« ÎnapoiContinuați »
a St. John xii. 31
b Rev. xii. 7-12
commission; but as they made experiment of it, their faith had grown, and they had applied His command to heal the sick' to the worst of all sufferers, those grievously vexed by demons. And, as always, their faith was not disappointed. Nor could it be otherwise. The great contest had been long decided; it only remained for the faith of the Church to gather the fruits of that Prince. The victory of Light and Life had vanquished the Prince of Darkness and Death. The prince of this world must be cast out. In spirit, Christ gazed on 'Satan fallen as lightning from heaven.' As one has aptly paraphrased it:1 While you cast out his subjects, I saw the prince himself fall. It has been asked, whether the words of Christ referred to any particular event, such as His Victory in the Temptation.2 But any such limitation would imply grievous misunderstanding of the whole. So to speak, the fall of Satan is to the bottomless pit; ever going on to the final triumph of Christ. As the Lord beholds him, he is fallen from heaven-from the seat of power and of worship; for, his mastery is broken by the Stronger than he. And he is fallen like lightning, in its rapidity, dazzling splendour, and destructiveness. Yet as we perceive it, it is only demons cast out in His Name. For, still is this fight and sight continued to all ages of the present dispensation. Each time the faith of the Church casts out demons-whether as they formerly, or as they presently vex men, whether in the lighter combat about possession of the body, or in the sorer fight about possession of the soul-as Christ beholds it, it is ever Satan fallen. For, He sees of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied! And so also is there joy in heaven over every sinner that repenteth.
The authority and power over the demons,' attained by faith, was not to pass away with the occasion that had called it forth. The Seventy were the representatives of the Church in her work of preparing for the Advent of Christ. As already indicated, the sight of Satan fallen from heaven is the continuous history of the Church. What the faith of the Seventy had attained was now to be made permanent to the Church, whose representatives they were. For, the words in which Christ now gave authority and power to tread on3 serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the Enemy, and the promise that nothing should hurt them, could not have been addressed to the Seventy for a Mission which had now come to an
1 Godet, ad loc.
2 So far from seeing here, with Wünsche (ad loc.), Jewish notions about Satan, I hold that in the Satanology of the New Testament, perhaps more than anywhere
else, do we mark not only difference, but contrast, to Jewish views.
The word over (on,' A. V.) must be connected with 'power.'
THE THANKSGIVING OF CHRIST.
end, except in so far as they represented the Church Universal. It CHAP. is almost needless to add, that those serpents and scorpions' are not to be literally but symbolically understood. Yet it is not this power and authority which is to be the main joy either of the Church or the individual, but 2 the fact that our names are written in heaven.3 And so Christ brings us back to His great teaching about the need of becoming children, and wherein lies the secret of true greatness in the Kingdom.
I presume, that in the same symbolical sense must be understood the Haggadah about a great Rabbinic Saint, whom a serpent bit without harming him, and then immediately died. The Rabbi brought it to his disciples with the words: It is not the serpent that killeth, but sin (Ber. 33 a).
The word rather in the A. V. is spurious.
The figure is one current in Scripture (comp. Exod. xxxii. 32; Is. iv. 3; Dan. xii. 1). But the Rabbis took it in a grossly literal manner, and spoke of three books opened every New Year's Daythose of the pious, the wicked, and the intermediate (Rosh hash. 16 b).
This is a common Jewish formula:
It is beautifully in the spirit of all this, when we read that the joy of the disciples was met by that of the Master, and that His teaching presently merged into a prayer of thanksgiving. Throughout the occurrences since the Transfiguration, we have noticed an increasing antithesis to the teaching of the Rabbis. But it almost reached its climax in the thanksgiving, that the Father in heaven had hid these things from the wise and the understanding, and revealed them unto babes. As we view it in the light of those times, we know that the wise and understanding'-the Rabbi and the Scribe-could not, from their standpoint, have perceived them; nay, that it is matter of never-ending thanks that, not what they, but what 'the babes,' understood, was-as alone it could be--the subject of the Heavenly Father's revelation. We even tremble to think how it would have fared with 'the babes,' if 'the wise and understanding' had had part with them in the knowledge revealed. And so it must ever be, not only the law of the Kingdom and the fundamental principle of Divine Revelation, but matter for thanksgiving, that, not as 'wise and understanding,' but only as babes'-as 'converted,' like children'—we can share in that knowledge which maketh wise unto salvation. And this truly is the Gospel, and the Father's good pleasure."
The words, with which Christ turned from this Address to the St. Luke x. Seventy and thanksgiving to God, seem almost like the Father's answer to the prayer of the Son. They refer to, and explain, the authority which Jesus had bestowed on His Church: All things were delivered to Me of My Father;' and they afford the highest
The tense should here be marked.
Comp. Ps. Mark xvi. 18
a St. Matt. xi. 28-30
St. Matthew, who also records this-although in a different connection, immediately after the denunciation of the unbelief of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum-concludes this section by words which have ever since been the grand text of those who, following in the wake of the Seventy, have been ambassadors for Christ. On the other hand, St. Luke concludes this part of his narrative by adducing words equally congruous to the occasion,b which, indeed, are not new in the mouth of the Lord. From their Matt. xiii. 16 suitableness to what had preceded, we can have little doubt that
• Comp. St.
both that which St. Matthew, and that which St. Luke, reports was spoken on this occasion. Because knowledge of the Father came only through the Son, and because these things were hidden from the wise and revealed to 'babes,' did the gracious Lord open His Arms so wide, and bid all1 that laboured and were heavy laden come to Him. These were the sheep, distressed and prostrate, whom to gather, that He might give them rest, He had sent forth the Seventy on a work, for which He had prayed the Father to thrust forth labourers, and which He has since entrusted to the faith and service of love of the Church. And the true wisdom, which qualified for the Kingdom, was to take up His yoke, which would be found easy, and a lightsome burden, not like that unbearable yoke of Acts xv. 10 Rabbinic conditions ; d and the true understanding to be sought, was
by learning of Him. In that wisdom of entering the Kingdom by taking up its yoke, and in that knowledge which came by learning of Him, Christ was Himself alike the true lesson and the best Teacher for those babes.' For He is meek and lowly in heart. He had done what He taught, and He taught what He had done; and so, by coming unto Him, would true rest be found for the soul.
These words, as recorded by St. Matthew-the Evangelist of the Jews-must have sunk the deeper into the hearts of Christ's Jewish
rationale for the fact, that these things had been hid from the wise and revealed unto babes. For, as no man, only the Father, could have full knowledge of the Son, and, conversely, no man, only the Son, had true knowledge of the Father, it followed, that this knowledge came to us, not of wisdom or learning, but only through the Revelation of Christ: 'No one knoweth Who the Son is, save the Father; and Who the Father is, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal Him.'
b St. Luke x. 23, 24
1 Melanchthon writes: In this "All" thou art to include thyself, and not to think that thou dost not belong thereto;
thou art not to search for another register of God.'
THE EASY YOKE OF CHRIST.
hearers, that they came in their own old familiar form of speech, yet CHAP. with such contrast of spirit. One of the most common figurative expressions of the time was that of 'the yoke' (by), for submission to an occupation or obligation. Thus, we read not only of the yoke of the Law,' but of that of earthly governments,' and ordinary 'civil obligations. Very instructive for the understanding of the figure Aboth. iii. 5 is this paraphrase of Cant. i. 10: How beautiful is their neck for bearing the yoke of Thy statutes; and it shall be upon them like the yoke on the neck of the ox that plougheth in the field, and provideth food for himself and his master." This yoke might be cast off,' as Targum, the ten tribes had cast off that of God,' and thus brought on themselves their exile. On the other hand, to take upon oneself the yoke'Shemoth (by Sap) meant to submit to it of free choice and deliberate resolution. Thus, in the allegorism of the Midrash, in the inscription, Prov. xxx. 1, concerning Agur, the son of Jakeh '-which is viewed as a symbolical designation of Solomon-the word Massa,' rendered in the Authorised Version prophecy,' is thus explained in reference to Solomon: Massa, because he lifted on himself (Nasa) the yoke of the Holy One, blessed be He.' And of Isaiah it was said, that he had been privileged to prophesy of so many blessings, because he had taken upon himself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven with joy.' And, as previously stated, it was set forth that in the Yalkut ii. 'Shema,' or Creed-which was repeated every day-the words, Deut. $275, lines 10 vi. 4-9, were recited before those in xi. 13–21, so as first generally bottom to take upon ourselves the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, and only afterwards that of the commandments.' And this yoke all Ber. ii. 2 Israel had taken upon itself, thereby gaining the merit ever imputed to them.
p. 43 a.
Yet, practically, 'the yoke of the Kingdom' was none other than that of the Law' and 'of the commandments;' one of laborious performances and of impossible self-righteousness. It was unbearable,' not 'the easy' and lightsome yoke of Christ, in which the Kingdom of God was of faith, not of works. And, as if themselves to bear witness to this, we have this saying of theirs, terribly signifificant in this connection: Not like those formerly (the first), who made for themselves the yoke of the Law easy and light; but like those after them (those afterwards), who made the yoke of the Law
Similarly we read of the yoke of repentance' (Moed K. 16 b), of that 'of man,' or rather of flesh and blood' (Ab. de R. Nath. 20), &c.
This is mentioned as an answer given
in the great Academy of Jerusalem by
3 Comp. 'Sketches of Jewish Social Life,' p. 270.
Midr. ed. Lemb. p.
upon them heavy!'a And, indeed, this voluntary making of the yoke as heavy as possible, the taking on themselves as many obligations as possible, was the ideal of Rabbinic piety. There was, therefore, peculiar teaching and comfort in the words of Christ; and well might He St. Luke x. add, as St. Luke reports, that blessed were they who saw and heard these things. For, that Messianic Kingdom, which had been the object of rapt vision and earnest longing to prophets and kings of old, had now become reality.2
* Sanh. 94 b, middle
Abounding as this history is in contrasts, it seems not unlikely, St. Luke x. that the scene next recorded by St. Luke stands in its right place. Such an inquiry on the part of a certain lawyer,' as to what he should do to inherit eternal life, together with Christ's Parabolic teaching about the Good Samaritan, is evidently congruous to the previous teaching of Christ about entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. Possibly, this Scribe may have understood the words of the Master about these things being hid from the wise, and the need of taking up the yoke of the Kingdom, as enforcing the views of those Rabbinic teachers, who laid more stress upon good works than upon study. Perhaps himself belonged to that minority, although his question was intended to tempt-to try whether the Master would stand the Rabbinic test, alike morally and dialectically. And, without at present entering on the Parable which gives Christ's final answer (and which will best be considered with the others belonging to that period), it will be seen how peculiarly suited it was to the state of mind just supposed.
From this interruption, which, but for the teaching of Christ connected with it, would have formed a terrible discord in the heavenly harmony of this journey, we turn to a far other scene. It follows in the course of St. Luke's narrative, and we have no reason to consider it out of its proper place. If so, it must mark the close of Christ's journey to the Feast of Tabernacles, since the home of Martha and Mary, to which it introduces us, was in Bethany, close to Jerusalem, almost one of its suburbs. Other indications, confirmatory of this note of time, are not wanting. Thus, the history
In a rapt description of the Messianic glory (Pesikta, ed. Buber, 149 a, end) we read that Israel shall exult in His light, saying: Blessed the hour in which the Messiah has been created; blessed the womb that bare Him; blessed the eye that sees Him; blessed the eye that is deemed worthy to behold Him, for the opening of His lips is blessing and peace,
&c. It is a strange coincidence, to say the least, that this passage occurs in a 'Lecture' on the portion of the prophets (Is. lxi. 10), which at present is read in the Synagogues on a Sabbath close to the Feast of Tabernacles.
2 The same words were spoken on a previous occasion (St. Matt. xiii. 16), after the Parable of the Sower.