These words probably were spoken by the apostle to rebuke the carnal boastings of some Jews, who gloried in their having seen Christ in the flesh before he died; the apostle directs them to a more spirtual knowledge of him, now since his resurrection, as more suitable to his gloried state: q.d. "What though you have eaten and drunk in Christ's presence when on earth, all that corporeal familiarity is ceased; it is his spiritual gracious presence which now you are to depend upon, and value yourselves by." For henceforth know we no man after the flesh: we value no man for his outward advantages, for his wisdom, riches, or learning. Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, seeing and conversing with him when here on earth, yet must we know him so, and enjoy him as such, no more. Our carnal affections and relations to him must ever cease, now he is exalted into a spiritual and glorious condition.
Learn hence, 1. That a bare knowing of Christ after the flesh ought to cease among Christians. There is a knowledge of Christ after the flesh, since his ascension into heaven, namely, by a naked profession of his name without a conformity to his laws, and by acts of sensitive affection. Some by reading the history of our Saviour's passion, others by seeing in the sacramental elements a tragical representation of his crucifixion, do find their human passions stir and move; but if it rests here, without drawing forth our love to his person , and quickening our obedience to his commands; all this is but knowing Christ after the flesh to not spiritual or saving purposes.
Learn, 2. That a bare knowledge of Christ after the flesh will do us no good, be of no comfort or advantage to us, as to our eternal salvation. It is not a fond affection to his person and memory, but obedience to his laws, that Christ values.
It is observable, that an outward ceremonious respect to our Saviour's person was very little regarded by him when he was here upon earth; a serious attention to his doctrine was infinitely preferred by him before all that. Our love to Christ is better shown by religious services, than by passionate affections.
We find, Joh_20:17 when Mary fell at Christ's feet, after he was risen, and embraced him, when she held him by the foot and worshipped him, when in an humble and affectionate devotion she lies prostrate before him, Christ forbids it, Touch me not. He rejects all these eternal testimonies of her love, which proceeded only from human affection; but he directs her to a more acceptable service, namely, to run and carry tidings of his resurrection to his disconsolate disciples, Go to my disciples, and say, &c.
From whence I infer, That it is much more acceptable to Christ to be about his service, and doing good to our place and station, than performing any offices of human love and respect unto his person. Seeing, then, that this ceremonious respect pleased Christ, neither when on earth, nor now he is in heaven, henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth know we him no more.