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THE JESUS OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
WHILE John was on the further side of the Jordan, baptizing in its waters, and announcing the near approach of the Messianic kingdom, and that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit ; while he was yet ignorant who was destined to be this anointed King of Israel ;-it was revealed to him that the Spirit would visibly descend on the Messiah, and remain on him, and that John himself should witness this anointing with the Holy Ghost, and thus be certified as to the Christ (John i. 33).
Accordingly John did see the Spirit come from heaven, in the form of a dove, and saw it alight on Jesus, and rest on him (John i. 32).
John therefore publicly proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah—Christ (John i. 34).
Before he had thus proclaimed him, the Jews had sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to inquire of John his own relation to the Messianic kingdom. Are you, they asked, yourself the Christ? or are you the Elijah foretold by Malachi, who should come to prepare the people for the kingdom ? * or are you that prophet foretold by Moses ? †
To each of these queries John answered distinctly and emphatically in the negative. He told the inquirers that he was neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor that prophet (John i. 19-21).
Well then, said they, if you are neither the Christ, nor the Elijah whom God is to send to convert the people, nor the prophet who is to deliver the commands of God, why do you take on yourself this office of calling the people to baptism? In what possible relation can you stand to the kingdom ? What answer shall we take back to Jerusalem, to the chiefs of our sect, the Pharisees ?
John reminded them of a passage in Isaiah (xl. 3), speaking of a voice crying in the desert—“Make straight the way of the Lord.”
I, said he, am this voice. I have no power to convert; I can only call, implore you to be converted, to testify your willingness to be converted by coming to my baptism. I only baptize in water ; but there is one among you, though you do not know him, who shall baptize with Holy Spirit and take away your sin.
The next day, seeing Jesus approach, John pointed him out to the people as the very Christ, the Anointed One, whose coming he had been announcing—the Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world, and to baptize with the Holy Spirit (John i. 29, 30). * Mal, iv. 5, 6.
+ Deut. xviii. 18.
John told them, also, that he himself did not know the Messiah till he saw the divine sign fulfilled, for which he had been previously instructed to watch, viz. the heavenly dove—the Holy Spirit-coming down and remaining on him.
The day after this, as John was with two of his disciples (one of them being Andrew, the brother of Peter), he instructed them as to the exalted spiritụal rank of Jesus, who had just passed by. On which they left John, and went after the Messiah, saluting him as Rabbi, and asking him where he lived. On Jesus inviting them to go home with him, they did so, and remained for the day.
But first, Andrew went to seek his brother Simon, and brought him also to Jesus, telling him what a discovery had been made, viz. of Jesus being their King, even the long-promised Messiah.
Jesus looked on Simon, and told him that, though his name
was now Simon, he should hereafter be called Cephas—that is, a rock (Peter) (John i. 42).
The next day Jesus wished to go to Galilee, and finding a fellow-townsman of Andrew and Peter, named Philip (all three being of Bethsaida, on the Galilean lake), he desired Philip to accompany him.
Philip did so, and began to spread the news that the Messiah, predicted by Moses and by the prophets, had appeared in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph (John i. 45). Nathanael, to whom he made this announcement, was at first incredulous (since Nazareth was not mentioned in any of the prophets, as designed to contribute to the glory of the Messiah's kingdom, much less to be the cradle of the Messiah himself), and asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth ?” Philip advised him to see Jesus, and judge for himself. He came, and Jesus pronounced him a true Israelite, free from guile. Jesus knows me, then, Nathanael thought; how can this be ? and did not forbear expressing his astonishment. Then said Jesus, "Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee” (John i. 48). All doubt now vanished from Nathanael's mind, and he said emphatically, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art King of Israel ” (John i. 49).
Jesus told Nathanael that henceforth he should be an eye-witness of the intercourse he, the Son of man, had with heaven, by seeing the angels coming to him from thence and returning (John i. 51).
On the third day Jesus performed his first miracle at a marriage-feast at Cana, in Galilee, by turning water into wine. His mother was there, and his disciples had been also invited. It appears that Jesus' mother expected her Son to do some marvellous thing, for she had charged the servants to act according to all his instructions; therefore, when he desired them to fill six large stone pots with water, they readily obeyed. The wine was pronounced of the first quality, and this proof of Jesus' power confirmed the faith of his disciples in his Messiahship.
After this, Jesus, with his mother, brothers, and disciples, went to Capernaum ; but they did not stay many days, it being near the time of the Passover feast. So Jesus went to Jerusalem, and being shocked at the sight presented by the temple yard, and the noisy chaffering of those engaged in buying and selling the animals for sacrifice, he made a whip with some cord; and drove them all out, overturning the tables, money and all. But his disciples remembered that it was spoken of the Messiah (Ps. lxix. 9) that he was consumed by zeal for the house of God; and when the Jews asked for some miraculous proof of his right to act thus, he said, speaking of his own body, though they naturally misunderstood him, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
At this feast Jesus worked many miracles, and many believed on him, one of the chief Pharisees, named Nicodemus, going to him by night, and admitting that his miracles proved him to be “a teacher come from God.” Jesus replied, that no man could see the kingdom of God unless he was born from above, born of water and Spirit. Jesus also said, amongst other things, that no one had gone to heaven, except he that came down from heaven, the Son of man, that is in heaven ; and that the Son of man should be lifted up, as the serpent was in the desert, so that whoever believed on him should have eternal life.
Jesus and his disciples now left Jerusalem, but still remained in Judæa, and the disciples baptized ; John being still baptizing, though now on the western side of the river, at a place where there was plenty of water.