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threatens them with punishment, and so exasperated them that they would have seized him, but that they knew the people were favourably disposed towards him.
Being afraid to arrest and condemn him themselves, they sought to embroil him with their Roman masters, supposing, if he claimed the Jewish throne, their task would be easy. But, seeing their intent, Jesus, to their signal discomfiture, evaded the question which, with that object, they proposed.
To the Sadducees, who had tried to puzzle him on the subject of the resurrection of the body, he preached a spiritual resurrection only, instancing the chief patriarchs as living still.
His having silenced the Sadducees would be likely to incline the Pharisees rather towards him, or to make them more ready calmly to test him. Accordingly, one of them, a student and expounder of the law, asked him which was the great commandment therein. Jesus replied, “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hangeth the whole law, and the prophets” (Matt. xxii. 37-40).*
* On another occasion, also, Jesus epitomized the teaching of the law and the prophets (see Matt. vii. 12): “All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them : for this is the law and the prophets.”
The Pharisees appear to have listened respectfully on this occasion, and Jesus now, in his turn, questions them, asking their views of the descent or ancestry of the Messiah. They reply, in accord with the common belief of the Jews, that he must be descended from David. But Jesus combats this idea, perhaps knowing that there was no evidence of his own descent from the royal line, and his argument made on them so great an impression that they dared not encounter him any more.
Some time now elapsed, during which Jesus remained in Jerusalem quietly teaching, and observing the conduct especially of the religious teachers and the Pharisees, who laid claim to especial sanctity. He saw and heard much that aroused his indignation, and he at length denounced these classes of persons (held in high esteem by the people) with great severity, and publicly exposed their faults. He accused them generally of hypocrisy, in pretending to righteousness when they were full of secret uncleanness and iniquity, and, calling them a brood of vipers, asked how they could possibly escape condemnation.
It is, however, more and more apparent that the people of Jerusalem are becoming alienated from the Galilean prophet. Those who welcomed him with shouts are now silent, and the cry is soon to be heard,
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of the Christ? whose Son is he?" They reply,
" The Son of David.” But David reverences him as his superior, calling him lord. Would he thus, in spirit, do homage to his own descendant? “If David then calleth him lord, how is he his son ?” (Matt. xxii. 41-45).
either from their lips or from those of the formerly silent among the crowd, “Away with him ; crucify him.” Jesus sees no signs of good, and sadly predicts that the whole city will be destroyed (Matt. xxiv. 1-28). He also foretells the coming of the Messiah in glory, and the end of the present system of things, both directly after the fall of Jerusalem (Matt. xxiv. 29, 30). “But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”T "Verily I say unto you” (Matt. xxiv. 34) “This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished."
Jesus has, at length, thus followed John the Baptist in re-echoing the denunciations of the prophets, foretelling the calamities that should over. take the wicked in the great day of the Lord. The Word of God has gone forth against the heavens and the earth; this word will not return unto him without having accomplished all that it is sent to perform. Heaven and earth, therefore, must pass away, for the word of God cannot pass away.I
But though all these woes should fall on that
* See Joel ii. 10.
† See Dan. vii. 13. See also Isa. li. 6; Ps. cii. 26.
wicked generation, the precise time is unknown by prophets, even by the angels in heaven-is known by God only (Matt. xxiv. 36; see also Mark xiii. 32).
But when this judgment comes it will be unexpected. Jesus exhorts his disciples to be prepared, and to constantly watch, that they may be so. He is going to die in order to come again to be their king, their judge, and he will specially judge them in reference to their life and actions during his absence. The Master finishes with a wondrous description of the final judgment, when the Son of man (that is to say, himself, though only the disciples, perhaps only the apostles, would as yet understand this) shall sit on his throne, surrounded by the angels, and shall judge and pronounce sentence on all mankind, condemning the wicked to eternal fire, and rewarding the righteous with eternal life.
The humility of the kingly judge is shown most strikingly by his calling even the meanest and poorest his brethren, and entirely identifying himself with them, so that whether good or evil is done to them, he regards the act as done to himself.
The religious directors of the Jews now determine to take Jesus and arraign him. He sees the storm gathering ; also that Judas, one of the twelve, will betray him to them. He again foretells his death and resurrection from the dead, and promises that when he is risen he will go into Galilee before them. He also predicts that Peter will deny him; but Peter and all of them declared they would not, though death were the consequence.
Going with his disciples to a certain secluded spot on the Mount of Olives, Jesus retires apart from them, that he may face the great crisis of his life, alone with God. The prospect before him was death, a public and shameful death in the prime of life, unless he renounced all claim to Messiahship, or skilfully evaded the questions which would be put to him. But he fully believes he is the Messiah, the first therefore is out of the question ; the cup can only pass from him by the interposition of God, who could, by a miraculous display of power, vindicate his Anointed. Jesus, then, earnestly prays that this may be done, if possible. He knows it is not possible for God to lie, therefore if God, by the prophets (Daniel, for example), has declared it necessary for the Messiah to die first a violent death, that he might rise again (thus bringing immortality to light), ascend into heaven, and come thence in glory, then it is not possible for the cup to pass from him. He only prays, then, because he is uncertain as to the meaning of some of the prophecies respecting the Messiah ; he is not sure that it is prophesied of him that he must first die.* But in any case, he is perfectly resigned to the Divine Will.
It is, however, all-important to him to know the true meaning of the Scriptures concerning this matter. If the Messiah's death is not therein predicted, even if it be not the Divine will to avert Jesus' impending
* The fifty-third of Isaiah was not understood to refer to the Messiah.