An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

In this chapter, we have an account of the banquet at Bethany, where our Lord had arrived a few days before the Pasch. The anointing of His feet by Magdalen. The murmuring of Judas, prompted by avarice. Our Lord’s defence of Magdalen (1–9).

We have a short account of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and the applause of the crowd, who extol Him on account of His miracles (10–18).

The fury of the Pharisees on seeing the multitude follow Him (19).

The mediation of Philip, on behalf of some Gentiles, who wished to be introduced to our Lord (20–22).

Our Lord’s allusion to His death, as necessary for His exaltation and glorification (22–26). His appeal to His Father in His distress of mind, and the loud testimony rendered in answer to His appeal (27, 28).

The results of His death, the nature of which He alludes to (29–37).

The incredulity of the Jews predicted by Isaias (37–41).

The rewards of such as believe in Him, and the punishment of the disobedient (42–48). The source from which He derives His authority, to speak and preach (49, 50).


1. “Jesus, therefore, six days before the Pasch.” “Therefore,” because the Pasch was near (11:55), Jesus wished to go Jerusalem; or, “therefore,” on account of the commandment above referred to (11:56), not wishing to come into the power of His enemies before the time appointed had come, He left Ephrem, or Ephraim, where He had been sojourning a few days. “Six days before the Pasch,” at which He was Himself to be sanctified, as the true Paschal Lamb, for the redemption of mankind. Instead of going straightway to Jerusalem, He came to Bethany, where lived Lazarus, who had been resuscitated from the grave. Here, our Lord had many friends, and the recollection of His recent miracle would induce the people to conduct Him in triumph to Jerusalem. on the following Sunday, the third day, after His arrival at Bethany. “Whom Jesus raised to life.” The Greek has not, “Jesus,” but only, “whom He raised from the dead.” “Where Lazarus had been dead.” The Greek has, “Where was Lazarus, who had been dead?”

2. St. Matthew (26:6), tells us, this banquet was given in the house of Simon the leper.

1–3–8. (See Matthew 26:6–13, Commentary on.)

3. “Anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped,” etc. There is a transposition or inversion of order in this. She first wiped His feet with her hair, removing the dust that adhered to them; and then, as Matthew and Mark tell us, anointed His head, which was usually done. Had she wiped His feet after anointing them, she would be only oiling her own hair; and St. John adds, that, in addition to washing His head, she did what was quite unusual, viz., anointed His feet, in proof of her excessive love, and in gratitude for the remission of her sins, which she obtained at His sacred feet. She did not wipe His feet after anointing them, for the reason already assigned. After anointing His head and feet, she left the oil, without wiping it off, as above explained, to produce the intended effect of anointing in such cases.

4, 5. “Judas Iscariot.” The Greek has, “Judas of Simon or, the son of Simon.” The other Evangelists say, that the other disciples joined in the murmuring. They did so, from feelings of charity; Judas, from avarice, as in next verse.

6. He was entrusted with carrying the common purse, in which were deposited the means contributed as a sort of sustentation fund for the support of our Redeemer and His disciples. Abusing the confidence reposed in him, he used to purloin or carry away stealthily, for his own private use, some of its contents. He felt indignant, that the price of this ointment was not thrown with the rest into the common fund, so that he might thus be enabled to set some of it aside for his own use. While affecting great concern for the poor, the gratification of avarice was his real motive. For the poor he felt no concern whatever. How many hypocritical followers of Judas are to be found, at all times, men who talk loudly in favour of the poor, and never contribute a farthing for their relief?

Matthew and Mark, after giving the history of this banquet, refer to the impious compact entered into by Judas with the Chief Priests, as if he wished to compensate himself for the loss of the price of the ointment, by the amount of the reward secured for his base betrayal of his Master.

7, 8. (See Matthew 26:7–12, Commentary on.)

9. “A great multitude,” etc. They came out from Jerusalem, not merely out of respect for our Lord, but also, out of a feeling of curiosity to see Lazarus, the fame of whose resuscitation from the grave reached far and near. They wished to see both, Lazarus resuscitated, and Jesus who had raised him.

10. “The Chief Priests thought”—conspired together—“to kill Lazarus also,” as well as our Lord, for the reason assigned in following verse. They were influenced purely by malice and envy, as Lazarus harmed none of them. It may be that the Chief Priests, most of them Sadducees, had another reason. Lazarus now brought back to life, would be a standing, living refutation of their doctrine, that there was no Resurrection (Acts 23:18). This does not imply a formal meeting of the Sanhedrim, as in (11:47). The Pharisees are not mentioned here, though, no doubt, they had a hand in the business. They dreaded the influence which Lazarus, now walking abroad in full life, might have on the crowds, assembled from every quarter for the Pasch.

St. Augustine (Tract 50), jeeringly derides them, and exposes their blind malice and folly, as if our Lord, who raised up the dead Lazarus, could not raise up the murdered Lazarus as well. “O stulta cogitatio ac cæca sævitia! Dominus, Christus, qui suscitare potuit MORTUUM, non posset OCCISUM.”

11. “Went away,” not out of the Synagogue, but withdrew all connexion with the murderous faction of the High Priests and Pharisees, and adhered to Jesus.

12–16. “The next day,” that is, the day after the Sabbath, on which our Lord was entertained at a banquet in the house of Simon the leper, the same as the second day of the Sabbath, or our Palm Sunday. “A great multitude.” A great number, including strangers and foreigners also, “that was come to the Festival day,” who came from every quarter to Jerusalem, a few days before hand, to prepare for the due celebration of the Pasch. “Having heard that Jesus,” the fame of whose teaching and miracles, especially the last, viz., the raising up of Lazarus, was spread abroad every where, “was coming to Jerusalem.” Our Lord selected the day after the Sabbath, our Sunday, for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, preparatory to His death, or immolation, as the true Paschal Lamb, destined to “take away the sins of the world.” (See all this explained, Matthew 21:1–9.)

16. The disciples did not understand that these things were foretold of our Lord by the Prophet, with all their circumstances. “But when Jesus was glorified,” had ascended into heaven, and sent down His holy Spirit to enlighten them and teach them all truth, “they, then, remembered,” etc.

17. Those who were eye-witnesses of the raising up of Lazarus, bore witness to the fact and circulated it, as indisputable, throughout Jerusalem.

18. On account of which stupendous miracle, the people, on the occasion of His entry into Jerusalem, came out in crowds? to meet one who had the power of working such marvels.

19. “The Pharisees”—the enemies of our Lord—maddened with rage on seeing the triumphal entry of our Lord, accompanied by such crowds, young and old, Jews and Gentiles (v. 20), “said among themselves,” conferring with one another, “Do you see that we prevail nothing?” as if to say: we have foolishly put off carrying out our resolve, of putting Him to death, according to the counsel of Caiphas. The result of our procrastination and supineness is, that He is getting strength everyday, His followers increasing “The whole world”—an hyperbolical form of expression—meaning great multitudes, “are gone after Him.” We must, therefore, carry out at once, our resolve, to put Him to death.

20. “Certain Gentiles.” In Greek, “certain Hellenists, or Greeks.” The Greek language was the most extensively used among the Gentiles. Hence, the word “Greeks,” was commonly used by the Jews to designate all the Pagan nations; as most of the Pagans, whom they knew, spoke the Greek language. The Apostle (St. Paul), commonly uses the word, when speaking of the Gentile or Pagan world, as contra-distinguished from the Jews. (Rom. 1:16; 11:9), etc. The Evangelist appropriately introduces this, when describing the rage and envy of the Pharisees, to signify, that both Jews and Gentiles were to join in receiving and believing in our Lord.

Who these Gentiles were, cannot be easily determined. Some say, they were Jews who spoke the Greek language, and dwelt in some of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, Greece, Egypt, where they had their Synagogues. Others say, they were Proselytes, from among the Gentiles. Others, Gentiles and idolaters, who came to bring offerings to the God of Israel and worship Him. These holding, that there was one God, and seeing Him adored, with such majesty, by the Jews in the glorious Temple of Jerusalem, came to join in his worship, and present their gifts. The Temple was greatly venerated by Pagan Monarchs, who bestowed on it the richest gifts. Cyrus (1 Esdras; Darius Hystaspes, c. 6), and other Kings of Asia. (2 Machabees 3.) The neighbouring Pagans frequently attended the great feasts of the Jews. Hence, the outer Court of the Temple was called, the Court of the Gentiles.

21. They came to Philip, either because he was the first of our Lord’s disciples they met: or, because they knew him before. Some say, the mention of his native place, “Bethsaida of Galilee,” would show that these dwelt in the neighbourhood of Galilee; and hence, knew Philip, who was a Galilean. This is not likely; as among the disciples, there were other Galileans also.

Besides, knowing that the Jews would not wish to hold converse with Gentiles, the Gentiles in question had the deepest feelings of reverence for our Lord, and would not presume to approach Him in person. Hence, they employ Philip as an intermediary. “We wish to see,” that is, converse with “Jesus,” For, as regards “seeing,” all could see Him, as He was preaching. It means, therefore, to converse with Him.

22. Philip declined the task of introducing them, and had recourse to Andrew, his countryman, for the purpose. Andrew, it seems, enjoyed greater influence with our Lord, being His oldest disciple. It was he introduced Peter, his brother (1:40). Likely, Philip’s hesitation may have resulted from our Lord’s command, “in viam Gentium, ne abieritis.” Before exposing themselves to transgress, in any way, our Lord’s wish in this matter, they both lay the matter before our Lord.

23 “Jesus answered them.” Likely, the Gentiles, too, were near, and within hearing, as we find no other answer made to Philip’s appeal, which would seem not to be unacceptable to our Lord. Whether He admitted them to conversation with Him is not stated. He, however, granted them more than was asked (v. 23–28).

“The hour is come,” the appointed time for His death, which was to be followed by His Resurrection, Ascension, “is come,” so near at hand, that it may be said to have come, “that the Son of Man,” whose name the Pharisees would fain blot out from the minds of mankind and utterly obliterate.

“Should be glorified,” made known to the Gentile world, of whom these are the first fruits; and after His Glorious Resurrection, Ascension, and sending down of the Holy Ghost, joined with the preaching of the Gospel, throughout the world, he would be acknowledged, adored and proclaimed by the entire earth, Jew and Gentile, as the Eternal Son of God. Our Lord frequently employs this epithet, “the Son of Man,” rather than the “Son of God,” as denoting His union with human nature, which He so honoured, denoting also His humble lowliness, in which through His humiliation, He was to receive the honours due to the Messiah; glory being exchanged, as its reward, for humiliation. (Philip. 2.)

Some Expositors (among whom Patrizzi), say, the “hour,” refers to the present day, on which He was so honoured, by the multitude, and on which a glorious testimony was soon to be borne to Him by His Father (v. 28), in the hearing of so many; the day whereon He was approaching Jerusalem, to enter on that course of suffering so often predicted by Him (Matthew 20:17–19; Mark 10:32; Luke 18:31–34), as the prelude to His glory.

Most likely, it refers to the testimony rendered to Him by His Father, in His Resurrection, Ascension, preaching of the Gospel, which would make known to all, the economy of Redemption, founded chiefly on His humiliation and death.

24. As His glorification was the fruit and reward of His humiliation and death (Philip. 2), which was now at hand, He illustrates the subject by a familiar similitude, and thus removes any grounds of offence or scandal which it might create in their minds. This being an important and solemn utterance, He prefaces it, with “Amen, amen,” usual with Him in such cases. His death would purchase a vast harvest of worshippers from all nations and peoples and tongues, etc. (Apoc. 7). For this, His death was necessary, just as it was necessary, in order that from a grain of corn, a crop or harvest would proceed, that the grain should first die and be dissolved, after being committed to the bosom of the earth. Unless it dies, it produces no fruit. It remains sterile and alone. But, if it dies, it produces much fruit When, after I die, I am committed to the earth, an uncommon harvest of faithful followers shall rise up, who are, in some limited sense, to partake of My nature, by a communication of My choicest graces, as the harvest is of the same nature with the seed. These shall proclaim My glory throughout the world.

25. He wishes to fortify them against the sufferings and persecutions in store for His followers who are destined to tread the same path that He has trodden. Sufferings and trials and mortification are the only means of securing eternal happiness.

“He that loveth his life,” with an inordinate, sensual love, at the expense of the law of God, which he hesitates not to violate in order to save His life, “shall lose it,” shall lose his soul in the world to come. It is clear from the following clause, that to this clause, “he that loveth his life” should be added (in this world) shall lose it in the world to come.

“And he that hateth,” etc. (See Matthew 10:39; 16:25, Commentary on.) This was a favourite principle or kind of axiom with our Lord. It is the compendium of a Christian life.

26. Our Lord insinuates, that He Himself would lose His life in this world; that the triumphs He was now enjoying would not last; that sufferings and death were near; and, then, He exhorts His followers to follow His example and walk in His footsteps.

“If any man minister to Me,” etc., or, would wish to show himself My minister and true disciple, “let him follow Me,” imitate Me, in My disregard for temporal life, in order to secure life eternal (Matthew 10:38). By following Me, he shall not lose His life in the world to come. He shall be sharer with Me in everlasting happiness. “Where I am,” being now, as to My Divinity, in heaven; and sure to ascend there shortly, in My human nature, “there also shall My minister be,” sharing with Me, the ineffable joys of heaven.

This true minister and faithful persevering follower in humiliation, sorrows and death, here, shall be exalted and honoured hereafter by My Father in heaven, before the angels and the blessed, by rendering him a partaker of the glory, which shall be the reward of My humiliation, sufferings and death.

“I am,” clearly shows our Lord was then in heaven. This, of course, refers to His Divine nature; at a future day, He will ascend there, in His glorified humanity.

27. “Now is My soul troubled,” etc. The reference to the grain, which dies in the earth, to which He compared Himself, brought before our Lord’s mind, the horrors of His approaching death, its tortures and gloomy accompaniments. Thus, in order to show that He Himself endured what He encouraged others to endure after Him; and also, to prove His human nature, and point out what we are to do, when terrified by death, impending evils, viz., to have recourse to God; He voluntarily permits His human nature and inferior faculties to be disturbed; to shrink from the contemplation of His impending Passion, and to endure in some measure beforehand, the agony He endured in the garden. (See Matthew 26:38; Luke 22:42–44, Commentary on.)

Likely this “man of sorrows,” often during life, voluntarily permitted the inferior faculties of His human nature to be troubled at the foresight and anticipation of His Passion and final suffering on earth

“And what shall I say?” Expresses His doubts, fears and perplexity, as if deliberating within Himself, if He could endure this torture; or, if the work of Redemption should be given up, and He should call on God to rescue Him (Luke 22:42).

“Father, save Me from this hour.” These words, in this Indicative form, contain a petition to save Him (Matthew 26:39), in which He at once checks Himself. Some read them, as the Greek admits, interrogatively, “Shall I say, Father, save Me?” Shall I ask of God to rescue Me? Or, shall I submit to these tortures? The former reading is preferable, as it better expresses the parallelism between these words and His prayer in the garden.

“From this hour,” from this agony which awaits Me, at the time fixed in the Divine decrees.

“But, for this cause,” as if correcting His inferior appetite, which naturally shrank from death, He, at once, absolutely wishes, in His superior faculties, will and intellect, that the desires of His inferior appetite should not be complied with; and that He would go forward to certain death. Similar are His words and feelings (Matthew 26.)—“Non mea, sed tua voluntas fiat.” “Transeat a me calix iste.” Here it is, “Nunc turbata est anima mea.” In the garden, He prayed, “transfer calicem istum.” Here, “Pater, Salvifica me ex hac hora.” In the garden, He subjected His natural desire of life to His Father’s will, “Non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu.” Here, “clarifica nomen tuum.”

“But for this cause,” for the purpose of dying to save mankind, have I reached this hour of agony and suffering.

28. “Father, glorify Thy name,” by My death, which is to be cheerfully undergone in obedience to Thy will. By it, Thy name shall be celebrated all over the earth. The words convey the same signification as, “Nevertheless, not My will; but, Thine be done.”

“Then came a voice from heaven: I have both glorified it,” by My testimony at your Baptism. “This is My beloved Son,” etc., by the stupendous miracles wrought through you, by your preaching, doctrines, etc.

“And I shall glorify it again,” by Thy death and the wonders that shall take place thereat; by thy subsequent glory and exaltation, in thy Resurrection and Ascension. By our Lord’s death and exaltation, the faith and worship of God was propagated among Jews and Gentiles, and His name thus glorified. As an angel from heaven was sent by the Heavenly Father to strengthen our Lord in His agony in the garden; so here too, was a voice sent from above to sustain Him, in His troubles.

29. Very likely this trumpet voice from heaven was distinctly heard by all, uttering an articulate sound. For, “it was for their sakes it came” (v. 30). Some of them, on account of its loudness, pronounced it to be thunder; and possibly, said so out of envy, not wishing to attend to the testimony it bore. Hence, they would wish to regard it, as a natural phenomenon. Others, better disposed, regarded it as uttered by the trumpet voice of an angel. The Evangelist conveys, that all heard it, as it sounded so loud and clear.

30. “Not for Me,” as if I needed to be assured that My Father hears Me. For, I know that He always hears me (11:42).

“But for your sakes,” that you may learn from it and believe, that I am sent from God the Father, and that the same glory is common to us both.

31. He points out the mode in which His Father is to glorify Him.

“Now is the judgment of the world.” “Now,” at My approaching death, a judgment of condemnation shall be passed on those obstinate unbelievers, who reject Me, and after so many splendid proofs, refuse to believe in Me; nay, go so far as to put Me unjustly to death. The signal vengeance of God, shall, therefore, be justly visited on them.

“Now shall the Prince of this world,” that is, Satan, who exercised unbounded sway over mankind, by holding them captive in the chains of sin, shall now be dislodged, by the powerful grace merited by My death, from the hearts of men, as from a citadel in which he ruled. Others, understand it of a judgment or sentence of remission or absolution, thus: now shall a sentence of remission be pronounced in favour of men who hitherto were kept bound in the chains of sin. This remission shall be obtained by My death; whereby, I ransom them, pay their debt, and set them free from the tyranny of sin and Satan, who shall himself be dethroned and dislodged from the citadel and stronghold he possessed in the souls of men. Thus shall the name of God be glorified; His Attributes, Mercy, Power, etc., proclaimed throughout the world. The devil is often called in SS. Scripture, “the Prince of the Power of this air,” etc., on account of the dominion he exercises over the children of unbelief. His dominion was destroyed by the death of Christ, on whom, though innocent, the punishment of sin was inflicted (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14), and although Satan still exercises power over men; still, it is owing to their own fault. So far as the liberation through Christ is concerned, it embraces all, who do not obstinately resist the influences of Divine grace. Now, that the Liberator and Saviour of the human race has appeared, the effusion of grace is universal.

Formerly, in regard to the just of old, it was only partial; and that, in virtue of the future merits of Christ now purchased by the blood of the cross.

32. “And,” the same as, for, “if,” (whereas),—“I be lifted up from the earth,” raised aloft on the tree of the cross (John 3:14; 8:28), which is clearly referred to, next verse. He shows how the devil is to be cast out and stripped of his power, viz., by His death.

“I shall draw all things to Myself.” “All things,” all men, of every description, from every clime and country, Jews and Gentiles. The neuter form, “all things,” “omnia,” is a more emphatic way of expressing universal subjection to Christ. “Shall draw,” voluntarily, as regards man; forcibly, as regards the demon snatching forcibly his prey from His hands. “Draw,” expresses the resistance of the devil and the superior power of the grace of Christ, forcibly wresting men from the tyrannical grasp and dominion of Satan.

33. The word of this verse are not the words of our Lord; but, of the Evangelist, and should be enclosed in a parenthesis, and interpreted as such

34. The crowd, it would seem, understood our Lord as referring to His own death.

“The law,” includes the entire SS. Scripture in its widest extent. In several passages of Scripture it was said, His power would be eternal, “abideth forever” (Isaias 9:6, 7; Psalm 109:4, 71:5, 88:30–38; Daniel 11:44; 7:14). There is question, in these passages, of Christ’s glorious kingdom. From the interpretation given by their teachers, whom they followed, the crowd understood these passages to refer to an earthly reign, which, they hoped, would exceed in splendour the days of David and Solomon. They could not reconcile this teaching, founded on SS. Scripture, with His death; and they seemed to pay no heed to other passages of Scripture which referred to His death, as the prelude to the inauguration of His glorious reign (Isaias 53.; Daniel 9:26; 11:19).

“And how sayest thou, the Son of Man MUST be lifted up?” This question they put, not quoting the words of our Lord literally, but their sense. Their question, “must be,” etc., was virtually included in the words, “if I be lifted up,” etc. “The Son of Man”—the designation constantly applied by our Lord to Himself—and supposed to refer to the Messiah, who was, according to Scripture, to reign for ever—how can He be lifted up and submit to death? From these questions, it seems they regarded the Messiah (Christ) and the Son of Man as the same person.

“Who is this Son of Man?” Must He not be different from the Messiah or Christ, whose reign is to be eternal, according to Daniel? At one time, the splendid miracles of our Lord would prove what He asserted Himself to be, viz., that He was the promised, long-expected Messiah. Now, His teachings, regarding His own death, would seem opposed to the Scripture teachings regarding His never-ending reign. The Jews would now seem to doubt, if our Lord be the promised Messiah. Possibly, this question was put, out of a feeling of contempt and scorn.

35, 36. Our Lord might have referred them to the texts above quoted, regarding the death of the Messiah, which was to precede His exaltation. But, knowing their passions and prepossessions regarding Him and His reign, which, by blinding their intellects, rendered them incapable of understanding the truth regarding the Messiah, He gives them no direct answer. He only answers them, allegorically and indirectly. He gives them a solemn warning and earnest exhortation, not to shut their eyes against the lights and graces now so plenteously tendered to them. He, at the same time, indirectly conveys, that they had but a short time to enjoy His presence, and that He would soon be taken away from them. “Yet a little while,” for only a short time, “the light is among you.” I, who am “the true Son of justice,” “the true light that enlightens every man that cometh into this world,” shall be among you in person, teaching, instructing, conversing with you. Therefore, “whilst you have the light, walk in the light,” by believing in Me, by consulting Me, who will solve all your doubts, especially in regard to My death and the eternal exaltation and glory, which is to be consequent on it. I shall shortly leave you; and, then, if you neglect the present opportunity, the darkness of error, the night of infidelity and sin, will be sure to overtake and envelop you.

“He that walketh in darkness,” by neglect of proffered grace, entails on himself blindness of intellect, hardness of heart, or obduracy of will—the assured forerunner of final impenitence.

“Knoweth not whither He goeth.” Will never reach the desired goal of salvation, and shall blindly be precipitated into the gulf of eternal perdition.

“And hid Himself from them.” He knew their secret thoughts and murderous designs; and hence, He left them for a short time, “hid Himself,” lest they should prematurely carry out their designs before His hour would have arrived. Likely, He went to Bethany. For, during the three last days of His life, He preached in the Temple, and at night retired to Mount Olivet (Luke 21:37), and thence, to Bethany (Matthew 21:17; Mark 11:11).

37. “And whereas He had done many signs,” performed so many and such stupendous miracles during the course of His public ministry; still, owing to their carnal views, their corrupt passions, their want of appreciation of the heavenly doctrines preached by our Lord, their false pre-conceived notions, regarding the splendour of the Messiah’s reign, not to speak of their fear of the authorities and human respect, the chiefs and the great bulk of the people, “believed not in Him.” On this account, it was He exhorted them above (v. 36), whilst they had time, “to believe in the light.”

38. “That the saying of Isaias,” etc. “That,” expresses the event, not the cause. The consequence was, that the words of Isaias were fulfilled. The prediction took place, because, the event predicted was to happen. The prevision followed the futurition. Foreseeing what would happen, our Lord inspired Isaias to predict it; so that their incredulity would not come on men by surprise, or occasion scandal to any one.

“Lord, who has believed?” etc. How few are there to believe the doctrine communicated by our preaching of the Gospel, the preaching of which they hear from us. Hearing, signifies, the thing heard.

And “the arm of the Lord,” the Power of God, working such miracles through Christ, to how few of the Jews has it been disclosed, so as to ensure their believing in it. “Arm,” is employed by a common figure of speech, to denote strength and power. “The arm of the Lord,” may mean, Christ, who is the Power, the Word, by whom all things are made; by how few is He acknowledged through faith. This had reference, in a special way, to the time of our Redeemer and the Jews of His day.

39. In verse 37, He says, “they did not believe.” Here, it is stronger still, “they could not believe.”

“Therefore, they could not believe, because Isaias said,” etc. “Therefore,” “because.” These two causal particles express, not a cause or final motive; but, a consequence. The unbelief or inability to believe, on the part of men, did not take place, on account of the prediction of the Prophet, or, in order that the words of Isaias would be fulfilled. But, God inspired the Prophet to foretell their unbelief, on account of the prevision he had, or, because He foresaw, that they, of their own free will, and out of obstinacy, would not believe. The events referred to did not take place, on account of the prediction, or, in order to verify the prediction; but, the prediction was made, founded on God’s prescience, because, the events were surely to take place, freely, in time on the part of man. The prescience of these events was posterior in the Divine mind, to the futurition of events which were freely to take place on the part of man, uninfluenced by such prevision.

“They could not believe,” expresses a consequent, but not an antecedent, inability to believe; Isaias having predicted, that they would not believe, this prediction should infallibly be verified: and it was impossible, therefore, that they would believe, consistently with this prophecy, which was founded on the Divine prevision, that by their own free act and obstinacy of will, they would reject the preaching of Christ. Events do not take place, because God foresaw them; but God foresaw them, because they were to take place in time, by the free and voluntary act of man.

In truth, supposing men voluntarily to blind their eyes and harden their hearts against the inspirations of grace; in this state of mind, their conversion is, at least, morally impossible. The grace of God could, however, change them, and under its influence, they could believe; but, in punishment of their perverse resistance, it shall not be given them. God can foresee only what is surely to take place.

40. “He hath blinded their eyes,” etc. The past tense is used, though there is reference to a future event, meaning, “He will blind,” etc., as in Matthew (13:14, 15), on account of the certainty of its taking place. In the Hebrew of Isaias (6:10), the words are in the Imperative form, and are so rendered literally by St. Jerome, “blind the hearts,” etc. But, the Septuagint version, which gives the meaning of the passage, is followed here by the Evangelist. When God is said to inflict blindness of intellect and hardness of heart, He does so negatively, by withholding the graces, indispensable for men, to avoid sin; and positively, in a certain sense, by throwing in their way, obstacles, such as riches, honours, etc.—things good or indifferent, not necessarily inducing to sin, but which, owing to the abuse of them, will as infallibly prove the cause of sin, as if God had given them over to sin. (See Matthew 13:13, 14; Rom. 1:24, Commentary on.)

Commenting on the words of this verse, above referred to, “they could not believe.” St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine understand the words, of moral inability. “They could not believe, because they would not” (St. Chrysostom).

“If asked why ‘they could not believe?’ I answer, without hesitation, because they would not; because God, foreseeing their evil will, announced it beforehand by the Prophet” (St. Augustine).

Others understand it, “they could not believe,” because, they were blinded, and also obstinate, as Isaias predicted.

The words would, then, denote moral inability, or very great necessity; or they are meant conditionally, on their indulging their passions, maliciously and voluntarily blinding themselves. For, though obcæcuti et obdurati, they still had free will and sufficient grace.

41. “These things Isaias said, when he saw His glory,” etc. (Isaias 6:1–6), saw the Lord seated on a throne surrounded by the Seraphim. It is clear, from the entire passage, it is of our Lord Jesus Christ, St. John here speaks, as the supreme Lord of Glory, who was seen by Isaias. For, in verse 37, it is said, “they believed not in Him;” in verse 42, “they believed in Him.” The pronoun, “Him”; in both these verses, manifestly refers to our Blessed Lord. In this intermediate verse, 41, “His glory,” and spoke of Him, must also refer to the same person. Now, in these latter words, the Evangelist speaks of Him, whom Isaias “saw sitting on His throne;” and Isaias tells us, He was the Jehovah or great God. What greater proof, therefore, can we have of our Lord’s Divinity, unless we hold, that the Evangelist misunderstood the Prophet Isaias? We have “HIS GLORY,” the glory of the Messiah, spoken of, by the Evangelist in this passage.

Jehovah whom Isaias saw, was the incommunicable name of God, held in the greatest reverence by the Jews. It was hardly ever uttered by them. Briefly; the Evangelist declares, it was the glory of the Messiah that was seen by Isaias. Now, Isaias asserts, that it was Jehovah he saw. Hence, our Lord is the great Jehovah. What clearer proof of our Lord’s Divinity?

It is disputed whether Isaias did not, at the same time, see the Trinity represented by the appearance presented to him, as Abraham saw three, and adored one. Some hold, he did; and hence the Trisagion, the threefold acclamation, “Holy, Holy, Holy” (Isaias 6:3). Others hold, it was the Second Person he saw.

“His glory,” denotes an appearance of splendour and majesty; some external sign of the Divinity.

“And spoke of Him,” viz., the Messiah, as is clear from the entire context.

While the triple acclamation, “Holy, Holy Holy,” pointed to the Trinity of Persons; the unity or nature is expressed in the words, “I saw the Lord,” etc. (Isaias 6:1). The Evangelist shows that the blindness and incredulity of the Jews, furnished a new argument of our Lord’s Divinity; because, it was predicted, that they would not believe in Him, as God; and here this prediction of Isaias (6:10) was verified to the letter. In the same prediction He was spoken of, as God (Isaias 6:1–3).

42. “However, many of the chief men.” etc. Some members of the Sanhedrim, as well as the common people, convinced by His teaching, His sanctity of life and miracles, “believed in Him,” as the promised Messiah. This the Evangelist says, to remove any erroneous impression that might be conceived from verse 37, where it is said, “they believed not in Him.” The great mass of the people did not. But, some did. We know of Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, etc., as sincere believers.

“But, because of the Pharisees”—the declared enemies of our Lord—“they do not confess Him.” Their faith was weak, dead, merely speculative, not reduced to practice, not enlivened by charity; lest, through the great influence of the Pharisees, they would be cast out of the Synagogue.

43. “They loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.” They preferred the praises and honours derived from pertinaciously adhering to the religion of their fathers, to the glory which God has in store for His faithful confessors, who suffer reproach and persecution for His sake. Great glory would redound to God from their firmness and constancy.

44. The Evangelist does not state when the following words were spoken. Some say, they were spoken in connection with His discourse (verse 30–36), before He hid Himself. Others conjecture, that our Lord may have more than once repeated them. It is however, quite uncertain.

Seeing the incredulity of some and the cowardly fears of others, He publicly states the result of receiving or rejecting Him. In a loud voice, “He cried out,” He publicly states, in the presence of the Pharisees, in order to dissipate the fears of the timid and inspire them with confidence to avow their belief in Him. “He that believeth in Me,” he that believeth in Me not merely as man, as the abject being you suppose Me to be, while I am, at the same time, God; “doth not believe in me,” only, “but in Him,” God the Father, “who sent Me.” In this, He boldly asserts His consubstantiality and identity with God the Father. They should not, therefore, be ashamed to believe in Him; because, by believing in Him, they believe in God. No one should be ashamed of believing in God The Jews even gloried in believing in God.

45. “And He that seeth Me,” by faith, and perceives the dignity of My Divine nature, concealed under the veil of My humanity.

“Seeth Him that sent Me,” because we are one, having identically the same Divine nature. He said the same elsewhere. “I and the Father are one.” (c. 10:30). These words would have no meaning, unless He and the Father had one and the same Divine nature.

46. “A light,” eternal with My Father, without a beginning, the increated, immense source of light, from which all created light in men and angels, sun, moon, and stars, borrow their lustre, compared with which, they are a mere ray.

“I am come into the world,” by assuming human nature, to dissipate the darkness of sin and error in which all mankind, Jew and Gentile, are involved, so “that whosoever believes in Me,” etc., be he Jew or Gentile, whosoever embraces the all-saving doctrines which I preach, should “remain no longer in darkness,” in the darkness of idolatry, vice or error here, or in eternal darkness, hereafter. This is one of the effects, or rather, the chief effect, of My coming.

47. “If any man hear My words,” through the bodily organ of hearing, “and keep them not.” The Greek is, “and believe them not.” The meaning is the same, keep it not, retain it by faith in his mind, by firmly believing and persevering in that belief, and exhibiting obedience to My precepts and the observance of the moral law.

“I do not judge Him” (John 3:17). Although deserving of condemnation; still, I refrain from judging him, at present; because, “I came” into the world, not to condem or judge, but to save, thus insinuating that, at a future day, He shall exercise judgment on such, when He shall come in majesty to judge the world. So, let not the refractory and disobedient fancy they shall transgress God’s law with impunity. “Now is the time of mercy; hereafter, of justice” (St. Augustine).

48. “He that despiseth Me,” etc., and shows this, by “not receiving My words,” whereby I proclaim Myself the light of the world, and the Saviour of mankind. The latter sentence is an illustration or explanation of the former. Such a man will not be allowed to pass unpunished, without a judge to condemn him. “Hath one that judgeth him,” and condemns him, viz., “the word that I have spoken,” with the view of imparting to him the true faith and light of grace, which he obstinately rejects, against which he closes his eyes. “The same shall judge him,” will rise in judgment against him, and proclaim him deserving of hell, by testifying to his guilt “on the last day,” before Him whose words he despises. For, it is our Lord Himself who will judge and condemn men for rejecting His words and teaching.

“In the last day,” are found only in this Gospel, and refer to the general judgment, which is to take place at the end of the world.

49. He assigns a reason why His word would judge and condemn such as would not believe, or more accurately, why He, as judge, would condemn them for despising His words, viz., because His words were not merely His own, uttered by His own private authority, or uttered by Him, as mere man; but, by the command of His Father, whom they despise, by despising Him and rejecting His teaching.

“But, the Father who sent Me, He gave Me commandment what I should say,” etc. In several occasions, He impresses on them, that God is His Father. “Say” and “speak” small things, as well as great things, including actions. All His words and actions were regulated by the will and command of His Father.

50. My word will condemn the disobedient; because, it is the commandment of My Father.

“And I know that His commandment is life everlasting,” the cause of life eternal, the way to it, for such as obey it, “si vis ad vitam ingredi, serva mandata;” the cause also of judgment and condemnation, not of itself; but, on account of their perversity, for such as disobey it; and therefore, it is, I instruct you benevolently, knowing it will turn to your profit and advantage, if you properly receive it. “Momentaneum, quod cruciat; æternum, quod delectat; momentaneum quod delectat; æternum, quod cruciat.” “Even as the Father said unto Me, so do I speak.” Our Lord confines Himself to His Father’s command. He exceeds it not in speaking Hence, all He says is worthy of undoubting belief. To reject His words, is to reject the words of God.

Copyright 1999-2023 Catholic Support Services all rights reserved