Tag Archives: Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John

“We must read our Bibles like men digging for hidden treasure” by J.C. Ryle

“What our Lord did mean to rebuke was that excessive attention to labour for the body, while the soul is neglected, which prevails everywhere in the world (John 6:26). What He reproved was, the common habit of labouring only for the things of time, and letting alone the things of eternity—of minding only the life that now is, and disregarding the life to come. Against this habit He delivers a solemn warning.

Surely, we must all feel our Lord did not say the words before us without good cause. They are a startling caution which should ring in the ears of many in these latter days.

How many in every rank of life are doing the very thing against which Jesus warns us! They are labouring night and day for ‘the meat that perisheth,’ and doing nothing for their immortal souls.

Happy are those who learn betimes the respective value of soul and body, and give the first and best place in their thoughts to salvation. One thing is needful. He that seeks first the kingdom of God, will never fail to find ‘all other things added to him.’ (Matt. 6:33)

We should mark, thirdly, in this passage, what Christ advises. He tells us to ‘labour for the meat that endureth to everlasting life.’ (John 6:27) He would have us take pains to find food and satisfaction for our souls. That food is provided in rich abundance in Him. But he that would have it must diligently seek it.

How are we to labour? There is but one answer. We must labour in the use of all appointed means.

We must read our Bibles like men digging for hidden treasure.

We must wrestle earnestly in prayer like men contending with a deadly enemy for life.

We must take our whole heart to the house of God and worship and hear like those who listen to the reading of a will.

We must fight daily against sin, the world, and the devil, like those who fight for liberty, and must conquer, or be slaves.

These are the ways we must walk in if we would find Christ, and be found of Him. This is ‘labouring.’ This is the secret of getting on about our souls.

Labour like this no doubt is very uncommon. In carrying it on we shall have little encouragement from man, and shall often be told that we are “extreme,” and go too far.

Strange and absurd as it is, the natural man is always fancying that we may take too much thought about religion, and refusing to see that we are far more likely to take too much thought about the world.

But whatever man may say, the soul will never get spiritual food without labour. We must ‘strive,’ we must ‘run,’ we must ‘fight,’ we must throw our whole heart into our soul’s affairs. It is ‘the violent’ who take the kingdom. (Matt. 11:12)

We should mark, lastly, in this passage, what a promise Christ holds out. He tells us that He himself will give eternal food to all who seek it: ‘The Son of man shall give you the meat that endureth unto everlasting life.’

How gracious and encouraging these words are! Whatever we need for the relief of our hungering souls, Christ is ready and willing to bestow. Whatever mercy, grace, peace, strength we require, the Son of man will give freely, immediately, abundantly, and eternally.

He is ‘sealed,’ and appointed, and commissioned by God the Father for this very purpose. Like Joseph in the Egyptian famine, it is His office to be the Friend, and Almoner, and Reliever of a sinful world. He is far more willing to give than man is to receive. The more sinners apply to Him, the better He is pleased.

And now, as we leave this rich passage, let us ask ourselves, what use we make of it? For what are we labouring ourselves? What do we know of lasting food and satisfaction for our inward man?

Never let us rest till we have eaten of the meat which Christ alone can give. They that are content with any other spiritual food will sooner or later ‘lie down in sorrow.’ (Isa. 50:11)”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1869/2012), 1: 243-245. Ryle is commenting on John 6:22-27.

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“Amen and Amen” by J.C. Ryle

“I have now completed my notes on St. John’s Gospel. I have given my last explanation.

I have gathered my last collection of the opinions of Commentators. I have offered for the last time my judgment upon doubtful and disputed points.

I lay down my pen with humbled, thankful, and solemnized feelings.

The closing words of holy Bullinger’s Commentary on the Gospels, condensed and abridged, will perhaps not be considered an inappropriate conclusion to my Expository Thoughts on St. John:

‘Reader, I have now set before thee thy Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, that very Son of God, who was begotten by the Father by an eternal and ineffable generation, consubstantial and coequal with the Father in all things;—but in these last times, according to prophetical oracles, was incarnate for us, suffered, died, rose again from the dead, and was made King and Lord of all things.

This is He who is appointed and given to us by God the Father, as the fulness of all grace and truth, as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, as the ladder and door of heaven, as the serpent lifted up to render the poison of sin harmless, as the water which refreshes the thirsty, as the bread of life, as the light of the world, as the redeemer of God’s children, as the shepherd and door of the sheep, as the resurrection and the life, as the corn of wheat which springs up into much fruit, as the conqueror of the prince of this world, as the way, the truth, and the life, as the true vine, and finally, as the redemption, salvation, satisfaction, and righteousness of all the faithful in all the world, throughout all ages.

Let us therefore pray God the Father, that, being taught by His Gospel, we may know Him that is true, and believe in Him in whom alone is salvation; and that, believing, we may feel God living in us in this world, and in the world to come may enjoy His eternal and most blessed fellowship.’

Amen and Amen.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 472–473.

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“The Lord’s hidden servants” by J.C. Ryle

“There are some true Christians in the world of whom very little is known.

The case of Joseph of Arimathea teaches this very plainly.

Here is a man named among the friends of Christ, whose very name we never find elsewhere in the New Testament, and whose history, both before and after this crisis, is completely withheld from the Church.

He comes forward to do honor to Christ, when the Apostles had forsaken Him and fled. He cares for Him and delights to do Him service, even when dead,—not because of any miracle which he saw Him do, but out of free and gratuitous love.

He does not hesitate to confess himself one of Christ’s friends, at a time when Jews and Romans alike had condemned Him as a malefactor, and put Him to death.

Surely the man who could do such things must have had strong faith! Can we wonder that, wherever the Gospel is preached, throughout the whole world, this pious action of Joseph is told of as a memorial of him?

Let us hope and believe that there are many Christians in every age, who, like Joseph, are the Lord’s hidden servants, unknown to the Church and the world, but well known to God.

Even in Elijah’s time there were seven thousand in Israel who had never bowed the knee to Baal, although the desponding prophet knew nothing of it.

Perhaps, at this very day, there are saints in the back streets of some of our great towns, or in the lanes of some of our country parishes, who make no noise in the world, and yet love Christ and are loved by Him.

Ill-health, or poverty, or the daily cares of some laborious calling, render it impossible for them to come forward in public; and so they live and die comparatively unknown.

Yet the last day may show an astonished world that some of these very people, like Joseph, honored Christ as much as any on earth, and that their names were written in heaven.

After all, it is special circumstances that bring to the surface special Christians.

It is not those who make the greatest show in the Church, who are always found the fastest friends of Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 334-335. Ryle is commenting on John 19:38-42.

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“His mighty affection knows no bottom” by J.C. Ryle

“Mark the depth and width of our Lord’s sympathies and affections. The Saviour on whom we are bid to repose the weight of our sinful souls is one whose love passeth knowledge.

Shallow, skin-deep feelings in others, we all know continually chill and disappoint us on every side in this world.

But there is One whose mighty heart affection knows no bottom. That one is Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 312. Ryle is commenting on John 19:26-27.

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“The three crosses on Golgotha” by J.C. Ryle

“Augustine remarks, that three very different persons hung together on the three crosses on Golgotha.

One was the Saviour of sinners.

One was a sinner about to be saved.

One was a sinner about to be damned.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 301. Ryle is commenting on John 19:18.

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“As if in the hand of God” by J.C. Ryle

“Ambrose says, quaintly enough, that the form of the cross is that of a sword with the point downward; above is the hilt toward heaven, as if in the hand of God; below is the point toward earth, as if thrust through the head of the old serpent the devil.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 296. Ryle is commenting on John 19:17.

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“When He comes again” by J.C. Ryle

“To attend a marriage feast, and cleanse the temple from profanation were among the first acts of our Lord’s ministry at His first coming. To purify the whole visible Church, and hold a marriage supper, will be amongst His first acts, when He comes again.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 1 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 103.

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