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He had - tasted and seen” that unreserved obedience to this will is the fullest life, the purest joy; that communion with this God is peace to our souls; that God himself is our highest good. And thus he had also come to know in himself the nature, the calling, the dignity, the destiny of man; and the immeasurable treasure of his love, the singular strength of his sense of fellowship with others, his consciousness of brotherhood with all men, would not allow him to doubt one moment that what was true of him was true of all, no single one excepted. Hence the infinite esteem he endeavored to impress upon every one for each individual man, as something higher than the world with all its treasures :
66 What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lose his own soul, — if he lose himself? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his own soul?”1
Now from this principle flow all those “ new things” that Jesus brought forth from the treasure-chamber of his heart and offered to mankind. We shall have repeated occasion to note this. It was this principle in the strength of which he undertook the giant task of reforming the world ; and it is a principle so exalted that to this day it has never received its due in the bosom of Christianity, and though it is still striving for supremacy as it has ever striven, yet it is only few that so much as comprehend it, — few indeed that put it it into practice!
With this “gospel of the kingdom ” Jesus journeyed all through Galilee, in every town and every hamlet, preaching in the synagogues.
Wherever he went he strove to heal the sickness of the soul, to bring the disheartened, the crushed, the sinful to themselves again, by making them feel the love of God. But this great task was far too much for the powers of a single man. 6. The harvest indeed is great," he said to his disciples, “ but the laborers are few. Pray, then, to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send laborers to gather it in.”
1 Matthew xvi. 26 (Mark viii. 36, 37; Luke ix. 25) 2 Matthew iv. 23, ix. 35, 37, 38 (Luke x. 2).
THE FRIENDS OF JESUS.
Matthew X. 1-14; MARK IX. 14-29; LUKE VIII. 1-3, IX. 61. 62,
will remember that very soon after beginning his pub
lic work Jesus had drawn certain associates round him." During his stay at Capernaum and his journeys through Galilee, others were from time to time moved by their own hearts or led by his invitation to join him permanently. This was but natural. In Capernaum and the other cities of Galilee there could not fail to be those whose interest was thorouglily roused by what they heard, who longed to enjoy the new teacher's instruction more continuously; and who therefore determined to accompany him wherever he went, some for a longer, some for a shorter period, until domestic cares or the occupations they had left recalled them, or until their zeal had cooled, or possibly the new master's free style of thought and life had given them offence. And thus the number of his followers rose and fell. Indeed, tradition exaggerates the number of his hearers to thousands in some cases. Those who constantly accompanied him, or at any rate proclaimed their intention of doing so, were called his disciples.
There was nothing unusual in this. The ancient prophets were often supported by more or less numerous adherents, or at least associated one constant companion with their labors. * In the days of Jesus the most celebrated Scribes had their avowed adherents, and we have already spoken of the disciples of John. We should therefore naturally expect to find a body of disciples gathering round Jesus. And from this general body he selected twelve special friends to be his constant companions. Whether he called them all at the same time, as Mark and Luke declare, or some at one time and some at another, as is far more likely, in any case they accompanied him on all his expeditions, and when possible cat
1 Matthew viii. 19-22, x. 37-39, xvii. 14-21 ; Mark iii. 13–19, vi. 7–13; Luke vi. 12-16, ix, 1-6, 37-43 a. 2 See pp. 127-129.
3 See pp. 148, 149, and Luke xii. 1. 4 Isaiah viii. 2, 16; Jeremiah xxxvi. 4; compare vol. ii. chap. xii. p. 138. o See pp. 108, 109.
at the saine table and slept under the same roof with him To them accordingly we must first devote our attention.
What made Jesus enter into such special relations with these twelve? The field of his labors was so extended. He was not content simply to preach the kingdom of God to the multitudes, but must often turn to this or that individuai man avd strive to quicken his feeling of human clignity, his sense of God's love. And because this work was so great and varied he felt the pressing want of fellow-laborers. But he could not have such helpers unless he trained them to the work himself; and this he could only do by keeping them constantly near him and under his influence, and so gradually fitting them for their task by his teaching and example.
We must be on our guard against misconceptions. The names of Master and Disciple naturally suggest regular instruction or the communication of a more or less elaborate set of doctrines; but this idea is wholly misleading, for the Apostles afterwards show most unmistakably that they had never received any systematic teaching from Jesus. Indeed, he does not ever seem expressly to have communicated his special views on any doctrinal subject to them; he merely taught them incidentally, as appropriate occasions offered themselves, or when he was directly questioned or pressed for instructions. Of course these Apostles heard more of his sayings and exhortations than any one else did, and it is probably to their care that we owe most of what has been preserved in the Gospels. But the position they took up afterwards. especially their fidelity to Jewish forms of worship, proves conclusively that, strictly speaking, Jesus taught no doctrine at all. Doctrinal instruction was never a part of his preaching; and he contented himself with proclaiming a few great principles, and leaving his bearers free in most respects to apply them to the outward forms of religion for themselves. What we have already said about Jesus as a teacher of the people applies equally well to his intercourse with his friends. His object was not to instruct them in the ordinary sense, but to educate them ; not to give them intellectual or doctrinal, but moral and religious, guidance; not to stamp certain articles of belief upon their minds, but to exercise an influence upon their hearts and consciences; not to implant any thing in them, but to develop what was in them already. There is no trace in his teaching of such special rules of life as those given by John ; a fact which sometimes scandalized the pious Israelites. To use his own expression, he associated with his disciples as a bridegroom does with his groomsmen. He never made them fast, or observed that they had neglected to wash their hands before taking food; nor did he even teach them a prayer, so that when they felt the want of one they tad to ask him for it. From this perfect ease and freedoin we may gather that the Twelve themselves did not belong to the devout and cultivated circles of the day; otherwise such Conduct would have been little to their taste. They were simple men of the people, of healthy and vigorous spirit, full of their own narrow and even coarse prejudices, but receptive and tractable enough on the whole, very susceptible to impressions, and full of zeal.
i See p. 147.
If Jesus laid :iny special stress on the number twelve, it was probably with a reference to the number of the tribes of ancient Israel, which typified or foreshadowed the kingdom of God and the chosen people of the future. But the number is certainly so far accidental that if Jesus had not been able to find as many as twelve whom he thought suited for the task he would have been content with fewer; and if, on the other hand, after choosing the Twelve, he had met with others who seemed particularly well qualified, he would not have scrupled to increase the number. Luke tells us 3 that he called them Apostles (or “ those sent out"); but even if we substitute the Hebrew word that Jesus would have used for the Greek Apostle, the statement will still be incorrect. Long after the death of Jesus, when Paul rivalled or opposed the Twelve, and laid claim to the title of Apostle, — or still later when the apostolic doctrine or tradition began to be regarded as the standard of truth by which the disputes of the communities must be decided,
then the title of Apostle was said to have originated with Jesus himself; but during his lifetime the Twelve were simply called his disciples.
The character, the position, and the occupation of most of these men are unknown to us. Besides the brothers Simon and Andrew (sons of Jona), and James and John (sons of Zebedee), all of whom were fishermen, we find Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew, James (the son of Alphæus) and Lebbæus, Simon the Canaanite (or Zelot) and Judas of Karioth, a place in Judæa. Of these, Simon is em
1 Luke xi. 1.
2 Matthew xix. 29 (Luke xxii. 30); Revelation xxı. 12, 14, 21; compare James i. 1.
8 Luke vi. 13.
phatically described as the first in the Jewish-Christian Gospel, as though he were the head of the Apostolic company.
This agrees with the opinion prevalent in the apostolic age, but is quite contrary to the intention of Jesus. We know this Simon as a man of a very lovable character, fiery in spirit, quick in feeling, hasty in word and deed, sometimes to the point of headlong rashness. He bore the surname Cephas, or “rock,” which was translated into its Greek equivalent Peter, when the gospel was preached to the heathen world. He probably owed it to some accidental circumstance unknown to us. Our Gospels tell us that Jesus himself gave him this name ;? but with all his admirable qualities it was just in rock-like steadfastness of purpose that Simon was altogether wanting. He is sometimes more like a reed shaken by the wind than a rock, and we can hardly believe that Jesus was so completely mis taken in his estimate as to call him a rock. There is far more probability in the tradition that Jesus gave the name of Boanerges, or sons of thunder,” to James and John, in virtue of their impetuous and stormy force of character. 3 Among the Twelve themselves, these three, to whom Andrew (Simon's brother, of whom we know nothing more) is sometimes added,' were again selected to enjoy the special confi. dence of their Master. They always went with him, even when from the nature of the case a greater company was impossible.
As regards the others, we have only to observe that Matthew is called “the publican” in the first Gospel, through a confusion with Levi ; and that, instead of Lebbæus, Thaddæus appears in the second Gospel, and Judas, son of James, in the third Gospel and the Book of Acts. On this last point the tradition seems to have been uncertain, unless we are to account for the variation by supposing that one of the original Twelve was removed by an early death, or fell away from Jesus. The second Simon appears to have formerly belonged to the party of the Zelots," whence his surname. Finally, the last named of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, is always spoken of as “the betrayer.” We shall meet with im again in the history of the death of Jesus.
Whether Jesus was fortunate in his choice is a question which we shall discuss presently. Here we need only observe that the remark already made with reference to the first four
! Compare Matthew xxiii. 6-12.
2 Compare Matthew xvi. 18.