Chrysostom on John 68
"The people answered Him, We have heard out of the Law that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?"
[1.] Deceit is a thing easily detected, and weak, though it be daubed outside with ten thousand colors. For as those who whitewash decayed walls,cannot by the plastering make them sound, so too those who lie are easily found out, as in fact was the case here with the Jews. For when Christ said to them, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me; We have heard,” saith one of them, “out of the Law, that Christ remaineth forever; and how sayest thou, that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Even they then knew that Christwas some Immortal One, and had life without end. And therefore they also knew what He meant; for often in Scripture the Passion and the Resurrection are mentioned in the same place. Thus Isaiah puts them together, saying, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter” (Is 53,7), and all that follows. David also in the second Psalm, and in many other places, connects these two things. The Patriarch too after saying, “He lay down, He couched as a lion,” addeth, “And as a lion’s whelp, who shall raise Him up?” (Gn 49,9). He showeth at once the Passion and the Resurrection. But these men when they thought to silence Him, and to show that He was not the Christ, confessed by this verycircumstance that the Christ remaineth forever. And observe their evil dealing; they said not, “We have heard that Christ neither suffereth nor is crucified,” but that “He remaineth forever.” Yet even this which has been mentioned, would have been no real objection, for the Passion was no hindrance to His Immortality. Hence we may see that they understood many of the doubtful points, and deliberately went wrong. For since He had before spoken about death, when they now heard in this place the, “be lifted up,” they guessed that death was referred to. Then they said, “Who is this Son of Man?” This too they did deceitfully. “Think not, I pray,” saith one, “that we say this concerning thee, assert not that we oppose thee through enmity, for, lo, we know not concerning whom thou speakest, and still we declare our opinion.” What then doth Christ? To silence them, and to show that the Passion is no impediment toHis enduring forever, He saith,
Jn 12,35. “Yet a little while,” He saith, “is the light with you.”Signifying that His death was a removal;1 for the light of the sun is not destroyed, but having retired for a while appears again.
“Walk while ye have the light.”2
Of what season doth He here speak? Of the whole present life, or of the time before the Crucifixion? I for my part think of both, for on account of His unspeakable lovingkindness, many even after the Crucifixion believed. And He speaketh these things to urge them on to the faith, as He also did before, saying, “Yet a little while I am with you.” (c. 7,33).
“He that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.”
How many things, for instance, even now do the Jews, without knowing what they do, but walking as though they were in darkness? They think that they are going the right way, when they are taking the contrary; keeping3 the Sabbath, respecting the Law and the observances about meats, yet knowing not whither they walk.Wherefore He said,
Jn 12,36. “Walk in the light,4 that ye may become children of the light.”
That is, “My children.” Yet in the beginning the Evangelist saith, “Were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God” (c. i. 13); that is, of the Father; while here Himself5 is said to beget them; that thou mayest understand that the operation of the Father and the Son is One. “Jesus having spoken these things,” departed from them, and did hide Himself.6
Why doth He now “hide Himself”? They took not up stones against Him, nor did they blaspheme Him in any such manner as before; why then did He hide Himself? Walking in men’s hearts, He knew that their wrath was fierce, though they said nothing; He knew it boiling and murderous, and waited not till it issued into action, but hid Himself, to allay their ill-will. Observe how the Evangelist has alluded to this feeling; he has immediately added,
Jn 12,37. “Though He had done so many miracles,7 they believed not on Him.”
[2.] What “so many”? So many as the Evangelist hath omitted. And this8 is clear also from what follows. For when He had retired, and given in, and had come to them again, He speaketh with them in a lowly manner, saying, “He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me.” (Jn 12,44). Observe what He doeth. He beginneth with humble and modest expressions, and betaketh Himself to the Father; then again He raiseth His language, and when He seeth that they are exasperated, He retireth; then He cometh to them again, and again beginneth with words of humility. And where hath He done this? Nay, where hath He not done it? See, for instance, what He saith at the beginning, “As I hear, I judge.” (c. 5,30). Then in a loftier tone, “As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, so also the Son quickeneth whom He will” (c. 5,21); again, “I judge you not, there is another that judgeth.” Then again He retireth. Then coming to Galilee, “Labor not,” He saith, “for the meat that perisheth” (c. vi. 27); and after having said great things of Himself, that He came down from Heaven, that He giveth eternal life, He again withdraweth Himself. And He cometh in the Feast of Tabernacles also, and doth the same. And one may see Him continually thus varying His teaching, by His presence, by His absence, by lowly, by high discourses. Which He also did here. “Though He had done so many miracles,” it saith, “they believed not on Him.”
Jn 12,38. “That the saying of Esaias9 might be fulfilled which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” And again,
. “They 10 could not believe,” it saith, “because that Esaias said, 11 Ye shall hear with your ears, and not understand. 12 These things he said, 13 when he saw His glory, and spake of Him.”
Here again observe, that the “because,” and “spake,” refer not to the cause of their unbelief, but to the event. For it was not “because” Isaiah spake, that they believed not; but because they were not about to believe, that he spake. Why then doth not the Evangelist express it so, instead of making the unbelief proceed from the prophecy, not the prophecy from the unbelief? And farther on he putteth this very thing more positively, saying, “Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said.” He desires hence to establish by many proofs the unerring truth of Scripture, and that what Isaiah foretold fell not out otherwise, but as he said. For lest any one should say, “Wherefore did Christ come? Knew he not that they would give no heed to him?” he introduces the Prophets, who knew this also. But He came that they might have no excuse for their sin; for what things the Prophet foretold, he foretold as certainly to be; since if they were not certainly to be, he could not have foretold them; and they were certainly to be, because these men were incurable.
And if, “they could not,” is put, instead of, “they would not,” do not marvel, 14 for He saith also in another place, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Mt 19,12). So in many places He is wont to term choice, power. Again, “The world cannot hate you, but Me it hateth.” (c. 7,7). This one may even see observed in common conversation; as when a man saith, “I cannot love this or that person,” calling the force of his will, power. And again, “this or that person cannot be a good man.” And what saith the Prophet? “If the Ethiopian shall change his skin, or the leopard his spots, this people also shall be able to do good, having learned evil.” (Jr 13,23 LXX). He saith not that the doing of virtue is impossible to them, but that because they will not, therefore they cannot. And by what he saith the Evangelist means, that it was impossible for the Prophet to lie; yet it was not on that account impossible that they should believe. For it was possible, even had they believed, that he should remain true; since he would not have prophesied these things if they had been about to believe. “Why then,” saith some one, “did he not say so?” Because Scripture hath certain idiomatic phrases of this kind, and it is needful to make allowance for its laws.
“The seethings he spake when he saw His glory.” Whose? The Father’s. How then doth Jn speak of the Son? and Paul of the Spirit? Not as confounding the Persons, but as showing that the Dignity is one, they say it. 15 For that which is the Father’s is the Son’s also, and that which is the Son’s is the Spirit’s. 16 Yet many things God spake by Angels, and no one saith, “as the Angel spake,” but how? “as God spake.” Since what hath been said by God through the ministry of Angels would be of God; yet not therefore is what is of God, of the Angels also. But in this place Jn saith that the words are the Spirit’s.
“And spake of Him.” What spake he? “I saw the Lord sitting upon a high throne” (Is 6,1), and what follows. Therefore he there calleth “glory,” that vision, the smoke, the hearing unutterable Mysteries, the beholding the Seraphim, the lightning which leaped from the throne, against which those powers could not took. “And spake of Him.” What said he? That he heard a voice, saying, “Whom shall I send? who shall go? And I said, Here am I, send me. And He said, Ye shall hear with your ears, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive.” (Is 6,8 Is 6,10). For,
Jn 12,40. “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, lest they at any time should see with their eyes, and understand with their heart.”
Here again is another question, but it is not so if we rightly consider it. For as the sun dazzles the eyes of the weak, not by reason of 17 its proper nature, so it is with those who give not heed to the words of God. Thus, in the case of Pharaoh, He is said to have hardened his heart, and so it is with those who are at all contentious against the words of God. This is a peculiar mode of speech in Scripture, as also the, “He gave them over unto a reprobate mind” (Rm 1,28), and the, “He divided them to the nations,” 18 that is, allowed, permitted them to go. For the writer doth not here introduce God as Himself working these l things, but showeth that they took place through the wickedness of others. For, when we are abandoned by God, we are given up to the devil, and when so given up, we suffer ten thousand dreadful things. To terrify the hearer, therefore, the writer saith, “He hardened,” and “gave over.” For to show that He doth not only not give us over, but doth not even leave us, except we will it, hear what He saith, “Do not your iniquities separate between Me and you?” (Is 59,2 LXX).. And again, “They that go far away from Thee shall perish.” (Ps 73,27 LXX). And Hosea saith, “Thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, and I will also forget thee” (Os 4,6 LXX).; and He saith Himself also in the Gospels, “How often would I have gathered your children—and ye would not.” (Lc 13,34). Esaias also again, “I came, and there was no man; I called, and there was none to hearken.” (Is 50,2 LXX). These things He saith, showing that we begin the desertion, and become the causes of our perdition; for God not only desireth not to leave or to punish us, but even when He punisheth, doth it unwillingly; “I will not,” He saith, “the death of a sinner, so much as that he should turn and live.” (Ez 18,32 LXX). Christ also mourneth over the destruction of Jerusalem, 19 as we also do over our friends.
[3.] Knowing this, let us do all so as not to remove from God, but let us hold fast to the care of our souls, and to the love towards each other; let us not tear our own members, (for this 20 is the act of men insane and beside themselves,) but the more we see any ill disposed, the more let us be kind to them. Since we often see many persons suffering 21 in their bodies from difficult or incurable maladies, and cease not to apply remedies. What is worse than gout in foot or hand? Are we therefore to cut off the limbs? Not at all, but we use every means that the sufferer may enjoy some comfort, since we cannot get rid of the disease. This also let us do in the case of our brethren, and, even though they be diseased incurably, let us continue to tend them, and let us bear one another’s burdens. So shall we fulfill the law of Christ, and obtain the promised good things, 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 lit). “our lump.”
2 al). “and Himself.”
3 al). “in order to kill.”
4 al). “doeth.”
6 al). “magniloquently.”
7 al). “added.”
8 oiJ katAE ejkeivnou".
9 “Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son,” N. T.
10 al). “hath put in by the way.”
12 al). “given over.”
13 al). “either he saith this.”
14 E. V). “delivered.”
15 “delivered up,” E. V).
16 al). “what then is added?”
17 al). “went to God,” that is, did what was worthy.
18 ajnasta;" (ejgeivretai, G. T)..
19 “(He riseth,” &c., “and took a towel, and girded Himself.” 5). “After that He poureth water into a basin.” N. T.
21 “and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded,” N. T.
22 ajpAE ejkeivnou, al). uJpAE ejk). “by him.”
23 “(He cometh therefore,” oujn, N. T.
24 i.e. of Judas.
25 i.e. in dignity.
27 “that be far from Thee,” E. V.
28 “lay down,” N. T.
29 al). “Him again.”
30 Ben. and mss. Sav). “the Father.”
31 Sav). “(He sitteth.”
32 al). “clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (from c. 15,3).
33 “Him, therefore said He, Ye are not all clean,” N. T.
34 al). “washest thou.”
36 al). “yet they had not.”
37 from c. 15,3.
39 al). “of the creation.”
40 or, “It.”
41 al). “but we shall not undergo them if we lay up.”
42 al). “putting around.”
43 ou|, al). h|", “which boldness.”
"Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should he put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
[1.] It is necessary for us to avoid alike all the passions which corrupt the soul, but most especially those, which from themselves generate numerous sins. I mean such as the love of money. It is in truth of itself a dreadful malady, but it becomes much more grievous, because it is the root and mother of all mischiefs. Such also is vainglory. See, for instance, how these men were broken off from the faith through their love of honor. “Many,” it saith, “of the chief rulers also believed on Him, but because of the Jews1 they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” As He said also to them before, “How can ye believe which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” (c. 5,44). So then they were not rulers, but slaves in the utmost slavery. However, this fear was afterwards done away, for nowhere during the time of the Apostles do we find them possessed by this feeling, since in their time both rulers and priests believed. The grace of the Spirit having come, made them all firmer than adamant. Since therefore this was what hindered them from believing at this time, hear what He saith.
Jn 12,44. “He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me.”
As though He had said, “Why fear ye to believe on Me? Faith passeth to the Father through Me, as doth also unbelief.” See howin ever) way He showeth the unvaryingness of His Essence.2 He said not, He that believeth “Me,” lest any should assert that He spake concerning His words; this might have been said in the case of mere men, for he that believeth the Apostles, believeth not them, but God. But that thou mightest learn that He speaketh here of the belief on His Essence, He said not, “He that believeth My words,” but, “He that believeth on Me.” “And wherefore,” saith some one, “hath He nowhere said conversely, He that believeth on the Father, believeth not on the Father but on Me?” Because they would have replied, “Lo, we believe on the Father, but we believe not on thee.” Their disposition was as yet too infirm. Anyhow, conversing with the disciples, He did speak thus: “Ye believe on the Father,3 believe also on Me” (c. 14,1); but seeing that these then were too weak to hear such words, He leadeth them in another way, showing4 that it is not possible to believe on the Father, without believing on Him. And that thou mayest not deem that the words are spoken as of man, He addeth,
Jn 12,45. “He that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent Me.”
What then! Is God a body? By no means. The “seeing” of which He here speaketh is that of the mind, thence showing the Consubstantiality. And what is, “He that believeth on Me”? It is as though one should say, “He that taketh water from the river, taketh it not from the river but from the fountain”; or rather this image is too weak, when compared with the matter before us.
Jn 12,46. “I am come a light into the world.”5
For since the Father is called by this name everywhere both in the Old (Testament) and in the New, Christ useth the same name also;therefore Paul also calleth Him, “Brightness” (He 1,3), having learnt to do so from this source. And He showeth here His close relationship with the Father, and that there is no separation6 between them, if so be that He saith that faith on Him is not on Him, but passeth on to the Father. And He called Himself “light,” because He delivereth from error, and dissolveth mental darkness.
Jn 12,47. “If any man hear not Me, and believe not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”
[2.] For lest they should think, that for want of power He passed by the despisers, therefore spake He the, “I came not to judge the world.” Then, in order that they might not in this way be made more negligent, when they bad learned that “he that believeth is saved, and he that disbelieveth is punished,”7 see how He hath also set before them a fearful court of judgment, by going on to say,
Jn 12,48. “He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath One to judge him.”“If the Father judgeth no man, and thou art not come to judge the world, who judgeth him?” “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him.”8 For since they said, “He is not from God,” He saith this,9 that, “they shall not then be able to say these things, but the words which I have spoken now, shall be in place of an accuser, convicting them, and cutting off all excuse.” “And the word which I have spoken.” What manner of word?
Jn 12,49. “For I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak.” And other such like. 10
Surely these things were said for their sakes, that they might have no pretense of excuse. Since if this were not the case, what shall He have more than Isaiah? for he too saith the very same thing, “The Lord God giveth me the tongue of the learned, that I should know when I ought to speak a word.” (Is 50,4 LXX). What more than Jeremiah? for he too when he was sent was inspired. (Jr 1,9). What then Ezekiel? for he too, after eating the roll, so spake. (Ez 3,1). Otherwise also, they who were about to hear what He said shall be found to be causes of His knowledge. For if when He was sent, He then received commandment what He should say, thou wilt then argue that before He was sent He knew not. And what more impious than these assertions? if (that is) one take the words of Christ in this sense, and understand not the cause 11 of their lowliness? Yet Paul saith, that both he and those who were made disciples knew “what was that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rm 12,2), and did the Son not know until He had received commandment? How can this be reasonable? Seest thou not that He bringeth His expressions to an excess of humility, that He may both draw those men over, and silence those who should come after. This is why He uttereth words befitting a mere man, that even so He may force us to fly the meanness of the sayings, as being conscious that the words belong not to His Nature, but are suited to the infirmity of the hearers.
Jn 12,50. “And I know that His commandment is life everlasting; whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak.”
Seest thou the humility of the words? For he that hath received a commandment is not his own master. Yet He saith, “As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.” (c. 5,21). Hath He then power to quicken whom He will, and to say what He will hath He not power? What He intendeth then by the words is this; 12 “The action hath not natural possibility, 13 that He should speak one set of words, and I should utter another.” “And I know that His commandment is life everlasting.” He said this to those that called Him a deceiver, and asserted that He had come to do hurt. But when He saith, “I judge not,” He showeth that He is not the cause of the perdition of these men. 14 By this He all but plainly testifies, when about to remove from, and to be no more with, them, that “I converse with you, speaking nothing as of Myself, but all as from the Father.” And for this cause He confined His discourse to them to humble expressions, that He might say, “Even until the end did I utter this, My last word, to them.” What word was that? “As the Father said unto Me, so I speak.” “Had I been opposed to God I should have said the contrary, that I speak nothing of what is pleasing to God, so as to attract the honor to Myself, but now I have so referred all things to Him, as to call nothing My own. 15 Why then do ye not believe Me when I say that ‘I have received a commandment,’ and when I so vehemently remove your evil suspicion respecting rivalry? For as it is impossible for those who have received a commandment to do or say anything but what their senders wish, as long as they fulfill the commandment, and do not forge 16 anything; so neither is it possible for Me to say or do anything except as My Father willeth. For what I do He doeth, because He is with Me, and ‘the Father hath not left Me alone.’” (c. 8,29). Seest thou how everywhere He showeth Himself connected with Him who begat Him, and that there is no separation? 17 For when He saith, “I am not come of Myself,” He saith it not, as depriving Himself of power, but as taking away all alienation or opposition. 18 For if men are masters of themselves, much more the Only-begotten Son. And to show that this is true, hear what Paul saith, 19 “He emptied Himself, and gave Himself for us.” (Ph 2,7). But, as I said, a terrible thing is vainglory, very terrible (Ep 5,2); for this made these men not to believe, and others to believe ill, so that the things which were said for the sake of those men, through lovingkindness, they turned to 20 impiety.
[3.] Let us then ever flee this monster: various and manifold it is, and everywhere sheds its peculiar venom, in wealth, in luxury, in beauty of person. Through this we everywhere go beyond needful use; 21 through this arises extravagance in garments, and a great swarm of domestics; through this the needful use is everywhere despised, in our houses, our garments, our table; and extravagance prevails. Wilt thou enjoy glory? Do alms-deeds, then shall Angels praise thee, then shall God receive thee. Now the admiration goes no farther than the goldsmiths and weavers, and thou 22 departest without a crown, often seeing that thou receivest curses. But if thou put not these things about thy body, but expend them in feeding the poor, great will be the applause from all sides, great the praise. Then shall thou have them, when thou givest them to others; when thou keepest them to thyself, then thou hast them not. For a house is a faithless treasury, but a sure treasury are the hands of the poor. Why adornest thou thy body, while thy soul is neglected, possessed by uncleanness? Why bestowest thou not so much thought on thy soul, as thy body? Thou oughtest to bestow greater; but anyhow, beloved, 23 we ought to bestow equal care upon it. For tell me, if any one asked thee which thou wouldest choose, that thy body should be fresh and of good habit and surpassing in beauty, and wear mean raiment, or having the body deformed and full of diseases, to wear gold and finery; wouldest thou not much prefer to have beauty depending on the nature of thy person, than on the raiment with which thou art clothed? And wilt thou choose this in the case of thy body, but the contrary in the case of thy soul; and, when thou hast that ugly and unsightly and black, dost thou think to gain anything from golden ornaments? What madness is this! Shift this adorning within, put these necklaces about thy soul. The things that are put about thy body help neither to its health nor to its beauty, for it will not make black white, nor what is ugly either beautiful or good looking. But if thou put them about thy soul, thou shalt soon make it white instead of black, instead of ugly and unsightly, thou shalt make it beautiful and well-favored. The words are not mine, but those of the Lord Himself, who saith, “Though thy sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow” (Is 1,18 LXX).; and, “Give alms—and all things shall be clean unto you” (Luke xi. 41); and by such a disposition thou shalt beautify not thyself only, but thy husband. For they if they see you putting off these outward ornaments, will have no great need of expense, and not having it, they will abstain from all covetousness, and will be more inclined to give alms, and ye too will be able boldly to give them fitting counsel. At present ye are deprived of all such authority. For with what mouth will ye speak of these things? with what eyes will ye look your husbands in the face, asking money for alms, when ye spend most upon the covering of your bodies? Then wilt thou be able boldly to speak with thy husband concerning alms-giving, when thou layest aside thine ornaments of gold. Even if thou accomplish nothing, thou hast fulfilled all thy part; but I should rather say, that it is impossible that the wife should not gain the husband, when she speaks by the very actions. 24 “For what knowest thou, O woman, whether thou shalt save thy husband?” (1Co 7,16). As then now thou shall give account both for thyself and for him, so if thou put off all this vanity thou shall have a double crown, wearing thy crown and triumphing 25 with thy husband through those unalloyed 26 ages, and enjoying the everlasting good things, which may we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 “(So when He had washed their feet, and had taken,” &c., N. T.
2 th;n ajrchvn
3 al). “fall away.”
4 al). “the Christ.”
5 “Master and Lord,” N. T.
6 al). “among them.”
7 “be not ye called Rabbi,” N. T.
9 i.e. one Master, one Father.
10 al). “the Christ.”
12 i.e. this humble office.
14 al). “purgeth.”
16 ajstragavlou", square bones used as dice.
17 “I speak not of you all, I know whom I have chosen,” N. T.
19 lit). “to many.”
20 “the children of,” N. T.
22 al). “by this.”
23 or, in its own way, kaqAE eJauth;n.
25 i.e. Benjamin’s).
"Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end."
[1.] “Be ye imitators of me,” said Paul, “as I also am of Christ.” (1Co 11,1). For on this account He took also flesh of our substance,1 that by means of it He might teach us virtue. For (“God sending His own Son) in the likeness of sinful flesh,” it saith, “and for sin condemned sin in the flesh.” (Rm 8,3). And Christ Himself2 saith, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” (Mt 11,29). And this He taught, not by words alone, but by actions also. For they called Him a Samaritan, and one that had a devil, and a deceiver, and cast stones at Him; and at one time the Pharisees sent servants to take3 Him, at another they sent plotters against Him; and they continued also insulting Him themselves, and that when they had no fault to find, but were even being continually benefited. Still after such conduct He ceaseth not to do well to them both by words and deeds. And, when a certain domestic smote Him on the face, He said, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why smitest thou Me?” (c. 18,23). But this was to those who hated and plotted against Him. Let us see also what He doeth now towards the disciples, or rather what actions He now exhibiteth4 towards the traitor. The man whom most of all there was reason5 to hate, because being a disciple, having shared the table and the salt, having seen the miracles and been deemed worthy of such great things, he acted more grievously than any, not stoning indeed, nor insulting Him, but betraying and giving Him up, observe in how friendly sort He receiveth this man, washing his feet; for even in this way He desired to restrain him from that wickedness. Yet it was in His power, had He willed it, to have withered him like the fig-tree, to have cut him in two as He rent the rocks, to have cleft him asunder like the veil; but He would not lead him away from his design by compulsion, but by choice. Wherefore He washed his feet; and not even by this was that wretched and miserable man shamed.
“Before the feast of the Passover,” it saith, “Jesus knowing that His hour was come.” Not then “knowing,” but (it means) that He did what He did having “known” long ago. “That He should depart.” Magnificently6 the Evangelist calleth His death, “departure.” “Having loved His own, He loved them unto the end.” Seest thou how when about to leave them He showeth greater love? For the, “having loved, He loved them unto the end,” showeth that he omitted nothing of the things which it was likely that one who earnestly loved would do. Why, then did He not this from the beginning? He worketh7 the greatest things last, so as to render more intense their attachment, and to lay up for them beforehand much comfort, against the terrible things that were about to fall on them. St. Jn calls them “His own,” in respect of personal attachment, since he calls others also “His own,” in respect of the work of creation; as when he saith, “His own received Him not.” (c. 1,11). But what meaneth, “which were in the world”? Because the dead also were “His own,” Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the men of that sort,8 but they were not in the world. Seest thou that He is the God both of the Old and New (Testament)? But what meaneth, “He loved them unto the end”? It stands for, “He continued loving them unceasingly,” and this the Evangelist mentions as a sure proof of great affection. Elsewhere indeed He spake of another (proof), the laying down life for His friends; but that had not yet come to pass. And wherefore did He this thing “now”? Because it was far more wonderful at a time when He appeared more glorious in the sight of all men. Besides, He left them no small consolation now that He was about to depart, for since they were going to be greatly grieved, He by these means introduceth also comfort to the grief.
Jn 13,2. “And supper being ended, the devil having now put it into the heart of Judas9 to betray Him.”
This the Evangelist hath said 10 amazed, showing that Jesus washed the man who had already chosen to betray Him. This also proves his great wickedness, that not even the having shared the salt restrained him, (a thing which is most able to restrain wickedness;) not the fact that even up to the last day, his Master continued to bear with him. 11
Jn 13,3. “Jesus knowing that the Father had given 12 all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God.”
Here the Evangelist saith, even 13 wondering, that one so great, so very great, who came from God and went to Him, who ruleth over all, did this thing, and disdained not even so to undertake such an action. And by the “giving over,” methinks St. Jn means the salvation of the faithful. For when He saith, “All things are given over 14 to Me of My Father” (Mt 11,27), He speaketh of this kind of giving over; as also in another place He saith, “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me” (c. 17,6); and again, “No man can come unto Me except the Father draw him” (c. 6,44); and, “Except it be given him from heaven.” (c. iii. 27). The Evangelist then either means this, or that Christ would be nothing lessened by this action, since He came from God, and went to God, and possessed all things. But when thou hearest of “giving over,” understand it in no human sense, for it showeth how He honoreth the Father, and His unanimity with Him. For as the Father giveth over to Him, so He to the Father. And this Paul declares, saying, “When He shall have given over 15 the kingdom to God, even the Father.” (1Co 15,24). But St. John hath said it here in a more human sense, showing His great care for them, and declaring His unutterable love, that He now cared for them as for His own; teaching them the mother of all good, even humblemindedness, which He said was both the beginning and the end of virtue. And not without a reason is added the, 16 “He came from God and went to God”: but that we may learn that He did what was worthy 17 of One who came thence and went thither, trampling down all pride.
Jn 13,4. “And having risen 18 from supper, and laid aside His garments.” 19
[2.] Observe how not by the washing only, but in another way also He exhibiteth humility. For it was not before reclining, but after they had all sat down, then He arose. In the next place, He doth not merely wash them, but doth so, putting off His garments. And He did not even stop here, but girded Himself with a towel. Nor was He satisfied with this, but Himself filled (the basin), and did not bid another fill it; He did all these things Himself, showing by all that we must do such things, when we are engaged in well doing, not merely for form’s sake, 20 but with all zeal. Now He seemeth to me to have washed the feet of the traitor first from its saying,
Jn 13,5. “He began to wash the disciples’ feet,” 21 and adding,
Jn 13,6. “Then cometh He to Simon Peter and Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?”
“With those hands,” he saith, “with which Thou hast opened eyes, and cleansed lepers, and raised the dead?” For this (question) is very emphatic; wherefore He needed not to have said any more than the, “Thou”; for even of itself this would have sufficed to convey the whole. Some one might reasonably enquire, how none of the others forbade Him, but Peter only, which was a mark of no slight love and reverence. What then is the cause? He seemeth to me to have washed the traitor first, then to have come to Peter, and that the others were afterwards instructed from his case. 22 That He washed some one other before him is clear from its saying, “But when He came 23 to Peter.” Yet the Evangelist is not a vehement accuser, 24 for the “began,” is the expression of one implying this. And even if Peter were the first, 25 yet it is probable that the traitor, being a forward person, had reclined even before the chief. 26 For by another circumstance also his forwardness is shown, when He dippeth with his Master in the dish, and being convicted, feels no compunction; while Peter being rebuked but once on a former occasion, and for words which he spake from loving affection, was so abashed, that being even distressed and trembling, he begged another to ask a question. But Judas, though continually convicted, felt not. (Jn 13,24). When therefore He came to Peter, he saith unto Him, “Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?”
Jn 13,7. “He saith unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shall know here after.”
That is “thou shall know how great is the gain from this, the profit of the lesson, and how it is able to guide us into all humblemindedness.” What then doth Peter? He still hinders Him, and saith,
Jn 13,8. “Thou shall never wash my feet.” “What doest thou, Peter? Rememberest thou not those former words? Saidst thou not, ‘Be merciful to Thyself,’ 27 and heardest thou not in return, ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan’? (Mt 16,22). Art thou not even so sobered, but art thou yet vehement?” “Yea,” he saith, “for what is being done is a great matter, and full of amazement.” Since then he did this from exceeding love, Christ in turn subdueth him by the same; and as there He effected this by sharply rebuking him, and saying, “Thou art an offense unto Me,” so here also by saying,
“If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” What then saith that hot and burning one?
Jn 13,9. “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.”
Vehement in deprecation, he becometh yet more vehement in acquiescence; but both from love. For why said He not wherefore He did this, instead of adding a threat? Because Peter would not have been persuaded. For had He said, “Suffer it, for by this I persuade you to be humbleminded,” Peter would have promised it ten thousand times, in order that his Master might not do this thing. But now what saith He? He speaketh of that which Peter most feared and dreaded, the being separated from Him; for it is he who continually asks, “Whither goest Thou?” (Jn 13,36). Wherefore also he said, “I will give 28 even my life for Thee.” (Jn 13,37). And if, after hearing, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter,” he still persisted, much more would he have done so had he learnt (the meaning of the action). Therefore said He, “but thou shalt know hereafter,” as being aware, that should he learn it immediately he would still resist. And Peter said not, “Tell me, that I may suffer Thee,” but (which was much more vehement) he did not even endure to learn, but withstands Him, 29 saying, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” But as soon as He threatened, he straightway relaxed his tone. But what meaneth, “Thou shalt know after this”? “After this?” When? “When in My Name thou shall have cast out devils; when thou shalt have seen Me taken up into Heaven, when thou shalt have learnt from the Spirit 30 that I sit 31 on His right hand, then shall thou understand what is being done now.” What then saith Christ? When Peter said, “not my feet only, but also my hands and my head,” He replieth,
Jn 13,10-11. “He that is washed, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whir; and ye are clean, 32 but not all. For He knew who should betray Him.” 33
“And if they are clean, why washeth He 34 their feet?” That we may learn to be modest. 35 On which account He came not to any other part of the body, but to that which is considered more dishonorable than the rest. But what is, “He that is washed”? It is instead of, “he that is clean.” Were they then clean, who had not 36 yet been delivered from their sins, nor deemed worthy of the Spirit, since sin still had the mastery, the handwriting of the curse still remaining, the victim not having yet been offered? How then calleth He them “clean”? That thou mayest not deem them clean, as delivered from their sins, He addeth, 37 Behold, “ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you.” That is, “In this way ye are so far 38 clean; ye have received the light, ye have been freed from Jewish error. For the Prophet also saith, ‘Wash you, make you clean, put away the wickedness from your souls’ (Is 1,16 LXX).; so that such a one is washed and is clean.” Since then these men had cast away all wickedness from their souls, and had companied with Him with a pure mind, therefore He saith according to the word of the Prophet, “he that is washed is clean already.” For in that place also It meaneth not the “washing” of water, practiced by the Jews;but the cleansing of the conscience. 39
[3.] Be we then also clean; learn we to do well. But what is “well”? “Judge for the fatherless, plead for the widow; and come, let us reason together, saith the Lord.” (Is 1,7). There is frequent mention in the Scriptures of widows and orphans, but we make no account of this. Yet consider how great is the reward. “Though,” it saith, “your sins be as scarlet, I will whiten them as snow; though they be red like crimson, I will whiten them as wool.” For a widow is an unprotected being, therefore He 40 taketh much care for her. For they, when it is even in their power to contract a second marriage, endure the hardships of widowhood through fear of God. Let us then all, both men and women, stretch forth our hands to them, that we may never undergo the sorrows of widow-hood; or if we should have to undergo them, let us lay up 41 a great store of kindness for ourselves. Not small is the power of the widow’s tears, it is able to open heaven itself. Let us not then trample on them, nor make their calamity worse, but assist them by every means. If so we do, we shall put around 42 ourselves much safety, both in the present life, and in that which is to come. For not here alone, but there also will they be our defenders, cutting away most of our sins by reason of our beneficence towards them, and causing us to stand boldly before the judgment-seat of Christ. Which 43 may it come to pass that we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen).
Chrysostom on John 68