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And he charged them, that they should tell no man of him." Luke iv. 41, " And devils came out of many, crying, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of God: and he, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak, that they knew him to be the Messiah." Mark iii. 11, 12, "Unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God: and he straitly charged them, that they should not make him known." Here again we may observe, from the comparing of the two texts, that "Thou art the Son of God," or, "Thou art the Messiah," were indifferently used for the same thing. But to return to the matter in hand.
This concealment of himself will seem strange, in one who was come to bring light into the world, and was to suffer death for the testimony of the truth. This reservedness will be thought to look as if he had a mind to conceal himself, and not to be known to the world for the Messiah, nor to be believed on as such. But we shall be of another mind, and conclude this proceeding of his according to divine wisdom, and suited to a fuller manifestation and evidence of his being the Messiah, when we consider that he was to fill out the time foretold of his ministry; and after a life illustrious in miracles and good works, attended with humility, meekness, patience, and sufferings, and every way conformable to the prophesies of him; should be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and with all quiet and submission be brought to the cross, though there were no guilt nor fault found in him. This could not have been if, as soon as he appeared in public, and began to preach, he had presently professed himself to have been the Messiah; the king that owned that kingdom he published to be at hand. For the sanhedrim would then have laid hold on it to have got him into their power, and thereby have taken away his life; at least they would have disturbed his ministry, and hindered the work he was about. That this made him cautious, and avoid, as much as he could, the occasions of provoking them, and falling into their hands, is plain from John vii. 1, “ After these things Jesus walked in Gali
lee;" out of the way of the Chief Priests and rulers; "for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him." Thus, making good what he foretold them at Jerusalem, when at the first passover after his beginning to preach the Gospel, upon his curing the man at the pool of Bethesda, they sought to kill him, John v. 16, "Ye have not," says he, ver. 38, “his word abiding amongst you; for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not." This was spoken more particularly to the Jews of Jerusalem, who were the forward men, zealous to take away his life and it imports, that, because of their unbelief and opposition to him, the word of God, i. e. the preaching of the kingdom of the Messiah, which is often called "the word of God," did not stay amongst them, he could not stay amongst them, preach and explain to them the kingdom of the Messiah.
That the word of God, here, signifies "the word of God," that should make Jesus known to them to be the Messiah, is evident from the context and this meaning of this place is made good by the event. For, after this, we hear no more of Jesus at Jerusalem till the Pentecost come twelvemonth; though it is not to be doubted, but that he was there the next passover, and other feasts between; but privately. And now at Jerusalem, at the feast of Pentecost, near fifteen months after, he says little of any thing, and not a word of the kingdom of heaven being come, or at hand; nor did he any miracle there. And returning to Jerusalem at the feast of tabernacles, it is plain, that from this time till then, which was a year and a half, he had not taught them at Jerusalem.
For, 1, it is said, John vii. 2, 15, That, he teaching in the temple at the feast of tabernacles," The Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned ?" A sign they had not been used to his preaching: for, if they had, they would not now have marvelled.
2. Ver. 19, He says thus to them: "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keep the law? Why go ye about to kill me? One work," or miracle,
"I did here amongst you, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision, and ye on the sabbath-day circumcise a man: if a man on the sabbath-day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken, are ye angry with me, because I have made a man every way whole on the sabbathday?" Which is a direct defence of what he did at Jerusalem, a year and a half before the work he here speaks of. We find he had not preached to them there, from that time to this; but had made good what he had told them, ver. 38, "Ye have not the word of God remaining among you, because whom he hath sent ye believe not." Whereby, I think, he signifies his not staying, and being frequent amongst them at Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom; because their great unbelief, opposition, and malice to him, would not permit it.
This was manifestly so in fact: for the first miracle he did at Jerusalem, which was at the second passover after his baptism, brought him in danger of his life. Hereupon we find he forbore preaching again there till the feast of tabernacles, immediately preceding his last passover: so that till the half a year before his passion, he did but one miracle, and preached but once publicly at Jerusalem. These trials he made there; but found their unbelief such, that if he had staid and persisted to preach the good tidings of the kingdom, and to show himself by miracles among them, he could not have had time and freedom to do those works which is Father had given him to finish, as he says, ver. 36, of this fifth of St. John.
When, upon the curing of the withered hand on the sabbath-day, "The Pharisees took council with the Herodians, how they might destroy him, Jesus withdrew himself, with his disciples, to the sea and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan, and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude; when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him, and he healed them all, and charged them, that they should not make him
known: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, saying, Behold, my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets." Matt. xii. Mark iii.
And, John xi. 47, upon the news of our Saviour's raising Lazarus from the dead, "The Chief Priests and Pharisees convened the sanhedrim, and said, What do we? For this man does many miracles." Ver. 53, "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death." Ver. 54, "Jesus therefore walked no more openly amongst the Jews." His miracles had now so much declared him to be the Messiah, that the Jews could no longer bear him, nor he trust himself amongst them; "But went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there continued with his disciples." This was but a little before his last passover, as appears by the following words, ver. 55," And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand," and he could not, now his miracles had made him so well known, have been secure, the little time that remained, till his hour was fully come, if he had not, with his wonted and neces sary caution, withdrawn; "And walked no more openly amongst the Jews," till his time (at the next passover) was fully come; and then again he appeared amongst them openly.
Nor would the Romans have suffered him, if he had gone about preaching, that he was the king whom the Jews expected. Such an accusation would have been forwardly brought against him by the Jews, if they could have heard it out of his own mouth; and that had been his public doctrine to his followers, which was openly preached by the apostles after his death, when he appeared no more. And of this they were accused Acts xvii. 5-9, “But the Jews, which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar, and assaulted the house
of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them [Paul and Silas] not, they drew Jason, and certain brethren, unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down, are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying, That there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people, and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things: and when they had taken security of Jason and the other, they let them go."
Though the magistrates of the world had no great regard to the talk of a king who had suffered death, and appeared no longer anywhere; yet, if our Saviour had openly declared this of himself in his lifetime, with a train of disciples and followers every where owning and crying him up for their king, the Roman governors of Judea could not have forborn to have taken notice of it, and have made use of their force against him. This the Jews were not mistaken in; and therefore made use of it as the strongest accusation, and likeliest to prevail with Pilate against him, for the taking away his life; it being treason, and an unpardonable offence, which could not escape death from a Roman deputy, without the forfeiture of his own life. Thus then they accuse him to Pilate, Luke xxiii. 2, "We found this fellow perverting the nation, forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying, that he himself is a king;" or rather "the Messiah, the King."
Our Saviour, indeed, now that his time was come, (and he in custody, and forsaken of all the world, and so out of all danger of raising any sedition or disturbance) owns himself to Pilate to be a king; after first having told Pilate, John xviii. 36, "That his kingdom was not of this world ;" and, for a kingdom in another world, Pilate knew that his master at Rome concerned not himself. But had there been any the least appearance of truth in the allegations of the Jews, that he had perverted the nation, forbidding to pay tribute to Cæsar, or drawing the people after him, as their king, Pilate would not so readily have pro