To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.…
I. THE PERSONS. "I." "They."
1. God, who is more than all, and man, who is infinitely loss than nothing.
2. The God of peace to His professed enemy. Nothing else in the world is God's enemy. Sin is enmity because —
(1) It violates the majesty of God, inasmuch as in sin we seem to try conclusions whether God can see a sin, or be affected with it, or cares to punish it; as though we doubted whether God were present, pure or powerful.
(2) It is surrender to the enemy of His kingdom, Satan, and that for small wages (Romans 6:21). And yet for all this the Lord of Hosts comes, and to an enemy so incapable of carrying out his enmity. Some men will continue kind when they find a thankful receiver, but God is kind to the unthankful. There may be found a man who will die for his friends, but God died for His foes.
3. God to all men; "they" hath no limitation. The merit of Christ is sufficient for all, and whether this sufficiency grows out of the nature of the merit, the dignity of the person being considered, or out of the acceptation of the Father and the contrast between Him and the Son, we will not dispute. All agree that there is enough done for all. Would, then, God receive enough for all, and then exclude some of Himself? God forbid. Well said , "O good and mighty God, who art as loving to every man as to all mankind, and meanest as well to all mankind as to any man." Moses desired that God would show him His "ways," His dealings with men (Exodus 33:13); that which he calls His glory (ver. 13), how he glorifies Himself upon man. God promises (ver. 19) that He will show Him all His "goodness"; and then, in Exodus 34:6, He shows him His way, goodness, glory; and here are thirteen attributes, and only one of them tastes of judgment — the rest are wholly mercy. Such a proposition has His mercy, that there is no cause in Him if all men be not partakers of it.
II. THE ACTION. "I came."
1. He who is omnipresent in love to man, studied a new way of coming, of communicating Himself to man, and by assuming our nature in the blessed Virgin. That this Virgin should not only have a Son, but that this Son should be the Son of the Eternal God in such a coming of Him who was here before, as that if it had not arisen in His goodness no man would ever have thought of it.
2. He who came to the old world in promises, prophecies, and figures, is actually, really, and presentially come to us; of which difference that man will have the best sense who languishes under the heavy expectation of a reversion, or has felt the joy of actual possession.
III. THE END.
1. That they might have life. Life is the character by which Christ denominates Himself (John 14:6; Acts 3:14). God has included all that is good in the name of Life, and all that is ill in the name of Death (Deuteronomy 30:15). The reward proposed to our faith is to live by it (Hebrews 2:4); and this fulness of happiness, life and the life of life, spiritual life and its exaltation into eternal life, is the end of Christ's coming.
(1) That there might be life to be had. For chaos was not a deader lump before the Spirit of God moved upon it than mankind was before the influence of Christ's coming wrought upon it. But now that God has so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, all may have life.
(2) But this life must be received. There is air enough to give breath to everything, but everything does not breathe. If a tree does not breathe, it is not because it wants air, but because it wants means to receive it. That man that is blind shall see no more sun in summer than in winter.
2. That they might have it more abundantly. God can do nothing penuriously.
(1) The natural man more than any other creature. Animals, etc., have life; man is life (Genesis 2:7), and will live after death.
(2) The Jews more than the Gentiles. Christ came to the Jews in promises, types, sacrifices; and thus they had better means to preserve that life, to illustrate the image of God, to conform themselves to God, and make their immortality eternal happiness, than other nations.
(3) Christians more than Jews. Christ has come to Christians really and in substance.
(4) In the Christian Church Christ has given us means to be better today than yesterday, tomorrow than today. The grace which God offers us does not only fill, but enlarges our capacity for all that goes to make up life — holiness, assurance, happiness, heaven.
(J. Donne, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.