John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
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Augustine of Hippo
Or perhaps John is speaking here of himself: I am a mere man, and have received all from heaven, and therefore think not that, because it has been given meto be somewhat, I am so foolish as to spear: against the truth.
As if He said, Sheis not My spouse. But do you therefore not rejoice in the marriage? Yes, I rejoice, he said, because I am the friend of the Bridegroom.
But wherefore does he stand? Because he fails not, by reason of his humility. A sure ground this to stand upon, Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. Again; He stands, and hears Him. So then if he fails, he hears Him not. Therefore the friend of the Bridegroom ought to stand and hear,i.e. to abide in the grace which he has received, and to hear the voice in which he rejoices. I rejoice not, he said, because of my own voice, but because of the Bridegroom’s voice. I rejoice; I in hearing, He in speaking; I am the ear, He the Word. For he who guards the bride or wife of his friend, takes care that she love none ...
Who are you then, since you are not the Christ, and who is He to Whom you bear witness? John replies, He is the Bridegroom; I am the friend of the Bridegroom, sent to prepare the Bride for His approach: He that has the Bride, is the Bridegroom. By the Bride he means the Church, gathered from amongst all nations; a Virgin in purity of heart, in perfection of love, in the bond of peace, in chastity of mind and body; in the unity of the Catholic faith; for in vain isshe a virgin in body, who continues not a virgin in mind. This Bride has Christ joined to Himself in marriage, and redeemed with the price of His own Blood.
His Bride therefore our Lord committed to His friend, i.e. the order of preachers, who should be jealous of her, not for themselves, but for Christ; The friend of the Bridegroom which stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice.
He rejoices at hearing the Bridegroom’s voice, who knows that he should not rejoice in his own wisdom, but in the wis...
John answered, &c. He openly repressed the ambition and quarrelsomeness of His disciples. Yea, he declares openly that the right is with Christ. He prefers Him to himself, and gives fresh and ample testimony that He is the Messias. "I cannot without the greatest presumption, pride, and ingratitude take a higher rank, or authority, than God has given me. And I will not do so. What then do you wish? That I should invade the office of Messiah, and take it from Jesus? God forbid. For if I attempted to do Song of Solomon , God would justly deprive me of my own office and dignity. You know that common Syrian proverb of ours, The camel demanding horns lost his ears. Far be it from me therefore that I should prefer myself to Jesus, or arrogate the name and dignity of Messias. For God has given this to Jesus, not to me. God has given me enough, and more than enough, in making me His forerunner. Contented with that I will live and die, and yield gladly all other things to Jesus my Lord." So S. A...
A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
He says that there is nothing good in man, but must needs be wholly the gift of God, For it befits the creation to hear, What hast thou that thou didst not receive? I think then that we ought to be content with the measures allotted |181 to us, and to rejoice in the honours apportioned to us from heaven, but by no means to stretch out beyond, nor in desire ever of what is greater unthankfully to despise the decree from above, and fight against the judgment of the Lord, in shame that one should appear to receive what is less than the more perfect: but with whatsoever God shall please to honour us, to value that highly. Let not my disciple therefore, saith he, be ashamed, if I do not overleap the measure given me, if I do not contemplate the greater, and am contracted to the glory befitting a man.
Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to Whom thou barest witness, behold, the Same baptizeth, and all men come to Him. John answered and said,
The disciples bitten by the words of the Pharisees, and looking to the very nature of the thing, were not able to convict them as liars, but were reasonably at a loss, and being ignorant of the great dignity of our Saviour, are exceedingly startled at John's shortcoming, and mingling words of love with reverence and admiration, they desire to learn, why He That was borne witness to by his voice, prevents him in honour, outstrips him in grace, and in baptizing takes in His net, not a portion of the whole Jewish multitude, but even all of them. And they made the inquiry as it seems not without the Will of God: for hence the Baptist invites them to an accurate and long explanation respecting the Saviour, and introduces the clearest distinction between the baptisms.
Marvel not, if he speak of Christ in a lowly strain; it was impossible to teach all at once, and from the very beginning, men so pre-occupied by passion. But he desires to strike them for a while with awe and terror, and to show them that they warred against none other than God Himself, when they warred against Christ. And here he secretly establishes that truth, which Gamaliel asserted, You cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. Acts 5:39 For to say, None can receive anything, except it be given him from heaven, was nothing else than declaring that they were attempting impossibilities, and so would be found to fight against God. Well, but did not Theudas and his followers 'receive' from themselves? They did, but they straightway were scattered and destroyed, not so what belonged to Christ.
By this also he gently consoles them, showing them that it was not a man, but God, who surpassed them in honor; and that therefore they must not wonder if what belon...
John, on this question being raised, does not rebuke his disciples, for fear they might separate, and turn to some other school, but replies gently, John answered and said, Aman can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven; as if he said, No wonder that Christ does such excellent works, and that all men come to Him; when He Who does it all is God. Human efforts are easily seen through, are feeble, and short-lived. These are not such: they are not therefore of human, but of divine originating. He seems however to speak somewhat humbly of Christ, which will not surprise us, when we consider that it was not fitting to tell the whole truth, to minds prepossessed with such a passion as envy. He only tries for the present to alarm them, by showing that they are attempting impossible things, and fighting against God.
And see; the very argument by which they thought to have overthrown Christ, To whom you bare witness, he turns against them; You yourselves bear me witness, that I sai...
Christ is the spouse of every soul; the wedlock, wherein they are joined, is baptism; the place of that wedlock is the Church; the pledge of it, remission of sins, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost; the consummation, eternal life; which those who are worthy shall receive. Christ aloneis the Bridegroom: all other teachers are but the friends of the Bridegroom, as was the forerunner. The Lord is the giver of good; the rest are the despisers of His gifts.
For which cause I rejoice now, that all men follow Him. For had the bride, i.e. the people, not come forth to meet the Bridegroom, then I, as the friend of the Bridegroom, should have grieved.
Or thus; As, on the sun rising, the light of the other heavenly bodies seems to be extinguished, though in reality it is only obscured by the greater light: thus the forerunner is said to decrease; as if he were a star hidden by the sun. Christ increases in proportion as he gradually discloses Himself by miracles; not in the sense of increase, o...