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begotten, and thy fervent lover, are given into their hands."
The righteous Jews were specially sons of God, as appears very plainly in the second chapter of the Book of Wisdom.
But with Jesus it was not occasional merely; it was habitual to speak of God as the Father. That is the dear familiar term that he almost always uses, and teaches his disciples to use, when they think of God, and when they pray to Him. To the question, What is God? Jesus virtually returns this answer : He is the perfectly righteous Ruler of the Universe, and our Father.
Jesus teaches his disciples how to speak to their Father, and what to ask for. In the first place, they may come to him as their Father, without
mediator, “no priest or veil between." What they should pray for is not the gratification of any whim or capricious desire, but that only which they know it is his will to give. The love of righteousness should sway the entire being ; there should be not only the desire of doing right, but the desire that right be done, everywhere and always. If such is the wish of the soul, she will express it to her father in prayer. Hence the prime request is that God's kingdom may (soon) come, that his will may everywhere be done.
As Jesus believes that God in ancient days wrought
A somewhat similar conjunction of terms, “firstborn, only-begotten son,” is also found in the " Psalms of Solomon,” and is there also applied to the sons of Israel. (See “ The Jewish Messiah,” by Professor Drummond, p. 288.)
a miracle to give his people daily bread, he assumes that it is the will of God to give it still, and that therefore it is proper to pray for it.
Also, to be forgiven all past sin, and preserved from committing sin in future. And, in keeping with the command to "love thy neighbour as thyself," Jesus taught his hearers that in their prayers they should desire all the blessings prayed for, not for themselves only, but also for their neighbours.
The condition of God's forgiving their sins is not reliance on any atonement made by another, but their own sincere forgiveness of those who injure them. This they may even plead in their petitions to their Father in heaven.
Jesus may here only have followed his namesake, the son of Sirach, whom perhaps he believed to have written by divine inspiration. “Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he hath done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou prayest” (Ecclus. xxviii. 2).
With regard to prayer for external things beyond what is necessary to preserve life, Jesus taught his followers that their whole desire should be for spiritual good, which alone was worthy to occupy their thoughts ; hence all anxiety and care for food and raiment should be dismissed, still remembering that the Father knows the needs of all his children, and will provide accordingly, as he in fact does for even the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. Aim, with an eye singly fixed thereon, to fulfil all righteousness, and leave results with God; hence, "Trust in God and do the Right,” is a compendium of a large part of Jesus' teaching.
Incidentally, he shows his love of nature, and perception of her beauties. The Jews thought the magnificence of Solomon unapproachable, and they regarded his glory with almost a religious reverence; but Jesus taught that God is so prodigal of grace and loveliness, that he gives a greater glory than appeared in the robes of Solomon to the perishable wild flowers.
It was too common among the Jews for those who were very zealous in observance of the law to be severe on others who were not so strict. Jesus pronounces strongly against this tendency. In this he is quite consistent with himself, for as actions, apparently good, may be performed from improper motives, so deeds of a doubtful character may spring from good intentions.
And as the moral worth of an action and the guilt of the doer of an evil deed entirely depend on the motives which led to their performance, and as we cannot read the heart, nor often discern the hidden motive, so therefore we should forbear to express any judgment on our neighbour, and should, at any rate, refrain from condemning the doer, if even we must the deed.
But where the life is bad as a whole, we may safely conclude the tree bad which bears such fruit. We are not called on to pass judgment in the case of a private individual, but when a man announces himself as a prophet, or publicly teaches religion, we may know by his actions and life whether he is of God; if the fruit be evil, we are not bound to accept his authoritative teaching.
It would seem (see Matt. xii. 27) that all teachers of religion professed to cast out devils, and Jesus foreknew that many evil teachers would, for the sake of popularity (which seemed their prevailing idol), profess to cast them out in Jesus' name, as his apostles or coadjutors; but he declares that when they claim recognition from him on that account, he will, if they are evildoers, disclaim them as his disciples, and, in spite of their calling him lord and master, will repudiate all workers of iniquity.
Likewise the condition of entering the kingdom of heaven is not a profession of discipleship to himself, but a sincere desire to do the will of God. If a man has this desire and acts accordingly, he is on a rock, and his house shall stand unshaken amid all convulsions; but if he is merely a disciple outwardly, hearing the instructions of Jesus, but not pursuing righteousness from the heart, his house is built on the sand, has no stable foundation, and shall be swept away.
Such teaching (see the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in chaps. v., vi., and vii. of the first Gospel), going down to the root of the matter, was to be that of a master, far different from the teaching of those "sand-blind pedants,” the Scribes and Pharisees.
According to Matthew, Jesus performed his cures to fulfil a prophecy : “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Isa. liii. 4).
Power was given him over the elements, which power he exerted in calming the sea by a word.
Jesus was known by the powers of evil as some great one in antagonism to themselves, for the devils who possessed human beings, finding that the period of their rioting in earthly tabernacles was at an end, cried out at his approach.
Tidings of Jesus' power came also to the ears of a heathen centurion, who, fully believing therein; asked him to save his servant, and to do it by the word of command, without stirring from the spot, as he was not worthy that Jesus should come under his roof. This faith in himself from a heathen exceeded any that the Lord had met with among his own people.
Jesus now begins to speak of himself as the “Son of man,” a phrase literally meaning merely “human being," man.
He sometimes seems to apply it to man in general (Matt. xii. 8), sometimes to himself in particular (Matt. viii. 20), and sometimes to the coming Messiah (Matt. x. 23).
The prophet Ezekiel constantly represents the word of Jahveh addressing himself as “Son of man.”
But Jesus has the warrant of Daniel for designat
* “What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the Son of man, that thou visitest him ?” (Ps. viii. 4). “ Put not your trust in princes, nor in the Son of man, in whom there is no help (or salvation]” (Ps. cxlvi. 3).