17.And his disciples remembered. It is to no purpose that some people tease themselves with the inquiry how the disciples remembered a passage of Scripture, with the meaning of which they were hitherto unacquainted. For we must not understand that this passage of Scripture came to their remembrance at that time; but afterwards, when, having been taught by God, they considered with themselves what was the meaning of this action of Christ, by the direction of the Holy Spirit this passage of Scripture occurred to them. And, indeed, it does not always happen that the reason of God’ works is immediately perceived by us, but afterwards, in process of time, He makes known to us his purpose. And this is a bridle exceedingly well adapted to restrain our presumption, that we may not murmur against God, if at any time our judgment does not entirely approve of what he does. We are at the same time reminded, that when God holds us as it were in suspense, it is our duty to wait for the time of more abundant knowledge, and to restrain the excessive haste which is natural to us; for the reason why God delays the full manifestation of his works is, that he may keep us humble.
The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. The meaning is, that the disciples at length came to know, that the zeal for the house of God, with which Christ burned, excited him to drive out of it those profanations. By a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, David employs the name of the temple to denote the whole worship of God; for the entire verse runs thus:
the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them who reproached thee have fallen on me, (Psa_69:9.)
The second clause corresponds to the first, or rather it is nothing else than a repetition explaining what had been said. The amount of both clauses is, that David’ anxiety about maintaining the worship of God was so intense, that he cheerfully laid down his head to receive all the reproaches which wicked men threw against God; and that he burned with suchzeal, that this single feeling swallowed up every other. He tells us that he himself had such feelings; but there can be no doubt that he described in his own person what strictly belonged to the Messiah.
Accordingly, the Evangelist says, that this was one of the marks by which the disciples knew that it was Jesus who protected and restored the kingdom of God. Now observe that they followed the guidance of Scripture, in order to form such an opinion concerning Christ as they ought to entertain; and, indeed, no man will ever learn what Christ is, or the object of what he did and suffered, unless he has been taught and guided by Scripture. So far, then, as each of us shall desire to make progress in the knowledge of Christ, it will be necessary that Scripture shall be the subject of our diligent and constant meditation. Igor is it without a good reason that David mentions the house of God, when the divine glory is concerned; for though God is sufficient for himself, and needs not the services of any, yet he wishes that his glory should be displayed in the Church. In this way he gives a remarkable proof of his love towards us, because he unites his glory — as it were, by an indissoluble link — with our salvation.
Now as Paul informs us that, in the example of the head, a general doctrine is presented to the whole body, (Rom_15:3,) let each of us apply to the invitation of Christ, that — so far as lies in our power — we may not permit the temple of God to be in any way polluted. But, at the same time, we must beware lest any man transgress the bounds of his calling. All of us ought to have zeal in common with the Son of God; but all are not at liberty to seize a whip, that we may correct vices with our hands; for we have not received the same power, nor have we been entrusted with the same commission.