Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why go you about to kill me?…
Nathanael had a technical objection (John 1:46); but it was swept away at once by the moral impression produced by Jesus. These Jews had also a technical objection ("when Christ came, no one was to know whence He was"), and this served to neutralize, for them, all the effect of the Saviour's teaching. They were bond-slaves to the letter; and this not the letter of Scripture, but of their own interpretation of Scripture. Let us consider —
I. THE ATTACK UPON CHRIST. Just before His teaching had been assailed; now His person and mission. "He cannot be the Christ, because we know all about Him." Recall circumstance. The speakers are Jerusalem Jews, who are well acquainted with the animus of the rulers towards Him. "How is it, then," they ask, "that He is allowed to speak so fear. lessly? Are the rulers coming round to believe in Him? But when we think of it, that cannot be. They are aware, as we are, that one over whose antecedents no obscurity rests can be no Messiah." All neutralized by a notion I This pains and distresses Jesus, and He "cries out" loudly, with emotion, seeking to rectify the mistake.
II. THE DEFENCE. Jesus admits the truth of what they say, so far as it goes; they have an outward knowledge of Him and His origin. But this is only what appears. There is something beyond of which they are ignorant, and that is the Divine mission. But this mission is a fact. "He that sent Me is real" — i.e. (probably), "really exists." Why, then, do they not recognize the fact? Because they, little as they think it, are ignorant of God. With this ignorance of God, He contrasts His own inward consciousness of God and His relation to Him. "I know Him."
III. RESULT OF THE DEFENCE. The extreme irritation of the Jews at being told that they did not know God, and their indignation at Jesus' assumption of a peculiar relationship to the Father. They consider Him to be at least touching upon the confines of blasphemy, and "seek to take Him"; but they could not, because His hour was not yet come.
IV. FOR PRACTICAL INFERENCES, let us Ñ
1. Recur to the thought that Christ is pained by misconception of His person and work, because He knows how ruinous such misconsceptions are to mankind.
2. That He speaks severely, because it is necessary to do so. In no other way could He hope to obtain for the truth admission into the hearts of His hearers.
(G. Calthrop, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?