William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.JOHN - THE TWELFTH CHAPTER
Such was the testimony God gave to the Lord Jesus as the Son in resurrection power, with the plain result of deadly hatred in those that bowed not by faith. Here,220a before a fresh witness is given, we are permitted to see Him in the home of those He loved at Bethany, where the Spirit gives us a fresh proof of grace in the recognition of His glory, and this in view of His death. There reclined the man so recently raised from the dead with Him Who raised him!
Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9.
"Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came unto Bethany, where was Lazarus,* whom Jesus* raised from (the) dead. They made there for Him a supper, and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of those at table with Him. Mary then, having taken a pound of unguent of costly pure† nerd, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the unguent. And‡ Judas Iscariot,§ one of His disciples that was about to give Him up, saith, Why was this unguent not sold for three hundred denaries, and given to poor (persons)? And this He said, not because He cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and, having"" the bag,"" used to bear what was deposited. Jesus then said, Leave her to have kept it** for the day of My preparation for burial: for the poor ye have always with you, but Me ye have not always" (verses 1-8).
* Text. Rec. adds ὁ τεθνηκὼς, with large consent of uncials, cursives, and versions [as Syrsin], contrary to BLS, Syrpesch, Sah., Aeth., etc.; as it omits Ἰησοῦς at the end, spite of the best witnesses inserting it. [Blass, πρὸς Λάζαρον, omitting the rest of the words.]
† πιστικὸς perplexes the critics, some taking it as liquid, others as genuine, or pure, according to its supposed source.
‡ δὲ B, Memph., Goth., Syrsin, and probably Syrpesch), Aeth., etc.; Text. Rec., οὖν, with most uncials and cursives, etc., a few omitting.
§ Text. Rec. Σιμωνὸς without ὁ, on the authority of many MSS., etc.
"" εἶχεν καὶ Text. Rec. with most; ἔχων BDLQ, a few good cursives and versions. The ancient versions generally render γλ, "chest."
** τετήρηκεν Text. Rec., with a dozen uncials, most cursives, and many versions, but ἵνα . . . τηρήσῃ BDKLQX, several cursives , and most ancient versions.
In presence of the Lord each comes out in his true colours. Jesus personally, as everywhere, is the object of God, the light which makes all manifest. But He does more. As He had brought life into the scene of death, the witnesses of His power and grace are there in their due place, according to their measure, one only having that special discernment which the love that is of God imparts, though grace may interpret it according to its own power. They221 made for Him a supper there, Martha serving, Lazarus at the table with Him, Mary anointing His feet with the precious spikenard; and the house filled with the odour of the unguent.222 The Lord felt and explained its meaning, according to His own wisdom and love.
But if one of the blessed family was led by a wisdom above her own, in single-eyed devotedness, to an act most fitting and significant at that time, one of His disciples was not found wanting for the work of the enemy, which makes nothing of Jesus. All of good or evil turns at bottom into a true or false estimate of Him. We may be, and are, slow to learn the lesson, albeit of greater moment than any other; but it is the object of the Spirit in all Scripture to teach us it, and nowhere so conspicuously, or so profoundly, too, as in this Gospel. So Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples that was about to give Him up, says, Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denaries, and given to poor people? He never thought of Jesus! Yet Mary's act might naturally have awakened affection. What was He not to her? Judas coolly calculates the lowest selling price of the nard223; he falsely puts poor persons forward for whom he had no real care; he would have liked that sum added to his unlawful gains.224 Nothing can be more thoroughly withering, more calmly true, than the comment of the Holy Ghost in verse 6. But what said Jesus? "Leave her to have kept it225 for the day of My preparation for burial: for the poor ye have always, but Me ye have not always."
Here is the truth said in Divine love. Not, indeed, that Mary had received any prophetic intimation. It was the spiritual instinct of a heart that had found the Son of God in Jesus, of a heart that felt the danger that hung over Him as man. Others might think of His miracles, and hope that murderous intents might pass away at Jerusalem as at Nazareth. Mary was not so easily satisfied, though she had witnessed His resurrection power with as deep feelings as any soul on earth. And she was led of God to do what had a weightier import by far in the Lord's eyes than in her own. The love that had prompted it was of God, and this is above all price. "If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned." (Song of Solomon 8:7.) So said he who knew above the sons of men the vanity of human love, with the amplest means ever vouchsafed to the head of any house. But what was Mary's unguent, or the love that brought it out (kept as it had been, and now she knew why at that critical moment), compared with His Who vindicated her, and was about to die for all, even for Judas?
It is, indeed, a scene to dwell on, most instructive and affecting, whether one contemplates the family as a whole, or Mary in particular, whether one may think of the disciples (for Matthew and Mark show that all were unappreciative, some even angry), or of the one whose dark influence acted so ill on the rest, and, above all, when one looks and listens to Him Whose grace formed Mary's heart according to its own nature and ways.
"A (or, the)* great crowd226 of the Jews therefore knew [learned] that He was (lit. 'is') there, and came not on account of Jesus only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He raised from (the) dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might kill Lazarus also, because on his account many of the Jews were going away and believing on Jesus" (verses 9-11). "The Jews," as often remarked, are not merely Israelites, but men of Judæa, and greatly under the influence of the rulers in their hostility to Jesus, as in other things. But they are not the rulers, and one sees the difference marked in these verses. The great crowd, however, seemed influenced quite as much by curiosity as by better motive. To see Lazarus who was raised from the dead is a very different thing from believing God. Still, there was reality among some; and hence the deeper and deliberate malice of the chief priests, because many of the Jews were deserting them and believing on Jesus.
* A few witnesses of the highest antiquity and character (BpmL) read the article, as to which some of the old versions are ambiguous [W. and H. insert, Weiss and Blass omit].
Mary had not at all misread the position of the Lord. The crisis was at hand. Perfectly did He understand to what point every current was flowing; He knew what was in man, in Satan, and in God, and that as the malice of the creature would thus push to the uttermost in rebellious hatred, God would go farther still in redeeming love, but withal in His most solemn judgment of sin. Of this moral glory how little as yet could any heart conceive! Yet Mary's affection was led of God to divine the enmity growing up rapidly and ruthlessly against the One Who more than ever possessed her heart's homage and love.
But the final testimony must be full. Jesus had already shown Himself Son of God in power by raising Lazarus from the grave wherein he had lain a dead man: a testimony characteristic of John's Gospel, and peculiar to it. Men have raised objections, which only prove their own spiritual incapacity; for here it exactly suits, as it would nowhere else, and it was the right place and time, too. All was Divinely ordered.
Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-40.
The next testimony is to His Messianic title, and fittingly, therefore, given in every one of the Gospels. It could be wanting to none, and we find it as the next fact recorded by our evangelist.
"On the morrow,227 a great crowd that came unto the feast, having heard that Jesus is coming into Jerusalem, took branches of palm, and went out to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna, blessed (is) He that cometh in Jehovah's name, (even) the King of Israel. And Jesus, having found a young ass, sat upon it, as it is written, (Zechariah 9:9.) Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, thy King cometh, sitting upon an ass's colt.228* These things His disciples knew not at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and they did these things to Him. The crowd, therefore, that was with Him bore witness, because† He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from (the) dead. Therefore also the crowd met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees, therefore, said among themselves, Ye behold230 that ye profit nothing: behold, the world is gone away after Him" (verses 12-19).
* The copula of Text. Rec., with fourteen uncials and most cursives, is not in BLQ and some of the more ancient versions.
† ὅτι DEpmKLΠ and some of the oldest versions [old Latin, Chrys., followed by Blass]; ὅτε, "when" (Steph., not Elz.), AB, and most of the other uncials, many cursives, etc. [Weiss].229
Thus did the crowd welcome Him as Messiah, applying to Him very justly the language of Ps. 118, which the Lord, in Matt. 23, declares shall be said by the repentant remnant who shall see Him when He returns to reign. Till then the house, once hallowed by Jehovah and bearing His name, is but their house, and left unto them desolate; as, indeed; they had made it a house of merchandise and a den of robbers. Nor was it mere enthusiasm in the crowd, but God at work; and the Lord Himself sat on the young ass according to the prophecy of Zech. 9. It is remarkable how both Matthew and John omit the clause of the prophet which did not then apply, however sure by and by; for He knew well that He was to suffer then, in order to bring salvation when He comes again in glory. It was but a testimony at the time, and in the word to faith; when He comes, having salvation for His own, it will be in destructive judgment of all that oppose.
Here again it is notified for us that even His disciples knew not these things at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they did these things to Him. He needed not that any should testify either of man or of Himself. Past, present, future, earth, and heaven, were open to His gaze. He Who made all knew all; as John constantly shows in harmony with the glory of His Person, which is everywhere prominent, save what He was pleased, in His capacity of servant, not to know, leaving it in the authority of the Father (Mark 13). In the light of His glorification the disciples learnt the import of the word and of the facts. It was His resurrection power which impressed the crowd so mightily. They did not draw the full lesson of faith, but concluded that He must be the promised Son of David, and met Him as such; while the Pharisees could not but own among themselves that obviously their stand and opposition were in vain, and the world, the prize of unbelief, gone after Him. Little knew they what is proclaimed just afterwards: "Now is the judgment of this world." In misjudging Him, its own doom was sealed; He sought its salvation, not popularity, but God's will.
But another scene completes the circle of the testimony here given before the close.
"And there were certain Greeks of231 those coming up to worship at the feast; these therefore came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee,232 and asked Him, saying, Sir, we desire to see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew, and* Andrew cometh and Philip, and they tell Jesus. But Jesus answered† them, saying, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say to you, Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abideth alone; but, if it die, it beareth much fruit. He that loveth his life (soul) shall lose it,‡ and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If anyone serve Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there also My servant shall be;§ if anyone serve Me, him will My Father honour" (verses 20-26).
* So a few of the oldest MSS., with a slight variation, while Text. Rec. with most ηασ καὶ πάλιν, Ἀ. κ. Φ. λ., as in the Authorised Version.
† ἀποκρίνεται, "answereth," BLX, etc. [Blass]; ἀπεκρίνατο, "answered," Text. Rec., with the mass of uncials, cursives, and versions [Weiss].
‡ ἀπολλύει, "loseth," BL, 33, etc. [Weiss, Blass].
§ καὶ, "and," is added in Text. Rec., with thirteen uncials, and most other authorities, but not the oldest.
These were Gentiles, Greeks and not merely Hellenists, who desired to see the Lord; and Philip and Andrew name it to Him. It was enough. The Lord opens the great truth. It is not now the Son of God quickening or raising the dead, nor the Son of David coming to Zion according to prophecy, but the Son of man glorified. This He explains after the solemn asseveration, so often found in our Gospel, under the well-known figure of death and resurrection in nature: "Verily, verily, . . . Except the corn of wheat falling into the ground die, it abideth alone; but, if it die, it beareth much fruit." He Himself was the true corn thus to produce fruit abundantly, yet even so only by death and resurrection.232a This was not, could not be, from defect of power in Him. It was from man's estate that it could not righteously be otherwise before God. Death only can meet the evil, or fill the void, and His death alone. Of all others death were vain-yea, fatal. Death to them must be for themselves to perish. He only could save, but through His death and resurrection; for as He would die, so He could rise, and by the infinite value of His death avail for others so as to raise them righteously. Living, He, even He must abide alone; dying, He bears much fruit in the energy of His resurrection.
Thus was He the Son of man glorified.233 It was for sin that God at length might be glorified; and now He was. Sin brought in death; His dying for it, by God's grace and to God's glory, laid the basis for the change of all things, even for the new heavens and earth in the eternal state; how much more for all that believe to be meanwhile blessed in a new life before they are changed into the likeness of His glory, when He comes for them! "He shall see a seed, He shall prolong [His] days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of [the fruit of] the travail of His soul, [and] shall be satisfied." (Isaiah 53:10.) So said the first of prophets, and this founded on His death-"when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin," in accordance with His own words here seven centuries after, when approached that wondrous hour and act of man's guilt where he meant pain and ignominy, and God inflicted incomparably worse in His unsparing and unfathomable judgment. To Him the hour was come that the Son of man should be glorified. What perfect self-sacrifice! What devotedness to God! What love to man, even to His bitterest enemies! Such was Jesus going down to death- yea, death of the cross; and such the fruit unfailing.
The principle, too, becomes a primary one thenceforth, not ease and honour and advancement for self (which is truly the greatest loss), but suffering and shame, and, if need be, death, now in this world for Christ's sake. Such is practical Christianity. "He that loveth his life [soul] loseth it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.234 If any man serve Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there shall also My servant be; if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour." And what an honour! He assuredly knows what it is, and how to give it. But it is not in self-devised and self-imposed abasements; neither in flagellations of the back, nor in lickings of the dust, nor in like heathenish effort that dishonours the body to the satisfying of the flesh. It is in what the Holy Spirit alone can guide and sustain, in serving Christ-a service inseparable from following Him, its beginning life eternal in the Son, its end the same life in glory with Him; for such as serve and follow Him will the Father honour. May we be strengthened to discern and do the truth!
The Lord reverts to thoughts of His approaching death, There is no avoidance of contemplating that which it was part of His perfection to feel, as no man ever did. He estimates it rightly and fully as before, instead of braving it as men do who cannot escape. To Him it was no inevitable doom, but Divine love, that God might be glorified in a guilty world, that sinners might be saved righteously, that the entire creation of heaven and earth (I say not those under the earth, the infernal beings of Phil. 2) might be reconciled and blessed for ever. He, and He only, had authority to lay down His life (φυχὴν), as He had authority to take it again. As He is the Resurrection and the Life (ζωὴ), so no one takes the life He had in this world from Him, but He lays it down of Himself, though also in obedience to His Father, and to the everlasting glory of God, as the fulness of His Person enabled Him to do. None the less but the more did He feel the gravity, humiliation, and suffering of what was before Him. There was the deepest sense of death, not only as man and Messiah, but of its import from man's hand and from God's judgment. Not an element of grief and pain and shame and horror was absent from His heart, compatible with the perfection of His Person and His relationship to God.
"Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour; but on account of this came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy* name" (verses 27, 28). He was the life, yet came to die; He was light and love, yet rejected and hated as man never knew before, nor will again. The reality of His manhood, the glory of His Godhead, in no way hindered His sorrow; His being Who and what He was, and perfect in all, only gave Him infinite capacity to feel and fathom what He endured, none the less because He came to endure it all, and had it now before Him in immediate prospect, though none of men saw it but Himself. He had not been perfect man if His soul had not been troubled, so as to feel, "What am I to say?" He had not been Son of God as man had He not in His soul-trouble prayed, "Father, save Me from this hour," and quite as little, "but on this account came I unto this hour," crowned with, "Father, glorify Thy name." To have felt and expressed the first petition perfectly suited Him Who was man in such circumstances; to have added the second was worthy of Him Who is God no less than man in one undivided Person; to have said both was perfection in both, in sorrow as in joy, as to death no less than life.235
* B. by an evident slip, reads μου for σου, to the grievous detriment of the sense.
The Father appreciates and answers accordingly. "There came therefore a voice out of heaven, I both have glorified and will glorify (it) again. The crowd then* that stood and heard said that it thundered; others said, An angel hath spoken to Him" (verses 28, 29). Augustine and Jerome confound this† with John 17:5, from which it is wholly and demonstrably distinct; but we must never expect spiritual intelligence, sometimes not even common orthodoxy, from the Fathers so-called. The later passage in our Gospel is the Son requesting the Father that He as the risen Man should be glorified, on the completion of His work, as well as consonantly with the rights of His Person, along with the Father Himself in the glory which the Son had along with Him before the world was.
* B omits οὖν [so Blass], while ADLX, etc., have it [Weiss].
† So does the venerable but gloss-loving Codex Bezae (conventionally called D), for it actually adds to the text ἐν τῃ δόξῃ ἧ εἶχον παρά σοι πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον γενέσθαι.
The passage before us refers to what had just been, and what was going to be, done in this world; for as the Father had glorified His name in the resurrection of Lazarus, so yet more infinitely would He in the rising from the dead of His own Son. The moderns, such as Dean Alford, fail, in meagre, vague, and even erroneous thought, to reach the mark as much as, or more than, the ancients. For how poor it is to tell us that διὰ τοῦτο = ἵνα σωθῶ ἐκ τῆς ὥρας ταύτης, that I might be safe from this hour!-that is, the going into and exhausting this hour, this cup, is the very appointed way of My glorification, or, as Meyer says, that Thy name may be glorified, which is to anticipate what follows. It was really to die, though undoubtedly to the glory of the Father by the Son. So, again, ἐδόξασα points to something much more definite than "in the manifestation hitherto made of the Son of God, imperfect as it was (see Matthew 16:16-17); in all Old Testament type and prophecy; in creation, and, indeed (Augustine), antequam facerem mundum" (in Joan. 52: 4). Lastly, it is losing the exact force to treat πάλιν as a mere intensification of the δοξάζειν, instead of seeing a distinct and higher display of that resurrection power which marked out the Son of God.
As to the question why some said the voice from heaven was thunder, others the speaking of an angel to the Lord, it seems vain to seek an answer. It was merely speculation on the part of the crowd, who all fell short of the truth. Unbelief of Him can weaken or get rid of all testimony till He come in judgment. Yet was it really in grace to them, for "Jesus answered and said, Not on Mine account hath this voice come, but on yours. Now is judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out: and I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all* to Myself. But this He said signifying by what death He was about to die. The crowd then† answered Him, "We heard out of the law that the Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest Thou that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?" Jesus then said to them, "Yet a little time the light is among‡ you. Walk while ye have the light, that the darkness may not overtake you; and he that walketh in darkness knoweth not where he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may become sons of light" (verses 30-36).
* For πάντας with the great mass [Weiss] pmD, and some ancient versions [Latt., Syrhcl], read [as Blass] πάντα, "every one," or "all things," as Aug. in loc. expressly says. But there is the strongest internal reason to stand by the weight of external testimony.
† Most omit οὖν, but not BLX, etc.
‡ ἐν BDKLMXΠ, etc., instead of Text. Rec. μεθ AEFGHSUΓΔΛ, etc.
These words, if any, are surely of the most solemn import, and the more, as Christendom now as ever ignores their truth. For men, Christian men, believe nothing less than that "now is the judgment of this world," even while some of them look for the casting out of its prince in due time.236 The glory of the Son of man is founded on death. The rejection of the Messiah gives occasion for what is thus incomparably larger and more profound; and thus is God's glory immutably secured, and much fruit borne, even the blessing of those otherwise lost, now blessed with and in Christ, not merely by Him. But if heaven be thereby opened (for the cross and heaven answer to each other),237 the world is judged. Before God and to faith now is its judgment, and not only when execution takes place publicly and in power. But now it is judged for him who has the mind of Christ, who shares His rejection and awaits glory with Him on high. What does His cross mean morally?
A living Messiah should have gathered the twelve tribes of Israel round Himself as their Chief, raised up of God according to promise; but He was to be lifted up out of the earth, crucified, Satan's seeming victory, but his real and everlasting defeat, and so known to faith, while we wait for the day which shall declare it beyond contradiction. Christ on the cross is a very different object from reigning over His people in grace, and abiding for ever; yet they. should have read it also out of the law, for there it is, if dimly. But grace makes Him manifest thus lifted up, the attractive centre for all, Gentile or Jew, spite of their sins, which He was to bear in His own body. A suffering Son of man was, and is, no article of Jewish faith, though certainly revealed in their Scriptures.238 To their expression of ignorance the Lord replies by telling them how brief was the stay of the light, by warning them of the darkness about to seize on them, and by exhorting them to faith in the light, if they, escaping the darkness, would have the light to characterise themselves.
The close was at hand, and a token even then was given that the light would not be always there. "Jesus spoke these things, and, going away, hid Himself from them. But though He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe on Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet which He said might be fulfilled.' 'Jehovah, who believed our report? and to whom was Jehovah's arm revealed?' (Isaiah 53:1.) On this account they could not believe because Isaiah said again, 'He hath blinded their eyes, and He hardened* their heart that they may not see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and be converted [turn], and I heal them.' These things said Isaiah, because (or, when†) he saw His glory, and spoke concerning Him. (Isaiah 6:10.) Still, however, from among the rulers also many believed on Him, but on account of the Pharisees did not confess, that they might not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God" (verses 36-43).
* ἐπώρ. ABpmKLX, etc. (H in a corrupt form); πεπ. Text. Rec., following very many.
† ὅτι, ABLMX, etc.; ὅτε, Text. Rec., most uncials [DIΔΛΠ, etc.] and cursives, etc.
Such was the result of the only absolutely perfect testimony ever rendered in this world, the words, and ways, and signs of the Son of God; and this, not where blank ignorance might be pleaded in extenuation, but where God had done all possible to prepare the way by prophecy, and to arouse attention by sign, grace, and truth in the midst of a people used to Divine intervention. But man's unbelief, left to itself and Satan, can shut out every sight and sound from God. So it was among the Jews of our Lord's day, and so it continues till this day. It is still "this generation," which shall not pass away till all God's threats be fulfilled. Of the outward judgments, however, John does not speak, but the Synoptic evangelists; John of having no more Him Who is all. For what is it to lose the light, to be abandoned to that darkness where he who walks in it knows not where he goes? And this is precisely the state of the Jews; the more aggravated because they had the light for a little among them, and did not believe, so that they failed to become children of light, and the darkness seized on them.239 Thus was the prince of prophets fulfilled by their unbelief in their own ruin, and this in both the parts of his prophecy, early and late, which speculation vainly seeks to divorce. But we believe the inspired evangelist, not the presumptuous professor, and are as assured that both prophecies are Isaiah's as that they were divinely given and now fulfilled in the Jew so long incredulous.
But as the first citation proves the guilt of rejecting God's testimony, so the second, though really earlier, points to the solemn fact of judicial blindness, never pronounced, still less executed, of God, till patience has had its perfect work and man has filled up the measure of his guilt beyond measure. Under such a sentence of hardening, no doubt, they could not believe;240 but the sentence came because of wickedness consummated in wilful rejection of God and His will when they did not believe, in spite of the fullest appeals to their hearts and consciences. As the first citation shows utter unbelief when Christ came in humiliation and suffering to do the work of atonement, so the latter conveys the dread word which shut them up in blindness before the light they had so long despised, followed up by the inspired comment that these things said Isaiah when he saw Christ's glory and spoke of Him.241 It is Jehovah in the prophecy, Christ in the Gospel; but they are one-as, indeed, Acts 28:25-27 enables us to include the Holy Spirit. How thoroughly confirmed and confirming the still older oracle in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Jehovah our God is one Jehovah!" John 12: and Acts 28 weaken it in nothing, but add to its force and expressiveness, as they show out more and more the patience of God and the darkness of the Jew after ages of trifling with His mercy and His menaces alike. And the darkness increased as the light shone out.
But ungodliness betrays itself not only in the insubjection of the heart to believe, but in the cowardliness of the soul to confess the Lord (Revelation 21:8); as we see here that "many from among the chief rulers believed on Him, but on account of the Pharisees did not confess, that they might not be put out of the synagogue." And the motive or moral reason is given: they loved glory from men rather than glory from God. They feared the religious world, being keenly sensible of human glory, but dull to that which is from God.242 But we must not forget that, if "with the heart man believes to righteousness, with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Romans 10:10.) God makes much of confession of His Son, nor can we safely own salvation otherwise.
Next comes the final public testimony of our Lord, given in this Gospel. "But Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on Me believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me; and he that beholdeth Me beholdeth Him that sent Me. I am come a light into the world, that every one that believeth on Me may not abide in darkness. And if anyone have heard My words and not kept* (them), I judge him not, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that slighteth Me and receiveth not My words hath one that judgeth him; the word which I did speak, that will judge him in the last day, because I did not speak from Myself, but the Father Who sent Me hath Himself given† Me commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that His commandment is life eternal. What things then I speak, as the Father hath said to Me, so I speak" (verses 44-50).
* φυλάξῃ [cf. Luke 11:28], ABDKLKΠ, etc.; πιστεύσῃ, "believed," EFGHMSUΓΔΛ, etc.
† δέδ, ABMX, many cursives, etc.; ἔδ, Text. Rec., DLΓΛΔΠ, etc.
The Lord spoke with earnestness, as elsewhere and always;243 and it was due to men in His grace, considering the solemn issues at stake, and the Divine glory concerned. It was a question of His Father Who sent Him, no less than of Himself. To believe on the Son, to behold Him, was to behold and believe on the Father. They were inseparably one, as He had already declared; and he who had the Son had the Father also. Further, the Lord was come as light into the world (for it was no question of Israel only) that every believer on Him might not abide in darkness.244 He has the light of life, and not life only; He is light in the Lord. It was therefore ruin to have heard and not kept His words; but such was the grace in which He came, that He could add, "I judge him not, for I came not that I might judge the world, but that I might save the world." How, then, would His glory be vindicated in his case who slights245 Him and receives not His words? He has that which judges him-the word. "The word which I have spoken, that shall judge him in the last day"; and the more surely, because Jesus spoke not from Himself, as if He sought His own will or glory, but was simply and uniformly subject to the Father, Who not only sent Him, but enjoined what He was to say and speak; the Father's commandment He knew to be life eternal. (Ps. 133: 3.246) Jesus was as subject to Him in His utterances as in His doings, being here to declare Him and do His will.
NOTES ON THE TWELFTH CHAPTER
220a John 12:1. - Matthew 20:17-24; Mark 10:32-52; Luke 18:31 - Luke 19:20 will immediately precede this section of the Gospel (see Carr's note).
The Lord's arrival at Bethany would be on the evening of the Friday - i.e., technically, on Saturday, the 9th Nisan. "Six days before the Passover" is terminology characteristic of the Roman calendar.
221John 12:2. - "They." Indefinite. Cf. Matthew 5:15, Matthew 10:10, Matthew 13:48, and John 15:6.
222John 12:3. - Cf. Psalm 23:5. Origen and Chrysostom considered that there were three anointings: (α) in house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7); (β) in house of Simon the leper (Mark 14); (γ) in Martha's house (John 12). Some find but two, regarding Martha as wife of Simon the leper. There seem to be six Simons mentioned in the Gospels.
223John 12:4-6. - For the words of Judas here, cf. Psalm 55:21. The Lord was not bound to keep temptation out of the way of the traitors, who must have forgotten the petition which he had been taught: "Bring us not into temptation." Judas, it may be observed, betrayed his Master for one-tenth the value of that which Mary lavished upon Him.
224 The word γλωσσόκομον does not mean "bag," but a chest (R.V., margin "box"); and ἐβάσταζεν may be rendered "used to take away" (steal). The papyri inscriptions recently discovered throw light on the Evangelist's statement.
225John 12:7. - The word τηρήσῃ seems to mean that Mary had reserved it from the ointment used for Lazarus's funeral. See Field, who does not follow Alford. Had we not Martha here, this alone would tell against the identification of Mary with the Magdalene.
226John 12:9. - Abbott ("Johannine Grammar," §1,739) contrasts the ὁ ὄχλος πολύς used here and in verse 12 with the better Greek of Mark (12: 37), ὁ πολὺς ὄχλος. This militates against the idea (see first note on Introduction) that the Greek of this Gospel was not such as a Galilean fisherman would have had at his command.
227John 12:12. - "On the morrow." This brings us to the first day of the last week - the 10th Nisan (cf. Exodus 12:3, Zechariah 11:12, Mark 11:15). With respect to the "palms," is it not striking, as regards the question of the authorship of the Gospel and of the Apocalypse, that these two books alone in the New Testament speak of them? (see Revelation 7:9-17). Leaves of the palm-tree are associated with the Feast of Tabernacles, type of the Kingdom. Cf. Zech. 14.
228John 12:14. - Besides verse 9 of Zech. 9, cf. also Zephaniah 3:13-20. The disciples were not taught by the Holy Spirit that Zion stands for the Church (according to the Patristic interpretation, which was Pusey's).
229John 12:17. - The reading ὃτι, adopted by the Revisers, as by Mr. Kelly may have sprung from the difficulty felt over the multitude ("crowd") present when the Lord performed the miracle. Cf., of course, John 11:42: a crowd was gathered by Him on His journey from Ephraim to Bethany.
230John 12:19. - The same doubt attends θεωρεῖτε here as ἐραυνᾶτε in v. 39. Ryle takes the word here as imperative.
231John 12:20. - "Of." This is surely preferable to the "among" of the R.V., which would imply inclusion of Jews. It means, of the Greeks that came up. For such devout Gentiles, cf. Acts 17:4.
232John 12:21. - "Bethsaida of Galilee." G. A. Smith: "This need not mean that it lay west of the Jordan, for the province of Galilee was right round the lake" ("Historical Geography of the Holy Land," p. 458). The existence of two Bethsaidas is however, a question likely to remain uncertain. The present writer inclines to Trench's view. Cf. note 65 on Mark. Professor Smith's "need not" is significant. Why should "of Galilee" be added by the Evangelist, unless there were two or more places of the same name?
232a John 12:24. - We have here the antitype of the sheaf of firstfruits (Delitzsch). The way in which the Lord expressed Himself seems to have been adapted to the system of thought familiar to Greeks of that day. See J. G. Frazer, "The Golden Bough," iii. 130 ff., for "dying God" and "corn spirit." Cf. Achelis, "Sketch," p. 32. Researches such as Prof. Frazer's do but by illustration confirm rather than, as he supposes, impair revealed truth. The fourth Gospel was the divinely suited vehicle for the record of such words of Christ. As to protest from Germany against such interpretation as Frazer's of the play of heathen conception in primitive Christianity, see Knowling, p. 86.
233John 12:23. - "Son of man." See note on verse 34. In 11: 4 it was glorification of the Son of God.
234John 12:25. - Cf. Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24, Luke 14:26, Luke 17:33. "In this world." For κόσμος the Synoptists use αἰῶν, which connects itself with the Kingdom, a term that the fourth Evangelist uses only in John 3:3-5, because, as here, he regards eternal life in its future aspect as beginning with that. He is concerned characteristically with its present significance.
235John 12:27. - Milligan, for the ἐκ, "out of," compares Hebrews 5:7. See also Reynolds, ad loc. Many critics make use of what they conceive to be the fourth Evangelist's omission of the Synoptic agony in Gethsemane, of which John should have had some special knowledge, for their argument against his authorship of the book. We seem, however, in these words to have an allusion to it. The vicious principle that governs such writers has been already considered. See the Exposition at p. 393.
236John 12:31. - "This world." See John 1:5-10. "Shall be cast out." Bishop Gore speaks of Satan's "hiding his face in hell" ("The Christian Creed," p. 68). But see Revelation 2:13 ("earth"), 12: 10 ("heaven").
237John 12:32 f. - The expositor, it will be seen, explains by "crucified" (see verse 33). "Out of." After some Fathers, Meyer, Milligan, and Dods (cf. Zahn, in loc.) regard it as covering the Ascension. Cf. Genesis 40:13; Gen 40:19.
Wendt (p. 69) refers to verse 23. See also Carr's note. Reuss and others, as Horton in England, make use of verse 33 for the wretched theory of the Evangelist's imperfect understanding of our Lord's meaning (see note on John 2:21). John is evidently emphasizing the world's side of this greatest of tragedies.
238John 12:34. - See Luke 24:26 and note 30 on Mark (p. 247) as to Son of man. From this passage we learn that the title was not familiar to the Jews, and that it was not used for "Messiah." The present passage seems to support the reading "God" in John 9:35.
"Abideth for ever." See 1 Chronicles 17:12, Psalm 89:24; Psa 89:29, Psalm 110:4; Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 53:8; Ezekiel 37:25; Daniel 7:14; Micah 4:7.
239John 12:36. - "The light." JESUS meant Himself (1 John 1:5) - that is, that He is GOD. See Deuteronomy 32:20, Psalm 78:11 f., for "hid Himself from them."
240John 12:37 ff. - "So many signs" - four in Galilee, three in Judæa - with tacit reference to the earlier Gospels.
"Could not believe." The present infinitive (πιστεὑειν), "to form a habit of belief" (Abbott, §2,496). Cf. note 114 (v. 44), and see Milligan's remarks on the judicial blinding of these Jews. Observe that "Isaiah" is named as source, and no critical "Second Isaiah."
241John 12:40. - Isaiah 6:9 f. is quoted in all four Gospels. It is given here (cf. John 9:39) in the same form as in Mark and Luke. See volume on Mark, note 45.
242John 12:42 f. - Amongst such, probably, was Joseph of Arimathæa, as well as Nicodemus. Cf. note 59 above. The Evangelist's words in verse 43 carry us back to those of the Lord in v. 44.
243John 12:44. - For "cried" (ἔκραζεν), cf. Matthew 27:50 (Mark 15:39), and John 7:28-37.
244John 12:46. - See verse 9 of the Preface (chapter 1), and cf. Ephesians 5:14.
245John 12:48. - "Slighteth" is in the Greek (ἀθετῶν) peculiar to this passage of John. It is used also in Luke 10:16.
"The last day." This term is peculiar to the fourth Gospel (John 6:39 f., 44, 54 and John 11:24). It is one of the "interpolations" alleged by Wendt, etc.
246John 12:50. - Cf. 1 John 3:22 f.
There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
This he said, signifying what death he should die.
The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.