My Father Worketh Hitherto and I Work: Part 1

John 8
It has struck me whether our Lord does not begin another action in John 8, by sovereign power and effectual grace (which is continued in the four following chapters); and that this new action is consequent upon His return from “the Mount of Olives,” with which the first seven had ended.
If so, it is dispensationally in keeping (and will be morally so too in His future dealings with Israel) to find Him “early in the morning in the temple,” sitting down to teach again the people. Equally in character with this position on His part was the act of the Scribes and Pharisees, who brought before Him the “woman taken in adultery,” that He who alone could pass judgment on the sin should take this place, and in righteousness condemn her. This scene not merely opens out the trespass to which their thoughts and intentions were limited, but has a far wider and more serious application to the nation and its rulers, under the guilt of whoredom and adultery, which should have lain heavily upon their consciences, in the presence of their Jehovah-Jesus! Is not this the iniquity which has first to be judged and tried by the bitter water of jealousy, according to “the law of jealousies when a wife goeth aside to another, instead of her husband, and is defiled?” Prophet after prophet had been sent unto them, saying, “surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.”
The Scribes and Pharisees, who brought the woman and accused her, declared that “Moses in the law commanded that such should be stoned;” but they are not in the current of His own thoughts about the deeper trespass which had been brought to light by His own presence in their midst. How could He judge or condemn the woman, and not in righteous jealousy curse them? They had set her “in the midst,” and demanded “what sayest thou?” To His eye they had by their own act set themselves in the midst with her, and passing beyond the statute laws of Moses (see Num. 5:1717And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water: (Numbers 5:17)) into the depths of His own feelings about them, He refused to take their accusation. Long ago He had sent Jeremiah, saying, “Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown;” and now one greater than a prophet is come to win her heart back to Himself by His own grace. If He applied the law of Moses to the nation, as the accusers wished Him to, do towards the adulteress, He must have taken “holy water in an earthen vessel, and of the dust that is in the floor, and put it into the water, and as a priest of the tabernacle bring up the question before the Lord.” This He refuses to do, and now mark how He passes into His own heights and depths of love (cost what it may in the end) to justify Himself in not condemning either the woman in her sin, or the nation in its greater trespass. “Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground [as though he heard them not];” for in the love which had brought Him amongst them, and in which He was come to work, the sin of her who was taken in the act, and the sin of Israel, though equally under “the eye of the sun” for righteous judgment, was written on His heart in grace. He who came out from God came not to put her away, but to put away her sin, and to cleanse her and make her whiter than snow. Viewed in this light, how significant of their state, and of His own purpose in love, are the words which He spate unto them, “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her; and again he stooped down and wrote on the ground!” He rolls the sin and the accusers away from the floor, and thus purges it; nor will He gather up the dust thereof in any earthen vessel or prepare “the bitter water of jealousy” between Him and them. He walks in a higher path of His own, which none but He could make; and so goes out of the midst, and away from all their accusations and questionings, saying to them, “I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” He was left alone and the woman standing in the midst. “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers hath no man condemned thee?” She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”
As “the light of life,” He has thus purged His floor cleaner than by the law of stoning! Blessed Jesus, He has made all the sin his own, and will eventually pass into the ground and take the curse Himself, and die the death, that what He wrote upon it in the day of His grace, may (whenever gathered up in jealousy) be pardoned and obliterated by the blood of atonement and reconciliation, through the depths of His own sufferings.
If this chapter 8 has introduced the national charge of Israel's departure and estrangement from Him who had espoused her to Himself, and come after her as we have supposed, chapter 9, is equally significant as showing their individual state and national blindness, As the former could only be portrayed by the woman taken in adultery, so in this it is by “a man which was blind from his birth.” The state of the nation was not in either case beyond the typical virtue of the balm of Gilead, or the skill of the great Physician; and this instance only calls forth the power and grace of Him whose prerogative it is to give sight to the blind. It is remarkable that Jesus refuses to take up this case, in the form in which the disciples view it, when they asked, “Master, who did sin; this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” He will not look at it in this light any more than judge the treacherousness of the nation by the woman. In the governmental ways and dealings of God with men upon the earth such a question might fairly arise as this, for He did “visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation;” but taken outside the responsibility of man, and viewed in connection with the counsels of the Father and the Son, “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his patents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
In the pathway of the Word made flesh we follow Jesus thus “showing forth his glory;” and so the man that was born blind serves as exactly as the woman did for its display; yea to the condemnation of those who stood around in unbelief and said they saw. As “the light of the world” He passed out from the temple, and from the midst of the woman and her accusers. In His true greatness, He refused to use that light in which He walked for condemnation, though He commanded it to Shine in upon the consciences of each, so that all were convicted and made their escape from its searching power,'“ beginning from the eldest even unto the last.” There was yet another use of the light, and that is what we are now considering, in the case of the man born blind; “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
It is a great action therefore that occupies Jesus at this time; not merely opening the eyes of the blind by sovereign power, but giving Himself as the object of sight in effectual grace to the man and to the nation if they will accept Him—being likewise the light without which the eye, though opened, could not behold Him! In view of this Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.” Observe, day and night get a new meaning, when they are looked at in reference to Christ's continuance and work upon this earth. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.” The dust of the floor; and the water, and the earthen vessel which would have made up the compound in “the hand of the priest” for the infliction of the curse and the rot, upon the trial of jealousy and unfaithfulness, had been refused. He who alone can “bring meat out of the eater” gives, us now to learn instead the virtues of the spittle, and the ground, and the mystic clay in the, hand of Him that is come to work the works of God. Jesus said to the man “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation Sent). He went his way therefore, and washed and came seeing.” The dust of the ground, out of which the first man was “made in the image of God,” had been cursed because of transgression and Satan; but now, under the power of Christ it is reclaimed and made available by the “sent” One through His spittle for bestowing an eye of faith to behold Him who came to bear away every curse, let it lie on whatsoever floor it may; and turn “the curse into a blessing!” The Light which had filled the temple just now and emptied it of every accuser, (how could they abide in its searching power?) leaving the woman alone with Jesus, does the same thing among the Scribes and Pharisees, now that the man who “was born blind” is brought into their midst. How well has the compound of the Apothecary done its work in connection with the sent One? “If this man were not of God [he says to them], he could do nothing. They answered, and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? and they cast him out,”
Jesus and the woman were left alone. And now the man who had walked in darkness all his days, but who has got “the light of life from Christ and confesses His sovereign power is turned out of the synagogue to follow Him.” “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him [as in grace He would], he saith unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? he answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?” Two precious assurances flow from the lips of Jesus upon this inquiry, as He unveils Himself to the outcast one; “Thou hast both seen him [the new object to the opened eye], and it is he that talketh with thee; and he said, Lord, I believe, and he worshipped him.” New relations are thus formed which lead the Lord to take (in chap. 10) “the place of Shepherd” to this cast out sheep, and to declare His love for the flock as well as His protecting care against every foe. He also reveals the secret of the double title and interest which the Father's love as well as His own have over the sheep. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.” We cannot fail to notice in these narratives how Jesus comes into the world, and accepts it just as it was by Adam's sin and Satan's power in death, to show Himself equal to every claim which the misery and wants of those in it daily and hourly brought across His path. More than this: for He passes through the world with the Father, in another and higher character than that by which as Creator-God, the heavens and the earth were made by Him and all that they contain. Earlier in this Gospel Jesus said to the Jews, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” introducing thus a power which could turn everything round to His own glory and the development of the hidden purposes of divine love. “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” In this equality with God, there cannot be any uncertainty as to the nature of this new power, or its exercise; “for as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” is its scope; and we are the blessed objects in whom it is made good. (To be continued, if the Lord will)