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this and other kindred passages, that our Lord's own immediate followers had a very imperfect knowledge of our Lord's Person and work, and of the fulfilment of Scripture which was going on around them. Brought up amidst Jewish notions of a glorious temporal Messiah, they failed to see the full meaning of many of our Lord's doings.
Let us never forget that men may be true Christians, and right hearted, and yet be very ignorant on some points. “Faith," says Zwingle, on this verse, “admits of degrees and increase.” In estimating others, we must make great allowance for early training and associations.
[But when Jesus was glorified.] This must mean, as Theophylact says, our Lord's ascension. After that time, and the day of Pentecost, the minds of the disciples were greatly enlightened. Compare John vii. 39: “The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
[Then remembered...these things...written of him.] The power of memory to see things long after they happen, in a new light, and then to recollect them vividly, is very remarkable. In no case does it appear more curiously than in the rising again in our minds of texts and sermons heard long ago, which at the time apparently left no impression on us. Preachers and teachers may take comfort in this. All is not lost that they say, although their hearers and scholars may seem at the time to pay no attention. Their words in many cases shall have a resurrection. One great cause of this is, that it is part of the Holy Ghost's office “to bring things to remembrance.” (John xiv. 26.)
[And...they...done these things...him.] The disciples found, long after the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, that they had been unconscious actors in a mighty accomplishment of Scripture. This is a thought for us all. We have not the least idea, during the greater part of our lives, how much of God's great purposes on earth are being carried on through us and by us, without our being conscious of it. The full extent to which they are carried on we shall never know till we wake up in another world. We shall then discern with wonder and amazement the full meaning of many a thing in which we were unconscious agents during our lives.
Calvin remarks, “Then, after the ascension, did it occur to the disciples that Christ did not do these things rashly, and that these men were not employed in idle amusement, but that the whole transaction had been regulated by the providence of God.”
Poole observes, that here St. John “confesseth his own ignorance.” He was present, and saw all that was done, but did not
understand it at the time. 17.—[The people therefore... Lazarus...bare record.] I feel no doubt
that this verse describes one part of the multitude which met our Lord, and the following verse describes another part. One part, and of course a small one, consisted of those who had seen the raising of Lazarus. The other, and a much larger one, consisted of those who had only heard the report.
That there must have been a very large number of persons present at the miracle of Bethany, is, I think, indirectly proved by the expression here used, “people that were with Him.”
The word " bare record,” must mean that they testified that a great miracle really had been wrought, and that this same Jesus, now riding on an ass before the eyes of the people, was that very Person who had wrought it. I do not see that we can possibly get more out of the expression, and I cannot suppose that these people testified their belief in Christ's Messiahship.
The double expression, “called out of his grave,” and “raised from the dead,” deserves notice. It is doubtless meant to keep before our minds the mighty simplicity of the means used by our Lord. He spoke, and it was done. He “called” to Lazarus to come forth, and he was “raised” at once.
18.—[For this cause... people met him, etc.] This verse describes the
state of mind of the larger part of the multitude which surrounded our Lord at His entry into Jerusalem. It consisted of those who had heard the report of His raising Lazarus,-a story magnified, no doubt, in the telling. Strong curiosity to see the Person who had done such a miracle, would call forth an immense crowd in any city. But among Jews, familiar with Old Testament miracles, assembled in enormous numbers for the Passover, excited by the rumour of Messiah coming,-among such we may well believe that the report of Jesus coming in from Bethany, would draw together many myriads of spectators to meet Him.
The Greek words, “ for this cause,” here seem to refer forward to the latter part of the verse, and not backward to the preceding verse. Compare John x. 17, where the same form of language is used.
19.—[The Pharisees...said...prevail nothing.] This is the language of men baffled, angry, and at their wits' end from vexation, to see their plans defeated. Instead of finding people willing to lay hands on Jesus as a malefactor, and to deliver Him up into their power, they beheld a large multitude surrounding Him with joyful acclamations, and saluting Him as a King! Of course they could do nothing but sit still and see it. The least attempt to use violence against our Lord would have raised a tumult, and endangered their own lives. So that they were obliged to see their most hated enemy entering Jerusalem in triumph, like Mordecai led by Haman. (Esther vi. 11.)
“Perceive ye,” I believe, should be taken as an imperative, and not as an interrogative indicative. It sounds like the language of men looking on from the city walls or the temple courts, as the huge procession wound slowly through the gates of the city. “Behold this sight! Behold how you do nothing effectual to stop this fellow's course! Your order to denounce Him, and have Him apprehended, is utterly useless and unprofitable.”
Chrysostom and Theophylact think that those who said this had some faith and felt rightly, but had not courage enough to confess Christ. But I cannot agree with them. Calvin and other Reformers think, on the contrary, that it was the language of Christ's enemies.
Bullinger observes that wicked men show their wickedness especially by their dislike of true religion, and their annoyance when, as in the case before us, it seems to enjoy a temporary popularity. For neglect and contempt of religion they show no concern at all.
[Behold ...world...gone after him.] Some allowance must of course be made for the exaggerated language which angry and disappointed men use under the influence of passion. Nevertheless the word “world” may not be really so extravagant as it appears at first, when we consider the immense number of Jews who attended the passover feast. According to a computation made by Josephus there were nearly three millions of people assembled on such occasions at Jerusalem. At this rate we can understand that the crowd drawn together by our Lord's public entry might well be so large as to warrant the saying, “The world is gone after him.” Most of the crowd, it may be remembered, were not dwellers in Jerusalem, but strangers, who were only visitors or sojourners, absent from home, and would materially swell a crowd.
In leaving this passage it is impossible not to feel that there
must have been an overruling, constraining influence on the minds of the Jewish people on the occasion of our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This no doubt was an influence miraculously exercised by our Lord in order to draw all men's attention to Himself, and to make His approaching Sacrifice on the cross as public an event as possible.
Rollock observes, “A secret power of royal authority stirred up the minds of the multitude to receive Christ as a king.” He also observes that it is the same power which Christ will put forth when He comes at the last day to judge the world.
JOHN XII. 20—26. 20 And there were certain Greeks / 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Examong them that came up to worship cept a corn of wheat fall into the ground at the feast :
and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it 21 The same came therefore to Philip, bringeth forth much fruit. which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; desired him, saying, Sir, we would see and he that hateth his life in this worlá Jesus.
shall keep it unto life eternal. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew : | 26 If any man serve me, let him follow and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. me; and where I am, there shall also
23 And Jesus answered them, saying, my servant be: if any man serve me, The hour is come, that the Son of man | him will my Father honour. should be glorified.
THERE is more going on in some people's minds than we are aware of. The case of the Greeks before us is a remarkable proof of this. Who would have thought when Christ was on earth, that foreigners from a distant land would have come forward in Jerusalem, and said, “Sir, we would see Jesus”? Who these Greeks were, what they meant, why they desired to see Jesus, what their inward motives were,—all these are questions we cannot answer. Like Zacchæus, they may have been influenced by curiosity. Like the wise men from the East, they may have surmised that Jesus was the promised King of the Jews, whom all the eastern world was expecting. Enough for us to know that they showed more interest in Christ than Caiaphas and all his com
panions. Enough to know that they drew from our Lord's lips sayings which are still read in one hundred and fifty languages, from one end of the world to the other.
We learn, for one thing, from our Lord's words, in this passage, that death is the way to spiritual life and glory. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
This sentence was primarily meant to teach the wondering Greeks the true nature of Messiah's kingdom. If they thought to see a King like the kings of this world, they were greatly mistaken. Our Lord would have them know that He came to carry a cross, and not to wear a crown. He came not to live a life of honour, ease, and magnificence, but to die a shameful and dishonoured death. The kingdom He came to set up was to begin with a crucifixion, and not with a coronation. Its glory was to take its rise not from victories won by the sword, and from accumulated treasures of gold and silver, but from the death of its King.
But this sentence was also meant to teach a wider and broader lesson still. It revealed, under a striking figure, the mighty foundation truth, that Christ's death was to be the source of spiritual life to the world. From His cross and passion was to spring up a mighty harvest of benefit to all mankind. His death, like a grain of seed-corn, was to be the root of blessings and mercies to countless millions of immortal souls. In short the great principle of the Gospel was once more exhibited,—that