35.Jesus heard that they had cast him out. From this circumstance I conjecture that they proceeded to it in a solemn manner, as an affair of great importance, By this example, we are taught how trivial and how little to be dreaded are the excommunications of the enemies of Christ. If we are cast out from that assembly in which Christ reigns, it is a dreadful judgment which is executed against us, that we are delivered to Satan, (1Co_5:5,) because we are banished from the kingdom of the Son of God. But so far are we from having any reason to dread that tyrannical judgment by which wicked men insult the servants of Christ, that, even though no man should drive us out, we ought of our own accord to flee from that place in which Christ does not preside by his word and Spirit.
And having found him. If he had been allowed to remain in the synagogue, he would have been in danger of becoming gradually alienated from Christ, and plunged in the same destruction with wicked men. Christ now meets him, when he is no longer in the temple, but wandering hither and hither; receives and embraces him, when he is cast out by the priests; raises him up from the ground, and offers to him life, when he has received the sentence of death. We have known the same thing by experience in our own time; for when Dr Martin Luther, (274) and other persons of the same class, were beginning to reprove the grosser abuses of the Pope, they scarcely had the slightest relish for pure Christianity; but after that the Pope had thundered against them, and cast them out of the Roman synagogue by terrific bulls, Christ stretched out his hand, and made himself fully known to them. So there is nothing better for us than to be at a very great distance from the enemies of the Gospel, that Christ may approach nearer to us.
Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He speaks to a Jew, who had been from his infancy instructed in the doctrine of the Law, and had learned that God had promised the Messiah. This question, therefore, has the same meaning as if Christ had exhorted him to follow the Messiah and to devote himself to him; though he employs a more honorable name than they were wont at that time to employ, for the Messiah was reckoned to be only the son of David, (Mat_22:42.)