The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 1:35-42

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2012

35, 36    Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples, and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world.

Already had the blessed Baptist pointed Him out before; but lo, repeating again the same words, he points Jesus out to his disciples, and calls Him the Lamb of God, and says that He taketh away the sin of the world, all but bringing his hearers to remembrance of Him Who saith in the Prophets: I, even I, am He That blotteth out thy transgressions, and will not remember thy sins. But not in vain does the Baptist repeat the same account of the Saviour. For it belongs to skill in teaching, to infix in the souls of the disciples the not yet received word, not shrinking at repetition, but rather enduring it for the profit of the pupils. For therefore does the blessed Paul too say, To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

37  And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

Seest thou the fruit, handmaid of teaching, yielded therefrom? Seest thou how great gain accrued from repetition? Let him then who is entrusted with teaching learn from this, to shew himself superior to all indolence, and to esteem silence more hurtful to himself than to his hearers, and not to bury the Lord’s talent in listless sloth, as in the earth, but rather to give His money to the exchangers. For the Saviour will receive His own with usury, and will quicken as seed the word cast in. You have here a most excellent proof of |149 what has been said. For the Baptist, not shrinking from pointing out the Lord to his disciples, and from saying a second time, Behold the Lamb of God, is seen to have so greatly profited them, as to at length even persuade them to follow Him and already to desire discipleship under Him.

38 Then Jesus turned and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?

Fitly does the Lord turn to them that follow Him, that thou mayest learn in act that which is sung, I sought the Lord, and He heard me. For while we do not yet seek the Lord by good habits and Tightness in believing, we are in some sort behind Him: but when, thirsting after His Divine law, we track the holy and choice way of righteousness, then at length will He look upon us, crying aloud what is written, Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. But He saith unto them, What seek ye? not as though ignorant (whence could it be so?), for He knoweth all things, as God; but making the question a beginning and root of His discourse.

They said unto Him, Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?

Like people well instructed do they that are asked reply. For already do they call Him, Master, thereby clearly signifying their readiness to learn. Then they beg to know His home, as about therein to tell Him at a fit season of their need. For probably they did not think it right to make talk on needful subjects the companion of a journey. Be what is said again to us for a useful pattern.

39 He saith unto them, Come and see.

He doth not point out the house, though asked to do it, but rather bids them come forthwith to it: teaching first, as by example, that it is not well to cast delays in the way of search after what is good (for delay in things profitable is altogether hurtful): and this too besides, that to those who are still ignorant of the holy house of our Saviour |150 Christ, that is, the Church, it will not suffice to salvation that they should learn where it is, but that they should enter into it by faith, and see the things mystically wrought therein.

They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Assiduously did the disciples apply themselves to the attainment of the knowledge of the Divine Mysteries. For I do not think that a fickle mind beseems those who desire to learn, but rather one most painstaking, and superior to feeble mindedness in good toils, so as during their whole life time to excel in perfect zeal. For this I think the words, they abode with Him that day, darkly signify. But when he says, it was about the tenth hour, we adapting our own discourse to each man’s profit, say that in this very thing, the compiler of Divinity through this so subtle handling again teacheth us, that not in the beginning of the present world was the mighty mystery of our Saviour made known, but when time now draws towards its close. For in the last days, as it is written, we shall be all taught of God. Take again I pray as an image of what has been said about the tenth hour, the disciples cleaving to the Saviour, of whom the holy Evangelist says that having once become His guests they abode with Him: that they who through faith have entered into the holy house, and have run to Christ, may learn that it needs to abide with Him, and not to desire to be again estranged, either turning aside into sin, or again returning to unbelief.

40, 41, 42    One of the two which heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.

They who even now received the talent, straightway make traffic of their talent, and bring it to the Lord. For such are in truth obedient and docile souls, not needing many words for profit, nor bearing the fruit of their instruction, |151 after revolutions of years or months, but attaining the goal of wisdom along with the commencement of their instruction. For give, it says, instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Andrew then saves his brother (this was Peter), having declared the whole mystery in a brief summary. For we have found, he says, Jesus, as Treasure hid in a field, or as One Pearl of great price, according to the parables in the Gospels.

And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona, thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, Peter.

He after a Divine sort looketh upon him, Who seeth the hearts and reins; and seeth to how great piety the disciple will attain, of how great virtue he will be possessed, and at what consummation he will leave off. For He Who know-eth all things before they be is not ignorant of ought. And herein does He specially instruct him that is called, that being Very God, He hath knowledge untaught. For not having needed a single word, nor even sought to learn who or whence the man came to Him; He says of what father he was born, and what was his own name, and permits him to be no more called Simon, already exercising lordship and power over him, as being His: but changes it to Peter from Petra 4: for upon him was He about to found His Church.

2 Responses to “St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 1:35-42”

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