Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

ness, 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 seen to be that of a master, far different from the teaching of those “sand-blind pedants,” the Scribes and Pharisees.

[ocr errors]

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).

[ocr errors]

ing by this phrase the Messiah. (?) * Did he so under

* stand Dan. vii. 13, 14 ?

We may, at any rate, conclude (from this our provisional platform of the accuracy of Matthew and Mark) that Jesus is now almost, if not quite, convinced that he himself is the intended Messiah King, though he is not yet empowered to announce himself as such. The use of the title Son of man, and its application occasionally to himself, while it does not constitute an assertion of Messiahship, may yet suggest the question to his disciples.

He miraculously heals a palsied man, having previously pronounced him forgiven (presumably through discernment that he was a faithful soul and in the company of such), and he intimates to cavillers that such discernment is more within man's power than is the gift of healing. The people praised God for having given such power to men (Matt. ix. 2-8).

Jesus now calls to apostleship a fifth, viz. Matthew the taxgatherer,who also leaves his secular employment, and becomes a follower of the prophet of Nazareth.

Jesus' chief object being to convert sinners to righteousness, to bring nigh to the kingdom those who were far off, he mixes freely with all kinds of people, that he may lose no opportunity; and, not being an ascetic like John, does not shun festive occasions, but turns all alike to his purpose.

*

Scarcely. The phrase as a son of man means simply “one like a man,” though that one proved to be “no other than the Messias.” (See Ewald's “ Prophets,” vol. 'v., p. 252.

He now lets it be publicly known that he is not merely continuing the work of John, not merely announcing the speedy approach of the kingdom of heaven, but is actually establishing it in individuals. He is seen by the people to be a prophet of another order, and his disciples are now accordingly distinguished from those of John, as being, in fact, of another school. John deterred from sin by threats ; Jesus wins the people to righteousness by winning them to himself.

Twelve men have now been found among his disciples willing to devote themselves to the work of preaching the Gospel—that is, to announce, as John did, the speedy approach of the kingdom—and Jesus therefore sends them all over Galilee for this purpose, communicating to them his own powers over all disease and death. They are to remember by whom they are sent, and are to introduce themselves as the apostles of Jesus wherever they appear.

We are told nothing of their baptizing disciples. Perhaps the baptism administered by John had spread widely in Galilee, so that all such as truly repented had already repaired to him for baptism; or perhaps the time for Jesus' baptism, as distinct from that of John, had not yet come. In the former case, those who wished to become disciples of Jesus came from the ranks of John's disciples. It is clear that Jesus is now represented in Matthew and Mark as speaking, prophet-like, in the name of God, and that he claims submission as a prophet. His miracles and

[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuați »