37.They shall look on him whom they pierced. This passage is violently tortured by those who endeavor to explain it literally as referring to Christ. Nor is this the purpose for which the Evangelist quotes ib but rather to show that Christ is that God who formerly complained, by Zechariah, that the Jews had pierced his heart, (Zec_12:10) Now, God speaks there after the manner of men, declaring that He is wounded by the sins of his people, and especially by their obstinate contempt of his word, in the same manner as a mortal man receives a deadly wound, when his heart is pierced; as he says, elsewhere, that his Spirit was deeply grieved, (188) Now, as Christ is God manifested in the flesh (1Ti_3:16,) John says that in his visible flesh was plainly accomplished what his Divine Majesty had endured from the Jews, so far as it was capable of enduring; not that God can be at all affected by the outrages of men, or that the reproaches which are cast at him from the earth ever reach him, but because by this mode of expression he intended to declare with what enormous sacrilege the wickedness of men is chargeable, when it rises in rebellion against heaven. What was done by the hand of a Roman soldier the ]Evangelist John justly imputes to the Jews; as they are elsewhere said to have crucified the Son of God, (Act_2:36,) though they did not lay a finger on his body.
A question now arises as to this passage taken from the prophet, (189) Does God promise to the Jews repentance to salvation, or, does he threaten that he will come as an avenger? For my own part, when I closely examine the passage, I think that it includes both; namely, that out of a worthless and unprincipled nation God will gather a remnant for salvation, and that, by his dreadful vengeance, he will show to despisers who it is with whom they have to do; for we know that they were wont to treat the prophets as insolently as if the prophets had told nothing but fables, and had received no commission from God. God declares that they will not pass unpunished, for he will at length maintain his cause.
(188) Here Calvin’ Latin Copy refers to the words of our blessed Lord in Mat_26:38, My soul is sorrowful, even to death; but the French Copy refers to Isa_63:10, But they rebelled, and Grieved His Holy Spirit. — Ed.
(189) “On fait une question sur ce passage du prophete.”