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22. When, therefore, he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them, and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
At the time when Jesus delivered these words, they were not understood by the disciples, any more than by the Jews; but after his resurrection they recollected them, and then believed that they were a prediction of that event, as they did also in respect to several passages of scripture.
The fact here related respecting the purification of the temple is most probably the same as we have recorded in the other evangelists, but put out of its proper place, not by any mistake of John, but by the error of some transcriber. For the three other evangelists represent the purifying of the temple as having taken place when Christ ascended to Jerusalem to celebrate the last passover before his crucifixion; and it is not likely that they should all be mistaken, or that two events of exactly the same kind took place at different times; for had that been the case, they would both have been noticed by the evangelists.
The nature of the action also by no means accords with the conduct of Jesus, in other instances, at this early period of his ministry: for he is represented as declaring himself to be the Messiah, as soon as he had entered upon the office of an inspired teacher; whereas the other evangelists exhibit him as cautiously avoiding every declaration of this kind, in the beginning of his ministry, and leaving people to judge of his character, not by what he said of himself, but by his miracles. Nor is it easy to explain, if this history holds its proper situation, how the people in the temple came so readily to submit to Christ, when unattended with a crowd, and before he had acquired fame and authority by his miracles. It is also observed, that if the story be removed, the narrative will not appear to be interrupted; the twenty-third verse corresponding very
well with the thirteenth. Such transpositions free quently occur in ancient writings, without at all impairing their credit, and more than one such may be pointed out in the Bible, i 23. Now when he was in Jerusalem, at the passover, in the feast day, 6. at the feast,” many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did, or, “ was doing.”
It is the opinion of Bishop Pearce that this verse should have immediately followed the thirteenth, and - that the words, at the passover, in this verse, have
been added; because they are superfluous; it being sufficiently evident, from the above mentioned verse, what feast was meant by the writer. In the eleventh verse we are told that his disciples believed in him, when they had seen one miracle performed by him; here we learn that others believed, when they saw him perform many.
24. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men ;
25. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
Christ did not trust himself in the hands of these new believers, but went out to the mount of Olives, or some neighbouring village, to sleep, as he did at his last passover: for he knew the nature of their faith, either that it was so weak as not to resist a powerful temptation to deliver him up to his enemies, or that it led them to regard him as a temporal prince, and would involve him in difficulties with the government, as when they afterwards came to take him by force, and make him a king. When the evangelist speaks of the knowledge which Jesus had of what was in man, he probably refers to supernatural knowledge of what passed in the thoughts of men, of which we have many examples in the history.
1. We see that a virtuous indignation at gross vion lations of divine institutions belongs to the most perfect characters. The pious mind of Jesus is deeply offended at beholding the house of God converted into a market place, and he proceeds to manifest his displeasure by warm remonstrances and significant actions, to which a consciousness of guilt induced these traffickers quietly to submit: but he does no injury to the persons of the offenders, although several of their ancestors had been punished with inveterate diseases, or with death, for the like transgressions. If we have imbibed the same spirit which animated our master, we shall feel a like glow of indignation when we behold the honour due to God alone given to another, and the essential attributes of his nature obscured and debased by gross misrepresentations. But while we indulge such feel-ings, and rejoice in them, as proofs of our zeal for God, let us take care that we suffer not this to overstep the bounds of charity, and to transport us into violences totally opposite to the meek spirit of our master. Let us also remember, that the peculiar character of Jesus, as a divine prophet and teacher, might authorize him to do what would not be justifiable in persons of a private station.
2. There is too much reason to apprehend that the crime of turning the house of God into a place of merchandise was not peculiar to these Jews. It is committed also by Christians, when they come to the public worship of God with minds wholly occupied with the concerns of trade and commerce, and other matters belonging to this world. While such persons appear thoughtful, serious and devout; while they pro
fess to worship and love the great Author of nature and source of all good, their hearts are paying secret homage to Mammon, by being wholly employed in considering how they may increase in riches. Such conduct is as offensive to God, and as justly reprehen. sible, as that of these profaners of the temple. While, therefore, we condemn the crimes of others, let us be careful that we be not guilty of the same ourselves.
3. We may observe how rationally those Jews acted, who believed in Jesus when they saw his miracles : being works above the ability of man to perform, they were clear proofs of divine agency; and accompanying a person who assumed the character of a divine messenger, they were the most satisfactory evidences of the truth of his pretensions; the evidences likewise upon which the claims of the greatest of their prophets were founded. They were the sign and symbol, or the hand writing, of God, assenting to and approving what this professed messenger said of himself: not to have yielded to such evidence, would have discovered a mind insensible to the most rational motives of belief, and wholly blinded by prejudice. Upon the same ground of miraculous interpositions, Christ claims our belief in his divine mission, at the present day, and those who do not believe in him upon this ground have no good foundation for their faith. Excellent morality may be the fruit of human ingenuity; pretensions to inspiration, the offspring of a distempered and enthusiastic mind; but miracles are the works of God alone, and where they appear with a professed messenger of heaven, although but in one instance, they are undeniable proofs of the justice of his claims.
· 4. While we acknowledge this respect due to the miracles of Christ in general, let us remember that it belongs, in a peculiar degree, to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is what he himself has repeatedly appealed to, as the best and most unexceptionable evidence of his prophetic character; and if we examine it, we shall find it deserving of all the stress which has been laid upon it. For if God performed so
extraordinary a miracle, and conferred so great a favour, upon one who professed to be his messenger; it is a decisive proof that he approved of his claims, and that he wished them to have the sanction of his authority. But to do the same things for an impostor, for one who said he was sent by him to instruct mankind, but who had, in reality, no such commission, would be to give his sanction to fraud, and to secure it a certain reception among the best and most virtuous of mankind. If this be impossible, as every believer in God must say it is, it is equally impossible that Jesus should not be a divine messenger.
John iii. 1—13. 1. There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; a member of the Sanhedrim.
2. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, « Teacher," we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
That is, we are sure thou art a prophet or divinely authorized teacher, because the miracles which thou performest surpass human power, and can only be the work of God. We sce, from this language, what we are to understand by the phrase, coming from God, which occurs so frequently in the gospels; that it signifies no more than having a cominission from God: for Nicodemus intends no more than this by it, when applied to Christ, and not coming down from God in heaven. He thought, probably, that this acknowledg. ment would be sufficient to procure for him the charac