Chrysostom on John 19
" He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus."
[1.] When God in the beginning made man, He did not suffer him to be alone, but gave him woman for a helpmate, and made them to dwell together, knowing that great advantage would result from this companionship. What though the woman did not rightly employ this benefit? still if any one make himself fully acquainted with the nature of the matter, he will see, that to the wise great advantage arises from this dwelling together; not in the cause of wife or husband only, but if brothers do this, they also shall enjoy the benefit. Wherefore the Prophet hath said, “What is good, what is pleasant, but that brethren should dwell together?” (Ps 133,1 LXX). And Paul exhorted not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. (He 10,25). In this it is that we differ from beasts, for this we have built cities, and markets, and houses, that we may be united one with another, not in the place of our dwelling only, but by the bond of love. For since our nature came imperfect1 from Him who made it, and is not self-sufficient,2 God, for our advantage, ordained that the want hence existing should be corrected by the assistance arising from mutual intercourse; so that what was lacking in one should be supplied by another,3 and the defective nature thus be rendered self-sufficient; as, for instance, that though made mortal,4 it should by succession for a long time maintain immortality. I might have gone into this argument at greater length, to show what advantages arise to those who come together from genuine and pure5 intercourse with each other: but there is another thing which presses now, that on account of which we have made these remarks.
Andrew, after having tarried with Jesus and learned what He did, kept not the treasure to himself, but hastens and runs quickly to his brother, to impart to him of the good things which he had received.6 But wherefore has not Jn said on what matters Christ conversed with them? Whence is it clear that it was for this that they “abode with Him”?7 It was proved by us the other day; but we may learn it from what has been read today as well. Observe what Andrew says to his brother; “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” You see how, as far as he had learned in a short time, he showed8 the wisdom of the teacher who persuaded them, and their own zeal, who cared for these things long ago,9 and from the beginning. For this word, “we have found,” is the expression of a soul which travails 10 for His presence, and looks for His coming from above, and is made overjoyed when the looked-for thing has happened, 11 and hastens to impart to others the good tidings. This is the part of brotherly affection, of natural friendship, of a sincere disposition, to be eager to stretch out the hand to each other in spiritual things. Hear him besides speak with the addition of the article; for he does not say “Messias,” but “the Messias”; thus they were expecting some one Christ, 12 having nothing in common with the others. And behold, I beg of you, the mind of Peter obedient and tractable from the very beginning; he ran to Him without any delay; “He brought him,” saith St. John, “to Jesus.” Yet let no one blame his easy temper if he received the word without much questioning, because it is probable that his brother had told him these things more exactly and at length; but the Evangelists from their care for conciseness constantly cut many things short. Besides, it is not said absolutely that “he believed,” but that “he brought him to Jesus,” to give him up for the future to Him, so that from Him he might learn all; for the other disciple also was with him, and contributed to this. And if Jn the Baptist, when he had said that He was “the Lamb,” and that He “baptized with the Spirit,” gave them over to learn the clearer doctrine concerning this thing from Him, much more would Andrew have done this, not deeming him self sufficient to declare the whole, but drawing him to the very fount of light with so much zeal and joy, theft the other 13 neither deferred nor delayed at all. 14
Jn 1,42. “And when Jesus beheld him,” saith the Evangelist, “He said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a stone.”
[2.] He begins from this time forth to reveal the things belonging to His Divinity, and to open It out little by little by predictions. So He did in the case of Nathaniel and the Samaritan woman. For prophecies bring men over not less than miracles; and are free from the appearance of boasting. Miracles may possibly be slandered among foolish men, (“He casteth out devils,” said they, “by Beelzebub”— Mt 12,24), but nothing of the kind has ever been said of prophecy. Now in the case of Nathaniel and Simon He used this method of teaching, but with Andrew and Philip He did not so. Why was this? Because those 15 (two) had the testimony of John, no small preparation, and Philip received a credible evidence of faith, when he saw those who had been present.
“Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas.” By the present, the future is guaranteed; for it is clear that He who named Peter’s father foreknew the future also. And the prediction is attended with praise; but the object was not to flatter, but to foretell something future. Hear 16 at least in the case of the Samaritan woman, how He utters a prediction with severe reproofs; 17 “Thou hast had,” he saith, “five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.” (c. 4,18). So also His Father makes great account of prophecy, when He sets Himself against the honor paid to idols: “Let them declare to you,” saith He, “what shall come upon you” (Is 47,13); and again, “I have declared, and have saved, and there was no foreign God amongst you” (Is 43,12 LXX).; and He brings this forward through all prophecy. Because prophecy is especially the work of God, which devils cannot even imitate, though they strive exceedingly. For in the case of miracles there may be delusion; but exactly to foretell the future belongs to that pure Nature alone. Or if devils ever have done so, it was by deceiving the simpler sort; whence their oracles are always easily detected.
But Peter makes no reply to these words; as yet he knew nothing clearly, but still was learning. And observe, that not even the prediction is fully set forth; for Jesus did not say, “I will change thy name to Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church,” but, “Thou shalt be called Cephas.” The former speech would have expressed too great authority 18 and power; for Christ does not immediately nor at first declare all His power, but speaks for a while in a humbler tone; and so, when He had given the proof of His Divinity, He puts it more authoritatively, saying, 19 “Blessed art thou, Simon, because My Father hath revealed it to thee”; and again, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16,17-18). Him therefore He so named, and James and his brother He called “sons of thunder.” (Mc 3,17). Why then doth He this? To show that it was He who gave the old covenant, that it was He who altered names, who called Abram “Abraham,” and Sarai “Sarah,” and Jacob “Israel.” To many he assigned names even from their birth, as to Isaac, and Samson, and to those in Isaiah and Hosea (Is 8,3 Os 1,4 Os 1,6 Os 1,9); but to others He gave them after they had been named by their parents, as to those we have mentioned, and to Joshua the son of Nun. It was also a custom of the Ancients to give names from things, which in fact Leah also has done; 20 and this takes place not without cause, but in order that men may have the appellation to remind them of the goodness of God, that a perpetual memory of the prophecy conveyed by the names may sound in the ears of those who receive it. Thus too He named Jn early, 21 because they whose virtue was to shine forth from their early youth, from that time received their names; while to those who were to become great 22 at a later period, the title also was given later.
[3.] But then they received each a different name, we now have all one name, that which is greater than any, being called 23 “Christians,” and “sons of God,” and (His) “friends,” and (His) “Body.” For the very term itself is able more than all those others to rouse us, and make us more zealous 24 for the practice of virtue. Let us not then act unworthily of the honor belonging to the title, considering 25 the excess of our dignity, we who are called Christ’s; for so Paul hath named us. Let us bear in mind and respect the grandeur of the appellation. (1Co 3,23). For if one who is said to be descended from some famous general, or one otherwise distinguished, is proud to be called this or that man’s son, and deems the name a great honor, and strives in every way so as not to affix, by remissness of his own, reproach to him after whom he is called; shall not we who are called after the name, not of a general, nor any of the princes upon earth, nor Angel, nor Archangel, nor Seraphim, but of the King of these Himself, shall not we freely give even our very life, so as not to insult Him who has honored us? Know ye not what honor the royal bands of shield-bearers and spearmen that are about the king enjoy? So let us who have been deemed worthy to be near Him, and much closer, and as much nearer than those just named, as the body is closer to the head than they, let us, I say, use every means to be imitators of Christ.
What then saith Christ? “The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” (Lc 9,58). Now if I demand this of you, it will seem perhaps to most of you grievous and burdensome; because therefore of your infirmity I speak not of 26 such perfection, but desire you not to be nailed to riches; and as I, because of the infirmity of the many, retire somewhat from (demanding) the excess of virtue, I desire that you do so and much more on the side of vice. I blame not those who have houses, and lands, and wealth, and servants, but wish them to possess 27 these things in a safe and becoming way. And what is “a becoming way”? As masters, not as slaves; so that they rule them, be not ruled by them; that they use, not abuse them. This is why they are called, “things to be used,” 28 that we may employ them on necessary services, not hoard them up; this is a domestic’s office, that a master’s; it is for the slave to keep them, but for the lord and one who has great authority to expend. Thou didst not receive thy wealth to bury, but to distribute. Had God desired riches to be hoarded, He would not have given them to men, but would have let them remain as they were in the earth; but because He wishes them to be spent, therefore He has permitted us to have them, that we may impart them to each other. And if we keep them to ourselves, we are no longer masters of them. But if you wish to make them greater and therefore keep them shut up, even in this case the best plan of all is to scatter and distribute them in all directions; because there can be no revenue without an outlay, no wealth without expenditure. One may see that it is so even in worldly matters. So it is with the merchant, so with the husbandman, who put forth the one his wealth, the other his seed; the one sails the sea to disperse his wares, the other labors all the year putting in and tending his seed. But here there is no need of any one of these things, neither to equip a vessel, nor to yoke oxen, nor to plough land, nor to be anxious about uncertain weather, nor to dread a fall of hail; here are neither waves nor rocks; this voyage and this sowing needs one thing only, that we cast forth our possessions; all the rest will that Husbandman do, of whom Christ saith, “My Father is the Husbandman.” (c. 15,1). Is it not then absurd to be sluggish and slothful where we may gain all without labor, and where there are many toils and many 29 troubles and cares, and after all, an uncertain hope, there to display all eagerness? Let us not, I beseech you, let us not be to such a degree senseless about our own salvation, but let us leave the more troublesome task, and run to that which is most easy and more profitable, that We may obtain also the good things that are to come; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy and quickening Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
3 Ben. Morel. and ms. in Bodl. read the passage thus: “For this cause also marriage is arranged, in order that what is wanting,” &c.
4 kaqavper ou\n kai; qnhth;n genomevnhn. Ben. and ms. in Bodl. read, wJ" au[thn e[cein kai q. g..
6 al. “shared.”
7 Morel. and ms. in Bodl. “conversed with them, when they straightway followed and abode with Him.”
8 Ben. Morel. and ms. in Bodl. “he showed hence, for he both establishes the wisdom,” &c.
11 al. “has appeared.”
12 Anointed one.
14 to; tucovn).
15 i.e. those mentioned above, 5,40, who were present when St. Jn Baptist gave his testimony, one of whom was Andrew.
16 al. “consider.”
17 al. “reproving with earnestness.”
19 al. “And I say unto thee, ‘Thou art Simon, thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone.’ ”
20 o(per dhvpou kai; JHliva" pepoivhke, and there are no various readings. Savile has in the margin o(per ou\n kai; JHliva. We may venture to read “hJ Leiva,” as he praises her for this, Hom. 56,on Genesis. “Observe how she gave names to those she bore, not lightly nor at random.”
23 al. “the being called.”
24 al. “more ready.”
25 al. “consider at least.”
27 al. “to use.”
29 al. “more.”
The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter."
[1.] “To every careful thinker there is a gain”1 (Pr 14,23 LXX)., saith the proverb; and Christ implied more than this, when He said, “He that seeketh findeth.” (Mt 7,8). Wherefore it does not occur to me any more to wonder how Philip followed Christ. Andrew was persuaded when he had heard from John, and Peter the same from Andrew, but Philip not having learned anything from any but Christ who said to him only this, “Follow Me,” straightway obeyed, and went not back, but even became a preacher to others. For he ran to Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write.” Seest thou what a thoughtful2 mind he had, how assiduously he meditated on the writings of Moses, and expected the Advent? for the expression, “we have found,” belongs always to those who are in some way seeking. “The day following Jesus went forth into Galilee.” Before any had joined Him, He called no one; and He acted thus not without cause, but according to his own wisdom and intelligence. For if, when no one came to Him spontaneously, He had Himself drawn them, they might perhaps have started away; but now, having chosen this of themselves, they afterwards remained firm. He calls Philip, one who was better acquainted with Him; for he, as having been born and bred in Galilee, knew Him more than others. Having then taken the disciples, He next goes to the capture of the others, and draws to Him Philip and Nathanael. Now in the case of Nathanael this was not so wonderful, because the fame of Jesus had gone forth into all Syria. (Mt 4,24). But the wonderful thing was respecting Peter and James and Philip, that they believed, not only before the miracles, but that they did so being of Galilee, out of which “ariseth no prophet,” nor “can any good thing come”; for the Galilaeans were somehow of a more boorish and dull disposition than others; but even in this Christ displayed forth His power, by selecting from a land which bore no fruit His choicest disciples. It is then probable that Philip having seen Peter and Andrew, and having heard what Jn had said, followed; and it is probable also that the voice of Christ wrought in him somewhat; for He knew those who would be serviceable. But all these points the Evangelist cuts short. That Christ should come, he knew; that this was Christ, he knew not, and this I say that he heard either from Peter or John. But Jn mentions his village also, that you may learn that “God hath chosen the weak things of the world.” (1Co 1,27).
Jn 1,45. “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
(He says this, to make his preaching credible, which it must be if it rests on Moses and the Prophets besides, and by this to abash his hearer. For since Nathanael was an exact3 man, and one who viewed all things with truth, as Christ also testified and the event showed, Philip with reason refers him to Moses and the Prophets, that so he might receive Him who was preached. And he not troubled though he called Him “the son of Joseph”; for still he was supposed to be his son. “And whence, O Philip, is it plain that this is He? What proof dost thou mention to us? for it is not enough merely to assert this. What sign hast thou seen, what miracle? Not without danger is it to believe without cause in such matters. What proof then hast thou?” “The same as Andrew,” he replies; for he though unable to produce the wealth which he had found, or to describe his treasure in words, when he had discovered it, led his brother to it. So too did Ph How this is the Christ, and how the prophets proclaimed Him beforehand, he said not; but he draws him to Jesus, as knowing that he would not afterwards fall off, if he should once taste His words and teaching.
Jn 1,46-47. “And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.”
(He praises and approves the man, because he had said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” and yet he ought to have been blamed. Surely not; for the words are not those of an unbeliever, nor deserving blame, but praise. “How so, and in what way?” Because Nathanael had considered the writings of the Prophets more than Ph For he had heard from the Scriptures, that Christ must come from Bethlehem, and from the village in which David was. This belief at least prevailed among the Jews, and the Prophet had proclaimed it of old, saying, “And thou, Bethlehem, art by no means the least among the princes of Judah, for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall feed4 My people Israel.” (Mt 2,6 Mi 5,2). And so when he heard that He was “from Nazareth,” he was confounded, and doubted, not finding the announcement of Philip to agree with the prediction of the Prophet.
But observe his wisdom and candor even in his doubting. He did not at once say, “Philip, thou deceivest me, and speakest falsely, I believe thee not, I will not come; I have learned from the prophets that Christ must come from Bethlehem, thou sayest ‘from Nazareth’; therefore this is not that Christ.” He said nothing like this; but what does he? He goes to Him himself; showing, by not admitting that Christ was “of Nazareth,” his accuracy respecting the Scriptures, and a character not easily deceived; and by not rejecting him who brought the tidings, the great desire which he felt for the coming of Christ. For he thought within himself that Philip was probably mistaken about the place.
[2.] And observe, I pray you, his manner of declining, how gentle he has made it, and in the form of a question. For he said not, “Galilee produces no good”; but how said he? “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip also was very prudent; for he is not as one perplexed, angry, and annoyed, but perseveres, wishing to bring over the5 man, and manifesting to us from the first of his preaching6 the firmness7 which becomes an Apostle. Wherefore also Christ saith, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” So that there is such a person as a false Israelite; but this is not such an one; for his judgment, Christ saith, is impartial, he speaks nothing from favor, or from ill-feeling. Yet the Jews, when they were asked where Christ should be born, replied, “In Bethlehem” (Mt 2,5), and produced the evidence, saying, “And thou, Bethlehem, art by no means the least among the princes of Judah.” (Mi 5,2). Before they had seen Him they bore this witness, but when they saw Him in their malice they concealed the testimony, saying, “But as for this fellow, we know not whence He is.” (c. 9,29). Nathanael did not so, but continued to retain the opinion which he had from the beginning, that He was not “of Nazareth.”
How then do the prophets call Him a Nazarene? From His being brought up and abiding there. And He omits to say, “I am not ‘of Nazareth,’ as Philip hath told thee, but of Bethlehem,” that He may not at once make the account seem questionable; and besides this, because, even if He had gained belief, He would not have given sufficient proof that He was the Christ.. For what hindered Him without being Christ, from being of Bethlehem, like the others who were born there? This then He omits; but He does that which has most power to bring him over, for He shows that He was present when they were conversing. For when Nathanael had said,
Jn 1,48. “Whence knowest Thou me?” He replies, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.”
Observe a man firm and steady.8 When Christ had said, “Behold an Israelite indeed,” he was not made vain by this approbation, he ran not after this open praise, but continues seeking and searching more exactly, and desires to learn something certain. He still enquired as of a man,9 but Jesus answered as God. For He said, “I have known thee from the first,” 10 (him and the candor 11 of his character, 12 this He knew not as a man, from having closely followed him, but as God from the first,) “and but now I saw thee by the fig-tree”; when there was no one present there but only Philip and Nathanael who said all these things in private. It is mentioned, that having seen him afar off, He said, “Behold an Israelite indeed”; to show, 13 that before Philip came near, Christ spoke these words, that the testimony might not be suspected. For this reason also He named the time, the place, and the tree; because if He had only said, “Before Philip came to thee, I saw thee,” He might have been suspected of having sent him, and of saying nothing wonderful; but now, by mentioning both the place where he was when addressed by Philip, and the name of the tree, and the time of the conversation, He showed that His foreknowledge 14 was unquestionable.
And He did not merely show to him His foreknowledge, but instructed him also in another way. For He brought him to a recollection of what they then had said; as, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” And it was most especially on this account that Nathanael received Him, because when he had uttered these words, He did not condemn, but praised and approved him. Therefore he was assured that this was indeed the Christ, both from His foreknowledge, and from His having exactly searched out his sentiments, which was the act of One who would show that He knew what was in his mind; and besides, from His not having blamed, but rather praised him when he had seemed to speak against Himself. He said then, that Philip had “called” him; but what Philip had said to him or he to Philip, He omitted, leaving it to his own conscience, and not desiring farther to rebuke him.
[3.] Was it then only “before Philip called him” that He “saw” him? did He not see him before this with His sleepless eye? He saw him, and none could gainsay it; but this is what it was needful to say at the time. And what did Nathanael? When he had received an unquestionable proof of His foreknowledge, he hastened to confess Him, showing by his previous delay his caution, 15 and his fairness by his assent afterwards. For, said the Evangelist,
Jn 1,49. “He answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel:”
Seest thou how his soul is filled at once with exceeding joy, and embraces Jesus with words? “Thou art,” saith he, “that expected, that sought-for One.” Seest thou how he is amazed, how he marvels? how he leaps and dances with delight?
(So ought we also to rejoice, who have been thought worthy to know the Son of God; to rejoice, not in thought alone, but to show it also by our actions. And what must they do who rejoice? Obey Him who has been made known to them; and they who obey, must do whatever He willeth. For if we are going to do what angers Him, how shall we show that we rejoice? See ye not in our houses when a man entertains one whom he loves, how gladly he exerts himself, running about in every direction, and though it be needful to spend all that he has, sparing nothing so that he please his visitor? But if one who invites should not attend to his guest, 16 and not do such things as would procure him ease, though he should say ten thousand times that he rejoices at his coming, he could never be believed by him. And justly; for this should be shown by actions. Let us then, since Christ hath come to us, show that we rejoice, and do nothing that may anger him; let us garnish the abode to which He has come, for this they do who rejoice; let us set before Him the meal 17 which He desires to eat, for this they do who hold festival. And what is this meal? He saith Himself; “My meat is, that I may do the will of Him that sent me.” (c. iv. 34). When He is hungry, let us feed Him; when He is thirsty, let us give Him drink: though thou give Him but a cup of cold water, He receives it; for He loves thee, and to one who loves, the offerings of the beloved, though they be small, appear great. Only be not thou slothful; though thou cast in but two farthings, He refuses them not, but receives them as great riches. For since He is without wants, and receives these offerings, not because He needs them, it is reasonable that all distinction should be not in the quantity of the gifts, but the intention 18 of the giver. Only show that thou lovest Him who is come, that for His sake thou art giving all diligence, that thou rejoicest at His coming. See how He is disposed toward thee. He came for thee, He laid down His life for thee, and after all this He doth not refuse even to entreat thee. “We are ambassadors,” saith Paul, “for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us.” (2Co 5,20). “And who is so mad,” saith some one, “as not to love his own Master?” I say so too, and I know that not one of us would deny this in words or intention; but one who is beloved desires love to be shown, not by words only, but by deeds also. For to say that we love, and not to act like lovers, is ridiculous, not only before God, but even in the sight of men. Since then to confess Him in word only, while in deeds we oppose Him, is not only unprofitable, but also hurtful to us; let us, I entreat you, also make confession by our works; that we also may obtain a confession from Him in that day, when before His Father He shall confess those who are worthy in Christ Jesus our Lord, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
1 panti; tw`/ merimnw`nti e]nesti perissovn. In the next sentence Morel. Ben. and most mss. read o]qen kai; e]peisiv moi. Savile o]q. oujde; e]p. m.. which seems the better reading.
4 or, “rule.”
5 al. “this.”
9 wJ" a]nqrwpon ejxhvtazevn. So Morel. and mss. in Bodleian. Savile and the Bened. read wJ" a]nqrwpo" , “he enquired as a man.”
12 One ms. reads, ouj ga;r ei[pen, a[nwqevn se oi\da, kai; to;n trovpon, kai; th;n ejp.
13 i]na mavqh/. Savile conjectures i]na mavqh/", but without authority.
16 Ben. Conj). kalou`nti for kalw`n ti". “But if he mind not when he calls.”
"Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered, and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shall see greater things than these."
[1.] Beloved, we need much care, much watchfulness, to be able to look into the depth of the Divine Scriptures. For it is not possible to discover their meaning in a careless way, or while we are asleep, but there needs close search, and there needs earnest prayer, that we may be enabled to see some little way into the secrets of the divine oracles. To-day, for instance, here is no trifling question proposed to us, but one which requires much zeal and enquiry. For when Nathanael said, “Thou art the Son of God,” Christ replies, “Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these.”
Now what is the question arising from this passage? It is this.1 Peter, when after so many miracles and such high doctrine he confessed that, “Thou art the Son of God” (Mt 16,16), is called “blessed,” as having received the revelation from the Father; while Nathanael, though he said the very same thing before seeing or hearing either miracles or doctrine, had no such word addressed to him, but as though he had not said so much as he ought to have said, is brought2 to things greater still. What can be the reason of this? It is, that Peter and Nathanael both spoke the same words, but not both with the same intention. Peter confessed Him to be "The Son of God’ but as being Very God; Nathanael, as being mere man. And whence does this appear? Fron what he said after these words; for after, “Thou art the Son of God,” he adds, “Thou art the King of Israel.” But the Son of God is not “King of Israel” only, but of all the world.
And what I say is clear, not from this only, but also from what follows. For Christ added nothing more to Peter, but as though his faith were perfect, said, that upon this confession of his He would build the Church; but in the other case He did nothing like this, but the contrary. For as though some large, and that the better, part were wanting to his confession He added what follows. For what saith He?
Jn 1,51. “Verily, verily I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Seest thou how He leads him up by little and little from the earth, and causes him no longer to imagine Him a man merely? for One to whom Angels minister, and on whom Angels ascend and descend, how could He be man? For this reason He said, “Thou shalt see greater things than these.” And in proof of this, He introduces the ministry of Angels. And what He means is something of this kind: “Doth this, O Nathanael, seem to thee a great matter, and hast thou for this confessed me to be King of Israel? What then wilt thou say, when thou seest the Angels ascending and descending upon Me?” Persuading him by these words to own Him Lord also of the Angels. For on Him as on the King’s own Son, the royal ministers ascended and descended, once at the season of the Crucifixion, again at the time of the Resurrection and the Ascension, and before this also, when they “came and ministered unto Him” (Mt 4,11), when they proclaimed the glad tidings of His birth, and cried, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace” (Lc 2,14), when they came to Mary, when they came to Joseph.
And He does now what He has done in many instances; He utters two predictions, gives present proof of the one, and confirms that which has to be accomplished by that which is so already. For of His sayings some had been proved, such as, “Before Philip called thee, under the fig-tree I saw thee”; others had yet to come to pass, and had partly done so, namely, the descending and ascending of the Angels, at the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension; and this He renders credible by His words even before the event. For one who had known His power by what had gone before, and heard from Him of things to come, would more readily receive this prediction too.
What then does Nathanael? To this he makes no reply. And therefore at this point Christ stopped His discourse with him, allowing him to consider in private what had been said; and not choosing to pour forth all at once, having cast seed into fertile ground, He then leaves it to shoot at leisure. And this He has shown in another place, where He saith, “The kingdom of heaven is like to a man that soweth good seed, but while he slept, his enemy cometh, and soweth tares among the wheat.”3
Jn 2,1-2. “On the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. And Jesus was called to the marriage. And the mother of Jesus was there, and His brethren.”4
I said before that He was best known in Galilee; therefore they invite Him to the marriage, and He comes; for He looked not to His own honor, but to our benefit. He who disdained not to “take upon Him the form of a servant” (Ph 2,7), would much less disdain to be present at the marriage of servants; He who sat down “with publicans and sinners” (Mt 9,13), would much less refuse to sit down with those present at the marriage. Assuredly they who invited Him had not formed a proper judgment of Him, nor did they invite Him as some great one, but merely as an ordinary acquaintance; and this the Evangelist has hinted at, when he says, “The mother of Jesus was there, and His brethren.” Just as they invited her and His brethren, they invited Jesus.
Jn 2,3. “And when they wanted wine, His mother saith unto Him, They have no wine.”
Here it is worth while to enquire whence it came into His mother’s mind to imagine anything great of her Son; for He had as yet done no miracle, since the Evangelist saith, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee.” (c. 2,11).
[2.] Now if any say that this is not a sufficient proof that it was the “beginning of His miracles,” because there is added simply “in Cana of Galilee,” as allowing it to have been the first done there, but not altogether and absolutely the first, for He probably might have done others elsewhere, we will make answer to him of that which we have said before. And of what kind? The words of Jn (the Baptist); “And I knew Him not; but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come, baptizing with water.” Now if He had wrought miracles in early age, the Israelites would not have needed another to declare Him. For He who came among men, and by His miracles was so made known, not to those only in Judaea, but also to those in Syria and beyond, and who did this in three years only, or rather who did not need even these three years to manifest Himself (Mt 4,24), for immediately and from the first His fame went abroad everywhere; He, I say, who in a short time so shone forth by the multitude of His miracles, that His name was well known to all, was much less likely, if while a child He had from an early age wrought miracles, to escape notice so long. For what was done would have seemed stranger as done by a boy, and there would have been time for twice or thrice as many, and much more. But in fact He did nothing while He was a child, save only that one thing to which Lc has testified (Lc 2,46), that at the age of twelve years He sat hearing the doctors, and was thought admirable for His questioning. Besides, it was in accordance with likelihood and reason that He did not begin His signs at once from an early age; for they would have deemed the thing a delusion. For if when He was of full age many suspected this, much more, if while quite young He had wrought miracles, would they have hurried Him sooner and before the proper time to the Cross, in the venom of their malice; and the very facts of the Dispensation would have been discredited.
“How then,” asks some one, “came it into the mind of His mother to imagine anything great of Him?” He was now beginning to reveal Himself, and was plainly discovered by the witness of John, and by what He had said to His disciples. And before all this, the Conception itself and all its attending circumstances5 had inspired her with a very great opinion of the Child; “for,” said Luke, “she heard all the sayings concerning the Child, and kept them in her heart.”6 “Why then,” says one, “did not she speak this before?”7 Because, as I said, it was now at last that He was beginning to manifest Himself. Before this time He lived as one of the many, and therefore His mother had not confidence to say any such thing to Him; but when she heard that Jn had come on His account, and that he had borne such witness to Him as he did, and that He had disciples, after that she took confidence, and called Him, and said, when they wanted wine, “They have no wine.” For she desired both to do them a favor, and through her Son to render herself more conspicuous; perhaps too she had some human feelings, like His brethren, when they said, “Show thyself to the world” (c. 17,4), desiring to gain credit from His miracles. Therefore He answered somewhat vehemently,8 saying,
Jn 2,4. “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.”
To prove that He greatly respected His mother, hear Lc relate how He was “subject to” His parents (Lc 2,51), and our own Evangelist declare how He had forethought for her at the very season of the Crucifixion. For where parents cause no impediment or hindrance in things belonging to God, it is our bounden duty to give way to them, and there is great danger in not doing so; but when they require anything unseasonably, and cause hindrance in any spiritual matter, it is unsafe to obey. And therefore He answered thus in this place, and again elsewhere, “Who is My mother, and who are My brethren?” (Mt 12,48), because they did not yet think rightly of Him; and she, because she had borne Him, claimed, according to the custom of other mothers, to direct Him in all things, when she ought to have reverenced and worshiped Him. This then was the reason why He answered as He did on that occasion. For consider what a thing it was, that when all the people high and low were standing round Him, when the multitude was intent on hearing9 Him, and His doctrine had begun to be set forth, she should come into the midst and take Him away from the work of exhortation, and converse with Him apart, and not even endure to come within, but draw Him outside merely to herself. This is why He said, “Who is My mother and My brethren?” Not to insult her who had borne Him, (away with the thought!) but to procure her the greatest benefit, and not to let her think meanly of Him. For if He cared for others, and used every means to implant in them a becoming opinion of Himself, much more would He do so in the case of His mother. And since it was probable that if these words had been addressed to her by her Son, she would not readily have chosen even then to be convinced, but would in all cases have claimed the superiority as being His mother, therefore He replied as He did to them who spake to Him; otherwise He could not have led up her thoughts from His present lowliness to His future exaltation, had she expected that she should always be honored by Him as by a son, and not that He should come as her Master.
[3.] It was then from this motive that He said in this place, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” and also for another reason not less pressing. What was that? It was, that His miracles might not be suspected. The request ought to have come from those who needed, not from His mother. And why so? Because what is done at the request of one’s friends, great though it be, often causes offense to the spectators; but when they make the request who have the need, the miracle is free from suspicion, the praise unmixed, the benefit great. So if some excellent physician should enter a house where there were many sick, and be spoken to by none of the patients or their relations, but be directed only by his own mother, he would be suspected 10 and disliked by the sufferers, nor would any of the patients or their attendants deem him able to exhibit anything great or remarkable. And so this was a reason why He rebuked her on that occasion, saying, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” instructing her for the future not to do the like; because, though He was careful to honor His mother, yet He cared much more for the salvation of her soul, and for the doing good to the many, for which He took upon Him the flesh.
These then were the words, not of one speaking rudely to his mother, but belonging to a wise dispensation, which brought her into a right frame of mind, and provided that the miracles should be attended with that honor which was meet. And setting other things aside, this very appearance which these words have of having been spoken chidingly, is amply enough to show that He held her in high honor, for by His displeasure He showed that He reverenced her greatly; in what manner, we will say in the next discourse. Think of this then, and when you hear a certain woman saying, “Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked,” and Him answering, “rather blessed are they that do the will of my Father” 11 (Lc 11,27), suppose that those other words also were said with the same intention. For the answer was not that of one rejecting his mother, but of One who would show that her having borne Him would have nothing availed her, had she not been very good and faithful. Now if, setting aside the excellence of her soul, it profited Mary nothing that the Christ was born of her, much less will it be able to avail us to have a father or a brother, or a child of virtuous and noble disposition, if we ourselves be far removed from his virtue. “A brother,” saith David, “doth not redeem shall man redeem?” (Ps 49,7 LXX). We must place our hopes of salvation in nothing else, but only in our own righteous deeds (done) after a the grace of God. For if this by itself could have availed, 12 it would have availed the Jews, (for Christ was their kinsman according to the flesh,) it would have availed the town in which He was born, it would have availed His brethren. But as long as His brethren cared not for themselves, the honor of their kindred availed them nothing, but they were condemned with the rest of the world, and then only were approved, when they shone by their own virtue; and the city fell, and was burnt, having gained nothing from this; and His kinsmen according to the flesh were slaughtered and perished very miserably, having gained nothing towards being saved from their relationship to Him, because they had not the defense of virtue. The Apostles, on the contrary, appeared greater than any, because they followed the true and excellent way of gaining relationship with Him, that by obedience. And from this we learn that we have always need of faith, and a life shining and bright, since this alone will have power to save us. For though His relations were for a long time everywhere held in honor, being called the Lord’s kinsmen, 13 yet now we do not even know their names, while the lives and names of the Apostles are everywhere celebrated.
Let us then not be proud of nobleness of birth 14 according to the flesh, but though we have ten thousand famous ancestors, let us use diligence ourselves to go beyond their excellences, knowing that we shall gain nothing from the diligence of others to help us in the judgment that is to come; nay, this will be the more grievous condemnation, that though born of righteous parents and having an example at home, we do not, even thus, imitate our teachers. And this I say now, because I see many heathens, 15 when we lead them to the faith and exhort them to become Christians, flying to their kinsmen and ancestors and house, and saying, “All my relations and friends and companions are faithful Christians.” What is that to thee, thou wretched and miserable? This very thing will be especially thy ruin, that thou didst not respect the number of those around thee, and run to the truth. Others again who are believers but live a careless life, when exhorted to virtue make the very same defense, and say, “my father and my grandfather and my great-grandfather were very pious and good men.” But this will assuredly most condemn thee, that being descended from such men, thou hast acted unworthily of the root from whence thou art sprung. For hear what the Prophet says to the Jews, “Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept (sheep)” (Os 12,12); and again Christ, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.” (c. viii. 56). And everywhere they bring forward 16 to them the righteous acts of their fathers, not only to praise them, but also to make the charge against their descendants more heavy. Knowing then this, let us use every means that we may be saved by our own works, lest having deceived ourselves by vain trusting on others, we learn that we have been deceived when the knowledge of it will profit us nothing. “In the grave,” saith David, “who shall give thee thanks?” (Ps 6,5). Let us then repent here, that we may obtain the everlasting goods, which may God grant we all do, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read the passage thus: polloi; tw`n ajnaginwskovntwn to; rJhto;n tou`to diaporou`nte" favsi: tiv dhpote Pevtro" k.t.l.
2 al. “led forward.”
3 Mt 13,24-25, slightly varying from G. T.
4 The reading is different in G. T).
5 al. “and all that took place after His birth.”
6 This is the common reading, but the passage (Lc 2,51) is not so found in G. T.; Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read: tou`to kaiv oJ Louka`" hJmi`n deivknusi levgwn : hJ de; Maria;m sunethvrei ta; rJhvmata pavnta sumbavllousa ejn th`/ k.
7 i.e. as she spoke at the marriage.
9 lit. “hanging on the hearing.”
10 [and tiresome] Morel.
11 ajkouvonte" to;n lovgon tou` Qeou`, G. T.
12 or “next to,” meta; with acc.
13 [the Virgin] Morel. and ms.
14 Despovsunoi, Eus). H. E. 1. 7.
15 al. “relationship.”
16 lit. “Greeks.”
Chrysostom on John 19