Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
tendency to place glory in external greatness, to rebuke and to banish such conceptions from the higher thinking of men. Our Lord employs the term "glory" in a higher, a moral and spiritual acceptation. He teaches us what true glory is when he prays, "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee."
I. THE GLORIFICATION OF THE SON BY THE FATHER. For this Jesus prayed; therefore it was something yet to be.
1. Christ sought to be glorified in and after his approaching suffering and humiliation. The scenes through which he was about to pass, the pains and sorrows he was about to endure, were such as could not easily in most minds be associated with glory. Still, to the enlightened and sympathetic mind, there was even in the cross a majesty unparalleled. The demeanor of the Crucified was a demeanor, morally glorious. But the prayer of our Savior probably had reference to the victory which he should reach even through his seeming defeat. The Resurrection and Ascension completed and crowned the work of humiliation and suffering.
"The head that once was crowned with thorns 2. Christ sought to be glorified in the efficacy and results of his mediation. The results of his earthly ministry might to some minds seem meager. But the "greater works" which followed his ascension were such as to excite the amazement of the world. The new dispensation excelled in glory. The trophies of Immanuel were many and illustrious. The conversion of nations, the submission of kings, the homage of society, all proved to be glorious, all contributed to render glorious, the Name of the Son of man. And this spiritual glory never wanes; it is destined to grow and brighten with the advancing ages. II. THE GLORIFICATION OF THE FATHER BY THE SON. This is represented by the Lord Jesus as consequent upon that glorification for which he prayed. The ultimate end of all is the glory of the Eternal himself. How is it that this result is brought about? 1. The Father is glorified when there is imparted to men a true knowledge of himself. 2. By the diffusion throughout humanity of the new and Divine life. 3. By the obedience and praise offered consciously, willingly, and reasonably, to the Father, by the growing multitudes of Christ's redeemed, through countless ages, on earth and in heaven. - T.
2. Christ sought to be glorified in the efficacy and results of his mediation. The results of his earthly ministry might to some minds seem meager. But the "greater works" which followed his ascension were such as to excite the amazement of the world. The new dispensation excelled in glory. The trophies of Immanuel were many and illustrious. The conversion of nations, the submission of kings, the homage of society, all proved to be glorious, all contributed to render glorious, the Name of the Son of man. And this spiritual glory never wanes; it is destined to grow and brighten with the advancing ages.
II. THE GLORIFICATION OF THE FATHER BY THE SON. This is represented by the Lord Jesus as consequent upon that glorification for which he prayed. The ultimate end of all is the glory of the Eternal himself. How is it that this result is brought about?
1. The Father is glorified when there is imparted to men a true knowledge of himself.
2. By the diffusion throughout humanity of the new and Divine life.
3. By the obedience and praise offered consciously, willingly, and reasonably, to the Father, by the growing multitudes of Christ's redeemed, through countless ages, on earth and in heaven. - T.
overheard by them; that would imply that they were not intended to hear it. The Father heard the prayer, and the disciples heard it too. And in the hearing there came upon them great responsibilities, great opportunities, great inspirations. The same things also come upon us.
I. THE INVOCATION. This invoking word, "Father," must not be forgotten in one single sentence of the whole prayer. The prayer is but one revealed breathing of an unbroken communion. "Father" was no new or occasional word on the lips of Jesus. The thought of it directed and circumscribed every petition. The prayer is the prayer of One who was in the closest intercourse with him to whom he prayed. The harmony was the harmony of a union which, the more we think of it, deepens into mysterious unity. What were the Son without the Father - what were the Father without the Son?
II. THE OCCASION. The hour has come. What Jesus meant by that hour we soon discern when the prayer is closed. Streams that had long. been flowing towards each other were about to meet at last. The time and the events of the time were going to correspond. With God there is no "too soon" or "too late." The time came for Jesus to be delivered up into the hands of men, and he made no resistance, achieved no miraculous escape. The hour was come to reveal the essential weakness of human power; and Jesus was ready to give the opportunity of illustrating it. All that men did and all that Jesus suffered could not have happened otherwise. All that was done by all who were concerned in the death of Jesus was done according to their natural inclinings. We ought not to be astonished at a single dreadful feature in the whole transaction. Men did what they might be expected to do; and now the heavenly Father is looked to for what he may be expected to do.
III. THE SUPPLICATION. That the Father would glorify the Son. The Father had, indeed, been doing nothing else from the beginning, but this paternal glorification had now to be made peculiarly manifest. The disciples had got into the way of not looking beyond or above Jesus. It seemed as if he did the things rather than the Father through him. He said that he could only do what the Father gave him to do; but this could only be clearly seen when through a set of entirely different experiences. The workings of that Being whom Jesus calls Father should appear. Jesus, who heretofore had been strenuously active, was now to be almost entirely passive. The Father was now going to glorify him through the manifestation of the meekest, lowliest, most patient Spirit. Then beyond the death there lay the resurrection. He who believes that Jesus really rose from the dead can see in that, above all things, the glorifying stamp of the heavenly Father.
IV. THE MOTIVE. A glorified Son means a glorified Father. The praise of him who was sent is inseparable from the praise of him who sent him. The risen Jesus becomes the instrument of proclaiming far and wide that God who is a Father. A Father with none of the limitations of human fathers; a Father who, to those who contemplate his doings, opens up new possibilities and joys in human fatherhood. Further, there is an example. We, in our measure, should pray that our heavenly Father may glorify us, for so we shall glorify him. We who have come short of the glory of God shall yet fully illustrate that glory in every particular. - Y.
I. CHRIST'S AUTHORITY OVER ALL. We may consider:
1. Its origin in the appointment of the Father.
2. Its realization in the incarnation and sacrifice of the Redeemer. The authority was native to our Lord Jesus; but it made itself recognized and secured its exercise by his earthly ministry.
3. Its range over all humanity independently of the character of individual men.
4. The new view which, by the aid of this glorious truth, we are able to take of the providential and mediatorial government of the world.
5. The rebuke thus administered to our fear and faithlessness.
II. CHRIST'S GIFT TO SOME.
1. The mystery of the limitation. This lies in the counsels of the Divine wisdom, and attempts to explain it are usually of little value.
2. The priceless and glorious nature of what is bestowed. Nothing higher than life - i.e. the life of the spirit - can possibly be conceived as coming into the possession of those otherwise dead in trespasses and sins. It is, however, of the very essence of this life that it is imperishable, and independent of all that is earthly and transitory. - T.
I. THERE IS MUCH WE CANNOT KNOW OF GOD. If we are often baffled in studying the works of his hands, we cannot be surprised that the Divine artificer is too high for us to comprehend him. If we are perplexed in our endeavors to understand the soul of man, how can we expect to fathom the mysteries of the Divine nature? It is said that King Hiero asked the philosopher Simonides, "Who is God?" The wise man asked for a day to reflect and to prepare an answer. Finding this insufficient, he asked a week, and then a year. But time and meditation brought no light which could satisfy him, and the query remained unanswered. God in the spiritual realm is like his universe in the material realm; of which the great Pascal said, "It is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." It is said that the Emperor Trajan, addressing a Jewish rabbi, Joshua by name, said, "Show me your God." The sage answered, "Come out of the house, and see one of his ambassadors." Leading him into the daylight, the rabbi bade the emperor look upon the sun, then shining in his strength. "What! cannot you look in the face of the ambassador? are you blinded by his dazzling presence? How can you look upon the countenance of the King?" "No man hath seen God at any time." Who can by searching find out God? We see glimpses, we hear whisperings, of his power and wisdom; but there is an infinity which comes not within our ken. A child follows the course of the brook which flows through his father's fields; he reaches the point where it joins the river in the valley; but he dreams not of the sea into which that river empties itself.
II. WE CAN KNOW OF GOD WHAT IS OF MOST VALUE TO US. If we cannot understand the Divine nature, if there are some of his attributes, as, for example, his omnipresence, which utterly baffle our intellect, still there is much that is within our apprehension. We can know that the Lord our God is one God, that he is wise, that he is just and faithful, that he is compassionate and merciful. Now, what does it matter to a child that he cannot understand his father's occupations, that he is not able to appreciate his father's abilities, so long as he is sure that his father will give him good advice, so long as he is sure that his father will provide for his wants, bodily and mental? Suppose the father to be a statesman; the child cannot enter into the reasons of national polity. Suppose the father to be a lawyer; the child cannot form any opinion of his father's conduct of a case in court. But the child can know that his father will receive with kindness any application which may be made to him for guidance, for help, for the means of acquiring knowledge or rational enjoyment. The child can know that the father's house will not be shut against him, that he is ever welcome to the father's table, that the father's time is always at his service. In like manner we are quite capable of knowing what is God's will, of understanding the propriety of obedience to that will, of valuing the opportunities we have of learning and obeying our heavenly Father.
III. THERE ARE SPECIAL WAYS IN WHICH GOD GIVES US KNOWLEDGE OF HIMSELF. We cannot see him directly, but we can see him, so to speak, by reflection. He has given us two mirrors in which the spiritual lineaments of his Divine character become visible to us.
1. There is the mirror of nature. It is allowed us "to look through nature up to nature's God."
"There's nothing bright above, below,
2. There is the mirror of our own spiritual mature. The psalmist looked into this mirror, and saw therein the reflection of the Lord, the Ruler, the Judge, of all. "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God."
IV. IT IS IN JESUS CHRIST THAT GOD GRANTS US THE CHIEF REVELATION OF HIMSELF. Nature and conscience are mirrors; Christ is the very shining forth of the Divine glory. We must not make an image of God; but God has given us a perfect image of himself, of his moral attributes. When we have once seen God in his dear Son, we recognize his presence everywhere and in all things. As the sun illumines a hundred snow-clad peaks, and every summit glows and glitters forth his splendor, so when God appears in Christ, his attributes are seen in all his works and all his ways. Especially do we through Jesus come to the knowledge of the Divine holiness, righteousness, and love.
V. IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IN CHRIST IS THE ETERNAL LIFE. Of our Lord Jesus an apostle affirms," This is the true God, and the Eternal Life." Now, an ignorant, uninformed, uninstructed soul is a dead soul. It is knowledge that enkindles mental life, that calls forth the intellectual powers. And it is the highest knowledge which is the Divine means of awakening the highest life. This life is called eternal, because it is not like earthly life which perishes, but because it is of a higher kind - because it is the life of God himself, spiritual and Divine. A boy taken from an inferior position, with few opportunities of improvement and no profitable companions, may be brought into a position where advantages are many, opportunities precious, associates inspiring. He may come to say, "This is life indeed! So Saul became Paul - when he had seen and known Christ. - T.
see the kingdom of God. A beast sees what a man sees so far as the image on the retina is concerned; but a man will do very different things as the result of his seeing. And so a natural man sees what a spiritual man sees so far as the image on the retina is concerned; but the spiritual man will do very different things as the result of his seeing.
I. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. Thus early does the theological element come in to this prayer. Jesus had to work for men through all the institutions of worship and religious faith which he found in the world. What he here says is quite in accord with the introduction to the Epistle to the Romans. There can be no peace or blessedness for mankind till the delusions and vices connected with the worship of false gods have passed away. And not only must there be deliverance from the dominion of false gods - so much has been achieved by gradual perception of the absurdity of idolatry - there must be deliverance from the dominion of false and defective ideas of Deity altogether. How humiliating are the narrow and superstitious thoughts of God entertained by many who have always been under the influences of Christianity. The best of us cannot easily be kept from tending towards exaggeration and one-sidedness in this matter. Notice how worshippers of the one true God and worshippers of the false gods of Rome were joined together in the acts of wickedness which brought Jesus to death. Sympathetic and adoring knowledge of the one true God is the thing that is wanted, and it comes as those who are babes in Christ Jesus grow up to the stature of perfect men in him. Not by the wisdom of this world can God ever be known.
II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SENT JESUS. HOW this addition sweeps away the arrogant, self-confident claims of mere general theism! Man can only get true, comforting knowledge of the one true God through him whom God sent to reveal. Knowledge of God is by revelation, not by discovery. The necessity that man should know God explains the mission and the nature of his Son Jesus. Jesus brings the knowledge of God out of the darkness wherein it was hid; and then, God being known, Jesus himself becomes more intelligible to men. The more we know Jesus, the more we know God; and the more we know God, the more we know Jesus. What barren, tantalizing teachers are those, expatiate they ever so much, who leave Jesus out of the necessary elements in explaining Deity! And similarly, those who separate Jesus the moralist from Jesus the theologian, and try to satisfy men with a scheme of glorified ethics, are soon found out. How needful, then, that we should nourish all beginnings of eternal life! - all that unrest of the heart which, if only we do not kill it by mere opiates, will grow into the peace and blessedness of them who really know God. - Y.
I. CHRIST'S CONCEPTION OF HIS MINISTRY.
1. In his view this was a work to be done. The serious and sacred nature of this earthly life was never realized by any as by him. "I work," said Jesus, with a sublime simplicity; and the record of his labors proves the truth of his assertion.
2. In his view Christ's ministry was a trust from his Father. Every true servant of God can speak of the work which Divine authority has assigned to him as his vocation. Of this the Son of God, who became the Servant of God, has given us the most glorious example. Obedience and subjection were characteristic of the Savior's earthly ministry.
II. CHRIST'S CONSCIOUS COMPLETION OF HIS MINISTRY.
1. From the beginning our Lord had possessed a clear conception of the nature of the work to which he had been designated and commissioned by the Father.
2. Our Lord had been conscious of the possession of all the qualifications necessary for the fulfillment of his work. He was well aware that his mission would not fail through any deficiency on his part.
3. Amidst all his labors and sufferings Jesus had been sustained by the conviction that his work was advancing to its completion. The very circumstances which to another mind might have seemed fatal to his great enterprise, were to his clear knowledge the conditions of its prosperous issue.
4. The approaching sacrifice was regarded by the Redeemer as if already offered; it was so in intention and resolve.
5. The results of the Savior's work were present to his holy and benevolent mind. By anticipation the results were already reaped - a glorious harvest from the seed sown and seemingly perished in the earth.
APPLICATION. The example of Christ is a rebuke to all desultory views of life. Those who regard this existence as an opportunity for personal pleasure, enrichment, or aggrandizement may well ponder the spirit displayed by the Lord Jesus, who looked upon his life here as sacred, as allowing of a consecrated service to the Father. Christ's spirit can animate his followers so that they may both undertake and complete some good work for the Divine glory. - T.
I. CHRIST HAD GLORY WITH THE FATHER BEFORE THE WORLD WAS. Of this we only know what our Lord himself has revealed to us. But we are assured that this world is not the only scene of the manifestation of the glory of the eternal Word. In what manner, through what circumstances, to what order of intelligences, this ante-natal glory was displayed, we have no means of knowing.
II. CHRIST GATHERED TO HIMSELF FRESH GLORY DURING HIS EARTHLY MANIFESTATION AND MINISTRY. This was emphatically a moral and spiritual glory - the glory of truth, righteousness, purity, and love. It was emphatically the glory of sacrifice - glory which could only be realized through incarnation and humiliation. This glory is discerned anti appreciated only by the spiritual; to the view of such it excels all the tinseled splendor of worldly greatness.
III. CHRIST TOOK WITH HIM TO THE PRESENCE OF THE FATHER A GLORY WHICH HARMONIZED WITH THAT WHICH WAS NATIVE AND ORIGINAL, AND WHICH EVEN ENHANCED IT. This prayer opens up before the mind three stages of Divine glory as belonging to Christ. The Incarnation did not create his glory, for he brought it with him from the heavens. But his earthly sojourn was the occasion of accession of glory. And when he ascended on high to receive the reward of toil, to reap the harvest of sacrifice, he appeared, and he ever does and will appear, irradiated with a splendor which, as mediatorial, is at once sacrificial and triumphant. - T.
I. THE CALLING OF TEE CLIENTS.
1. They are separated from the world. Made a select and consecrated class, they are set apart from others in the prayer of the Lord.
2. They are the property of the Father.
3. They are the gift of the Father to his Son. The Father drew them with the bonds of love, and they became Christ's.
II. THE MARKS OF THE CLIENTS. It is not to be supposed that there is anything arbitrary in the calling of God. Those for whom the High Priest here pleads:
1. Recognize the Divinity of Christ's works.
2. And the Divinity of his words. These they received, i.e. as from God through him who is "the Word."
3. And the Divinity of his mission. Christ came forth from God; God sent him. But this great fact, the greatest in the history of mankind, was by no means generally recognized. Its recognition became at once, and still remains, a "note" of Christ's people. The just estimate of the words and of the works of Christ leads to a true appreciation of Christ himself.
III. THE SECURITY AND DIGNITY OF THE CLIENTS.
1. All Christ's are his Father's, and all the Father's are Christ's; therefore the clients who have the Savior for their Patron and Protector are doubly secure and doubly blest.
2. Christ is glorified in his friends. Wonderful is the condescension here displayed. The Lord of glory allows those, who by nature are so feeble and so helpless as men are, to add by their adhesion and their praises even to the majesty and splendor which is his by right. This is so in a measure even now; how far more fully shall Christ's ransomed clients glorify him when they are delivered from the infirmities of the body, and the sordid surroundings of time! - T.
I. THE EXCLUSION. We have here a striking illustration of the definiteness of the prayers of Jesus. He knows exactly for whom he is praying, and what he wants for them. He defines them positively, and he defines them negatively. It is not enough for him to call them his own.' It must also be said why they are his own. If they belonged to the world, and had in them, unchecked and unmixed, the spirit of the world, they would not be his. This is a very decided exclusion for the purpose which Jesus has in view; but no one who understands the whole drift of the work of Jesus will say that it is a harsh exclusion. When Jesus prays for his own, he is really doing the best he can for the world. What can the Father of Jesus do for the world, so long as it remains the world? He has nothing to give that the world cares for. What God bestows on the world is given irrespective of prayer - given to all; given, a great deal of it, to the lower creation as well. If more is to be given, it is because of the appearing of a spirit of recipiency which is in itself a sign of passing from the world to the Church. When Jesus prays for his own, he is really praying that they may so let their light shine as to attract and persuade the world. The very best things that Jesus can do for the world are to be done through the character of his own people.
II. THE GROUNDS OF THE REQUEST. Jesus prays to the Father for those whom the Father had given to him. What a view of the claims of the heavenly Father is here! When we give anything it implies that we have a right to give it. We have made it our own by purchase or manufacture; We could not take any human life and make a present of it to somebody else that he might use it for his own purposes. There would be a protest at once. But God makes this claim, and gives over human souls to the control of Jesus. To that control and to no other. The same truth is expressed when Jesus says that all authority is given to him in heaven and on earth. What an inspiration there should be in the thought that the Father reckons us worthy to be bestowed on the Son for him to use! What a folly and misuse of ourselves if we, who are intended for gifts to Jesus, should refuse to Jesus the necessary control! What an explanation of the frequent misery and waste of life! If Jesus cannot get a proper use of his own, how can we turn it to anything but misuse? But Jesus goes on to say how that in receiving he only receives to give back. "All mine are thine, and thine are mine." No wonder that, in the first fullness of Pentecostal blessing, the disciples had all things in common. The Father and the Son have all things in common. The Father gives humanity to the Son that Jesus may send out consecrated men and women to glorify him. And then these consecrated men and women, used as they only can be used by Jesus, are rendered up to the Father who bestowed them on the Son. The heavenly Father is the great Fountain of the highest good, and all that he gives comes back to him at last, having ministered strength and gladness to human hearts innumerable. All that is in God and all that is in Jesus are for us; and we are, not for ourselves - that is only a small part of the truth - but for the Son in the Father, and the Father in the Son. There is no serving the Son without serving the Father, nor glorifying the Son without glorifying the Father. And we need that the Father should strengthen and equip us through invisible means for all this serving and glorifying, because the Son no longer remains visibly in the world. The invisible ministry is far to excel in depth and extent the visible one. - Y.
I. THE NEGATIVE PART OF THIS PRAYER. "I pray not," etc.
1. It was not his wish that they should be taken out of the material world. Although he was about to leave it, by an ignominious death, yet his death did not make theirs necessary. Their death would neither decrease nor increase his agonies. Some think that because they die that all should follow. But Christ was so far from being selfish, that he was willing to die that his disciples might live and remain.
(1) Christianity does not in itself shorten life, but rather lengthens it. It has been the occasion of death, but never its direct cause. It has a direct tendency to increase life in length, and invariably in breadth and depth; sometimes in sum, always in value; sometimes in days and years, as in the case of Hezekiah; always in usefulness and influence, as in the case of Jesus. Heaven is not jealous of her children's physical and material enjoyment on earth. The tenant shall remain as long as the house stands, and when it crumbles, Heaven will receive him into her mansions.
(2) Christianity does not incapacitate man to enjoy the material world. On the contrary, it tunes the harp of physical life, sweetens the music of nature, paints its landscape in diviner hues, beautifies its sceneries and renders them all sublime and enchanting. The material world to man is what his inward and spiritual nature makes it. Christianity fills the world with joy; embroiders its clouds with love, tinges even its winters with goodness; makes the thunder rattle kindness as well as power, and the storm to speak of mercy as well as majesty. It fills the world with sunshine, and makes it, not a dreadful prison, haunts of demons, but the thoroughfare of angels, the nursery of happiness, the temple of God and the gate of heaven.
2. It was not his wish that they should be taken out of the social world, but that they should remain in it. Sociality was one of his own characteristics. Christianity opens and not shuts the door of society, and brings man into closer union with his fellow. Bigotry, priestcraft, and religious prejudice have banished many from society, and imprisoned many a Bunyan; but pure Christianity, never. Its direct tendency is to sanctify and bless all the relationships of life, and refine and inspire our social interests. Christ said, "Let your light shine," not on the mountain-top, in the lonely wilderness, not in the secluded cloister or nunnery, but "before men" -in the fair and in the market, in the busy exchange and behind the counter, among the throngs of men.
3. It was not his wish that they should be taken out of the troublesome and wicked world. This world was then, and is now, "a world of great tribulation." Still it was not his wish to take-his disciples from even this. Not that he took any pleasure in their pain - far from it; he bore as much of it as he possibly could - but because he had greater regard for their eternal good even than for their temporal comforts. Tribulation is the only way to life. This he had himself; and the servant is not greater than his Lord, but must enter life in the same way.
4. Christ recognizes the Father's right to take them hence when he pleased. They were his, and their lives absolutely at his disposal. The world cannot drive the Christian hence when it pleases, but when the Father pleases. When it appears to do so, it is only a servant, and acts by permission. The believer's life is not at the mercy of the world, but at the mercy of the Father.
5. While recognizing his right to take them hence, still it was not his wish that they should be taken then. And why?
(1) Because Christ had much to do on and in them in the world. They were not yet ready to depart. They had not yet completed their earthly education. They had not yet been in the school of the "Comforter." They had made some progress, but very far from perfection. Much had to be done with regard to their spiritual life which could not be so well done in any other state. This world was a furnace to purify them, and the great Refiner and Purifier saw that they were not fit to be taken out.
(2) Because they had much to do for Christ and the world. The Father had given them to Jesus for a special work - to be witnesses of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, and to publish the story of his love and the facts of his earthly history to the ends of the earth. This must be done before they could be honorably taken home. They could serve the Master and their generation better here than elsewhere.
(3) The new earth and its King could not afford to lose them yet. The wicked world wished to drive them hence; but it knew not what was best for its good, and it was under the control of infinite benevolence. The farmer, in disposing of his corn, must take care of some for seed. Heaven must not take the disciples away; else what will the world do for seed, Jesus for laborers, the gospel for tongues to publish it, and the Gentiles for salvation? They were more needed now on earth than in heaven. Heaven could do for some time without them. The golden harps could afford to wait; but the world could not afford to wait long for the water of life. The earth could not afford more than to give Jesus back at once, and he could do more good there through his Spirit than here; could send supplies down from above to his friends, and open fire from the heavenly batteries on the foe. The disciples could better attack him from this side, so as to place him between two fires, etc.; cause him to surrender his captives by the thousands. Not one of them could now be missed. Each one had a special duty, and was specially trained for it, and the departure of even one would be a loss to the world and to Jesus.
II. THE AFFIRMATIVE PART OF THE PRAYER. "That thou shouldest keep," etc.
1. The evil which is in the world is recognized. "Keep them from the evil" -the evil one. There are in this world many wicked men and wicked spirits, but there is one standing alone in wickedness, and in opposition to goodness, to God and man. He has succeeded to attract a large following of the same character as himself; but he keeps ahead of them all in wickedness, and the eye of Christ could single him out among the black throng, and point to him as the evil one, or the evil thing. As there is an evil one, there is an evil thing, an evil principle, power, and influence. The evil assumes many forms. The form in which it was most dangerous to the disciples now was apostasy from Christ, and this is the only form in which it can really conquer. It is fully recognized and revealed by Christ in all its forms, magnitude, and danger.
2. A distinction is made between the world and the evil. It is not the world as such is evil, but evil is in the world. The world does not make men evil, but men make the world. There is in the world an evil one and an evil thing, which prostitute its holy and good laws and forces to answer their ends. No one had the fever of sin by contact with the objects of nature. No one was morally contaminated by fellowship with the sun anti stars. No one was corrupted by listening to the blackbird's song or the nightingale's warble. The world as such is in sympathy with good and against evil. "For the whole creation groaneth," etc.
3. To keep the disciples in the world from the evil is preferable to taking them at once out of it.
(1) This plan recognizes the advantage of this world as a sphere of moral government and discipline. The highest training for a soldier is on the battle-field. The best training for a mariner is on the ocean, and in an occasional storm; he cannot attain this on dry land. The best sphere of moral discipline is in a world where there is good and evil. In hell there is only evil without any good. In heaven there is only good without any evil. In this world there are both, and it is specially advantageous to choose the one and reject the other. Christianity keeps a man from sin, and not sin from him; eradicates from his heart the love of it, and implants in its stead the love of purity. A change of world would not in itself change character. The elements of sin in the soul would break out in heaven itself.
(2) This plan is more in harmony with the ordinary arrangements of Providence. It is an original arrangement of Providence that this world should be populated, and that each man should live a certain number of years - the allotted period of time. Christ does not wish to interfere with this arrangement with regard to his followers, but let them live the lease of life out, to do battle with sin, as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The wheels of providence and grace fit into each other and revolve in perfect harmony. There is no special warrant wanted to take them hence, no special train required to take them home.
(3) This plan demonstrates more clearly the courage of Jesus. Although he knew that earth and hell were getting madder and madder against them, and would be madder still, yet he had no wish that they should be taken hence. He remained in the world to the last till he finished his work, and he had sufficient confidence that his followers would do the same. He is willing that they should undergo the same test. This is Divine heroism worthy of the Captain of our salvation. To keep them from the evil by their removal from the world would appear somewhat like beating a retreat; but the word "retreat" was not in his vocabulary.
(4) This plan more fully demonstrates the wisdom and moral power of Christianity. To make them victorious in the fight, and reach the desired haven in spite of the severest storms. Great power would be manifested in keeping the Babylonian youths from the fire, but a far greater power was manifested in keeping them in the fire from being injured by the flames. To take the disciples Out of the world miraculously would manifest Divine power, but to keep them in the world from the evil manifested a miracle of grace and of the moral power of Christianity. The one would be the skill of a clever retreat, but the other the glory of a moral victory.
(5) This plan involves a completer and more glorious personal victory over evil and the evil one. Jesus was very desirous that his disciples should be personally victorious, and conquer as he conquered. This must be done in the world in personal combat with the evil. There is no real and ultimate advantage in a mechanical or artificial diminution of evil, and strategic victory over the evil one. He will only gather his forces and rush out with greater vehemence and success. The policy of our great General was to let him have fair play - let him appear in full size, in his own field, and have full swing, as in the case of Job; then let him be conquered under these circumstances. The victory is final, complete, and most glorious.
4. To keep the disciples from the evil was now Jesus chief concern. This was the struggle of his life and death, and the burden of his parting prayer. "That thou shouldest keep," etc. As if he were to say, "Let them be poor and persecuted, tempest-tossed and homeless; let them be allied to want and wedded to death; but let them be kept from the evil. Not from hell, but from the evil; there is no hell but in the evil." How many there are who are more anxious to be kept from every evil than from the evil - from complete apostasy from the truth, and backsliding from Christ! This was his chief concern for his followers, and should be the chief concern of his followers for themselves and for those under their care.
5. In order to be kept from the evil, the disciples must be within the mediatory prayer of Christ and the safe custody of the Father. In order to be saved from a contagious disease, we must keep from it or have a powerful disinfectant. The world is full of the fever of sin, and we have to do continually with the patients; we live in the same house. And there is but one disinfectant which can save us, i.e. the mediation of Jesus and the Father's loving care. Jesus knew the danger in which his disciples were - how weak and helpless they were in themselves, how prone and exposed to the evil. The evil one, "the roaring lion," watched for the departure of their Master in order to rush on them; but as a tender mother, in going from home, leaves her children in the care of some trustworthy one, charging such to keep them from danger, especially from the fire; so our blessed Lord, before he left the world, left his disciples in good custody and safe hands, those of the Father, praying him to take care of them, especially to keep them from the evil. Before the great departure at Jerusalem, he insured all his most valuable property in the office of his Father's eternal love, of which he was the chief Agent; and insured it so not only as to have compensation in case of loss, but against any loss at all. "Holy Father, keep," etc. The house was insured before, and was safe, and there was no need of a rush out of it; but now he insures the tenants. The premium he had paid on the cross. This is the only safe insurance from evil. We wonder often how we have escaped from the evil in many a dark hour; but the insurance was the secret. - B.T.
I. NOT REMOVAL FROM THE WORLD.
1. To many this will seem a superfluous statement. There must be many to whom it will seem a marvelous thing that any one should want to go out of the world at all. If praying to God would make it so, the young, the strong, the prosperous, the ambitious, would pray a dozen times a day that they might stay in the world. Every day thousands are going out of the world who, if they could get their own way, would stay in it. Probably the disciples themselves rather wondered at Jesus suggesting departure from the world as desirable. They were mostly young men, or men in their early prime. And, indeed, what so many wish is just what Jesus wishes himself. Every human being was manifestly intended to live out his days and do his work before he departs. That the old only should die is in the very order of nature, just like the falling of the leaves in the autumn and the setting of the sun at eventide.
2. The thought expressed was a very natural one to come into the heart of Jesus at this particular moment. He foresaw the pain and strain and trial his friends would have to pass through. He foresaw the imprisonments, the scourgings, the stonings. The disciples would understand the reference better afterwards than at the moment it was made. Jesus himself was on the point of being taken out of the world. The significance of the particular expression ought to be carefully noted. It is not merely a periphrasis for death. It indicates the glorious and liberating experience through which Jesus himself was about to pass. And if there had been nothing to consider but their personal comfort, then the friends and followers of Jesus might have been taken out of the world along with him. But they had their work still to do. The followers of Jesus had to stay just because he was taken. The friends of Jesus had to suffer all the more just because his sufferings were at an end. And so the utterance of Jesus seems to say, "I should like to take you with me, but it is impossible. I should like to spare you all you will have to go through; but when you are going through it, remember how I thought about you in my prayer."
II. SAFETY IN THE WOULD. Jesus desires that his Father would keep his followers from the evil. He teaches us to pray the same prayer ourselves. Indeed, if we do not pray the prayer ourselves, what can the prayer of Jesus be expected to avail? The carefulness of Jesus will only save us if we are careful too. Of course it is spiritual safety, integrity, and purity of heart Jesus is mostly thinking of. As to physical pain, Jesus himself had to pass through the severest of it; and the disciple must be as his Master, the servant as his Lord. - Y.
I. THE PURPORT OF THE LORD'S PETITION ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE.
1. The nature of this blessing sought: consecration, or sanctification. It is a real and not a formal holiness, altogether distinct from and superior to the merely ceremonial purity which is so often regarded by the professedly religious as of supreme importance. It is consecration of the spirit, the center of the nature, the spring of the outer life. It is devotion to the service and glory of God himself. It consists in a distinction from the sinful world.
2. The desirableness of this blessing. Its absence is the cause of the wretchedness and degradation which curse human society, where sin rages unchecked. Holiness is the ultimate end for which revelation has been bestowed, and especially the end for which all the provisions of the Christian economy have been introduced. The pardon of sin is but a means to an end, and that end is the assimilation of the human character to the moral likeness of the all-holy God. Let it be considered that the holiness of his people was an object so precious and desirable in the esteem of our Divine High Priest, that for the sake of it he submitted to assume the form of a servant, and to die the death of the malefactor.
II. THE MEANS BY WHICH THE LORD SOUGHT THE ANSWER TO HIS PETITION.
1. Remark the identity of God's Word with truth. We must not confine the application of the word to Holy Scripture, nor must we take it as equivalent to the personal Christ. Every manifestation of the Divine thought and will is the Word of God. Yet revelation, as usually understood, is emphatically this. God's Word is truth; for his knowledge admits of no limitation or imperfection; his righteousness forbids the possibility of deception; his benevolence delights in the instruction of his intelligent creatures.
2. The truth which is God's Word is the chosen instrument for producing human sanctity. This it does by revealing to man his evil life and ill deserts, by awakening the conscience of sin; by informing us of the holiness of the supreme Ruler; by presenting in Christ a flawless Example of moral excellence; by securing to the faithful forgiveness of sins through the redemption by Jesus Christ; by offering the influences of the Spirit of holiness as the only Agent in producing a result so difficult and yet so glorious; by bringing to bear upon the human heart the highest, purest, and most effectual motives - motives sufficient to enkindle aspirations towards holiness, and sufficient to induce to the employment of all those means by which alone the greatest of all blessings may, with Divine help, be secured and enjoyed. - T.
I. THE MEANS OF SAFETY. Jesus has been praying that his friends may be safe; and here is the way to safety. The truly holy are the truly safe. When some infectious disease is raging far and wide, it is the drunkard and glutton who are most exposed to danger. And thus in seasons of spiritual temptation it is those who live far from God, and have allowed the world to run riot in their hearts, who are likeliest to fall.
II. THE MEANS OF UNITY. Jesus goes on to pray for unity; and holiness will lead to unity as well as safety.
III. THE ELEMENT OF THIS SAVING AND UNITING HOLINESS. We are to be in living, constant contact with God's truth as it is in Jesus. That truth is to be continually around us, even as the air we breathe. It is to be underneath us, even as the solid earth on which we stand. Truth is ever important, but the truth as it is in Jesus is of supreme importance, as the truth that concerns us all in our greatest interests. If with all our knowledge we have failed to lay hold of God's truth in Jesus, then we are still miserably ignorant. We must not be dunces in the school of Jesus. The time will come when one truth of his will give us more satisfaction and peace than all we have learned amid this world's greatest opportunities. And since Jesus prays that we may be sanctified in this truth, it is plain that the truth lies near us, only needing our reasonable attention and effort to make it our own.
IV. THE NEARNESS OF THIS TRUTH AS CONTRASTED WITH OUR NEGLIGENCE OF IT. We can talk much about the truth, and yet feel it very little. We can call it of supreme importance, and yet not make it so. The guilt, the danger, and the misery of sin are often on our lips; but only on our lips. We do not speak of the presence of sin in our souls as if we had made the terrible discovery for ourselves, and appreciated all that the discovery implied. The thing of real concern with us is not truth for the heart, but food and raiment. Hence this frightful want of correspondence between what we are and what we profess to be. There is a sanctification as far as the providing of the elements is concerned; and vet no sanctification, because the elements are unused. Our lives are very mean, worldly, and empty, compared with the opportunities we enjoy. God has brought us into a land of the choicest blessings. We are invited to sit down at a table loaded with the bread of eternal life. The fountain opened for sin and uncleanness springs up before our eyes. If we are none the better, and make not the slightest progress, it is because of a neglected Holy Spirit. It is truth that sanctities; and the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all the truth. Without him, we have eyes and yet see not, ears and yet hear not. We must not bring our own little line to measure him who is the eternal Son of God. Not many wise are called to the inheritance of the sanctified. We must be humble and submissive; then shall we know things not otherwise to be known. The work of Jesus is to give us something to know and make our own. The work of the Spirit is actually to make that something our own. The more hold that Divine truth has upon us, the plainer it is that we are growing in holiness, in separation from the world, and union with the Father through the Son. - Y.
I. THE APOSTLESHIP OF JESUS. "Thou didst send me into the world." That is the feeling of Jesus, and we must not dispute it. Not a discourse of Jesus, not a deed of Jesus, but has stamped across it, "Sent of the Father." Sent into the world:
1. For the world's need. None the less so because multitudes live and die, practically denying the need of Jesus. Everything depends on what is aimed at. A man may say reading and writing are not necessary because he has been able to carry bricks and mortar all his life without knowing how to read and write. But it is plain that Jesus Christ has become a necessity to many, for they have died rather than deny him. To say that we need him not only proves our own blindness and self-ignorance. God sends no causeless messengers. If human prophets, entirely of the lineage of humanity had been enough, Jesus would never have come.
2. For the glory of the Sender. He expressly says, "I have glorified thee on the earth." We are to judge of the Sender by the Messenger. Jesus was qualified to speak and act freely and largely, out of a heart that was in full harmony with the heart of God. He could adapt himself without the slightest hesitation or failure to the ever-varying wants of men. Many had come before him and walked and talked with men in the name of God, avowing that they were the mouthpieces of Jehovah, and beginning their addresses with, "Thus saith the Lord." But then the consciousness of an evil heart and an imperfect life was upon them all. Isaiah says, "Woe is me... I am a man of unclean lips!" But no one ever heard Jesus speak in this fashion. Those who have not yet beheld in Jesus the glory of the eternal God have yet to receive him in spirit and in truth.
II. THE CONSEQUENT APOSTLESHIP OF THE SERVANTS OF JESUS. Jesus was going from the world, and had to send others into the world to continue his work. They must be such as the world can take knowledge of. And Jesus sent them into the world as he himself was sent, for the world's great need and the increase of the glory of God. Then in due season, their apostleship being over, they were gathered into the invisible. But Jesus went on sending, and has gone on sending ever since. "Missionary" is only a more modest word for "apostle." All of us must have some apostleship in us, or we can do little for Jesus. And all manifest and special apostles we should ever observe and encourage, holding up their hands, and considering their appeals with understanding minds and sympathizing hearts. He who receives the apostle receives Jesus, and he who receives Jesus receives the Father who sent him. - Y.
I. THE EXTENSIVE RANGE OF CHRIST'S INTERCESSION. At the very time when those nearest to him were about to be exposed to great danger, the Lord Jesus, without forgetting these, directed the gaze of his mind over a wide field of vision, and included in his comprehensive intercession all who in coming ages should believe on him through his apostles' witness. This marvelous sweep of high-priestly regard and interest is testimony to:
1. Christ's Divine foresight. He beheld in prophetic vision the martyrs and confessors, the missionaries and bishops, the scholars and preachers, the pure and lowly in private life, who should attach themselves to his doctrine and to his Church. As in an instant and at a glance, Christ summoned before his eyes and his heart the vast multitude who should constitute the Church militant through long millenniums to come; and he prayed for all.
2. Christ's Divine claim. In realizing the objects of his intercession, the High Priest regarded all as personally related to himself. Those for whom he pleaded were those who should believe on him. This fact is implicit witness to his high claims. Who but he could so rank mankind?
3. Christ's wide sympathy and benevolence. That such a Leader and Master should plead for his adherents, his friends, and the promulgators of his faith seems natural; common affection seems to account for this. But how vast was the love apparent in this prayer, which included within its scope the myriads who were yet to come into existence! But his whole Church was dear to his Divine and tender heart.
II. THE CONCENTRATED PURPORT OF CHRIST'S INTERCESSION. Doubtless the same prayer which was offered for the twelve was offered for all subsequent disciples, that all might be kept in the Name of the Father, and that all might be sanctified by the truth. But the expressed request here presented on their behalf should receive attention. It was for their unity. Not for their uniformity, in outward organization, in rite and ceremony, in uttered creed and liturgy; but for their spiritual unity, as is apparent from the petition that it might resemble that of the Father and the Son. A unity of life is here intended, like that of the branches in a vine rather than that of a bundle of staves. The Master desired for his disciples that they might have the same faith in himself, the same brotherly love one towards another, the same benevolent disposition towards the world. The value which Christ thus set upon true unity is a standard to which we are called to conform. That which Jesus made the object of his desire and prayer must be beautiful in God's view, and is worthy of our appreciation, our best endeavors for its promotion.
III. THE GLORIOUS AND ULTIMATE AIM OF CHRIST'S INTERCESSION. HOW magnificent the end which our Lord sought, not only by his prayer, but also by his toils, his sacrifice, his death! Nothing short of the world's belief in his mission, and adhesion to himself! We cannot understand by our Lord's words merely that he looked forward to the world's assent to a great fact, or to the world's forced acknowledgment upon the judgment-day. He desired that the world should come to believe both in the sending and in the sent One. However appearances may be against such an expectation being realized, faith apprehends the prevalence of the Redeemer's kingdom in the world. The influence and ministry of the Church, under the guidance of the Divine Spirit, is intended to promote the world's salvation. When it appears to us difficult to cherish hopes such as those which are justified by the declarations of Scripture, it will be well for us to check our despondency by remembering the prayer of the High Priest. That for which the beloved Son of God has pleaded, and ever pleads, will surely come to pass. And thus faith shall be rewarded, and Divine love shall have full and eternal gratification. - T.
I. IN ITS IMPORT AND SCOPE.
1. Believers are to be in unity. Many and yet one, one and yet many. Many members, but one body; many bodies, but one Spirit; many believers, but one spiritual community. They are to be one with each other, with Christ, and with the Father.
2. Their union is to be universal. "Tidal they all may be one." There is to be no exception. It is not optional, but the universal rule of the society and law of its great Head. They are to be one:
(1) In spite of time. Believers are separated by time. Some are of the present, some are of the past, and some of the future; but all are included in this great union. "Those who believe opt me through," etc. Not merely the fathers of the faith are to be in it, but their children to the last generation, and to the last one of that generation.
(2) In spite of space. Believers are separated by place and distance. They inhabit different countries and climes. There are large multitudes on earth, larger multitudes still in heaven, but they are all in this union; its laws are binding and operative in spite of space and distance.
(3) In spite of differences. Believers are separated by physical, mental, social, spiritual, and circumstantial differences; but these are not to prevent their union, but they are to be one in spite of them.
3. The union is to be perfect. They are to be perfected into one. It is not a sham union, but a real one; and perfection is its goal, although gradually attained. Something like this is the import, scope, and ideal of this grand union, of which Christ is the Author, President, and Inspiration.
II. IN ITS HIGH MODEL AND BASIS.
1. Its model is Divine. "As thou, Father, art," etc. Its model is the union of the Father and the Son. What union was this?
(1) Union of nature, essence, and life. Believers are partakers of the Divine nature, and the new nature and life are the same in all.
(2) Unity of mind. Believers are to strive for unity of faith, and to mind the same things.
(3) Unity of heart. Believers are to be one in heart, sympathies, and love - the bond of perfectness.
(4) Unity of will and purpose.
(5) Unity of character. The Divine union is the model of the Christian, and it is high and perfect. And is not the past history of the Church a record of a great intellectual and spiritual struggle for this, and is she not pressing on still towards it?
2. Its basis is Divine. "That they may be in us, and one in us."
(1) Christian unity is based upon the Divine. The idea is Divine. It would be impossible for an inharmonious being, however powerful, to conceive the idea of an harmonious society, much less to produce it. The Divine unity is the foundation and origin of the human.
(2) Christian unity is the creation of the Divine, and is supported by it. In connection with the Divine it is alone possible, and in this connection it is a glorious fact. "One in us." Apart from this there would be no unity at all - no unity of atoms, of worlds, of systems, in the material universe; and no unity of mind, spirit, and heart among intelligent beings. In the Divine unity all the material worlds are united, and all the moral world is being and to be united. It is not only the model, but the basis and support of Christian union. Christian union is the outgrowth of the Divine. "One in us."
(3) Christian unity is the expression of the Divine. Christ is the Expression of the Father, and believers are the expression of Christ, hence in a degree the expression and incarnation of the Divine unity.
III. IN ITS PRACTICAL AND EFFICIENT MEANS. How does the Divine go forth and effect the unity of the human? What are the means used?
1. The union of believers with Christ by faith, and his union with them. Faith brings Christ to the soul, and Christ brings that soul to the Father and to all in him. "I in them, and thou in me, that they may," etc. These are the efficient means used and the order of their operation. Thus faith unites believers to him, to the Father, and to each other. As the sun is the center of union in the solar system, so Christ is in the Christian system.
2. The endowment of the Divine glory. "The glory which," etc. What glory was given to Christ which he also gave to his disciples?
(1) The glory of the Divine unity. This he gave in word and deed.
(2) The glory of the Divine recognition. He knew the Father, and introduced him to them.
(3) The glory of the Divine character. It was reflected on him even in human nature, and he reflected it upon them.
(4) The glory of self-sacrificing love. This he gave them, not merely in its vicarious and Divine results, but as an example, inspiration, and the master principle of the new life.
(5) This glory is one. The glory of the Son is that of the Father, and the glory of believers is that of the Son. He imparted to his disciples the same glory, and, as far as he was concerned, in equal degree; and the participation of believers of the same Divine glory through Christ unites them with one another and with the Divine nature, the ultimate result of which must be perfect oneness.
3. The prayer of Jesus on their behalf.
(1) The prayer of Jesus is effective and successful. It contained all he did. His life was a prayer, and his death was a prayer, and his life in heaven is a continuous and all-effective prayer.
(2) The burden of his prayer was the perfect and universal union of believers. And his prayers are all ultimately answered.
IV. IN ITS SPECIAL AND ULTIMATE PURPOSES.
1. The perfection of each individual believer. Perfect unity of all can only effect the perfection of each one. Not one believer can be perfected till all believers are. No member of the body can be absolutely free from rain until every member is. Believers must be perfected into one ere one can be absolutely perfect.
2. The conversion of the world.
(1) Its realization of Christ's Divine mission. "That the world may believe and know," etc.
(2) Its realization of the Divine love to believers as well as to Christ. "And lovedst them, as thou," etc.
(3) The world's realization of Divine love is most effective in the production of saving faith and knowledge. The world must be convinced of Divine love through love. It must be convinced of the intensity of the Father's love; and its impartiality to all, on the same and the fairest conditions - to each individual believer in Christ whom he sent, as well as to Christ himself. Let the world realize this, then it will believe and know.
(4) The perfect unity of believers will produce this realization. A large degree of it will produce faith. Perfection will produce knowledge. Union is strength, disunion is weakness. The first disciples, whatever may be their failings, were strong in loving unity, reflected the glory of their Christianity and of the Divine nature, and, few as they were, effected almost unparalleled success in the conversion of the world, and eliciting the admiration of infidels: "See how they love one another!" And let the Church become proportionately united, and it will bring such evidence of Divine love and truth to bear upon the world as will be simply irresistible, like the rays of the sun or the united drops of the ocean.
1. Christian union is of supreme importance. It is the goal of Christian life and the perfection of Christian character, and essential to individual and social sanctification. It is the central idea of Jesus and the burden of his prayer, and with regard to Christian character. With this his great prayer ends.
2. The Christian Church lacks in nothing so much as in this. It is essentially imperfect in the present state, especially taken as a whole; but no virtue today is so absent from it as real spiritual union.
3. This should be diligently and prayerfully cultivated. All hindrances to it should be excluded - which, in a few words, are selfishness, self-seeking, and pride, with their injurious progeny. Let these be driven out, and let the Church make the same efforts for inward and spiritual union as it makes for outward reforms; then it will shine with the true glory of the Lord, with the true light of its mission, and with convincing effects upon the world.
4. To attain this let Christ occupy his proper position in each believer, and in the Church as a whole. Let him be the sole Prophet, Priest, and King. Let his self-sacrificing life and love be the center, example, and inspiration of every believing heart; then we shall soon have a true Church of Christ on earth. - B.T.
I. PRAYER FOR THE PERSUADERS Jesus says, "Neither pray I for these alone;" that means by implication his prayer for these. Jesus prays for those who will believe on him through the word of his servants; that means his prayer for those who will speak the word which produces the faith. Jesus had spoken to his servants in language of tenderness, energy, and strength, altogether unequalled. They had to go out on a great errand; they had a glorious message to take; they were being made ready to taste the sweetness of a great privilege.; and nothing was left undone that would stamp on their minds an indelible impression of all this. And in this verse the prayer of Jesus for these special servants of his comes to a transition stage. The service they had to render is indicated. They had to go out to speak to men in such a way as that listeners would be won to give themselves up entirely to the disposition of Jesus. Their word, coming from the depths of believing hearts, filled with spiritual energy, would produce like precious faith in others. They believed, therefore they spoke. They believed, therefore they could not help speaking. They believed, because they had found out their own need as sinning, sorrowing human beings; and therefore they felt sure that other sinning, sorrowing human beings would also believe when saving and comforting truth was placed in its beautiful fullness before their eyes. Jesus is quite sure about what will happen. All through the prayer one unbroken spirit of confidence prevails. Jesus prays for those whom he is quite sure will persuade men to believe on him.
II. PRAYER FOR THE PERSUADED. Jesus sends his desires into the future that he knows is coming. The beginning of that future was close at hand. Believers came by thousands. No doubt there was a something that made them so ready to hear. He who sent down the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, knew well that it would not be a barren day so far as the eliciting of human faith was concerned. The glory of Pentecost was not in the mighty rushing wind or the tongues of fire; it was rather in the multitude who believed, accepting the testimony of the apostles as to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And the apostles would then have to expound things more fully to these believers, attentive in the freshness of their new faith, and grateful for such a wondrous outlook into eternity. Then would they tell them how Jesus had already prayed for them, being sure of what would happen. He knew the believers were coming, and saw their coming from afar. Thus the prayer for Jesus needed its answer soon; and it has always needed an answer. There have always been believers to pray for, and always believers needing to be prayed for, and brought into all the giving and receiving that belongs to true unity. True unity is the mark of a loving, growing, joy-bringing Christianity. The discordant elements of the world make the curse of worldliness. Rivalries and antipathies fill the world. Over against this Jesus wants to see true unity - that which comes through the free play of the individual conscience and affections. The more we live as we ought to live, the more we stretch out, as it were, hooks and eyes by which we get connected with the world at large. The individual Christian feels the sufferings and losses of others as if they were his own. The whole world of men and women is a corporate unity. As long as there is suffering anywhere, there must be suffering everywhere. - Y.
I. LOOK AT THIS PRAYER IN THE LIGHT OF PENTECOST. Within two months from the utterance of the prayer, the apostles, through their spokesman Peter, uttered forth their first great word concerning their glorified and ascended Master, and in that same day there was added to the apostles about three thousand souls. Thus within this short time the first company of them believing in Jesus through the word of his apostles made its appearance. Jesus was not turning a bare possibility into a certainty when he referred so confidently to those who would believe in him through the word of his servants. What faith he had in humanity! Some who have watched and, as they would say, studied mankind, speak of them as a physician might speak of some one very ill, when he says the sick person cannot possibly get better. Jesus, on the other hand, is the Physician, who, while he allows that things are indeed very bad, magnifying our natural misery and helplessness to the utmost, yet at the same time proclaims in trumpet-tones a real cure, though the only one. Three thousand were added to the apostles. They all became one company, not only in spirit, not only in ultimate aim and hope, but in the most literal meaning of the word. Thus at Pentecost there came an outward unity such as the world had never seen before.
II. LOOK AT THE DISCORDS AND BREACHES THAT SOON MADE THEIR APPEARANCE. The unity of Pentecost did not and could not last; it was but the outcome of a fervid, first love, and as time rolled on those who had been thus united lapsed into their old separation and contrariety. The old man, full grown and vigorous, is not to be dispossessed by the new creature in Christ Jesus without a serious struggle. Even in the first days a Meat deal happened that might almost make one think the disciples of Jesus set no store at all by their Master's prayers, and never troubled to recollect the desires on which he had set his heart. No proper means was taken to nourish and cherish the power of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of all the believers. Thus it is little wonder the widows had to complain that they were neglected in the daily ministrations. Little wonder, too, that Peter, the very leader on the Day of Pentecost, proved unfaithful to the principle of Christian unity. He either forgot or had never properly comprehended that in Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile; and so he wanted Gentiles to become Jews before he would allow them to be Christians.
III. WHAT WE INDIVIDUALLY MUST DO FOR UNITY. Jesus wants the world to believe that the Father has sent him - sent him out of another world where all is harmony, into a world where, apart from him, all is discord. And the world will only believe when it sees beautiful, lovable things done under its very eyes. We must each of us be a real unity, entirely in accord with Jesus our Master, even as he was in entire accord with his Father. As the Father was seen in Jesus, so the Christ should be seen in us. The spirit of the loving, laboring, life-giving Jesus should be worked into the very foundation of our nature; then that small part of the world which has to do with us may indeed believe that One has been sent from heaven to make men into a happy and united family. - Y.
I. THE HOME OF THE BLESSED. Little as we know of that eternal home, that which we do know is of intense interest. What the Lord Jesus here tells us of heaven is welcome and precious revelation. His desire and purpose concerning his people is that they may be:
1. With him. He could no longer be with them on earth; but, as a compensation, they were to look forward to being with him in heaven. These cherished friends had been with him long enough to know and to prize such association. To them it was sufficient to know that they should be reunited to their Friend and Master.
2. Where he is. The locality of heaven is unknown, and all speculation upon such a matter is idle. How all Christ's innumerable friends and followers can all be where he is, we cannot understand. But it rejoices the heart of the disciple to know that he shall be where his Lord is. A bold mariner does not care to what sea his ship is bound, if he is only serving under the captain or admiral whom he trusts, and who has before shown him the way to discovery or to victory.
II. THE VISION OF THE BLESSED. The people of Christ shall, in accordance with his prayer, behold the glory of the Redeemer. The promise sank into the heart of John who recorded it; for he indulged the anticipation, "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." Sight is here, as elsewhere, put for knowledge. The disciples bad seen the humiliation of their Lord; they were to see his glory. In what this consists it is for us only to conjecture, with such help as Christ's words afford. There is the closest connection between the glory of Christ and the Father's eternal love. Our Lord himself has so taught us that we cannot place glory chiefly in what is visible and material. We think chiefly of that moral glory which is connected with Divine favor and with spiritual empire -
"Glory shines about his head,
I. HEAVEN AS A PLACE.
1. It is a place.
(1) This is suggested by our fundamental notions of things. We must look at our future existence to some extent in the light or' the present. There is a real analogy between all the stages of existence of the same being. We find ourselves here inseparably connected with a place. We make mental and spiritual excursions even to the infinite and illimitable, but still we find our consciousness connected with a place. Locality enters into all our notions of all finite existences. They are, and they are somewhere.
(2) This is suggested by the facts of many being now in heaven in their bodies, and of the general resurrection of the body at the last day. Enoch, Elias, our blessed Lord, and doubtless many more, are now there in their bodies. And we are taught that there will be a general resurrection of the body at the last day. It may be said that the resurrection-body will be spiritual. Yes, but spiritual not as distinguished from material, but from carnal and corrupt. In the light of the great facts of existence with which we are familiar, there is nothing unreasonable nor impossible in the doctrine of the resurrection. But, on the supposition that the body is to lose entirely its materialness, it seems indeed unreasonable and altogether unnecessary, and we ask what is the use of it at all? And we cannot see how a being who has lived, thought, felt, and acted in a material organization, could keep his identity in any state of existence entirely apart from such an organization. And if the resurrection-body will be in any way material, then it must have a material locality, and heaven must be a place.
(3) This is plainly taught in the Word of God. It is taught in these words. And heaven is generally spoken of in Scripture as a special place. As a city, the new and heavenly Jerusalem. Christ speaks of it as his Father's house, where there are many mansions. "I go and prepare a place for you." So that the conclusions of reason and the teachings of revelation point to the same fact.
2. It is a place where Jesus is and the redeemed will be. "Where I am," etc. If so, we conclude:
(1) That it is a most glorious place. It is the habitation of the only begotten Son of God, the express Image of his Person, whose glory on the mount transfigured his human nature, and transformed the mount into a scene of Divine majesty. The place where he dwells must be unspeakably grand. The house must be worthy of the tenant, and the palace of the great King.
(2) That it must be a very extensive place. To contain the hosts of angels which ever attend upon his Person, and the innumerable multitude of the redeemed - those given him by the Father, who shall be with him - such a vast throng requires a vast place. Although spiritual bodies doubtless will not require as much room as when in their crude and gross form, yet the place must be vast.
(3) That it is a place where the Redeemer and the redeemed enjoy the closest fellowship. "That where I am," etc. With regard to believers on earth, the Savior is physically invisible and absent; this is a hindrance to complete fellowship. But in heaven the Savior and the saved will be locally and physically together, occupying the same abode, which will make the fellowship between them perfect.
3. It is a place the chief glory of which is Jesus. In itself, its occupations and surroundings, it must be specially glorious; but its chief glory is Christ. As the place where he is, it is most attractive even to those who know most about it. Few, if any, knew as much of its local glories as Paul; but he had a desire to depart, not to be in heaven as such, but to be with Christ. The chief inhabitants of a place form its chief attractions. Wicked people would soon turn heaven into hell, whilst good people would soon turn hell into heaven. People make a place, and not a place the people. The characters of heaven are all attractive, but Jesus is the chief one.
4. It is a place where Christ's glory will be fully Seen.
(1) His mediatorial glory. "The glory which thou hast given me." The glory of his Divine-human Person; the glory of his surroundings; the homage paid him at home; the glory of his complete victories and self-sacrifice; his glory in the redeemed, in their individual perfection, and in their perfect unity.
(2) This glory can alone be fully seen in heaven. The glory of his Divinity, separately considered, can be seen everywhere in the works of his power; but his mediatorial glory can alone be fully seen where he is, and not where he is not. To see this he must be personally seen and be locally near.
(3) This glory will be fully seen in heaven by the redeemed. "That they may see my glory." This is the purpose of his present will, that they may be in a position to see it fully, see it directly. The vision will be perfect, although gradual. Eternity will be fully occupied in its manifestation, and will not be a moment too long. It will be the reward of their service and the perfection of their knowledge and felicity.
II. THE WILL OF JESUS WITH REGARD TO BELIEVERS IN RELATION TO HEAVEN.
1. In its expression. "Father, I will," etc. He no longer prays, but wills. He had prayed, and his prayers were really answered. He now expresses his will as one of the Divine counsels.
2. In its contents. "That they also whom," etc. This implies:
(1) That Jesus would not be happy without them.
(2) That they would not be happy without him.
(3) That together they would attain the consummation of happiness and glory.
3. In its reasons.
(1) The fact that believers are the Father's gifts. "Those whom," etc. Such tenants are more costly gifts than the place of their habitation. A suitable place for them naturally follows.
(2) The manifestation of his glory. "That they may see," etc. What would be the Divine glory without appreciative eyes to see it, and what would be these appreciative eyes without the Divine glory in Christ? But both together are suitable.
(3) The Father's love to the Son. "For thou lovedst me," etc.
(a) This love is very old. The eternal Son could not remember its beginning. He knew that it was before the foundation of the world, and that it was the chief stone in that foundation; but it was much older in its origin. It was eternal; but the foundation of the world was a special era in its history.
(b) This love is unchangeable. Jesus was fully conscious that he had done nothing to decrease, but rather to increase, it.
(c) This love is very effective. There is no place in the universe too good for the Father to give to the friends of his Son for the sake of this love - not even the most glorious place of his own presence.
1. The first thing in human happiness is a suitable character - faith in and union with Christ.
2. The next thing is a suitable place. That place is where Jesus is, wherever that may be. It is enough with regard to the locality of heaven.
3. A suitable character and place will be perfection of bliss.
4. Let the character be prepared - heaven is certain. Christ prays for the former; he wills the latter, and respectfully demands it.
5. The present is a scene of struggle and preparation; the future will be a scene of enjoyment. The enjoyment of Christ's presence and service, and the visions of his transcendent glory. What visions await the believer in heaven! All our pro-roundest aspirations will be more than realized. - B.T.
I. THE WORLD'S IGNORANCE OF GOD WAS THE OCCASION OF CHRIST'S MINISTRY. This ignorance is implicitly brought before us in the very language which the High Priest here employs: "O righteous Father, the world knew thee not."
1. The world had no conviction of God's righteousness. No one who is acquainted with heathen religions can question this. Not that there were no upright natures that traced their own love of justice and equity to the eternal Power that rules the universe; but that the gods many and lords many who were honored, feared, or propitiated among the heathen were, for the most part, lacking in the highest moral qualities. A gleam of righteousness or of generosity did now and again break through, to reveal, as it were, the darkness of the firmament. Still, broadly speaking, gross darkness covered the people. The unenlightened heathen attributed to their deities partiality, factiousness, hatred, cruelty - any quality but justice. In all this the lack of righteousness in men themselves was reflected upon their gods. The world by wisdom knew not God.
2. The world had no conviction of God's Fatherhood. If there were those who worshipped a supposed deity whom they called "the father of gods and men," we must not be misled by such language into supposing that the scriptural idea of fatherhood was involved in their religion. This idea is distinctively that of revelation, of Christianity. The moral attributes which we attach to the conception of the Divine Fatherhood have not come to our apprehension through the ministrations of pagan priests or pagan philosophers. Apart from Christ, the race of mankind is conscious only of fatherlessness and fear.
II. CHRIST'S KNOWLEDGE OF THE FATHER, GOD, WAS INTIMATE AND PERFECT. The expression Jesus here employs, "I knew thee," evidently suggests the natural and immediate knowledge which he had of the Father. He did not come to know God by a process of inquiry or reflection, or by the reception of lessons and revelations. His knowledge was direct. This we gather from his own assertions, and also from many intimations to be discerned in his words and in his conduct. There is no sign of uncertainty in any of Christ's declarations with respect to the Supreme. On the contrary, he speaks simply, directly, and decisively in all he says. He claims the closest intimacy, as when he says that he is "in the bosom" of the Father, i.e. in possession of the counsels and secrets of the eternal mind. He even goes further than this, claiming unity with the Father, as when he says, "I and my Father are one." Our Savior's knowledge of God was not inferential, but intuitive; not acquired, but natural; not imperfect, but complete.
III. CHRIST REVEALS GOD, AND THUS ENLIGHTENS MEN'S IGNORANCE.
1. The first step in this revelation is the conviction, which Christ awakens in his disciples' minds, that his mission is from God himself. The character of Christ, his discourses and conversations, his mighty works, all witnessed to his special authority and commission. They were constrained to ask, "Who is this?" "What manner of Man is this?' "Whence is he?" and When these questions were suggested, they could lead to only one answer which could satisfy the inquirers' minds. The conviction was produced, in some cases by a gradual process, in other cases as by a sudden flash of revelation, that this Being was from above, that he was the Son of' God.
2. The second step in this revelation is the declaration of the Divine "Name," by which we are to understand the character and the purposes of the Father. When the Lord Jesus had communicated to his disciples the fact that God is a Spirit, and the fact that he is the Father in heaven, he had in great measure made known the Divine Name; but it was a further and richer revelation that he made when he told of the Father's purposes of compassion and mercy towards his children - when he, in the Name of the Almighty and All-merciful, assured his faithful people of spiritual salvation and of eternal life.
3. But the glory of this assertion is not yet exhausted. Christ says that he will yet make known the Name of God. The reference may be to the approaching manifestation of the Divine heart in the sacrifice and the subsequent exaltation and victory of the Son. But it may, and probably does, include the whole future revelation of God through the Holy Spirit, and throughout the spiritual economy. There are those who consider revelation to have been continuous and progressive throughout this dispensation; there are others who consider that the objective revelation is complete in itself, but that the quickening influences of the Holy Spirit enable successive generations to discern ever new beauty, power, and preciousness in him who is "the Light of the world," and "the Life of men?'
IV. DIVINE LOVE AND FELLOWSHIP ARE THE GREAT END OF THE DIVINE REVELATION AND OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE. Our acquaintance with God is a mysterious and glorious privilege, yet we may with reverence hold that it is the means to an end. We love only those whom in some measure we know; yet by loving we may learn to know them more. As Christ is formed in his people, and as his character and life are revealed by them, the Father cherishes and displays towards them the very affection with which he regards his well-beloved Son. It is thus that the incarnation and sacrifice of the Redeemer produce their precious and immortal results. Ignorance, sin, estrangement, stud hatred are, by this Divine provision, expelled; and in their place the new humanity, the spiritual kingdom, the Church of the living God, is penetrated by the Spirit of Christ, filled with the light of holy knowledge, and blessed with the enjoyment of imperishable love. - T.