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THE DISCOURSE IN THE COURT OF THE WOMEN.
But the narrative first transports us into the Treasury,' where 'the Pharisees'—or leaders-would alone venture to speak. It ought to be specially marked, that if they laid not hands on Jesus when He dared to teach in this sacred locality, and that such unwelcome doctrine, His immunity must be ascribed to the higher appointment of God: because His hour had not yet come.'" An archæological ques- ver. 20 tion may here be raised as to the exact localisation of the Treasury,' whether it was the colonnade around the Court of the Women,' in which the receptacles for charitable contributions-the so-called Shopharoth, or trumpets'—were placed, or one of the two cham-Shekal. vi. bers' in which, respectively, secret gifts and votive offerings 2 were deposited. 3 The former seems the most likely. In any case, it would be within the Court of the Women,' the common meetingplace of the worshippers, and, as we may say, the most generally attended part of the Sanctuary. Here, in the hearing of the leaders of the people, took place the first Dialogue between Christ and the Pharisees.
It opened with what probably was an allusion alike to one of the great ceremonies of the Feast of Tabernacles, to its symbolic meaning, and to an express Messianic expectation of the Rabbis. As the Mishnah states: On the first, or, as the Talmud would have it,e on every night 5 of the festive week, the Court of the Women' was brilliantly illuminated, and the night spent in the demonstrations already described. This was called the joy of the feast.' This 'festive joy,' of which the origin is obscure, was no doubt connected with the hope of earth's great harvest-joy in the conversion of the heathen world, and so pointed to 'the days of the Messiah.' In connection with this we mark, that the term 'light' was specially
'The so-called 'chamber of the silent' (Chashaim), Shekal. v. 6.
The chamber of the vessels' (Chelim). It was probably over, or in this chamber that Agrippa hung up the golden memorial-chain of his captivity (Jos. Antiq. xix. 6. 1).
Comp. generally 'The Temple and its Services,' pp. 26, 27.
The Court of the Women' (yuvaikavis, Jos. Jew. War v. 5. 3; comp. also V. 5. 2), so called, because women could not penetrate further. It was the real Court of the Sanctuary. Here Jeremiah also taught (xix. 14; xxvi. 2). But it is not correct to state (Westcott), that the Council Chamber of the Sanhedrin (Gazith) was between the Court of the
Women and the inner court.' It was in
5 Although Rabbi Joshua tells (in the
e Shekal. v.
d Succ. v 2 e Jer. Succ. 55b; Succ. 53 a
applied to the Messiah. In a very interesting passage of the Midrash we are told, that, while commonly windows were made wide within and narrow without, it was the opposite in the Temple of Solomon, because the light issuing from the Sanctuary was to lighten that which was without. This reminds us of the language of devout St. Luke ii. old Simeon in regard to the Messiah," as 'a light to lighten the
Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel.' The Midrash further explains, that, if the light in the Sanctuary was to be always burning before Jehovah, the reason was, not that He needed such light, but that He honoured Israel with this as a symbolic command. In Messianic times God would, in fulfilment of the prophetic meaning of this rite, 'kindle for them the Great Light,' and the nations of the world would point to them, who had lit the light for Him Who lightened the whole world. But even this is not all. The Rabbis speak of the original light in which God had wrapped Himself as in a garment, and which could not shine by day, because it would have dimmed the light of the sun. From this light that of the sun, moon, It was now reserved under the throne of God for the Messiah, in Whose days it would shine forth once more. Lastly, we ought to refer to a passage in another Midrash, where, after a remarkable discussion on such names of the Messiah as the Lord our Righteousness,' 'the Branch,' the Comforter,'
Shiloh,' Compassion,' His first Advent is connected with the destruction, and His return with the restoration of the Temple. But in that very passage the Messiah is also specially designated as the 'Enlightener,' the words: the light dwelleth with Him,' being applied to Him.
Bemidb. R 15, ed. Warsh.
p. 62 a, b
© Ber. R. 3
4 Bemidb. R. and stars had been kindled.
e Yalk, on Is. lx.
f On Lam. i.
In Dan. ii.
What has just been stated shows, that the Messianic hope of the St. Luke ii. aged Simeon most truly expressed the Messianic thoughts of the time. It also proves, that the Pharisees could not have mistaken the Messianic meaning in the words of Jesus, in their reference to the past festivity: I am the Light of the world.' This circumstance is itself evidential as regards this Discourse of Christ, the truth of this narrative, and even the Jewish authorship of the Fourth Gospel. But, indeed, the whole Address, the argumentation with the Pharisees which follows, as well as the subsequent Discourse to, and argumentation with, the Jews, are peculiarly Jewish in their form of reasoning. Substantially, these Discourses are a continuation of those previously delivered at this Feast. But they carry the argu
The passage is one of the most remarkable, as regards the Messianic views of the Rabbis. See Appendix IX.
THE NEED OF SPIRITUAL REGENERATION.
ment one important step both backwards and forwards. The situation had now become quite clear, and neither party cared to conceal it. What Jesus had gradually communicated to the disciples, who were so unwilling to receive it, had now become an acknowledged fact. It was no longer a secret that the leaders of Israel and Jerusalem were compassing the Death of Jesus. This underlies all His Words. And He sought to turn them from their purpose, not by appealing to their pity nor to any lower motive, but by claiming as His right that, for which they would condemn Him. He was the Sent of God, the Messiah; although, to know Him and His Mission, it needed moral kinship with Him that had sent Him. But this led to the very root of the matter. It needed moral kinship with God: did Israel, as such, possess it? They did not; nay, no man possessed it, till given him of God. This was not exactly new in these Discourses of Christ, but it was now far more clearly stated and developed, and in that sense
We also are too apt to overlook this teaching of Christ—perhaps have overlooked it. It is concerning the corruption of our whole nature by sin, and hence the need of God-teaching, if we are to receive the Christ, or understand His doctrine. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit; wherefore, 'marvel not that I said, Ye must be born again.' That had been Christ's initial teaching to Nicodemus, and it became, with growing emphasis, His final teaching to the teachers of Israel. It is not St. Paul who first sets forth the doctrine of our entire moral ruin: he had learned it from the Christ. It forms the very basis of Christianity; it is the ultimate reason of the need of a Redeemer, and the rationale of the work which Christ came to do. The Priesthood and the Sacrificial Work of Christ, as well as the higher aspect of His Prophetic Office, and the true meaning of His Kingship, as not of this world, are based upon it. Very markedly, it constitutes the starting-point in the fundamental divergence between the leaders of the Synagogue and Christ-we might say, to all time between Christians and non-Christians. The teachers of Israel knew not, nor believed in the total corruption of man-Jew as well as Gentile— and, therefore, felt not the need of a Saviour. They could not understand it, how Except a man-at least a Jew-were born again,' and, from above,' he could not enter, nor even see, the Kingdom of God. They understood not their own Bible: the story of the Fall-not Moses and the Prophets; and how could they understand Christ? they believed not them, and how could they
believe Him? And yet, from this point of view, but only from this, does all seem clear: the Incarnation, the History of the Temptation and Victory in the Wilderness, and even the Cross. Only he who has, in some measure, himself felt the agony of the first garden, can understand that of the second garden. Had they understood, by that personal experience which we must all have of it, the ProtoEvangel of the great contest, and of the great conquest by suffering, they would have followed its lines to their final goal in the Christ as the fulfilment of all. And so, here also, were the words of Christ true, that it needed heavenly teaching, and kinship to the Divine, to understand His doctrine.
This underlies, and is the main object of these Discourses of Christ. As a corollary He would teach, that Satan was not a merely malicious, impish being, working outward destruction, but that there was a moral power of evil which held us all-not the Gentile world only, but even the most favoured, learned, and exalted among the Jews. Of this power Satan was the concentration and impersonation; the prince of the power of darkness.' This opens up the reasoning of Christ, alike as expressed and implied. He presented Himself to them as the Messiah, and hence as the Light of the World. It resulted, that only in following Him would a man not walk in the darkness,' but have the light-and that, be it marked, not the light of knowledge, but of life. On the other hand, it also followed, that all, who were not within this light, were in darkness and in death.
It was an appeal to the moral in His hearers. The Pharisees sought to turn it aside by an appeal to the external and visible. They asked for some witness, or palpable evidence, of what they called His testimony about Himself, well knowing that such could only be through some external, visible, miraculous manifestation, just as they had formerly asked for a sign from heaven. The Bible, and especially the Evangelic history, is full of what men ordinarily, and often thoughtlessly, call the miraculous. But, in this case, the miraculous would have become the magical, which it never is. If Christ had yielded to their appeal, and transferred the question from the moral to the coarsely external sphere, He would have ceased to be the Messiah of the Incarnation, Temptation, and Cross, the Messiah-Saviour. It would have been to un-Messiah the Messiah of the Gospel, for it was only, in another form, a repetition of the Temptation. A miracle or sign would at that moment have been a moral
1 Mark here the definite article.
CHRIST'S TESTIMONY ABOUT HIMSELF.
anachronism—as much as any miracle would be in our days,1 when the Christ makes His appeal to the moral, and is met by a demand for the external and material evidence of His Witness.
It is substantially the same evidence which is demanded by the negative physicists of our days. Nor can I imagine a more thorough misunderstanding of the character and teaching of Christianity than, for example, the proposal to test the efficacy of prayer, by asking for the recovery of those in a hospital-ward! This would represent heathenism, not Christianity.
We mark here again the evidence of the Jewish authorship of the Fourth
The interruption of the Pharisees was thoroughly Jewish, and St. John so was their objection. It had to be met, and that in the Jewish form in which it had been raised, while the Christ must at the same time continue His former teaching to them concerning God and their own distance from Him. Their objection had proceeded on this fundamental judicial principle-A person is not accredited about himself." b Harsh and unjust as this principle sometimes Chethub. was, it evidently applied only in judicial cases, and hence implied that these Pharisees sat in judgment on Him as one suspected, and charged with guilt. The reply of Jesus was plain. Even if His testimony about Himself were unsupported, it would still be true, and He was competent to bear it, for He knew, as a matter of fact, whence He came and whither He went-His own part in this Mission, and its goal, as well as God's-whereas they knew not either. But, more than this: their demand for a witness had proceeded on the assumption of their being the judges, and He the panel-a relation which only arose from their judging after the flesh. Spiritual judgment upon that which was within belonged only to Him, that searcheth all secrets. Christ, while on earth, judged no man; and, even if He did so, it must be remembered that He did it not alone, but with, and as the Representative of, the Father. Hence, such judgment would be true. But, as for their main vv. 15, 16 charge, was it either true, or good in law? In accordance with the Law of God, there were two witnesses to the fact of His Mission: His own, and the frequently-shown attestation of His Father. And, if it were objected that a man could not bear witness in his own cause, the same Rabbinic canon laid it down, that this only applied if his testimony stood alone. But, if it were corroborated (even in a matter of greatest delicacy), although by only one male or female slave-who ordinarily were unfit for testimony-it would be credited.
Thus the testimony of a man, that during the heathen occupancy of Jerusalem his wife had never left him, was not allowed, and the husband forbidden his wife (Chethub. ii. 9).
Not, as in the A. V., 'tell.'
Chethub. ii. 9. Such solitary testimony only when favourable, not when adverse. On the law of testimony generally, comp. Saalschütz, Mos. Recht, pp. 604, 605.
St. John viii. 14