« PreviousContinue »
rubbish which passed under the name of knowledge, was assuredly no great disadvantage to them. It arose, however, from the most mischievous of all principles-which has, in every age and country, too widely operated-that knowledge was to be the reserved treasure, known only by its influences, the peculiar property and distinction of a class, with which the people had no concern whatever but to reverence it, into which it were impertinence for them to pry, and to communicate which to them were profanation. Thus the people were carefully shut out from the chambers of knowledge, and then scorned and cursed because they were out. It is difficult to convey an idea of the thorough and intense contempt with which the mass of the people were regarded, on the express ground of their ignorance of this oral law, as it was called, which none cared to communicate to them. Thus the "wise men," as they styled themselves, carried their contempt of the uninstructed to such an extent, that they would not receive a testimony from them or give one for them, nor commit a secret to them, nor proclaim anything of theirs that was lost, nor constitute any of them trustees or guardians, nor walk with them on the road. These poor "people of the earth," as they were scornfully called, however upright or attentive to the requirements of the written law, were not by any means held to be truly religious or acceptable to God; but rather profane and abominable, abandoned to sin, rejected of God, and to be cast out by men of wisdom and knowledge. It was not even allowed that they should have any part in the resurrection, unless, perchance, it might be for the sake of some wise man to whom they were allied, or to whom they had rendered some service.
From this statement it will appear probable that "the law," as expressed in this exceedingly characteristic speech of the Pharisees, is to be understood to denote the oral law, or, at least, the oral in connection with that written in the books of Moses. The oral law itself we shall find another occasion to notice.,
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
12 ¶ Then spake Jesus again unto them, saving, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, "Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17 'It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I
*Deut. 17.7.1 Chap. 1. 5, and 9, 5. 4
a Levit. 20. 10.
go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye can
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto
Dent. 17 6. Matt. 18. 16.
Chap. 5. 31.
Rom. 6. 20. 2 Pet. 8. 10.
them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye | but I honour my Father, and ye do dishowould do the works of Abraham.
50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
52 Then said the Jews unto him. Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
47 He that is of God heareth God's words ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not
7 1 John 3. 8.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself. my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?"
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
81 John 4. 6.
Verse 6. "This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.”—The nature of the snare, here laid for out Saviour, may not, at the first view, appear to the reader. It was quite true, as the Scribes and Pharisees stated, that the law of Moses commanded the adulteress to be stoned; and had Jesus declared against such execution, they would have obtained a ground of undermining his influence with the people, by representing him as contradicting Moses, and, perhaps, as favouring adultery. On the other hand, had he directed the woman to be stoned, in conformity with the law, there would have been a pretence for denouncing him to the Romans, as a person who stirred up the people to rebellion. For the Romans had at this time taken the power of life and death into their own hands; and had, to a considerable extent, re-modelled the criminal jurisprudence of the country, and had modified many of the penalties fixed by the law of Moses, in order to bring its operation into greater conformity with their own notions; and, in particular, they had abolished the punishment of death, which the law inflicted upon the adulterous woman. The Jewish council, or Sanhedrim, did indeed retain the power of trying criminals in the manner prescribed by the Law: but the sentence which they passed could not be carried into execution until it was recognized and allowed by the Romaa governor. This, indeed, sufficiently appears in the history of our Lord's own condemnation and death. Without any reference, however, to the Romans, the question would have been sufficiently ensnaring; as, if he had determined for the woman to be stoned, there was the alleged contradiction to the law of Moses; and, if he had declared againt her being punished, he might have been denounced by the public teachers to the people as a promoter and encourager of
"Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground."-The object of this action has been very variously explained. Lightfoot is of opinion that it bore some reference to the action of the high priest, who when he tried a suspected wife, in the form directed by the law (Num. v.), stooped down and gathered dust from the floor of the sanctuary, to be mixed with the water which was to be given to the woman to drink. This explanation is inadequate, as the woman now produced, was not a merely suspected wife, and therefore liable to this trial, but one taken in the fact, and therefore to be punished with death by stoning. It also seems a more probable opinion, sanctioned by the se ceeding clause, that our Lord intended this as a significant action, to convey some expression of contempt, by intimating that a question proposed with so insidious an intention to one who had so repeatedly made known that he came to assume no political or judicial power, was unworthy of his attention and deserved no answer. This is the more probable, when it is known that the Jews, when an irksome inquiry was brought forward-to which they did not choose to give either an affirmative or negative answer-were accustomed to write something down on their tablets,
and thus seem to be otherwise employed. Christ, who probably carried no tablets, would, with a similar intention, write on the ground, which was an action far less forced than it would seem in this country, since writing on the ground-that is, in dust or sand-with the finger or with a rod, was, and still is, very common in the East, under various circumstances;-and particularly in the absence of other writing materials. In different countries of the East, for example, children learn writing by tracing characters in the dust or sand from copies set them by their instructors. Not incompatible with this explanation is that given by Lampe, and which Dr. Bloomfield cites with approbation, that "Jesus by this gesture meant to intimate that the questioners merited no other answer than that which they had themselves suggested by appealing to the Mosaic precept. It seems therefore that Jesus was pleased thus to inculcate the propriety for judges sitting in Moses's seat, to keep to the written commands of the legislator: that this ought to satisfy them because they had acknowledged to him that, by those writings, a decision ought to be made. Thus Jesus followed his constant custom of appealing to the Scriptures, and inculcating on every occasion that he taught nothing
7. "He that is without sin among you."-Most surely our Saviour did not mean "without sin," in the large sense, for, in that sense, "what man is he that sinneth not ?" but rather, we may suppose, he appeals to the consciences of those who knew that they also had sinned in like fashion with the woman, now brought forward by them for judgment. This is most credible: for their own writers bear witness that adultery and fornication had in this age increased to such a degree, that they were obliged to discontinue the trial of suspected wives, in the manner directed by the Law, because the husbands themselves were generally guilty in the same manner; and when that was the case, as they say, the bitter waters produced no effect upon the woman. (See Num. v.) Although they received not Christ, yet in his time was most abundantly fulfilled one of their own rules for the distinguishing the time in which the Messiah should appear. "In that age when the Son of David cometh, the house of assembly (which is interpreted to mean the place where the disciples of the wise men met to learn the law) shall become a brothel house."
"Let him first cast a stone at her."-This doubtless refers to the regulation which required that the principal witness was to cast the first stone at the culprit who had been condemned to death on his evidence. The throwing of this stone was the signal for the persons present to commence the execution of the sentence.
8. "Again he stooped down."-This repetition of the action would seem to have had an object different from its previous exhibition. Perhaps it may have been designed to give the baffled hypocrites an opportunity of withdrawing
with the less confusion.
1 The man that was born blind restored to sight. 8 He is brought to the Pharisees. 13 They are offended at it, and excommunicate him: 35 but he is received of Jesus, and confesseth him. 39 Who they are whom Christ enlighteneth.
AND as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, 'I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
8The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.
19 And they asked them, saying, Is this
9 Some said, This is he: others said, He your son, who ye say was born blind? how is like him but he said, I am he.
then doth he now see?
1 Chap. 1.9.
2 Or, spread the clay upon the eyes of the blind man.
I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I
26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?
28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.
29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence. he is.
30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.