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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.
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,
Ι 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).
i * Mal, iv. 5, 6.
+ Deut. xviii. 18.