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Life of Jesus Christ in Its Historical Connexion and Historical Developement.
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§ 273. Conversation with Philip and Thomas.—Christ the Way. (John, xiv.)

The institution of the Eucharist also contained an allusion733733   The last promise, also, Matt.. xxviii., 20, presupposes such fuller explanations as those which we find recorded by John in these discourses. to the promise that he would be with his disciples as truly after his departure as he had been during his corporeal presence. And as he knew that their minds were not yet entirely free from carnal and unspiritual views, he gave occasion for them to express themselves freely, in order to give them clearer ideas by means of their very misunderstandings.

Whither I go,” said he, “ye know; and the way ye know.” Still, the death of Messiah was a hard conception for them; a miraculous removal from the earth would have accorded better with their feelings. Thomas,734734   Thomas displays the same character here as in his subsequent doubts concerning Christ’s resurrection. It is wholly incredible that the author of John’s Gospel, who obviously was little capable of assuming different characters, should have invented such a one. who seems to have remained in bondage to sense more than any of the others, said to him, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” The Saviour, in his reply, inverts the order; if they had known the “way,” they would have known the “whither:” “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” (Had they better known Him, through whom the Father reveals and communicates himself, they would have known better all the rest.) The three conceptions in this passage are closely connected together. He designates himself not merely as the guide, but as the Way itself; and that because he is himself, according to his nature and life, the Truth; the truth springing from the Life; because he is, in himself, the Source of the Divine Life among men, as well as the personal manifestation of the Divine Truth. He is, therefore, the Way, inasmuch as mankind, by communion of Divine life with him, receive the truth, and are brought by it into union with the Father. He that knows him, therefore, knows the Father also. “And from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him;” i. e., after their long intercourse with Christ, they were now, at least, to see and recognize the Father in him.

But Philip, still on the stand-point of sense, applied these words to a sensible theophany, as a sign of the Messianic era: “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” This misunderstanding led Christ again to impress upon their minds the same truth, that whoever obtained a just spiritual intuition of Him saw the Father in Him; the Father, with whom He lived in inseparable communion, and who manifested himself in His words and works (v. 9, 10, 11). But these works, and the manifestation of God in them, were not to remain to the disciples something merely external. Whoever believed on him was, through his fellowship, to become an organ of his continued Divine working for the renewal of the life of mankind; the aim of his whole manifestation was to do yet greater things than he had done:735735   Cf. the excellent remarks of Kling, Stud. u. Krit., 1836, iii., 684.Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and yet greater works than these shall he do.”736736   Cf. p. 184, 358.

And the source of all this power was to be, in his own words, “Because I go unto my Father;” they were to gain it precisely by that separation, the prospect of which then filled them with grief and sorrow. When he should go to the Father, and remove from them the visible, human, and, therefore, limited form of his manifestation, as a source of dependance, then would he, as the glorified one, work invisibly from heaven in them, and among them, with Divine power. And therefore it was that, through communion of the Divine life with him, they were to “ do yet greater things than these.”


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