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the servants of God still are very expert at the art of inspiring confidence into them, by their interrogations, in order to get the whole truth out of them. ? To this first question our Saviour gives a plain answer. This, indeed, was more than they could reasonably expect, as Jesus had, but a few hours before, fully answered the same question. The man who had been born blind, though but a person of mean condition, at length grew angry, when the great council so often questioned him about the same thing; for when they said again to him, “What did he to thee? How opened he thine eyes ?' He answered them, I have told ye already, and ye did not hear, or attend to what I said. Wherefore would ye hear it again ? Will ye also be his disci. ples ?' (John ix. 26, 27.) Thus he grew out of patience, when he was teized with so many questions about the same transaction. But the Son of God here shews an admirable example of patience; and readily returns an answer to the repeated questions of his enemies, that his silence might not give them a handle to say that his answers were equivocal, or that his silence shewed his contempt of the Rulers and Judges. However he so framed his answer, as to convey an additional sting to their consciences; for this answer contained, not only a mild reproof of his unrighteous judges, but likewise a repeated declaration of his approaching glory.
In the reproof which our blessed Lord gives to his unrighteous judges, he represents to them their unbeliet, and invincible obstinacy.
I Their unbelief is reproved in these words : . If I tell you, ye will not believe.' They had just before required the Lord Jesus to tell them, whether he was the Christ; to which he made this answer. As if he had said, “If ye will not acknowledge me to be the Messiah, from the works which I have done, especially the Divine miracles which I have
wrought, much less will ye believe me on my bare word, should I aver it to you a hundred times o:
This your reiterated question, therefore, as it does not proceed from a candid enquiry after truth, instead of a fresh answer, rather deserves a reproof for your incredulity.” But this reproof the Saviour of mankind uttered, with the most sen. sible concern for the unparalleled unbelief and obduracy of his judges. He had earnestly laboured, during the course of his ministry, to bring the Jews to a belief of this great truth, viz. that he was the Messiah. He had plainly declared to them the ter, rible consequences of their unbelief, in these words, • If ye believe not that I am He [the Messiah], ye
. shall die in your sins,' (John viii. 24.) On the other hand, he had represented to them the glorious privi. leges, and inestimable benefits, of faith in the Messiah : “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life,' (John vi. 47.) But all these endeavours of the benev. olent Jesus had made no impression on their obdurate hearts. He was now inwardly grieved, to see how these wicked and perverse men would die in their unbelief, and consequently would perish in their sins; and from this inward and tender concern for their souls proceeded his reproof.
Their invincible obstinacy is represented in these words: And if I ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. The ineaning of these words is," Though I answer your question, you do not believe me; and if, by proposing other questions to you, I should endeavour to put you in the way of truth, yet such is your obstinacy that ye will give me no answer.
You will not take into consideration this important article of the Jewish The
This behaviour of the Jews Christ had more than once experienced. Thus, it is said by St. Luke (chap. xiv. 2, 3.) And behold there was a certain man before him, who had the dropsy. And Jesus answering, spake unto the Lawyers and Pha
risees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace.' It is likewise observed by St. Matthew (chap. xxi. 23—27.) that when our blessed Lord proposed a question about the baptism of John to the chief Priests and the Elders, they returned no other answer but “We cannot tell. As this had been their custom when Jesus freely conversed with them, it was much more probable that they would behave in the same rude manner, as he was now their prisoner. Had Jesus in these circumstances asked them some questions, in order to draw sufficient proofs from their answers that he was the Messiah ; had he, for instance, asked them, why they permitted John the Baptist to be looked upon as the Messiah, though he performed no miracles? why they did not believe that same Baptist, when he declared him to be the Messiah, and pointed him out to the people, saying, “Behold
• the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world ? &c. they would either have kept a sullen and contemptuous silence, or haughtily answered, We are not come here to be examined by thee, but to examine our prisoner. And however their con- . sciences might have been touched by his questions; however he might have convinced them of the truth; yet they would not have set him at liberty, nor let him go. For it was before absolutely determined to put him to death at all events, whether he should be found innocent, or guilty. He therefore represents to them their iniquitous designs, and evil dispositions : and by that means gives them to understand, that he saw into the inmost recesses of their hearts, and knew their most secret thoughts and intentions. This should have induced this haughty assembly to conclude, that they had before them a sacred Person who was more than man. This is the design of the first part of our Saviour's answer.
The second part of it contains a repeated declaration of his approaching glorification, and exaltation
to the right hand of God: “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit at the right hand of the power of God.' This I call a repeated declaration ; for our blessed Saviour had, two hours before, used words of the same import, which have been already explained in Consideration IX. The meaning of the words is, as if our blessed Lord had addressed them, in these, or words of the like purport: “ I am not ignorant, that my contemptible and abject appearance is the chief cause of your unbelief; for such an obscure condition by no means agrees with your prejudices about a powerful Messiah, surrounded by all the ensigns of majesty. But you ought to consider that the Messiah, in the writings of the Prophets which are every sabbath read in your ears, is represented to you in a two-fold state ; the one a state of the lowest abasement and humiliation, and the other a state of the highest exaltation and glory.
I have hitherto conversed with you in my low, abject state ; but a few hours more brings this state of abasement to a period. For when ye shall have executed the sentence of death which you have passed on me, this despised Son of Man, who at present stands before you bound like a criminal, and will soon be stript naked, and hung on the cross like a thief or a murderer, shall rise again from the dead; shall ascend up to heaven in a visible and triumphant manner; and shall sit on the right hand of God, or be admitted into the participation of his unlimited power over heaven and earth. After that, an effectual answer to your question shall come from heaven, and ye shall see, feel and experience such proofs and manifestations of my Divine glory, as will force your assent to this truth; especially when, with such a swiftness and rapidity as if I rode on the clouds of heaven, the chariots of God, I shall come to destroy your polity, and accomplish on your devoted city and temple those judgments of God, which have long since been denounced against them.” This is the purport of the first answer, which our Lord made to the first question, viz. •Art thou the Christ ?'
On this follows the second question; namely, art thou the Son of God ? they took occasion to propose this second question from our blessed Saviour's repeated declaration, mentioned above. They readily comprehended that Christ, by saying that he should sit at the right hand of Power. intimated that he was a person of transcendent dignity, equal with God. Therefore they were desirous to know, whether he still adhered to this declaration that he was the son of God, and that, in such a sense as to be deemed equal to the God of Israel in majesty and glory. This his twofold dignity, of being the Messiah, and the Son of God, was, according to the scriptures of the Old Testament, to center in one person. This may be gathered from the following, among other passages, where God speaks to the person who is there termed the Anointed or Messiah, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,' (Psalm ii. 7.) and from this the Jewish church might have learned, that the Messiah was also to be the Son of God. However this crafty and insiduous judge was for examining the Lord Jesus on each point separately, in order to make a complicated crime of his answer. And though this question, 'Art thou the Son of God ?' had been answered by our blessed Lord the night before ; yet in the morning they questioned him a second time about it, in order to give their infamous hypocrisy a
re specious appearance, as if they were unwilling to proceed hastily in so important a matter. They pretended, that possibly the prisoner had not rightly considered the matter, but in the first agitations of his mind might have inadvertently said what he is now sorry for ; that probably he would now recall his blasphemy, and explain himself better. But in their malicious hearts they had firmly determined, whatever answers Jesus might return to their questions, to put him to death, and that with all possible expedition.