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THE RISE OF MESSIANIC CLAIMANTS AND THE DAY OF
THE SON OF MAN
$ 1. The Time and Method of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Their Implica
tions § 2. Jesus' Twofold Concern for the Future $ 3. The Disciples in the National Upheaval—Their Prospective Longings
Treated by Jesus § 4. A Grave Peril to the Disciples in the Future—the Rise of Messianic Claim
ants $ 5. Resultant State of the Disciples, and Consequent Demand for a Constructive
Statement by Jesus $ 6. A Positive Statement from Jesus as to the Future $ 7. The Single Theme and Its Relation to "the Day of Jehovah” $ 8. The Simplicity of Jesus' Thought about "the Day"—the Thought Examined $ 9. The Foremost Question Raised by the Sketch from Jesus 810. Negative Aspects of Jesus' Portrayal of the Day" $11. Standpoint from which the Positive Aspects of Jesus' Thought Must Be
Viewed-an Effort at Contrasts
THE RISE OF MESSIANIC CLAIMANTS AND THE DAY OF
THE SON OF MAN
$1. THE TIME AND METHOD OF THE DESTRUCTION OF JERU
SALEM, AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS In the outlook of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was not an event of the far distant future, an event lying indefinitely within the times yet to come. For him, it fell inside the limits of the lifetime of that generation to which his message had been addressed. Even those men who were the hearers of his forecast would themselves be participants, in part, in the great struggle which should end with the casting-down of the city—“All these things shall come upon this generation.” It is to be observed, moreover, that the terms by. which Jesus depicts that dire event are those of a natural process, wrought by human forces. There is an entire absence of the play of supramundane powers, of that which is dramatic or castastrophic in the apocalyptic sense. The destruction of the city is to be effected by the contention of vast human forces, working gradually to a climax. These two considerations—(1) that the event falls within the present generation, (2) that it is effected through the clash of human agenciesimply that the years near at hand and more distant will be, for the Jewish people, a time of constant ferment, will be made up of days of debate, of inner conflict, of suffering and sacrifice, of exaltation and despair, of hopes and disillusionments—all these spreading over years and culminating in the great disaster.
$2. JESUS' TwoFOLD CONCERN FOR THE FUTURE For that period of years of national distraction and desperation the outlook of Jesus had a double aspect; for him there lay within that period a twofold concern that for his people and that for his disciples. As to the effects and outcome for his people as a whole,
1 Luke 13:3, 5; Luke 11: 49-51 = Matt. 23:34-36.
Jesus saw them with clearness and expressed them with vigor. But what of that group of people who had attached themselves to him ? To them, what would these days of national distress mean—these years through which that people of which they were a part should painfully move toward the final great agony? $3. THE DISCIPLES IN THE NATIONAL UPHEAVAL—THEIR
PROSPECTIVE LONGINGS TREATED BY JESUS How real a problem, how distinct a problem, those coming years held for the fraternity of Jesus will be felt with force when it is recognized that they faced those years with an attitude toward the national hope, toward messianism, unlike that of their contemporaries. For their fellow-countrymen, the nerve of that Zealot movement which, through these years, should hasten them on to their destruction would be the hope of the Messiah yet to be, yet to rule a free people. For the disciples of Jesus, that problem of the Messiah was already a settled one; they interpreted Jesus to be the Messiah. Viewed from the standpoint of the days when Jesus was present with his disciples, viewed thence by Jesus himself, those future years, therefore, loomed up as fraught with the very gravest dangers to his group of disciples, with dangers not included in those which would result inevitably from their propaganda, not covered by the forms of persecution to which they would be subjected-namely, with dangers touching this central idea in their interpretation of him, his work as the Messiah. Jesus recognized that certain serious perils, inactive while he was present, would threaten his movement when he was gone. So long as Jesus was with his body of followers, it was always open to them to locate in the future of his life and work that which was lacking in the present in the fulfilment of messianic expectation. This they constantly did, finding in his prospective arrival at Jerusalem the time of worthy messianic activities. But how would it be after he was gone—and gone without expected and normal messianic vindication ? This was a serious question whatever the form of future circumstances, even with those most favorable to the nurturing of the new faith of the disciples. But with what gravity that future must have been viewed by Jesus when his vision presented to him his disciples as moving in
1 Chap. ii, “The Destruction of Jerusalem.”
the midst of persecutions of the most drastic kind, in the midst of national distresses calculated to prove a test to the most steadfast and heroic souls among the Jews. What a time for the propagation by his disciples of a movement which should profess to give answer to precisely those theocratic problems about which all this national desperation centered! Adherence to an inactive Messiah of the past during days in which the sorest persecutions are being suffered, during days in which the national life is in the balance! Then, if ever, the disciples of Jesus will revert to the old form of their messianic hope. Then, if ever, they will long for some display of messianic presence and power more in accord with that popular contemporary hope to which they were once attached. Then, if ever, they will feel the weakness of their apologetic for Jesus as the Messiah. Then, if ever, their hearts will cry out, with a touch of deep despair and disappointment, for one day of the rule of a Messiah such as they once dreamed of, such as many of their contemporaries are expecting, such as seems called for by the national crisis, but such as Jesus of Nazareth has not proved himself to be. It is to this prospective peril, clearly foreseen and strongly felt by Jesus, that he makes reference in his words to his disciples: “Days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not
By these plain words, spoken while he was yet with them, Jesus does all that may be done in advance to fortify his disciples against x that peril to the movement which future persecutions and the events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem are certain to beget. And this forecast serves in a double way as a guard. It fortifies by its recognition and mention beforehand of the danger, and again by the explicitness, even bluntness, of the assertion that all such desire in those days is vain-"ye shall not see it.” By these words the disciples were made ready, so far as possible, to hold fast in the days of severest persecution, in the days of most extreme national peril, to the messianic ideals imparted to them by Jesus; to hold out against the tendency, natural and inevitable, toward the longing and the hope for messianic intervention of a supramundane kind.
1 Luke 17:22.
$4. A GRAVE PERIL TO THE DISCIPLES IN THE FUTURE
THE RISE OF MESSIANIC CLAIMANTS For the mind of Jesus, then, the near future was viewed in a double aspect. He saw it as holding for his nation certain disaster; he saw it as holding for his disciples possible disaster. And, similarly, the most active and vital factor in the near future of his people's life in Palestine, as he saw it, namely, Zealotism, had for his vision a double significance. As to the nation as a whole, it was Zealotism that was to lead it to its ruin." But what was the thought of Jesus as to the effect of the Zealot movement upon his own movement in the years during which both would move side by side? It could not be supposed by Jesus that a national messianic movement of such intensity and power as could suffice to carry the nation to a bitterly contested end would be without appreciable inner effect upon the movement represented by his disciples. Outwardly, the results of Zealotism, as felt by the disciples in the form of a distracted social environment, would lead to a yearning after a Messiah of present activity and of social power. But what effect would the inner ideals and motive forces of Zealotism produce upon the disciples? In the degree in which the Zealot propaganda at any given period might place emphasis upon the more material or political elements in its programme, it would move away from the distinctive message which was to be heralded by the disciples of Jesus. At such periods, therefore, it would prove no serious peril to the inner life of the society of Jesus, especially so long as its activities were being crowned with success and the days of defeat and distress still lay in the future. But it would be very different at times when the religious emphasis in Zealotism was uppermost, at times when the sole or the dominating power in the movement would reside in the appeal to the messianic hope. And this latter emphasis was certain to be most closely associated with those periods when success was wanting, when failure threatened, periods when the Zealots turned away from prowess to a more transcendent form of aid to their ends. At such times, Zealotism would draw nearer, in its central appeal, to the contemporary movement represented in the disciples, and so would bear in itself a peril to the community of Jesus. So long as Zealotism, in its pushing forward
1 Chap. ii, “The Destruction of Jerusalem," $88–11.