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least, no record in them of his having done so. Indeed, he has but just admitted it to his disciples (Matt. xvi. 13-18): “Now when Jesus came into the parts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples (who had been sent over Galilee to announce the near approach of the kingdom, as John did, and to urge repentance, having now returned to their Master], saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is ? And they said, Some say John the Baptist [risen from the dead, see Matt. xiv. 1, 2]; some, Elijah ; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am ? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah : for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter [a rock], and upon this rock I will build my Church," etc.
This acknowledgment, then, by Peter of Jesus as the Christ, appears here as a sudden burst of inspiration, a revelation to Peter from heaven. Peter, then, has never heard it from man, not even from the lips of Jesus himself? No, for “flesh and blood had not revealed it to him."
But this is flatly contradicted by the fourth Gospel (see John i. 40-42). "Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He findeth first his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah (which is being interpreted, Christ). He brought him unto Jesus.
Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John (or Jonah] : thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter.") And this was even while John was in mid-career, for it was John himself who had taught Andrew (his disciple) that Jesus was the Lamb of God, the Christ (that is to say, according to the Gospel in question).
These two accounts, then, are irreconcilable with each other. Besides, the people whose opinions Jesus desired to know are those well-affected towards him : his enemies term him a glutton, a winebibber, mad, possessed ; only those who are favourably disposed towards him would pronounce him a prophet. And why, then, do none of these opine that he is the Christ? Because, as we may see by tracing the first and second Gospels through as far as this narration, * he has never been proclaimed to them as the Christ; it has never, either by Jesus or his disciples, been suggested to them that the prophet of Nazareth was their long-expected king.
In the first Gospel, Jesus sends his twelve disciples to announce, as John did, the near approach of the kingdom, it and the king thereof being still in the future. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and charged them, saying, Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. x. 5-7). The Gentiles and the Samari
* i.e. to Matt. xvi. 13 and to Mark viii. 27.
tans, what inheritance have they in David ? What have they to do with Israel's Messiah? Only the people of Israel need to be prepared for the anointed King of Israel. So we read (Matt. xv. 24), “I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the fourth Gospel makes Jesus and his disciples not only go through Samaria, and stay two days in a Samaritan city, but Jesus announces himself as the Christ to them, and many believe on him.*
In the Synoptics, the people hear of a coming Messiah whose person is to them unknown, not even hinted at; but in the fourth Gospel, they hear of a Messiah who is among them in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
If confirmation is needed, of the disciples being sent to preach a coming kingdom, see Matt. x. 23: “Ye shall not have gone through the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” This phrase
This phrase “Son of man” being here evidently used of the Messiah.
After the disciples had fulfilled their mission, and had returned to Jesus, and, though none of the people supposed him to be the Messiah, Simon had hailed him as such, and Jesus had accordingly renamed him the Rock, the foundation-stone of his kingdom (which name is given in the fourth Gospel at the very commencement of Jesus' first interview with him), even then the disciples are to tell no one, because clearly Jesus has not yet received Messianic power and glory. He is as yet but the heir to the kingdom, the Messiah
John iv. 25, 26; 39-42.
that is to come (see verses 27, 28 of the same chapter): “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds. Verily I say unto you, there be some of them that stand here, which shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” See also Matt. xix. 28. “In the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This was uttered, according to the first Gospel, on the last journey to Jerusalem.
In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, twentyninth and thirtieth verses, this coming is stated by Jesus to be immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem, for, after predicting its overthrow, he says, “Im
, mediately 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.”
Even at last, at the culminating point, when adjured by the high priest to say whether he claims to be the Christ or not, and Jesus, for the first time, claims Messiahship in other ears than those of his disciples, it is still virtually only the Messiah to be, for (see Matt. xxvi. 64) “ Henceforth ye shall see the
Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
But in the fourth Gospel there is nothing of all this. That Gospel is occupied, not with a Christ that is to come from heaven, but with one who has come from heaven, The Incarnate Logos. The Baptist speaks of Jesus as “he that cometh from heaven," and Jesus speaks of himself as having come from heaven (John vi. 33). “The bread of God is that which cometh down out of heaven, and giveth life to the world.” Comp. ver. 35: “I am the bread of life.” Also see John viii. 58, “Before Abraham was, I am ;”
” and vi. 51, “I am the living bread which came down out of heaven.” Again, John xvii. 5: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
We appeal, therefore, to “ the common sense of Englishmen,” in opposition to the Boyle Lecturer for 1870,* and ask, Is it not clear that, as to Jesus' teaching respecting the most fundamental doctrine of
* The Rev. Stanley Leathes, M.A., Prof. of Hebrew, King's Col. lege, London, who says, in those Lectures entitled “The witness of St. John to Christ,” p. 71, “ It is one of the rash and baseless assertions brought against the Synoptical Gospels” (he refers, as we see by footnote, to “Albert Reville, Reveu des Deux Mondes,” vol. lxiii. p. 93), “that, according to their account, our Lord did not commence this ministry in the character of the Messiah, but that the conception was one which grew upon him by degrees, Simon Peter being the first to originate, and apparently to suggest it to his Master. On the other hand, it is alleged with truth that in the fourth Gospel Jesus appears as the Messiah from the very commencement. We can hardly imagine that the common sense of Englishmen will readily accept this as an instance of disagreement in the evangelistic narratives.”