The Life of Jesus of Nazareth - Part 11

Part 11


The Resurrection

209. Christianity as a historic religious movement starts from the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is very clear in the preaching and writings of Paul. The first distinctively Christian feature in his address at Athens is his statement that G.o.d had designated Jesus to be the judge of men by having "raised him from the dead" (Acts xvii. 31), and for him the resurrection was the demonstration of the divinity of Christ (Rom. i. 4), and the confirmation of the Christian hope (I. Cor. xv.).

With him the prime qualification for an apostle was that he should have seen the risen Lord (I. Cor. ix. 1). The early preaching as recorded in Acts shows the same feature, for after repeated testimony to the fact that G.o.d had raised up Jesus, Peter summed up his address with the declaration, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know a.s.suredly, that G.o.d hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified" (Acts ii. 36). In fact the buoyancy of hope and confidence of faith which gave to the despised followers of the Nazarene their strength resulted directly from the experiences of the days which followed the deep gloom that settled over the disciples when Jesus died.

210. It can but seem strange to us that after Jesus had so often foretold his death and the resurrection which should follow it, his disciples were thrown into despair by the cross. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus when they embalmed his body may not have known of these teachings which Jesus gave to the nearer circle of his followers, but it is difficult to believe that the women who prepared their spices to anoint his body (Mark xvi. 1) had heard nothing of these predictions, and it is certain that the apostles who received with incredulity the first news of the resurrection were the men whom Jesus had sought to prepare for this glorious victory.

The disciples do not seem to have finished "questioning among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean" (Mark ix. 10, compare Luke xviii. 34) until Jesus himself explained it by his return to them after his crucifixion. It was formerly common to conclude from the scepticism of the disciples that Jesus could not have told them, as he is reported to have done, that he would rise again the third day. It is now widely conceded, however, that if he foresaw and foretold his death, he surely coupled with it a promise of resurrection, otherwise he must have surrendered his own conviction that he was Messiah; for a Messiah taken and held captive by death was apparently as foreign to Jesus' thought as it was unthinkable for the men of his generation. The inability of the disciples to adjust their Messianic ideas to the death of their Master was not removed by the rebuke Jesus administered to Peter at Caesarea Philippi; their objections were only silenced. It would seem that even when they saw his death to be inevitable, they were simply dumb with hope that in some way he would come off victor; the cross and the tomb crushed out that hope--at least from most of them. If one disciple, his closest friend, recalled and believed his words when he saw the empty tomb (John xx. 8), others were cast into still deeper sorrow by the report, and could only say, "But we hoped that it was he which should redeem Israel" (Luke xxiv.


211. The light which banished the gloom from the hearts of Jesus'

followers dawned suddenly. There was no time for gradual readjustment of ideas and the springing of hope from a faith which would not die. The uniform early tradition is that Jesus showed himself alive to his disciples "on the third day," that is, a little over thirty-six hours from the time of his death. Not only the gospels, but Paul, who wrote many years before our evangelists, testify to this (I. Cor. xv. 4), as does the very early observance of the first day of the week as "the Lord's day,"

and the subst.i.tution of "the third day" for "after three days" in the gospels which made use of our Gospel of Mark (compare parallels with Mark viii. 81; ix. 31; x. 34, and see Holtzmann, NtTh I. 309). Of the events which occurred on that third day and after, our earliest account is that of Paul. He gives a simple catalogue of the appearances of the risen Lord, referring to them as well known, in fact as the familiar subject matter of his earliest teaching (I. Cor. xv. 4-8). He gives definite date to none of these appearances, indicating only their sequence. He tells of six different manifestations, beginning with an appearance to Cephas on the third day, then to the twelve, then to a large company of disciples,--above five hundred,--then to James, then to all the apostles.

The sixth in the list is his own experience, which he puts in the same cla.s.s with the appearances of the first Easter morning. Two of these instances are found only in Paul's account, the appearance to James and to the five hundred brethren, though this last may probably be the same as is referred to in the Gospel of Matthew (xxviii. 16-20).

212. The gospel records are much fuller, but they differ from each other even more than they do from Paul. Mark is unhappily incomplete, for the last twelve verses in that gospel, as we have it, are lacking in the oldest ma.n.u.scripts, and were probably written by a second-century Christian named Aristion, as a subst.i.tute for the proper end of the gospel which seems by some accident to have been lost. These twelve verses are clearly compiled from our other gospels. They have value as indicating the currency of the complete tradition in the early second century, but they contribute nothing to our knowledge of the resurrection. All, then, that Mark tells is that the women who came early on the first day of the week to anoint the body of Jesus found the tomb open and empty, and saw an angel who bade them tell the disciples that the Lord had risen. How the record originally continued no one knows, for Matthew and Luke use the same general testimony up to the point where Mark breaks off, and then go quite different ways. Of the two Matthew is closer to Mark than is Luke.

The first gospel adds to the record of the second an account of an appearance of Jesus to the women as they went to report to the disciples, and then tells of the meeting of Jesus with the disciples on a mountain in Galilee, and his parting commission to them. It gives no account of the ascension. Luke agrees with Mark in general concerning the visit of the women to the tomb, the angelic vision, and the report to the disciples. He says nothing of an appearance of Jesus to the women on their flight from the tomb, but, if xxiv. 12 is genuine (see R.V. margin), he, like John, tells of Peter's visit to the sepulchre.

213. Luke further reports the appearances of Jesus to two on their way to Emmaus, to Simon, and to the eleven in Jerusalem,--this last being blended consciously or unconsciously with the final meeting of Jesus with the disciples before his ascension. The genuine text of the gospel (xxiv. 50) says nothing of the ascension itself, but clearly implies it. In contrast with Matthew it is noticeable that Luke shows no knowledge of any appearance of Jesus to his disciples in Galilee. John is quite independent of Mark, as well as of Matthew and Luke. He mentions only Mary Magdalene in connection with the early visit to the tomb, though perhaps he implies the presence of others with her ("we" in xx. 2). He tells of a visit of Peter and John to the tomb, of an appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, of an appearance to ten of the disciples in the evening, and a week later to the eleven, including Thomas. So far this gospel makes no reference to appearances in Galilee; but in the appendix (chapter xxi.) there is added a manifestation to seven disciples as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

214. Criticism which seeks to discredit the gospels, for instance most recently Reville in his "Jesus de Nazareth," discovers two separate and mutually exclusive lines of tradition,--one telling of appearances in Galilee, represented by Mark and the last chapter in John, the other telling of appearances in or near Jerusalem, and found in Luke and the twentieth chapter of John. It is said that the gospels have sought to blend the two cycles, as when Matthew tells of an appearance to the women in Jerusalem on their way from the tomb, and when the last chapter of John adds to the original gospel a Galilean appearance. Luke, however, who makes no reference at all to Galilean manifestations, is taken to prove that originally the one cycle knew nothing of the other. This theory falls, however, before the uniform tradition of appearances on the third day, which must have been in Jerusalem, and the very early testimony of Paul to an appearance to above five hundred brethren at once, which could not have been in Judea. It need not surprise us that there should have been two cycles of tradition, not however mutually exclusive, if Jesus did appear both in Jerusalem and in Galilee. The same kind of local interest which is supposed to explain the one-sidedness of the synoptic story of the public ministry would easily account for one line of tradition which reported Galilean appearances, and another which reported those in Jerusalem. Luke may have had access to information which furnished him only the Jerusalem story. John and Peter, however, must have known the wider facts. The very divergences and seeming contradictions of the gospels, troublesome as they are, indicate how completely certainty regarding the fact of the resurrection removed from the thought of the apostolic day nice carefulness concerning the testimony to individual manifestations of the risen Lord. Doubtless the first preaching rested, as in the case of Paul, on a simple "I have seen the Lord." When later the detailed testimony was wanted for written gospels, it had suffered the lot common to orally transmitted records, and divergences had sprung up which it is no longer possible for us to resolve. They do not, however, challenge the fact which lies behind all the varied testimony.

215. A general view of the events of that third day and those which followed can be constructed from our gospels and Paul. Early on the first day of the week certain women, including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, Joanna, and others, came to anoint the body of Jesus. On their arrival they found that the stone had been rolled back from the tomb. Mary Magdalene saw that the grave was empty and ran to tell Peter and John. The others saw also a vision of angels which said that Jesus was alive and would see his disciples in Galilee, and ran to report this to the disciples. Meanwhile Mary Magdalene returned, following Peter and John who ran to see the tomb, and found it empty as she had said. She lingered after they left, and Jesus appeared to her, she mistaking him at first for the gardener. She then went to tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord. These events evidently occurred in the early morning. The next incident reported is that of the walk of two disciples, not of the twelve, to Emmaus, and the appearance of Jesus to them. At first they did not recognize him, not even when he taught them out of the scriptures the necessity that the Messiah should die. He was made known when at evening he sat down with them to a familiar meal. Either before or after this event he had shown himself to Peter. This is the first manifestation reported by Paul. If Luke xxiv. 12 is genuine (see R.V. margin), he also tells that when the two again reached Jerusalem the apostles received them with the news that Peter had seen the Lord. That same evening Jesus appeared suddenly among the disciples in their well-guarded upper room.

His coming was such that he had to convince the disciples that he was not simply a disembodied spirit. Luke says that he did this by bidding them handle him, and by eating part of a fish before them. According to John, Thomas was not with the others at this first meeting with the disciples. A week later, presumably in Jerusalem, Jesus again manifested himself to the little company, Thomas being with them, and dispelled the doubt of that disciple who loved too deeply to indulge a hope which might only disappoint. He had but to see in order to believe, and make supreme confession of his faith. The next appearance was probably that to the seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee, when Peter, who denied thrice, was thrice tested concerning his love for his Lord. Then apparently followed the meeting on the mountain reported in Matthew, which was probably the same as the appearance to the five hundred brethren; then, probably still in Galilee, Jesus appeared to his brother James, who from that time on was a leader among the disciples. The next manifestation of which record is preserved was the final one in Jerusalem, after which Jesus led his disciples out as far as Bethany and was separated from them, henceforth to be thought of by them as seated at the right hand of G.o.d.

216. This construction of the story as given in the New Testament does violence to the accounts in one particular. It holds that Matthew's report of the meeting of Jesus with the women on their way from the tomb on Easter morning is to be identified with his meeting with Mary Magdalene.

This can be done only if it is supposed that in the transmission of the tradition the commission given the women by the angel (Mark xvi. 6f.) became blended with the message given to Mary by the Lord (John xx. 17), the result being virtually the same for the religious interest of the first Christians, while for the historic interest of our days it const.i.tutes a discrepancy. The difficulty is less on this supposition than on any other. It is highly significant that the account of the most indubitable fact in the view of the early Christians is the most difficult portion of the gospels for the exact harmonist to deal with. This is not of serious moment for the historical student. It is rather a warning against theoretical ideas of inspiration.

217. The universal acknowledgment that the early Christians firmly believed in the resurrection of their Lord has made the origin of that firm conviction a question of primary importance. The simple facts as set forth in the New Testament serve abundantly to account for the faith of the early church, but they not only involve a large recognition of the miraculous, they also contain perplexities for those who do not stumble at the supernatural; hence there have been many attempts to find other solutions of the problem. Some of the explanations offered may be dismissed with a word: for instance, those which, in one form or other, renew the old charge found in the first gospel, that the disciples stole the body of Jesus, and then declared that he had risen; and those which a.s.sume that the death of Jesus was apparent only, that he fainted on the cross, and then the chill of the night air and of the sepulchre served to revive him, so that in the morning he was able to leave the tomb and appear to his disciples as one risen from the dead. This apparent-death theory involves Jesus in an ugly deception, while the theory that the disciples or any group of them removed the body of Jesus and then gave currency to the notion that he had risen, builds the greatest ethical and religious movement known to history on a lie. A slightly different explanation which was very early suggested was that the Jews themselves, or perhaps the gardener, had the body removed, and that when Mary found the tomb empty she let her faith conclude that his absence must be due to his resurrection.

218. This last explanation has in recent times been revived in connection with the so-called vision-hypothesis by Renan and Reville. Mary found the tomb empty, and being herself of a highly strung nervous nature--she had been cured by Jesus of seven devils--by thinking about the empty tomb she soon worked herself into an ecstasy in which her eyes seemed to behold what her heart desired to see. She communicated her vision to the others, and by a sort of nervous contagion, they, too, fell to seeing visions, and it is the report of these that we have in the gospels. The vision-hypothesis takes with some, Strauss for instance, a different form.

These deny that the tomb was found empty at all, and regard this story as a contribution of the later legend-making spirit. They hold that the disciples fled from Jerusalem as soon as the death of Jesus was an a.s.sured fact, and not until after they found themselves amid the familiar scenes of Galilee, did their faith recover from the shock it had received in Jerusalem. In Galilee the experiences of their life with Jesus were lived over again, and the old confidence in him as Messiah revived. Thus thinking about the Lord, their hearts would say, "He cannot have died,"

and after a while their faith rose to the conviction which declared, "He is not dead;" then they pa.s.sed into an ecstatic mood and visions followed which are the germ out of which the gospel stories have grown.

219. These different forms of the vision-hypothesis have been subjected to most searching criticism by Keim, who is all the more severe because his own thought has so much that is akin to them. There are two objections which refute the hypothesis. The first is that the uniform tradition which connects the resurrection and the first appearances with the "third day" after the crucifixion leaves far too short a time for the recovery of faith and the growth of ecstatic feeling which are requisite for these visions, even supposing that the disciples' faith had such recuperative powers. The second is that once such an ecstatic mood was acquired it would be according to experience in a.n.a.logous cases for the visions to continue, if not to increase, as the thought of the risen Lord grew more clear and familiar; yet the tradition is uniform that the appearances of the risen Christ ceased after, at most, a few weeks. The only later one was that which led to the conversion of Paul; and though Paul was a man somewhat given to ecstatic experiences (see II. Cor. xii.), he carefully distinguishes in his own thought his seeing of the Lord and his heavenly visions. In a word, the disciples of Jesus never showed a more healthy, normal life than that which gave them strength to found a church of believers in the resurrection in the face of persecution and scorn.

220. Keim seeks to avoid the difficulties which his own acute criticism disclosed in the ordinary vision-theory, by another which rejects the gospel stories as legendary, yet frankly acknowledges that the faith of the apostles in the resurrection was based on a miracle. Their certainty was so unshakable, so uniform, so abiding, that it can be accounted for only by acknowledging that they did actually see the Lord. This seeing, however, was not with the eyes of sense, but with the spiritual vision, which properly perceives what pertains to the spirit world into which the glorified Lord had withdrawn when he died. In his spiritual estate he manifested himself to his disciples, by a series of divinely caused and therefore essentially objective visions, in which he proved to them abundantly that he was alive, was victor over death, and had been exalted by G.o.d to his right hand. This theory is not in itself offensive to faith.

It concedes that the belief of the disciples rested on actual disclosures of himself to them by the glorified Lord. The difficulty with the theory is that it relegates the empty tomb to the limbo of legend, though it is a feature of the tradition which is found in all the gospels and clearly implied in Paul (I. Cor. xv. 4; compare Rom. vi. 4); it also fails to show how this glorified Christ came to be thought of by the disciples as _risen_, rather than simply glorified in spirit. This criticism brings us back to the necessity of recognizing a resurrection which was in some real sense corporeal, difficult as that conception is for us. The gospels a.s.sert this with great simplicity and delicate reserve. They represent Jesus as returning to his disciples with a body which was superior to the limitations which hedge our lives about. It may be well described by Paul's words, "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body."

Yet the records indicate that when he willed Jesus could offer himself to the perception of other senses than sight and hearing--"handle me and see"

is not an invitation that we expect from a spiritual presence. If, however, we have to confess an unsolved mystery here, and still more in the record of his eating in the presence of the disciples (Luke xxiv.

41-43), it is permitted us to own that our knowledge of the possible conditions of the fully perfected life are not such as to warrant great dogmatism in criticising the account. The empty tomb, the objective presence of the risen Jesus, the renewed faith of his followers, and their new power are established data for our thought. With these, many of the details may be left in mystery, because we have not yet light sufficient to reveal to us all that we should like to know.

221. The ascension of the risen Christ to his Father is the presupposition of all the New Testament teaching. The Acts, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse join in the representation that he is now at the right hand of G.o.d. In fact it may be said that such a view is involved in the doctrine of the resurrection, for the very idea of that victory was that death had no more dominion over him. It is a fact, however, that none of our gospels in their correct text (see Luke xxiv. 51, R.V. margin) tell of the ascension. Luke clearly implies it, and John says that Jesus told Mary to tell the disciples that he was about to ascend to his Father and their Father. In Luke's later book, however (Acts i. 1-11), he gives a full account of a last meeting of Jesus with the disciples, and of his ascension to heaven before their eyes. This withdrawal in the cloud must be understood as an acted parable; for, in reality, there is no reason for thinking that the clouds which hung over Olivet that day were any nearer G.o.d's presence than the ground on which the disciples stood.

For them, however, such a disappearance would signify vividly the cessation of their earthly intercourse with their Lord, and his return to his home with the Father. The word of Jesus to Mary (John xx. 17) may fairly be interpreted to mean that Jesus had ascended to the Father on the day of the resurrection, and that each of his subsequent manifestations of himself were like that which later he granted to Paul near Damascus. In fact it is easier to view the matter in this way than to conceive of Jesus as sojourning in some hidden place for forty days after his resurrection. What the disciples witnessed ten days before Pentecost was a withdrawal similar to those which had separated him from them frequently during the recent weeks, only now set before their eyes in such a way as to tell them that these manifestations had reached an end; they must henceforth wait for the other representative of G.o.d and Christ, the Spirit, given to them at Pentecost.

222. The faith with which the disciples waited for the promised spirit was a very different faith from that which Peter confessed for his fellows at Caesarea Philippi. It had the same supreme attachment to a personal friend who had proved to be G.o.d's Anointed; the same readiness to let him lead whithersoever he would; the same firm expectation of a rest.i.tution of all things, in which G.o.d should set up his kingdom visibly, with Jesus as the King of men. Now, however, their trust was much fuller than before, and they looked for a still more glorious kingdom when their friend and Lord should come from heaven to a.s.sume his reign. They expected Christ to return soon in glory, yet his death and victory made them ready to endure any persecution for him, certain that, like the sufferings which he endured, it would lead to victory. These disciples had no idea that in preaching a religion of personal attachment to their Master, in filling all men's thoughts with his name, in building all hope on his return, and guiding all life by his teaching and spirit, they were cutting their moorings from the religion of their fathers. They remained loyal to the law, they were constant in the worship; but they had poured new wine into the bottles, and in time it proved the inadequacy of the old forms and revolutionized the world's religious life.

Part III

The Minister


The Friend of Men

223. In nothing does the contrast between Jesus and John the Baptist appear more clearly than in their att.i.tude towards common social life.

John had his training and did his work apart from the homes of men. The wilderness was his chosen and fit scene of labor. From this solitude he sent forth his summons and warning to his people. They who sought him for fuller teaching went after him and found him where he was. They then returned to their homes and their work, leaving the prophet with his few disciples in their seclusion. With Jesus it was otherwise. His first act, after attaching to himself a few followers, was to go into Galilee to the town of Cana, and there with them to partake in the festivities of a wedding. While it is true that most of his teaching was by the wayside, among the hills, or by the sea, it is still a surprise to discover how often his ministry found its occasion as he was sitting at table in the house of some friend, real or feigned. The genuine friendships of Jesus as they appear in the gospels are among the most characteristic features of his life--witness the home at Bethany, the women who followed him even to the cross, and ministered to him of their substance, and the "beloved disciple." Jesus calls attention to this contrast between himself and John, reminding the people how some of the scornful pointed the finger at himself as "a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." He received his training as a carpenter while John was in his wilderness solitude. Men who would probably have stood with admiration before John had he visited their synagogue, found Jesus too much one of themselves, and would none of him as a prophet (Mark vi. 2, 3).

224. A like contrast sets Jesus apart from the scribes of his day. These were revered by the people, in part perhaps because they held the common folk in such contempt. Their att.i.tude was frank--"this mult.i.tude which knoweth not the law is accursed" (John vii. 49). The popular enthusiasm for Jesus filled them with scorn, until it began to give them alarm. They were glad to be reverenced by the people, to interpret the law for them "binding heavy burdens and grievous to be borne;" but showed little genuine interest in them. Jesus, on the other hand, not only had the reverence of the mult.i.tudes, but welcomed them. First his words and his works drew them, then he himself enchained their hearts. Outcasts, rich and poor, crowded into his company, and found him not only a teacher, a prophet of righteousness rebuking their sins and calling to repentance, but a friend, who was not ashamed to be seen in their homes, to have them among his closest attendants, and to be known as their champion. It was when such as these were pressing upon him to hear him that Jesus replied to the criticism of the scribes in the three parables of recovered treasure which stand among the rarest gems of the Master's teaching (Luke xv.).

225. One cla.s.s only in the community failed of his sympathy,--the self-righteous hypocrites, who thought that G.o.dliness consisted in scrupulous regard for pious ceremonies, and that zeal was most laudable when directed to the removal of motes from their brothers' eyes. For these Jesus had words of rebuke and burning scorn. It has been common with some to emphasize his friendship for the poor as if he chose them for their poverty, and the unlettered for their ignorance. Yet Jesus had no faster friends than the women who followed from Galilee and ministered to him of their substance, and the two sanhedrists, Joseph whose new tomb received his body, and Nicodemus whose liberality provided the spices which embalmed him; for these, and not the Galilean fishermen, were faithful to the last at the cross and at the grave. In no home did Jesus find a fuller or more welcome friendship than in Bethany, where all that is told us of its conditions suggests the opposite of poverty. The rich young ruler, who showed his too great devotion to his possessions, would hardly have sought out Jesus with his question, if he was known as the champion of poverty as in itself essential to G.o.dliness. The demand made of him surprised him, and was suited to his special case. Jesus saw clearly the difficulties which wealth puts in the way of faith, but he recognized the power of G.o.d to overcome them, and when Zaccheus turned disciple, the demand for complete surrender of possessions was not repeated. On the contrary Jesus taught his disciples that even "the unrighteous mammon" should be used to win friends (Luke xvi. 9), so ministering unto some of "the least of these my brethren" (Matt. xxv. 40). The beat.i.tude in Luke's report of the sermon on the mount (Luke vi. 20) was not for the poor as poor simply, but for those poor folk lightly esteemed who had spiritual sense enough to follow Jesus, while the well-to-do as a cla.s.s were content with the "consolation" already in hand. Jesus' interest was in character, wherever it was manifest, whether in the repentance of a chief of the publicans, or in the widow woman's gift of "all her living;" whether it appeared in the hunger for truth shown by Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, or in the woman that was a sinner who washed his feet with her tears. He was the great revealer of the worth of simple humanity, in man, woman, or child. Our world has never seen another who so surely penetrated all masks or disguising circ.u.mstances and found the man himself, and having found him loved him.

226. This sympathy for simple manhood was manifested in a genuine interest in the common life of men in business, pleasure, or trouble. It is significant that the first exercise of his miraculous power should have been to relieve the embarra.s.sment of his host at a wedding feast.

Doubtless we are to understand that the miracle had a deeper purpose than simply supplying the needed wine (John ii. 11); but the significant thing is that Jesus should choose to manifest his glory in this way. It shows a genuine appreciation of social life quite impossible to an ascetic like the Baptist. The same appears in the way Jesus allowed his publican apostle to introduce him to his former a.s.sociates, to the great scandal of the Pharisees; for a feast at which Jesus and a number of publicans were the chief guests accorded not with religion as they understood it. Jesus, however, seems to have found it a welcome opportunity to seek some of his lost sheep. The ill.u.s.trations which he used in his teaching were often his best introduction to the common heart, for they were drawn from the occupations of the people who came to listen; while the aid Jesus gave to his disciples in their fishing showed not only his power, but also his respect for their work, a respect further proved when he called them to be fishers of men.

227. Beyond this interest in life's joy and its occupations was that unfailing sympathy with its troubles which drew the mult.i.tudes to him. He was far more than a healer; he studied to rid the people of the idea that he was a mere miracle-monger. He healed them because he loved them, and he asked of those who sought his help that they too should feel the personal relation into which his power had brought them. This seems to be in part the significance of his uniform demand for faith. Doubtless Mary, out of whom he had cast seven devils, and Simon the leper, who seems to have experienced his power to heal, are only single instances of many who found in him far more than at first they sought. No further record remains of the paralytic who carried off his bed, but left the burden of his sins behind, nor of the woman who loved much because she had been forgiven much, nor of the Samaritan whose life he uncovered that he might be able to give her the living water. Some who had his help for body or heart may have gone away forgetful, after the fashion of men, but in the company of those who were bold to bear his name after his resurrection there must have been many who could not forget.

228. Jesus' interest in common life was genuine, and he entered into it with his heart. The incident of the anointing of his feet as he sat a guest in a Pharisee's house shows that he was keenly sensitive to the treatment he received at the hands of men. He had nothing to say of the slights his host had shown him, until that host began mentally to criticise the woman who was ministering to him in her love and penitence.

Then with quiet dignity Jesus mentioned the several omissions of courtesy which he had noticed since he came in, contrasting the woman's attention with Simon's neglect (Luke vii. 36-50). One of the saddest things about Gethsemane was Jesus' vain pleading with his disciples for sympathy in his awful hour. They were too much dazed with awe and fear to lend him their hearts' support. He recognized indeed that it was only a weakness of the flesh; yet he craved their friendship's help, and repeatedly asked them to watch with him, for his soul was exceeding sorrowful. In contrast with this disappointment stands the joy with which Jesus heard from Peter the confession which proved that the falling off of popular enthusiasm had not shaken the loyalty of his chosen companions,--"Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood have not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. xvi. 17). There is the sorrow of loneliness as well as rebuke in his complaint, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you?" (Mark ix.

19), and the lamentation over Jerusalem comes from a longing heart (Luke xiii. 34).

229. The independence of human sympathy which Jesus often showed is all the more glorious for the evidence the gospels give of his longing for it. When he put the question to the twelve, "Would ye also go away?" (John vi. 67), there is no hint in his manner that their defection with the rest would turn him at all from faithfully fulfilling the task appointed to him by his Father. In fact only now and then did he allow his own hunger to appear. Ordinarily he showed himself as the friend longing to help, but not seeking ministry from others; he rather sought to win his disciples to unselfishness by showing as well as saying that he came not to be ministered unto but to minister. He washed the feet of his disciples to rebuke their petty jealousies, but we have no hint that he showed that he felt personal neglect. His own heart was full of "sorrow even unto death,"

but his word was, "Let not your heart be troubled;" he asked in vain for the sympathy of his nearest friends in Gethsemane, yet when the band came to arrest him he pleaded, "Let these, the disciples, go their way."


The Teacher with Authority

230. To his contemporaries Jesus was primarily a teacher. The name by which he is oftenest named in the gospels is Teacher,--translated Master in the English versions and the equivalent of Rabbi in the language used by Jesus (John i. 38). People thought of him as a rabbi approved of G.o.d by his power to work miracles (John iii. 2), but it was not the miracles that most impressed them. The popular comment was, "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt. vii. 29). Two leading characteristics of the scribes were their pride of learning, and their bondage to tradition. In fact the learning of which they were proud was knowledge of the body of tradition on whose sanct.i.ty they insisted; their teaching was scholastic and pedantic, an endless citing of precedents and discussion of trifles. To all this Jesus presented a refreshing contrast.

In commending truth to the people, he was content with a simple "verily,"

and in defining duty he rested on his unsupported "I say unto you," even when his dictum stood opposed to that which had been said to them of old time.