27.A man cannot receive any thing. Some refer these words to Christ, as if John accused the disciples of wicked presumption in opposition to God, by endeavoring to deprive Christ of what the Father had given to him. They suppose the meaning to be this: “ within so short a time he has risen to so great honor, is the work of God; and therefore it is in vain for you to attempt to degrade him whom God with his own hand has raised on high.” Others think that it is an exclamation into which he indignantly breaks forth, because his disciples had hitherto made so little progress. And certainly it was excessively absurd that they should still endeavor to reduce to the rank of ordinary men him who, they had so often heard, was the Christ, that he might not rise above his own servants; and, therefore, John might justly have said that it is useless to spend time in instructing men, because they are dull and stupid, until they are renewed in mind.
But I rather agree with the opinion of those who explain it as applying to John, as asserting that it is not in his power, or in theirs, to make him great, because the measure of us all is to be what God intended us to be. For if even the Son of God took not that honour to himself, (Heb_5:4,) what man of the ordinary rank would venture to desire more than what the Lord has given him? This single thought, if it were duly impressed on the minds of us all, would be abundantly sufficient for restraining ambition; and were ambition corrected and destroyed, the plague of contentions would likewise be removed. How comes it then, that every man exalts himself more than is proper, but because we do not depend on the Lord, so as to be satisfied with the rank which he assigns to us?