1 After this, Jesus walked about in Galilee, for he did not want to walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill him. 2 Now it was close to the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. 3 So his brethren said to him: “Leave this place, and go to Judea, so that your disciples also may see your works which you perform. 4 Surely, no one works in secret if he wants to be publicly renowned. If you do these things, reveal yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brethren believed in him. 6 Jesus therefore said to them:
“My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but me, it hates, because I bear witness against it, for its works are evil. 8 You yourselves go up for this feast. I, however, will not go up for this festival, because my time is not yet completed.”
1010 After our Lord considered the spiritual life and its food, he now treats of his instruction or teaching, which, as mentioned above, is necessary for those who are spiritually reborn. First, he shows the origin of his teaching; secondly, its usefulness (c 8 and onwards). As to the first, he does three things. First, he mentions the place where he revealed the origin of his teaching; secondly, the occasion for revealing this (v 11); and thirdly, his actual statement is given (v 16). Three things are done about the first. First, we see Christ invited to go to the place where he revealed the origin of his teaching; secondly, we see our Lord refuse (v 6); and thirdly, how Jesus finally did go (v 9). As to the first, he does two things. First, he gives the reasons why they encouraged Christ to go to Judea; secondly, he adds their exhortation (v 3). They were influenced by three things to encourage Christ to go to Judea: first, by his lingering on [in Galilee] , secondly, by his intention [not to travel in Judea] and thirdly, by the appropriateness of the time.
1011 They were influenced by Christ’s lingering on in Galilee, which showed that he wanted to stay there. Thus he says, After this, after teaching in Capernatim, Jesus walked about in Galilee, i.e., he set out from Capernaum, a city of Galilee, with the intention to journey throughout this region. Our Lord lingered on so often in Galilee to show us that we should pass from vices to virtues: “So you, son of man, prepare your belongings for exile, and go during the day in their sight” (Ez 12:13).
1012 Then they were influenced by Christ’s intention, which he perhaps told them; hence he says, for he did not want to walk in Judea, the reason being, because the Jews sought to kill him. “The Jews tried all the harder to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath rest, but even called God his own Father, making himself equal to God” (above 5:18).
But could not Christ still have gone among the Jews without being killed by them, as he did after (c 8)? Three answers are given to this question. The first is given by Augustine, who says that Christ did this because the time would come when some Christians would hide from those who were persecuting them. And so they would not be criticized for this, our Lord wanted to console us by setting a precedent himself in this matter. He also taught this in word, saying: “If they persecute you in one town, flee to another” (Mt 10:23). Another answer is that Christ was both God and man. By reason of his divinity, he could prevent his being injured by those persecuting him. Yet, he did not want to do this all the time, for while this would have shown his divinity, it might have cast doubt on his humanity. Therefore, he showed his humanity by sometimes fleeing, as man, those who were persecuting him, to silence all those who would say that he was not a true man. And he showed his divinity by sometimes walking among them unharmed, thus refuting all those who say he was only a man. Thus, Chrysostom has another text, which reads: “He could not, even if he wanted to, walk about Judea.” This is expressed in our human way, and is the same as saying: Due to the danger of treachery, a person cannot go anywhere he might wish. The third answer is that it was not yet the time for Christ’s passion. The time would come when Christ would suffer, at the feast of the Passover, when the lamb was sacrificed, so that victim would succeed victim: “Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world for the Father” (below 13:1).
1013 They were also influenced by the suitableness of the time, for it was a time for going to Jerusalem. Now it was close to the Jewish feast of Tabernacles (scenopegia). Scenopegia is a Greek word, composed of scenos, which means “shade,” or “tent,” and phagim, which means “to eat.” As if to say: It was the time in which they used to eat in their tents. For our Lord (Lv 23:41 ) had ordered the children of Israel to stay in their tents for seven days during the seventh month, as a rerninder of the forty years they had lived in tents in the desert. This was the feast the Jews were then celebrating. The Evangelist mentions this in order to show that some time had already passed since the previous teaching about spiritual food. For it was near the Passover when our Lord performed the miracle of the loaves, and this feast of Tabernacles is much later. The Evangelist does not tell us what our Lord did in the intervening five months. We can see from this that although Jesus was always performing miracles, as the last chapter says, the Evangelist was mainly concerned with recording those matters over which the Jews argued and with which they disagreed.
1014 Then (v 3), our Lord is urged on by his brethren. First, we are given their advice; secondly, the reason for it (v 3b); and thirdly, the Evangelist mentions the cause of this reason (v 5).
1015 As to the first, the ones who urge Christ are mentioned; hence he says, So his brethren said to him. These were not brothers of the flesh or of the womb, as the blasphemous opinion of Elvidius would have it. It is, indeed, offensive to the Catholic faith that the most holy virginal womb, which bore him who was God and man, should later bear another mortal man. Thus, they were his brothers or brethren in the sense of relatives, because they were related by blood to the Blessed Virgin Mary. For it is the custom in Scripture to call relatives “brothers,” as in Genesis (13:8): “Let us not quarrel, for we are brothers,” although Lot was the nephew of Abraham. And, as Augustine says, just as in the tomb in which our Lord’s body had been placed no other body was placed either before or after, so the womb of Mary conceived no other mortal person either before or after Christ. Although some of the relatives of the Blessed Virgin were apostles, such as the sons of Zebedee, and James of Alpheus, and some others, we should not think that these were among those who were urging Christ; this was done by other relatives who did not love him.
Secondly, we see their advice when they say: Leave this place, that is, Galilee, and go to Judea, where you will find Jerusalem, a sacred place, well-suited to teachers. “Seer, go, flee to the land of Ridah. There eat your bread and there prophesy” (Am 7:12).
1016 They give their reason when they say: so that your disciples also may see your works which you perform. Here they show, first, that they are hungry for an empty glory; secondly, that they are suspicious; and thirdly, do not believe [in our Lord] .
They show that they are hungry for ail empty glory when they say, so that Your disciples also may see your works which you perform. For they allowed something human to Christ and wanted to share the glory of the human honor that the people would show him. And so, they urged him to perform his works in public: for it is a characteristic of one who is seeking human glory to want publicly known whatever of his own or of his associates can bring glory. “They like to pray at street comers, so people can see them” (Mt 6:5). We read of such people: “For they loved the glory of men, more than the glory of God” (below 12:43).
They reveal that they themselves are suspicious, and first of all remark on Christ’s fear, saying: Surely, no one works in secret. As if to say: You say that you are performing miracles. But you are doing them secretly because of fear; otherwise you would go to Jerusalem and do them before the people. Nevertheless, our Lord says below: “I have said nothing secretly” (below 18:20).
Secondly, they refer to his love of glory, saying: if he wants to be publicly renowned. As if to say: You want glory because of what you are doing, yet you are hiding because you are afraid. Now this attitude is characteristic of those who are evil: to think that other people are experiencing the same emotions as they are. Notice the disrespect with which the prudence of the flesh reproached the Word made flesh. Job says against them: “You reproach him who is not like you, and say what you should not” (Jb 4:3).
They show they do not believe when they say: If you do these things, reveal yourself to the world, doubting whether he did perform miracles. “He who does not believe is unfaithful” (Is 21:2).
1017 The Evangelist tells why they said this when he says, For not even his brethren believed in him. For sometimes blood relatives are very hostile to one of their own, and are jealous of his spiritual goods. They may even despise him. Thus Augustine says: “They could have Christ as a relative, but in that very closeness they refused to believe in him.” “A man’s enemies are in his own house” (Mi 7:6); “He has put my brethren far from me, and my acquaintances, like strangers, have gone from me. My relatives have left me, and those who knew me have forgotten me” (Jb 19:13).
1018 Then (v 6), Christ’s answer is given. First, he mentions that the time was not appropriate for going to Jerusalem; secondly, the reason for this (v 7); and thirdly, we see Christ deciding not to go (v 8).
1019 We should note that all of the following text is explained differently by Augustine and by Chrysostom. Augustine says that the brethren of our Lord were urging him to a human glory. Now there is a time, in the future, when the saints do acquire glory, a glory they obtain by their Sufferings and troubles. “He has tested thein like gold in a furnace, and he accepted them as the victim of a holocaust. At the time of their visitation they will shine” (Wis 3:6). And there is a time, the present, when the worldly acquire their glory. “Let not the flowers of the time pass us by; let us crown ourselves with roses before they wither” (Wis 2:7). Our Lord, therefore, wanted to show hat he was not looking for the glory of this present time, but that he wanted to attain to the height of heavenly glory through his passion and humiliation. “It was necessary for Christ to suffer, and so enter into his glory” (Lk 24:26). So Jesus says to them, i.e., his brethren: My time, i.e., the time of my glory, has not yet come, because my sorrow must be turned into joy: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, which will be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18); but your time, i.e., the time of the glory of this world, is always here.
1020 He gives the reason why these times are different when he says, The world cannot hate you, but me, it hates. The reason why the time for the glory of the worldly is here is that they love the same things the world loves, and they agree with the world. But the time for the glory of the saints, who are looking for a spiritual glory, is not here, because they want what is displeasing to the world, that is, poverty, afflictions, doing without food, and things like that. They even disparage what the world loves; in fact, they despise the world: “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). And so he says, The world cannot hate you. As if to say: Thus, the time of your glory is here, because the world does not hate you, who are in agreement with it; and every animal loves its like. But me, it hates, and so my time is not always here. And the reason it hates me is because I bear witness against it, that is, the world, for its works are evil; that is, I do not hesitate to reprimand those who are worldly, even though I know that they will hate me for it and threaten me with death. “They,” that is, those who love evil, “hate the one who rebukes at the city gate” (Am 5:10); “Do lot rebuke one who mocks, lest he hate you” (Prv 9:8).
1021 But cannot a person of the world be hated by the world, .e., by another person of the world? I answer that, in a particular case, one worldly person can hate another insofar as the latter has what the first wants, or prevents him from obtaining what relates to the glory of this world. But precisely insofar as a person is of the world, the world does not hate him. The saints, however, are universally hated by the world because they are opposed to it. And if anyone of the world does love them, it is not because he is of the world, but because of something spiritual in him.
1022 Our Lord refuses to go when he says, You yourselves go up for this feast. I, however, will not go up for this festival. For just as there are two kinds of glory, so there are two different feasts. Worldly people have temporal feasts, that is, their own enjoyments and banquets and such exterior pleasures. “The Lord called for weeping and mourning ... and look at the rejoicing and gladness” (Is 22:12); “I hate your feasts” (Is 1:14). But the saints have their own spiritual feasts, which consist in the joys of the spirit: “Look upon Zion, the city of your feasts” (Is 33:20). So he says: You yourselves, who are looking for the glory of this world, go up for this feast, i.e., to the feasts of temporal pleasure; I, however, will not go up for this festival, for I will go to the feast of an eternal celebration. I am not going up now because my time, that is, the time of my true glory, which will be a joy that lasts forever, an eternity without fatigue, and a brightness without shadow, is not yet completed.
1023 Chrysostom keeps the same division of the text, but explains it this way. He says that these brethren of our Lord joined with the Jews in plotting the death of Christ. And so they urged Christ to go to the feast, intending to betray him and hand him over to the Jews. That is why he says: My time, that is, the time for my cross and death, has not yet come, to go to Judea and be killed. But your time is always here, because you can associate with them without danger. And this is because they cannot hate you: you who love and envy the same things they do. But me, it hates, because I bear witness against it, for its works are evil. This shows that the Jews hate me, not because I broke the sabbath, but because I denounced them in public. You yourselves go up for this feast, that is, for its beginning (for it lasted seven days, as was said), I, however, will not go up for this festival, that is, with you,and when it first begins: because my time is not yet completed, when I am to suffer, for he was to be crucified at a future Passover. Accordingly, he did not go with them then in order to remain out of sight, and so forth.
9 When he had said this, he remained in Galilee. 10 However, after his brethren had gone up, he himself went up for the feast, not publicly, but as it were in secret. 11 The Jews looked for him at the feast, and they asked: “Where is he?” 12 There was much whispering among the people concerning him, for some were saying that he was a good man, while others said, “On the contrary, he leads people astray.” 13 Nevertheless, no one spoke openly about him for fear of the Jews. 14 Now when the festival was half over, Jesus went into the temple, and he taught. 15 The Jews were amazed, saying, “How did this man get his learning, since he never studied?” 16 Jesus answered and said:
“My doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone wants to do his will, he will know whether this doctrine is from God, or whether I am speaking on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on his own [authority] seeks his own glory. But the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is truthful, and there is no injustice in him. 19 Did not Moses give you the law? And yet none of you obey the law. 20 Why do you want to kill me?”
The crowd replied and said: “You have a demon within you! Who wants to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered and said to them:
“I performed one work, and you are all amazed. 22 Therefore, Moses gave you circumcision, (not that it originated with Moses, but with the patriarchs) and you circumcise on the sabbath day. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath day, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you indignant with me because I healed a whole man on the sabbath? 24 Judge not by the appearances, but with a just judgment.”
1024 After the Evangelist mentioned how our Lord’s relatives urged him to go to Judea, and what Christ replied to them, he then tells us of his journey. First, of his delay in going into Judea; secondly, of the order of the events; and thirdly, the way Christ went up.
1025 He mentions our Lord’s delay in going when he says, When he had said this, in answer to his relatives, he remained in Galilee, and did not go to the feast with them. He did this to keep to his word: “I, however, will not go up for this festival.” As we read in Numbers (23:19): “God is not like man, a liar.”
1026 He gives the order of events when he says, However, after his brethren, that is, his relatives, had gone up, he himself went up for the feast. This seerns to conflict with what he had said before: “I will not go up”, for the Apostle says, “Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you ... was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but only ‘Yes.’” (2 Cor 1:19).
I answer, first, that the festival of Tabernacles lasted for seven days, as was mentioned. Now our Lord first stated, “I, however, will not go up for this festival,” that is, for its beginning. When it says here that he himself went up for the feast, we should understand this to refer to the middle of the feast. This is why we read a little further on: “Now, when the festival was half over” (v 14). So it is clear that Christ was not breaking his word. Secondly, as Augustine says, his relatives wanted him to go to Jerusalem to try for a temporal glory. So he said to them: “I, however, will not go up for this festival,” for the purpose you want me to. But he did go to the festival to teach the people and to tell them about an eternal glory. Thirdly, as Chrysostom says, our: Lord said, “I, however, will not go up for this festival,” to suffer and die, as they wished; but he did go, not in order to suffer, but to teach others.
1027 The way he went was not publicly, but as it were in secret. There are three reasons for this. The first, given by Chrys ostom, is so that he would not call more attention to his divinity, and so perhaps make his incarnation less certain, as was said above; and so that those who are virtuous would not be ashamed to hid from those who are persecuting them when they cannot openly restrain them. Thus he says, in secret, to show that this was done according to plan: “Truly, you are a hidden God” (Is 45:15). Augustine gives us another reason: to teach us that Christ was hidden in the figures of the Old Testament: “I will wait for the Lord, who has hidden his fact (i.e., clear knowledge) from the house of Jacob” (Is 8:17); so, “Even to this day ... a veil is over their hearts” (2 Cor 3:15). Thus everything that was said to this ancient people was a shadow of the good things to come, as we see from Hebrews (10:1). So our Lord went up in secret to show that even this feast was a figure. Scenopegia, as we saw, was the feast of Tabernacles; and the one who celebrates this feast is the one who understands that he is a pilgrim in this world. Another reason why our Lord went up in secret was to teach us that we should conceal the good things we do, not looking for human approval or desiring the applause of the crowd: “Take care not to perform your good actions in the sight of men, in order to be seen by them” (Mt 6:1).
1028 Then (v 11), he mentions the opportunity Christ had to show the origin of his spiritual teaching. He mentions two such opportunities: one was due to the disagreement among the people; the other to their amazement (v 15). The people disagreed in what they thought of Christ. He does three things concerning this. First, he shows what they had in common; secondly, how they differed (v 12); and thirdly, whose opinion prevailed (v 13).
1029 What they had in common was that they looked for him at the feast, and they asked: Where is he? It is obvious that they did not even want to mention his name because of their hatred and hostility: “They hated him and could not speak civilly to him” (Gn 37:4).
1030 They differed, however, because some looked for him because they wished to learn: “Seek him, and your soul will live” (Ps 68:33); others were looking for him in order to harm him: as in the Psalm (39:15): “They seek my soul to carry it away.” And so There was much whispering among the people concerning him, because of their disagreements. And although “whispering” (murmur) is neuter in gender, Jerome makes it masculine (murmur multus) because he was following the custom of the older grammarians, or else to show that divine Scripture is not subject to the rules of Priscian.
There was disagreement: for some of the people, that is, those who were right in heart, were saying, of Christ, that he was a good man. “How good God is to Israel, to those whose heart is right” (Ps 72:1); “The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lam 3:25). While others, that is, those who were badly disposed, said: On the contrary, i.e., he is not a good man. We can see from this that it was the people who thought that he was a good person, while he was considered evil by the chief priests; so they say, he leads people astray: “We found this man leading our people astray” (Lk 23:2); “We have remembered that that seducer said ...” (Mt 27:63).
1031 Here we should note that to seduce is to lead away. Now a person can be led away either from what is true or from what is false. And in either way a person can be called a seducer: either because he leads one away from the truth, and in this sense it does not apply to Christ, because he is the truth (below c 8); or because he leads one away from what is false, and in this sense Clirist is called a seducer: “You seduced me, O Lord, and I was seduced. You were stronger than I, and you have won” (Jer 20:7). Would that all of us were called and were seducers in this sense, as Augustine says. But we call a person a seducer primarily because he leads others away from the truth and deceives them: because a person is said to be led away if he is drawn from the common way. But the common way is the way of truth; heresies, on the other hind, and the way of the wicked, are detours.
1032 It was the opinion of the evil, that is, of the chief priests, that finally won out. Thus he continues, Nevertheless, no one spoke openly about him. This was because the people were held back by their fear of the chief priests, for as stated below (9:22): “If any one should profess him to be the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.” This reveals the wickedness with which the leaders plotted against Christ; and it shows that those who were subject to them, i.e., the people, were not free to say what they thought.
1033 Next (v 15), we see the second opportunity Christ had to present his teaching, that is, the amazement of the people. First, we see the object of their amazement; secondly, their amazement itself, and thirdly, the reason why they were amazed.
1034 The object of their amazement is the doctrine or teaching of Christ. Both the time and the place of this teaching are given. The time is mentioned when he says, Now when the festival was half over, that is, when as many days were left of the feast as had passed. Thus, since the feast lasted some seven days, this took place on the fourth day. As we said, when Christ hid himself, it was a sign of his humanity, and an example of virtue for us. But when he did come before them, and they could not suppress him, this showed his divinity. Further, our Lord went when the feast was half over, because at the beginning everyone would be occupied with matters relating to the feast: the good, with the worship of God, and others with trivialities and financial profit; but when it was half over, and such matters had been settled, the people would be better prepared to receive his teaching. Thus our Lord did not go to the first several days of the feast so that he would find them more attentive and better prepared for his teaching. Similarly, Christ’s going to the feast at this time paralled the arrangement of his teaching: for Christ came to teach us about the kingdom of God, not at the beginning of the world, nor at its ending, but during the intervening time. “You will make it known in the intervening years” (Hb 3:2).
The place where our Lord taught is mentioned when he says, into the temple. He taught there for two reasons. First, to show that he was teaching the truth, which they could not depricate, and which was necessary for all: “I have said nothing secretly” (below 18:20). Secondly, because the temple, since it was a sacred place, was appropriate for the very holy teaching of Christ: “Come! Let us go up the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob. And he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his steps,” as we read in Isaiah (2:3).
The Evangelist does not mention what Christ taught, for, as was said, the Evangelists do not report everything our Lord did and said, but those which excited the people or produced some controversy. And so here he mentions the excitement his teaching produced in the people: that is, that those who had said before, “He leads people astray,” were now amazed at his teaching.
1035 He mentions this amazement when he says, The Jews were amazed. And this is not surprising, for “Your testimony is wonderful” (Ps 118:129). For the words of Christ are the words of divine wisdom.
He adds the reason why they were amazed when he says, How did this man get his learning, since he never studied? For they knew that Jesus was the son of a poor woman and he was considered the son of a carpenter; as such, he would be working for a living and devoting his time, not to study, but to physical work, according to “I am poor, and have labored since my youth” (Ps 87:16). And so when they hear him teach and debate, they are amazed, and say, How did this man get his learning, since he never studied? Much the same is said in Matthew (13:54): “Where did he acquire this widsom, and these great works? Isn’t he the son of the carpenter?”
1036 Having been told of the place and opportunity which Christ had to reveal the origin of his spiritual teaching, we now see the origin of this teaching. First, he shows them that God is the source of this spiritual teaching; secondly, he invites them to accept it (v 37). As to the first, he does two things. First, he shows the origin of this teaching; secondly, the origin of the one teaching it (v 25). He does two things about the first. First, he shows the origin of this teaching; secondly, he answers an objection (v 19). In regard to the first he does two things. First, he shows the origin of this teaching; secondly, he proves th t it comes from God (v 17).
1037 He says, Jesus answered and said. As if to say: You are wondering where I gained my knowledge; but I say, My doctrine is not mine. If he had said: “The doctrine that I am presenting to you is not mine,” there would be no problem. But he says: My doctrine is not mine; and this seems to be a contradiction. However, this can he explained, for this statement can be understood is several ways. Our Lord’s doctrine can in some sense be called his own, and in some sense not his own. First, we can understand Christ as the Son of God. Then, since the doctrine of anyone is nothing else than his word, and the Son of God is the Word of God, it follows that the doctrine of the Father is the Son himself. But this same Word belongs to himself through an identity of substance. “What does belong to you, if not you yourself?” However, he does not belong to himself through his origin. As Augustine says: “If you do not belong to yourself (because you are from another), what does?” This seems to be the meaning, expressed in summary fashion, of: My doctrine is not mine. As if to say: I am not of myself’. This refutes the Sabellian heresy, which dared to say that the Son is the Father.
Or, we could understand it as meaning that My doctrine, which I proclaim with created words, is not mine, but his who sent me, i.e., it is the Father’s; that is, my doctrine is not mine as from myself, but it is from the Father: because the Son has even his knowledge from the Father through an eternal generation. “All things have been given to me by my Father” (Mt 11:27).
Secondly, we can understand Christ as the Son of Man. Then he is saying: My doctrine, which I have in my created soul, and which my lips proclaim, is not mine, i.e, it is not mine as from myself, but from God: because every truth, by whomever spoken, is from the Holy Spirit.
Thus, as Augustine says in The Trinity (Bk 1), our Lord called this doctrine his own from one point of view, and not his own from another point of view. According to his form of God, it was his own; but according to his form of a servant, it was not his own. This is an example for us, that we should realize that all our knowledge is from God, and thank him for it: “What do you have which you have not been given? And if you have been given it, why do you glory as if you have not been given it?” (1 Cor 4:7).
1038 Then (v 17), he proves that his doctrine is from God. And he does this in two ways: first, from the judgment of those who correctly understand such matters; and secondly, from his own intention (v 18).
1039 With respect to the first, we should note that when there is a question whether someone is performing well in some art, this is decided by one who has experience in that art; just as the question whether someone is speaking French well should be decided by one who is well versed in the French language. With this in mind, our Lord is saying: The question whether my doctrine is from God must be decided by one who has experience in divine matters, for such a person can judge correctly about these things. “The sensual man does not perceive those things that pertain to the Spirit of God. The spiritual man judges all things” (1 Cor 2:14). Accordingly, he is saying: Because you are alienated from God, you do not know whether a doctrine is from God. If anyone wants to do his. will, that is, the will of God, he can know whether this doctrine is from God, or whether I am speaking on my own (a meipso). Indeed, one who is speaking what is false is speaking on his own, because “When he lies, he speaks on his own,” as we read below (8:44).
Chrysostom explains this text in another way. The will of God is our peace, our love, and our humility; thus Matthew (5:9) says: “Happy are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God. But the love of controversy often distorts a person’s mind to such an extent that he thinks that what is really true is false. Thus, when we abandon the spirit of controversy, we possess more surely the certitude of truth. “Answer, I entreat you, without contention, and judge, speaking what is just” (Jb 6:29). So our Lord is saying: If anyone wishes to judge my doctrine correctly, let him do the will of God, i.e., abandon the anger, the envy and the hatred which he has for me without reason. Then, nothing will prevent him from knowing whether this doctrine is from God, or whether I am speaking on my own, i.e., whether I am speaking the words of God.
Augustine explains it this way. It is the will of God that we know his works, just as it is the will of a head of a household that his servants do his works. The work of God is that we believe in him whom he has sent: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent” (above 6:29). Thus he says: If anyone wants to do his will, that is, God’s will, which is to believe in me, he will know whether this doctrine is from God: “If you do not believe, you will not understand,” as that other version of Isaiah (7:9) says.
1040 Then when he says, Whoever speaks on his own seeks his own glory, he proves the same thing from his intention. And he presents two intentions through which we can recognize the two sources of a doctrine. Some are said to speak on their own [a se], and others not on their own. Now whoever strives to speak the truth does not speak on his own. All our knowledge of the truth is from another: either from instruction, as from a teacher; or from revelation, as from God; or by a process of discovery, as from things themselves, for “the invisible things of God are clearly known by the things that have been made” (Rom 1:20). Consequently, in whatever way a person acquires his knowledge, he does not acquire it on his own. That person speaks on his own who takes what he says neither from things themselves, nor from any human teaching, but from his own heart: “They proclaim a vision taken out of their own hearts” (Jer 23:16); “Woe to those foolish prophets who prophesy out of their own hearts” (Ez 13:3). Accordingy, when a person devises a doctrine on his own he does it for the sake of human glory: for, as we see from Chrysostom, a person who wishes to present his own private doctrine does so for no other purpose than to acquire glory. And this is what our Lord says, proving that his doctrine is from God: Whoever speaks on his own, about a certain knowledge of the truth, which is really from another, seeks his own glory. It is for this reason, and because of pride, that various heresies and false opinions have arisen. And this is a characteristic of the antichrist “who opposes and is exalted above all that is called God, or is worshipped” (2 Thes 2:4).
But the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him, as I do—“I do not seek my own glory” (below 8:50)—is truthful, and there is no injustice in him. I am truthful because my doctrine contains the truth; there is no injustice in me because I do not appropriate the glory of another. As Augustine says: “He gave us a magnificent example of humility when, in the form of a man, he sought the glory of the Father, and not his own. O man, you should do the same! When you do something good, you seek your glory; when you do something evil, you insult God.” It is obvious that he was not looking for his own glory, because if he had not been an enemy of the chief priests, he would not have been persecuted by them. So Christ, and everyone who is looking for the glory of God, has knowledge in his intellect, “Master, we know that you are truthful” (Mt 22:16): thus he says, he is truthful. And he has the correct intention in his will: thus he says, and there is no injustice in him. For a person is unjust when he takes for himself what belongs to another; but glory is proper to God alone; therefore, he who seeks glory for himself is unjust.
1041 Then (v 19), he answers an objection. For someone could tell Christ that his doctrine was not from God because he broke the sabbath, according to, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath” (below 9:16). This is what he intends to answer; and he does three things. First, he clears himself, by arguing from the actions of those who are accusing him; secondly, we see their vicious reply (v 20); and thirdly, he vindicates himself with a reasonable explanation (v 21).
1042 He says: Even granting, as you say, that my doctrine is not from God because I do not keep the law, breaking the sabbath, nevertheless, you do not have any reason to accuse me since you do the same thing. Thus he says: Did not Moses give you the law? i.e., did he not give it to your people? And yet none of you obey the law. “You received the law through the angels, and have not kept it” (Acts 7:53). This is why Peter says: “A yoke, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10). Therefore, if you do not keep the law, why do you want to kill me for not keeping it? You are not doing this because of the law, but out of hatred. If you were acting out of devotion for the law, you would keep it yourselves. “Let us lie in wait for the just man, because he is unfavorable to us, and against our works, and he reproaches us for breaking the law” (Wis 2:12); and a little further on we read: “ Let us condemn him to a most shameful death” (Wis 2:20).
Or, it could be explained this way: You do not keep the law that Moses gave you; and this is obvious from the fact that you want to kill me, which is against the law: “You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13). Another explanation, following Augustine, is: You do not keep the law because I myself am included in the law: “If you believed Moses, you would perhaps believe me as well, for it was about me that he wrote” (above 5:46). But you want to kill me.
1043 Then we see the vicious reply of the crowd, when he says, The crowd replied and said: You have a demon within you! As Augustine says, their reply indicates disorder and confusion, rather than any order: for they are saying that the one who casts out devils has one himself (Mt c 12).
1044 Then when he says, I performed one work, and you are all amazed, our Lord, at peace in his own truth, answers them, and justifies himself with a reasonable explanation. First, he recalls the incident that is troubling them; secondly, he shows that this should not bother them (v 22); and thirdly, he shows the way to a judgment that is just (v 24).
1045 Jesus answered them: I performed one work, and you are all amazed. He does not trade one insult for another, nor rebuff it, because “When he was derided, he did not deride in return” (1 Pt 2:23). He rather recalls for them his cure of the paralytic, which was the cause of their amazement. But their amazement was not one of devotion, as in “Your heart will be amazed and expanded” (Is 60:5), but a kind of agitation and disturbance, as in “Those who see it will be afflicted with terrible fear, and will be amazed” (Wis 5:2). So, if you are amazed over one of my works, i.e., if you are disturbed and troubled, what would you do if you saw all of my works? For, as Augustine says, his works were those which they saw in the world: even all the sick are healed by him. “He sent his word, and healed them” (Ps 106:20); “It was neither a herb nor a poultice that healed them, but your word, O Lord, which heals all” (Wis 16:12). Thus, the reason why you are disturbed is that you have seen only one of my works, and not all of them.
1046 Then (v 22), he shows that there is no reason why they should be disturbed. First, he recalls the command given to them by Moses; secondly, he states their customary behavior; and thirdly, he presents an argument based on the first two.
1047 The command of Moses was about circumcision; so he says: Therefore, i.e., to signify my works, Moses gave you circumcision. For circumcision was given as a sign, as we read, “it will be a sign of the covenant between me and you” (Gn 17:11). For it signified Christ. This is the reason why it was always done on the genital organ, because Christ was to descend, in his human nature, from Abraham; and Christ is the one who spiritually circumcises us, i.e., both in mind and body. Or, it was done to the genital organ because it was given in opposition to original sin.
We do not find it explicitly stated that Moses gave circumcision, unless in Exodus (12:44): “Every slave who is bought shall be circumcised.” And although Moses did tell them to circumcise, he was not the one who established this practice, because he was not the first one to receive the command to circumcise; this was Abraham, as we see from Genesis ( 17:10).
1048 Now it was the custom among the Jews to circumcise on the sabbath. And this is what he says: you circumcise on the sabbath day. They did this because Abraham was told that a boy should be circumcised on the eighth day: “He circumcised him on the eighth day, as God had commanded him” (Gn 2 1:4). On the other hand, they were told by Moses not to do any work on the sabbath. But it sometimes happened that the eighth day was a sabbath. And so, in circumcising a boy on that day, they were breaking a command of Moses for a command of the patriarchs.
1049 Our Lord is arguing from those facts when he says: If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath day, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you indignant with me because I healed a whole man on the sabbath?
We should note here that three things make this argument effective: two of these are explicit, and the other implied. First, although the command given to Abraham [about circumcision] was the first to be given, it was not canceled by the command given to Moses concerning observing the sabbath. “I say that the covenant, confirmed by God, is not canceled by the law, which came four hundred and thirty years later” (Gal 3:17). And so Christ is arguing from this: Although when dealing with human laws, the later ones cancel the earlier laws, in the case of divine laws, the earlier ones have greater authority. And so the command given to Moses about observing the sabbath does not cancel the command which was given to Abraham concerning circumcision. Therefore, much less does it interfere with me, who am only doing what was decided by God before the creation of the world, for the salvation of mankind; and this salvation was symbolized by the sabbath.
Another point is that the Jews were commanded not to work on the sabbath; yet they did do things that were related to the salvation of the individual. So Christ is saying: If you people, who were commanded not to work on the sabbath, circumcise on that day (and this concerns the salvation of the individual, and thus it was done to an individual organ) and you do this so that the law of Moses may not be broken (from which it is clear that those things that pertain to salvation should not be omitted on the sabbath), it follows with greater reason that a man should do on that day those things that pertain to the salvation of everyone. Therefore, you should not be indignant with me because I healed a whole man on the sabbath.
The third point is that each command was a symbol: for “all these things happened to them in symbol” (1 Cor 10:11). Thus, if one symbol, i.e., the command to observe the sabbath, does not cancel the other symbol, i.e., the command to circumcise, much less does it cancel the truth. For circumcision sybolized our Lord, as Augustine says.
Finally, he says, a whole man, because, since God’s works are perfect, the man was cured so as to be healthy in body, and he believed so as to be healthy in soul.
1050 Then when he says, Judge not by the appearances, but with a just judgment, he guides them to a fair consideration of himself’, so that they do not judge him according to appearances, but give a judgment which is just. There are two ways in which one is said to judge according to appearances. First, a judge may reach his decision relying on the allegations: “Men see the things that are evident” (1 Kgs 15:7). But this way can lead to error; thus he says, Judge not by the appearances, i.e., by what is immediately evident, but examine the matter diligently: “I diligently investigated the stranger’s cause” (Jb 29:16); “He will not judge by appearances” (Is 1 1:3). In the second way, Judge not by the appearances, i.e., do not show partiality or favoritism in your judgment: for all judges are forbidden to do this. “You will not show favoritism when judging a person who is poor” (Ex 23:6); “You have shown partiality in your judgment” (Mal 2:9). To show partiality in a judgment is not to give a judgment that is just because of love, or deference, or fear, or the status of a person, which things have nothing to do with the case. So he says: Judge not by the appearances, but with a just judgment, as if to say: Just because Moses is more honored among you than I am, you should not base your decision on our reputations, but on the nature of the facts: because the things I am doing are greater than what Moses did.
But it should be noted, according to Augustine, that one who loves all equally does not judge with partiality. For when we honor men differently according to their rank, we must beware of showing partiality.
25 Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem then said: “Is he not the man they want to kill? 26 Look, he is speaking publicly, and they say nothing to him! Could it be that the rulers feally know that he is the Christ? 27 We know where this man comes from; but when the Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So as Jesus was teaching in the temple, he cried out and said:
“You do indeed know me, and you know where I come from. And I have not come of my own accord. But the one who sent me is truthful, whom you do not know. 29 I know him. And if I were to say that I do not know him, I would be like you, a liar. But I do know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
30 They therefore wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Many of the people, however, believed in him, and they said: “When the Christ comes, will he work more wonders than this man has done?” 32 The Pharisees heard the people saying these things about him, so the rulers and Pharisees sent officers to apprehend Jesus.
1051 Having considered the origin of his doctrine, he now tells us about the origin of its teacher. First, Christ shows his source, from which he comes secondly, he shows his end, to which he goes (v 33). He does three things concerning the first. First, we see the doubt of the people about his origin; secondly, we have Christ’s teaching concerning his origin (v 28); and thirdly, we see the effect this teaching had (v 30). He does two things about the first. First, we see the amazement of the people; secondly, their conjecture (v 26). The people were amazed over two things: at the unjust statements of their leaders, and at the public teaching of Christ (v 25).
1052 As we said before, Christ went up to this feast in secret to show the weakness of his human nature; but he publicly taught in the temple, with his enemies being unable to restrain him, to show his divinity. And so, as Augustine remarks, what was thought to be a lack of courage turned out to be strength. Accordingly, Some of the inhabitants of Jersusalem then said, in amazement, for they knew how fiercely their leaders were looking for him, as they lived with them in Jerusalem. Thus Chrysostom says: “The most pitiable of all were they who saw a very clear sign of his divinity and, leaving everything to the judgment of their corrupt leaders, failed to show Christ reverence.” “As the ruler of a city is, so are its inhabitants” (Sir 10:2). Yet they were amazed at the power he had which kept him from being apprehended. So they said: Is he not the man they, i.e., their leaders, want. This agrees with what was said before: “For reasons like this the Jews began to persecute Jesus, because he performed such works on the sabbath” (above 5:16); “Evil has come out of the elders of the people, who ruled them” (Dn 13:5). This also shows that Christ spoke the truth, while what their leaders said was false. For above, when our Lord asked them: “Why do you want to kill me?” they denied it and said: “You have a demon within you! Who wants to kill you?” But here, what their leaders had denied, these others admit when they say, Is he not the man they want to kill? Accordingly, they are amazed, considering the evil intentions of their leaders.
1053 Again, they were amazed that Christ was openly teaching; so they said: Look, he is speaking publicly, i.e., Christ was teaching, an indication of the secure possession of the truth, “I have spoken publicly” (below 18:20), and they say nothing to him, held back by divine power. For it is a characteristic of God’s power that he prevents the hearts of evil men from carrying out their evil plans. “When 1he Lord is pleased with the way a man is living he will make his vneinies be at peace with him” (Ps 16:7); and again, “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he wills” (Prv 21:1).
1054 We see their conjecture when he says, Could it be that the rulers really know that he is the Christ? As if to say: Before, they sought to kill him; but now that they have found him, they do not say anything to him. Still, the leaders had not changed their opinion about Christ: “If they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:8), but were restrained by divine power.
1055 Their objection to this conjecture is then added: We know where this man comes from. As if to argue: The Christ should have a hidden origin; but the origin of this man is known; therefore, he is not the Christ. This shows their folly, for granted that some of their leaders believed Christ, they did not follow their opinion, but offered another, which was false. “This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations” (Ez 5:5). For they knew that Christ took his origin from Mary, but they did not know the way this came about: “Isn’t Joseph his father, and Mary his mother’?” as we read in Matthew ( 13:55).
1056 Why did they say, when the Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from, since it says in Micah (5:2): “Out of you [Bethlehem-Ephrathah] will come a leader, who will rule my people Israel.”? I answer that they took this opinion from Isaiah, who said: “Who will make known his origin?” (53:8). Thus, they knew from the prophets where he was from, according to his human origin; and they also knew from them that they did not know it, according to his divine origin.
1057 Then (v 28), he shows his origin. First, he shows in what sense his origin is known, and in what sense it is not know; in the second place, he shows how we can acquire a knowledge of his origin (v 29). He does two things about the first. First, he shows what they knew about his origin; secondly, what they did not know about it (v 28b).
1058 They did know the origin of Jesus; and so he says of Jesus that he cried out. Now a cry comes from some great emotion. Sometimes it indicates the upheaval of a soul in interior distress; and in this sense it does not apply to Christ: “He will not cry out” (Is 42:2); “The words of the wise are heard in silence” (Ecc 9:17). Sometimes it implies great devotion, as in, “In my trouble I cried to the Lord” (Ps 119:1). And sometimes, along with this, it signifies that what is to be said is important, as in, “The Seraphim cried to each other and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts’ “ (Is 6:3); and in, “Does not wisdom cry out?” (Prv 8:1). This is the way preachers are encouraged to cry out: “Cry out, do not stop!. Raise you voice like a trumpet” (Is 58:1). This is the way Christ cried out here, teaching in the temple.
And he said: You do indeed know me, according to appearances, and you know where I come from, that is, as to my bodily existence: “After this he was seen on earth” (Bar 3:38). For they knew that he was born from Mary in Bethlehem, and brought up in Nazareth; but they did not know about the virgin birth, and that he had been conceived through the Holy Spirit, as Augustine says. With the exception of the virgin birth, they knew everything about Jesus that pertained to his humanity.
1059 They did not know his hidden origin; and so he says: And I have not come of my own accord. First, he gives his origin; and secondly, he shows that it is hidden from them.
His origin is from the Father, from eternity. And so he says: I have not come of my own accord, as if to say: Before I came into the world through my humanity, I existed according to my divinity: “Before Abraham came to be, I am” (below 8:58). For he could not have come unless he already was. And although I have come, I have not come of my own accord [a me ipso], because the Son is not of himself [a se], but from the Father. “I came from the Father and have come into the world” (below 16:28). Indeed, his origin was foretold by the Father, who promised to send him: “I beg you, O Lord, send him whom you are going to send” (Ex 4:13); “I will send them a Savior and a defender, to free them” (Is 19:20). And so he says: the one who sent me is truthful, as if to say: I have not come from another but from him who promised and kept his promise, as he is truthful: “God is truthful” (Rom 3:4). Consequently, he teaches me to speak the truth, because I have been sent by one who is truthful. But they do not know this, because they do not know him who sent me; and so he says: whom you do not know.
1060 But since every man, although born in a bodily condition, is from God, it seems that Christ could say that he is from God; and consequently, that they do know where he comes from. I answer, according to Hilary, that the Son is a (from) God in a different way than others: for he is from God in such a way that he is also God; and so God is his consubstantial principle. But others are a (from) God, but in such a way that they are not ex (from) him. Thus, it is not known where the Son is from because the nature ex (from) which he is, is not known. But where men are from is not unknown: for if something exists ex (from) nothing, where it is from cannot be unknown.
1061 Then when he says, I know him, he teaches us how to know him from whom he is. For if a thing is to be learned, it must be learned from one who knows it. But only the Son knows the Father. And so he says: If you wish to know him who sent me, you must acquire this knowledge from me, because I alone know him. First, he shows that he knows him; secondly, he shows the perfection of his knowledge; and thirdly, the nature of his knowledge.
1062 He shows that he knows him when he says, I know him. Now it is true that “All men see him” Qb 36:25), but they do not we him in the same way, for in this life we see him through the intermediary of creatures: “The invisible things of God are clearly known through the things that have been made” (Rom 1:20). Thus we read: “Now we see in a mirror, in an obscure manner” (1 Cor 13:12). But the angels and the blessed in heaven see him through his essence:—“Their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 18:10): “We shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). The Son of God, on the other hand, sees him in a more excellent way than all, that is, with a comprehensive or all-inclusive vision: “No one has ever seen God,” i.e., in a comprehensive way; “it is the Only Begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, who has made him known” (above 1:18); “No one knows the Father but the Son” (Mt 11:27). It is of this vision that he is speaking of here, when he says: I know him, with a comprehensive knowledge.
1063 He shows the perfection of his knowledge when he says: And if I were to say that I do not know him, I would be like you, a liar. This is mentioned for two reasons. Intellectual creatures do know God, though from a distance and imperfectly, for “All men see him, from a distance” (Jb 36:25). For divine truth transcends all our knowledge: “God is greater than our hearts” (1 Jn 3:20). Therefore, whoever knows God can say without lying: “I do not know him,” because he does not know him to the full extent that he is knowable. But the Son knows God the Father most perfectly, just as he knows himself most perfectly. Thus he cannot say: I do not know him.
Again, because our knowledge of God, especially that which comes through grace, can be lost—“They forgot God, who saved them” (Ps 105:21)—men can say, I do not know him, as long as they are in this present life: because no one knows whether he deserves love or hatred. The Son, on the other hand, has a knowledge of the Father that cannot be lost; so he cannot say: I do not know him.
We should understand, I would be like you, as a reverse likeness. For they would not be lying if they said they did not know God; but they would be if they said that they did know him, since they did not know him. But if Christ said that he did not know him, he would be lying, since he did know him. So the meaning of this statement is this: If I were to say that I do not know him, then since I really do know him, I would be like you, a liar, who say that you know him, although you do not.
1064 Could not Christ have said: I do not know him? It seems he could, since he could have moved his lips and said the words. And so he could have lied. I reply that Christ did say this and still was not lying. We should explain it this way: If he were to say, I do not know him, declaratively, meaning, “I believe in my heart what I profess by my lips,” [then he would have been a liar]. Now to say as the truth what is false comes from two defects: from a defect of knowledge in the intellect; and Christ could not have this since he is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:30); or it could come from a defect of right will in the affections; and this could not be in Christ either since he is the power of God, according to the same text. Thus he could not say the words I do not know him, declaratively. Yet this entire conditional statement is not false, although both its parts are impossible.
1065 The reason for this singular and perfect knowledge of Christ is given when he says: I do know him, because I am from him, and he sent me. Now all knowledge comes about through some likeness, since nothing is known except insofar as there is a likeness of the known in the knower. But whatever proceeds from something has a likeness to that from which it proceeds; and so, all who truly know have a varied knowledge of God according to the different degrees of their procession from him. The rational soul has a knowledge of God insofar as it participates in a likeness to him in a more imperfect way than other intellectual creatures. An angel, because it has a more explicit likeness to God, being a stamp of resemblance, knows God more clearly. But the Son has the most perfect likeness to the Father, since he has the same essence and power as he does; and so he knows him most perfectly, as was said. And so he says: But I do know him, that is, to the extent that he is knowable. And the reason for this is because I am from him, having the same essence with him through consubstantiality. Thus, just as he knows himself perfectly through his essence, so I do know him perfectly through the same essence. And so that we do not understand these words as referring to his being sent into this world, he at once adds, and he sent me. Consequently, the statement, I am from him, refers to his eternal generation, through which he is consubstantial with the Father. But then when he says, and he sent me, he is saying that the Father is the author of the incarnation: “God sent his Son, made from a woman, made under the law” (Gal 4:4). Now just as the Son has a perfect knowledge of the Father because he is from the Father, so because the soul of Christ is united to the Word in a unique way, it has a unique and more excellent knowledge of God than other creatures, although it does not comprehend him. And so Christ can say, according to his human nature: I know him in a more excellent way than other creatures do, but without comprehending him.
1066 Then (v 30), he considers the effect of his teaching. First (in the people; then on the Pharisees (v 32). He does two things with the first. First, he shows the effect of this teaching on those of the people who were ill-willed; secondly, on those who were favorable (v 31). He does three things concerning the first. First, he mentions the evil intention of the people; secondly, that they were hindered in carrying out their plan; and thirdly, he mentions the reason why they were hindered.
1007 he presents their evil intention when he says, They therefore wanted to seize him. Because our Lord said to them, “whom you do not know,” they became angry, feigning that they did know him. And so they formed the evil plan of seizing him, so that they could crucify and kill him: “Go after him, and seize him” (Ps 70:11). Yet there are some who have Christ within themselves, and still seek to seize him in a reverent manner: “I will go up into the palm tree and seize its fruit” (Sg 7:8). And so the Apostle says: “I will go after it to seize it” (Phil 3:12).
1068 He mentions that they were hindered in their plans when he says, but no one laid a hand on him: for their rage was invisibly checked and restrained. This shows that a person has the will to inflict injury from himself, while the power to inflict injury is from God. This is clear from the first chapters of Job, where Satan was unable to torment Job except to the extent that he was permitted to do so by God.
1069 The reason they were hindered was because his hour had not yet come. Here we should note that “There is a time and fitness for everything” (Ecc 8:6). However, the time for anything is determined by its cause. Therefore, because the heavenly bodies are the cause of physical effects, the time for those things that act in a physical way is determined by the heavenly bodies. The soul, on the other hand, since it is not subject to any heavenly body in its intellect and reason (for in this respect it transcends temporal causes) does not have times determined by the heavenly bodies; rather, its times are determined by its cause, that is, God, who decrees what is to be done and at what time: “Why is one day better than another? ... They are differentiated by the knowledge of the Lord” (Si,33:7). Much less, therefore, is Christ’s time determined by these bodies. Accordingly, his hour must be regarded as fixed not by fatal necessity, but by the entire Trinity. For as Augustine says: “You should not believe this about yourself; and how much less should you believe it about he who made you? If your hour is his will, that is, God’s, what is his hour but his own will? Therefore, he was not speaking here of the hour in which he would be forced to die, but rather of the hour in which he thought it fitting to be killed.” “My time has not yet come,” as he said before (above 2:4); “Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world for the Father” (below 13:1).
1070 Then he mentions the effect his teaching had on those who were favorable. First, he shows their faith: Many of the people, however, believed in him. He does not say, “of the leaders,” because the higher their rank, the further away they were from hirn. So there was no room in them for wisdom: “Where there is humility, there is wisdom” (Prv 11:2).But the people, because they were quick to see their own sickness, immediately recognized our Lord’s medicine: “You have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent, and have revealed them to little ones” (Mt 11:2 5). This is why in the beginning, it was the poor and the humble who were converted to Christ: “God chose what is lowly and despised in the world, and things that are not, to destroy those things that are” (1 Cor 1:28).
Secondly, he gives the motive for their faith when he says, When the Christ comes, will he work more wonders than this man has done? For it had been prophesied that when the Christ came, he would work many miracles: “God himself will come, and save us. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will hear” (Is 35:4). And so when they saw the miracles Christ was accomplishing, they were led to believe. Yet their faith was weak, because they were led to believe him not by his teaching, but by his miracles; whereas, since they were already believers, and instructed by the law, they should have been influenced more by his teaching: “Signs were given to unbelievers; while prophecies were given to believers, not to unbelievers” (1 Cor 14:22).
Secondly, their faith was weak because they seemed to be expecting another Christ; thus they say: When the Christ comes, will he work more wonders than this man has done? From this it is obvious that they did not believe in Christ as in God, but as in some just man or prophet. Or, according to Augustine, they were reasoning this way: When the Christ comes, will he work more wonders than this man has done? As if to say: We were promised that the Christ would come. But he will not work more signs than this man is doing. Therefore, either he is the Christ, or there will be several Christs.
1071 Then when he says, The Pharisees heard the people saying these things about him, we see the effect this had on the Pharisees. And as Chrysostom says, Christ said many things, and yet the Pharisees were not aroused against him. But when they saw that the people were accepting him, they were immediately fired up against him; and in their madness they wanted to kill him. This shows that the real reason why they hated him was not that he broke the sabbath; what provoked them the most was the fact that the people were honoring Christ. And this is clear below: “Do you not see that we can do nothing? Look, the entire world has gone after him!” (12:19). Because they were afraid of the danger they did not dare to seize Christ themselves, but they sent their officers, who were used to such things.
33 Jesus then said to them:
“For still a short time I am with you; then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will look for me, and you will not find me; and where I am, you will not be able to come.”
35 The Jews therefore said to one another: “Where is he going that we cannot find him? Is he going to those dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will look for me, and you will not find me’; and ‘where I am, you will not be able to come’?”
1072 After our Lord told the principle of his origin, he then mentions his end, i.e., where he would go by dying. First, the end of Christ’s life is given; secondly, we see that the people are puzzled by what he says (v 35). As to the first he does three things. First, the end of his life is mentioned; secondly, he predicts what they will desire in the future (v 34); and thirdly, he mentions one of their deficiencies (v 34b). He does two things about the first. First, he predicts the delay of his death until later; and secondly, he states where he will go by dying (v 33b). And so, in the first, he shows his power; and in the second, his will to suffer.
1073 Our Lord shows his power by the delaying of his death until later; because, although the Jews wanted to seize him, they could not do this until Christ willed. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself” (below 10:18). And so Jesus said: For still a short time I am with you. As if to say: You want to kill me; but this does not depend on your will, but on my will. And I have decided that For still a short time I am with you; so wait a while. You will do what you want to do. These words of our Lord first of all satisfied those people who honored him, and made them more eager to listen to him because there was only a short time left to receive his teaching, as Chrysostom says. “While you have the light, believe in the light” (below 12:36). Secondly, he satisfied those who were persecuting him. As if to say: Your desire for my death will not be delayed long; so be patient, because it is a short time. For I must accomplish my mission: to preach, to perform miracles, and then to come to my passion. “Go and tell that fox that I will work today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will finish my course” (Lk 13:32).
1074 There are three reasons why Christ wished to preach for only a short time. First, to show his power, by transforming the entire world in such a brief time: “One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Ps 83:11). Secondly, to arouse the desire of his disciples, i.e., to desire him more (him whose physical presence they would have for only a short time): “The days will come when you will desire to see one day of the Son of Man” (Lk 17:22). Thirdly, to accelerate the spiritual progress of his disciples. For since the humanity of Christ is our way to God, as it says below, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (14:6), we should not rest in it as a goal, but through it tend to God. And so that the hearts of his disciples, which were moved by the physical presence of Christ, would not rest in him as man, he quickly took his physical presence from them; thus he said: “It is advantageous for you that I go” (below 16:7); “If we knew Christ according to the flesh (i.e., when he was physically present to us) now we no longer know him in this way” (2 Cor 5:16).
1075 He shows his desire for his passion when he says, I am going to him who sent me, that is, willingly, by my passion: “He was offered because it was his own will” (Is 53:7); “He gave himself for us, an offering to God” (Eph 5:2). 1 am going, I say, to the Father, to him who sent me. And this is appropriate, for everything naturally returns to its principle: “Rivers return to the place from which they come” (Ecc 1:7); “Jesus ... knowing that he came from God, and was going to God” (below 13:3). And again: “I am going to him who sent me” (below 16:5).
1076 When he says, You will look for me, and you will not find me, he is predicting what the Jews will desire in the times to Come. As if to say: You can enjoy my teaching for a short time; but this brief time, which you are now rejecting, you will look for later, and you will not find it: “Search for the Lord while he can be found” (Is 55:6); and “Seek the Lord (at the present time), and your soul will live” (Ps 68:33).
1077 This statement, You will look for me, and you will not find me, can be understood either as a physical search for Christ or as a spiritual search. If we understand it as a physical search, dien, according to Chrysostom, this is the way he was sought by the daughters of Jerusalem, i.e., the women who cried for him, as Luke (23:27) mentions; and no doubt many others were affected at the same time. It is not unreasonable to think that when trouble was near, especially when their city was being captured, the Jews remembered Christ and his miracles and wished that he were there to free them. And in this way, You will look for me, i.e., for me to be physically present, and you will not find me.
If we understand this as a spiritual search for Christ, then we should say, as Augustine does, that although they refused to recognize Christ while he was among them, they later looked for him, after they had seen the people believe and had themselves been stung by the crime of his death; and they said to Peter: “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). In this way, they were looking for Christ (whom they saw die as a result of their crime) when they believed in him who forgave them.
1078 Then when he says, and where I am, you will not be able to come, he points out one of their deficiencies. He does not say, “and where I am going,” which would be more in keeping with the earlier thought, “I am going,” to the Father, “to him who sent me.” He says rather, where I am, to show that he is both God and man. He is man insofar as he is going: “I am going to him who sent me” (below 16:5). But insofar as Christ had always been where he was about to return, he shows that he is God: “No one has gone up to heaven except the One who came down from heaven” (above 3:13). And so, as Augustine says, just as Christ returned in such a way as not to leave us, so he came down to us, when he assumed visible flesh, but in such a way as still to be in heaven according to his invisible greatness.
He does not say, “You will not find,” because some were about to go; but he does say, you will not be able to come, i.e., as long as you keep your present attitude; for no one can obtain the eternal inheritance. unless he is God’s heir. And one becomes an heir of God by faith in Christ: “he gave them power to become the sons of God, to all who believe in his name” (above 1:12). But the Jews did not yet believe in him; and so he says, you will not be able to come. In the Psalm it is asked: “Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord?” And the answer given is: “Those whose hands are innocent and whose hearts are clean” (Ps 23:3). But the hearts of the Jews were not clean, nor were their hands innocent, because they wanted to kill Christ. And so he says: you are not able to ascend the mountain of the Lord.
1079 Then (v 35), we see that this was bewildering to the Jews, who, although they thought of Christ in a worldly way, still did believe to a certain extent. And three things happen here. First, they are bewildered; secondly, they form an opinion, and thirdly, they argue against their own opinion.
1080 They are perplexed when they say to each other: Where is he going that we cannot find him? For, as was said, they understood this in a physical way: “The sensual man does not perceive those things that pertain to the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14).
1081 And so they came to the opinion that Christ was going to go in a physical way, not by dying, to some place where they would not be permitted to go. Thus they say: Is he going to those dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? For the Gentiles were separated from the way of life of the Jews: “separated from Israel’s way of life, strangers to the covenants, without hope in the promise, and without God in this world” (Eph 2:12). And so they said, in a way reproaching him, to those dispersed among the Gentiles, who had settled in many different places: “These are the families of Noe ... and they settled among the nations on the earth after the flood” (Gn 10:32). But the Jewish people were united by place, by their worship of the one God, and by the observance of the law: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem, and he will gather the dispersed of Israel” (Ps 146:2).
They did not say that he would go to the Gentiles to become a Gentile himself, but to bring them back; and so they said, and teach the Gentiles. They probably took this from Isaiah (49:6): “I have given you to be a light to the Gentiles, to be my salvation to the ends of the earth.” However, even though they did not understand what they were saying (just as Caiphas did not understand his own words: “It is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the entire nation does not perish”), what they said was true, and they were predicting the salvation of the Gentiles, as Augustine says, for Christ would go to the Gentiles, not in his own body, but by his feet, i.e., his apostles. For he sent his own members to us to niake us his members. “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold, and I must bring them also ... and there will be one fold and one Shepherd” (below 10:16). And so Isaiah says, speaking for the Gentiles: “He will teach us his ways” (Is 2:3).
1082 Finally, they saw an objection to their own opinion when they said: What does he mean by saying ... ? As if to say: If he had said only, You will look for me, and you will not find me, we could think that he was going to the Gentiles. But he seems to exclude this when he adds, where I am, you will not be able to come, for we can go to the Gentiles.
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival Jesus stood up and cried out, saying:
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures say, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”
39 (He said this concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed in him would receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.) 40 From that moment some of the people, hearing these words of his, said: “Truly, this is the Prophet.” 41 Others said: “This is the Christ.” But others said: “Would the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Christ will come from the seed of David, and from David’s town of Bethlehem?” 43 And so there was dissension among the people because of him. 44 Although some of them wanted to apprehend him, no one laid a hand on him. 45 So the officers returned to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them: “Why have you not brought him?” 46 The officers replied: “Never has any man spoken like this man.” 47 The Pharisees then retorted: “Have you too been seduced? him, or any of the Pharisees? 48 Has any one of the rulers believed in 49 But these people, who do not know the law, they are accursed.” 50 Nicodemus (the same one who came to him at night, and was one of them) said: 51 “Does our law judge a man without first hearing from him and knowing what he has done?” 52 They answered and said to him: “Are you too a Galilean? Look at the Scriptures and see that the Prophet will not come from Galilee.” 53 Then every man returned to his own house.
1083 After our Lord told them about the origin of his doctrine and of the teacher, as well as his end, he now invites them to accept his teaching itself. First, we see Christ’s invitation; secondly, the dissension among the people (v 40). He does three things about the first. First, he tells us the manner of this invitation; secondly, we see the invitation itself (v 37); and thirdly, he explains what it means (v 39). The manner of the invitation is described in three ways: by its time; by the posture of the one inviting; and by his efforts.
1084 As to the time, we see that it was the last and greatest day of the festival. For as we saw before, this feast was celebrated for seven days, and the first and the last day were the more solemn; just as with us, the first day of a feast and its octave are the more solemn. Therefore, what our Lord did here he did not do on the first day, as he had not yet gone to Jerusalem, nor in the intervening days, but on the last day. And he acted then because there are few who celebrate feasts in a spiritual way. Consequently, he did not invite them to his teaching at the beginning of the festival so that the trifles of the following days would not drive it from their hearts; for we read that the word of the Lord is choked by thorns (Lk 8:7). But he did invite them on the last day so that his teaching would be more deeply impressed on their hearts.
1085 As to his posture, Jesus stood up. Here we should note that Christ taught both while sitting and standing. He taught his disciples while sitting (Mt 5:1); while he stood when he taught the people, as he is doing here. It is from this that we get the custom in the Church of standing when preaching to the people, but sitting while preaching to religious and clerics. The reason for this is that since the aim in preaching to the people is to convert them, it takes the form of an exhortation; but when preaching is directed to clergy, already living in the house of God, it takes the form of a reminder.
1086 As to his effort we read that he cried out, in order to show his own assurance: “Raise up your voice with strength ... raise it up, and do not be afraid” (Is 40:9); and so that all would be able to hear him: “Cry out, and do not stop; raise your voice like a trumpet” (Is 58:1); and to stress the importance of what he was about to say: “Listen to me, for I will tell you about great things” (Prv 8:6).
1087 Next (v 37b), we see Christ’s invitation: first, those who are invited; secondly, the fruit of this invitation.
1088 It is the thirsty who are invited. Thus he says: If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink; “Come to the waters, all you who thirst” (Is 55:1). He calls the thirsty because such people want to serve God. For God does not accept a forced service: “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). So we read: “I will sacrifice freely” (Is 53:8). And such people are described in Matthew this way: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for what is right” (Mt 5:6). Now our Lord calls all of these people, not just some; and so he says: It anyone thirsts, as if to say: whoever it is. “Come to me, all you who desire me, and be filled with my fruits” (Sir 24:26); “He desires the salvation of all” (1 Tim 2:4).
Jesus invites them to drink; and so he says, and drink. For this drink is spiritual refreshment in the knowledge of divine wisdom and truth, and in the realization of their desires: “My servants will drink, and you will be thirsty” (Is 65:13), “Come and eat my bread, and drink the wine I have mixed for you” (Prv 9:5), “She [wisdom] will give him the water of saving wisdom to drink” (Sir 15:3).
1089 The fruit of this invitation is that good things overflow upon others; thus he says: Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures say, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. According to Chrysostom, we should read this as follows: Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures say. And then a new sentence begins: Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. For if we say: Whoever believes in me, and follow this with, as the Scriptures say, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water, it does not seem to be correct, for the statement, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water, is not found in any book of the Old Testament. So we should say: Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures say; that is, according to the teaching of the Scriptures. “Search the Scriptures ... they too bear witness to me” (above 5:39). And then there follows: Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. He says here, Whoever believes in me, while before he said, “He who comes to me,” because to believe and to come are the same thing: “Come to him and be enlightened,” as we read in the Psalm (33:6).
But Jerome punctuates this in a different way. He says that after Whoever believes in me, there follows, as the Scriptures say, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. And he says that this phrase was taken from Proverbs (5:15): “Drink the water from your own cistern, and from the streams of you own well. Let your fountains flow far and wide.”
1090 We should note, with Augustine, that rivers come from fountains as their source. Now one who drinks natural water does not have either a fountain or a river within himself, because he takes only a small portion of water. But one who drinks by believing in Christ draws in a fountain of water; and when he draws it in, his conscience, which is the heart of the inner man, begins to live and it itself becomes a fountain. So we read above: “The water that I give will become a fountain within him” (4:14). This fountain which is taken in is the Holy Spirit, of whom we read: “With you is the fountain of life” (Ps 35:10). Therefore, whoever drinks the the gifts of the graces, which are signified by the rivers, in such a way that he alone benefits, will not have living water flowing from his heart. But whoever acts quickly to help others, and to share with them the various gifts of grace he has received from God, will have living water flowing from his heart. This is why Peter says: “According to the grace each has received, let them use it to benefit one another” (1 Pet 4:10).
He says, rivers, to indicate the abundance of the spiritual gifts which were promised to those who believe: “The river of God is full of water” (Ps 64:10) ; and also their force or onrush: “When they rush to Jacob, Israel will blossom and bud, and they will fill the surface of the earth with fruit” (Is 27:6); and again, “The rush of the rivers gives joy to the city of God” (Ps 45:5). Thus, because the Apostle was governed by the impulsive force and fervor of the Holy Spirit, he said: “The love of Christ spurs us on” (2 Cor 5:14); and “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). The separate distribution of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is also indicated, for we read, “to one the gift of healing ... to another the gift of tongues” (1 Cor 12:10). These gifts are “rivers of living water” because they flow directly from their source, which is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
1091 Then (v 39), he explains what he said. First we see the explanation; secondly, the reason behind this explanation (v 39b).
1092 Christ had said: “out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” The Evangelist tells us that we should understand this concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed in him would receive, because the Spirit is the fountain and river of life. He is the fountain of which we read: “With you is the fountain of life; and in your light we will see light” (Ps 35:10). And the Spirit is a river because he proceeds from the Father and the Son: “The angel then showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rv 22:1). “He gave the Spirit,” that is, to those who obey him (Is 42:1).
1093 He gives the reason behind this explanation, saying, for as yet the Spirit had not been given. And he says two things. as yet the Spirit had not been given, and that Jesus had not yet been glorifled.
There are two opinions about the first of these. For Chrysostom says that before the resurrection of Christ the Holy Spirit was not given to the apostles with respect to the gifts of prophecy and miracles. And so this grace, which was given to the prophets, was not to he found on earth until Christ came, and after that it was not given to anyone until the above mentioned time. And if anyone objects that the apostles cast out devils before the resurrection, it should be understood that they were cast out by that power which was from Christ, not by the Spirit; for when he sent them out, we do not read that he gave them the Holy Spirit, but rather that “he gave them power over unclean spirits” (Mt 10:1).
However, this seems to conflict with what our Lord says in the Gospel of’ Luke: “If I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out’?” (Lk 11:19). But it is certain that our Lord cast out devils by the Holy Spirit, as the children did also, that is, the apostles, Therefore, it is clear that they had received the Holy Spirit. And so we must say, with Augustine, that the apostles had the Holy Spirit before the resurrection, even with respect to the gifts of prophecy and miracles. And when we read here that as yet the Spirit had not been given, we should understand this to refer to a more abundant giving, and one with visible signs, as the Spirit was given to them in tongues of fire after the resurrection and ascension.
1094 But since the Holy Spirit sanctifies the Church and is even now received by those who believe, why does no one speak in the languages of all nations as then? My answer is that it is not necessary, as Augustine says. For now the universal Church speaks the languages of all the nations, because the love of charity is given by the Holy Spirit: “The love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5); and this love, making all things common, makes everyone speak to everyone else. As Augustine says: “If you love unity, then you have everything that anyone else has in it (i.e., in the Church). Give up your envy, and what I have is also yours; ill-will divides, the love of charity unites. If you have this love, you will have everything.” But at the beginning, before the Church was spread throughout the world, because it had few members, they had to speak the languages of all so that they could establish the Church among all.
1095 With regard to the second point, we should note that Augustine thinks the statement, Jesus had not yet been glorified, should be understood as the glory of the resurrection. As if to say: Jesus had not yet risen from the dead or ascended into heaven. We read about this below: “Father, glorify me” (17:5). And the reason why Christ willed to be glorified before he gave the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit is given to us so that we might raise our hearts from the love of this world in a spiritual resurrection, and turn completely to God. To those who are afire with the love of the Holy Spirit, Christ promised eternal life, where we will not die, and where we will have no fear. And for this reason he did not wish to give the Holy Spirit until he was glorified, so that he might show in his body the life for which we hope in the resurrection.
1096 For Chrysostom, however, this statement does not refer to the glory of the resurrection, but to the glorification of the passion. When his passion was near, our Lord said: “Now the Son of Man is glorified” (below 13:3 1). So, according to this view, the Holy Spirit was first given after the passion, when our Lord said to his apostles: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (below 20:22). The Holy Spirit was not given before the passion because, since it is a gift, it should not be given to enemies, but to friends. But We were enemies. Thus it was necessary that first the victim be offered on the altar of the cross, and enmity be destroyed in his flesh, so that by this we might be reconciled to God by the death of his Son; and then, having been made friends, we could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1097 The Evangelist, having shown us Christ’s invitation to a spiritual drink, now presents the disagreement of the people. First, the disagreement among the people themselves; secondly, that of their leaders (v 45). He does two things about the first. First, he states what those who disagreed said; secondly, he states the fact that there was a disagreement (v 43).
What the people said varied according to their different opinions about Christ. And he gives three of their opinions: two of these were the opinions of those who were coming for spiritual drink; and the third was held by those who shrank from it.
1098 The first opinion was that Christ was the Prophet. So he says, From that moment, i.e., from the time Christ had spoken on the great day of the feast, hearing these words of his, some of the people said, i.e., those who had now begun to drink that water spiritually, Truly, this is the Prophet. They did not just call him a prophet, but the Prophet, thinking that he was the one about whom Moses foretold: “The Lord your God will raise up a prophet for you from your brothers ... you will listen to him” (Dt 18:15).
1099 Another opinion was of those who said, This is the Christ. These people had drawn closer to that [spiritual] drink, and had slaked the thirst of unbelief to a greater extent. This is what Peter himself professed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).
1100 The third opinion conflicts with the other two. First, those who hold this disagree with those who say that Jesus is the Christ; secondly, they support their opinion with an authority. So he says: But others said, those remaining in the dryness of unbelief, Would the Christ come from Galilee? For they knew that it was not predicted by the prophets that the Christ would come from Galilee. And they said what they did because they thought that Jesus had been born in Nazareth, not knowing that it was really in Bethlehem: for it was well known that he had been brought up in Nazareth, but only a few knew where he was born. Nevertheless, although the Scripture does not say that the Christ would be born in Galilee, it did foretell that he would first start out from there: “The people who walked in darkness saw a great light, and on those who lived in the region of the shadow of death, a light has risen” (Is 9:1). It even foretold that the Christ would come from Nazareth: “A flower will rise up from his roots” (Is 11:1 ), where the Hebrew version reads: “A Nazarene will rise up from his roots.”
1101 They support their objection by the authority of Scripture when they say, Does not Scripture say that the Christ will come from the seed of David, and from David’s town of Bethlehem? We read in Jeremiah (23:5) that Jesus would come from the seed of David: “I will raise up a just branch for David.” And we see that David was “the anointed of God” (2 Sm 23:1). In Micah (5:2) we read that Jesus would come from Bethlehem: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah: from you there will come forth, for me, a ruler of Israel.”
1102 Then (v 43), the disagreement among the people is mentioned; secondly, the attempt of some of them to seize Christ; and thirdly, the failure of their attempt.
1103 And so there was dissension among the people because of him, that is, Christ. For it often happens that when the truth is made known, it causes dissensions and uneasiness in the hearts of the wicked. So Jeremiah says, representing Christ: “Woe is me, my mother! Why did you give birth to me as a man of strife and dissension for all the earth” (Jer 15:10). And our Lord said: “I have not come to send peace, but the sword” (Mt 10:34).
1104 Some of them attempted to seize Christ; so he says, some of them, that is, those who had said, “Would the Christ come from Galilee?” wanted to apprehend him, to kill him out of hatred: “Pursue and seize him” (Ps 70:11); “The enemy said: ‘I will pursue and seize’ “ (Ex 15:9). On the other hand, those who are good and those who believe want to seize Christ to enjoy him: “I will go up into the palm tree and seize its fruit” (Sg 7:8).
1105 But they were frustrated by the power of Christ. So he says: no one laid a hand on him, that is, because Jesus was not willing that they do so, for this depended on his power: “No one takes my soul from me, but I lay it down of myself” (below 10. 18). Accordingly, when Christ did will to suffer, he did not wait for them, but he offered himself to them: “Jesus stepped forward and said to them: ‘Whom are you looking for?” (below 18:4).
1106 Then (v 45), we see the dissension of the leaders of the people: first, their disagreement with their officers; and secondly, the disagreement among themselves (v 50). He does three things about the first: first, he shows the leaders rebuking their officers; secondly, the testimony the officers gave about Christ; and thirdly, we see the leaders reprimanding their own officers.
1107 As to the first, let us note the evil of the leaders, that is, the chief priests and Pharisees, when they say to their officers. Why have you not brought him? For their evil was so great that their own officers could not please them unless they injured Christ: “They cannot sleep unless they have done something evil” (Prv 4:16).
There is a problem here about the literal meaning of the text. For since it was said before that the officers were sent to apprehend Jesus when the festival was half over (v 32), that is, on the fourth day, and here we read that they returned on the seventh day, “On the last and greatest day of the festival” (v 37), it seems that the Evangelist overlooked the days inbetween. There are two answers to this: either the Evangelist anticipated the disagreement among the people, or the officers had returned before, but it is just mentioned now to show the reason why there was dissension among the leaders.
1108 As to the second point, let us realize how good these officers were in giving this praiseworthy testimony about Christ, saying: Never has any man spoken like this man. They deserve our praise for three reasons. First, because of their admiration: for they admired Christ because of his teachings, not his miracles. And this brought them nearer to the truth, and further from the custom of the Jews, who looked for signs, as is said in 1 Corinthians (1:22). Secondly, we should praise them because of the ease with which they were won over: because with just a few words, Christ had captivated them and had drawn their love. Thirdly, because of their confidence: because it was to the Pharisees, who were the enemies of Christ, that they said: Never has any man spoken like this man. And these things are to be expected, for Jesus was not just a man, but the Word of God; and so his words had power to affect people. “Are not my words like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer breaking a rock?” (Jer 23:29). And so Matthew says: “He was teaching them as one who had authority” (Mt 7:29). And his words were sweet to contemplate: “Let your voice sound in my ears, for your voice is sweet” (Sg 2:14); “How sweet are your words to my tongue! “ (Ps 118:103). And his words were useful to keep in mind, because they promised eternal life: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (above 6:69); “I am the Lord, who teaches you things that are useful” (Is 48:17).
1109 As to the third point, see the treachery of the Jews in living to alienate the officers from Christ; The Pharisees then reforted, to the officers, Have you too been seduced? Here they do three things. First, they attack what they consider a mistake of their officers; secondly, they hold up their leaders as an example; and in from him and the third place, they reject the example of the people.
1110 They attack the officers when they say, Have you too been seduced? As if to say: We see that what he said was pleasing to you. As a matter of fact, they had been seduced, but in an admirable way, because the left the evil of unbelief and were brought to the truth of the faith. We read about this: “You seduced me, O Lord, and I was seduced” (Jer 20:7).
1111 Then they appeal to their rulers as an example, to turn the officers further from Christ, saying: Has any one of the rulers believed in him, or any of the Pharisees? There are two reasons why a person should be believed: either because of some authority or because of a religious disposition. And they say that none of these are found with Christ. As if to say: If Christ were worthy to be received, then our rulers, who have authority, would have accepted him; and so would the Pharisees, who have a religious disposition. But none of these believe in him; and so neither should you believe in him. This fulfills the saying: “The stone that the builders (that is, the rulers and the Pharisees) rejected has become the cornerstone (that is, in the hearts of the people). The Lord has done this,” because his goodness is greater than man’s evil (Ps 117:22).
1112 They reject the statements of the people because they are a rebuke to their own evil. So they say: But these people, who do not know the law, they are accursed; therefore, you should not agree with them. This thought was found in Deuteronomy: “Accursed are they who do not live within the law and do not act according to it” (Dt 27:26). But they did not understand this correctly, because even those who do not have a knowledge of the law but act in harmony with it, live more within the law than those who do have a knowledge of the law yot do not keep it. It is said about such people: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mt 15:8); and in James (1:22): “Be a doer of the word, and not just a hearer.”
1113 Next, we see the dissension among the rulers. First, the advice of Nicodemus is given; secondly, the opposition of the rulers; and thirdly, the outcome of the whole affair. The Evangelist does two things about the first: first, he tells us something about Nicodemus; secondly, he gives his advice.
1114 He tells us three things about Nicodemus: the first two show us the attitude of Nicodemus himself; and the second reveals the malice of the rulers. The first concerns the faith of Nicodemus, and he says: Nicodemus, who came to him, i.e., who believed, for to come to Christ is the same as to believe in him. The second shows the imperfection of his faith, because he came at night. For if he had believed perfectly, he would not have been fearful, for as we read below ( 12:42): “Many of the rulers believed in him, but they did not admit it because of the Pharisees, so that they would not be expelled from the synagogue.” And one of these was Nicodemus.
The third thing the Evangelist tells us shows us that the rulers did not speak the truth: for they said that none of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed in Christ. And so the Evangelist says about Nicodemus that he was one of them: as if to say: If Nicomedus, who was one of the rulers, believed in Christ, then the rulers and Pharisees are speaking falsely when they say that none of the rulers believed in him. “Truly, a lie was spoken” (Jer 16:19).
1115 The advice of Nicodemus is given when he says: Does our law judge a man without first hearing from him and knowing what he has done? For according to the civil laws, a judgment was only to be given after a complete investigation. This is why we read: “It is not the custom of the Romans to condemn any man before he has his accusers face him, and can defend himself from the charges” (Acts 25:16). “I diligently investigated the stranger’s cause” (Jb 29:16). And so the law of Moses says: “Do not condemn one who is innocent and just, because I hate the wicked” (Ex 23:7).
Nicodemus said what he did because he believed in Christ and wanted to convert them to Christ; yet because he was afraid, he did not act very candidly. He thought that if they would only listen to Christ, the words of Christ would be so effective that perhaps they would be changed like those whom they sent to Jesus, and who, when they heard Christ, were turned aside from the very act for which they had been sent.
1116 We see the opposition of the rulers to Nicodemus when he says, They answered and said to him. First, they think that he has been seduced; and secondly, that he does not know the law.
As to the first, they say: Are you too a Galilean? that is, one who has been seduced by this Galilean. For they considered Christ a Galilean because he lived in Galilee. And so anyone who followed Christ they derisively called a Galilean. “The girl servant said to Peter: ‘You are a Galilean, are you not” (Mt 26:69), “Do you also want to become his disciples?” (below 9:27).
About his ignorance of the law, they say: Look at the Scriptures and see that the Prophet will not come from Galilee. But since Nicodemus was a teacher of the law, he did not have to look again. It is as if they were saying: Although you are a teacher, you do not know this. Something like this was said before: “You are a teacher in Israel and you do not know these things?” (above 3:10). Now even though the Old Testament does not explicitly say that a prophet will come from Galilee, it does say that the Lord of the prophets would come from there, according to: “A flower (i.e., a Nazarene) will arise from his root ... and the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him,” as we read in Isaiah (11:1).
1117 The outcome of this dissension is seen to be useless. So he says: Then every man returned, leaving the matter unfinished, to his own house, i.e., to what belonged to him, empty of faith and frustrated in his evil desires. “He frustrates the plans of the wicked” (Jb 5:13); “God destroys the plans of rulers, and frustrates the schemes of the people” (Ps 3 2:10).
Or, each returned to his own house, i.e., to the evil of his unbelief and irreverence. “I know where you live: where the throne of Satan is. You hold to my name, and you have not denied my faith” (Rv 2:13).