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Overcome the World

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The inward state of Christ’s disciples, when before His passion He talked with them as with children of great things, but in such a ‎way as befitted the great things to be spoken to children, because, having not yet received the Holy Spirit, as they did after His ‎resurrection, either by His own breathing upon them, or by descent from above, they had a mental capacity for the human rather than ‎the divine,—is everywhere declared through the Gospel by numerous testimonies; and of a piece therewith, is what they said in the ‎lesson before us. For, says the evangelist, ‎

‎“His disciples said to Him, ‘Ah, now You are speaking plainly, not in any proverb! Now we know that You know all things, and ‎need none to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.’”‎

The Lord Himself had said shortly before, “These things have I spoken unto you in figurative language: the hour comes, when I ‎shall no more speak to you in proverbs.” How, then, say they, “Ah, now You are speaking plainly, not in any proverb!” Was the hour, ‎indeed, already come, when He had promised that He would no longer speak unto them in proverbs? Certainly that hour had not yet ‎come, for it is shown by the continuation of His words, which run in this way: “These things,” He said, “I have spoken unto you in ‎proverbs: the hour will come when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of my Fr.. At that day ‎you shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Fr. for you: for the Fr. Himself loves you, because you ‎have loved Me, and have believed that I came from God. I came forth from the Fr., and have come into the world: again, I leave ‎the world, and go to the Fr.” (vv. 25-28). ‎

Seeing that throughout all these words He is still promising that hour when He shall no more speak in proverbs, but shall show ‎them openly of the Fr.; the hour, when He says that they will ask in His name, and that He will not pray the Fr. for them, on the ‎ground that the Fr. Himself loves them, and that they also have loved Christ, and have believed that He came forth from the Fr., ‎and was come into the world, and was again about to leave the world and go to the Fr.: when thus that hour is still the subject of ‎promise when He was to speak without proverbs, why say they, ‘Ah, now You are speaking plainly, not in any proverb;” but just ‎because those things, which He knows to be proverbs to those who have no understanding, they are still so far from understanding, ‎that they do not even understand that they do not understand them? For they were babes, and had as yet no spiritual discernment of ‎what they heard regarding things that had to do not with the body, but with the spirit.‎

And still further admonishing them of their age as still small and infirm in regard to the inner man. “Jesus answered them, ‘Do ‎you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; ‎yet I am not alone, for the Fr. is with Me.” He had said shortly before, “I leave the world, and go to the Fr.;” now He says, ‎‎“The Fr. is with Me.” Who goes to Him who is with Him? This is a word to him that understands, a proverb to him that does not ‎understand. ‎

In this way that which is now incomprehensible to babes, is absorbed somewhat. Even though it did not yield them solid food, ‎which they cannot yet receive, it denies them not at least a milky diet. It was from this diet that they drew the knowledge that He knew ‎all things, and needed not that any one should ask Him. Indeed, this is why they said that this is a topic worthy of inquiry. ‎

For one would think they should have said, “You do not need to ask anyone” instead of “That any one should ask You.” They had ‎just said, “We are sure that You know all things:” and surely He that knows all things is accustomed rather to be questioned by those ‎who do not know, that in reply to their questions they may hear what they wish from Him who knows all things; and not to be Himself ‎the questioner, as if wishing to know something, when He knows all things. What, then, are we to understand by this, that, when ‎apparently they ought to have said to Him, whom they knew to be omniscient, You do not need to ask any man, they considered it ‎more befitting to say, “You do not need any man should ask You”? ‎

Yes, is it not the case that we read of both being done; such that the Lord both asked, and was asked questions? But this latter is ‎speedily answered: for this was needful not for Him, but for those rather whom He questioned, or by whom He was questioned. For ‎He never questioned anyone for the purpose of learning anything from them, but for the purpose rather of teaching them. And for ‎those who put questions to Him, as desirous of learning something of Him, it was assuredly needful to be made acquainted with some ‎things by Him who knew everything. And doubtless on the same account also it was that He needed not that any man should ask Him. ‎As it is the case that we, when questioned by those who wish to get some information from us, discover by their very questionings ‎what it is that they wish to know, we therefore need to be questioned by those whom we wish to teach, in order that we may be ‎acquainted with their inquiries that call for an answer: but He, who knew all things, had no need even of that, and as little need had He ‎of discovering by their questions what it was that any one desired to know of Him, for before a question was put, He knew the ‎intention of him who was to put it. But He suffered Himself to be questioned on this account, that He might show to those who were ‎then present, or to those who should either hear the things that were to be spoken or read them when written, what was the character of ‎those by whom He was questioned; and in this way we might come to know both the frauds that were powerless to impose upon Him, ‎and the ways of approach that would turn to our profit in His sight. But to foresee the thoughts of men, and thus to have no need that ‎any one should ask Him, was no great matter for God, but great enough for the babes, who said to Him, “By this we believe that You ‎came forth from God.” ‎

A much greater thing it was, for the understanding of which He wished to have their minds expanded and enlarged, that, on their ‎saying, and saying truly, “You came forth from God,” He replied, “The Fr. is with Me;” in order that they should not think that the ‎Son had come forth from the Fr. in any sense that would lead them to suppose that He had also withdrawn from His presence.‎

And then, in bringing to a close this weighty and protracted discourse, He said, “I have said this to you, that in Me you may have ‎peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The beginning of such tribulation was to ‎be found in that whereof, in order to show that they were infants, to whom, as still wanting in intelligence, and mistaking one thing for ‎another, all the great and divine things He had said were little better than proverbs, He had previously said, “Do you now believe? ‎Behold, the hour comes, yes, is now here, that you will be scattered, every man to his own.” ‎

Such, I say, was the beginning of the tribulation, but not in the same measure of their perseverance. For in adding, “and you shall ‎leave Me alone,” He did not mean that they would be of such a character in the subsequent tribulation, which they should have to ‎endure in the world after His ascension, as thus to desert Him; but that in Him they should have peace by still abiding in Him. But on ‎the occasion of His apprehension, not only did they outwardly abandon His bodily presence, but they mentally abandoned their faith. ‎And to this it is that His words have reference, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour comes, yes, is now here, that you will be ‎scattered, every man to his own.” as if He had said, You will then be so confounded as to leave behind you even what you now ‎believe. ‎

For they fell into such despair and such a death, so to speak, of their old faith, as was apparent in the case of Cleopas, who, after ‎His resurrection, unaware that he was speaking with Himself, and narrating what had befallen Him, said, “We were hoping that it was ‎He who would have redeemed Israel.” That was the way in which they then left Him, abandoning even the very faith wherewith they ‎had formerly believed in Him. But in that tribulation, which they encountered after His glorification and they themselves had received ‎the Holy Spirit, they did not leave Him: and though they fled from city to city, from Himself they did not flee; but in order that, while ‎having tribulation in the world, they might have peace in Him, instead of being fugitives from Him, it was rather Himself that they ‎made their refuge. For in receiving the Holy Spirit, there was wrought in them the very state described to them now in the words, “Be ‎of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” They were of good cheer, and they conquered. But in whom, except in Him? The world ‎could not overcome the members of Him who overcame the world. Therefore the apostle said, “Thanks be unto God, who gives us the ‎victory;” and immediately added, “through our Lord Jesus Christ:” through Him who had said to His own, “Be of good cheer, I have ‎overcome the world.”‎

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