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hath is given,” and he ascends from faith to faith. “Jesus heard that they had cast him out,” and, himself the Good Shepherd, went in search of this sheep in this favorable hour for bringing him home to the true fold;—“and when he had found him,” encountered him, it may be, in the temple, (cf. John v. 14) “he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” The man knows what the title means, that it is equivalent to Messiah, but he knows not any one who has a right to claim it for his own: such trust, however, has he in his Healer, that whomsoever he will point out to him as such, he will recognize. “He answered and said unto him, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him & And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.” These words, “Thou hast seen him,” do not refer to some anterior seeing—for it does not appear that the man after his eyes were opened at the pool, returned to the Lord, or that he had enjoyed any opportunity of seeing him since. This past then is in some sense a present: “Thou hast seen him already; this seeing is not something yet to do; ever since thou hast been speaking with me thine eyes have beheld him, for it is no other than he himself that talketh with thee.”* And now that to which all that went before was but an introduction, has arrived; “He said, Lord, I believe ; and he worshipped him:” not that even now we need suppose that he knew all that was contained in that title, Son of God, or that in this worshipping him we are to understand the very highest act of adoration as unto God. For the fact of “God manifest in the flesh,” is far too great a one for any man to receive at once: the minds, even of apostles, could only dilate little by little to receive it. There were, however, in this man the preparations for that ultimate and crowning faith: the seeds which would unfold into it were safely laid in his heart; and he fell down at the feet of Jesus as of one more than man, with a deep religious reverence and fear and awe. And thus the faith of this poor man was accomplished; step by step he had advanced, following faithfully the light which was given him; undeterred by opposition which would have been fatal to a weaker faith, and must have been so to his, unless the good seed had cast its roots in a soil of more than ordinary depth. But because it was such a soil, therefore, when persecution arose, as it soon did, for the WQrd's sake, he was not offended; (Matt. xiii. 21;) but endured, until at length the highest grace was vouchsafed to him, to know the only-begotten Son of God, however yet he may not have seen all the glorious treasures that were contained in the knowledge of him. So wonderful was the whole event, so had it brought out the spiritual
* Corn. A Lapide: Et widisti eum, nunc cam se tibi ipse videndum offert.
blindness of those that ought to have been the seers of the nation, so had it ended in the illumination, spiritual as well as bodily, of one who seemed among the blind, that it called out from the Saviour's lips those remarkable words in which he moralized the whole: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind: I am come to reveal every man's innermost state; I, as the highest revelation of God, must bring out men's love and their hatred of what is divine as none other could : (John iii. 19—21 ;) I am the touchstone; much that seemed true shall at my touch be proved false, to be merely dross; much that for its little sightliness was nothing accounted of shall prove true metal: many, whom men esteemed to be seeing, such as the spiritual chiefs of this nation, shall be shown to be blind: many, whom men counted altogether unenlightened, shall, when my light touches them, be shown to have powers of spiritual vision undreamt of before.” Christ was the King of truth, and therefore, his open setting up of his banner in the world was at once and of necessity a ranging of men in their true ranks, as lovers of truth or lovers of a lie;” and he is here saying of himself the same thing which Simeon had said of him before: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel . . . . that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke ii. 34, 35.) He is the stone on which men build, and against which men stumble, and set for either purpose. (1 Pet. ii. 6–8; cf. 2 Cor. ii. 16.) These words call out a further contradiction on the part of the Pharisees, and out of this miracle unfolds itself that discourse which reaches down to ver. 21 of the ensuing chapter. They had shown what manner of shepherds of the sheep they were in their exclusion of this one from the fold: “with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them,” (Ezek. xxxiv. 4:)f our Lord sets over against them himself, the good Shepherd and the true.
* Augustine (In Ev. Joh, Tract.44): Dies ille diviserat inter lucem et tenebras. # This whole chapter of Ezekiel may be profitably read in the light of the con
nection between these 9th and 10th chapters of St. John. 33
THE RESTORING OF THE MAN WITH A WITHERED HAND.
This is not the first of our Lord's sabbathic cures,” which stirs the ill. will of his adversaries, or is used by them as a pretext for accusing him; for we saw the same to occur in the case of the miracle immediately preceding; yet I have reserved for this the considering once for all the position which our Lord himself took in respect of the Jewish Sabbath, and the light in which he regarded it. The present is the most favorable occasion which will occur, since here, and in the discourse which immediately precedes this miracle, and which stands, if not quite in such close historic connection as might at first sight appear on reading it in the Gospel of St. Matthew, yet in closest inner relation to it, our Lord himself enters upon the subject, and delivers the weightiest words which upon this matter fell from his lips. To go back then to that preceding discourse, and the circumstances which gave rise to it;-the Pharisees found fault with the disciples for plucking ears of corn and eating them upon the Sabbath; they accused them to their Master as transgressors of the law: “Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?” It was not the thing itself, as though it had
* The cures on the Sabbath actually recorded are seven in number, and are the following:—that of the demoniac in the synagogue of Capernaum, (Mark i. 21;) that of Simon's wife's mother, (Mark i. 29;) of the impotent man of Bethesda, (John v. 9;) of this man with a withered hand; of the man born blind, (John ix. 14;) of the woman with a spirit of infirmity, (Luke xiii. 14;) of the man who had a dropsy, (Luke xiv. 1.) We have a general intimation of many more, as at Mark i. 84, and have already observed that the “one work” to which our Lord alludes, at John vii. 21–23, is perhaps not any of the miracles which he has recorded at length, but one to which we have no further allusion than that contained in these verses.
been an invasion of other men's property, for that was by the law itself expressly permitted;" they might not thrust in a sickle to another man's field, but might pluck the ripe ears for the stilling of their present hunger. (Deut. xxiii. 25.) By restrictions upon an absolute proprietorship, even slight as this, did God assert that he was indeed the true proprietor of all the land, and that the holders held it only of him. It was in the day on which they plucked these ears that their fault consisted. Our Lord seeks to raise the objectors to a truer standing point from which to contemplate the act of his disciples; and by two examples, and these taken from that very law which they believed they were asserting, would show them how the law, if it is not to work mischievously, must be spiritually handled and understood. These examples are borrowed, the one from the Old Testament history, the other from the service of the temple which was evermore going on before their eyes. The first, the well-known event which occurred during David's flight from Saul, (1 Sam. xxi. 1–6,) his claiming and obtaining from the high priest the holy bread, was such as would naturally carry much weight with them whom Christ was seeking to convince, David being counted the great pattern and example of Old Testament holiness; “Will ye affirm that they did wrong-David who in that necessity claimed, or the priest who gave to him, the holy bread?” The second example came yet nearer home to them with whom he was speaking, and was more stringent still, for it was not an exceptional case, but grounded in the very constitution of the Levitical service: “Ye do yourselves practically acknowledge it right that the rest of the Sabbath should give place to a higher interest, to the service of the temple; that, as the lesser, it should be subordinated, and, where needful, offered up to this as the greater: the sacrifices, with all the laborious preparations which they require, do not cease upon the Sabbath; (Num. xxviii. 8, 9;) all which is needful for completing them, is upon that day carried through: yet no one accounts the priests to be therefore in any true sense profaners of that holy day;} rather would they be so, if they did not do these things.”f
* See Robinson's Researches, v. 2, p. 192.
# They had themselves a maxim which expressed this very thing: Ministerium pellit Sabbatum.
# It is the same argument which he pursues, John vii. 22, 23. There he says, “For the sake of circumcision you do yourselves violate the Sabbath. Rather than not keep Moses' commandment, which requires the child to be circumcised upon the eighth day, you will, if that day fall upon a Sabbath, accomplish all the work of circumcision upon that. You make, that is, the Sabbath, which is lower, give place And then, lest the Pharisees should retort, or in their hearts make exception, that the work referred to was done in the service of the temple, and was therefore permitted; but that here there was no such serving of higher interests, he adds, “But I say unto you, that in this place is one greater than the temple;” one whom therefore, by still better right, his servants might serve and be guiltless.” He contemplates his disciples as already the priests of the New Covenant, of which he is himself the living Temple. It was in their needful service and ministration to him, and because that so occupied them as that they had not time regularly to prepare food or to eat, that they were an hungered, (ver. 1,) and profaned, as the adversaries accounted it, the Sabbath. But if those who yet ministered in that temple which was but the shadow of the true, were thus privileged,—if as every man's conscience bore witness, they were blameless in all this, and only seemingly transgressed the law, really to keep it, how much more those who ministered about the Temple not made with hands,-the true Tabernacle, which the Lord had pitched and not man? I
The Lord continues: “But if ye had known,” if with all your searching into the Scripture, all your busy scrutiny of its letter, you had ever so entered into the spirit of the Law, whereof you profess to be the jealous guardians and faithful interpreters, as to understand “what
to circumcision, which is higher, and therein you have right. But the cures which I accomplish are greater than circumcision itself: that is but receiving the seal of the covenant upon a single member; my cures are a making the entire man (620; dw890roc) whole: Shall not the Sabbath then by much better right give place to these works of mine s”
* Cocceius gives admirably the meaning here: Hoc argumentum urget contra tacitam exceptionem, nempe, discipulos Christi in agro non in templis fecisse opus non sacerdotale. Christus ostendit majorem templo hic esse, significans se Dominum templi esse, Mal. iii. 1; Jer. xi. 15. .... Quemadmodum igitur sacerdotes licité fecerunt opera, quae pertinebant ad cultum Dei ceremonialem; ita discipuli Christi licitè fecerunt illa quae necesse erat facere, ut servirent ipsi vero templo et Domino templi. The argument is in no way materially altered if we admit utisov instead of uesov into the text, as Lachmann has done, and as is generally agreed now to be the preferable reading. We have exactly in the same manner, (Matt. xii. 42,) idoo Trž eio v Xožouðvroc &ée.
+ I know not whether there is a force in Augustine's remark (Quaest. xvii. in Matth, qu. 10): Unum exemplum datum regiae potestatis de David, alterum sacerdotalis de iis qui per ministerium templi Sabbatum violant: ut multö minus ad ipsum evulsarum Sabbato spicarum crimen pertineat, qui verus rex et verus sacerdos est, et ideo Dominus Sabbati.
# Irenaeus (Con. Haer, 1.4, c. 8, § 3): Per Legis verba suos discipulos excusans et significans licere sacerdotibus liberê agere .... Sacerdotes autem sunt omnes Domini Apostoli, quineque agros neque domos haereditant hic, sed semper altari et Deo serviunt.