He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
There is something very weird and awful in the brief note of time — "it was night." In immediate connection comes this singular burst of triumph — "Therefore." Now that that "spot in their feast of charity" had disappeared, the Master felt at ease; and, like some stream, out of the bed of which a black rock has been taken, His words flow more freely. How intensely real and human the narrative becomes when we see that Christ, too, felt the oppression of an uncongenial presence, and was relieved and glad at its removal! The departure of the traitor evoked these words of triumph in another way. The match was lit that was to be applied to the train. He had gone out on his dark errand, and that brought the Cross within measurable distance of our Lord. What Judas went to do was the beginning of Christ's glorifying.
I. THE SON OF MAN GLORIFIED IN HIS CROSS.
1. There is a double aspect under which our Lord regarded His sufferings. On the one hand we mark the innocent shrinking of His manhood. And yet, side by side with that, there is the reaching out almost with eagerness to bring the Cross nearer. Like the pellucid Rhine and the turbid Moselle, that flow side by side, so the shrinking and the desire were contemporaneous in Christ's mind. Here we have the triumphant anticipation rising to the surface, and conquering for a time the shrinking.
2. Why did Christ think of His Cross as a glorifying? The New Testament generally represents it as the lowest point of His degradation; John's Gospel always represents it as the highest point of His glory. And both are true; just as the zenith of our sky is the nadir for these on the other side of the world. The same fact which in one aspect sounds humiliating, in another is glorious. The Cross glorified Christ because —
(1) It was the revelation of His heart. All His life long He had been trying to tell the world how much He loved it; but in His death it comes in a flood, and pours itself upon the world. For Him to be known was to be glorified. So pure and perfect was He, that revelation of His character and glorification of Himself were one and the same thing. We can fancy a mother in the anticipation of shame, and suffering, and death for the sake of some prodigal child, forgetting all, because all are absorbed in the one thought: "If I bear them, my poor, rebellious child will know at last how much I loved him." So Christ yearns to impart the knowledge of Himself to us because by that knowledge we may be won to His love and service.
(2) It is His throne of saving power. Christ could not have spoken such words as these if He had simply thought of His death as a Plato or a John Howard might have thought of his, as being the close of his activity for the welfare of his fellows. If His death is His glorifying, it must be because in that death something is done which was not completed by the life, however fair; by the words, however wise and tender; by the works of power, however restorative and healing. Here is something more, viz., that His Cross is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. He is glorified therein, not as a Socrates might be glorified by his calm and noble death; but because in that death He wrestled with and overcame our foes, and because, like the Jewish hero, dying, He pulled down the house which our tyrants had built, and overwhelmed them in its ruins.
3. And so there blend, in that last act, the two contradictory ideas of glory and shame; like some sky, all full of dark thunderclouds, and yet between them the brightest blue and the blazing sunshine. In the Cross Death crowns Him the Prince of Life, and His Cross is His throne. "He endured the Cross, despising the shame;" and lo! the shame flashed up into the very brightness of glory, and the ignominy and the suffering became the jewels of His crown.
II. GOD GLORIFIED IN THE SON OF MAN. The mystery deepens as we advance. That God shall be glorified in a man is not strange, but it is strange that the act in which He was glorified was the death of an innocent man, and must imply —
1. That God was in Christ, in some singular and eminent manner. If His whole human life and nature were the brightest manifestation of God, we can understand that the Cross was the highest point of the revelation of the Divine nature, and so was the glorifying of God in Him. But if we take any lower view of the relation between God and Christ, these words are a world too wide for the facts of the case.
2. That these sufferings bore no relation to the deserts of the person who endured them. If Christ, with His pure and perfect character, suffered so, then, if they have any bearing at all on the character of God, they cast a shadow rather than a light upon the Divine government. But if we can say, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself;" that His death was the death of Him whom God had appointed to live and die for us, and to bear our sins then, though deep mysteries come with the thought, still we can see that, in a very unique manner, God is glorified and exalted in His death. For, if the dying Christ be the son of God dying for us, then the Cross glorifies God, because it teaches us that the glory of the Divine character is the Divine love. If there be nothing Diviner in God than His giving of Himself to His creatures, then the Cross towers above all other revelations. And is it not so? Has it not scattered doubts that lay like mountains of ice upon man's heart? Has it not delivered men from the dreams of gods angry, capricious, vengeful, etc.? Has it not taught us that love is God, and God is love?
III. THE SON OF MAN GLORIFIED IN THE FATHER. The mysteries deepen as we advance. "If God be glorified in Him," etc. Do these words sound to you as if they expressed no more than the confidence of a good man, who, when he was dying, believed that he would be accepted of a loving Father, and would be at rest from his sufferings?
1. "In Himself." That is the obvious antithesis to the previous clause, a glorifying which consisted in a manifestation to the external universe, whereas this is a glorifying within the depths of the Divine nature. And the best commentary is: "Father! glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." We get a glimpse into the very centre of the brightness of God; and there, walking in that beneficent furnace, we see "One like unto the Son of Man."
2. This reception into the bosom of the Father is given to the Son of Man. The brother of us all, in His manhood, enters into that same glory, which, from the beginning, the Eternal Word had with God.
3. That glorifying is set forth as commencing immediately — "straightway." At the instant, then, that He said, "It is finished," and all that the Cross could do to glorify God was done, at that instant there began, with God's glorifying of the Son in Himself. It began in that Paradise into which we know that upon that day He entered. It was manifested to the world when He raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory. It reached a still higher point when, ascending up on high, a dominion and a throne and a glory were given to Him. It shaft rise to its highest manifestation before an assembled world, when He shall come in His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations. Conclusion: From that elevation He looks down ready to bless each poor creature here. And if we will but take Him as our Saviour, His all-prevalent prayer, presented within the veil for us, will certainly be fulfilled at last — "Father, I will that they also whom Thou has given Me," etc.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.