Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

BOOK
IV

* St. Luke zii. 47, 48

b St. Luke xii. 49-53

• v. 49, 50

who knew not—though this also involves guilt—that their Lord had any will towards them, that is, any work for them. This, according to a well-understood principle, universally, almost instinctively, acted upon among men.a

2. In the absence of their Master! A period this of work, as well as of waiting; a period of trial also. Here, also, the two opening verses, in their evident connection with the subject-matter under the first head of this Discourse,' but especially with the closing sentences about work for the Master, are peculiar to St. Luke's narrative, and fit only into it. The Church had a work to do in His absence—the work for which He had come. He came to cast fire on earth,'—that fire which was kindled when the Risen Saviour sent the Holy Ghost, and of which the tongues of fire were the symbol. Oh, how He longed, that it were already kindled! But between Him and it lay the cold flood of His Passion, the terrible waves in which He was to be baptized. Oh, how He felt the burden of that coming Agony! That fire must they spread : this was the work in which, as disciples, each one must take part. Again, in that Baptismal Agony of His they must also be prepared to share. It was fire: burning up, as well as purifying and giving light. And here was it in place to repeat to His Peræan disciples the prediction already addressed to the Twelve when going on their Mission, as to the certain and necessary trials connected with carrying the fire' which Christ had cast on earth, even to the burning up of the closest bonds of association and kinship.

3. Thus far to the disciples. And now for its application to the multitudes 'f--although here also He could only repeat what on a former occasion He had said to the Pharisees. Let them not think that all this only concerned the disciples. No ; it was a question between Israel and their Messiah, and the struggle would involve the widest consequences, alike to the people and the Sanctuary. Were they so blind as not to know how to interpret the time'? Could they not read its signs—they who had no difficulty in interpreting it when a cloud rose from the sea, or the sirocco blew from the south ? * Why then—and here St. Luke is again alone in his reporth_did they not, in the circumstances, of themselves judge what was right and fitting and necessary, in view of the gathering tempest ? Comp. before, under 1, p. 218.

, . ? This clause is most important for the + The observant reader will notice how interpretation of that which precedes it, characteristic the small differences are. showing that it cannot be taken in sensu Thus, the sirocco would not be expected malo. It cannot therefore be the fire of in Galilee, but in Pera, and in the latter judgment' (Plumptre).

also the first flowers would appear much 8 Probably, as Wünsche suggests, the earlier,

d St. Matt. x. 34-36

e St. Luke xii. 51-53

f ver. 54

& St. Matt. xvi. 2, 3

h St. Luke xii. 57

1

.of the Rabbis ולואי or else the ,הלואי

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE GALILEANS IN THE TEMPLE.

221

CHAP.
XIII

* St. Matt. V. 25, 26

What was it ? Even what He had told them before in Galilee, for the circumstances were the same. What common sense and common prudence would dictate to every one whom his accuser or creditor haled before the magistrate: to come to an agreement with him before it was too late, before sentence had been pronounced and executed. And although the illustration must, of course, not be St. Luke

xii. 58, 59 literally pressed as regards its details, it was easy to understand its general meaning.

4. Besides these Discourses, two events are recorded before Christ's departure to the Feast of the Dedication.' Each of these led to a brief Discourse, ending in a Parable.

The first records two circumstances not mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus,' nor in any other historical notice of the time, either by Rabbinic or other writers. This shows, on the one hand, how terribly common such events must have been, when they could be so generally omitted from the long catalogue of Pilate's misdeeds towards the Jews. On the other hand, it also evidences that the narrative of St. Luke was derived from independent, authentic sources-in other words, the historical character of his narrativewhen he could refer as well known to facts, which are not mentioned in any other record of the times; and, lastly, that we are not warranted in rejecting a notice, simply because we find no other mention of it than on the pages of the Third Gospel.

It appears that, just then, or quite soon afterwards, some persons told Christ about a number of His own Galileans, whom Pilate had ordered to be cut down, as we infer, in the Temple, while engaged in offering their sacrifices, so that, in the pictorial language of the East, St. Luke their blood had mingled with that of their sacrifices. Clearly, their narration of this event must be connected with the preceding Discourse of Jesus. He had asked them, whether they could not discern the signs of the terrible national storm that was nearing. And it was in reference to this, as we judge, that they repeated this story. To understand their object, we must attend to the answer of Christ. It is intended to refute the idea, that these Galileans had in this been visited by a special punishment of some special sin against God. Two questions here arise. Since between Christ's visit to Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles and that at the Dedication of the Temple no Festival took place, it is most probable that this event had happened

Xiii. 1-5

· This omission goes far to prove the groundlessness of the charge brought by Renan, and lately by Joël(Bl. in d. Relig.

Gesch. ii. pp. 52 &c.), that the writings
of Josephus have been largely falsified by
Christian copyists.

BOOK
IV

before Christ's visit to Jerusalem. But in that case it seems most likely—almost certain that Christ had heard of it before. If so, or, at any rate, if it was not quite a recent event, why did these men tell Him of it then and there ? Again, it seems strange that, although the Jews connected special sins with special punishments, they should have regarded it as the Divine punishment of a special sin to have been martyred by a Pilate in the Temple, while engaged in offering sacrifices.

All this becomes quite plain, if we regard these men as trying to turn the edge of Jesus' warning by a kind of Tu quoque' argument. Very probably these Galileans were thus ruthlessly murdered, because of their real or suspected connection with the Nationalist movement, of which Galilee was the focus. It is as if these Jews had said to Jesus : Yes, signs of the times and of the coming storm! These Galileans of yours, your own countrymen, involved in a kind of Pseudo-Messianic movement, a kind of signs of the times' rising, something like that towards which you want us to look-was not their death a condign punishment ? This latter inference they did not express in words, but implied in their narration of the fact. But the Lord read their thoughts and refuted their reasoning. For this purpose He adduced another instance,a when a tower at the Siloam-Pool had fallen on eighteen persons and killed them, perhaps in connection with that construction of an aqueduct into Jerusalem by Pilate, which called forth, on the part of the Jews, the violent opposition, which the Roman so terribly avenged. As good Jews, they would probably think that the fall of the tower, which had buried in its ruins these eighteen persons, who were perhaps engaged in the building of that cursed structure, was a just judgment of God! For

Pilate had used for it the sacred money which had been devoted to Jos. War ti. Temple-purposes (the Korban), and many there were who perished

in the tumult caused by the Jewish resistance to this act of profanation. But Christ argued, that it was as wrong to infer that Divine judgment had overtaken His Galilean countrymen, as it would be to judge that the Tower of Siloam had fallen to punish these Jerusalemites. Not one party only, nor another; not the supposed Messianic tendency (in the shape of a national rising), nor, on the other hand, the opposite direction of absolute submission to Roman domination, was in fault. The whole nation was guilty ; and the coming storm, to the signs of which He had pointed, would destroy all, unless there were spiritual repentance on the part of the nation. And yet wider than this, and applying to all time, is the underlying

a St. Luke xiii. 4

9. 4

SCENE IN A SYNAGOGUE IN PERÆA.

223

CHAP.
XIII

xiii. 6-9

principle, that, when a calamity befalls a district or an aggregation of individuals, we ought not to take to ourselves judgment as to its special causation, but to think spiritually of its general applicationnot so much to seek to trace what is the character of its connection with a district or individuals, as to learn its lessons and to regard them as a call addressed to all. And conversely, also, this holds true in regard to deliverances.

Having thus answered the implied objection, the Lord next showed, in the Parable of the Fig-tree,& the need and urgency of St. Luke national repentance.!

The second event recorded by St. Luke in this connection 6 ost. Luke recalls the incidents of the early Judæan C and of the Galilean Ministry. We observe the same narrow views and externalism as be- a St. Matt. fore in regard to the Sabbath on the part of the Jewish authorities, and, on the part of Christ, the same wide principles and spiritual application. If we were in search of evidence of the Divine Mission of Jesus, we would find it in this contrariety on so fundamental a point, since no teacher in Israel nor Reformer of that time -not the most advanced Sadducee—would have defended, far less originated, the views as to the Sabbath which Christ now propounded.? Again, if we were in quest of evidence of the historical truthfulness of the Gospel-narratives, we would find it in a comparison of the narratives of the three Sabbath-controversies : in Jerusalem, in Galilee, and in Peræa. In all the spirit was the same. And, although the differences between them may seem slight, they are characteristic, and mark, as if they pointed with the finger, the locality and circumstances in which each took place. In Jerusalem there is neither reasoning nor rebuke on the part of the Jews, but absolute persecution. There also the Lord enters on the higher exposition of His action, motives, and Mission." In Galilee there is questioning, and St. John v. cunning intrigue against Him on the part of the Judæans who dogged His steps. But while no violence can be attempted against Him, the people do not venture openly to take His part. But in 'St. Matt. Peræa we are confronted by the clumsy zeal of a country-Archisynagogos (Chief Ruler of a Synagogue), who is very angry, but not very wise ; who admits Christ's healing power, and does not dare to attack Him directly, but, instead, rebukes, not Christ, not even the woman who had been healed, but the people who witnessed it, at the same time telling them to come for healing on other days, not

e St. Johny 16

xii. 9-13

· For the exposition of this Parable, ? On the Sabbath-Law, see Appendix I refer to that of all the Parables of that XVII. period.

16, 17 &c.

xii, 1-21

BOOK
IV

* St. Luke xiii. 15, 16

b St. Matti xii, 14

perceiving, in his narrow-minded bigotry, what this admission implied. This rustic Ruler had not the cunning, nor even the courage, of the Judæan Pharisees in Galilee, whom the Lord had formerly convicted and silenced. Enough, to show this obscure Peræan partisan of Pharisaism and the like of him their utter folly, and that by their own admissions. And presently, not only were His adversaries ashamed, while in Galilee they went out and held a council against Him, but the people were not afraid, as the Galileans had been in presence of their rulers, and openly rejoiced in the glorious working of the Christ.

Little more requires to be added about this incident in one of the Synagogues' of Peræa. Let us only briefly recall the scene : how among those present in this Synagogue had been a poor woman, who for eighteen years had been a sufferer, as we learn, through demoniac agency. It is quite true that most, if not all, such diseases were connected with moral distemper, since demoniac possession was not permanent, and resistance might have been made in the lucid intervals, if there had been moral soundness. But it is ungrounded to distinguish between the spirit of infirmity' as the moral and psychical, and her being bent,' as indicating the physical disease, or even to describe the latter as a 'permanent curvature of the spine.'? The Greek word here rendered 'infirmity' has passed into Rabbinic language (Isteniseyah, ibunow), and there means, not any particular disease, but sickliness, sometimes weakliness. In fact, she was, both physically and morally, not sick, but sickly, and most truly was hers'a spirit of infirmity,' so that she was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up.' For, we mark that hers was not demoniac possession at all—and yet, though she had not yielded, she had not effectually resisted, and so she was bound' by 'a spirit of infirmity,' both in body and soul.

We recognise the same spirit of infirmity' in the circumstances of her healing. When Christ, seeing her—probably a fit symbol of the Peræans in that Synagogue-called her, she came; when He said unto her, “Woman, thou hast been loosed 3 from thy sickliness,' she was unbound, and yet in her weakliness she answered not, nor straightened herself, till Jesus laid His Hands on her,' and so strengthened her in body and soul, and then she was immediately • made straight, and glorified God.'

| This is the view of Godet, who regards the • Thou hast been loosed 'as referring to the psychical ailment.

2 So Dean Plumptre.
3 So, and not as in the A. V.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »