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death by miracle, it may still be possible for him to disarm the anger of his accusers, or at least to render them powerless by demonstrating his own innocence of any offence against either the Jewish law or the Roman dominion.
If, on the other hand, he were assured that the death of the Messiah is predicted, Jesus is fully prepared to meet death with composure—yea, with joyful alacrity, since he rejoices to do the will of God.
But it is the uncertainty that agonizes him. It is the doubt as to the true meaning of certain prophecies which renders it so difficult for him to determine the path of duty in this great crisis of his career.* In the other great temptations that beset him, the path of duty was clear-he had only to summon his moral strength to repel the tempter ; but the supreme agony of this hour is that the light divine, which should show the path of life, is clouded. Nevertheless, he has light for the present moment; he must continue pleading with God, wrestling with him, till he give the needed indication of his will, and he (Jesus) does so. He is, in this terrible trial, still true, absolutely true, to God and righteousness. We must judge from the result that he was confirmed in the belief which he had often expressed before to his diciples, viz. that it was necessary for him to die, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled (Matt. xxvi. 24-31).
* These views of ours, as to the cause of the mental suffering of Jesus in Gethsemane, we hold as most legitimately deducible from the narratives. See the foregoing and succeeding pages. however, regard our inferences as the only possible ones.
We do not,
Therefore, when Judas brings the officers to arrest him, he forbids resistance, saying to one who used the sword, “Thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be ? ” (Matt. xxvi. 53, 54).
The disciples, however, losing faith in his Messiahship, or else overcome by terror, all save themselves by flight.
Jesus is now brought before the Sanhedrim, and falsely accused of having incited the people to the destruction of the temple, professing power to build it again miraculously. True to his idea of the will of the Father, he preserves a dignified silence. The high priest then, in the most solemn manner, adjures him to tell whether he professes to be the Christ. Jesus at once, and now for the first time, publicly declares his Messiahship, and that he will come in the clouds (as predicted in Daniel). The high priest, deeming this confession a proof of guilt, solemnly rends his garments, and the whole Sanhedrim concurring, Jesus is adjudged guilty of death for blasphemy.
The crowd now subject him to many indignities; and Peter, who had followed at a great distance, when Jesus was brought before the high priest, being arrived within the precincts of the palace, is recognized by several as one of the disciples of the condemned Nazarene, but the terrified apostle disavows all knowledge of his Master. The accusation, being persisted in, is somewhat confirmed by the provincial dialect of Peter, proving him to be from Galilee, and probably but recently come to Jerusalem. But he still denies, even swears that “ he does not know the man,” and breaks out into violent anger ; but being reminded by the crowing of a cock of his former boast, and of Jesus' prophecy of his unfaithfulness, he goes out into solitude, and with bitter tears laments his cowardly and faithless conduct.
When Jesus is brought before the Roman governor, he pursues a course similar to that he took before the high priest, acknowledging himself the Anointed King predicted by the prophets, but preserving silence on all other matters.
Pilate is convinced, however, that there has been no overt act on Jesus' part, showing intention to conspire against the Roman power, and wishes to release him. But the Jewish priests and the crowd all clamour for the execution, and Pilate gives way. The chief idea of the accusation in the mind of Pilate is that Jesus has asserted his own right to the Jewish throne in opposition to the Roman supremacy, and as some colour has been given to this by the admission of Messiahship, Pilate had the accusation publicly displayed on a board : “This is Jesus the King of the Jews" (Matt. xxvii. 37).*
After being subjected, during his journey to the place of execution, to many insults, he was crucified
* For variations in the synoptic accounts, see also Mark xv. 26, and Luke xxiii. 39.
between two thieves, and the accusatory inscription was placed over his head. The spectators taunted him as an impostor, as did even the thieves who were crucified with him. During the time of the crucifixion the sky was densely covered with clouds, so that there
darkness" over all the land. This would seem to have had its effect on Jesus, in his state of bodily weakness and mental straining after some certain token of Divine interposition ; his spirit sank, and in the words of the Psalmist he pathetically exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Ps. xxii. 1).
At the moment of his death there was an earthquake. The veil of the temple was rent, and even the graves opened, so that when (after Jesus' resurrection) many of the dead came again to life, they easily obtained egress, and went into Jerusalem, appearing to many of its inhabitants.
Jesus went to Galilee, as he had predicted he should (having first made himself known to two women, Mary of Magdala and another Mary), where he appeared to the eleven disciples on a mountain ; but some doubted whether it was really himself. On this the risen Saviour advanced and spoke to them, telling them that all (Messianic) power had been given him in heaven and in earth, and commanded them to go into all nations and make disciples, on the basis of his Messiahship, initiating them by baptism, which was to have reference to three important truths, viz. (1) The existence and providential government of the one God, the Father of all. (2) Obedience to his will as revealed by his Anointed, who is to be regarded as his representative and as his beloved Son. And (3) The sign and proof of the actuality of this divine Messianic kingdom, the communication of the Holy Ghost linking earth to heaven, overcoming all obstacles but those of will, and rendering the recipient able to fulfil the commands of the Messiah, or, in other words, to do the will of God.
They were also to teach all that their Lord had taught them, and he would be with them constantly even to the end-until he came again in person, in visible possession of the kingdom.
The foregoing is a rapid statement of the leading features of the history of Jesus, according to the first two Gospels, especially as regards his relation to the Messianic expectations of his nation at the time in which he lived.
We defer all comment till after we have dealt likewise with the fourth Gospel, though still more cursorily.