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Richer or more comforting assurance than that recorded above could not have been given. But something special has here to be marked. The two first parallelisms always link the promise of Christ to the condition of the sheep; not, perhaps, conditionally, for the relation is such as not to admit conditionalness, either in the form of because therefore,' or even of if-then,' but as a matter of fact. But in the third parallelism there is no reference to anything on the part of the sheep; it is all promise, and the second clause only explains and intensifies what is expressed in the first. If it indicates attack of the fiercest kind and by the strongest and most cunning of enemies, be they men or devils, it also marks the watchfulness and absolute superiority of Him Who hath them, as it were, in His Hand-perhaps a Hebraism for 'power'-and hence their absolute safety. And, as if to carry twofold assurance of it, He reminds His hearers that His Work being 'the Father's Commandment,' it is really the Father's Work, given to Christ to do, and no one could snatch them out of the Father's Hand. It is a poor cavil, to try to limit these assurances by seeking to grasp and compress them in the hollow of our human logic. Do they convey what is commonly called the doctrine of perseverance'? Nay! but they teach us, not about our faith but about His faithfulness, and convey to us assurance concerning Him rather than ourselves; and this is the only aspect in which 'the doctrine of perseverance' is either safe, true, or Scriptural.
But one logical sequence is unavoidable. Rightly understood, it is not only the last and highest announcement, but it contains and implies everything else. If the Work of Christ is really that of the Father, and His Working also that of the Father, then it follows that He and the Father are One' ('one' is in the neuter). This identity of work (and purpose) implies the identity of Nature (Essence); that of working, the identity of power.' And so, evidently, the Jews understood it, when they again took up stones with the intention of stoning Him-no doubt, because He expressed, in yet more plain terms, what they regarded as His blasphemy. Once more the Lord appealed from His Words, which were doubted, to His Works, which were indubitable. And so He does to all time. His Divine Mission is evidence of His Divinity. And if His Divine Mission be doubted, He appeals to the 'many excellent works' (xaλà
1 St. Augustine marks, that the word 'one' tells against Arianism, and the plural are' against Sabellianism. And
does it not equally tell against all heresy ?
CHRIST'S ANSWER TO JEWISH OBJECTIONS.
prya) which He hath showed from the Father,' any one of which might, and, in the case of not a few, had, served as evidence of His Mission. And when the Jews ignored, as so many in our days, this line of evidence, and insisted that He had been guilty of blasphemy, since, being a man, He had made Himself God, the Lord replied in a manner that calls for our special attention. From the peculiarly Hebraistic mode of designating a quotation from the Psalms a as 'written in the Law,' 1 we gather that we have here a literal transcript of the very words of our Lord. But what we specially wish, is, emphatically, to disclaim any interpretation of them, which would seem to imply that Christ had wished to evade their inference: that He claimed to be One with the Father-and to convey to them, that nothing more had been meant than what might lawfully be applied to an ordinary man. Such certainly is not the case. He had claimed to be One with the Father in work and working; from which, of course, the necessary inference was, that He was also One with Him in Nature and Power. Let us see whether the claim was strange. In Ps. lxxxii. 6 the titles God' (Elohim) and 'Sons of the Highest (Beney Elyon) had been given to Judges as the Representatives and Vicegerents of God, wielding His delegated authority, since to them had come His Word of authorisation. But here was authority not transmitted by the word,' but personal and direct consecration, and personal and direct Mission on the part of God. The comparison is not with Prophets, because they only told the word and message from God, but with Judges, who, as such, did the very act of God. If those who, in so acting, received an indirect commission, were 'gods,' the very representatives of God,3 could it be blasphemy when He claimed to be the Son of God, Who had received, not authority through a word transmitted through long centuries, but direct personal command to do the Father's Work; had been directly and personally consecrated to it by the Father, and directly and personally sent by Him, not to say, but to do, the work of the Father? Was it not rather the true and necessary inference from these premisses?
In Rabbinic writings the word for Law (Thorah, or Oreya, or Oreyan) is very frequently used to denote not only the Law, but the the whole Bible. Let one example suffice: 'Blessed be the Merciful Who has given the threefold Law (, Pentateuch, Prophets, and Hagiographa) to a threefold people(priests, Levites, laity) by the hands of a third (Moses, being the third born of his parents)
on the third day (after the preparation)
2 We need scarcely call attention to the
3 We would call attention to the words The Scripture cannot be broken' (ver. 35) as evidential of the views which Jesus took of the authority of the Old Testament, as well as of its inspiration.
a Ps. lxxxii.
• St. John X. 37
All would, of course, depend on this, whether Christ really did the works of the Father.a That was the test; and, as we instinctively perceive, both rationally and truly. And if He did the works of His Father, then let them believe, if not the words yet the works, and thus would they arrive at the knowledge, and understand '-distinguishing here the act from the state 2-that in Me is the Father, and I in the Father.' In other words, recognising the Work as that of the Father, they would come to understand that the Father worked in Him, and that the root of His Work was in the Father.
The stones were not thrown, for the words of Christ rendered impossible the charge of explicit blasphemy which alone would, according to Rabbinic law, have warranted such summary vengeance. But they sought again to seize Him,' so as to drag Him before their tribunal. His time, however, had not yet come, and He went forth out of their hand '-how, we know not.
Once more the Jordan rolled between Him and His bitter persecutors. Far north, over against Galilee, in the place of John's early labours, probably close to where Jesus Himself had been baptized, was the scene of His last labours. And those, who so well remembered both the Baptist and the testimony which he had there borne to the Christ, recalled it all as they listened to His Words and saw His Works. As they crowded around Him, both the difference and the accord between John and Jesus carried conviction to their minds. The Baptist had done no sign,'' such as those which Jesus wrought; but all things which John had spoken of Him, they felt it, were true. And, undisturbed by the cavils of Pharisees and Scribes, many of these simple-minded, true-hearted men, far away from Jerusalem, believed on Him. To adapt a saying of Bengel: they were the posthumous children of the Baptist. Thus did he, being dead, yet speak. And so will all that is sown for Christ, though it lie buried and forgotten of men, spring up and ripen, as in one day, to the deep, grateful, and eternal joy of them who had laboured in faith and gone to rest in hope.
1 Thus, according to the better reading.
The circumstance, that, according to the Gospels, no miracle was wrought by John, is not only evidential of the trustworthiness of their report of our Lord's miracles, but otherwise also deeply significant. It shows that there is no craving for the miraculous, as in the Apocryphal and legendary narratives, and it proves that the Gospel-narratives
were not cast in the mould of Jewish contemporary expectancy, which would certainly have assigned another role to Elijah as the Forerunner of the Messiah than that of solitary testimony, then of forsakenness, and, lastly, of cruel and unavenged murder at the hands of a Herodian. Truly, the history of Jesus is not that of the Messiah of Judaic conception!
THE SECOND SERIES OF PARABLES.
NEIGHBOUR TO US
THE SECOND SERIES OF PARABLES-THE TWO PARABLES OF HIM WHO IS
(St. Luke x. 25-37; xi. 5–13.)
THE period between Christ's return from the Feast of the Dedication' and His last entry into Jerusalem, may be arranged into two parts, divided by the brief visit to Bethany for the purpose of raising Lazarus from the dead. Even if it were possible, with any certainty, chronologically to arrange the events of each of these periods, the variety and briefness of what is recorded would prevent our closely following them in this narrative. Accordingly, we prefer grouping them together as the Parables of that period, its Discourses, and its Events. And the record of the raising of Lazarus may serve as a landmark between our summary of the Parables and that of the Discourses and Events which preceded the Lord's final appearance in Jerusalem.
These last words help us to understand the necessary difference between the Parables of this and of the preceding and the following periods. The Parables of this period look back upon the past, and forward into the future. Those spoken by the Lake of Galilee were purely symbolical. They presented unseen heavenly realities under emblems which required to be translated into earthly language. It was quite easy to do so, if you possessed the key to the heavenly mysteries; otherwise, they were dark and mysterious. So to speak, they were easily read from above downwards. Viewed from below upwards, only most dim and strangely intertwining outlines could be perceived. It is quite otherwise with the second series of Parables. They could, as they were intended, be understood by all. They required no translation. They were not symbolical but typical, using the word 'type,' not in the sense of involving a predictive element," As in but as indicating an example, or, perhaps, more correctly, an exem
Rom. v. 14
Accordingly, the Parables of this series are also intensely practical. Lastly, their prevailing character is not descriptive, but hortatory; and they bring the Gospel, in the sense of glad
• As in
1 Cor. x. 6,
11; Phil. ii. tidings to the lost, most closely and touchingly to the hearts of all
17; 1 Thess.
i. 7; 2 Thess. iii. 9; 1 Tim. iv. 12; Tit. ii. 7; 1 Pet. 7.3
who hear them. They are signs in words, as the miracles are signs in works, of what Christ has come to do and to teach. Most of them bear this character openly; and even those which do not, but seem more like warning, have still an undertone of love, as if Divine compassion lingered in tender pity of that which threatened, but might yet be averted.
Of the Parables of the third series it will for the present suffice to say, that they are neither symbolical nor typical, but their prevailing characteristic is prophetic. As befits their historical place in the teaching of Christ, they point to the near future. They are the fast falling, lengthening shadows cast by the events which are near at hand.
b St. Luke x. 25-37
The Parables of the second (or Peræan) series, which are typical and hortatory, and Evangelical' in character, are thirteen in number, and, with the exception of the last, are either peculiar to, or else most fully recorded in, the Gospel by St. Luke.
1. The Parable of the Good Samaritan."—This Parable is connected with a question, addressed to Jesus by a lawyer'—not one of the Jerusalem Scribes or Teachers, but probably an expert in Jewish Canon Law,' who possibly made it more or less a profession in that district, though perhaps not for gain. Accordingly, there is a marked absence of that rancour and malice which characterised his colleagues of Judæa. In a previous chapter it has been shown, that this narrative probably stands in its proper place in the Gospel of St. Luke. We have also suggested, that the words of this lawyer referred, or else that himself belonged, to that small party among the Rabbinists who, at least in theory, attached greater value to good works than to study. At any rate, there is no occasion to impute directly evil motives to him. Knowing the habits of his class, we do not wonder that he put his question to 'tempt '-test, try-the great Rabbi of Nazareth. There are many similar instances in Rabbinic writings of meetings between great Teachers, when each tried to involve the other in dialectic difficulties and subtle disputations. Indeed, this was part of Rabbinism, and led to that painful and fatal trifling with
the Prophets, such as Dean Plumptre suggests (on St. Matt. xxii. 35), did not exist.
See generally ch. v. of this Book.