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THE HEALED MAN BEFORE THE PHARISEES.

185

СНАР.

IX

As nothing could be elicited from his parents, the man who had been blind was once more summoned before the Pharisees. It was no longer to inquire into the reality of his alleged blindness, nor to ask about the cure, but simply to demand of him recantation, though this was put in the most specious manner. Thou hast been healed : own that it was only by God's Hand miraculously stretched forth,' and that this man’ had nothing to do with it, save that the coincidence may have been allowed to try the faith of Israel. could not have been Jesus Who had done it, for they knew Him to be a sinner. Of the two alternatives they had chosen the absolute rightness of their own Sabbath-traditions as against the evidence of His Miracles. Virtually, then, this was the condemnation of Christ and the apotheosis of traditionalism. And yet, false as their conclusion was, there was this truth in their premisses, that they judged of miracles by the moral evidence in regard to Him, Who was represented as working them.

But he who had been healed of his blindness was not to be so betrayed into a denunciation of his great Physician. The simplicity and earnestness of his convictions enabled him to gain even a logical victory. It was his turn now to bring back the question to the issue which they had originally raised; and we admire it all the more, as we remember the consequences to this poor man of thus daring the Pharisees. As against their opinion about Jesus, as to the correctness of which neither he nor others could have direct knowledge, there was the unquestionable fact of his healing, of which he had personal knowledge. The renewed inquiry now by the Pharisees, as to the manner in which Jesus had healed him, might have had for its object to betray the man into a positive confession, or to elicit something demoniacal in the mode of the cure. The blind man had now fully the advantage. He had already told them ; why the renewed inquiry? As he put it half ironically: Was it because they felt the wrongness of their own position, and that they should become His disciples ? It stung them to the quick; they lost all self-possession, and with this their moral defeat became complete. Thou art the disciple of that man, but we (according to the favourite phrase) are the disciples of Moses. Of the Divine Mission of Moses they knew, but of the Mission of Jesus they knew nothing. The unlettered

The common view (Meyer, Watkins, Westcott) is, that the expression, .Give glory to God’ was merely a formula of solemn adjuration, like Josh. vii. 19. But even so, as Canon Westcott remarks,

it implies that the cure was due directly to God.'

? In the original: “If He is a sinner, I know not. One thing I know, that, being blind, now I see.'

the eyes

• Ber. 66; Taan. iii. 8;

a

BOOK man had now the full advantage in the controversy. “In this, inIV deed,' there was "the marvellous,' that the leaders of Israel should

confess themselves ignorant of the authority of One, Who had power to open

of the blind—a marvel which had never before been witnessed. If He had that power, whence had He obtained it, and why? It could only have been from God. They said, He was “a sinner?—and yet there was no principle more frequently repeated

by the Rabbis,a than that answers to prayer depended on a man Succ. 14 a; being devout' and doing the Will of God. There could therefore

be only one inference: If Jesus had not Divine Authority, He could not have had Divine Power.

The argument was unanswerable, and in its unanswerableness shows us, not indeed the purpose, but the evidential force of Christ's Miracles. In one sense they had no purpose, or rather were purpose to themselves, being the forthbursting of His Power and the manifestation of His Being and Mission, of which latter, as applied to things physical, they were part. But the truthful reasoning of that untutored man, which confounded the acuteness of the sages, shows the effect of these manifestations on all whose hearts were open to the truth. The Pharisees had nothing to answer, and, as not unfrequently in analogous cases, could only, in their fury, cast him out with bitter reproaches. Would he teach them-he, whose very disease showed him to have been a child conceived and born in sin, and who, ever since his birth, had been among ignorant, Law-neglecting • sinners'? But there was Another, Who watched and knew him: He Whom, so far as he knew, he had dared to confess, and for Whom he was content to suffer. Let him now have the reward of his faith, even its completion; and so shall it become manifest to all time, how, as we follow and cherish the better light, it riseth upon us in all its brightness, and that faithfulness in little bringeth the greater stewardship. Tenderly did Jesus seek him out, wherever it may have been; and, as He found him, this one question did He ask, whether the conviction of his experience was not growing into the higher faith of the yet unseen : ‘Dost thou believe on the Son of God ?'1 He had had personal experience of Him—was not that such as to lead up to the higher faith? And is it not always so, that the higher faith is based on the conviction of personal experience—that we believe on

1 With all respect for such authority as that of Professors Westcott and Hort (“The N. T.' p. 212), I must strongly repudiate the reading 'Son of Man,' instead of. Son of God.' Admittedly, the

evidence for the two readings is evenly balanced, and the internal evidence seems to me strongly in favour of the reading Son of God.'

THE HEALED MAN IN PRESENCE OF THE CHRIST.

187

CHAP.
IX

Him as the Son of God, because we have experience of Him as the God-sent, Who has Divine Power, and has opened the eyes of the blind-born—and Who has done to us what had never been done by any other in the world? Thus is faith always the child of experience, and yet its father also; faith not without experience, and yet beyond experience; faith not superseded by experience, but made reasonable by it.

To such a soul it needed only the directing Word of Christ. And Who is He, Lord, that I may believe on Him?' It seems as if the question of Jesus had kindled in him the conviction of what was the right answer. We almost see how, like a well of living water, the words sprang gladsome from his inmost heart, and how he looked up expectant on Jesus. To such readiness of faith there could be only one answer. In language more plain than He had ever before used, Jesus answered, and with immediate confession of implicit faith the man lowly worshipped. And so it was, that the first time he saw his Deliverer, it was to worship Him. It was the highest stage yet attained. What contrast this faith and worship of the poor, unlettered man, once blind, now in every sense seeing, to the blindness of judgment which had fallen on those who were the leaders of Israel! The cause alike of the one and the other was the Person of the Christ. For our relationship to Him determines sight or blindness, as we either receive the evidence of what He is from what He indubitably does, or reject it, because we hold by our own false conceptions of God and of what His Will to us is. And so is Christ also for judgment.'

There were those who still followed Him—not convinced by, nor as yet decided against Him-Pharisees, who well understood the application of His Words. Formally, it had been a contest between traditionalism and the Work of Christ. They also were traditionalists -were they also blind? But, nay, they had misunderstood Him by leaving out the moral element, thus showing themselves blind indeed. It was not the calamity of blindness; but it was a blindness in which they were guilty, and for which they were responsible, which indeed was the result of their deliberate choice: therefore their sin—not their blindness only—remained !

' προσεκύνησεν. The word is never used by St. John of mere respect for man, bat always implies Divine worship. In the Gospel it occurs ch. iv. 20–24 ; ix. 38 ; xii.

20; and twenty-three times in the Book of Revelation, but always in the sense of worship.

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BOOK

IV

The closing words which Jesus had spoken to those Pharisees who followed Him breathe the sadness of expected near judgment, rather than the hopefulness of expostulation. And the Discourse which followed, ere He once more left Jerusalem, is of the same character. It seems, as if Jesus could not part from the City in holy anger, but ever, and only, with tears. All the topics of the former Discourses are now resumed and applied. They are not in any way softened or modified, but uttered in accents of loving sadness rather than of reproving monition. This connection with the past proves, that the Discourse was spoken immediately after, and in connection with, the events recorded in the previous chapters. At the same time, the tone adopted by Christ prepares us for His Peræan Ministry, which may be described as that of the last and fullest outgoing of His most intense pity. This, in contrast to what was exhibited by the rulers of Israel, and which would so soon bring terrible judgment on them. For, if such things were done in the green tree' of Israel's MessiahKing, what would the end be in the dry wood of Israel's commonwealth and institutions ?

It was in accordance with the character of the Discourse presently under consideration, that Jesus spake it, not, indeed, in Parables in the strict sense (for none such are recorded in the Fourth Gospel), but in an allegory' in the Parabolic form, hiding the higher truths from those who, having eyes, had not seen, but revealing them to such whose eyes had been opened. If the scenes of the last few days had made anything plain, it was the utter unfitness of the teachers of Israel for their professed work of feeding the flock of God. The Rabbinists also called their spiritual leaders' feeders,' Parnasin

1 The word is not parable, but raporulan proverb or allegory. On the essential

characteristics of the Parables, see Book III. ch. xxiii.

THE SHEPHERDS AND THE DOOR INTO THE SHEEPFOLD.

189

CHAP.

х

(pogna)—a term by which the Targum renders some of the references to 'the Shepherds' in Ezek. xxxiv. and Zech. xi. The term comprised the two ideas of leading' and ' feeding,' which are separately insisted on in the Lord's allegory. As we think of it, no better illustration, nor more apt, could be found for those to whom the flock of God’ was entrusted. It needed not therefore that a sheepfold should have been in view, to explain the form of Christ's address. It only required to recall the Old Testament language about the shepherding of God, and that of evil shepherds, to make the application to what had so lately happened. They were, surely, not shepherds, who had cast out the healed blind man, or who so judged of the Christ, and would cast out all His disciples. They bad entered into God's Sheepfold, but not by the door by which the owner, God, had brought His flock into the fold. To it the entrance had been His free love, His gracious provision, His thoughts of pardoning, His purpose of saving mercy. That was God's Old Testament-door into His Sheepfold. Not by that door, as had so lately fully appeared, had Israel's rulers come in. They had climbed up to their place in the fold some other way--with the same right, or by the same wrong, as a thief or a robber. They had wrongfully taken what did not belong to them-cunningly and undetected, like a thief; they had allotted it to themselves, and usurped it by violence, like a robber. What more accurate description could be given of the means by which the Pharisees and Sadducees had attained the rule over God's flock, and claimed it for themselves? And what was true of them holds equally so of all, who, like them, enter by some other way.'

How different He, Who comes in and leads us through God's door of covenant-mercy and Gospel-promise---the door by which God had brought, and ever brings, His flock into His fold! This was the true Shepherd. The allegory must, of course, not be too closely pressed; but, as we remember how in the East the flocks are at night driven into a large fold, and charge of them is given to an under-shepherd, we can understand how, when the shepherd comes in the morning, “the doorkeeper' 3 or "guardian'opens to him. In interpreting the allegory, stress must not be so much laid here on any single phrase, be it the porter,' the door,' or the opening,' as on their combination. If the shepherd comes to the door, the porter hastens to open it to him from within, that he may obtain access to the flock;

"The figure of a shepherd is familiar deacon Watkins, ad loc. in Rabbinic as in Biblical literature. 3 This is the proper reading : he who Comp. Bemidb. R. 23; Yalkut i. p. 68 a. locked the door from within and guarded

* This is the view advocated by Arch

it.

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