Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

invective against the prophets thereof. John, they say, is a madman, and Jesus a sensualist. But it saddens Jesus to think that the multitude of people have no root in themselves, and cannot be permanently gained for the kingdom of God, either by fear or love. And the towns on the lake of Galilee, which witnessed the chief displays of miraculous power, yet do not lastingly repent! Surely they deserve a worse fate than the heathen who have not had the word of God preached to them.

We now come to a passage different in character from all the rest of the book, though similar to much in the fourth Gospel. Because of this, and in view of the uncertainty that attends all detail—the uncertainty as to the actual text of the original adverted to in the last chapter-we are justified in regarding it as possibly an early interpolation, or if indeed it was part of the original text of our Matthew, probably not in the author's main source. We refer to Matt. xi. 27 (see also Luke x. 22): “All things have been delivered unto me of my Father : and no one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him." This singular passage is not found in Mark, though nothing can with certainty be concluded from that. Keim does not question that Jesus uttered something of the kind. He says, “No one has known the Father except the Son, nor the Son except the Father, and he to whom He reveals it.' Thus must the utterance of Jesus have originally

sounded." * It is true, something similar is found as early as Justin, but Strauss gives good reasons for thinking that Justin quotes from some other source than either Matthew or Luke. It was probably in the original Luke (in some form), but did not the author obtain it from an unauthentic (say a Gnostic) source ?

Jesus declares that man's welfare is of greater importance than external rites, temples, etc., the implements of what is commonly called the service of God, and he applies this principle to the sabbath law, which is to give place whenever its observance tends to man's injury rather than to his benefit-God's object in its institution.

He speaks of the kingdom of heaven in parables, similitudes, or short allegories, though he finds few, if any, who can trace the analogy unassisted.

The prevalent feeling when the prophet approaches a town is not that of joyful anticipation, but mere vulgar curiosity to see some miracle performed. Such curiosity he rebukes and leaves unsatisfied. Where he was joyfully received for the sake of the kingdom, there he wrought most of his “ mighty works ;” but in Nazareth, for example, where he was reared and well known, not being honoured nor believed in as a messenger from God, he was very sparing of miracle, or abstained altogether.f

We here (Matt. xii. 40) meet with a dark saying, viz. that as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three “Jesus of Nazara," vol. iv. p. 57.

+ Matt. xii. 39, 58.

days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Of which passage Professor Maurice wrote : *“I do not understand it. . . . As there were not three days and three nights between the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord, these words clearly cannot bear the interpretation which is commonly given to them. But I do not see of what other interpretation they are susceptible, therefore I leave them.”

Jesus declares that spiritual ties rank above natural. Those who do the will of the Father are his true sons, and will be acknowledged by Jesus as his brothers, rather than those who are merely born of the same human parentage.

His miracles were seldom, if ever, performed for the direct purpose of convincing unbelievers in his divine mission, but rather to do some good and needful act, as when he fed many thousands with only a little bread and fish. Faith seems generally to have been the motive power, i.e. the faith of the person in whose favour the miracle was wrought, as when Peter walked on the sea, and when persons were healed by touching the hem of Jesus' garment.

He spoke against the Rabbinical traditions as weakening instead of hedging round and supporting the true commandments of God; and, in attacking them, he utters a principle which cuts at the root of some precepts in the Mosaic law, viz. that a man is not defiled by meats and drinks, clean or unclean. The precepts which are only of men shall perish; the

* See “ Unity of the New Testament,” p. 197.

we

teachers who cannot discriminate between the commands of God and those of men are not fit for the office they assume.

We are not informed whether the twelve apostles visited all the towns of Galilee or not, but find them again with Jesus, who asks them what is the prevailing opinion respecting himself (among those who believe in him). They tell him, some believe him to be John the Baptist, risen from the dead, and others Jeremiah or Elijah ; none as yet, it would seem, believe him to be the Messiah. But now, for the first time, Jesus asks the apostles their opinion. Simon declares him the Messiah, on which he is pronounced blessed, as having spoken by revelation from God, since Jesus himself had never taught him, nor had ever claimed this exalted office. But now it seems to come almost as a revelation to Jesus himself, i.e. from God to him and Peter simultaneously, removing any lingering doubt he may have had on the subject.

He thus tells the apostles that he is the Messiah, the king, and that his disciples will form his kingdom, the kingdom of heaven so long foretold. When the kingdom is thus externally constituted, it will be built on the allegiance of its subjects; only those will be of the kingdom who acknowledge the king, as Simon has just done. But not yet; they are not yet to make the fact of his Christhood public.

Simon, in token of his having laid the foundation, and being the first to own allegiance, is himself to be regarded as the foundation of Jesus' spiritual realm, and is to be henceforth called a rock or stone (Kepha = Peter), and is to be invested with the powers of the kingdom—the miraculous powers of loosing persons from disease, Satanic possession, etc., or of leaving them bound therein (Matt. xvi. 13–20).

* Matt. xvi. 20.

Jesus now explains to his apostles from time to time the mysterious allusion to the Son of man having to be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, as that he must himself be put to death at Jerusalem, and be raised from the dead on the third day. (For unless he first went to heaven, by dying or otherwise, how could he come thence, as represented in Daniel ?)

But Simon Peter is not prepared for this, and tries to dissuade the Master from putting himself in danger. Jesus, however, perhaps being tempted to avoid this death, reprimands Peter as coming in aid of the tempter, instead of acknowledging that the divinelyordained plan was best, and strengthening his Master to pursue it. Moreover, they must themselves be ready to follow him to death, on pain of being cut off from the kingdom.

For when he comes in glory with the angels, he will be the judge of all men. And this will certainly happen before some of them die, some of those who were standing around him. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then shall he render to every man according to his deeds. Verily I say unto you, There be some of them that stand here, which shall in no

« ÎnapoiContinuați »