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50. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
51. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
We have here, in one short sentence, first, the character of him whom Christ acknowledges as his own :-If a man keep my saying :-observes it, cherishes it, lives upon it : as is said of Mary his mother ; she “ kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” And we are told, further, the privilege which belongs to him ;-- he shall never taste of death : its real bitterness shall be unknown to him. For the real bitterness of death arises from the wrath of God : and he is at “ peace with God through Jesus Christ.” He shall indeed see the hour of death, like other men : dust he is, and to dust he must return : but that hour is disarmed of the sting which makes it terrible, and it shall be the commencement of a state where there is “no more death, neither sorrow nor crying."
Those, however, who were now discoursing with the Lord, had none of that spiritual sense by which these truths are understood. It appears by their reply.
52. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets ; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing : it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God :
55. Yet ye have not known him; but I know him; and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you : but I know him, and keep his saying.
56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
The difference was great indeed between the feelings of this generation, and the feelings of their father Abraham, concerning the coming of the Son of man. Abraham rejoiced, exulted, when the promise was made to him, that “ as the stars of heaven, so should his seed be.”! Abraham rejoiced, when he received the assurance, “I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”Abraham rejoiced when the glad tidings were announced to him ; when it was declared by God himself, that "in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed.” 4 He too, like “ many prophets and righteous men,” desired to see the accomplishment of this promise. He too, like they, “inquired and searched diligently what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”5 And this he saw, by the revelation which God granted him. With what clearness or to what
2 Gen. xv. 5.
3 Gen. xvii. 7. 51 Pet. i. 11.
extent he saw it, we cannot distinctly tell ; but he saw that which he was glad to see, that which he rejoiced in, of the mercy of God in the redemption of the world, of the blessing vouchsafed to "all the nations of the earth.” And if, in his present separate state, his soul was allowed to witness the fulfilment of all the promises ; if he saw the day, when" of his seed according to the flesh ” that son was born to whom the promise was made ; if he heard the angels' hymn, announcing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men :" then we may be sure that his joy would be full, and his heart be glad, for his
eyes had seen the salvation ” of God. 6
57. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham ?
58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 7
59. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
By the nature of what he asserted, and by the manner in which it was expressed-Before Abraham was, I am — they perceived that he made
6 Many consider this to be the proper interpretation of the passage : he has seen it, and rejoiced. The tenses of the verbs, éide, and exapn, do not suit this; neither does it agree with the reply of the Jews.
7 Thus using the very expression by which God had declared himself to Moses, (Ex. iii. 14,) I AM that I am: and so purposely showing, that “he and the Father are one."
"himself equal with God :"--and they took up stones to cast at him.
Such would have been the regular punishment of his crime, had he spoken blasphemy. Here it was the illegal expression of popular violence and enmity, excited by a claim of Godhead which they would not stop to examine. He justified it, however, by escaping their sight, and so delivering himself from their vengeance. His time was not yet come : it was not yet "given them from above,” to have any “ power at all against him.” And they never could have any “power at all against him, except it were given them from above." 3 For he was God,” who “ was in the beginning with God.” Before Abraham was, before any thing was, he had been : for he had been from everlasting.
This assurance is inexpressibly valuable to those who believe that he is “indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” It gives a strength and a reality to all their hopes and expectations, that their salvation has been so wrought out : has been the care of Him, who together with the form and nature and sympathy of man, is possessed of the majesty and attributes of God. “To Abraham and his seed were the promises made.” But he who was to fulfil these promises, was already in existence; had existed from eternity: and when he offers eternal life to as many as believe in him, he offers of his own, and imparts that which he has himself possessed from everlasting.
3 John xix. i.
Such is he, by whom“ are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises.” Such is that “ divine power which hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”+ Let our acquaintance with the greatness of the giver, exalt our sense of the value of the gift ; and lead us to take the more earnest heed that we “lay hold on eternal life,” and do not “receive the grace of God in vain.”
SIGHT GIVEN TO ONE WHO HAD BEEN BORN
John ix. 14-12.
1. And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind ?
3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents : but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
* See 2 Pet. i. 3, 4.