Chrysostom on John 58
"They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eves? He said, He is a Prophet. The Jews then did not believe."
[1.] We must go over the Scriptures not in a chance way or carelessly, but with all exactness, that we be not entangled. Since even now in this place one might with show of reason question, how, when they had asserted, “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath,” they now say to the man, “What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes?” and not, “What sayest thou of him, that he hath broken the Sabbath?” but put now that which was the ground of the defense, not that of the accusation. What then have we to reply? That these (who speak) are not the men who said, “This man is not of God,” but those who separated themselves from them, who also said, “A man that is a sinner cannot1 do such miracles.” For desiring to silence their opponents the more, in order that they may not seem to be partisans of Christ, they bring forward theman who had received proof of His power, and question him. Observe now the wisdom of thepoor man, he speaketh more wisely than themall. First he saith, “He is a Prophet”; and shrank not from the judgment2 of the perverse Jews who spake against Him and said, “How can this man be of God, not keeping the Sabbath?” but replied to them, “He is a Prophet.”
“And they3 did not believe that he had beenblind, and received his sight, until they hadcalled his parents.”4
Observe in how many ways they attempt to obscure and take away the miracle. But this isthe nature of truth, by the very means by whichit seems to be assailed by men, by these itbecomes stronger, it shines by means of that bywhich it is obscured. For if these things had not taken place, the miracle might have been suspected by the many; but now, as if desiring to lay bare the truth, so do they use all means, and would not have acted otherwise, supposing they had done all in Christ’s behalf. For they first attempted to cast Him down by occasion of this mode (of cure), saying, “How opened he thine eyes?” that is, “was it by some sorcery?” In another place also, when they had no charge to bring against Him, they endeavored to insult the mode of the cure, saying, “He doth not cast out devils save by Beelzebub.” (Mt 12,24). And here again, when they have nothing to say, they betake themselves to the time (of cure), saying, “He breaketh the Sabbath”; and again, “He is a sinner.” Yet He asked you, who would slay5 Him, and who were ready to lay hold of His actions, most plainly, saying, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” (c. 8,46); and no man spake, nor said “Thou blasphemest because thou makest thyself without sin.” But if they had had it in their power to say so, they would not have held their peace. For they who because they heard that He was before Abraham would have stoned Him, and said that He was not of God, who boasted that they, murderers as they were, were of God, but who said that One who did such wonders, after that He had wrought a cure, was not of God,6 because He kept not the Sabbath, if they had had but a shadow of a charge against Him, would never have let it pass. And if they call Him a sinner because He seemed to break the Sabbath, this charge also is shown to be unsound, when those who are ranked with them condemn their great coldness and littleness of soul.7 Being therefore entangled on every side, they afterwards betake themselves to something else more shameless and impudent. What is that? They “did not believe,” It saith, “that he had been blind, and received his sight.” How then did they charge Christ with not keeping the Sabbath? Plainly, as having believed. But why gave ye not heed to the great number of people? to the neighbors who knew him? As I said, falsehood everywhere defeats itself by the very means by which it seems to annoy the truth, and makes the truth to appear more bright. Which was now the case. For that no one might say that his neighbors and those who had seen him did not speak with precision, but guessed from a likeness,8 they bring forward his parents, by whom they succeeded against their will in proving that what had taken place was real,9 since the parents best of all knew their own child. When they could not terrify the man himself, but beheld him with all boldness proclaim his Benefactor, they thought to wound the miracle by means of his parents. Observe the malice of their questioning. For what saith it? Having placed them in the midst so as to throw them into distress, 10 they apply the questioning with great severity and anger,
Jn 9,19. “Is this your son?” (and they said not, “who once was blind,” but) “of whom ye say that he was born blind?”
As if they were acting deceitfully, and plotting on behalf of 11 Christ. O ye accursed, utterly accursed! What father would choose to invent such falsehoods against his child? For they almost say, “Whom ye have made out blind, and not only so, but have spread abroad the report everywhere.”“How then doth he now see?”
[2.] O folly! “Yours,” saith one, “is the trick 12 and the contrivance.” For by these two things do they attempt to lead the parents to a denial; by using the words, “Whom ye say,” and, “How then doth he now see?” Now when there were three questions asked, whether he was their son, whether he had been blind, and how he received his sight, the parents only acknowledged two of them, but do not add the third. And this came to pass for the sake of the truth, in order that none other save the man that was healed, who was also worthy 13 of credit, should acknowledge this matter. And how would the parents have favored (Christ), when even of what they knew some part they spake not through fear of the Jews? What say they?
Jn 9,20-21. “We know that this is our son,and that he was born blind; but by what means he now seeth we know not, or who hath opened his eyes we know not; he is of age, he shall speak for himself.”
By making him to be worthy of credit, they begged off themselves; “He is not a child, say they, nor incapable, 14 but able to testify for himself.”
Jn 9,22. “These words spake they, 15 because they feared the Jews.”
Observe how the Evangelist again brings forward their opinion and thoughts. This I say, because of that speech which they before uttered, when they said, “He maketh Himself equal to God.” (c. 5,18). For had that also been the opinion of the Jews but not the judgment of Christ, he would have added and said, that “it was a Jewish opinion.” 16 When therefore the parents referred them to him that had been healed, they called him again the second time, and did not say openly and shamelessly, “Deny that Christ healed thee,” but would fain effect this under a pretense of piety.
Jn 9,24. “Give,” 17 sait one, “the glory to God.”
For to have said to the parents, “Deny that he is your son, and that he was born 18 blind,” would have seemed very ridiculous. And again, to have said this to himself would have been manifest shamelessness. Wherefore they say not so, but manage the matter in another way, saying, “Give God the glory,” that is, “confess that this man hath wrought nothing.”
“We know that this man is a sinner.”
“Why then did ye not convict Him when He said, ‘Which of you convinceth Me of sin?’ (c. 8,46). Whence know ye that He is a sinner?” After that they had said, “Give God the glory,” and the man had made no reply, Christ meeting praised him, and did not rebuke him, nor say, “Wherefore hast thou not given glory to God?” But what said He? “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” 19 (Jn 9,35), that thou mayest learn that this is “to give glory to God.” Now had He not been equal in honor to the Father, this would not have been giving glory; but since he that honoreth the Son honoreth the Father also, the blind is with good reason not rebuked. Now while they expected that the parents would contradict and deny the miracle, the Pharisees said nothing to the man himself, but when they saw that they profited nothing by this, they again return to him, saying, “This man is a sinner.”
Jn 9,25. “He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not; one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”
Surely the blind man was not terrified? That be far from him. How then doth he who said, “He is a Prophet” (Jn 9,17), now say, “Whether he be a sinner, I know not”? He said so, not as being in such a state of mind, nor as having persuaded himself of this thing, but desiring to clear Him from their charges by the testimony of the fact, not by 20 his own declaration, and to make the defense credible, when the testimony of the good deed done should decide the matter against them. Since if after many words when the blind man said, “Except this were a righteous manhe could not do such miracles” (Jn 9,33), they were so enraged as to reply, “Thou wast altogether born in sin, and dost thou teach us?” what would they not have said, if he had spoken so from the beginning; what would they not have done? “Whether he be a sinner or not, I know not”; as though he had said, “I say nothing in this man’s favor, I make no declaration at present, yet thisI certainly know and would affirm, that if he were a sinner he could not have done such things.” Thus he kept himself free from suspicion, and his testimony uncorrupted, as not speaking from partiality, but as bearing witness according to the fact. When therefore they could neither upset nor remove what had been done, they again return to their former plan, making trifling enquiries about the manner of the cure, like men 21 who search on every side about a prey which is before them, and cannot be hurt, 22 hastening round now in one direction, now in another; and they recur to the man’s former assertions, in order now to make them unsound by continual questions, and say,
Jn 9,26. “What did he to thee? How opened he thine eyes?”
What was his reply? Having conquered and cast them down, he no longer speaks to them submissly. As long as the matter needed enquiry and arguments he spake guardedly, while he supplied the proof; but when he had conquered and gained a splendid victory, he then takes courage, and tramples upon them. What saith he?
Jn 9,27. “I have told you once, 23 and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again?”
Seest thou the bold-speaking of a beggar towards Scribes and Pharisees? So strong is truth, so weak is falsehood. Truth, though she take hold but of ordinary men, maketh them to appear glorious; the other, even though it be with the strong, shows them weak. 24 What he saith is of this kind: “Ye give no heed to my words, therefore I will no longer speak or answer you continually, who question 25 me to no purpose, and who do not desire to hear in order to learn, but that you may insult over my words.”
“Will ye also be His disciples?”
[3.] Now he hath ranked 26 himself among the band of disciples, for the “will ye also?”is the expression of one who is declaring himself to be a disciple. Then he mocked and annoyed them abundantly. For since he knew that this struck them hard, he said it, wishing to upbraid them with exceeding severity; the act of a soul courageous, soaring on high and despising their madness, pointing out the greatness of this dignity, in which he was very confident, and showing that they insulted him who was a man worthy to be admired, but that he took not the insult to himself, but grasped as an honor what they offered as a reproach.
Jn 9,28. “Thou art his disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples.”
“But this cannot be. Ye are neither Moses’ nor this Man’s; for were ye Moses’, ye would become this Man’s also.” Wherefore Christ before said unto them, because they were continually betaking themselves to these speeches, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me.” (c. 5,46).
Jn 9,29. “We know that God spake unto Moses.” 27
By whose word, whose report? “That of our forefathers,” saith one. Is not He then more to be believed than your forefathers, who confirmeth by miracles that He came from God, and that He speaketh things from above? They said not, “We have heard that God spake to Moses,” but, “We know.” Do ye affirm, O Jews, what ye have by hearing, as knowing it, but deem what ye have by sight as less certain than what ye have by hearing? Yet the one ye saw not, but heard, the other ye did not hear, but saw. What then saith the blind man?
Jn 9,30. “Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not whence He is, and He doeth such miracles.” 28
“That a Man, who is not one of the distinguished or noble or illustrious among you, can do such things; so that it is in every way clear that He is God, needing no human aid.”
Jn 9,31. “We know that God heareth not sinners.”
Since they had been the first to say, “How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?” (Jn 9,16), he now brings forward even their judgment, reminding them of their own words. “This opinion,” saith he, “is common to me and you. Stand fast now to it.” And observe, I pray you, his wisdom. He turns about the miracle in every way, because they could not do away with it, and from it he draws his inferences. Seest thou that at first he said “Whether he be a sinner or not, I know not”? not doubting (God forbid!) but knowing that He was not a sinner. At least now, when he had an opportunity, see how he defended Him. “We know that God heareth not sinners”:
“But if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth His will.” 29
Here he not only hath cleared Him from sin, but declareth that He is very pleasing to God, and doeth all His will. For since they called themselves 30 worshipers of God, he added, “and doeth His will”; “since,” saith he, “it is not sufficient to know God: men must also do His will.” Then he magnifies what had been done, saying,
Jn 9,32. “Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.” 31
“If now ye acknowledge 32 that God heareth not sinners, and this Person hath wrought a miracle, and such a miracle as no man ever wrought, it is clear that He hath surpassed all things in 33 virtue, and that His power is greater than belongeth to man.” What then say they?
Jn 9,34. “Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?”
As long as they expected that he would deny Christ, they deemed him trustworthy, calling upon him once and a second time. If ye 34 deemed him not trustworthy, why did ye call and question him a second time? But when he spake the truth, unabashed, then, when they ought most to have admired, they condemned him. But what is the, “Thou wast altogether born in sins”? They here unsparingly reproach him with his very blindness, as though they had said, “Thou art in sins from thy earliest age”insinuating that on this account he was born blind; which was contrary to reason. On this point at least Christ comforting him said, “For judgment I am come into the world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind.” (c. 9,39).
“Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?” Why, what had the man said? Did he set forth his private opinion? Did he not set forth a common judgment, saying, “We know that God heareth not sinners”?Did he not produce your own words?
“And they cast him out.”
Hast thou beheld the herald of the truth, how poverty was no hindrance to his true wisdom? Seest thou what reproaches, what sufferings he bare from the beginning, and how by word and by deed he testified?
[4.] Now these things are recorded, that we too may imitate them. For if the blind man, the beggar, who had not even seen Him, straightway showed such boldness even before he was encouraged by Christ, standing opposed to a whole people, murderous, possessed, and raving, who desired by means of his voice to condemn Christ, if he neither yielded nor gave back, but most boldly stopped their mouths, and chose rather to be cast out than to betray the truth; how much more ought we, who have lived so. long in the faith, who have seen ten thousand marvels wrought by faith, who have received greater benefits than he, have recovered the sight of the eyes within, have beheld the ineffable Mysteries, and have been called to such honor, how ought we, I say, to exhibit all boldness of speech towards those who attempt toaccuse, and who say anything against the Christians, and to stop their mouths, and not to acquiesce without an effort. And we shall be ableto do this, if we are bold, 35 and give heed to the Scriptures, and hear them not carelessly. For if one should come in here regularly, even though he read not at home, if he attends to what is said here, one year even is sufficient tomake him well versed in them; because we do not to-day read one kind of Scriptures, and tomorrow another, but always and continually the same. Still such is the wretched disposition of the many, that after so much reading, they do not even know the names of the Books, and are not ashamed nor tremble at entering so carelessly into a place where they may hear God’s word. Yet if a harper, or dancer, or stage-player call the city, they all run eagerly, and feel obliged to him for the call, and spend the half of an entire day in attending to him alone; but when God speaketh to us by Prophets and Apostles, we yawn, we scratch ourselves, we are drowsy. And in summer, the heat seems too great, and we betake ourselves to the market place; and again, in winter, the rain and mire are a hindrance, and we sit at home; yet at horse races, though there is no roof over them to keep off the wet, the greater number, while heavy 36 rains are falling, and the wind is dashing the water into their faces, stand like madmen, caring not for cold, and wet, and mud, and length of way, and nothing either keeps them at home, or prevents their going thither. But here, where there are roofs over head, and where the warmth is admirable, they hold back instead of running together; and this too, when the gain is that of their own souls. How is this tolerable, tell me? Thus it happens, that while we are more skilled than any in those matters, in things necessary we are more ignorant than children. If a man call you a charioteer, or a dancer, you say that you have been insulted, and use every means to wipe off the affront; but if he draw you to be a spectator of the action, you do not start away, and the art whose name you shun, you almost in every case pursue. But where you ought 37 to have both the action and the name, both to be and to be called a Christian, you do not even know what kind of thing the action is. What can be worse than this folly? 38 These things I have desired continually to say to you, but I fear lest I gain hatred in vain and unprofitably. For I perceive that not only the young are mad, but the old also; about whom I am especially ashamed, when I see a man venerable from his white hairs, disgracing those white hairs, and drawing a child after him. What is worse than this mockery? What more shameful than this conduct? The child is taught by the father to act unseemly.
[5.] Do the words sting? This is what I desire, that you should suffer the pain caused by the words, in order to be delivered from the disgrace caused by the actions. For there are some too far colder than these, who are not even ashamed at the things spoken of, nay, who even put together 39 a long argument in defense of the action. If you ask them who was Am or Obadiah, or what is the number of the Prophets or Apostles, they cannot even open their mouth but for horses and charioteers, they compose excuses more cleverly than sophists or rhetoricians, and after all this, they say, “What is the harm? what is the loss?” This is what I groan for, that ye do not so much as know that the action is a loss, nor have a sense of its evils. God hath given to thee an appointed space of life for serving Him, and dost thou while thou spendest it vainly, and at random, and on nothing useful, still ask, “What loss is there?” If thou hast spent a little money to no purpose, thou callest it a loss: when thou spendest whole days of thine upon the devil’s pageants, thinkest thou that thou art doing nothing wrong? Thou oughtest to spend all thy life in supplications 40 and prayers, whereas thou wastest thy life and substance 41 heedlessly, and to thine own hurt, on shouts, and uproar, and shameful words, and fighting, and unseasonable pleasure, and actions performed by trickery, and after all this thou askest, “What is the loss?” not knowing thou shouldest be lavish of anything rather than time. 42 Gold, if thou shalt have spent, thou mayest get again; but if thou lose time, thou shall hardly recover that. Little is dealt out to us in this present life; if therefore we employ it not as we ought, what shall we say when we depart “there”? For tell me, if thou hadst commanded one of thy sons to learn some art, and then he had continually stayed at home, or even passed his time somewhere else, would not the teacher reject him? Would he not say to thee, “Thou hast made an agreement with me, and appointed a time; if now thy son will not spend this time with me but in other places, how shall I produce him to thee as a scholar?” 43 Thus also we must speak. For God will say also to us, “I gave you time to learn this art of piety, wherefore have ye foolishly and uselessly wasted that time? Why did ye neither go constantly to the teacher, nor give heed to his words?” For to show that piety is an art, hear what the Prophet saith, “Come, ye children, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” (Ps 34,11). And again, “Blessed is the man whom Thou instructest, Lord, and teachest him out of Thy Law.” (Ps 94,12). When therefore thou hast spent this time in vain, what excuse wilt thou have? “And why,” saith some one, “did He deal out to us but little time?” O senselessness and ingratitude! That for which thou wert most bounden to give thanks to Him, for that He hath cut short thy labors and abridged thy toils, and made the rest long and everlasting, for this dost thou find fault, and art discontented?
But I know not how we have brought our discourse to this point, and have made it so long; we must therefore shorten it now. For this too is a part of our wretchedness, that here if the discourse be long, we all become careless, while there 44 they begin at noon, and retire by torch and lamp light. However, that we be not always chiding, we now entreat and beseech you, grant this favor to us and 45 to yourselves; and getting free from all other matters, to these let us rivet ourselves. So shall we gain from you joy and gladness, and honor on your account, and a recompense for these labors; while ye will reap all the reward, because having been aforetime so madly riveted to the stage, ye tore yourselves away, through fear of God, and by our exhortations, from that malady, and brake your bonds, and hastened unto God. Nor is it “there” alone that ye shall receive your reward, but “here” also ye shall enjoy pure pleasure. Such a thing is virtue; besides giving us crowns in heaven, even here it maketh life pleasant to us. Let us then be persuaded by what has been said, that we may obtain the blessings both here and hereafter, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.
1 al). “O.”
4 Ben). “I.”
5 “who the Son is,” &c., N. T.
6 “and there shall be one fold, one shepherd,” N. T.
7 al). “Which Paul also himself.”
8 Ben). “you.”
9 i.e. as He died.
10 to; katovrqwma.
11 “therefore again,” N. T.
12 “the Jews for these sayings,” N. T.
13 “many of them,” N.T.
14 “is mad, why hear ye him?” N.T).
15 pavlin ejpevsth.
16 al). “groans.”
17 ajnapeptwkwv", lit “reclined,” or “despondent.”
18 “I was,” &c., N. T).
19 pleura;" diwrugmevnou".
20 leitourgivan seems to mean a daily contribution demanded by the keepers out of the sum which prisoners gained by begging.
21 lit). “winged.”
22 a]plasto", possibly a corrupt form for ajpevlasto". Dr. Heyse conjectures a]plato", “unapproachable.”
24 “That ye may be the children of,” &c., N. T.
26 al). “most.”
27 i.e). “in prison.”
28 i.e. the prison.
29 al). “feed,” al). “bury.”
31 al). “we mix.”
"And they cast him out. And Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?" And the rest.
[1.]). They who for the sake of the truth and the confession of1 Christ suffer anything terrible and are insulted, these are especially honored. For as he who loseth his possessions for His sake, the same it is who most findeth them; as he who hateth his own life, the same it is who most loveth it; so too he who is insulted, is the same who is most honored. As fell out in the case of the blind man. The Jews cast him out from the Temple, and the Lord of the Temple found him; he was separated from that pestilent company, and met with the Fountain of salvation; he was dishonored by those who dishonored Christ, and was honored by the Lord of Angels. Such are the prizes of truth. And so we, if we leave our possessions in this world, find confidence in the next; if here we give to the afflicted, we shall have rest in heaven; if we be insulted for the sake of God, we are honored both here and there.
When they had cast him out from the Temple, Jesus found him. The Evangelist shows, that He came for the purpose of meeting him. And observe how He recompenseth him, by that which is the chiefest of blessings. For He made Himself known to him who before knew Him not,and enrolled him into the company of His own disciples. Observe also how the Evangelist describes the exact circumstances; for when Christ had said, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” the man replied, “Lord, who is He?” For as yet he knew Him not, although he had been healed; because he was blind before he came to his Benefactor, and after the cure, he was being worried by those dogs. Therefore, like some judge at the games, He receiveth the champion who had toiled much and gained the crown. And what saith He? “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” What is this, after so much arguing against the Jews, after so many words, He asketh him, “Dost thou believe?” He spake it not from ignorance, but desiring to make Himself known, and showing that He gently valued the man’s faith. “This great multitude,” He saith, “hath insulted Me, but of them I make no account; for one thing I care, that thou shouldest believe. For better is one who doeth the will of God, than ten thousand transgressors.” “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” As having both been present, and as approving what had been said by him, He asketh this question; and first,2 He brought him to a state of longing for Himself. For He said not directly, “Believe,” but in the way of an enquiry. What then said the man? “Lord, who is He, that I might believe on Him?” The expression is that of a longing and enquiring soul. He knoweth not Him in whose defense he had spoken so much, that thou mayest learn his love of truth. For he had not yet seen Him.
Jn 9,37. “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee.”
(He said not “I am He,” but as yet in an intermediate3 and reserved manner, “Thou hast both seen Him.” This was still uncertain; therefore He addeth more clearly, “It is He that talketh with thee.”
Jn 9,38. “He saith, Lord, I believe; and he worshiped Him” (straightway4 ).
(He said not, “I am He that healed thee, that bade thee, Go, wash in Siloam ”; but keeping silence on all these points, He saith, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” and then the man, showing his great earnestness, straightway worshiped; which few of those who were healed had done; as, for instance, the lepers, and some others; by this act declaring His divine power. For that no one might think that what had been said by him was a mere expression, he added also the deed. When he had worshiped, Christ said,
Jn 9,39. “For judgment I am come into the world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind.”
(So also saith Paul; “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of the faith of Jesus; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.” (Rm 9,30-31). By saying, “For judgment I am come into this world,” He both made the man stronger respecting the faith, and aroused those who followed Him; for the Pharisees were following Him. And the, “For judgment,” He spake with reference to a greater punishment; showing that they who had given sentence against Him, had received sentence against themselves; that they who had condemned Him as a sinner, were themselves the persons condemned. In this passage He speaketh of two recoveries of sight, and two blindnesses; one sensible, the other spiritual.
Jn 9,40. “Some of them that followed Him, say unto Him,5 Are we also blind?”
As in another place they said, “We were never servants to any man”; and, “We be not born of fornication” (Jn 8,33 Jn 8,41); so now they gape on material things alone, and are ashamed of this kind of blindness. Then to show that it was better for them to be blind than seeing, He saith,
Jn 9,41. “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin.”
Since they deemed the calamity a matter to be ashamed of, He turneth this back upon their own head, telling them, that “this very thing would have rendered your punishment more tolerable”; cutting away on every side their human thoughts, and leading them to a notion high and marvelous.
“But now ye say, We see.”
As He saith in that other place, “Of whom ye said that He was your God” (Jn 8,54); so too here, “Now ye say that ye see,6 but ye see not.” He showeth that what they deemed a great matter for praise, brought punishment upon them. He also comforted him who was blind from his birth, concerning his former maimed state, and then speaketh concerning their blindness. For He directeth His whole speech to this end, that they may not say, “We did not refuse to come to thee owing to our blindness, but we turn away and avoid thee as a deceiver.”
[2.] And not without a cause hath the Evangelist mentioned, that they of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said, “Are we blind also?” but to remind thee that these were the men who first withdrew from and then stoned Him, for they were persons who followed Him superficially, and who easily changed to the contrary opinion. How then doth He prove that He is not a deceiver, but a Shepherd? By laying down the distinguishing marks both of the shepherd, and of him who is a deceiver and a spoiler, and from these affording them opportunity of searching into the truth of the matter. And first He showeth who is a deceiver and a spoiler, calling him so from the Scriptures, and saying,
Jn 10,1. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”
Observe the marks of a robber; first, that he doth not enter openly; secondly, not according to the Scriptures, for this is the, “not by the door.” Here also He referreth to those who had been before, and to those who should be after Him, Antichrist and the false Christs, Judasand Theudas, and whatever others there have been of the same kind. And with good cause He calleth the Scriptures “a door,” for they bring us to God, and open to us the knowledge of God, they make the sheep, they guard them, and suffer not the wolves to come in after them. For Scripture, like some sure door, barreth the passage against the heretics, placing us in a state of safety as to all that we desire, and not allowing us to wander; and if we undo it not, we shall not easily be conquered by our foes. By it we can know all, both those who are, and those who are not, shepherds. But what is “into the fold”? It refers to the sheep, and the care of them. For he that useth not the Scriptures, but “climbeth up some other way,” that is, who cutteth out for himself another and an unusual7 way, “the same is a thief.” Seest thou from this too that Christ agreeth with the Father, in that He bringeth forward the Scriptures? On which account also He said to the Jews, “Search the Scriptures” (Jn 5,39); and brought forward Moses, and called him and all the Prophets witnesses, for “all,” saith He,8 “who hear the Prophets shall come to Me”; and,“Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me.” But here He hath put the same thing metaphorically. And by saying, “climbeth up some other way,” He alluded to the Scribes, because they taught for commandments the doctrines of men, and transgressed the Law (Mt 15,9); with which He reproached them, and said, “None of you doeth the Law.” (Jn 7,19). Well did He say, “climbeth up,” not “entereth in,” since to climb is the act of a thief intending to overleap a wall, and who doeth all with danger. Hast thou seen how He hath sketched the robber? now observe the character of the shepherd. What then is it?
. “He that entereth in by the door, the same is the shepherd of the sheep; to him the doorkeeper openeth, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his own by name.9 And when he hath brought them out, he goeth before them.”
[3.] He hath set down the marks of the shepherd, and of the evil doer; let us now see how He hath fitted to them what followeth. “To him,” He saith, “the doorkeeper openeth”; He continueth in the metaphor to make the discourse more emphatic. But if thou shouldest be minded to examine the parable word by word, there is nothing to hinder thee from supposing Moses to be the doorkeeper, for to him were entrusted the oracles of God. “Whose voice the sheep hear, and he calleth his own by name.” Because they everywhere said that He was a deceiver, and confirmed this by their own unbelief, saying, “Which 10 of the rulers hath believed on him?” (Jn 7,48). He showeth that they ought not on account of the unbelief of those persons to call Him a spoiler and deceiver, but that they, because they gave no heed to Him were consequently even excluded from the rank of sheep. For if a shepherd’s part is to enter through the usual door, and if He entered through this, all they who followed Him might be sheep, but they who rent themselves away, hurt not the reputation of the Shepherd, but cast themselves out from the kindred of the sheep. And if farther on He saith that He is “the door,” we must not again be disturbed, for He also calleth Himself “Shepherd,” and “Sheep,” and in different ways proclaimeth His dispensations. Thus, when He bringeth us to the Father, He calleth Himself “a Door,” when He taketh care of us, “a Shepherd”; and it is that thou mayest not suppose, that to bring us to the Father is His only office, that He calleth Himself a Shepherd. “And the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his own sheep, and leadeth them out, and goeth before them.” Shepherds indeed do the contrary, for they follow after them; but He to show that He will lead all men to the truth, doeth differently; as also when He sent the sheep, He sent them, not out of the way of wolves, but “in the midst of wolves.” (Mt 10,16). For far more wonderful is this manner of keeping sheep than ours. He seemeth to me also to allude to the blind man, for him too, having “called,” He “led out” from the midst of the Jews, and the man heard “His voice,” and “knew” it.
Jn 10,5. “And 11 a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers.”
Certainly here He speaketh of Theudas and Judas, (for “all, as many as believed on them, were scattered” [Ac 5,36], It saith,) or of the false Christs who after that time should deceive. For lest any should say that He was one of these, He in many ways separateth Himself from them. And the first difference He setteth down is His teaching from the Scriptures; for He by means of these led men to Him, but the others did not from these draw men after them. The second is, the obedience of the sheep; for on Him they all believed, not only while He lived, but when He had died; the others they straightway left. With these we may mention a third difference, no trifling one. They did all as rebels, 12 and to cause revolts, but He placed Himself so far from such suspicion, that when they would have made Him a king, He fled; and when they asked, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar?” He bade them pay it, and Himself gave the two drachm piece. (Mt 17,27). Besides this, He indeed came for the saving of the sheep, “That they might have life, and that they might have more abundantly” (Jn 10,10), but the others deprived them even of this present life. They betrayed those who were entrusted to them and fled, but He withstood so nobly as even to give up His life. They unwillingly, and by compulsion, and desiring to escape, suffered what they suffered, but He willingly and by choice endured all.
Jn 10,6. “This parable spake Jesus unto them, but they understood not what things they were which He spake unto them.”
And wherefore spake He obscurely? Because He would make them more attentive; when Hehad effected this, He removes the obscurity, saying,
Jn 10,9. “I am 13 the door, by Me if any man enter in, he 14 shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
As though He had said, “shall be in safety and security,” (but by “pasture,” He here meaneth His nurturing and feeding the sheep, and His power 15 and Lordship,) that is, “shall remain within, and none shall thrust him out.” Which took place in the case of the Apostles, who came in and went out securely, as having become lords of all the world, and none was able to cast them out.
Jn 10,8. “All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.”
(He doth not here speak of the Prophets, (as the heretics assert,) for as many as believed on Christ did hear them also, and were persuaded by them; but of Theudas and Judas, and the other exciters of sedition. Besides, He saith, “the sheep did not hear them,” as praising them; now nowhere is He seen to praise those who refused to hearken to the Prophets, but, on the contrary, to reproach and accuse them vehemently; whence it is evident that the, “did not hear,” refers to those leaders of sedition.
Jn 10,10. “The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”
Which then took place when all (their followers) were slain and perished.
“But I am come that they might have life, and that they might have more.” 16
And what is “more” than life, tell me? The kingdom of heaven. But He doth not as yet say this, but dwelleth on the name of “life,” which was known to them.
Jn 10,11. “I am the good Shepherd.”
Here He next speaketh concerning the Passion, showing that this should be for the salvation of the world, and that He came to it not unwillingly. Then again He mentioneth the character of the shepherd and the hireling.
“For the shepherd 17 layeth down his life.” 18
Jn 10,12. “But he that is an hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth, and the wolf cometh and catcheth them.” 19
Here He declareth Himself to be Master even as the Father, if so be that He is the Shepherd, and the sheep are His. Seest thou how He speaketh in a more lofty tone in His parables, where the sense is concealed; and giveth no open handle to the listeners? What then doth this hireling? He “seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and the wolf cometh, and scattereth them.” This those false teachers did, but He the contrary. For when He was taken, He said, “Let these go their way, that the saying might be fulfilled” (Jn 18,8-9), that not one of them was lost. Here also we may suspect a spiritual 20 wolf to be intended; for neither did Christ allow him to go and seize the sheep. But he is not a wolf only, but a lion also. “Because our 21 adversary the devil,” It saith, “walketh about as a roaring lion.” (1P 5,8). He is also a serpent, and a dragon; for, “Tread ye 22 on serpents and scorpions.” (Lc 10,19).
[4.] Wherefore, I beseech you, let us remain pasturing beneath this Shepherd; and we shall remain, if we obey Him, if we hear His voice, if we follow not a stranger. And what is His voice? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the merciful.” (Mt 5,3 Mt 5,8 Mt 5,7). If thus we do, we shall remain beneath the Shepherd, and the wolf will not be able to come in; or if he come against us, he will do so to his own hurt. For we have a Shepherd who so loveth us, that He gave even His life for us. When therefore He is both powerful and loveth us, what is there to hinder us from being saved? Nothing, unless we ourselves revolt from Him. And how can we revolt? Hear Him say ing, “Ye cannot serve two masters, God and mammon.” (Mt 6,24). If then we serve God, we shall not submit to the tyranny of mammon. And truly a bitterer thing than any tyranny is the desire of riches; for it brings no pleasure, but cares, and envyings, and plottings, and hatred, and false accusations, and ten thousand impediments to virtue, indolence, wantonness, greediness, drunkenness, which make even freemen slaves, nay, worse than slaves bought with money, slaves not to men, but even to the most grievous of the passions, and maladies of the soul. Such a one dares many things displeasing to God and men, dreading lest any should remove from him this dominion. O bitter slavery, and devlish tyranny! For this is the most grievous thing of all, that when entangled in such evils we are pleased and hug our chain, and dwelling in a prison house full of darkness, refuse to come forth to the light, but rivet evil upon ourselves, and rejoice in our malady. So that we cannot be freed, but are in a worse state than those that work the mines, enduring labors and affliction, but not enjoying the fruit. And what is in truth worse than all, if any one desire to free us from this bitter captivity, we do not suffer it, but are even vexed and displeased, being in this respect in no better case than madmen, or rather in a much more miserable state than any such, inasmuch as we are not even willing to be delivered from our madness. What? was it for this, O man, that thou wast brought into the world? Was it for this that thou wast made a man, that thou mightest work in these mines, and gather gold? Not for this did God create thee in His Image, but that thou mightest please Him, that thou mightest obtain the things to come, that thou mightest join the choir of Angels. Why now dost thou banish thyself from such a relationship, and thrust thyself into the extreme of dishonor and meanness? 23 He who came by the same birth pangs with thee, (the spiritual birth pangs I mean,) is perishing with hunger, and thou art bursting with fullness: thy brother goeth about with naked body, but thou providest garments even for thy garments, heaping up all this clothing for the worms. How much better would it have been to put them on the bodies of the poor; so would they have remained undestroyed, would have freed thee from all care, and have won for thee the life to come. If thou wilt not have them to be moth-eaten, give them to the poor, these are they who know how to shake these garments well. The Body of Christ is more precious and more secure than the coffer, for not only doth It keep the garments safe, not only doth It preserve them unconsumed, but even rendereth them brighter. Oftentimes the coffer taken with the garments causeth thee the utmost loss, but this place of safety not even death can harm. With It we need neither doors nor bolts, nor wakeful servants, nor any other such security, for our possessions are free from all treacherous attacks, and are laid up under guard, as we may suppose things laid up in heaven would be; for to all wickedness that place is inaccessible. These thing we cease not continually to say to you, and you hearing are not persuaded. The reason is, that we are of a soul which is mean, gaping upon the earth, groveling on the ground. Or rather, God forbid that I should condemn you all of wickedness, as though all were incurably diseased. For even if those who are drunk with riches stop their ears against my words, yet they who live in poverty will be able to look clearly to what I say. “But what,” saith some one, “hath, this to do with the poor? for they have no gold, or any such garments.” No, but they have bread and cold water, but they have two obols, and feet to visit the sick, but they have a tongue and speech to comfort the bedridden, but they have house and shelter to make the stranger their inmate. We demand not from the poor such and such a number of talents of gold, these we ask from the rich. But if a man be poor, and come to the doors of others, our Lord is not ashamed to receive even an obol, but will say that He hath received more from the giver, than from those who cast in much. How many of those who now stand here would desire to have been born at that time, when Christ went about the earth in the flesh, to have conversed and sat at meat with Him? Lo, this may be done now, we may invite Him more than then to a meal, and feast with Him, and that to greater profit. For of those who then feasted with Him many even perished, as Judas and others like him; but every one of those who invite Him to their houses now, and share with Him table and roof, shall enjoy a great blessing. “Come,” it saith, “ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in; sick, and ye visited Me; I was in prison, and and ye came unto Me.” (). That then we may hear these words, let us clothe the naked, let us bring in the stranger, feed the hungry, give the thirsty drink, let us visit the sick, and look upon him that is in prison, that we may have boldness and obtain remission of our sins, and share those good things which transcend both speech and thought. Which may we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the might 24 forever. Amen.
1 lit). “at the doors.”
2 or, “What seek ye.”
3 “I told you,” N. T.
4 “How can,” &c., N. T.
5 “But ye,” &c.
6 “as I said unto you.”
7 “and I know them.”
8 “and they shall never perish.”
10 “My Father,” N. T).
11 i.e. of the Father and the Son.
12 Ver. 31, 32, omitted). “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from My Father; for which of those works do ye stone Me?”
13 Ver. 34, omitted). “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, I said, Ye are gods?”
14 “It called.”
15 “And the Scripture cannot be broken: say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest,” &c., N. T. The comment looks as if this had been read.
16 “that ye may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him,” N. T.
17 Ben. omits, “if He knoweth the Father.”
18 “and there He abode,” N. T).
19 al). “we.”
20 al). “the testimony unworthy.”
21 “on Him there,” N. T.
22 al). “after the proof of his testimony and,” &c.
24 al). “bound.”
25 skammavtwn, “the arena,” hence any severe labor.
26 Ben). “you.”
27 al). “goes forward.”
Chrysostom on John 58