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in the thought upon the future, there “the day of Jehovah” would tend to recede in favor of "the day of Messiah" or "the day of the Son of man.” Hence the sketch given by Jesus here might be correctly designated as an exposition of his conception of “the day of Jehovah." There is no personal actor standing in the foreground, the center of the movement. The substitution of “Son of man" for “Jehovah” simply meets the fact that in his time, and especially for the group of men he was now addressing, the religious hope had shifted from the direct action of Jehovah to that of his human representative. Sharply to recognize that Jesus here deals with a single theme, and with that theme by a title which places him in line with his people's ancient thought as currently expressed, is the first step toward an adequate explication and correct appreciation of his own thought.



The dominant impression made by Jesus' exposition of his thought about “the day” is that of the extreme simplicity of the ideas expressed. These may all be compassed by a few words:

1:1 The day will be characterized by suddenness of appearance and brevity of duration, that is, by instantaneousness. It will come without preceding indications; and will be realized not as a process, but as an event.

1:2 The day will come in the midst of the normal movements of human life. It will come suddenly and completely within the limits of a brief space of time. It will come preceded by no advance suggestions of its arrival, except such as are exhibited in the words and activities of those who believe in its coming.

1:3 Repetition of the ideas in 1:2.

2:1 All of destiny that the day holds for men is determined and allotted so quickly that no human movement may take place between its dawn and its setting, its coming and its going. It is not so much a "day" as a flash of time within a day.

2:2 The meaning and significance of the day, its occasion and purpose, consist in the fact that it is the period of the apportionment

to men of their destiny. From this point their ways diverge, for “the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left."

So simple and so few are the ideas about “the day” to which Jesus gives expression here, that any restatement of them seems like an elaboration or enlargement. Certainly the attempted restatement tends to err on the side of unwarranted expansion rather than exclusion. By Suddenness, Unexpectedness, Brevity of Duration, Largeness of * Significance to Mankind—by these few words “the day,” as Jesus viewed it, may be described.


FROM JESUS The mind of the disciples fastened at once upon that phase of Jesus' description which was most impressively foreign to their own ideas. “The one shall be taken—by this there was opened to them a new vista into the future. The day of the Messiah was not, then, to usher in the new and more glorious era of Israel's history in Palestine. It was not, then, to begin the period of the dominance of a new Jerusalem. “The one shall be taken-not, then, left to enjoy the supposed felicities of the expected age of the Messiah on the earth. This is an apparent reversal of beliefs, a denial of hopes. This seems to bring the day without the fruits of the day. “The one shall be taken"-well then, if taken, taken where? This is the natural and immediate question: "And they answering say unto him, Where, Lord ?” But for Jesus to have gone one step farther in dramatization would have meant to enter the forbidden, if not, indeed, the unknown or, at least, unsketchable region. “And he said unto them, Where the body is, thither will the vultures also be gathered together"—that is to say, They will be taken to a region appropriate to their essential nature.


This portrayal by Jesus of “the day of the Son of man” is quite as remarkable in its negative as in its positive side. The vast area of thought centering about that day, as developed by the speculation of men, into which Jesus does not enter at all, exhibits by contrast in an impressive way the restraint of Jesus. The absence of all that is

spectacular is notable; it is not even dramatic in the sense of making an appeal to the eye, and as having in it shifting scenes. If it is a drama, it is begun and completed in a single momentary act with no scenes. Yet it alone occupies the stage, and it is not preceded by minor, monitory plays. Again, if it is a drama, it is without a conspicuous central figure in action; the day centers about a person in that it is his day, but it is the fates of the day for men, not that person, which emerge in the movement. The dispensation of destiny in that day is not the arrival at justice, but the administration of it. There is no exhortation to men to have a sharp lookout for the day; that is vain-"ye shall not see it.” There is an entire absence of time indication, except this negation of all desiring and looking for it on the part of the generation to whom Jesus addresses his words. By his omissions Jesus has contributed quite as much to a true knowledge of the day as by his assertions.


It must be held steadily in mind that the assertions about

the day" are drawn from Jesus by the needs of a critical hour, and are formulated as the direct offset to a definite body of convictions entertained by his hearers of the hour. Jesus does not sketch “the day” that the disciples' knowledge of the future may be larger and more precise.

He is concerned at this time to solve the practical problem of opposing * to a rigidly entertained conception of "the day” some other conception

which will make the near future of his society more secure. The members of that society believe in a "day" which shall have both its realization and the resting-place of its results upon earth. They look to a "day" which will bring social regeneration and political freedom. When Jesus has gone, the Zealot movement will intervene to promise these. The security of the society of Jesus lies, therefore, in the present uprooting of this false expectation, and the implanting of a new idea of the nature of “the day.” This can be accomplished only by heroic measures, and it is to these that Jesus gives himself in his sketch of "the day.” The demands of the hour upon Jesus must be held in mind by the interpreter of Jesus. His sketch, then, is not so much one of precision as of corrective power. To the idea of a

"day" brought in by a long process of social upheaval and political struggle, he opposes a “day” which is “as the lightning.” In the place of a "day" which comes as a relief to a disturbed society, he puts a "day" which falls upon men while life is moving in a normal way. He does not view the "day" as one given over to regenerative adjustment, but as one in which no change of state will be possible. For him it is not a day of separation followed by the destruction of the unrighteous, but of separation effected by the transportation of the righteous. From its nature, as defined by him, it is seen to be not a product of human activity on earth, but one having its initiative in the heaven. To the idea of a social, political, localized result of the ‘day,” he opposes that which is supramundane and without defined locality. He would have the disciples think of the “day” not as a panacea for their future distresses, but as an occasion of determinative significance in the drama of the universe. In place of the attitude which is ever on the lookout for indications of the “day,” and ever receptive to those who are claimants of the power to bring it in, he would substitute that large conception of the “day” which begets incredulity toward any time-defined programme. By these and other phases of his contrast, Jesus makes his sketch of the “day” to be one of corrective power for the disciples to whom he addresses it. At the same time, it stands as one of suggestion, though, by the nature of its origin, not one of absolute precision or ultimate definition for all men."

1 These reflections upon Luke 17:22-37 might be correctly given as their title simply the phrase, “The Rise of Messianic Claimants,” though in large part the study has centered about “The Day of the Son of Man.” For had Jesus not felt it necessary to fortify his disciples against Zealotism in its future sure developments, and especially in regard to the effects upon the disciples of the unbearable social and political environment it would create, it may be conjectured that he would never have depicted “the day of the Son of man”—a portrayal taking its features from the demand upon Jesus for vivid and powerful contrast to the Zealot form of messianic hope.


THE FINAL DISCOURSE OF JESUS ON THE FUTURE § 1. The Occasion, Time, and Report of the Discourse § 2. Influences Affecting the Sayings of Jesus about the Future § 3. The Opening Forecast and the Resultant Question $ 4. The Persecution of the Disciples $ 5. The Destruction of Jerusalem $ The Rise of Messianic Claimants § 7. Events before the Siege of Jerusalem § 8. The Day of the Son of Man 8 9. The Time of the Events $10. Exhortation in the Final Discourse $11. The Mission of the Disciples $12. Reconstruction of the Final Discourse

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