Homily of St Augustine on John 8:21-29
The Lord spoke to the Jews, saying: “I go.” For to Christ, the Lord, death was a going to that place whence he had come, yet from whence he had never departed. “I go,” he says, “And you shall seek me, not for desire of me, but for hatred.” For after he had passed away from the eyes of men, he was sought, both by those who hated him, and by those who loved him: the former for the sake of persecuting him, the latter for the desire of possessing him. In the Psalms, the Lord himself says through the Prophet: “Flight has failed me, and there is no one that has regard for my soul.” And again he says in another place in a psalm: “Let those be confounded and ashamed, who seek after my soul.”
He blamed those who sought him not, he condemned those who did seek him. For it is a good thing to seek after the soul of Christ, that is, in the way that the disciples sought it; and it is a bad thing to seek after the soul of Christ, that is, in the way that the Jews sought it; for the former sought to possess it, the latter to destroy it. Accordingly, because these men sought it thus in a wrong way, with a perverted heart, what next did he add? “You shall seek me; and that you may not think you are seeking me rightly, you shall die in your sin.” This comes from seeking Christ in an evil way, to die in one’s sin; this comes from hating him, by whom alone you can be saved.
For while men, whose hope is in God, ought not to return to evil, even for evil; yet these men rendered evil for good. Therefore, the Lord announced to them beforehand, and in his foreknowledge uttered the sentence, that they should die in their sin. And then he added: “Where I go, you cannot come.” He said this to his disciples also in another place, yet to them he did not say: “You shall die in your sin.” But what did he say? The same as he said to these men: “Where I go, you cannot come.” He did not deprive them of hope, but he foretold a delay. For at the time when the Lord was speaking this to his disciples, they were not able to go where he was going, but afterwards they were to come; but these men never, to whom in his foreknowledge he said: “You shall die in your sin.”
– St Augustine, Treatise 38 on John, from: An Approved Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964