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But, probably, themselves knowing perfectly well, or at least guessing, who his Healer was, they insinuate by the form of their question that He could not be from God, who gave a command which they, the interpreters of God's law, esteemed so great an outrage and transgression against it. So will they weaken and undermine any influence which Christ may have obtained over this simple man-an influence already manifest in his finding the Lord's authority sufficient to justify him in the transgression of their commandment.
But the man could not point out his benefactor; "he that was healed wist not who it was ; for Jesus had conveyed Himself away,' a multitude being in that place'-not, as Grotius will have it, to avoid ostentation and the applauses of the people; but this mention of the multitude shall explain the facility with which He withdrew : He mingled with and passed through the crowd, and so was lost from sight in an instant.
Were it not that the common people usually were on bis side on occasions like the present, one might imagine that a menacing crowd under the influence of these chiefs of the Jews had gathered together, while this conversation was going forward betwixt them and the healed cripple, from whose violence the Lord, for his hour was not yet come, withdrew Himself awhile.
• Afterwards Jesus findeth him in the temple' (cf. ix. 35). We may accept it as a token of good that Jesus found him
1 Grotius : En malitiæ ingenium ! non dicunt, Quis est qui te sanavit? sed, Quis jussit grabatum tollere ? Quærunt non quod mirentur, sed quod calumnientur.
2 'EEEVEVOEV. The word does not occur again in the New Testament, but four times in the Septuagint (Judg. iv. 18 ; xviii. 26 ; 2 Kin. ii. 24; xxiii. 16 ; cf. Plutarch, De Gen. Soc. 4). The connexion with vśw, veuropai, to swim, is too remote to justify Beza in urging this image here, as he does: Proprie dicitur de iis qui ex undis enatant, fortassis quod qui clam nititur ex turbâ elabi, corpus non aliter summittat, quam qui ex undis emergat. It is simply, glided out, evasit (not evaserat, “ had conveyed himself away ’), declinavit (Vulg.), with a connotation originally in the word of that sideward movement which one who desires to make his way rapidly through a crowd, and therefore to find the least possible resistance, will often employ.
there rather than in any other place; returning thanks, as we may well believe, for the signal mercy so lately vouchsafed to him (cf. Isai. xxxviii. 22; Acts iii. 8; Luke xvii. 15). And He, whose purpose it ever was to connect with the healing of the body the better healing of the soul, suffers not this matter to conclude thus; but by a word of solemn warning, declares to the sufferer that all his past life lay open and manifest before Him ; interprets to him the past judgment, bids him not provoke future and more terrible :
Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.' Assuredly these are words which give us an awful glimpse of the severity of God's judgments even in this present time; for we must not restrict this “worse thing' to judgment in hell;—' a worse thing' than those eight and thirty years of infirmity and pain. 'His sickness had found him a youth, and left him an old man; it had withered up all his manhood, and yet 'a worse thing' even than this is threatened him, should he sin again. Let no man, however miserable, count that he has exhausted the power of God's wrath. The arrows that have pierced him may have been keen; but, if he shall provoke them, there are in the quiver from which these were drawn, sharper and keener behind.
What the past sin of this sufferer had been we know not, but the man himself knew very well; his conscience was the interpreter of the warning. This much, however, is plain to us; that Christ did connect the man's suffering with his own particular sin ; for, however He rebuked elsewhere men's uncharitable way of tracing such a connexion, and that unrighteous Theodicee, which should in every case affirm a man's personal suffering to be in proportion to his personal guilt
i Calvin : Si nihil ferulis proficiat erga nos Deus, quibus leniter nos tanquam teneros ac delicatos filios humanissimus pater castigat, novam personam et quasi alienam induere cogitur. Flagella ergo ad domandum nostram ferociam accipit. Quare non mirum est si atrocioribus pænis quasi malleis conterat Deus, quibus mediocris pæna nihil prodest: frangi enim æquum est, qui corrigi non sustinent.
(Luke xiii. 2, 3; John ix. 3), a scheme which all experience refutes, much judgment being deferred to the great day; yet He never meant thereby to deny that much of judgment is even now continually proceeding. However unwilling we may be to receive this, bringing as it does God so near, making retribution so real and so prompt a thing, yet is it true notwithstanding. As some eagle, pierced with a shaft feathered from its own wing, so many a sufferer, even in this present time, sees and cannot deny that his own sin Aedged the arrow of judgment, which has pierced him and brought him down. And lest he should miss the connexion, oftentimes he is punished, it may be is himself sinned against by his fellow-man, in the very kind wherein he himself has sinned against others (Judg. i. 6, 7; Gen. xlii. 21; Jer. li. 49; Rev. xvi. 6). The deceiver is deceived, as was Jacob (Gen. xxvii. 19, 24; xxix. 23; xxxi. 7; xxxvii. 32); the violator of the sanctities of family life is himself wounded and outraged in his tenderest and dearest relations, as was David (2 Sam. xi. 4; xiii. 14; xvi. 22). And many a sinner, who cannot read his own doom, for it is a final and a fatal one, yet declares in that doom to others that there is indeed a coming back upon men of their sins. The grandson of Ahab is himself treacherously slain in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite (2 Kin. ix. 23); William Rufus perishes, himself the third of his family who did so, in the New Forest, the scene of the sacrilege and the crimes of his race.
• The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.' Whom he did not recognize in the crowd, he has recognized in the temple. This is Augustine’s remark, who hereupon finds occasion to commend that inner calm and solitude of spirit in which alone
1 Tragedy in its highest form continually occupies itself with this truth-nowhere, perhaps, so grandly as in the awful reproduction in the Choëphora of the scene in which Clytemnestra stood over the prostrate bodies of Ag emnon and Cassandra—a reproduction with only the difference that now it is she and her paramour that are the slain, and her own son that stands over her,
we shall recognize the Lord. Yet while such remarks have their own worth, they are scarcely applicable here. The man probably learned from the bystanders the name of his deliverer, and went and told it,—assuredly not, as some assume, in treachery, or to augment the envy already existing against Him,—but gratefully proclaiming aloud and to the rulers of his nation the physician who had healed him.He may have expected, in the simplicity of his heart, that the name of Him, whose reputation, though not his person, he had already known, whom so many counted as a prophet, or even as the Messiah Himself, would be sufficient to stop the mouths of the gainsayers. Had he wrought in a baser spirit, he would not, as Chrysostom ingeniously observes, have gone and told them that it was Jesus, which had made him whole' but rather that it was Jesus, who had bidden him to carry his bed. Moreover, we may be quite sure that the Lord, who knew what was in man, would not have wasted his benefits on mean and thankless a wretch as this man would have thus shown himself to be.
His word did not allay their displeasure, only provoked it the more. • And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day.' Christ had in their eyes wilfully violated the Sabbath, and the penalty of this wilful violation was death (Num. xv. 32-36). But there was no such violation here; and He, returning good for evil, will fain raise them to the true point of view from which to contemplate the Sabbath, and his own relation to it as the Onlybegotten of the Father. He is no more a breaker of the Sabbath than his Father is, when He upholds with an energy
i In Ev. Joh. tract. xvii.: Difficile est in turbâ videre Christum. Turba strepitum habet ; visio ista secretum desiderat. In turbâ non eum vidit, in templo vidit.
2 Calvin: Nihil minus in animo habuit quam conflare Christo invidiam ; nihil enim minus speravit quam ut tantopere furerent adversus Christum. Pius ergo affectus fuit, quum vellet justo ac debito honore medicum suum prosequi.
that knows no pause the work of his creation from hour to hour and from moment to moment: 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work;' Christ's work is but the reflex of his Father's work. Abstinence from an outward work is not essential to the observance of a Sabbath; it is only more or less the necessary condition of this for beings so framed and constituted as ever to be in danger of losing the true collection and rest of the spirit in the multiplicity of earthly toil and business. Man indeed must cease from his work, if a higher work is to find place in him. He scatters Limself in his work, and therefore must collect himself anew, and have seasons for so doing. But with Him who is one with the Father it is otherwise. In Him the deepest rest is not excluded by the highest activity; nay rather, in God, in the Son as in the Father, they are one and the same.
But so to defend what He has done only exasperates his adversaries the more. They have here not a Sabbath-breaker merely, but a blasphemer as well; for, however others in later times may have interpreted his words, they who first heard them interpreted them correctly;? that the Lord was here putting Himself on an equality with God, claiming divine attributes for Himself: Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He had not only broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God' (Lev. xxiv. 16; John viii. 58, 59; xix. 7). Strange, if the Unitarian scheme of doctrine is true, that He should have suffered them to continue in their error, that He should not at once have taken this stumbling-block out
1 Thus Augustine on the eternal Sabbath-keeping of the faithful (Ep. lv. 9): Inest autem in illâ requie non desidiosa segnitia, sed quædam ineffabilis tranquillitas actionis otiosä. Sic enim ab hujus vitæ operibus in fine requiescitur, ut in alterius vitæ actione gaudeatur. Cf. Philo, Leg. Alleg. i. Ÿ 3, a grand passage, commencing thus : Ilaverat γάρ ουδέποτε ποιών ο θεός, άλλ' ώσπερ ίδιον το καίειν πυρός, και χιόνος το ψυχείν, ούτω και θεού το ποιείν και πολύ γε μάλλον, όσο και τοις άλλοις άπασιν αρχή του δράν έστιν. .
Augustine ( In Ev. Joh. tract. xvii.) : Ecce intelligunt Judæi, quod non intelligunt Ariani.