John 7:19
Intellectual men are apt to set too high a value upon the exercise of the intellect. And in this error they are often confirmed by the notions of the ignorant and uninstructed, who look up with wonder to the learned and the mentally acute, and are willing to think such prodigies of knowledge must be assured possessors of all good things. But the fact is, that the highest of all possessions is to be attained, not by the scholarship or the ability which men often overestimate, but by the trusting heart and the obedient and submissive will. Nowhere is this great spiritual lesson more plainly and effectively inculcated than in this passage.

I. THE SOURCE OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE. This was a mystery to many of the Jews, who knew that Jesus was born in a lowly station, and that he had not been trained in the schools of rabbinical learning, and who could not understand how he could teach with such justice, profundity, and beauty. With this difficulty Jesus here deals.

1. The doctrine of Jesus is asserted by himself to be derived. He repudiated the notion that he spake from himself, i.e. from the experience or originality of a merely human mind.

2. The doctrine of Jesus is asserted by himself to be Divine. It was neither his own, nor that of a school of learning, nor was it a mere amplification of the sayings of the ancient legislator and the ancient prophets. Jesus ever claimed to have come from God, and to have acted and spoken with the authority of God. This, however, was his assertion; how were his hearers to verify it?

II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE. There were many who listened to the discourses and conversations of the great Teacher, who were familiar with his language, but who were unacquainted with, and indifferent to, the spiritual meaning and power of which that language was, to sympathetic souls, the vehicle. How can this meaning and power be known?

1. There must be a will in harmony with God's will. Man is not merely an intellectual being; he is emotional and practical. And the will is the man. It is the habitual purposes which determine the man's character. Many persona have insight into truth, and even admiration of truth, whose moral life is nevertheless evil, because they abandon themselves to be the sport of every fleeting passion. The habitual indulgence of passion, pride, and worldliness blinds the spiritual vision, so that the highest good becomes indiscernible. And thus three who are not without natural gifts of intelligence become incapable of judging the highest type of character or of doctrine. On the other hand, the cultivation of a will in harmony with the Divine will is the means of purifying the spiritual vision. When the good is habitually chosen, the true comes to be habitually sought and prized.

2. The will thus in harmony with God's will recognizes the Divine origin of Christ's teaching. Both by reason of his acquaintance with the mind of God, and by his sympathy with the Law and the truth of God, the devout and obedient man is fitted to pronounce upon the origin of the Lord's teaching. "He that is spiritual judgeth all things;" he has "the mind of Christ." Thus it is, as our Lord acknowledged with gratitude, that things hidden from the wise and prudent are often revealed unto babes. His own apostles were a living illustration of this law. And every age furnishes examples of clever men, and even learned men, who have misunderstood and misrepresented Christ's teaching, because they have not been in sympathy with the righteous and holy will of the Eternal; whilst every age furnishes also examples of simple and unlettered men who, because lovers of goodness, have displayed a special discernment of mind in apprehending, and even in teaching, Christian doctrine. In this, as in other respects, it is the childlike nature that enters the kingdom of heaven. - T.







Did not Moses give you the law?
The desire to kill Christ —

I. WAS INCONSISTENT WITH THEIR RELIGIOUS PROFESSION. They professedly believed in Moses, and esteemed him highly. But there was nothing in Moses to sanction their antagonism to Christ.

1. The spirit of their opposition was inconsistent with the moral law of Moses (ver. 19). You seek to kill Me, when your moral master in God's name has said, "Thou shalt not kill." None of you keepeth the law in this respect.

2. The proximate cause of the opposition was inconsistent with the moral law of Moses — the healing of the impotent man at Bethesda on the Sabbath day. This was the "one work" which now fired their indignation. But what did Moses do? What might have been considered more objectionable than this. He circumcised children on the Sabbath day — a work that inflicted physical pain and manual labour. And not only did Moses do it, but Abraham, etc, whose authority is of greater antiquity. Could it be right for them to do, on the Sabbath day, the work of mere ceremony, and wrong for Me to do a work of mercy? The crime and curse of religionists in all ages and lands have been the exalting the ceremonial over the moral — the local, the temporary, and contingent above the universal, eternal, and absolute.

II. IMPLIED A GREAT INACCURACY OF JUDGMENT (ver. 24). Judging from appearance, they concluded —

1. That a mere ordinary peasant had no Divine mission. Perhaps most of them knew His humble birthplace and parentage, and concluded from His lowly appearance that He was a poor man and nothing more. They were too blinded to discover beneath such apparently abject forms a Divine spirit, character, and mission. It has ever been so. Men who judge from appearances have always failed to discern anything great or Divine in those who occupy the humbler walks of life. And yet the men of highest genius, divinest inspirations and aims have been counted the offscouring of all things.

2. That a ritualistic religion was a religion of righteousness. Had there been in connection with the ceremonies of the Temple the healing of the sick on the Sabbath day, they would have esteemed the work as sacred. No ceremony could they allow as of secondary importance. But the ritualistic religion is sometimes immoral. When men observe even the divinest ceremonies as a matter of custom and form, they degrade their spiritual natures and insult omniscience. "God is a Spirit," etc. The religion of righteousness is the religion of love, not of law.

3. That by killing a teacher they would kill his influence. They sought to kill Christ because they knew if His doctrines spread their authority would crumble. Men who have judged from appearances have ever sought to kill unpopular teachers. But facts as well as philosophy show that such judgment is not righteous. The blood of the martyrs has always been the seed of the Church; their doctrines get free force and sweep from their death. It was so with Christ.

III. INVOLVED THEM IN PERPLEXITY (vers. 25-27). There seems much bewilderment here. They thought they knew Him, yet they felt they did not know Him. They wondered, too, how a man whom their rulers desired to kill should speak so boldly without being arrested. Minds under a wrong leading passion are sure to get into confusion. No intellect is clear, and its path straight and sunny, that is not under the control of benevolent dispositions. All the conflicting theories of the world concerning God, spirit, and morals, have their origin in a wrong state of heart. The intellectual confusion of hell grows out of malevolence. What they could not see Christ explains (ver. 28). As they had no love in them, they could not see God; and as they could not see God, they could not understand Him that He came from God and was sent by Him. Observe what Christ asserts —

1. That He knows the Absolute. He is the only Being in the universe that knows Him.

2. That He was a messenger from the Absolute. "He that sent me." This is the great spiritual ministry of the world. What are popes, cardinals, archbishops, to Him? "This is My beloved Son," says God; "hear ye Him." Whoever else you disregard, "hear ye Him."

IV. Their desire to kill Him was DIVINELY RESTRAINED (ver. 30). Why did not their malignant desire work itself out at once? It was wide and strong enough. The answer is, "Because His hour was not yet come." There was an unseen hand that held them back. He who holds the wind in His fist turns the hearts of men as the rivers of water. With God for "everything there is a season." Men may wish to hurry events, and to go before the appointed time, but there is a power that holds them back until the hour comes. The power that governs every wavelet in the ocean controls every passing passion of mankind. Conclusion: Learn —

1. That being hated by society is not always a proof of hate-worthiness. Here is one, "who did no sin," etc., hated with a mortal hate. To be hated by a corrupt society is to have the highest testimony to your goodness. The world loves its own, and hates all moral aliens. It worships the Herods, and stones the Stephens. "Marvel not if the world hate you, it hated Me before it hated you."

2. That being hated by society is no reason for neglecting our mission. Though Christ knew that in the leading men there flamed the fiercest indignation towards Him, yet He enters the Temple on a great public occasion and fearlessly delivers His message. That love for truth, God, and humanity which inspired and ruled Him raised Him above the fear of men, made Him fearless and invincible.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

(vers. 19-24): —

I. A FOURFOLD FACT PREMISED.

1. Moses gave the Jews the law, moral and ceremonial, with its statutes against murder, about the Sabbath and circumcision.

2. Moses incorporated circumcision in his statute-book to prevent the law in this item from being broken as it had been prior to his time.

3. The Jews were accustomed to administer this rite upon the Sabbath.

4. They did so that the law might not be broken, as it would have been if delayed, to save the Sabbath.

II. A SIMPLE ARGUMENT CONDUCTED.

1. The Jews were not wrong in their procedure with regard to circumcision. He taught that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27, 28).

2. Christ, a fortiori, could not have been wrong in His work on the Bethesda cripple. If He suspended the law, so did they. If they had a good reason, He had a better.

3. The leaders of the people were wrong in seeking to kill Christ. This was obvious, since He had proved that He had broken neither the Sabbath nor the law.

III. A NECESSARY LESSON TAUGHT.

1. Not to judge according to appearances. Neither men nor deeds can be safely estimated by their external aspects. As it is the man's interior that constitutes the man (Proverbs 23:7), so the motive enshrined forms the act. Appearances are frequently deceptive; cf. Hannah (1 Samuel 1:15) and Paul (Acts 26:25).

2. To judge according to truth. In every instance there is a judgment of man or deed which corresponds with truth and justice. This is always the characteristic of the Divine (Psalm 67:4; Psalm 96:13; 1 Samuel 16:7; John 5:30; 1 Peter 2:23), and ever should be of human (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:16; Proverbs 31:9; Philippians 4:8) judgments.Learn:

1. Pretenders to the greatest reverence for Divine law are sometimes its most flagrant transgressors.

2. A man may meditate murder in his heart and yet think himself a saint.

3. It is easier to keep the law in the letter than in the spirit, to circumcise the body than circumcise the heart.

4. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

5. Nothing more attests depravity than to hate Christ and Christianity for their practical beneficence.

6. The only physician who can work a cure upon the whole man is Christ.

7. The propriety of setting in judgment on our own judgments.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Pilgrim's Progress.
This parlour is the heart of a man who was never sanctified by the sweet grace of the gospel. The dust is original sin and inward corruption that have defiled the whole man. He that began to sweep at first is the law. Now, whereas thou sawest that as soon as the first began to sweep, the dust did fly about, that the room by him could not be cleansed, but that thou wast almost choked therewith; this is to show thee that the law, instead of cleansing the heart by its working from sin, doth revive, put strength into, and increase in the soul, even as it doth discover and forbid it, for it doth not give power to subdue it.

(Pilgrim's Progress.)

"Thou hast a devil." This he passeth by as a frontless slander, not worth repeating. Sincerity throws off slanders, as Paul did the viper; yet, in a holy scorn, it laughs at them, as the wild ass doth at the horse and his rider.

(J. Trapp.)

I healed a whole man (John 9:34; John 13:10), whereas circumcision inflicts a wound. And that is performed on the Sabbath. Which work is the more sabbatical of the two? Circumcision produces pain, but I have made a man free from pain. This illustrates the question of the relation of the Seventh-day Sabbath to the Lord's day. The law of the former gave way to the rite which took place on the eighth day. That rite was the typical forerunner of baptism, which is the sacrament of spiritual resurrection from the grave of sin into newness of life. Well, therefore, may the Jewish Seventh-day Sabbath give way to the festival of Christ's resurrection, which was on the eighth day, i.e., on the octave of the first.

(Bp. Wordsworth.)

Every whit whole: —

I. THE GREAT WANT OF MAN. To be made "whole." Man is unsound in every part.

1. Corporeally. Some physical organizations are healthier than others; but even the strongest is unsound. The seeds of disease and death are in all. The strongest man is, as compared to the weakest, like an oak to a fragile reed; but ever at the roots of the oak there is a disease that is working its way up.

2. Intellectually. The man who has the strongest mind is subject to some mental infirmity. He lacks elasticity, freedom, clearness of vision, courage, and independency. He cannot see things completely, or hold them with a manly grasp. The strongest intellects are the most conscious of their unsoundness.

3. Socially. Men were made to love their fellow-men and to he loved by them, and thus be harmoniously united in reciprocal affection and services of mutual goodwill and usefulness. But socially man is unsound in every point. The social heart is diseased with greed, envy, jealousy, ambition, and malice. So that the social world is rife with discords, contentions, and wars.

4. Morally. Man has lost at once the true idea of true sympathy with right. His conscience is dim, infirm, torpid, buried in the flesh, carnally sold unto sin. Thus man in every part is unsound. He is lost, not in the sense of being missed, for God knows where he is; nor in the sense of being extinct, for he lives a certain kind of life; not in the sense of being inactive. for he is in constant labour; but in the sense of incapacity to fulfil the object of his being. He is lost, in the sense that the gallant ship is lost when no longer seaworthy; that the grand organ is lost that has no longer the power to pour out music.

II. THE GRAND WORK OF CHRIST. To make "man every whit whole." He makes man whole —

1. Corporeally. It is true that He allows the human body to go down to dust; but that dust He has pledged to reorganize "like unto His glorious body." "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption," etc., etc. How sound will the resurrection body be!

2. Intellectually. Here He begins the healing of the intellect. He clears away from it the moral atmosphere of depravity, and opens its eyes so that it may see things as they are. In the future world it will be "every whit whole," free from prejudice, errors, and all depravity.

3. Socially, by filling them with that spirit of true philanthropy which prompts them not to seek their own things, but to labour for the common good of men as men, irrespective of creeds, countries, races, or religions. This He is doing now, this He will continue to do on this earth until men shall love each other as brethren and nations beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks, and hear of war no more. He will make the world, even here, "every whir" socially whole, and in the Heavenly Jerusalem above the social soundness and order will be perfect.

4. Morally, by bringing him under the control of supreme love for the Supremely Good. Thus: He will take away the heart of "stone" and give it a heart of "flesh." At last He will cause all men to stand before Him without " spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Conclusion: What a Physician is Christ! He cures all manner of diseases. No malady can baffle His skill. The world has never wanted men who have tried to make people sound. It has its corporeal, intellectual, social, and moral doctors; but those who succeed most in their respective departments only prove by their miserable failures that they are miserable empirics. Here is a Physician that makes a " man every whir whole."

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

As burning candles give light until they be consumed, so godly Christians must be occupied in doing good as long as they live.

(Cowdray.)Appelles the painter much lamented if he should escape but one day without drawing some picture outline; so ought a Christian to be sorry if any day should pass without doing some good work or exercise.

(Cowdray.)

Dr. Guthrie once said: "I know a man (Thomas Wright) who, at the close of each day's work, turned his steps to the prison, and with his Bible, or on his knees on the floor, spent the evening hours in its gloomy cells, seeking to instruct the ignorant and redeem the criminal and raise the fallen. The judgment day shall show how many he restored, penitent and pardoned, to the bosom of God; but it is certain that alone and single-handed he rescued and reformed four hundred criminals, restoring them, honest and well-doing men, to the bosom of society."

Judging according to the appearance led the Jews into error —

I. RESPECTING THE LORD HIMSELF.

1. They never got deeper than the surface of His Person. The Christ they were expecting was one pieced up of mere outsides of the reality. What resemblance had that sorrow. stricken prophet of Nazareth to the glare and splendour of the Christ of their imagination? He came poor to look at and poor as He seemed. They had no eyes for the Divinity within.

2. There is the same shutting of the eyes now to the Divinity in His person; the same refusal to receive Him as Lord.(1) By how many is nature regarded as greater than Christ!(2) Many accept the opinion of the world for their idea of Christ.(3) Some habitually exclude from their thoughts the presence of Jesus in providence.(4) Others, staggered at their sinfulness, are blinded to the fact that in Jesus there is cleansing for all their vileness.

3. Some scriptural views which will counteract these errors and lead to a righteous judgment.(1) It ought not to seem strange to a human being that a Divine Saviour should be human also. Man cannot draw near to an abstract God. We need one who has dwelt on earth, who has known our sorrows, and is as near to us as our nature is; and such a one is Jesus.(2) But a merely human Saviour would not meet our need. Only God can save us. This Jesus claims to be, and the Gospels say He was, and prove it on every page.

II. RESPECTING THE WORKS OF THE SAVIOUR.

1. It was one of these that called forth the unrighteous judgment He here rebukes. About six months before He had healed the impotent man (John 5:1-9). According to appearance He had violated the Sabbath, But in the strictest sense that was such a deed as the Sabbath was appointed to suggest and promote. And the misjudging eye followed Him wherever He went, and adjudged the miracles, which were manifestations from heaven, to be a sign from hell.

2. Similar errors are found among us.(1) His work on the cross has been judged according to appearance, and set down as martyrdom and as the last manifestation of that obedience which is a model to us. Neither of these views enter into the inner meaning of the transaction. As for the first, it is not in harmony with the law of Jesus: "When they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another." But our Lord sought death. As for the next, the Bible leaves no room for doubt that there was more in Christ's death than that "Christ died for the ungodly." "We have redemption through His blood," etc. The primal and essential aim of Christ's death was atonement for sin.(2) His work in carrying on His providence. There may be an appearance of evil to God's people, while we know that "no evil shall happen to them." The Lord's dealings with them are transacted beyond the range of the outward eye. Jesus cannot be unkind to them.

III. RESPECTING THEIR OWN SPIRITUAL STATE.

1. They did not suspect their own wickedness, but seemed to themselves to be animated by zeal for God's law. There was much in appearances to foment this delusion. Had we arrived on the scene when these words were spoken, we should have concluded that some grand act of national worship was going forward; and had we heard this reference to Sabbath violation, we might have thought the people no respecters of persons in their zeal for God's law. But underneath all that show of worship was hollow unbelief, and all that zeal for "Remember the Sabbath" was a cloak for their transgression of "Thou shalt not kill."

2. Our circumstances are not dissimilar to theirs. Our Lord's day is a festival as really as that feast; but is ,our heart in Sabbath worship, and while we bow the head, are we bowing the heart? Excellent though Sabbath-keeping and Church-going are, they are apt to deceive us. And so with other religious acts. We may be very scrupulous outwardly, and yet inwardly be far from God.Conclusion:

1. The world is full of people who seem as though they were all journeying in one direction; yet part is travelling to heaven and part to hell. Whatever the outside of our lives may seem to say, we belong to one or the other. Let us ascertain by the test of a righteous judgment to which we belong.

2. We are all hastening to a day when judgment will not be according to appearance.

3. But why appeal to the future? God is passing His righteous judgments on our state and actions now. Let us be judges with God in this matter, and be satisfied with nothing that will not satisfy Him.

(A. Macleod, D. D.)

Here is administered a rebuke to the injustice and peril of making the apparent inconsistencies of Christians the apology for delay in beginning a religious life.

I. THE INJUSTICE OF JUDGING THE MERE APPEARANCE OF OTHERS.

1. One cannot always know the actual facts as to another's inconsistent behaviour.

2. Nor the balances of better behaviour behind it.

3. Nor the unseen spiritual struggle against it.

4. Nor the penitence and prayer which may have followed it.

II. The peril of hiding behind the mere appearance of others.

1. It is itself inconsistent; would men follow Christians who are correct?

2. It is evasive: men only mean to stop appeal.

3. It is illogical: it pays the highest compliment to real religion.

4. It is unreasonable: men know they are independently responsible to God.

5. It is unsafe: it shows men they know the right way of living when they criticize what is inconsistent with it.

(Charles S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. IS NOT A TRUE WAY OF JUDGING. Some of the most delicious fruits are encased in rough and unsightly coverings; and one who had not tasted them before, would be likely to pass them by, and go on to others which seemed to be better. One day a man dressed in plain, coarse clothes walked into a little English village, carrying a bundle tied up in a handkerchief. No one noticed him, or cared for him. After a while the stage-coach drove up; the little way-side mail-bag was thrown off, and all the idlers of the village assembled about the post-office. The contents of the bag were soon assorted, and there was nothing deserving of notice, except a formidable-looking letter, with a large seal, directed to Lord Somebody. The postmaster examined it, and read its superscription aloud. Everybody was on tip-toe of expectation, and for giving the nobleman a grand reception. Meanwhile, the stranger in the homespun dress sat silently watching the proceedings; and, when the public curiosity had worn itself out over the letter, he claimed it as his own. Astonishment, indignation, and a variety of other emotions, took possession of the crowd. But when the postmaster, who had seen the nobleman some- where before, and now recognized him in his plain clothes, handed him the letter, every one began to try and do away with the unfavourable impression which had been made on the stranger by the cool contempt with which he had been treated so long as he had been thought to be only an ordinary traveller. Lord Somebody, taking his bundle in his hand, left the village, giving the advice contained in the text as his parting legacy to its mortified inhabitants.

II. IS NOT A JUST WAY OF JUDGING. Many hundred years age when the Tabernacle of the Lord was at Shiloh, a good woman, named Hannah, went into pray, and to ask for a special blessing which she greatly longed for. It was in her heart that she spake to the Lord, and no loud word was uttered. But He who knoweth all things could hear her. Eli the priest saw her come in, and, judging from outward appearance, he judged unjustly, rashly concluding her to be tipsy. How Eli's heart must have been wrung by the reply (1 Samuel 1:15). People who wear the longest faces, and who talk the most religiously, have not always the most of the love of God in their hearts. As Shakespeare has worded it — "A man may smile, and smile, and be a villain."

III. IS NOT A SAFE WAY OF JUDGING. The ice on the river appears to be as safe as the earth, but how many who venture upon it pay for their temerity! "Oh! how I wish I could ride in a carriage, like that gentleman!" exclaimed a little fellow, one day, as a handsome coach and four dashed rapidly by him, while he trudged along the dusty road. "I am sure that man must be as happy as a king. O that I had been born so lucky!" At no great distance from the spot where the carriage passed him, it suddenly stopped, and the complaining and envious boy arrived just in time to see the happy owner of the carriage descend from it. Alas! little of happiness was to be seen. The rich man was a cripple, and before he could move a step, a pair of crutches had to be brought to him, and, as he cautiously raised himself from the seat, his face was distorted with pain. The little boy was thus taught the lesson of the text.

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

A traveller showed Lavater two portraits — the one a highwayman who had been broken upon the wheel, the other was a portrait of Kant the philosopher. He was desired to distinguish between them. Lavater took up the portrait of the highwayman, and, after attentively considering it for some time, "Here," said he, "we have the true philosopher. Here is penetration in the eye and reflection in the forehead; here is cause, and there is effect; here is combination, there is distinction; synthetic lips and analytic nose." Then, turning to the portrait of the philosopher, he exclaimed, "The calm-thinking villain is so well expressed and so strongly marked in this countenance that it needs no comment." This anecdote Kant used to tell with great glee.

At one of the annual Waterloo banquets the Duke of Wellington after dinner handed round for inspection a very valuable presentation snuff-box set with diamonds. After a time it disappeared, and could nowhere be found. The Duke was much annoyed. The guests (there being no servants in the room at the time) were more so, and they all agreed to turn out their pockets. To this one old officer vehemently objected, and, on their pressing the point, left the room, notwithstanding that the Duke begged that nothing more might be said about the matter. Of course suspicion fell on the old officer; nobody seemed to know much about him or where he lived. The next year the Duke at the annual banquet put his hand in the pocket of his coat, which he had not worn since the last dinner, and there was the missing snuff-box! The Duke was dreadfully distressed, found out the old officer, who was living in a wretched garret, and apologized. "But why," said His Grace, "did you not consent to what the other officers proposed, and thus have saved yourself from the terrible suspicion?" "Because, sir, my pockets were full of broken meat, which I had contrived to put there to save my wife and family, who were at that time literally dying of starvation." The Duke, it is said, sobbed like a child; and it need not be added that the old officer and his family suffered no more from want from that day. Appearances are often deceptive. We don't know all. Therefore "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

Whatever truth there may be in phrenology, or in Lavater's kindred science of physiognomy, we shall do well scrupulously to avoid forming an opinion against a man from his personal appearance. If we so judge we shall often commit the greatest injustice, which may, if we should ever live to be disfigured by sickness or marred by age, be returned into our own bosom to our bitter sorrow. Plato compared Socrates to the gallipots of the Athenian apothecaries, on the outside of which were painted grotesque figures of apes and owls, but they contained within precious balsams. All the beauty of a Cleopatra cannot save her name from being infamous; personal attractions have adorned some of the grossest monsters that ever cursed humanity. Judge then no man or woman after their outward fashion, but with purified eye behold the hidden beauty of the heart and life.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Two knights met in a wood one day, and saw between them a shield fastened to a branch. Neither knew to whom it belonged, or why it was there. "Whose is this white shield? " said one. "White? Why it is black!" replied the other. "Do you take me for blind, or a fool, that you tell me what my own eyes can see is false?" And so words were bandied about until the dispute became so violent that swords were drawn, when a third knight came upon the scene. Looking at the angry men, he said, "You should be brothers in arms. Why do I see these passionate gestures, and hear these fierce words?" Each knight made .baste to explain the imposition which the other had tried to practice upon him. The stranger smiled, and riding to one side of the shield, and then to the other, he said, very quietly, "Do not charge with your weapons just yet. Change places!" They did so, and, behold, the knight who had seen the white side of the shield saw now the black side also; and the knight who had been ready to do battle for the black stood face to face with the white side. Ashamed of their hot haste, they apologized one to the other, and rode out of the greenwood as good friends as ever. The lesson taught in this story is very important. Half the misunderstandings and quarrels which disturb the peace and destroy the happiness of families and neighbourhoods might be prevented, if those who engage in these disputes could see both sides of the question at once. How wise, then, are those people who are careful never to form hasty opinions, and who wait until they have seen or heard both sides, before venturing to determine which is right!

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

Rabbi Joshua, the son of Chananiah, was a very learned and wise man, but he was ugly. His complexion was so dark that he was nicknamed "The Blacksmith," and little children ran away from him. One day, when the Rabbi went to court, the Emperor Trajan's daughter laughed at his ugliness, and said, "Rabbi, I wonder how it is that such great wisdom should be contained in an ugly head." Rabbi Joshua kept his temper, and, instead of replying, asked, "Princess, in what vessels does your august father keep his wine?" "In earthern jars, to be sure," replied she. "Indeed," exclaimed the Rabbi, "why all the common people keep their wine in earthern jars; the Emperor's wine should be kept in handsome vessels." The princess, who thought that Joshua was really in earnest, went off to the chief butler, and ordered him to pour all the Emperor's wine into gold and silver vessels, earthern jars being unworthy of such precious drink. The butler followed these orders; but when the wine came to the royal table it had turned sour. The next time the princess met the Rabbi she expressed her astonishment at his having given her such a strange piece of advice, and mentioned the result. "Then you have learned a simple lesson, princess," was the Rabbi's reply. " Wine is best kept in common vessels: so is wisdom." The next time the princess met the Rabbi she did not laugh at his ugly face.

(W. Baxendale.)

I have heard of one who felt convinced that there must be something in the Roman Catholic religion from the extremely starved and pinched appearance of a certain ecclesiastic. "Look," said he,"how the man is worn to a skeleton by his daily fastings and nightly vigils! How he must mortify his flesh!" Now the probabilities are that the emaciated priest was labouring under some internal disease, which he would have been heartily glad to be rid of, and it was not conquest of appetite, but failure in digestion which had so reduced him; or possibly a troubled conscience, which made him fret himself down to the light weights. Certainly I never met with a text which mentions prominence of bone as an evidence of grace. If so "the living skeleton" should have been exhibited, not merely as a living curiosity, but as the standard of virtue. Some of the biggest rogues have been as mortified in appearance as if they had lived on locusts and wild honey. It is a very vulgar error to suppose that a melancholy countenance is the index of a gracious heart.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

An ingenious device is attributed in the Talmud to King Solomon. The Queen of Sheba, attracted by the reputation of his wisdom, one day presented herself before him, holding in her hands two wreaths, the one of exquisite natural flowers, the other of artificial. The artificial wreath was arranged with so much taste and skill, the delicate form of the flowers so perfectly imitated, and the minutest shades of colour so wonderfully blended, that the wise king, at the distance at which they were held, was unable to determine which was really the work of the Divine Artist. For a moment he seemed baffled; the Jewish court looked on in melancholy astonishment; then his eyes turned towards a window, near which a swarm of bees were hovering. He commanded it to be opened; the bees rushed into the court, and immediately alighted on one of the wreaths; whilst not a single one fixed on the other.

I. THE OBSTINATE BLINDNESS OF THE UNBELIEVING JEWS. They defended their denial of our Lord's Messiahship by two assertions, both of which were wrong (ver. 27).

1. They were wrong in saying that they knew whence He came. They meant that He came from Nazareth; but He was born at Bethlehem, and belonged to the tribe of Judah, and was of the lineage of David. The Jews, with their care- fully-kept family histories, could have found this out. Their ignorance was, therefore, without excuse.

2. They were wrong in saying that "no man was to know whence Christ came." This was in fiat contradiction to Micah 5:2 (see Matthew 2:5; John 7:42), which they found it convenient not to remember (2 Peter 3:5). How common is this habit to-day! "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

II. THE OVER-RULING HAND OF GOD OVER ALL HIS ENEMIES (ver 30).

1. Our Lord's sufferings were undergone voluntarily. He did not go to the cross because He could not help it. Neither Jew nor Gentile could have hurt Him, except power had been given them from above. The passion could not begin until the very hour which God had appointed.

2. Christ's servants should treasure up this doctrine. Nothing can happen to them but by Divine permission (Psalm 31:15).

III. THE MISERABLE END TO WHICH UNBELIEVERS SHALL ONE DAY COME (ver. 34). It is uncertain whether our Lord had in view individual cases of unbelief, or the national remorse at the siege of Jerusalem. There is such a thing as finding out truth too late (Proverbs 1:28; Matthew 25:11). Therefore decide for Christ now.

(Bishop Ryle.)

I. THE COGITATIONS OF THE JERUSALEMITES.

1. Wonder.(1) The fearlessness of Christ (ver. 26) startled them, considering that He was a marked Man (ver. 25). Being themselves destitute of moral courage (ver. 13), they had no idea of such fortitude as innocence and truth could inspire, and that he whom God shields is invulnerable (Isaiah 54:17) until his work is done (Deuteronomy 33:25) and his hour is come (John 9:4; Hebrews 9:27).(2) The timidity of the rulers (ver. 26) puzzled them. They had as little comprehension of the essential cowardice of wickedness (Proverbs 28:1; Job 18:7-21) as of the majesty of goodness.

2. Suspicion. Ruminating on the inaction of the authorities, they began to whisper that something had occurred to change their tactics; that perhaps they had ascertained that Jesus was the Messiah (ver. 26) — a conjecture that was immediately dismissed, little guessing that truth often presents itself in such seemingly involuntary suggestions.

3. Decision. Who Jesus was they could settle in a moment.(1) When Messiah came, no one would be able to tell whence He came, or His parentage (ver 27), though His birthplace would be known (ver. 42).(2) Everybody knew Jesus' birthplace and parentage.(3) Therefore He could not be Messiah, but only "a man," like His fellows. Good logic, it is obvious, is not the same thing as sound Divinity.

II. THE DECLARATIONS OF JESUS.

1. A concession. Their knowledge of His origin was —(1) Ostensibly complete.(2) Essentially erroneous, since they had no acquaintance with His higher nature.

2. A proclamation.(1) Concerning Himself.

(a)His Divine Mission. "I am not Come of Myself." "He sent Me."

(b)His Divine knowledge. "I know Him," the Sender.

(c)His Divine essence. "I am from Him."(2) Concerning them.

(a)Their ignorance of God. "Whom ye know not."

(b)As a consequence, their non-recognition of Him.Lessons:

1. The true humanity of Jesus.

2. To know Christ after the flesh only is to be ignorant of Him in reality.

3. No one knows Christ who recognizes not His Divine origin and mission.

4. A knowledge of the Father necessary to a true acquaintance with the Son (Matthew 11:27).

5. It is not possible for wicked men to do all they wish except God wills.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

I heard two persons on the Wengem Alp talking by the hour of the names of ferns; not a word about their characteristics, uses, or habits, but a medley of crack-jaw titles, nothing more. They evidently felt that they were ventilating their botany, and kept each other in countenance by alternate volleys of nonsense. They were about as sensible as those doctrinalists who for ever talk over the technicalities of religion, but know nothing by experience of its spirit and power. Are we not all too apt to amuse ourselves after the same fashion. He who knows mere Linnaean names, but has never seen a flower, is as reliable in botany as he is in theology who can descant upon supralapsaranism, but has never known the love of Christ in his heart. True religion is more than doctrine; something must be known and felt.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Note the ineffable self-complacency of spiritual ignorance and pride. Although His miracles made Him famous, yet they neither know nor desired to know His real nature.

1. Knowing God's power, they would not have resisted His Son.

2. Knowing God's justice, they would not have rejected His warnings.

3. Knowing God's mercy, they would not have grieved His Spirit.

4. Knowing God's wisdom, they would not have trusted their folly. So far from knowing, they have never carefully inquired into His life and birth. Indeed, they did not know that He was born at Bethlehem. Had they known Him, they would not have felt angry at Sabbath healing.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

When the wise men came, the scribes at Jerusalem averred that the Messiah should be born "in Bethlehem of Judaea," and adduced in proof the words of Micah. But here we find that Micah's words were by no means universally held as conclusive. Some held — and many famous Jewish expositors have since maintained that the Messiah would come suddenly, like a bright and unexpected meteor, as here. The popular opinion, however, agreed with the answer of the scribes above (ver 42). Now it would be erroneous to suppose that the opinion expressed in the text was groundless or fanciful. It rested on all those passages in the Old Testament which refer to our Lord's Divine origin. To us the doctrine of the Divine and human natures in Christ is a cardinal article of faith; and, trained in this belief, we reconcile by its aid many statements of the prophets which externally are at variance with one another. But this twofold aspect must have been a serious difficulty to those who had only the teaching of the prophets, without the New Testament exposition of that teaching; nor can I see anything absurd in the expectation that, like a second Melchisedek, He would appear suddenly, with no human lineage, and no place of earthly birth and education. More correctly, we may regard this idea as only a confused anticipation of the truth that the Messiah was not only David's Son, but also "the Son of God." This very title is more than once given to our Lord (John 1:49; Matthew 16:16; Matthew 26:63). In the latter text, Caiaphas probably put the question contemptuously, as representing what he deemed to be the most extreme form of Messianic doctrine; but there were other and better men who held it devoutly as a truth. But could these noble souls make it harmonize with the equally plain prophetic teaching that the Messiah was to be a Man, a descendant of David, and born at Bethlehem? Many attempts were no doubt made to harmonize this apparent discrepancy. One such we read in 's dialogue with the Jew Trypho. Trypho there affirms " that the Messiah at His birth would remain unknown and unacquainted with His powers until Elias appeared, who would anoint Him and proclaim Him as the Christ." In the Talmud the most conflicting opinions are found respecting the Messiah's advent. In one place it is said that He will first manifest Himself at Rome; in another, that the place will be Babylon; in a third, that He will not appear at all unless the Jews reform their manners. More frequently, however, it asserts that Jerusalem would be the place of His birth. Who could read such passages as Psalm 87:5; Isaiah 2:3; Psalm 50:2, and not draw from them the conclusion that the Messiah would be born on Zion's Holy Hill (2 Esdras 13:6, 35, etc.).

(Dean Payne Smith.)

Then cried Jesus in the Temple
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.)

Then they sought to take Him; but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come.
I. CHRIST'S HOUR WAS DIVINELY PREDESTINATED. This is proved by —

1. The numerous predictions of Scripture.

2. The long suffering of God in the preservation of the human race.

3. The influences which this hour has exerted on the condition of the world.

II. CHRIST'S HOUR WAS ABOVE ALL CONTINGENCY AND HUMAN INTERFERENCES. This fact shows —

1. The universality of Divine providence.

2. The futility of human opposition to the ways of God.

3. The steadfastness of the Divine plan.

III. HIS HOUR DID NOT AFFECT THE MORAL FREEDOM OF HIS CONDUCT.

1. He chose the hour.

2. This choice proves His infinite love for us.

3. The manner in which He submitted to His destiny is a sublime model for us.

(P. L. Davies, A. M.)

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