Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father…
I. THE CONDUCT OF GOD IS IN GENERAL CONCEALED FROM THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS PEOPLE.
1. It may be the result of necessity. The conduct of God will appear, on the least consideration, too vast and complicated ever to be comprehended by man. Not only is our knowledge limited in reference to nature, but in reference to many sublime truths of revelation. We know not what attainments the mind will make in its disembodied and exalted state, but we seem fully confident that in the present condition there is a limit to its discoveries.
2. It may be the result of design. That He could have stated the reason of chastisement when the rod was inflicted, that He could have made known His design when the suffering was felt, there can be no doubt. But it is intentionally concealed, that the discovery may add to our felicity in a world of greater purity and light and love.
II. THERE IS A PERIOD WHEN THE CONDUCT AND PURPOSES OF GOD WILL BE FULLY AND SATISFACTORILY EXPLAINED.
1. The conduct of God may be partially disclosed in time. Time is necessary for the development of many things. The seed lies in the ground and seems to rot, but if we have patience to wait we shall see the germ, and at a subsequent period a tall and stately tree. Hence, that which once seemed useless and rotten becomes in process of time useful both in blossom and fruit — the one enchanting to the eye, and the other grateful to the palate. Now if it be requisite to wait that we may trace the opening beauties of nature, equally necessary is it to wait that we may trace the conduct of Providence. The singular and diversified history of Joseph may be cited as a proof of these observations. Permit me to observe, before I pass on, that we are not always required to wait so long for the developments of Divine Providence as in a moment of unbelief we are apt to imagine. Disclosures are sometimes speedily made and unexpectedly enjoyed. Peter had merely to wait the utterance of another sentence before he perceived the symbolical character of our Lord's conduct. But though, as an antidote to despondency and a stimulus to hope, the disclosure may be made, we are not warranted to look for it with unwavering certainty.
2. That it will be fully revealed in eternity.
III. THIS CONCEALMENT OF THE CONDUCT OF GOD OUGHT NOT TO LEAD TO ANY DISCOURAGEMENT OR UNBELIEF IN THE MINDS OF HIS PEOPLE. Notice —
1. The equity of the Divine government. In the administrations of His laws, and in the distribution of His favours, God appears in a two-fold character — as a benefactor and a judge. In the former character, favours unmerited and unsought are graciously bestowed, and it is this that endears Him to the Christian, and entitles Him to honour, homage, and praise. As a judge He never fails to do that which is right.
2. The parental character of the Divine discipline.
I. THE PROPOSITION. "What I do thou knowest not now."
1. As to the intent. God's people know the general end of His dealings with them — His own glory and their good; but the particulars they are not able to guess — as Joseph when his brethren sold him into Egypt (Genesis 50:20).
2. As to the extent and effect. We see things sometimes in their beginnings but not in their close; because of —
(1) Their intricacy (Psalm 78:19; Romans 11:13; Isaiah 55:8-9; Job 5:9).
(2) Our understandings, which at best are short-sighted, on account both of the dimness of natural reason and the imperfection of supernatural illumination.
(3) A special Divine dispensation. God makes His ways dark to His servants —
(a) Because they are not capable of or fit to receive a revelation of them (John 16:12; Hebrews 5:12).
(b) That their faith may be thereby strengthened, and their dependence on God encouraged (John 20:19).
(c) That God's sovereignty and liberty may be preserved (Deuteronomy 29:29).
(d) For their discipline — to correct or prevent some miscarriage in them, whether pride, security, or carnal confidence (2 Corinthians 12:7).
II. THE QUALIFICATION. "Thou shall know," etc.
1. The discovery. He will make known —
(1) The justice of His ways, and show that He has done no more than equal (Jeremiah 12:1; Habakkuk 2:13; Ezekiel 18:29).
(2) Their truth, and manifest His faithfulness (Psalm 77:8; Joshua 23:14).
(3) Their efficacy, and so manifest His power (Psalm 78:19).
(4) Their unchangeableness, and so show His constancy (Job 23:13; James 1:17).
(5) Their wisdom, and so justify them to all (Job 12:6; 2 Corinthians 1:25).
(6) Their goodness, and so make known His kindness (Romans 8).
2. The manner of this discovery.
(1) By illumination, so that we may see.
(2) By experience, so that we may feel.
3. The time.
(1) Perhaps in this life. Many Christians have left the world justifying God's proceedings.
(2) Certainly in the life to come. "In Thy light we shall see light."
(T. Horten, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
WEB: Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his time had come that he would depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.