W e see in this passage how men may remember words of religious truth long after they are spoken, and may one day see meaning in them which at first they did not see. We are told that our Lord said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”. John informs us distinctly that the Saviour “spake of the temple of His body” – that He referred to His own resurrection. Yet the meaning of the sentence was not understood by the disciples when it was spoken.
It was not till He was risen from the dead, three years after the events here described, that the full significance of the sentence flashed on their hearts. For three years it was a dark and useless saying to them; for three years it lay sleeping in their minds, like a seed in a tomb, and bore no fruit. But at the end of that time the darkness passed away. They saw the application of their Master’s words, and as they saw it were confirmed in their faith. “They remembered that He had said this” and, as they remembered, “they believed”.
It is a comfortable and cheering thought that the same kind of thing that happened to the disciples is often going on at the present day. The sermons that are preached to apparently heedless ears in churches are not all lost and thrown away. The instruction that is given in schools and pastoral visits is not all wasted and forgotten. The texts that are taught by parents to children are not all taught in vain. There is often a resurrection of sermons and texts and instruction after an interval of many years. The good seed sometimes springs up after he that sowed it has been long dead and gone.
Let preachers go on preaching and teachers go on teaching and parents go on training up children in the way they should go. Let them sow the good seed of Bible truth in faith and patience. Their labour is not in vain in the Lord. Their words are remembered far more than they think, and will yet spring up “after many days”.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58). “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecc 11:l).
1. An extract from Ryle’s comment on John 2:12-25, and particularly on verse 22: “When therefore He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said”. It is taken from Expository Thoughts on John, available in 3 volumes from F P Bookroom at £4.95 each.