Augustin on John 60
1. This short section of the Gospel, brethren, we have in this lesson brought forward for exposition, as thinking that we ought also to say something of the Lord’s betrayer, as now plainly enough disclosed by the dipping and holding out to him of the piece of bread. Of that indeed which precedes, (namely), that Jesus, when about to point him out, was troubled in spirit, we have treated in our last discourse; but what I perhaps omitted to mention there, the Lord, by His own perturbation of spirit, thought proper to indicate this also, that it is necessary to bear with false brethren, and those tares that are among the wheat in the Lord’s field until harvest-time, because that when we are compelled by urgent reasons to separate some of them even before the harvest, it cannot be done without disturbance to the Church. Such disturbance to His saints in the future, through schismatics and heretics, the Lord in a way foretold and prefigured in Himself, when, at the moment of that wicked man Judas’ departure, and of his thereby bringing to an end, in a very open and decided way, his past intermingling with the wheat, in which he had long been tolerated, He was troubled, not in body, but in spirit. For it is not spitefulness, but charity, that troubles His spiritual members in scandals of this kind; test perchance. in separating some of the tares, any of the wheat should also be uprooted therewith.
2. “Jesus,” therefore, “was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” “One of you,” in number, not in merit; in appearance, not in reality; in bodily commingling, not by any spiritual tie; a companion by fleshly juxtaposition, not in any unity of the heart; and therefore not one who is of you, but one who is to go forth from you. For how else can this “one of you” be true, of which the Lord so testified, and said, if that is true which the writer of this very Gospel says in his Epistle, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us”?1 Judas, therefore was not of them; for, had he been of them, he would have continued with them. What, then, do the words “One of you shall betray me” mean, but that one is going out from you who shall betray me? Just as he also, who said, “If they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us,” had said before, “They went out from us.” And thus it is true in both senses, “of us,” and “not of us;” in one respect “of us,” and in another “not of us;” “of us” in respect to sacramental communion, but “not of us” in respect to the criminal conduct that belongs exclusively to themselves.
3. “Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake.” For while they were imbued with a reverential love to their Master, they were none the less affected by human infirmity in their feelings towards each other. Each one’s own conscience was known to himself; but as he was ignorant of his neighbor’s, each one’s self-assurance was such that each was uncertain of all the others, and all the others were uncertain of that one.
4. “Now there was leaning on Jesus’bosom, one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” What he meant by saying “in His bosom,” he tells us a little further on, where he says, “on the breast of Jesus.” It was that very John whose Gospel is before us, as he afterwards expressly declares.2 For it was a custom with those who have supplied uswith the sacred writings, that when any ofthem was relating the divine history, and came to something affecting himself, he spoke as if it were about another; and gave himself a place in the line of his narrative becoming one who was the recorder of public events, and not as one who made himself the subject of his preaching. Saint Matthew acted also in this way, when, in coming in the course of his narrative to himself, he says, “He saw a publican named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom, and saith unto him, Follow me.”3 He does not say, He saw me, and said to me. So also acted the blessed Moses, writing all the history about himself as if it concerned another, and saying, “The Lord said unto Moses.”4 Less habitually was this done by the Apostle Paul, not however in any history which undertakes to explain the course of public events, but in his own epistles. At all events, he speaks thus of himself: “I knew a man in Christ fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up into the third heaven.”5 And so, when the blessed evangelist also says here, not, I was leaning on Jesus’ bosom, but, “There was leaning one of the disciples,” let us recognize a custom of our author’s, rather than fall into any wonder on the subject. For what loss is there to the truth, when the facts themselves are told us, and all boastfulness of language is in a measure avoided? For thus at least did he relate that which most signally pertained to his praise.
5. But what mean the words, “whom Jesus loved”? As if He did not love the others, of whom this same Jn has said above, “He loved them to the end” (ver. 1); and as the Lord Himself, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And who could enumerate all the testimonies of the sacred pages, in which the Lord Jesus is exhibited as the lover, not only of this one, or of those who were then around Him, but of such also as were to be His members in the distant future, and of His universal Church? But there is some truth, doubtless, underlying these words, and having reference to the bosom on which the narrator was leaning. For what else can be indicated by the bosom but some hidden truth? But there is another more suitable passage, where the Lord may enable us to say something about this secret that may prove sufficient.
6. “Simon Peter therefore beckons, and says to him.”6 The expression is noteworthy, as indicating that something was said not by any sound of words, but by merely beckoning with the head. “He beckons, and says;” that is, his beckoning is his speech. For if one is said to speak in his thoughts, as Scripture saith, “They said [reasoned] with themselves;”7 how much more may he do so by beckoning, which expresses outwardly by some sort of signs what had previously been conceived within! What, then, did his beckoning mean? What else but that which follows? “Who is it of whom He speaks?” Such was the language of Peter’s beckoning; for it was by no vocal sounds, but by bodily gestures, that he spake. “He then, havingleaned back on Jesus’ breast,”-surely the very bosom8 of His breast this, the secret place of wisdom!-“saith unto Him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a piece of bread, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the bread, Satan entered into him.” The traitor was disclosed, the coverts of darkness were revealed. What he got was good, but to his own hurt he received it, because, evil himself, in an evil spirit he received what was good. But we have much to say about that dipped bread which was presented to the false-hearted disciple, and about that which follows; and for these we shall require more time than remains to us now at the close of this discourse.
1 (1Jn 2,19,
2 Chap. 21,20-24.
3 (Mt 9,9,
4 (Ex 6,1,
5 (2Co 12,2).
6 The original Mss. give different readings of this verse. That followed by our English version is supported by the Codd. Alex. and Cantabr., which read, Neuvei ou\n touvtw Sivmwn Pevtro" puqevsqai ti" a]n ei\h peri; ou\ levgei. The Latin version used by Augustin reads, Innuit ergo Simon Petrus, et dicit ei, Quis est de quo dicit, and approaches nearly to that found in the Codd. Vat. and Ephr., which read, Neuvei ou\n touvtw S. II., kai; levgei auvtw`, Eivpe; tiiv" ejstin peri; ou\ levgei-“Simon Peter therefore beckons to this one, and says to him, Say [ask], who is it of whom He speaks?” Of the early versions, the Syriac adopts the former, while the Vulgate resembles the latter. The Sinaitic gives a fuller reading, compounded of both the others. There is thus some doubt as to the original text; but the latter has some special arguments of an internal kind in its favor: such as the consideration that, from its peculiar and somewhat redundant form, it could hardly have been substituted in place of the former, which is smoother and more elegant, while the converse is perfectly supposable; and also the weighty fact that John nowhere else makes use of the optative mood, as he would here (tiv" a) ei)h), if the former reading-that followed by our English version-were the true one.-Tr.
7 (Ct 2,1.
8 Pectoris sinus; the hollow, the inmost part of the breast.
1). I Know, dearly beloved, that some may be moved, as the godly to inquire into the meaning of, and the ungodly to find fault with, the statement, that it was after the Lord had given the bread, that had been dipped, to His betrayer that Satan entered into him. For so it is written: “And when He had dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the Son of Simon. And after the bread, then entered Satan into him.” For they say, Was this the worth of Christ’s bread, given from Christ’s own table, that after it Satan should enter into His disciple? And the answer we give them is, that thereby we are taught rather how much we need to beware of receiving. what is good in a sinful spirit. For the point of special importance is, not the thing that is received, but the person that receives it; and not the character of the thing that is given, but of him to whom it is given. For even good things are hurtful, and evil things are beneficial, according to the character of the recipients. “Sin,” says the apostle, “that it might appear sin, wrought death to me by that which is good.”1 Thus, you see, evil is brought about by the good, so long as that which is good is wrongly received. It is he also that says: “Lest I should be exalted unduly through the greatness of my revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me. For which thing I besought the Lord thrice, that He would take it away from me; and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for strength is made perfect in weakness.”2 And here, you see, good was brought about by that which was evil, when the evil was received in a good spirit. Why, then, do we wonder if Christ’s bread was given to Judas, that thereby he should be made over to the devil; when we see, on the other hand, that Paul was visited by a messenger of the devil, that by such an instrumentality he might be perfected in Christ? In this way, both the good was injurious to the evil man, and the evil was beneficial to the good. Bear in mind the meaning of the Scripture, “Whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”3 And when the apostle said this, he was dealing with those who were taking the body of the Lord, like any other food, in an undiscerning and careless spirit. If, then, he is thus taken to task who does not discern, that is, does not distinguish from the other kinds of food, the body of the Lord, what condemnation must be his, who in the guise of a friend comes as an enemy to His table! If negligence in the guest is thus visited with blame, what must be the punishment that will fall on the man that sells the very person who has invited him to his table! And why was the bread given to the traitor, but as an evidence of the grace he had treated with ingratitude?
2. It was after this bread, then, that Satan entered into the Lord’s betrayer, that, as now given over to his power, he might take full possession of one into whom before this he had only entered in order to lead him into error. For we are not to suppose that he was not in him when he went to the Jews and bargained about the price of betraying the Lord; for the evangelist Lc very plainly attests this when he says: “Then entered Satan into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, being one of the twelve; and he went his way, and communed with the chief priests.”4 Here, you see, it is shown that Satan had already entered into Judas. His first entrance, therefore, was when he implanted in his heart the thought of betraying Christ; for in such a spirit had he already come to the supper. But now, after the bread, he entered into him, no longer to tempt one who belonged to another, but to take possession of him as his own.
3. But it was not then, as some thoughtless readers suppose, that Judas received the body of Christ. For we are to understand that the Lord had already dispensed to all of them the sacrament of His body and blood, when Judas also was present, as very clearly related by Saint Luke;5 and it was after this that we come to the moment when, in accordance with John’s account, the Lord made a full disclosure of His betrayer by dipping and holding out to him the morsel of bread, and intimating perhaps by the dipping of the bread the false pretensions of the other. For the dipping of a thing does not always imply its washing; but some things are dipped in order to be dyed. But if a good meaning is to be here attached to the dipping, his ingratitude for that good was deservedly followed by damnation.
4. But still, possessed as Judas now was, not by the Lord, but by the devil, and now that the bread had entered the belly, and an enemy the soul of this man of ingratitude: still, I say, there was this enormous wickedness, already conceived in his heart, waiting to be wrought out to its full issue, for which the damnable desire had always preceded. Accordingly, when the Lord, the living Bread, had given this bread to the dead, and in giving it had revealed the betrayer of the Bread, He said, “What thou doest, do quickly.” He did not command the crime, but foretold evil to Judas, and good to us. For what could be worse for judas, or what could be better for us, than the delivering up of Christ,-a deed done by him to his own destruction, but done, apart from him, in our behalf? “What thou doest, do quickly.” Oh that word of One whose wish was to be ready rather than to be angry! That word! expressing not so much the punishment of the traitor as the reward awaiting the Redeemer! For He said, “What thou doest, do quickly,” not as wrathfully looking to the destruction of the trust-betrayer, but in His own haste to accomplish the salvation of the faithful; for He was delivered for our offences,6 and He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.7 And as the apostle also says of himself: “Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”8 Had not, then, Christ given Himself, no one could have givenHim up. What is there in Judas’ conduct but sin? For in delivering up Christ he had no thought of our salvation,for which Christ was really delivered, but thought only of his money gain, and found the loss of his soul. He got the wages he wished, but had also given him, against his wish, the wages he merited. Judas delivered up Christ, Christ delivered Himself up: the former transacted the business of his own selling of his Master, the latter the business of our redemption. “What thou doest, do quickly,” not because thou hast the power in thyself, but because He wills it who has all the power.
5. “Now no one of those at the table knew for what intent He spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the money-bag, that Jesus said unto him, Buy those things which we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.” The Lord, therefore, had also a money-box, where He kept the offerings of believers, and distributed to the necessities of His own, and to others who were in need. It was then that the custom of having church-money was first introduced, so that thereby we might understand that His precept about taking no thought for the morrow9 was not a command that no money should be kept by His saints, but that God should not he served for any such end, and that the doing of what is right should not be held in abeyance through the fear of want. For the apostle also has this foresight for the future, when he says: “If any believer hath widows, let him give them enough, that the church may not be burdened, that it may have enough for them that are widows indeed.”10
6. “He then, having received the morsel of bread, went immediately out: and it was night.” And he that went out was himself the night. “Therefore when” the night “was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified.” The day therefore uttered speech unto the day, that is, Christ did so to His faithful disciples, that they might hear and love Him as His followers; and the night showed knowledge unto the night,11 that is, Judas did so to the unbelieving Jews, that they might come as His persecutors, and make Him their prisoner. But now, in considering these words of the Lord, which were addressed to the godly, before His arrest by the ungodly, special attention on the part of the · hearer is required; and therefore it will be more becoming in the preacher, instead of hurriedly considering them now, to defer themtill a future occasion.
1 (Rm 7,13,
2 (2Co 12,7-9).
3 (1Co 11,27,
4 (Lc 22,3-4.
5 (Lc 22,19-21.
6 (Rm 4,25,
7 (Ep 5,25,
8 (Ga 2,20).
9 (Mt 6,34,
10 (1Tm 5,16,
11 (Ps 19,2,
1. Let us give our mind’s best attention, and, with the Lord’s help, seek after God. The language of the divine hymn is: “Seek God and your soul shall live.”1 Let us search for that which needs to be discovered, and into that which has been discovered. He whom we need to discover is concealed, in order to be sought after; and when found, is infinite, in order still to be the object of our search. Hence it is elsewhere said, “Seek His face evermore.”2 For He satisfies the seeker to the utmost of his capacity; and makes the finder still more capable, that he may seek to be filled anew, according to the growth of his ability to receive. Therefore it was not said, “Seek His face evermore,” in the same sense as of certain others, who are “always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth;”3 but rather as the preacher saith, “When a man hath finished, then he beginneth;”4 till we reach that life where we shall be so filled, that our natures shall attain their utmost capacity, because we shall have arrived at perfection, and no longer be aiming at more. For then all that can satisfy us will be revealed to our eyes. But here let us always be seeking, and let our reward in finding put no endto our searching. For we do not say that it will not be so always, because it is only so here; but that here we must always be seeking, lest at any time we should imagine that here we can ever cease from seeking. For those of whom it is said that they are “always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth.” are here indeed always learning; but when they depart this life they will no longer be learning, but receiving the reward of their error. For the words, “always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth,” mean, as it were, always walking, and never getting into the road. Let us, on the other hand, be walking always in the way, till we reach the end to which it leads; let us nowhere tarry in it till we reach the proper place of abode: and so we shall both persevere in our seeking, and be making some attainments in our finding, and, thus seeking and finding, be passing on to that which remains, till the very end of all seeking shall be reached in that world where perfection shall admit of no further effort at advancement. Let these prefatory remarks, dearly beloved, make your Charity attentive to this discourse of our Lord’s, which He addressed to the disciples before His passion: for it is profound in itself; and where, in particular, the preacher purposes to expend much labor, the hearer ought not to be remiss in attention.
2. What is it, then, that the Lord says, after that Judas went out, to do quickly what he purposed doing, namely, betraying the Lord? What says the day when the night had gone out? What says the Redeemer when the seller had departed? “Now,” He says, “is the Son of man glorified.” Why “now”? It was not, was it, merely that His betrayer was gone out, and that those were at hand who were to seize and slay Him? Is it thus that He “is now glorified,” to wit, that His deeper humiliation is approaching; that over Him are impending both bonds, and judgment, and condemnation, and mocking, and crucifixion, and death? Is this glorification, or rather humiliation? Even when He was working miracles, does not this very Jn say of Him, “The Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified”?5 Even then, therefore, when He was raising the dead, He was not yet glorified; and is He glorified now, when drawing near in His own person unto death? He was not yet glorified when acting as God, and is He glorified in going to suffer as man? It would be strange if it were this that God, the great Master, signified and taught in such words. We must ascend higher to unveil the words of the Highest, who reveals Himself somewhat that we may find Him, and anon hides Himself that we may seek Him, and so press on step by step, as it were, from discoveries already made to those that still await us. I get here a sight of something that prefigures a great reality. Judas went out, and Jesus is glorified; the son of perdition went out, and the Son of man is glorified. He it was that had gone out, on whose account it had been said to them all, “And ye are clean, but not all” (ver. 10). When, therefore, the unclean one departed, all that remained were clean, and continued with their Cleanser. Something like this will it be when this world shall have been conquered by Christ, and shall have passed away, and there shall be no one that is unclean remaining among His people; when, the tares having been separated from the wheat, the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.6 The Lord, foreseeing such a future as this, and in testimony that such was signified now in the separation of the tares, as it were, by the departure of Judas, and the remaining behind of the wheat in the persons of the holy apostles, said, “Now is the Son of man glorified:” as if He had said, See, so will it be in that day of my glorification yet to come, when none of the wicked shall be present, and none of the good shall be wanting. His words, however, are not expressed in this way: Now is prefigured the glorification of the Son of man; but expressly, “Now is the Son of man glorified:” just as it was not said, The Rock signified Christ; but, “That Rock was Christ.”7 Nor is it said, The good seed signified the children of the kingdom, or, The tares signified the children of the wicked one; but what is said is, “The good seed, these are the children of the kingdom; and the tares, the children of the wicked one.”8 According, then, to the usage of Scripture language, which speaks of the signs as if they were the things signified, the Lord makes use of the words, “Now is the Son of man glorified;” indicating that in the completed separation of that arch sinner from their company, and in the remaining around Him of His saints, we have the foreshadowing of His glorification, when the wicked shall be finally separated, and He shall dwell with His saints through eternity.
3. But after saying, “Now is the Son of man glorified,” He added, “and God is glorified in Him.” For this is itself the glorifying of the Son of man, that God should be glorified in Him. For if He is not glorified in Himself, but God in Him, then it is He whom God glorifies in Himself. And just as if to give them this explanation, He furthers adds: “If God is glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself.” That is, “If God is glorified in Him,” because He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him; “and God shall glorify Him in Himself,” in such wise that the human nature, in which He is the Son of man, and which was so assumed by the eternal Word, should also be endowed with an eternal immortality. “And,” He says, “He shall straightway glorify Him;” predicting, to wit, by such an asseveration, His own resurrection in the immediate future, and not, as it were, ours in the end of the world. For it is this very glorification of which the evangelist had previously said, as I mentioned a little ago, that on this account the Spirit was not yet in their case given in that new way, in which He was yet to be given after the resurrection to those who believed, because that Jesus was not yet glorified: that is, mortality was not yet clothed with immortality, and temporal weakness transformed into eternal strength. This glorification may also be indicated in the words, “Now is the Son of man glorified;” so that the word “now” may be supposed to refer, not to His impending passion, but to His closely succeeding resurrection, as if what was now so near at hand had actually been accomplished. Let this suffice your affection to-day; we shall take up, when the Lord permits us, the words that follow.
1 (Ps 69,32,
2 (Ps 105,4.
3 (2Tm 3,7,
4 (Si 18,7).
5 Chap. 7,39.
6 (Mt 13,43,
7 (1Co 10,4,
8 (Mt 13,38,
1. It becomes us, dearly beloved, to keep in view the orderly connection of our Lord’s words. For after having previously said, but subsequently to Judas’ departure, and his separation from even the outward communion of the saints, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him;”-whether He said so as pointing to His future kingdom, when the wicked shall be separated from the good, or that His resurrection was then to take place, that is, was not to be delayed, like ours, till the end of the world;-and having then added, “If God is glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him,” whereby without any ambiguity He testified to the immediate fulfillment of His own resurrection; He proceeded to say, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you.” To keep them, therefore, from thinking that God was to glorify Him in such a way that He would never again be joined with them in earthly intercourse, He said, “Yet a little while I am with you:” as if He had said, Straightway indeed I shall be glorified in my resurrection; and yet I am not straightway to ascend into heaven, but “yet a little while I am with you.” For, as we find it written in the Ac of the Apostles, He spent forty days with them after His resurrection, going in and out, and eating and drinking:1 not indeed that He had any experience of hunger and thirst, but even by such evidences confirmed the reality of His flesh, which no longer needed, but still possessed the power, to eat and to drink. Was it, then, these forty days He had in view when He said, “Yet a little while I am with you,” or something else? For it may also be understood in this way: “Yet a little while I am with you;” still, like you, I also am in this state of fleshly infirmity, that is, till He should die and rise again: for after He rose again He was with them, as has been said, for forty days in the full manifestation of His bodily presence; but He was no longer with them in the fellowship of human infirmity.
2. There is also another form of His divine presence unknown to mortal senses, of which He likewise says, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.”2 This, at least, is not the same as “yet a little while I am with you;” for it is not a little while until the end of the world. Or if even this is so (for time flies, and a thousand years are in God’s sight as one day, or as a watch in the night,)3 yet we cannot believe that He intended any such meaning on this occasion, especially as He went on to say, “Ye shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come.” That is to say, after this little while that I am with you, “ye shall seek me, and whither I go, ye cannot come.” Is it after the end of the world that, whither He goes, they will not be able to come? And where, then, is the place of which He is going to say a little after in this same discourse, “Father, I will that they also be with me where I am “?4 It was not then of that presence of His with His own which He is maintaining with them till the end of the world that He now spake, when He said, “Yet a little while I am with you;” but either of that state of mortal infirmity in which He dwelt with them till His passion, or of that bodily presence which He was to maintain with them up till His ascension. Whichever of these any one prefers, he can do so without being at variance with the faith.
3. That no one, however, may deem that sense inconsistent with the true one, in which we say that the Lord may have meant the communion of mortal flesh which He held with the disciples till His passion, when He said, “Yet a little while I am with you;” let those words also of His after His resurrection, as found in another evangelist, be taken into consideration, when He said, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you:”5 as if then He was no longer with them, even at the very time that they were standing by, seeing, touching, and talking with Him. What does He mean, then, by saying, “while I was yet with you,” but, while I was yet in that state of mortal flesh wherein ye still remain? For then, indeed, He had been raised again in the same flesh; but He was no longer associated with them in the same mortality. And accordingly, as on that occasion, when now clothed in fleshly immortality, He said with truth, “while I was yet with you,” to which we can attach no other meaning than, while I was yet with you in fleshly mortality; so here also, without any absurdity, we may understand His words, “Yet a little while I am with you,” as if He had said, Yet a little while I am mortal like yourselves. Let us look, then, at the words that follow.
4. “Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so say I to you now.” That is, ye cannot come now. But when He said so to the Jews, He did not add the “now.”6 The former, therefore, were not able at that time to come where He was going, but they were so afterwards; because He says so a little afterwards in the plainest terms to the Apostle Peter. For, on the latter inquiring, “Lord, whither goest Thou?” He replied to him, “Whither I go thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards” (ver. 36). But what it means is not to be carelessly passed over. For whither was it that the disciples could not then follow the Lord, but were able afterwards? If we say, to death, what time can be discovered when any one of the sons of men will find it impossible to die; since such, in this perishable body, is the lot of man, that therein life is not a whit easier than death? They were not, therefore, at that time less able to follow the Lord to death, but they were less able to follow Him to the life which is deathless. For thither it was the Lord was going, that, rising from the dead, He should die no more, and death should no more have dominion over Him.7 For as the Lord was about to die for righteousness’ sake, how could they have followed Him now, who were as yet unripe for the ordeal of martyrdom? Or, with the Lord about to enter the fleshly immortality, how could they have followed Him now, when, even though ready to die, they would have no resurrection till the end of the world? Or, on the point of going, as the Lord was, to the bosom of the Father, and that without any forsaking of them, just as He had never quitted that bosom in coming to them, how could they have followed Him now, since no one can enter on that state of felicity but he that is made perfect in love? And to show them, therefore, how it is that they may attain the fitness to proceed, where He was going before them, He says, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another” (ver. 34). These are the steps whereby Christ must be followed; but any fuller discourse thereon must be put off till another opportunity.
1 (Ac 1,3,
2 (Mt 28,20,
3 (Ps 90,4,
4 Chap. 17,24).
5 (Lc 24,44,
6 Scarcely an admissible use of the “now” (aŸrti), which manifestly refers to the time of Jesus saying so to the disciples, and not to the period of their inability to come.-Tr.
7 (Rm 6,9,
Augustin on John 60