it? For if this present life be so desirable, what can one say of that other from which pain, and grief, and mourning, have fled away? There it needs not to fear death, nor imagine any end to those good things. Blessed, thrice blessed, yea, and this many times over, are they who enjoy that blessed rest, while they are miserable, thrice miserable, yea, ten thousand times miserable, who have cast themselves forth from that blessedness. "And what," saith some one, "is it that maketh us to enjoy that life?" Hear the Judge Himself conversing with a certain young man on this matter. When the young man said, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Matt. xix. 16) Christ, after repeating to him the other commandments, ended with the love of his neighbor. Perhaps like that rich man some of my hearers will say, "that we also have kept these, for we neither have robbed, nor killed, nor committed adultery"; yet assuredly thou wilt not be able to say this, that thou hast loved thy neighbor as thou oughtest to have loved him. For if a man hath envied or spoken evil of another, if he hath not helped him when injured, or not imparted to him of his substance, then neither hath he loved him, Now Christ hath commanded not only this, but something besides. What then is this? "Sell," he saith, "that thou hast, and give to the poor; and come, follow Me" (Matt. xix. 21): terming the imitating Him in our actions "following" Him. What learn we hence? First, that he who hath not all these things cannot attain unto the chief places in "that" rest. For after the young man had said, "All these things have I done," Christ, as though some great thing were wanting to his being perfectly approved, replied, "If thou wilt be perfect, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor: and come, follow Me." First then we may learn this; secondly, that Christ rebuked the man for his vain boast; for one who lived in such superfluity, and regarded not others living in poverty, how could he love his neighbor? So that neither in this matter did he speak truly. But let us do both the one and the other of these things; let us be eager to empt out our substance, and to purchase heaven. Since if for worldly honor men have often expended their whole possessions, an honor which was to stay here below, and even here not to stay by us long, (for many even much before their deaths have been stripped of their supremacy, and others because of it have often lost their lives, and yet, although aware of this, they expend all for its sake;) if now they do so much for this kind of honor, what can be more wretched than we if for the sake of that honor which abideth and which cannot be taken from us we will not give up even a little, nor supply to others those things which in a short time while yet here we shall leave? What madness must it be, when it is in our power voluntarily to give to others, and so to take with us those things of which we shall even against our will be deprived, to refuse to do so? Yet if a man were being led to death, and it were proposed to him to give up all his goods and so go free, we should think a favor was conferred upon him; and shall we, who are being led on the way to the pit, shall we, when it is allowed us to give up half and be free, prefer to be punished, and uselessly to retain what is not ours even to the losing what is so? What excuse shall we have, what claim for pardon, who, when so easy a road has been cut for us unto life, rush down precipices, and travel along an unprofitable path, depriving ourselves of all things both here and hereafter, when we might enjoy both in security? If then we did not so before, let us at least stop now; and coming to ourselves, let us rightly dispose of things present, that we may easily receive those which are to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
"If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true; there is another that beareth witness of Me, and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of Me is true."
[1.] If any one unpracticed in the art undertake to work a mine, he will get no gold, but confounding all aimlessly and together, will undergo a labor unprofitable and pernicious: so also they who understand not the method of Holy Scripture, nor search out its peculiarities and laws, but go over all its points carelessly and in one manner, will mix the gold with earth, and never discover the treasure which is laid up in it. I say this now because the passage before us containeth much gold, not indeed manifest to view, but covered over with much obscurity, and therefore by digging and purifying we must arrive at the legitimate sense. For who would not at once be troubled at hearing Christ say, "If I testify of Myself, My witness is not true"; inasmuch as He often appeareth to have testified of Himself? For instance, conversing with the Samaritan woman He said, "I Am that speak unto thee": and in like manner to the blind man, "It is He that talketh with thee" (c. ix. 37); and rebuking the Jews, "Ye say, thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God." (c. x. 36.) And in many other places besides He doth this. If now all these assertions be false, what hope of salvation shall we have? And where shall we find truth when Truth Itself declareth, "My witness is not true"? Nor doth this appear to be the only contradiction; there is another not less than this. He saith farther on, "Though I bear witness of Myself, yet My witness is true" (c. viii. 14); which then, tell me, am I to receive, and which deem a falsehood? If we take them out thus [from the context] simply as they are said, without carefully considering the person to whom nor the cause for which they are said. nor any other like circumstances, they will both be falsehoods. For if His witness be "not true," then this assertion is not true either, not merely the second, but the first also. What then is the meaning? We need great watchfulness, or rather the grace of God, that we rest not in the mere words; for thus the heretics err, because they enquire not into the object of the speaker nor the disposition of the hearers. If we add not these and other points besides, as times and places and the opinions of the listeners, many absurd consequences will follow.
What then is the meaning? The Jews were about to object to Him," If thou bearest witness concerning thyself, thy witness is not true" (c. viii. 13): therefore He spake these words in anticipation; as though He had said, "Ye will surely say to Me, we believe thee not; for no one that witnesseth of himself is readily held trustworthy among men." So that the "is not true" must not be read absolutely, but with reference to their suspicions, as though He had said, "to you it is not true"; and so He uttered the words not looking to His own dignity, but to their secret thoughts. When He saith, "My witness is not true," He rebuketh their opinion of Him, and the objection about to be urged by them against Him; but when He saith, "Though I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true" (c. viii. 14), He declareth the very nature of the thing itself, namely, that as God they ought to deem Him trustworthy even when speaking of Himself. For since He had spoken of the resurrection of the dead, and of the judgment, and that he that believeth on Him is not judged, but cometh unto life, and that He shall sit to require account of all men, and that He hath the same Authority and Power with the Father; and since He was about again otherwise to prove these things, He necessarily put their objection first. "I told you," He saith, "that 'as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son quickeneth whom He will'; I told you that 'the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son'; I told you that men must 'honor the Son as they honor the Father'; I told you that 'he that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father'; I told you that 'he that heareth My words and believeth them shall not see death, but hath passed from death unto life' (v. 24; not exactly quoted); that My voice shall raise the dead, some now, some hereafter; that I shall demand account from all men of their transgressions, that I shall judge righteously, and recompense those who have walked uprightly." Now since all these were assertions, since the things asserted were important, and since no clear proof of them had as yet been afforded to the Jews but one rather indistinct, He putteth their objection first when He is about to proceed to establish His assertions, speaking somewhat in this way if not in these very words: "Perhaps ye will say, thou assertest all this, but thou art not a credible witness, since thou testifiest of thyself." First then checking their disputatious spirit by setting forth what they would say, and showing that He knew the secrets of their hearts, and giving this first proof of His power, after stating the objection He supplieth other proofs clear and indisputable, producing three witnesses to what He said, namely, the works wrought by Him, the witness of the Father, and the preaching of John. And He putteth first the less important witness of John. For after saying, "There is another that beareth witness of Me, and I know that his witness is true," He addeth,
Ver. 33. "Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth."
Yet if Thy witness be not true, how sayest Thou, "I know that the testimony of John is true, and that he hath borne witness to the truth"? and seest thou (O man) how clear it hence is, that the expression, "My witness is not true," was addressed to their secret thoughts?
[2.] "What then," saith some one, "if John bare witness partially." That the Jews might not assert this, see how He removeth this suspicion. For He said not, "John testified of Me," but, "Ye first sent to John, and ye would not have sent had ye not deemed him trustworthy." Nay, what is more, they had sent not to ask him about Christ, but about himself, and the man whom they deemed trustworthy in what related to himself they would much more deem so in what related to another. For it is, so to speak, the nature of us all not to give so much credit to those who speak of themselves as to those who speak of others; yet him they deemed so trustworthy as not to require even concerning himself any other testimony. For they who were sent said not, "What sayest thou concerning Christ?" but, "Who art thou? What sayest thou of thyself?" So great admiration felt they for the man. Now to all this Christ made allusion by saying, "Ye sent unto John." And on this account the Evangelist hath not merely related that they sent, but is exact as to the persons sent that they were Priests and of the Pharisees, not common or abject persons, nor such as might be corrupted or cheated, but men able to understand exactly what he said.
Ver. 34. "But I receive not testimony from man."
"Why then hast Thou brought forward that of John?" His testimony was not the "testimony of man," for, saith he, "He that sent me to baptize with water, He said unto me." (c. i. 33.) So that John's testimony was the testimony of God; for having learned from Him he said what he did. But that none should ask, "Whence is it clear that he learnt from God?" and stop at this, He abundantly silences them by still addressing Himself to their thoughts. For neither was it likely that many would know these things; they had hitherto given heed unto John as to one who spake of himself, and therefore Christ saith, "I receive not testimony from man." And that the Jews might not ask, "And if Thou wert not about to receive the testimony of man, and by it to strengthen Thyself, why hast Thou brought forward this man's testimony?" see how He correcteth this contradiction by what He addeth. For after saying, "I receive not testimony from man," He hath added,
"But these things I say, that ye may be saved."
What He saith is of this kind; "I, being God, needed not the witness of John which is man's witness, yet because ye gave more heed to him, believe him more trustworthy than any, ran to him as to a prophet, (for all the city was poured forth to Jordan,) and have not believed on Me, even when working miracles, therefore I remind you of that witness of his."
Ver. 35. "He was a burning and a shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.'
That they may not reply, "What if he did speak and we received him not," He showeth that they did receive John's sayings: since they sent not common men, but priests and Pharisees and were willing to rejoice; so much did they admire the man, and at the same time had nothing to say against his words. But the "for a season," is the expression of one noting their levity, and the fact that they soon started away from him.
Ver. 36: "But I have greater witness than that of John."
"For had ye been willing to admit faith according to the (natural) consequence of the facts, I would have brought you over by My works more than he by his words. But since ye will not, I bring you to John, not as needing his testimony, but because I do all 'that ye may be saved.' For I have greater witness than that of John, namely, that from My works; yet I do not merely consider how I may be made acceptable to you by credible evidence, but how by that (of persons) known to and admired by you." Then glancing at them and saying that they rejoiced for a season in his (John's) light, He declared that their zeal was but temporary and uncertain.
He called John a torch, signifying that he had not light of himself, but by the grace of the Spirit; but the circumstance which caused the absolute distinction between Himself and John, namely, that He was the Sun of righteousness, this He put not yet; but merely hinting as yet at this He touched them sharply, by showing that from the same disposition which led them to despise John, neither could they believe in Christ. Since it was but for a season that they admired even the man whom they did admire, and who, had they not acted thus, would soon have led them by the hand to Jesus. Having then proved them altogether unworthy of forgiveness, He went on to say, "I have greater witness than that of John." "What is that?" It is that from His works.
"For the works," He saith, "which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me that the Father sent Me."
By this He reminded them of the paralytic restored, and of many other things. The words perhaps one of them might have asserted were mere boast, and said by reason of John's friendship towards Him, (though indeed it was not in their power to say even this of John, a man equal to the exact practice of wisdom/and on this account admired by them,) but the works could not even among the maddest of them admit this suspicion; therefore He added this second testimony, saying, "The works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me that the Father sent Me."
[3.] In this place He also meeteth the accusation respecting the violation of the Sabbath. For since those persons argued, "How can he be from God, seeing that he keepeth not the Sabbath?" (c. ix. 16), therefore He saith, "Which My Father hath given unto Me." Yet in truth, He acted with absolute power, but in order most abundantly to show that He doth nothing contrary to the Father, therefore He hath put the expression of much inferiority. Since why did He not say, "The works which the Father hath given Me testify that I am equal to the Father"? for both of these truths were to be earned from the works, that He did nothing contrary, and that He was equal to Him who begat Him; a point which He is establishing elsewhere, where He saith, "If ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know and believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me." (c. x. 38.) In both respects, therefore, the works bare witness to Him, that He was equal to the Father, and that He did nothing contrary to Him. Why then said He not so, instead of leaving out the greater and putting forward this? Because to establish this was His first object. For although it was a far less thing to have it believed that He came from God, than to have it believed that God was equal with Him, (for that belonged to the Prophets also, but this never,) still He taketh much pains as to the lesser point, as knowing that, this admitted, the other would afterwards be easily received. So that making no mention of the more important portion of the testimony, He putteth its lesser office, that by this they may receive the other also. Having effected this, He addeth,
Ver. 37. "And the Father Himself, which hath sent Me, hath borne witness of Me."
Where did He "bear witness of" Him? In Jordan: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. iii. 16); hear Him. Yet even this needed proof. The testimony of John then was clear, for they themselves had sent to him, and could not deny it. The testimony from miracles was in like manner clear, for they had seen them wrought, and had heard from him who was healed, and had believed; whence also they drew their accusation. It therefore remained to give proof to the testimony of the Father. Next in order to effect this, He added,
"Ye have neither heard His voice at any time":
How then saith Moses, "The Lord spake, and Moses answered"? (Ex. xix. 19); and David, "He had heard a tongue which he knew not" (Ps. lxxxi. 5); and Moses again, "Is there any such people which hath 'heard the voice of God'?" (Deut. iv. 33.)
"Nor seen His shape."
Yet Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, are said to have seen Him, and many others. What then is that which Christ saith now? He guideth them by degrees to a philosophical doctrine, showing that with God is neither voice nor shape, but that He is higher than such forms or sounds lilac these. For as when He saith, "Ye have not heard His voice," He doth not mean that God doth indeed utter a voice, but one which cannot be heard; so when He saith, "Nor seen His shape," He doth not mean that God hath a shape though one invisible, but that neither of these things belongeth to God. And in order that they might not say, "Thou art a boaster, God spake to Moses only"; (this at least they did say, "We know that God spake with Moses: as for this fellow, we know not whence He is"—c. ix. 29;) on this account He spake as He did, to show that there is neither voice nor shape with God. "But why," He saith, "name I these things? Not only have ye 'neither heard His voice nor seen His shape,' but it is not even in your power to assert that of which you most boast and of which you are all most fully assured, namely, that ye have received and keep His commandments." Wherefore He addeth,
Ver. 38. "And ye have not His word abiding in you."
That is, the ordinances, the commandments, the Law, and the Prophets. For even if God ordained these, still they are not with you, since ye believe not on Me. Because, if the Scriptures everywhere say that it is necessary to give heed to Me, and yet ye believe not, it is quite clear that His word is removed from you. Wherefore again He addeth,
"For whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not."
Then that they may not argue, "How, if we have not heard His voice, hath He testified unto thee?" He saith,
Ver. 39. "Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me."
Since by these the Father gave His testimony. He gave it indeed by Jordan also and in the mount, but Christ bringeth not forward those voices; perhaps by doing so He would have been disbelieved; for one of them, that in the mount, they did not hear, and the other they heard indeed, but heeded not. For this reason He referreth them to the Scriptures, showing that from them cometh the Father's testimony, having first removed the old grounds on which they used to boast, either as having seen God or as having heard His voice. For as it was likely that they would disbelieve His voice, and picture to themselves what took place on Sinai, after first correcting their suspicions on these points, and showing that what had been done was a condescension, He then referreth them to the testimony of the Scriptures.
[4.] And from these too let us also, when we war against heretics, arm and fortify ourselves. For "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work" (2 Tim. iii. 16, 17); not that he may have some and not others, for such a man is not "perfect." For tell me what profit is it, if a man pray continually, but give not liberal alms? or if he give liberal alms, but be covetous or violent? or if he be not covetous nor violent, but (is liberal) to make a show before men, and to gain the praise of the beholders? or if he give alms with exactness and according to God's pleasure, yet be lifted up by this very thing, and be highminded? or if he be humble and constant in fasting, but covetous, greedy of gain, and nailed to earth, and one who introduceth into his soul the mother of mischief? for the love of money is the root of all evils? Let us then shudder at the action, let us flee the sin; this hath made the world a waste, this hath brought all things into confusion, this seduceth us from the most blessed service of Christ. "It is not possible," He saith, "to serve God and mammon." For mammon giveth commands contradictory to those of Christ. The one saith, "Give to them that need "; the other, "Plunder the goods of the needy." Christ saith, "Forgive them that wrong thee"; the other, "Prepare snares against those who do thee no wrong." Christ saith, "Be merciful and kind"; mammon saith, "Be savage and cruel, and count the tears of the poor as nothing"; to the intent that he may render the Judge stern to us in that day. For then all our actions shall come before our eyes, and those who have been injured and stripped by us, shutting us out from all excuse. Since if Lazarus, who received no wrong from Dives, but only did not enjoy any of his good things, stood forth at that time as a bitter accuser and allowed him not to obtain any pardon, what excuse, tell me, shall they have, who, besides giving no alms of their own substance, seize that of others, and overthrow orphans' houses? If they who have not fed Christ when He hungered have drawn such fire upon their heads, what consolation shall they enjoy who plunder what belongs not to them at all, who weave ten thousand law-suits, who unjustly grasp the property of all men? Let us then cast out this desire; and we shall cast it out if we think of those before us who did wrongfully, who were covetous and are gone. Do not others enjoy their wealth and labors while they lie in punishment, and vengeance, and intolerable woes? And how can this be anything but extreme folly, to weary and vex ourselves, that living we may strain ourselves with labor, and on our departure hence undergo intolerable punishments and vengeances, when we might have enjoyed ourselves here, (for nothing so much causeth pleasure as the consciousness of almsgiving, and departing to that place might have been delivered from all our woes, and obtained ten thousand blessings? For as wickedness is wont to punish those who go after it, even before (they arrive at) the pit, so also virtue, even before the (gift of) the Kingdom, provides delights for those who here practice it, making them to live in company with good hopes and continual pleasure. Therefore that we may obtain this, both here and in the life to come, let us hold fast to good works, so shall we gain the future crown; to which may we all reach through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me that ye might have [eternal] life."
[1.] Beloved, let us make great account of spiritual things, and not think that it is sufficient for us to salvation to pursue them anyhow. For if in things of this life a man can gain no great profit if he conduct them in an indifferent and chance way, much more will this be the case in spiritual things, since these require yet greater attention. Wherefore Christ when He referred the Jews to the Scriptures, sent them not to a mere reading, but a careful and considerate search; for He said not, "Read the Scriptures," but, "Search the Scriptures." Since the sayings relating to Him required great attention, (for they had been concealed froth the beginning for the advantage of the men of that time,) He biddeth them now dig down with care that they might be able to discover what lay in the depth below. These sayings were not on the surface, nor were they cast forth to open view, but lay like some treasure hidden very deep. Now he that searcheth for hidden things, except he seek them with care and toil, will never find the object of his search. For which cause He said, "Search the Scriptures, because in them ye think ye have eternal life." He said not, "Ye have," but "ye think," showing that they gained from them nothing great or high, expecting as they did to be saved by the mere reading, without the addition of faith. What He saith therefore is of this kind: "Do ye not admire the Scriptures, do ye not think that they are the causes of all life? By these I confirm My claims now, for they are they which testify of Me, yet ye will not come to Me that ye may have eternal life." It was thus with good reason that He said, "ye think, because they would not obey, but merely prided themselves on the bare reading. Then lest owing to His very tender care He should incur among them the suspicion of vainglory, and because He desired to be believed by them, should be deemed to be seeking His own; (for He reminded them of the words of John, and of the witness of God, and of His own works, and said all He could to draw them to Him, and promised them "life";) since, I say, it was likely that many would suspect that He spake these things from a desire of glory, hear what He saith:
Ver. 41. "I receive not honor from men."
That is, "I need it not": "My nature," He saith, "is not of such a kind as to need the honor which is from men, for if the sun can receive no addition from the light of a candle, much farther am I from needing the honor which is from men." "Why then," asks some one, "sayest thou these things, if thou needest it not?" "That ye may be saved." This He positively asserted above, and the same He implied here also, by saying, "that ye might have life." Moreover, He putteth another reason:
Ver. 42. "But I know you that ye have not the love of God in you."
For when under pretense of loving God they persecuted Him because He made Himself equal with God, and He knew that they would not believe Him, lest any one should ask, "why speakest thou these words?" "I speak them," He saith, "to convict you of this, that it is not for the love of God that ye persecute Me, if it be so that He testifieth to Me both by works and by the Scriptures. For as before this when ye deemed Me an enemy of God ye drove Me away, so now, since I have declared these things, ye ought to have hastened to Me, if ye had really loved. God. But ye love Him not. And therefore have I spoken these words, to show that you are possessed with excessive pride, that you are vainly boasting and shading over your own enviousness." And the same He proveth not by these things only, but by those that should come to pass.
Ver. 43. "I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him will ye receive."
[2.] Seest thou that He everywhere declareth that He hath been "sent," that judgment hath been committed to Him by the Father, that He can do nothing of Himself, in order that He may cut off all excuse for their unfairness? But who is it that He here saith shall come "in his own name"? He alludeth here to Antichrist, and putteth an incontrovertible proof of their unfairness. "For if as loving God ye persecute Me, much more ought this to have taken place in the case of Antichrist. For he will neither say that he is sent by the Father, nor that he cometh according to his will, but in everything contrariwise, seizing like a tyrant what belongeth not to him, and asserting that he is the very God over all, as Paul saith, 'Exalting himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, showing himself that he is God.' (2 Thess. ii. 14.) This is to 'come in his own name.' I do not so, but am come in the Name of My Father." That they received not One who said that He was sent of God, was a sufficient proof that they loved not God; but now from the contrary of this fact, from their being about to receive Antichrist, He showeth their shamelessness. For when they received not One who asserteth that He was sent by God, and are about to worship one who knoweth Him not, and who saith that he is God over all, it is clear that their persecution proceeded from malice and from hating God. On this account He putteth two reasons for His words; and first the kinder one, "That ye may be saved"; and, "That ye may have life": and when they would have mocked at Him, He putteth the other which was more striking, showing that even although His hearers should not believe, yet that God was wont always to do His own works. Now Paul speaking concerning Antichrist said prophetically, that "God shall send them strong delusion,—that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."(2 Thess. ii. 11, 12.) Christ said not, "He shall come"; but, "if He come," from tenderness for His hearers; and because all their obstinacy was not yet complete. He was silent as to the reason of His coming; but Paul, for those who can understand, has particularly alluded to it. For it is he who taketh away all excuse from them.
Christ then putteth also the cause of their unbelief, saying,
Ver. 44. "How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?"
Hence again He showeth that they looked not to the things of God, but that under this pretense they desired to gratify private feeling, and were so far from doing this on account of His glory, that they preferred honor from men to that which cometh from Him. How then were they likely to entertain such hostility towards Him for a kind of honor which they so despised, as to prefer to it the honor which cometh from men?
Having told them that they had not the love of God, and having proved it by what was doing in His case, and by what should be in the case of Antichrist, and having demonstrated that they were deprived of all excuse, He next bringeth Moses to be their accuser, going on to say,
Ver. 45-47. "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?"
What He saith is of this kind: "It is Moses a who has been insulted more than I by your conduct towards Me, for ye have disbelieved him rather than Me." See how in every way He hath cast them out from all excuse. "Ye said that ye loved God when ye persecuted Me; I have shown that ye did so from hatred of Him: ye say that I break the Sabbath and annul the Law; I have rid Me of this slander also: ye maintain that ye believe in Moses by what ye dare to do against Me; I on the contrary show that this is most to disbelieve in Moses; for so far am I from opposing the Law, that he who shall accuse you is none other than the man who gave you the Law." As then He said of the Scriptures, in which "ye think ye have eternal life," so of Moses also He saith, "in whom ye trust"; everywhere conquering them by their own weapons.
"And whence," saith some one, "is it clear that Moses will accuse us, and that thou art not a boaster? What hast thou to do with Moses? Thou hast broken the Sabbath which he ordained that we should keep; how then should he accuse us? And how doth it appear that we shall believe on another who cometh in his own name? All these assertions thou makest without evidence." Now in truth all these points are proved above. "For" (Christ would reply) "since it is acknowledged that I came from God, both by the works, by the voice of John, and by the testimony of the Father, it is evident that Moses will accuse the Jews." For what saith he? "If a man come doing miracles and leading you to God, and truly foretelling things future, ye must hearken unto him with all readiness." Now Christ had done all this. He wrought miracles in very truth, He drew all men to God, and (so that He) caused accomplishment to follow His predictions.
"But whence doth it appear that they will believe another?" From their hating Christ, since they who turn aside froth Him who cometh according to the will of God will, it is quite plain, receive the enemy of God. And marvel not if He now putteth forward Moses, although He said, "I receive not witness from man," for He referreth them not to Moses, but to the Scriptures of God. However, since the Scriptures terrified them less, He bringeth round His discourse to the very person (of Moses), setting over against them their Lawgiver as their accuser, thus rendering the terror more impressive; and each of their assertions He refuteth. Observe: they said that they persecuted Him through love for God, He showeth that they did so through hating God; they said that they held fast to Moses, He showeth that they acted thus because they believed not Moses. For had they been zealous for the law, they ought to have received Him who fulfilled it; if they loved God they ought to have believed One who drew them to Him, if they believed Moses they ought to have done homage to One of whom Moses prophesied. "But" (saith Christ) "if Moses is disbelieved before My coming, it is nothing unlikely that I, who am heralded by him, should be driven away by you." As then He had shown from their conduct towards Himself that they who admired John (really) despised him, so now He showeth that they who thought that they believed Moses, believed him not, and turneth back on their own head all that they thought to put forward in their own behalf. "So far," He saith, "am I from drawing you away from the Law, that I call your Lawgiver himself to be your accuser."
That the Scriptures testified of Him He declared, but where they testify He added not; desiring to inspire them with greater awe, and to prompt them to search, and to reduce them to the necessity of questioning. For had He told them readily and without their questioning, they would have rejected the testimony; but now, if they gave any heed to His words, they needed first of all to ask, and learn from Him what that testimony was. On this account He dealeth the more largely in assertions and threats, not in proofs only, that even so He may bring them over by fear of what He saith; but they even so were silent. Such a thing is wickedness; whatsoever a man say or do it is not stirred to move, but remaineth keeping its peculiar venom.
Wherefore we must cast out all wickedness from our souls, and never more contrive any deceit; for, saith one, "To the perverse God sendeth crooked paths" (Prov. xxi. 8, LXX.); and, "The holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding." (Wisd. i. 5.) For nothing maketh men so foolish as wickedness; since when a man is treacherous, unfair, ungrateful, (these are different forms of wickedness,) when without having been wronged he grieves another, when he weaves deceits, how shall he not exhibit an example of excessive folly? Again, nothing maketh men so wise as virtue; it rendereth them thankful and fair-minded, merciful, mild, gentle, and candid; it is wont to be the mother of all other blessings. And what is more understanding than one so disposed? for virtue is the very spring and root of prudence, just as all wickedness hath its beginning in folly. For, the insolent man and the angry become the prey of their respective passions from lack of wisdom; on which account the prophet said, "There is no soundness in my flesh: my wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness" (Ps. xxxviii. 3, 4): showing that all sin hath its beginning in folly: and so the virtuous man who hath the fear of God is more understanding than any; wherefore a wise man hath said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Prov. i. 7.) If then to fear God is to have wisdom, and the wicked man hath not that fear, he is deprived of that which is wisdom indeed;—and deprived of that which is wisdom indeed, he is more foolish than any. And yet many admire the wicked as being able to do injustice and harm, not knowing that they ought to deem them wretched above all men, who thinking to injure others thrust the sword against themselves;—an act of extremest folly, that a man should strike himself and not even know that he doth so, but should think that he is injuring another while he is killing himself. Wherefore Paul, knowing that we slay ourselves when we smite others, saith, "Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" (1 Cor. vi. 7.) For the not suffering wrong consists in doing none, as also the not being ill-used in not using others ill; though this assertion may seem a riddle to the many, and to those who will not learn true wisdom. Knowing this, let us not call wretched or lament for those who suffer injury or insult, but for such who inflict these things; these are they who have been most injured, who have made God to be at war with them, and have opened the mouths of ten thousand accusers, who are getting an evil reputation in the present life, and drawing down on themselves severe punishment in the life to come. While those who have been wronged by them, and have nobly borne it all, have God favorable to them, and all to condone with, and praise, and entertain them. Such as these in the present life, shall enjoy an exceeding good report, as affording the strongest example of true wisdom, and in the life to come shall share the good things everlasting; to which may we all attain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
"After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, into the parts of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased. And Jesus departed a into a mountain, and there sat with His disciples. And the Passover of the Jews was nigh."
[1.] Beloved, let us not contend with violent men, but learn when the doing so brings no hurt to our virtue to give place to their evil counsels; for so all their hardihood is checked. As darts when they fall upon a firm, hard, and resisting substance, rebound with great violence on those who throw them, but when the violence of the cast hath nothing to oppose it, it soon becometh weaker and ceaseth, so is it with insolent men; when we contend with them they become the fiercer, but when we yield and give ground, we easily abate all their madness. Wherefore the Lord when He knew that the Pharisees had heard "that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John," went into Galilee, to quench their envy, and to soften by His retirement the wrath which was likely to be engendered by these reports. And when He departed for the second time into Galilee, He cometh not to the same places as before; for He went not to Cana, but to "the other side of the sea," and great multitudes followed Him, beholding "the miracles which He did." What miracles? Why doth he not mention them specifically? Because this Evangelist most of all was desirous of employing the greater part of his book on the discourses and sermons [of Christ]. Observe, for instance, how for a whole year, or rather how even now at the feast of the Passover, he hath given us no more information on the head of miracles, than merely that He healed the paralytic and the nobleman's son. Because he was not anxious to enumerate them all, (that would have been impossible,) but of many and great to record a few.
Ver. 2. "A great multitude followed Him beholding the miracles that He did." What is here told marks not a very wise state of mind; for when they had enjoyed such teaching, they still were more attracted by the miracles, which was a sign of the grosser state. For "miracles," It saith, "are not for believers, but for unbelievers." The people described by Matthew acted not thus, but how? They all, he saith "were astonished at His doctrine, because He taught as one having authority." (Matt. vii. 28, 29.)
"And why doth He occupy the mountain now, and sit there with His disciples?" Because of the miracle which was about to take place. And that the disciples alone went up with Him, was a charge against the multitude which followed Him not. Yet not for this only did He go up into the mountain, but to teach us ever to rest at intervals from the tumults and confusion of common life. For solitude is a thing meet for the study of wisdom. And often doth He go up alone into a mountain, and spend the night there, and pray, to teach us that the man who will come most near to God must be free from all disturbance, and must seek times and places clear of confusion.
Ver. 4. "And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh."
"How then," saith some one, "doth He not go up unto the feast, but, when all are pressing to Jerusalem, goeth Himself into Galilee, and not Himself alone, but taketh His disciples with Him, and proceedeth thence to Capernaum?" Because henceforth He was quietly annulling the Law, taking occasion from the wickedness of. the Jews.
Ver. 5. "And as He lifted up His eyes, He beheld a great company."
This showeth that He sat not at any time idly with the disciples, but perhaps carefully conversing with them, and making them attend and turn towards Him, a thing which peculiarly marks His tender care, and the humility and condescension of His demeanor towards them. For they sat with Him, perhaps looking at one another; then having lifted up His eyes, He beheld the multitudes coming unto Him. Now the other Evangelists say, that the disciples came and asked and besought Him that He would not send them away fasting, while St. John saith, that the question was put to Philip by Christ. Both occurrences seem to me to be truly reported, but not to have taken place at the same time, the former account being prior to the other, so that the two are entirely different.
Wherefore then doth He ask" Philip"? He knew which of His disciples needed most instruction; for this is he who afterwards said, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (c. xiv. 8), and on this account Jesus was beforehand bringing him into a proper state. For had the miracle simply been done, the marvel would not have seemed so great, but now He beforehand constraineth him to confess the existing want, that knowing the state of matters he might be the more exactly acquainted with the magnitude of the miracle about to take place. Wherefore He saith,
"Whence shall we have so many loaves. that these may eat?"
So in the Old [Testament] He spake to Moses, for He wrought not the sign until He had asked him, "What is that in thy hand?" Because things coming to pass unexpectedly and all at once, are wont to throw us into forgetfulness of things previous, therefore He first involved him in a confession of present circumstances, that when the astonishment should have come upon him, he might be unable afterwards to drive away the remembrance of what he had confessed, and thus might learn by comparison the greatness of the miracle, which in fact takes place in this instance; for Philip being asked, replied,
Ver. 7, 6. "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. And this He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would do."
[2.] What meaneth, "to prove him"? Did not He know what would be said by him? We cannot assert that. What then is the meaning of the expression? We may discover it from the Old [Testament]. For there too it is said, "And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Take thy beloved son whom thou lovest" (Gen. xxii. 1, 2); yet it doth not appear in that place either, that when He saith this He waited to see the end of the trial, whether Abraham would obey or not, (how could He, who knoweth all things before they come into existence? but the words in both cases are spoken after the manner of men. For as when (the Psalmist) saith that He "searcheth the hearts of men," he meaneth not a search of ignorance but of exact knowledge, just so when the Evangelist saith that He proved (Philip), he meaneth only that He knew exactly. And perhaps one might say another' thing, that as He once made Abraham more approved, so also did He this man, bringing, him by this question to an exact knowledge of the miracle. The Evangelist therefore, that thou mayest not stop at the feebleness of the expression, and so form an improper opinion of what was said, addeth, "He Himself knew what He would do."
Moreover we must observe this, that when there is any wrong suspicion, the writer straightway very carefully corrects it. As then in this place that the hearers might not form any such suspicion, he adds the corrective, saying, "For He Himself knew what He would do": so also in that other place, when He saith, that "the Jews persecuted Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God," had there not been the assertion of Christ Himself confirmed by His works, he would there also have subjoined this correction. For if even in words which Christ speaketh the Evangelist is careful that none should have suspicions, much more in cases where others were speaking of Him would he have looked closely, had he perceived that an improper opinion prevailed concerning Him. But he did not so, for he knew that this was His meaning, and immovable decree. Therefore after saying, "making Himself equal with God," he used not any such correction; for the matter spoken of was not an erroneous fancy of theirs, but His own assertion ratified by His works. Philip then having been questioned,
Vet. 8, 9. "Andrew, Simon's brother, said, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?"
Andrew is higher minded than Philip, yet had not he attained to everything. Yet I do not think that he spake without an object, but as having heard of the miracles of the Prophets, and how Elisha wrought a sign with the loaves (2 Kings iv. 43); on this account he mounted to a certain height, but could not attain to the very top.
Let us learn then, we who give ourselves to luxury, what was the fare of those great and admirable men; and in quality and quantity let us behold and imitate the thriftiness of their table.
What follows also expresses great weakness. For after saying, "hath five barley loaves," he addeth, "but what are they among so many?" He supposed that the Worker of the miracle would make less out of less, and more out of more. But this was not the case, for it was alike easy to Him to cause bread to spring forth from more and from less, since He needed no subject-matter. But in order that the creation might not seem foreign to His Wisdom, as afterwards slanderers and those affected with the disease of Marcion said, He used the creation itself as a groundwork for His marvels.
When both the disciples had owned themselves at a loss, then He wrought the miracle; If or thus they profited the more, having first confessed the difficulty of the matter, that when it should come to pass, they might understand the power of God. And because a miracle was about to be wrought, which had also been performed by the Prophets, although not in an equal degree, and because He would do it after first giving thanks, lest they should fall into any suspicion of weakness on His part, observe how by the very manner of His working He entirely raiseth their thoughts of it and showeth them the difference (between Himself and others). For when the loaves had not yet appeared, that thou mayest learn, that things that are not are to Him as though they were, (as Paul saith, "who calleth the things that be not as though they were "—Rom. iv. 17,) He commanded them as though the table were prepared and ready, straightway to sit down, rousing by this the minds of His disciples. And because they had profited by the questioning, they immediately obeyed, and were not confounded, nor said, "How is this, why dost Thou bid us sit down, when there is nothing before us?" The same men, who at first disbelieved so much as to say, "Whence shall we buy bread?" began so far to believe even before they saw the miracle, that they readily made the multitudes to sit down.
[3.] But why when He was about to restore the paralytic did He not pray, nor when He was raising the dead, or bridling the sea, while He cloth so here over the loaves? It was to show that when we begin our meals, we ought to give thanks unto God. Moreover, He doth it especially in a lesser matter, that thou mayest learn that He doth it not as having any need; for were this the case, much more would He have done so in greater things; but when He did them by His own authority, it is clear that it was through condescension that He acted as He did in the case of the lesser. Besides, a great multitude was present, and it was necessary that they should be persuaded that He had come according to the will of God. Wherefore, when He doth miracles in the absence of witnesses, He exhibiteth nothing of the kind; but when He doth them in the presence of many, in order to persuade them that He is no enemy of God, no adversary of Him who hath begotten Him, He removeth the suspicion by thanksgiving.
"And He gave to them that were set down, and they were filled."
Seest thou how great is the interval between the servants and the Master? They having grace by measure, wrought their miracles accordingly, but God, who acteth with free power, did all most abundantly.
Ver. 12. "And He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments which remain;—and they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets."
This was not a superfluous show, but in order that the matter might not be deemed a mere illusion; and for this reason He createth from matter already subsisting. "But why gave He not the bread to the multitudes to bear, but (only) to His disciples?" Because He was most desirous to instruct these who were to be the teachers of the world. The multitude would not as yet reap any great fruit from the miracles, (at least they straightway forgot this one and asked for another,) while these would gain no common profit. And what took place was moreover no ordinary condemnation of Judas, who bore a basket. And that these things were done for their instruction is plain from what is said afterwards, when He reminded them, saying, "Do ye not yet understand—how many baskets ye took up?" (Matt. xvi. 9.) And for the same reason it was that the baskets of fragments were equal in number to the disciples; afterwards, when they were instructed, they took not up so many, but only "seven baskets." (Matt. xv. 37.) And I marvel not only at the quantity of loaves created, but besides the quantity, at the exactness of the surplus, that He caused the superabundance to be neither more nor less than just so much as He willed, fore-seeing how much they would consume; a thing which marked unspeakable power. The fragments then confirmed the matter, showing both these points; that what had taken place was no illusion, and that these were from the loaves by which the people had been fed. As to the fishes, they at this time were produced from those already subsisting, but at a later period, after the Resurrection, they were not made from subsisting matter. "Wherefore?" That thou mayest understand that even now He employed matter, not from necessity, nor as needing any base (to work upon), but to stop the mouths of heretics?
"And the multitudes said, that this is of a truth The Prophet."
Oh, excess of gluttony! He had done ten thousand things more admirable than this, but nowhere did they make this confession, save when they had been filled. Yet hence it is evident that they expected some remarkable prophet; for those others had said (to John), "Art thou that Prophet?" while these say, "This is that Prophet."
Ver. 15. "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain."
Wonderful! How great is the tyranny of gluttony, how great the fickleness of men's minds! No longer do they vindicate the Law, no longer do they care for the violation of the Sabbath, no longer are they zealous for God; all such considerations are thrown aside, when their bellies have been filled; He was a prophet in their eyes, and they were about to choose Him for a king. But Christ fleeth. "Wherefore?" To teach us to despise worldly dignities, and to show us that He needed nothing on earth. For He who chose all things mean, both mother and house and city and nurture and attire would not afterwards be made illustrious by things on earth. The things which (He had) from heaven were glorious and great, angels, a star, His Father loudly speaking, the Spirit testifying, and Prophets proclaiming Him from afar; those on earth were all mean, that thus His power might the more appear. He came also to teach us to despise the things of the world, and not be amazed or astonished by the splendors of this life, but to laugh them all to scorn, and to desire those which are to come. For he who admires things which are here, will not admire those in the heavens. Wherefore also He saith to Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world" (c. xviii. 36), that He may not afterwards appear to have employed mere human terror or dominion for the purpose of persuasion. Why then saith the Prophet, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass"? (Zech. ix. 9.) He spake of that Kingdom which is in the heavens, but not of this on earth; and on this account Christ saith, "I receive not honor from men." (c. v. 41.)
Learn we then, beloved, to despise and not to desire the honor which is from meal for we have been honored with the greatest of honors, compared with which that other is verily insult, ridicule, and mockery. And as the riches of this world compared with the riches of that are poverty, as this life apart from that is deadness, (for" let the dead bury their dead"—Matt. viii. 28,) so this honor compared with that is shame and ridicule. Let us then not pursue it. If they who confer it are of less account than a shadow or a dream, the honor itself much more so. "The glory of man is as the flower of the grass" (1 Pet. i. 24); and what is meaner than the flower of the grass? Were this glory everlasting, in what could it profit the soul? In nothing. Nay, it very greatly injures us by making us slaves, slaves in worse condition than those bought with money, slaves who obey not one master only, but two, three, ten thousand, all giving different commands. How much better is it to be a free man than a slave, to be free from the slavery of men, and subject only to the dominion of God? In a word, if thou wilt desire glory, desire it, but let it be the glory immortal, for that is exhibited on a more glorious stage, and brings greater profit. For the men here bid thee be at charges to please them, but Christ, on the contrary, giveth thee an hundredfold for what thou givest Him, and addeth moreover eternal life. Which of the two then is better, to be admired on earth, or in heaven? by man, or by God? to your loss, or to your gain? to wear a crown for a single day, or for endless ages? Give to him that needeth, but give not to a dancer, lest thou lose thy money and destroy his soul. For thou art the cause of his (coming to) perdition through unseasonable munificence. Since did those on the stage know that their employment would be unprofitable, they would have long ago ceased to practice it; but when they behold thee applauding, crowding after them, spending and wasting thy substance upon them, even if they have no desire to follow (their profession), they are kept to it by the desire of gain. If they knew that no one would praise what they do, they would soon desist from their labors, by reason of their unprofitableness; but when they see that the action is admired by many, the praise of others becomes a bait to them. Let us then desist from this unprofitable expense, let us learn upon whom and when we ought to spend. Let us not, I implore you, provoke God in both ways, gathering whence we ought not, and scattering where we ought not; for what anger doth not thy conduct deserve, when thou passest by the poor and givest to a harlot? Would not the paying the hire of sin and the bestowing honor where it were meet to punish have been a charge against thee, even hadst thou paid out of thy just earnings? but when thou feedest thine uncleanness by stripping orphans and wronging widows, consider how great a fire is prepared for those who dare such things. Hear what Paul saith, "Who not only do these things, but also have pleasure in them that do them." (Rom. i. 32.)
Perhaps we have touched you sharply, yet if we touch you not, there are actual punishments awaiting those who sin without amendment. What then availeth it to gratify by words those who shall be punished by realities? Dost thou take pleasure at a dancer, dost thou praise and admire him? Then art thou worse than he; his. poverty affords him an excuse though not a reasonable one, but thou art stripped even of this defense. If I ask him, "Why hast thou left other arts and come to this accursed and impure one?" he will reply, "because I can with little. labor gain great profits." But if I ask thee why thou admirest one who spends his time in impurity, and lives to the mischief of many, thou canst not run to the same excuse, but must bow down thy face and be ashamed and blush. Now if when called by us to give account, thou wouldest have nothing to reply, when that terrible and inexorable Judgment cometh where we shall render account of thoughts and deeds and everything, how shall we stand? with what eyes shall we behold our Judge? what shall we say? what defense shall we make? what excuse reasonable or unreasonable shall we put forward? shall we allege the expense? the gratification? the perdition of others whom by means of his art we ruin? We can have nothing to say, but must be punished with a punishment having no end, knowing no limit. That this come not to pass, let us henceforth guard all points, that having departed with a good hope, we may obtain the everlasting blessings; to which may we all attain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end, Amen.
"And when even was now come, His disciples went down unto the sea and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come unto them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew."
[1.] Christ provideth for the good of his disciples not only when He is present in the body, but also when far away; for having abundance of means and of skill, He effecteth one and the same end by contrary actions. Observe, for instance, what He hath done here. He leaveth His disciples, and goeth up into a mountain; and they, when even was come, went down unto the sea. They waited for Him until evening, expecting that He would come unto them; but when even was come, they could no longer endure not to seek their Master; so great a love possessed them. They said not, "It is now evening, and night hath overtaken us, whither shall we depart? the place is dangerous, the time unsafe"; but, goaded by their longing, they entered into the ship. For it is not without a cause that the Evangelist hath declared the time also, but by it to show the warmth of their love.
Wherefore then doth Christ let them go, and not show Himself? And again, wherefore doth He show Himself walking alone upon the sea? By the first He teacheth them how great (an evil) it is to be forsaken by Him, and maketh their longing greater; by the second, again, He showeth forth His power. For as in His teaching they heard not all in common with the multitude, so in the case of the miracles they saw them not all with the mass of people, since it was needful that they who were about to receive in charge the presidency of the world, should have somewhat more than the rest. "And what sort of miracles," saith some one, "saw they by themselves?" The Transfiguration on the mount; this on the sea, and those after the Resurrection, which are many and important. And from these I conjecture that there were others also. They came to Capernaum without any certain information, but expecting to find Him there, or even in mid passage; this the Evangelist implies by saying that "it was now dark, and Jesus was not yet come to them."
"And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew." What did they? They were troubled, for there were many and various causes which forced them to be so. They were afraid by reason of the time for it was dark, of the storm for the sea had risen, of the place for they were not near land; but,
Ver. 19. "Had rowed about five and twenty furlongs."
And, lastly, by reason of the strangeness of the thing, for,
"They see Him walking upon the sea." And when they were greatly troubled,
Ver. 20. "He saith unto them, It is I, be not afraid."
Wherefore then appeareth He? To show that it was He who would make the storm cease. For this the Evangelist hath shown, saying,
Ver. 21. "They were willing to receive Him, and immediately the ship was near the land."
He not only gave them a safe passage, but also one with a fair wind.
To the multitude He showeth not Himself walking upon the sea, for the miracle was too great to suit their infirmity. Indeed, even by the disciples He was not seen long doing this, but He appeared, and at once retired. Now this seems to me to be a different miracle from that found in Matthew xiv.; and that it is different is clear from many reasons. For He worketh often the same miracles, in order to cause the beholders not merely to count them very strange, but also to receive them with great faith. "It is I, be not afraid." As He spake the word, He cast out fear from their souls. But at another time not so; wherefore Peter said "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me to come unto Thee." (Matt. xiv. 28.) Whence then was it that at that time they did not straightway admit this, but now were persuaded? It was because then the storm continued to toss the bark, but now at His voice the calm had come. Or if the reason be not this, it is that other which I have before mentioned, that oftentimes working the same miracles, He made the second to be readily received by means of the first. But wherefore went He not up into the ship? Because He would make the marvel greater, would more openly reveal to them His Godhead, and would show them, that when He before gave thanks, He did not so as needing aid, but in condescension to them. He allowed the storm to arise, that they might ever seek Him; He stilled the storm, that He might make known to them His power; He went not up into the ship, that He might make the marvel greater.
Ver. 22. "And the people that were there saw that there was none other boat there save the one into which the disciples had entered, and that Jesus went not into the boat, but His disciples."And why is John so exact? Why said he not that the multitudes having passed over on the next day departed? He desires to teach us something else, namely, that Jesus allowed the multitudes if not openly, at least in a secret manner, to suspect what had taken place. For, "They saw," saith he, "that there was none other boat there but one, and that Jesus went not into it with His disciples."
Ver. 24. And embarking in boats from Tiberias, they "came to Capernaum seeking Jesus." What else then could they suspect, save that He had arrived there crossing the sea on foot? for it was not possible to say that He had passed over in another ship. For "there was one," saith the Evangelist, "into which His disciples entered." Still when they came to Him after so great a wonder, they asked Him not how He crossed over, how He arrived there, nor sought to understand so great a sign. But what say they?
Ver. 25. "Master, when camest Thou hither?" [2.] Unless any one affirm that the "when" is here used by them in the sense of "how." But it is worth while also to notice here the fickleness of their impulses? For they who said, "This is that Prophet"; they who were anxious to" take Him and make Him a king," now when they have found Him take no such counsel, but having cast out their astonishment, they no longer admire Him for His former deeds. They sought Him, desiring again to enjoy a table like the first.
The Jews under the guidance of Moses passed over the Red Sea, but that case is widely different from this. He did all with prayer and as a servant, but Christ with absolute power. There when the south wind blew, the water yielded so as to make them pass over on dry land, but here the miracle was greater. (Ex. xiv. 21.) For the sea retaining its proper nature so bare its Lord upon its surface, thus testifying to the Scripture which saith, "Who walketh upon the sea as upon a pavement." (Job ix. 8.)
And with reason, when He was about to enter into stubborn and disobedient Capernaum, did He work the miracle of the loaves, as desiring not only by what took place within, but also by the miracles which were wrought without the city, to soften its disobedience. For was it not enough to soften even any stone, that such multitudes should come with great eagerness to that city? Yet they had no such feeling, but again desired food for the body; for which also they I are reproached by Jesus.
Let us then, beloved, knowing these things, give thanks to God for things of sense, but much more for things spiritual; for such is His will, and it is on account of the latter that He giveth the former, leading in, as it were, by these the more imperfect sort, and giving them previous teaching, because they are yet gaping upon the world. But when such persons having received these worldly things, rest in them, then are they upbraided and rebuked. For in the case of him that had the palsy, Christ wished first to give that which was spiritual, but they that were present endured it not; for when He said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," they exclaimed, "This man blasphemeth." (Matt. ix. 2.) Let us not, I entreat you, be so affected, but let us make more account of those (spiritual) things. Wherefore? Because when spiritual things are present with us, no harm ariseth from the absence of fleshly things; but when they are not, what hope, what comfort, shall then remain to us? wherefore it is for these we ought always to call upon God, and entreat Him for them. And for such hath Christ also taught us to pray; for if we unfold that Prayer, we shall find that there is nothing carnal in it, but all spiritual, and that even the small portion which seemeth to relate to sense, becometh by the manner spiritual. For to bid us ask no more than our "successive," that is, our "daily," bread, would mark a mind spiritual and truly wise. And consider what goeth before that, "Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth"; then, after naming that temporal (need), He quickly leaveth it, and bringeth us again to the spiritual doctrine, saying, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Nowhere hath He put in the Prayer riches or glory or dominion, but all things contributing to the benefit of the soul; nothing earthly, but all things heavenly. If then we are bidden to refrain from the things of this present life, how could we help being wretched and miserable, asking from God those things which even having He biddeth us cast away, to free us from care about them, and for which He biddeth us take no pains. This is the "using vain repetition"; and this is why we effect nothing by our prayers. "How then," saith some one, "do the wicked grow rich, how the unjust and impure, plunderers and covetous?" Not by God's giving; (away with the thought!) but by plundering, and taking more than their due. "And how doth God allow them?" As He allowed that rich man, reserving him for greater punishment. (Luke xvi. 25.) Hear what (Abraham) saith to him; "Son, thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." Therefore that we also come not to hear that voice, by living softly and idly, and gathering together for ourselves. many sins, let us choose the true riches and right wisdom, that we may obtain the promised good things; to which may we all arrive, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.
"Jesus answered them, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life."
[1.] The mild and gentle is not always useful, but there are times when the teacher needs sharper language. For if the disciple be dull and gross, then, in order to touch his dullness to the quick, we must rouse him with a goad. And this the Son of God hath done in the present as well as in many other cases. For when the crowds had come and found Jesus, and were flattering Him, and saying," Master, when camest Thou hither?" to show that He desireth not honor from men, but looketh to one thing only, their salvation, He answereth them sharply, wishing to correct them not in this way only, but also by revealing and exposing their thoughts. For what saith He? "Verily, verily, I say unto you," (speaking positively and with a confirmation,) "Ye seek Me, not because ye saw miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled." He chideth and reproveth them by these words, yet doth not so abruptly or violently, but very sparingly. For He saith not, "O ye gluttons and belly-slaves, I have wrought so many wonders, and ye never have either followed Me, or marveled at My doings"; but mildly and gently somewhat in this manner; "Ye seek Me, not because ye saw miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled"; speaking not only of the past, but also of the present miracle. "It was not," He saith, "the miracle of the loaves that astonished you, but the being filled." And that He said not this of them by conjecture they straightway showed, for on this account they came the second time, as being about to enjoy the same (food) as before. Wherefore they said, "Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness." Again they draw Him to (the subject of) carnal food, which was the chief accusation and charge against them. But He stoppeth not at rebukes, but addeth instruction also, saying, "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life."
"Which the Son of Man giveth unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed."
What He saith, is of this kind: "Make ye no account of this earthly, but of that spiritual food." But since some of those who desire to live in doing nothing have abused this speech, as though Christ would entirely abolish working, it is seasonable to say somewhat to them. For they slander, so to speak, all Christianity, and cause it to be ridiculed on the score of idleness. First however, we must mention that saying of Paul. What saith he? "Remember the Lord, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts xx. 35.) Now how can it be possible for him to give who hath not? How then saith Jesus to Martha, "Thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part"? (Luke x. 41, 42); and again, "Take no thought for the morrow." (Matt. vi. 34.) For it is necessary now to resolve all these questions, not only that we may check men if they would be idle, but also that the oracles of God may not appear to bring in what is contradictory.
Now Paul in another place saith, "But we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more, that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without" (1 Thess. iv. 10, 11, 12); and again; "Let him that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labor, working. with his own hands, that he may have to give to him that needeth." (Eph. iv. 28.) Here the Apostle bids not simply "work," but to work so vigorously and laboriously, as to have thereby somewhat to give to others. And in another place the same saith again; "These hands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me." (Acts xx. 34.) And writing to the Corinthians he said, "What is my reward then? Verily, that when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge." (1 Cor. ix. 18.) And when he was in that city, he abode with Aquila and Priscilla, "and wrought, for by their occupation they were tentmakers." (Acts xviii. 3.)
These passages show a yet more decided opposition as to the letter; we must therefore now bring forward the solution. What then must be our reply? That to "take no thought," doth not mean "not to work," but "not to be nailed to the things of this life"; that is, to take no care for to-morrow's ease, but to deem that superfluous. For a man may do no work, and (yet) lay up treasure for the morrow; and a than may work, yet be careful for nothing; for carefulness and work are not the same thing; it is not as trusting to his work that a man worketh, but, "that he may impart to him that needeth." And that too which was said to Martha refers not to works and working, but to this, that it is our duty to know the right season, and not to spend on carnal things the time proper for listening. Thus Christ spake not the words as urging her to "idleness," but to rivet her to listening. "I came," saith He, "to teach you needful things, but thou art anxious about a meal. Dost thou desire to receive Me, and to provide for Me a costly table? Provide another sort of entertainment, by giving me a ready hearing, and by imitating thy sister's longing for instruction." He said not this to forbid her hospitality, (away with the thought! how could that be?) but to show that she ought not in the season for listening be busy about other matters. For to say, "Labor not for the meat that perisheth," is not the expression of one implying that we ought to be idle; (in fact, this most especially is "meat that perisheth," for idleness is wont to teach all wickedness;) but that we ought to work, and to impart. This is meat that never perisheth; but if any be idle and gluttonous, and careth for luxury, that man worketh for "the meat that perisheth." So too, if a man by his labor should feed Christ, and give Him drink, and clothe Him, who so senseless and react as to say that such an one labors for the meat that perisheth, when there is for this the promise of the kingdom that is to come, and of those good things? This meat endureth forever. But at that time, since the multitudes made no account of filth, nor sought to learn who it was that did these things, and by what power, but desired one thing only, to fill their bellies without working; Christ with good reason called such food, "meat that perisheth." "I fed," He saith, "your bodies, that after this ye might seek that other food which endureth, which nourisheth the soul; but ye again run after that which is earthy. Therefore ye do not understand that I lead you not to this imperfect food, but to that which giveth not temporal but eternal life, which nourisheth not the body but the soul." Then when He had uttered such great words concerning Himself, and had said that He would give this food, in order that what was spoken might not stand in their way, to make His saying credible He attributeth the supply to the Father. For after saying, "Which the Son of Man shall give you"; He addeth, "Him hath God the Father sealed," that is, "hath sent Him for this purpose, that He might bring the food to you." The saying also admits of another interpretation; for in another place Christ saith, "He that heareth My words, hath set to his seal that God is true" (c. iii. 33), that is, hath "showed forth undeniably." Which indeed the expression seems to me to hint at even in this place, for "the Father hath sealed," is nothing else than "hath declared," "hath revealed by His testimony." He in fact declared Himself too, but since He was speaking to Jews, He brought forward the testimony of the Father.
[2.] Learn we then, beloved, to ask of God the things which it is meet for us to ask of Him. For those Other things, those, I mean, which belong to this life, whichever way they may fall out, can do us no injury; for if we be rich, it is here only that we shall enjoy our luxury; and if we fall into poverty, we shall suffer nothing terrible. For neither the splendors nor the pains of the present life have much power in respect either of despondency or pleasure, they are contemptible, and slip away very swiftly. Wherefore they are called "a way," with reason, because they pass away, and by their very nature do not long endured but the things which are to come endure eternally, both those of punishment and those of the Kingdom. Let us then in regard of these things use much diligence to avoid the first and to choose the last. For what is the advantage of this world's luxury? To-day it is, and to-morrow it is not; to-day a bright flower, to-morrow scattered dust; to-day a burning fire, to-morrow smouldering ashes. But spiritual things are not so, they ever remain shining and blooming, and becoming brighter every day. That wealth never perishes, never departs, never ceases, never brings with it care or envy or blame, destroys not the body, corrupts not the soul, is without ill will, heaps not up malice; all which things attend on the other kind of wealth. That honor lifts not men into folly, doth not make them puffed up, never ceases nor is dimmed. Again, the rest and delight of heaven endureth continually, ever being immovable and immortal, one cannot find its end or limit. This life then let us desire, for if we do so we shall make no account of present things, but shall despise and mock at them all, and though one should bid us enter into kingly halls, we shall not while we have this hope choose to do so; yet nothing (earthly) seems more near to happiness than such a permission; but to those who are possessed by love of heaven, even this seems little and mean, and worthy of no account. Nothing which comes to an end is to be much desired; whatever ceases, and to-day is and tomorrow is not, even though it be very great, yet seems to be very little and contemptible. Then let us not cling to fleeting things which slip away and depart, but to those which are enduring and immovable. To which may we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.
"Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. They said therefore unto Him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see and believe thee? what dost thou work?"
[1.] There is nothing worse, nothing more shameful, than gluttony; it makes the mind gross, and the soul carnal; it blinds, and permits not to see clearly. Observe, for instance, how this is the case with the Jews; for because they were intent upon gluttony, entirely occupied with worldly things, and without any spiritual thoughts, though Christ leads them on by ten thousand sayings, sharp and at the same time forbearing, even thus they arise not, but continue groveling below. For consider; He said to them, "Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the bread, and were filled "; He touched them by the reproof, He showed them what food they ought to seek, saying, "Labor not for the meat that perisheth"; He set before them the prize, saying, "but that which endureth unto everlasting life"; then provided a remedy for what might have been an objection, by declaring that He was sent from the Father.
What then did they? As though they had heard nothing, they said, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" This they said, not that they might learn and do them, (as the sequel shows,) but to induce Him again to supply them with food, and desiring to persuade Him to satisfy them. What then saith Christ? "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." On this they asked, "What sign showest thou, that we may see and believe?"
Ver. 31. "Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness."
Nothing more senseless, nothing more unreasonable, than these men! While the miracle was yet in their hands, as though none had been done, they spake after this manner, "What sign shewest thou?" and having thus spoken, they do not even allow Him the right of choosing the sign, but think to force Him to exhibit none other than such a one as was wrought in the days of their fathers; wherefore they say, "Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness," thinking by this to provoke Him to work such a miracle as might supply them with carnal nourishment. Else why did they mention none other of the miracles of old, though many took place in those times, both in Egypt and at the sea and in the wilderness, but only that of the manna? Was it not because they greatly desired that one by reason of the tyranny of their bellies? Ye who when ye saw His miracle called him a Prophet, and attempted to make Him a king, how is that now, as though none had been wrought, ye have become thankless and ill-minded, and ask for a sign, uttering words fit for parasites, or hungry dogs? Does the manna now seem wonderful to you? Your soul is not now parched up.
Mark too their hypocrisy. They said not, "Moses did this sign, what doest thou?" thinking it would annoy Him; but for a while they address Him with great reverence, through expectation of food. So they neither said, "God did this, what doest thorn?" that they might not seem to make Him equal with God; nor did they bring forward Moses, that they might not seem to lower Him, but put the matter in an intermediate form, "Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness." He indeed might have replied, "I, but now, have wrought greater wonders than did Moses, requiring no rod, having no need of prayer, but doing all of Myself; and, if ye call to remembrance the manna, see, I have given you bread." But this was not the season for such speeches; and the one thing He earnestly desired was, to bring them to spiritual food. And observe His infinite wisdom and His manner of answering.
Ver. 32. "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven."
Why said He not, "It was not Moses that gave it to you, but I"; but putteth God in the place of Moses, and Himself instead of manna? Because the infirmity of His hearers was great. As is seen from what followeth. For not even when He had spoken thus did He secure their attention, although He said at first, "Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracle, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (Ver. 26.) Now because they sought these (carnal). things, He would have corrected them by His succeeding words, yet not even so did they desist. When He promised the Samaritan woman that He would give her "the water," He made no mention of the Father. What saith He? "If thou knewest who it is that saith unto thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given unto thee living water" (c. iv, 10); and again, "The water which I shall give." He referreth her not to The Father. But here He maketh mention of The Father, that thou mayest understand how great was the faith of the Samaritan woman, and how great the infirmity of the Jews.
Was then the manna not from heaven? How then is it said to be from heaven? In the same manner as Scripture speaketh of "fowls of heaven" (Ps. viii. 8); and again, "The Lord thundered from heaven." (Ps. xviii. 13.) And He calleth that other the 'true bread," not because the miracle of the manna was false, but because it was a type, and not the very truth. But in mentioning Moses, He doth not compare Himself to him, for the Jews did not as yet prefer Him to Moses, of whom they still had a higher opinion. So that after saying, "Moses gave not," He addeth not that "I give," but saith that The Father, and not Moses, giveth. They, when they heard this, replied, "Give us this bread to eat"; for they yet thought that it was something material, they yet expected to gratify their appetites, and so hastily ran to Him. What doth Christ? Leading them on little by little, He Saith,
Ver. 33. "The bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world."
Not, saith He, to Jews alone, but to all the "world," not mere food, but "life," another and an altered "life." He calleth it "life," because they all were dead in sins. Yet they still kept downward bent, saying,
Ver. 34. "Give us this bread."
Then He, to rebuke them, because while they supposed that the food was material they ran to Him, but not when they learned that it was a spiritual kind, said,
Ver. 35, 36. "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, that ye also have seen Me, and believe Me not."
[2.] Thus also John crieth, saying beforehand, "He speaketh that He knoweth, and testifieth that He hath seen, and no man receiveth His testimony" (c. iii. 32); and again Christ Himself, "We speak that We do know, and testify that We have seen" (c. iii. 11), "and ye believe not." This He doth to prevent them, and to show them that the matter doth not trouble Him, that He desireth not honor, that He is not ignorant of the secrets of their minds, nor of things present, nor of things to come.
"I am the bread of life." Now He proceedeth to commit unto them mysteries. And first He discourseth of His Godhead, saying, "I am the bread of life." For this is not spoken of His Body, (concerning that He saith towards the end, "And the bread which I shall give is My flesh,") but at present it referreth to His Godhead. For That, through God the Word, is Bread, as this bread also, through the Spirit descending on it, is made Heavenly Bread. Here He useth not witnesses, as in His former address, for He had the miracle of the loaves to witness to Him, and the Jews themselves for a while pretending to believe Him; in the former case they opposed and accused Him. This is the reason why here He declareth Himself. But they, since they expected to enjoy a carnal feast, were not disturbed until they gave up their hope. Yet not for that was Christ silent, but uttered many words of reproof. For they, who while they were eating called Him a Prophet, were here offended, and called Him the carpenter's son; not so while they ate the loaves, then they said, "He is The Prophet," and desired to make Him a king. Now they seemed to be indignant at His asserting that He "came down from heaven," but in truth it was not this that caused their indignation, but the thought that they should not enjoy a material table. Had they been really indignant, they ought to have asked and enquired how He was the "bread of life," how He had "come down from heaven"; but now they do not this, but murmur. And that it was not this which offender them is plain from another circumstance. When He said, "My Father giveth you the bread," they exclaimed not, "Beseech Him that He give"; but what? "Give us that bread"; yet He said not, "I give," but, "My Father giveth "; nevertheless, they, from desire of the food, thought Him worthy to be trusted to for its supply. Now how should they, who deemed Him worthy of their trust for giving, be afterward offended when they also heard that" the Father giveth"? What is the reason? It is that when they heard that they were not to eat, they again disbelieved, and put forth by way of a cloak for their disbelief, that "it was a high saying." Wherefore He saith, "Ye have seen Me, and believe not" (c. v. 39); alluding partly to His miracles, partly to the testimony from the Scriptures; "For they," He saith, "are they which testify of Me" (c. v. 43, 44); and, "I am come in My Father's Name, and ye receive Me not"; and, "How can ye believe which receive honor of men? "
Ver. 37. "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out."
Observe how He doeth all things for the sake of them that are saved; therefore He added this, that He might not seem to be trifling and speaking these things to no purpose. But what is it that He saith, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come unto Me" (ver. 37), and "I will raise it up in the last day"? (Ver. 40.) Wherefore speaketh He of the common resurrection, in which even the ungodly have a part, as though it were the peculiar gift of those who believe on Him? Because He speaketh not simply of resurrection, but of a particular kind of resurrection. For having first said, "I will not cast him out, I shall lose nothing of it," He then speaketh of the resurrection. Since in the resurrection some are east out, ("Take him, and cast him into outer darkness," Matt. xxii. 13,) and some are destroyed. ("Rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.") (Matt. x. 28.) And the expression, "I give eternal life" (c. x. 28), declareth this; for they "that have done evil shall go forth to the resurrection of damnation, and they that have done good to the resurrection of life." (c. v. 29.) This then, the resurrection to good things, is that which He here designed. But what meaneth He by saying, "All that the Father giveth Me, shall come to Me"? He toucheth their unbelief, showing that whosoever believeth not on Him transgresseth the will of the Father. And thus He saith it not nakedly, but in a covert manner, and this He doth everywhere, wishing to show that unbelievers are at variance with the Father, not with Him alone. For if this is His will, and if for this He came, that He might save man, those who believe not transgress His will. "When therefore," He saith, "the Father guideth any man, there is nothing that hindereth him from coming unto Me"; and in another place, "No man can come unto Me, except the Father draw him." (Ver. 44.) And Paul saith, that He delivereth them up unto the Father; "When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." (1 Cor. xv. 24.) Now as the Father when He giveth doth so without first depriving Himself, so the Son when He delivereth up doth so without excluding Himself. He is said to deliver us up, because through Him we have access (to the Father).
[3.] And the "by whom" is also applied to the Father, as when the Apostle saith," By whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son" (1 Cor. i. 9): and, "By the will of the Father." And again; "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee." (Matt. xvi. 17.) What He here intimateth is something of this kind, that "faith in Me is no ordinary thing, but needeth an impulse from above"; and this He establisheth throughout His discourse, showing that this faith requires a noble sort of soul, and one drawn on by God.
But perhaps some one will say, "If all that the Father giveth, and whomsoever He shall draw, cometh unto Thee, if none can come unto Thee except it be given him from above, then those to whom the Father giveth not are free from any blame or charges." These are mere words and pretenses. For we require our own deliberate choice also, because whether we will be taught is a matter of choice, and also whether we will believe. And in this place, by the" which the Father giveth Me," He declareth nothing else than that "the believing on Me is no ordinary thing, nor one that cometh of human reasonings, but needeth a revelation from above, and a well-ordered soul to receive that revelation." And the, "He that cometh to Me shall be saved," meaneth that he shall be greatly cared for. "For on account of these," He saith, "I came, and took upon Me the flesh, and entered into the form of a servant." Then He addeth;
Ver. 38. "I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."
What sayest Thou? Why, is Thy will one, and His another? That none may suspect this, He explaineth it by what follows, saying;
Ver. 40. "And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life."
Is not then this Thy will? And how sayest Thou, "I am come to send fire upon the earth, and what have I desired to see, if that be already kindled "? (Luke xii. 49.) For if Thou also desirest this, it is very clear that Thy will and the Father's is one. In another place also He saith, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." (c. v. 21.) But what is the will of the Father? Is it not, that not so much as one of them should perish? This Thou willest also. (Matt. xviii. 14.) So that the will of the One differeth not from the will of the Other. So in another place He is seen establishing yet more firmly His equality with the Father, saying, "I and My Father ' will come, and will make Our abode with him.'" (c. xiv. 23.) What He saith then is this;"I came not to do anything other than that which the Father willeth, I have no will of Mine own different from that of the Father, for all that is the Father's is Mine, and all that is Mine is the Father's." If now the things of the Father and the Son are in common, He saith with reason, "Not that I might do Mine own will." But here He speaketh not so, but reserveth this for the end. For, as I have said, He concealeth and veileth for a while high matters, and desireth to prove that had He even said, "This is My will," they would have despised Him. He therefore saith, that "I co-operate with that Will," desiring thus to startle them more; as though He had said, "What think ye? Do ye anger Me by your disbelief? Nay, ye provoke My Father." "For this is the will of Him that sent Me, that of all which He haft given Me I should lose nothing." (Ver. 39.) Here He showeth that He needeth not their service, that He came not for His own advantage, but for their salvation; and not to get honor from them. Which indeed He declared in a former address, saying, "I receive not honor from men" (c. v. 41); and again, "These things I say that ye may be saved." (c. v. 34.) Since He everywhere laboreth to persuade them that He came for their salvation. And He saith, that He obtaineth honor to the Father, in order that He may not be suspected by them. And that it is for this reason He thus speaketh, He hath more clearly revealed by what follows. For He saith, "He that seeketh his own will seeketh his own glory; but He that seeketh His glory that sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him." (c. vii. 18.) "And this is the will of the Father, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life." (Ver. 40.)
"And I will raise him up at the last day." Why doth He continually dwell upon the Resurrection? Is it that men may not judge of God's providence by present things alone; that if they enjoy not results here, they become not on that account desponding, but wait for the things that are to come, and that they may not, because their sins are not punished for the present, despise Him, but look for another life.
Now those men gained nothing, but let us take pains to gain by having the Resurrection continually sounded in our ears; and if we desire to be grasping, or to steal, or to do any wrong thing, let us straightway take into our thoughts that Day, let us picture to ourselves the Judgment-seat, for such reflections will check the evil impulse more strongly than any bit. Let us continually say to others, and to ourselves, "There is a resurrection, and a fearful tribunal awaiteth us." If we see any man insolent and puffed up with the good things of his world, let us make the same remark to him, and show him that all those things abide here: and if we observe another grieving and impatient, let us say the same to him, and point out to him that his sorrows shall have an end; if we see one careless and dissipated, let us say the same charm over him, and show that for his carelessness he must render account. This saying is able more than any other remedy to heal our souls. For there is a Resurrection, and that Resurrection is at our doors, not afar off, nor at a distance. "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Heb. x. 37.) And again, "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ" (2 Cor. v. 10); that is, both bad and good, the one to be shamed in sight of all, the other in sight of all to be made more glorious. For as they who judge here punish the wicked and honor the good publicly, so too will it be there, that the one sort may have the greater shame, and the other more conspicuous glory. Let us picture these things to ourselves every day. If we are ever revolving them, no care for present things will be able to sting us. "For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor. iv. 18.) Continually let us say to ourselves and to others, "There is a Resurrection, and a Judgment, and a scrutiny of our actions"; and let as many as deem that there is such a thing as fate repeat this, and they shall straightway be delivered from the rottenness of their malady; for if there is a Resurrection, and a Judgment, there is no fate, though they bring ten thousand arguments, and choke themselves to prove it. But I am ashamed to be teaching Christians concerning the Resurrection: for he that needeth to learn that there is a Resurrection, and who hath not firmly persuaded himself that the affairs of this world go not on by fire, and without design, and as chance will have them, can be no Christian. Wherefore, I exhort and beseech you, that we cleanse ourselves from all wickedness, and do all in our power to obtain pardon and excuse in that Day.
Perhaps some one will say, "When will be the consummation? When will be the Resurrection? See how long a time hath gone by, and nothing of the kind hath come to pass?" Yet it shall be, be sure. For those before the flood spake after this manner, and mocked at Noah, but the flood came and swept away all those unbelievers, but preserved him who believed. And the men of Lot's time expected not that stroke from God, until those lightnings and thunderbolts came down and destroyed them all utterly. Neither in the case of these men, nor of those who lived in the time of Noah, was there any preamble to what was about to happen, but when they were all living daintily, and drinking, and mad with wine, then came these intolerable calamities upon them. So also shall the Resurrection be; not with any preamble, but while we are in the midst of good times. Wherefore Paul saith, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." (1 Thess. v. 3.) God hath so ordered this, that we may be always struggling, and be not confident even in time of safety. What sayest thou? Dost thou not expect that there will be a Resurrection and a Judgment? The devils confess these, and art thou shameless? "Art Thou come," they say, "to torment us before the time?" (Matt. viii. 29); now they who say that there will be "torment;" are aware of the Judgment, and the reckoning, and the vengeance. Let us not then besides daring evil deeds, anger God by disbelieving the word of the Resurrection. For as in other things Christ hath been our beginning, so also hath He in this; wherefore He is called "the first-born from the dead." (Col. i. 18.) Now if there were no Resurrection, how could He be "the first-born," when no one of "the dead" was to follow Him? If there were no Resurrection, how would the justice of God be preserved, when so many evil men prosper, and so many good men are afflicted and die in their affliction? Where shall each of these obtain his deserts, if so be that there is no Resurrection? No one of those who have lived aright disbelieves the Resurrection, but every day they pray and repeat that holy sentence, "Thy Kingdom come." Who then are they that disbelieve the Resurrection? They who have unholy ways and an unclean life: as the Prophet saith, "His ways are always polluted. Thy judgments are far above out of his sight." (Ps. x. 5.) For a man cannot possibly live a pure life without believing in the Resurrection; since they who are conscious of no iniquity both speak of, and wish for, and believe in it, that they may receive their recompense. Let us not then anger Him, but hear Him when He saith, "Fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matt. x. 28); that by that fear we may become better, and being delivered from that perdition, may be deemed worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. Which may we all attain to, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and to the endless ages of eternity. Amen.
"The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, I am the Bread which came down from heaven; and they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He saith, I came down from heaven?"
[1.] "Whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame" (Phil. iii. 19), said Paul of certain persons, writing to the Philippians. Now that the Jews were of this character is clear, both from what has gone before, and from what they came and said to Christ. For when He gave them bread, and filled their bellies, they said that He was a Prophet, and sought to make Him a King: but when He taught them concerning spiritual food, concerning eternal life when He led them away from objects of sense and spake to them of a resurrection, and raised their thoughts to higher matters, when most the, ought to have admired, they murmur and start away. And yet, if He was that Prophet as they before asserted, declaring that he it was of whom Moses had said, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me, unto Him shall ye hearken" (Deut. xviii. 15); they ought to have hearkened to Him when He said, "I came down from heaven"; yet they hearkened not, but murmured. They still reverenced Him, because the miracle of the loaves was recent, and therefore they did not openly gainsay Him, but by murmuring expressed their displeasure, that He did not give them the meal which they desired. And murmuring they said, "Is not this the son of Joseph?" Whence it is plain, that as yet they knew not of His strange and marvelous Generation. And so they still say that He is the son of Joseph, and are not rebuked; and He saith not to them, "I am not the Son of Joseph"; not because He was his son, but because they were not as yet able to hear of that marvelous Birth. And if they could not bear to hear in plain terms of His birth according to the flesh, much less could they hear of that ineffable Birth which is from above. If He revealed not that which was lower to them, much less would He commit to them the other. Although this greatly offended them, that He was born from a mean and common father, still He revealed not to them the truth, lest in removing one cause of offense He should create another. What then said He when they murmured?
Ver. 44. "No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw Him."
The Manichaeans spring upon these words, saying, "that nothing lies in our own power"; yet the expression showeth that we are masters of our will. "For if a man cometh to Him," saith some one, "what need is there of drawing?" But the words do not take away our free will, but show that we greatly need assistance. And He implieth not an unwilling comer, but one enjoying much succor. Then He showeth also the manner in which He draweth; for that men may not, again, form any material idea of God, He addeth,
Ver. 46. "Not that any man hath seen God, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father."
"How then," saith some one, "doth the Father draw?" This the Prophet explained of old, when he proclaimed beforehand, and said,
Ver. 45. "They shall all be taught of God." (Isa. liv. 13.)
Seest thou the dignity of faith, and that not of men nor by man, but by God Himself they shall learn this? And to make this assertion credible, He referred them to their prophets. "If then 'all shall be taught of God,' how is it that some shah not believe?" Because the words are spoken of the greater number. Besides, the prophecy meaneth not absolutely all, but all that have the will. For the teacher sitteth ready to impart what he hath to all, and pouring forth his instruction unto all.
Ver. 44. "And I will raise him up in the last day."
Not slight here is the authority of the Son, if so be that the Father leadeth, He raiseth up. He distinguisheth not His working from that of the Father, (how could that be?) but showeth equality of power. As, therefore, after saying in that other place, "The Father which hath sent Me beareth witness of Me," He then, that they might not be over-curious about the utterance, referred them to the Scriptures; so here, that they may not entertain similar suspicions, He referreth them to the Prophets, whom He continually and everywhere quoteth, to show that He is not opposed to the Father.
"But what of those," saith some one, "who were before His time? Were not they taught of God? why then the special application of the words here?" Because of old they learned the things of God by the hands of men, but now by the Only- begotten Son of God, and by the Holy Ghost. Then He addeth, "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God," using this expression here not with reference to the cause, but to the manner of being. Since had He spoken in the former sense, we are all "of God." And where then would be the special and distinct nature of the Son? "But wherefore," saith some one, "did He not put this more clearly?" Because of their weakness. For if when He said, "I am come down from heaven," they were so offended, what would they have felt had He added this?
He calleth Himself, (ver. 48,) "the bread of life," because He maintaineth our life both which is and which is to be, and saith, "Whosoever shall eat of this bread shall live for ever." By "bread" He meaneth here either His saving doctrines and the faith which is in Him, or His own Body; for both nerve the soul. Yet in another place He said, "If a man hear My saying, he shall never taste of death." (c. viii. 51.) And they were offended; here they had no such feeling perhaps, because they yet respected Him on account of the loaves which had been made.
[2.] And observe how He distinguisheth between His bread and the manna, by causing them to hear the result of each kind of food. For to show that the manna afforded them no unusual advantage, He added,
Ver. 49. "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead."
He then establisheth a thing most likely to persuade them, that they were deemed worthy of greater things than their fathers, (meaning those marvelous men who lived in the time of Moses,) and so, after saying that they were dead who ate the manna, He addeth,
Ver. 51. "He that eateth of this bread, shall live for ever."
Nor hath He put "in the wilderness" without a cause, but to point out that the supply of manna was not extended to a long time, nor entered with them into the land of promise. But this "bread" was not of the same kind.
"And the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
Here one might reasonably enquire, how this was a fit season for these words, which neither edified nor profited, but rather did mischief to those who had been edified; for "from that time," saith the Evangelist, "many of His disciples went back," saying, "This is a hard saying; who can hear it?" (ver. 60); since these things might have been entrusted to the disciples only, as Matthew hath told us that He discoursed with them apart. (Mark iv. 34: see Matt. xiii. 36.) What then shall we say? What is the profit of the words? Great is the profit and necessity of them. Because they pressed upon Him, asking for bodily food, reminding Him of the food provided in the days of their forefathers, and speaking of the manna as a great thing, to show them that all those things were but type and shadow, but that the very reality of the matter was now present with them, He mentioneth spiritual food. "But," saith some one, "he ought to have said, Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, but I have given you bread." But the interval between the two miracles was great, and the latter of them would have appeared inferior to the former, because the manna came down from heaven, but this, the miracle of the loaves, was wrought on earth. When therefore they sought food "coming down from heaven," He continually told them, "I came down from heaven." And if any one enquire why He introduced the discourse on the Mysteries, We will reply, that this was a very fitting time for such discourses; for indistinctness in what is said always rouses the bearer, and renders him more attentive. They ought not then to have been offended, but rather to have asked and enquired. But now they went back. If they believed Him to be a Prophet, they ought to have believed His words, so that the offense was caused by their own folly, not by any difficulty in the words. And observe how by little and little He led them up to Himself. Here He saith that Himself giveth, not the Father; "The bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
"But," saith some one, "this doctrine was strange to them and unusual." And yet John at an earlier period alluded to it by calling Him "Lamb." (c. i. 29.) "But for all that, they knew it not." I know they did not; nay, neither did the disciples understand. For if as yet they had no clear knowledge of the Resurrection, and so knew not what, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John ii. 19) might mean, much more would they be ignorant of what is said here. For these words were less clear than those. Since that prophets had raised men from the dead, they knew, even if the Scriptures have not spoken so clearly on the subject, but not one of them ever asserted that any man had eaten flesh. Still they obeyed, and followed Him, and confessed that He had the words of eternal life. For this is a disciple's part, not to be over- curious about the assertions of his teacher, but to hear and obey him, and to wait the proper time for the solution of any difficulties. "How then," saith some one, "was it that the contrary came to pass, and that these men 'went back'?" It was by reason of their folly. For when questioning concerning the "how" comes in, there comes in with it unbelief. So Nicodemus was perplexed, saying, "How can a man enter into his mother's womb?" So also these are confounded, saying,
Ver. 52. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
If thou seekest to know the "how," why askedst not thou this in the matter of the loaves, how He extended five to so great a number? Because they then only thought of being satisfied, not of seeing the miracle. "But," saith some one, "their experience then taught them." Then by reason of that experience these words ought to have been readily received. For to this end He wrought beforehand that strange miracle, that taught by it they might no longer disbelieve what should be said by Him afterwards.
[3.] Those men then at that time reaped no fruit from what was said, but we have enjoyed the benefit in the very realities. Wherefore it is necessary to understand the marvel of the Mysteries, what it is, why it was given, and what is the profit of the action. We become one Body, and "members of His flesh and of His bones." (Eph. v. 30.) Let the initiated follow what I say. In order then that we may become this not by love only, but in very deed, let us be blended into that flesh. This is effected by the food which He hath freely given us, desiring to show the love which He hath for us. On this account He hath mixed up Himself with us; He hath kneaded up His body with ours, that we might be a certain One Thing, like a body joined to a head. For this belongs to them who love strongly; this, for instance, Job implied, speaking of his servants, by whom he was beloved so exceedingly, that they desired to cleave unto his flesh. For they said, to show the strong love which they felt, "Who would give us to be satisfied with his flesh?" (Job xxxi. 31.), Wherefore this also Christ hath done, to lead us: to a closer friendship, and to show His love for us; He hath given to those who desire Him not only to see Him, but even to touch, and eat Him, and fix their teeth in His flesh, and to embrace Him, and satisfy all their love. Let us then return from that table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil; thinking on our Head, and on the love which He hath shown for us. Parents often entrust their offspring to others to feed; "but I," saith He, "do not so, I feed you with Mine own flesh, desiring that you all be nobly born, and holding forth to you good hopes for the future. For He who giveth out Himself to you here, much more will do so hereafter. I have willed to become your Brother, for your sake I shared in flesh and blood, and in turn I give out to you the flesh and the blood by which I became your kinsman." This blood causeth the image of our King to be fresh within us, produceth beauty unspeakable, permitteth not the nobleness of our souls to waste away, watering it continually, and nourishing it. The blood derived from our food becomes not at once blood, but something else;. while this doth not so, but straightway watereth our souls, and worketh in them some mighty power. This blood, if rightly taken, driveth away devils, and keepeth them afar off from us, while it calleth to us Angels and the Lord of Angels. For wherever they see the Lord's blood, devils flee, and Angels run together. This blood poured forth washed clean all the world; many wise sayings did the blessed Paul utter concerning it in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This blood cleansed the secret place, and the Holy of Holies. And if the type of it had such great power in the temple of the Hebrews, and in the midst of Egypt, when smeared on the door-posts, much more the reality. This blood. sanctified the golden altar; without it the high priest dared not enter into the secret place. This blood consecrated priests, this in types cleansed sins. But if it had such power in the types, if death so shuddered at the shadow, tell me how would it not have dreaded the very reality? This blood is the salvation of our souls, by this the soul is washed, by this is beautiful, by this is inflamed, this causeth our understanding to be more bright than fire, and our soul more beaming than gold; this blood was poured forth, and made heaven accessible.
[4.] Awful in truth are the Mysteries of the Church, awful in truth is the Altar. A fountain went up out of Paradise sending forth material rivers, from this table springeth up a fountain which sendeth forth rivers spiritual. By the side of this fountain are planted not fruitless willows, but trees reaching even to heaven, bearing fruit ever timely and undecaying. If any be scorched with heat, let him come to the side of this fountain and cool his burning. For it quencheth drought, and comforteth all things that are burnt up, not by the sun, but by the fiery darts. For it hath its beginning from above, and its source is there, whence also its water floweth. Many are the streams of that fountain which the Comforter sendeth forth, and the Son is the Mediator, not holding mattock to clear the way, but opening our minds. This fountain is a fountain of light, spouting forth rays of truth. By it stand the Powers on high looking upon the beauty of its streams, because they more clearly perceive the power of the Things set forth, and the flashings unapproachable. For as when gold is being molten if one should (were it possible) dip in it his hand or his tongue, he would immediately render them golden; thus, but in much greater degree, doth what here is set forth work upon the soul. Fiercer than fire the river boileth up, yet burneth not, but only baptizeth that on which it layeth hold. This blood was ever typified of old in the altars and sacrifices of righteous men, This is the price of the world, by This Christ purchased to Himself the Church, by This He hath adorned Her all. For as a man buying servants giveth gold for them, and again when he desireth to deck them out doth this also with gold; so Christ hath purchased us with His blood, and adorned us with His blood. They who share this blood stand with Angels and Archangels and the Powers that are above, clothed in Christ's own kingly robe, and having the armor of the Spirit. Nay, I have not as yet said any great thing: they are clothed with the King Himself.
Now as this is a great and wonderful thing, so if thou approach it with pureness, thou approachest for salvation; but if with an evil conscience, for punishment and vengeance. "For," It saith, "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily" of the Lord, "eateth and drinketh judgment to himself" (1 Cor. xi. 29); since if they who defile the kingly purple are punished equally with those who rend it, it is not unreasonable that they who receive the Body with unclean thoughts should suffer the same punishment as those who rent it with the nails. Observe at least how fearful a punishment Paul declareth, when he saith, "He that despised Moses' law dieth without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing?" (Heb. i. 28.) Take we then heed to ourselves, beloved, we who enjoy such blessings; and if we desire to utter any shameful word, or perceive ourselves hurried away by wrath or any like passion, let us consider of what things we have been deemed worthy, of how great a Spirit we have partaken, and this consideration shall be a sobering of our unreasonable passions. For how long shall we be nailed to present things? How long shall it be before we rouse ourselves? How long shall we neglect our own salvation? Let us bear in mind of what things Christ has deemed us worthy, let us give thanks, let us glorify Him, not by our faith alone, but also by our very works, that we may obtain the good things that are to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.
"Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have not eternal life in yourselves. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath life in himself."
[1.] When we converse of spiritual things, let there be nothing secular in our souls, nothing earthy, let all such thoughts retire, and be banished, and let us be entirely given up to the hearing the divine oracles only. For if at the arrival of a king all confusion is driven away, much more when the Spirit speaketh with us do we need great stillness, great awe. And worthy of awe is that which is said to-day. How it is so, hear. "Verily I say unto you, Except a man eat My flesh, and drink My blood, he hath not eternal life in him." Since the Jews had before asserted that this was impossible, He showeth not only that it is not impossible, but that it is absolutely necessary. Wherefore He addeth, "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life."
"And I will raise him up at the last day." For since He had said, "He that eateth of this bread shall not die for ever" (vet. 50, not verbally quoted), and it was likely that this would stand in their way, (just as they before said, "Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead; and how sayest Thou, that he shall not taste of death? "—c. viii. 52, not verbally quoted.) He bringeth forward the Resurrection to solve the question, and to show that (the man who eateth) shall not die at the last. He continually handleth the subject of the Mysteries, showing the necessity of the action, and that it must by all means be done.
Ver. 55. "For My flesh is true meat, and My blood is true drink."
What is that He saith? He either desireth to declare that this is the true meat which saveth the soul, or to assure them concerning what had been said, that they might not suppose the words to be a mere enigma or parable, but might know that it is by all means needful to eat the Body. Then He saith,
Ver. 56. "He that eateth My flesh, dwelleth in Me."
This He said, showing that such an one is blended with Him. Now what follows seems unconnected, unless we enquire into the sense; for, saith some one, after saying, "He that eateth My flesh, dwelleth in Me," what kind of a consequence is it to add,
Ver. 57. "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father"?
Yet the words harmonize perfectly. For since He continually spake of "eternal life," to prove this point He introduceth the expression, "dwelleth in Me"; for "if he dwelleth in Me, and I live, it is plain that he will live also." Then He saith," As the living Father hath sent Me." This is an expression of comparison and resemblance, and its meaning is of this kind, "I live in like manner as the Father liveth." And that thou mayest not deem Him unbegotten, He immediately subjoineth, "by the Father," not by this to show that He needeth, in order to live, any power working in Him, for He said before, to remove such a suspicion, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son also to have life in Himself"; now if He needeth the working of another, it will be found that either the Father hath not given Him so to have it, and so the assertion is false, or if He hath so given it, then He will need no other one to support Him. What then means the," By the Father"? He here merely hinteth at the cause, and what He saith is of this kind: "As the Father liveth, so I live, and he that eateth Me shall live by Me." And the "life" of which He speaketh is not life merely, but the excellent life; for that He spake not simply of life, but of that glorious and ineffable life, is clear from this. For all men "live," even unbelievers, and uninitiated, who eat not of that flesh. Seest thou that the words relate not to this life, but to that other? And what He saith is of this kind: "He that eateth My flesh, when he dieth shall not perish nor suffer punishment"; He spake not of the general resurrection, (for all alike rise again,) but concerning the special, the glorious Resurrection, that which hath a reward.
Ver. 58. "This is that bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever."
Continually doth He handle the same point, so as to imprint it on the understanding of the hearers, (for the teaching on these points was a kind of final teaching,) and to confirm the doctrine of the Resurrection and of eternal life. Wherefore He mentioneth the Resurrection since He promiseth eternal life, showing that that life is not now, but after the Resurrection. "And whence," saith some one, "are these things clear? " From the Scriptures; to them He everywhere referreth the Jews, bidding them learn these things from them. And by saying, "Which giveth life to the world," He inciteth them to jealousy, that from very vexation that others should enjoy the gift, they may not stay without. And continually He remindeth them of the manna, showing the difference, (between it and His bread,) and guiding them to the faith; for if He was able to support their life for forty years without harvest, or corn, or other things in course; much more now will He be able to do so, as having come for greater ends. Moreover, if those things were but types, and yet men collected what came down without sweat or labor; much more shall this be the case, where the difference is great both in the never dying, and in the enjoying the true life. And rightly hath He spoken often of "life," since this is desired by men, and nothing is so pleasing to them as not to die. Since even under the old Covenant, this was the promise, length of life and many days, but now it is not length merely, but life having no end. He desireth at the same time to show, that He now revoketh the punishment caused by sin, annulling that sentence which condemneth to death and bringing in not life merely, but life eternal contrariwise to the former things.
Ver. 59. "These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum."
[2.] The place where most of His marvels had been done, so that He ought there especially to have been listened to. But wherefore taught He in the synagogue and in the Temple? As well because He desired to catch the greatest number of them, as because He desired to show that He was not opposed to the Father.
Ver. 60. "But many of the disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying."
What means "hard "? Rough, laborious, troublesome. Yet He said nothing of this kind, for He snake not of a mode of life, but of doctrines, continually handling the faith which is in Him. What then means, "is a hard saying"? Is it because it promiseth life and resurrection? Is it because He said that He came down from heaven? Or that it was impossible for one to be saved who ate not His flesh? Tell me, are these things "hard"? Who can assert that they are? What then means "hard"? It means, "difficult to be received," "transcending their infirmity," "having much terror." For they thought that He uttered words too high for His real character, and such as were above Himself. Therefore they said,
"Who can hear it? "
Perhaps making excuse for themselves, since they were about to start away.
Ver. 61, 62. "When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it," (for this is an attribute of His Godhead to bring secret things to light,) "He said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before? "
This also He doth in the case of Nathanael, saying, "Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shall see greater things than these." (c. i. 50.) And to Nicodemus, "No man hath ascended up to heaven but the Son of man which is in heaven." (c. iii. 13.) What then, doth He add difficulties to difficulties? No, (that be far from Him,) but by the greatness of the doctrines, and the number of them, He desireth to bring them over. For if one had said simply, "I have come down from heaven," and added nothing more, he would have been the more likely to offend them; but He who said, "My body is the life of the world"; He who said, "As the living Father hath sent Me, so I live by the Father"; and who said, "I have come down from heaven," solves the difficulty. For the man who utters any one great thing concerning himself may perhaps be suspected of feigning, but he who connects together so many one after another removes all suspicion. All that He doth and saith is intended to lead them away from the thought, that Joseph was His father. And it was not with a wish to strengthen, but rather to do away that stumbling-block, that He said this. For whosoever deemed that He was Joseph's son could not receive His sayings, while one that was persuaded that He had come down from heaven, and would ascend thither, might more easily give heed to His words: at the same time He bringeth forward also another explanation, saying,
Ver. 63. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing."
His meaning is, "Ye must hear spiritually what relateth to Me, for he who heareth carnally is not profiled, nor gathereth any advantage." It was carnal to question how He came down from heaven, to deem that He was the son of Joseph, to ask, "How can he give us His flesh to eat? " All this was carnal, when they ought to have understood the matter in a mystical and spiritual sense. "But," saith some one, "how could they understand what the 'eating flesh might mean? " Then it was their duty to wait for the proper time and enquire, and not to abandon Him.
"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."
That is, they are divine and spiritual, have nothing carnal about them, are not subject to the laws of physical consequence, but are free from any such necessity, are even set above the laws appointed for this world, and have also another and a different meaning. Now as it, this passage He said "spirit," instead of" spiritual," so when He' speaketh of "flesh," He meant not "carnal things," but "carnally hearing," and alluding at the same time to them, because they ever desired carnal things when they ought to have desired spiritual. For if a man receives them carnally, he profits nothing. "What then, is not His flesh, flesh? " Most certainly. "How then saith He, that the flesh profiteth nothing? " He speaketh not of His own flesh, (God forbid!) but of those who received His words in a carnal manner. But what is "understanding carnally"? It is looking merely to what is before our eyes, without imagining anything beyond. This is understanding carnally. But we must not judge thus by sight, but must look into all mysteries with the eyes within. This is seeing spiritually. He that eateth not His flesh, and drinketh not His blood, hath no life in him. How then doth "the flesh profit nothing," if without it we cannot live? Seest thou that the words, "the flesh profiteth nothing," are spoken not of His own flesh, but of carnal hearing?
Ver. 64. "But there are some of you that believe not."
Again, according to His custom, He addeth weight to His words, by foretelling what would come to pass, and by showing that He spake thus not from desire of honor from them, but because He cared for them. And when He said "some," He excepted the disciples. For at first He said, "Ye have both seen Me, and believe not" (ver. 36); but here, "There are some of you that believe not."
For He "knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him."
Ver. 65. "And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me except it were given unto Him from above from My Father."
[3.] Here the Evangelist intimates to us the voluntary character of the Dispensation, and His endurance of evil. Nor is the, "from the beginning," put here without a cause, but that thou mayest be aware of His foreknowledge from the first, and that before the words were, uttered, and not after the men had murmured nor after they had been offended, He knew the traitor, but before, which was an attribute of Godhead. Then He added, "Except it be given him from above from My Father "; thus persuading them to deem God His Father, not Joseph, and showing them that it is no common thing to believe in Him. As though He had said, "Unbelievers disturb Me not; trouble Me not, astonish Me not. I know of old before they were created, I know to whom the Father hath given to believe;" and do thou, when thou hearest that "He hath given," imagine not merely an arbitrary distribution, but that if any hath rendered himself worthy to receive the gift, he hath received it.
Ver. 66. "From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him."
Rightly hath the Evangelist said, not that they "departed," but that they "went back"; showing that they cut themselves off from any increase in virtue, and that by separating themselves they lost the faith which they had of old. But this was not the case with the twelve;. wherefore He saith to them,
Ver. 67. "Will ye also go away? "
Again showing that He needeth not their ministry and service, and proving to them that it was not for this that He led them about with Him. For how could He when He used such expressions even to them? But why did He not praise them? why did He not approve them? Both because He preserved the dignity befitting a teacher, and also to show them that they ought rather to be attracted by this mode of dealing. For had He praised them, they might, supposing that they were doing Him a-favor, have had some human feeling; but by showing them that He needed not their attendance, He kept them to Him the more. And observe with what prudence He spake. He said not, "Depart ye," (this would have been to thrust them from Him,) but asked them a question, "Will ye also go away? " the expression of one who would remove all force or compulsion, and who wished not that they should be attached to Him through any sense of shame, but with a sense of favor. By not openly accusing, but gently glancing at them, He showeth what is the truly wise course under such circumstances. But we feel differently; with good reason, since we do everything holding fast our own honor, and therefore think that our estate is lowered by the departure of those who attend on us. But He neither flattered nor repulsed them, but asked them a question. Now this was not the act of one despising them, but of one wishing them not to be restrained by force and compulsion: for to remain on such terms is the same as to depart. What then saith Peter?
Ver. 68, 69. "To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Seest thou that it was not the words that caused offense, but the heedlessness, and sloth, and wrong-mindedness of the hearers? For even had He not spoken, they would have been offended, and would not have ceased to be ever anxious about bodily food, ever nailed to earth. Besides, the disciples heard at the same time with the others, yet they declared an opinion contrary to theirs, saying, "To whom shall we go? " An expression indicating much affection, for it shows that their Teacher was more precious to them than anything, than father or mother, or any possessions, and that if they withdrew from Him, they had not then whither to flee. Then lest it should seem that he had said, "to whom shall we go? " because there were none that would receive them, he straightway added, "Thou hast the words of eternal life." For the Jews listened carnally, and with human reasonings, but the disciples spiritually, and committing all to faith. Wherefore Christ said, "The words which I have spoken unto you are spirit "; that is, "do not suppose that the teaching of My words is subject to the rule of material consequences, or to the necessity of created things. Things spiritual are not of this nature, nor endure to submit to the laws of earth." This also Paul declareth, saying, "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down;) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.") (Rom. x. 6, 7.)
"Thou hast the words of eternal life." These men already admitted the Resurrection, and all the apportionment which shall be there. And observe the brotherly and affectionate man, how he maketh answer for all the band. For he said not, "I know," but, "We know." Or rather, observe how he goes to the very words of his Teacher, not speaking as did the Jews. They said, "This is the son of Joseph"; but he said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God"; and "Thou hast the words of eternal life: having perhaps heard Him say, "He that believeth on Me hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." For he showed that he retained all that had been said, by recalling the very words. What then did Christ? He neither praised nor expressed admiration of Peter, though He had elsewhere done so; but what saith He?
Ver. 70. "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? "
For since Peter said, "We believe," Jesus excepteth Judas from the band. In the other place Peter made no mention of the disciples; but when Christ said, "Whom say ye that I am? " he replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. xvi. 15); but here, since he said, "We believe," Christ with reason admitteth not Judas into that band. And this. He did afar off, and long before the time, to check the wickedness of the traitor, knowing that He should avail nothing, yet doing His own part.
[4.] And remark His wisdom. He made not the traitor manifest, yet allowed him not to be hidden; that on the one hand he might not lose all shame, and become more contentious; and on the other, that he might not, thinking to be unperceived, work his wicked deed without fear. Therefore by degrees He bringeth plainer reproofs against him. First, He numbered him too among the others, when He said, "There are some of you that believe not," (for that He counted the traitor the Evangelist hath declared, saying, "For He knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him; ") but when he yet remained such, He brought against him a more severe rebuke, "One of you is a devil," yet made the fear common to them all, wishing to conceal him. And here it is worth while to enquire, why the disciples at this time said nothing, but afterwards were afraid and doubted, looking one upon another, and asking, "Lord, is it I? " (Matt. xxvi. 22), when Peter beckoned to John tofind out the traitor, by enquiring of their Teacher which was he. What is the reason? Peter had not yet heard, "Get thee behind me, Satan," wherefore he had no fear at all; but when he had been rebuked, and though he spoke through strong affection, instead of being approved of, had even been called "Satan," he afterwards with reason feared when he heard, "One of you shall betray Me." Besides, He saith not even now, "One of you shall betray Me," but, "One of you is a devil"; wherefore they understood not what was spoken, but thought that He was only reflecting upon their wickedness.
But wherefore said He, "I have chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil "? It was to show that His teaching was entirely free from flattery. For that they might not think that He would flatter them, because when all had left Him they alone remained, and confessed by Peter that He was the Christ, He leadeth them away from such a suspicion. And what He saith is of this kind. "Nothing abasheth Me from rebuking the bad; think not that because ye have remained I shall choose to flatter you, or that because ye have followed Me I shall not rebuke the wicked. For neither cloth another circumstance abash Me, which is much more powerful than this to abash a teacher. For he that remaineth affordeth a proof of his affection, while one that hath been chosen by a teacher, being rejected, attacheth to him a character for folly among senseless persons. Still neither doth this cause Me to refrain from My reproofs." This at least even now the heathen frigidly and senselessly urge against Christ. For God is not wont to make men good by compulsion and force, neither is His election and choice compulsory on those who are called, but persuasive And that thou mayest learn that the calling compelleth not, consider how many of these who have been called have come to perdition, so that it is clear that it lieth in our own will also to be saved, or to perish.
[5.] Hearing therefore these things, learn we always to be sober and to watch. For if when he who was reckoned among that holy band, who had enjoyed so great a gift, who had wrought miracles, (for he too was with the others who were sent to raise the dead and to heal lepers) if when he was seized by the dreadful disease of covetousness, and betrayed his Master, neither the favors, nor the gifts, nor the being with Christ, nor the attendance on Him, nor the washing the feet, nor the sharing His table, nor the bearing the bag, availed him, if these things rather served to help on his punishment, let us also fear lest we ever through covetousness imitate Judas. Thou betrayest not Christ. But when thou neglectest the poor man wasting with hunger, or perishing with cold, that. man draws upon thee the same condemnation. When we partake of the Mysteries unworthily, we perish equally with the Christ-slayers. When we plunder, when we oppress those weaker than ourselves, we shall draw down upon us severest punishment. And with reason; for how long shall the love of things present so occupy us, superfluous as they are and unprofitable? since wealth consists in superfluities, in which no advantage is. How long shall we be nailed to vanities? How long shall we not look through and away into heaven, not be sober, not be satiated with these fleeting things of earth, not learn by experience their worthlessness? Let us think of those who before us have been wealthy; are not all those things a dream? are they not a shadow, a flower? are they not a stream which floweth by? a story and a tale? Such a man has been rich, and where now is his wealth? It has gone, has perished, but the sins done by reason of it stay by him, and the punishment which is because of the sins. Yea, surely if there were no punishment, if no kingdom were set before us, it were a duty to show regard for those of like descent and family, to respect those who have like feelings with ourselves. But now we feed dogs, and many of us wild asses, and bears, and different beasts, while we care not for a man perishing with hunger; and a thing alien to us is more valued than that which is of our kin, and our own family less honored than creatures which are not so, nor related to us.
Is it a fine thing to build one's self splendid houses, to have many servants, to lie and gaze at a gilded roof? Why then, assuredly, it is superfluous and unprofitable. For other buildings there are, far brighter and more majestic than these; on such we must gladden our eyes, for there is none to hinder us. Wilt thou see the fairest of roofs? At eventide look upon the starred heaven. "But," saith some one, "this roof is not mine." Yet in truth this is more thine than that other. For thee it was made, and is common to thee and to thy brethren; the other is not thine, but theirs who after thy death inherit it. The one may do thee the greatest service, guiding thee by its beauty to its Creator; the other the greatest harm, becoming thy greatest accuser at the Day of Judgment, inasmuch as it is covered with gold, while Christ hath not even needful raiment. Let us not, I entreat you, be subject to such folly, let us not pursue things which flee away, and flee those which endure let us not betray our own salvation, but hold fast to our hope of what shall be hereafter; the aged, as certainly knowing that but a little space of life is left us; the young, as well persuaded that what is left is not much. For that day cometh so as a thief in the night. Knowing this, let wives exhort their husbands, and husbands admonish their wives; let us teach youths and maidens, and all instruct one another, to care not for present things, but to desire those which are to come, that we may be able also to obtain them; through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.
"After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand."
[1.] Nothing is worse than envy and malice; through these death entered into the world. For when the devil saw man honored, he endured not his prosperity, but used every means to destroy him. (Wisd. ii. 24.) And from the same root one may everywhere see this same fruit produced. Thus Abel was slain; thus David, with many other just men, was like to have been so; from this also the Jews became Christ-slayers. And declaring this the Evangelist said, "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He had not power to walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him." What sayest thou, O blessed John? Had not He "power," who was able to do all that He would? He that said, "Whom seek ye? " (c. xviii. 6) and cast them backward? He who was present, yet not seen (c. xxi. 4), had not He "power"? How then afterwards did He come among them in the midst of the temple, in the midst of the feast, when there was an assembly, when they that longed for murder were present, and utter those sayings which enraged them yet the more? Yea, this at least men marveled at, saying, "Is not this He, whom they seek to kill? And, lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him." (Vet. 25, 26.) What mean these riddles? Away with the word! The Evangelist spake not so that he might be supposed to utter riddles, but to make it plain that He showeth proofs both of His Godhead and His Manhood. For when he saith, that "He had not power," he speaketh of Him as a man, doing many things after the manner of men; but when he saith, that He stood in the midst of them, and they seized Him not, he showeth to us the power of the Godhead, (as man He fled, as God He appeared,) and in both cases he speaks truly. To be in the midst of those who were plotting against Him, and yet not be seized by them, showed His unrivaled and irresistible nature; to yield strengthened and authenticated the Dispensation, that neither Paul of Samosata, nor Marcion, nor those affected with their maladies, might have anything to say. By this then he stoppeth all their mouths.
"After these things was the Jews' feast of tabernacles." The words, "after these things," mean only, that the writer has here been concise, and has passed over a long interval of time, as is clear from this circumstance. When Christ sat on the mountain, he saith, that it was the feast of the Passover; while here the writer mentions the "feast of tabernacles," and during the five months hath neither related or taught us anything else, except the miracle of the loaves, and the sermon made to those who ate them. Yet He ceased not to work miracles, and to converse, both in the day, and in the evening, and oftentimes at night; at least, it was thus that He presided over His disciples, as all the Evangelists tell us. Why then have they omitted that interval? Because it was impossible to recount everything fully, and moreover, because they were anxious to mention those points which were followed by any fault-finding or gainsaying of the Jews. There were many circumstances like those which here are omitted; for that He raised the dead, healed the sick, and was admired, they have frequently recorded; but when they have anything uncommon to tell, when they have to describe any charge seemingly put forth against Him, these things they set down; such as this now, that "His brethren believed Him not." For a circumstance like this brings with it no slight suspicion, and it is worth our while to admire their truth-loving disposition, how they are not ashamed to relate things which seem to bring disgrace upon their Teacher, but have been even more anxious to report these than other matters. For instance, the writer having passed by many signs and wonders and sermons, has sprung at once to this.
Ver. 3-5. For, saith he, "His brethren said unto Him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest; for there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. Show thyself to the world. For neither did His brethren believe in Him."
[2.] What unbelief, saith some one, is here? They exhort Him to work miracles. It is great deed; for of unbelief come their words, and their insolence, and their unseasonable freedom of speech. For they thought, that owing to their relationship, it was lawful for them to address Him boldly. And their request seems forsooth to be that of friends, but the words were those of great maliciousness. For in this place they reproach Him with cowardice and vainglory: since to say, "no man doeth anything in secret," is the expression of persons charging Him with cowardice, and suspecting the things done by Him as being not really done; and to add, that "he seeketh to be known," was to accuse Him of vainglory. But observe, I pray you, the power of Christ. Of those who said these things, one became first Bishop of Jerusalem, the blessed James, of whom Paul saith, "Other of the Apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother" (Gal. i. 19); and Judas also is said to have been a marvelous man. And yet these persons had been present also at Cana, when the wine was made, but as yet they profited nothing. Whence then had they so great unbelief? From their evil mind, and from envy; for superiority among kindred is wont somehow to be envied by such as are not alike exalted. But who are those that they call disciples here? The crowd that followed Him, not the twelve. What then saith Christ? Observe how mildly He answered; He said not, "Who are ye that counsel and instruct Me thus?" but,
Ver. 6. "My time is not yet come."
He here seemeth to me to hint at something other than He expresseth; perhaps in their envy they designed to deliver Him up to the Jews; and pointing out this to them, He saith, "My time is not yet come," that is, "the time of the Cross and the Death, why then hasten ye to slay Me before the time? "
"But your time is always ready."
As though He had said, "Though ye be ever with the Jews, they will not slay you who desire the same things with them; but Me they will straightway wish to kill. So that it is ever your time to be with them without danger, but My time is when the season of the Cross is at hand, when I must die." For that this was His meaning, He showed by what followed.
Ver. 7. "The world cannot hate you;" (how should it hate those who desire, and who run for the same objects as itself? ) "but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil."
"That is, because I upbraid and rebuke it, therefore I am hated." From this let us learn to master our anger, and not to give way to unworthy passion, though they be mean men who give us counsel. For if Christ meekly bore with unbelievers counseling Him, when their counsel was improper and not from any good intention, what pardon shall we obtain, who being but dust and ashes, yet are annoyed with those who counsel us, and deem that we are unworthily treated, although the persons who do this may be but a little humbler than ourselves? Observe in this instance how He repelleth their accusation with all gentleness; for when they say, "Show Thyself to the world," He replieth, "The world cannot hate you, but Me the world hateth"; thus removing their accusation. "So far," He saith, "am I from seeking honor from men, that I cease not to reprove them, and this when I know that by this course hatred is produced against and death prepared for Me." "And where," asketh some one, "did He rebuke men? " When did He ever cease to do so? Did He not say, "Think not that I will accuse you to the Father? There is one that accuseth you, even Moses." (c. v. 45.) And again; "I know you, that ye have not the love of God in Thou": and "How can ye believe who receive honor from men, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only? " Seest thou how He hath everywhere shown, that it was the open rebuke, not the violation of the Sabbath, which caused the hatred against Him?
And wherefore doth He send them to the feast, saying,
Ver. 8. "Go ye up to the feast: I go not up yet"?
To show that He said these things not as needing them, or desiring to be flattered by them, but permitting them to do what pertained to Jews. "How then," saith some one, "went He up after saying, ' I go not up '? " He said not, once for all, "I go not up," but, "now," that is, "not with you."
"For My time is not yet fulfilled."
And yet He was about to be crucified at the coming Passover. "How then went He not up also? for if He went not up because the time was not yet come, He ought not to have gone up at all." But He went not up for this purpose, that He might suffer, but that He might instruct them. "But wherefore secretly? since He might by going openly both have been amidst them, and have restrained their unruly impulses as He often did." It was because He would not do this continually. Since had He gone up openly, and again blinded them, He would have made His Godhead to shine through in a greater degree, which at present behooved not, but He rather concealed it. And since they thought that His remaining was from cowardice, He showeth them the contrary, and that it was from confidence, and a dispensation, and that knowing beforehand the time when He should suffer, He would, when it should at length be at hand, be most desirous of going up to Jerusalem. And methinks by saying, "Go ye up," He meant, "Think not that I compel you to stay with Me against your will," and this addition of, "My time is not yet fully come," is the expression of one declaring that miracles must be wrought and sermons spoken, so that greater multitudes might believe, and the disciples be made more steadfast by seeing the boldness and the sufferings of their Master.
[3.] Learn we then, from what hath been said, His kindness and gentleness; "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart" (Matt. xi. 29); and let us cast away all bitterness. If any exalt himself against us, let us be humble; if any be bold, let us wait upon him; if any bite and devour us with mocks and jests, let us not be overcome; lest in defending ourselves we destroy ourselves. For wrath is a wild beast, a wild beast keen and angry. Let us then repeat to ourselves soothing charms drawn from the holy Scripture, and say, "Thou art earth and ashes." "Why is earth and ashes proud? " (Ecclus. x. 9), and, "The sway of his fury shall be his destruction" (Ecclus. i. 22): and, "The wrathful man is not comely" (Prov. xi. 25, LXX.); for there is nothing more shameful, nothing uglier than a visage inflamed with anger. As when you stir up mud there is an ill savor, so when a soul is disturbed by passion there is great indecency and unpleasantness. "But," saith some one, "I endure not insult from mine enemies." Wherefore? tell me. If the charge be true, then thou oughtest, even before the affront, to have been pricked at heart, and thank thine enemy for his rebukes; if it be false, despise it. He hath called thee poor, laugh at him; he hath called thee base-born and foolish, then mourn for him; for "He that saith to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matt. V. 22.) Whenever therefore one insults thee, consider the punishment that he undergoeth; then shalt thou not only not be angry, but shall even shed tears for him. For no man is wroth with one in a fever or inflammation, but pities and weeps for all such; and such a thing is a soul that is angry. Nay, if even thou desire to avenge thyself, hold thy peace, and thou hast dealt thine enemy a mortal blow; while if thou addest reviling to reviling, thou hast kindled a fire. "But," saith some one, "the bystanders accuse us of weakness if we hold our peace." No, they will not condemn your weakness, but admire you for your wisdom. Moreover, if you are stung by insolence, you become insolent; and being stung, compel men to think that what hath been said of you is true. Wherefore, tell me, doth a rich man laugh when he is called poor? Is it not because he is conscious that he is not poor? if therefore we will laugh at insults, we shall afford the strongest proof that we are not conscious of the faults alleged. Besides, how long are we to dread the accounts we render to men? how long are we to despise our common Lord, and be nailed to the flesh? "For whereas there is among you strife, and envying, and divisions, are ye not carnal? " (1 Cor. iii. 3.) Let us then become spiritual, and bridle this dreadful wild beast. Anger differs nothing from madness, it is a temporary devil, or rather it is a thing worse than having a devil; for one that hath a devil may be excused, but the angry man deserves ten thousand punishments, voluntarily casting himself into the pit of destruction, and before the hell which is to come suffering punishment from this already, by bringing a certain restless turmoil and never silent storm of fury, through all the night and through all the day, upon the reasonings of his soul. Let us therefore, that we may deliver ourselves from the punishment here and the vengeance hereafter, cast out this passion, and show forth all meekness and gentleness, that we may find rest for our souls both here and in the Kingdom of Heaven. To which may we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (PNPF I/XIV, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.