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lenged, when every fair deduction has been made, that it is impossible to doubt the main fact to which they testify.
Almost from the very first the preaching of Jesus created a deep impression, which was strengthened still further by several cures he performed. Whether his personal appearance contributed to the result it is iinpossible now to ascertain. His audiences were numerous, and his discourses were received with rapt attention, and greeted with joyous acclamations at their close. The marked contrast between his frank and impressive mode of teaching, his tone of prophetic authority, his entrancing eloquence, on the one hand, and the narrow, timorous, wearisome style of argument adopted by his learned contemporaries on the other, could not fail to excite attention. When he interpreted the prophets, he could make the dead live for his hearers once more as no other could; and with the fulness of the Holy Spirit in his very tones he made the words of these old seers more glorious than ever they had been, even upon their own lips, and more consoling than they themselves had ever felt them to be. And when he uttered those stories, so full of deep significance, taken from the daily life around him, their simplicity was only equalled by their depth ; and, while they captivated the imagination, they stamped themselves indelibly upon the memory. In a word, he loved and understood the people, and their hearts went out to him. What else could we expect from the quickly moved and excitable disposition of the Galilæans? When he came to Capernaum, no sooner was it known that he was at home than his house and all the space in front of it were crowded, and he had no time for rest or refreshment. If he walked on the shore of the lake, whole crowds would gradually collect about him till he was forced to look for some special means of addressing them, or they would not be able to hear him. If he crossed the lake, to be alone with his friends, - thousands," as the Gospel says with pardonable exaggeration, would leave their homes and their work and travel miles upon miles to seek him. Wherever he went his fame preceded him. He himself declared that the want of faith in his native place furnished a sad exception to the rule. Now and then the pent-up enthusiasm would find vent in such an exclamation as that of the woman who pronounced his mother blessed. At one time the mothers brought their little ones to receive his blessing; at another, a man who had not in the least understood him was nevertheless so deeply impressed by his power and his influence upon his hearers that
he determined to take advantage of his moral ascendancy over others for the regulation of his own family affairs. “Master!” said he, - tell my brother to give me my share of the inheritance." Jesus naturally declined to interfere; his task and his qualifications lay in a very different direction. 66 Man ! he replied, “ who has made me a judge or an arbitrator among you?” The incident, however, is a proof of the powerful impression he produced.
But it was the subject of his preaching, above all, that secured him a hearing. What he said had always direct or indirect reference to the kingdom of God; and the people listened eagerly, while their hearts drank in the consolation of his promises. How they thought and argued about him ! How they fixed on him the hopes he had revived, and wondered what precisely was the part he had to play in preparing for the joyful future which drew nigh!? We shall frequently meet with illustrations of all this as we proceed, and at present need only say that though opinions were from the nature of the case divided ; though Jesus often had to encounter unfavorable judgments; though many of the people preferred the old wine to the new, stopped their ears against bis preaching, and took offence at his freedom, yet, on the whole, public opinion declared in his favor; and it was probably owing in large measure to the favorable dispositions of the people that, though beset on many sides in Galilee, he yet retained his freedom unrestrained, and never quite lost his liberty of speech.
And yet, however favorable his reception by the masses might appear, it was very far indeed from satisfying him. We have not forgotten the parable of the sower.8 Now the seed of the word that he scattered was in many cases lost when it might have borne abundant fruit. Nor was this the worst. The number of those whose heart was like the trodden pathway turned out to be great almost beyond the possibility of belief. The favorable impression Jesus made was as superficial as it was general. Nor had the work of Johu, when narrowly examined, been any richer in results. But even with this example before him, and with his own profound knowledge of human nature, as shown in the parable of the sower, Jesus was grievously disappointed at last to find how little permanent effect he could produce. The harvest had given such a glorious promise, and had answered it so 1 Luke xii. 13, 14.
2 Matthew xvi. 13, 14. 8 See pp. 153, 154.
4 See p. 108.
ill! His dearest hopes, his most passionate efforts, had been thwarted. The image of the fig-tree gives striking expression to this disappointment when Jesus has reached Jerusalem ; but even before he leaves Galilee we find his high-wrought, long-cherished, bitterly-disappointed expectation bursting forth in a cry of “ Woe!” over the cities of the Galilæan lake. They had been the chief scenes of his labors, and ought to have shown the richest and fairest fruits of his gospel. And Capernaum, distinguished and privileged even above the rest, by being his place of abode, is more bitterly reproached than all for having answered so poorly to its glorious opportunities.
“ Woe unto you, Chorazin! woe unto you, Bethsaida! for had the mighty works been done in Tyre and Sidon which bave been done in you, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth. But I tell you it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you! And thou, Capernaum ! that art exalted to heaven, thou shalt be brought down into the abyss ! for if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which have been done in thee, it would have remained unto this day. But I tell you it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee!”?
THE SOURCE OF JESUS' STRENGTH.
MATTHEW VIII. 23–27, XIV. 22–33; LUKE XI. 1-13.2
E have observed Jesus under the great disappointment
sible to persevere in spite of the coldness of his relatives and fellow-townsmen, the opposition of his devout countrymen, and the shallowness of the multitude ? For, in spite of his extreme sensitiveness and delicacy, he preserved an exalted calmness which was but seldom disturbed, and then only for a moment. He continued his unwearied toil even when it seemed most fruitless. Nay, the more deadly the conflict grew the calmer did he seem to be.
1 Compare Matthew x. 14, 15. 2 Matthew vi. 7-13, vii. 7-11 ; Mark iv. 35-41, vi. 45–52; Luke viii. 22-25
It was his trust in God that strengthened him. On Him he threw all care for the result of his efforts and for his own personal fate. We shall not dwell upon this trust in the words of Jesus himself, for we bave already done so;' but we will give a description of his repose in God, conveyed by the Evangelists in an emblematic account of a voyage across the Lake of Galilee, from Capernaum to the south-east shore :
It was evening when he embarked, and his disciples followed him. But hardly had they put out when a storm burst upon them, and lashed the waters that were usually so smooth and quiet into fierce turmoil. The wind howled through the tackle, and mocked the utmost strength of the rowers as they toiled to make head against it. The feeble vessel was now reared on high and now buried among the foaming waves that dashed over her deck and gradually filled her, so that she drew heavier and deeper every moment.
This could not last much longer. The vessel must inevitably sink. Jesus meanwhile was asleep. At their wits' end, the disciples ran to the stern, where he had stretched himself to rest upon a cushion near the helm, and where the fearful danger had not disturbed the slumbers that succeeded his day's work. They waked him with the cry, “ Help, Lord ! we are perishing ! - What do you fear?” he said, on waking; “ where is your faith?” Then he stood up, gazed out into the storm, and with a gesture of command chid the wind and waves. Then the wind was hushed and the waters stilled, and there was a great calm. Well might they all be lost in wonder ! Well might they ask, “What manner of man is this, whom the winds and the sea obey ?”
It has been asked whether some fact may not lie at the bottom of this story. It has been suggested, for instance, that when Jesus and his disciples were crossing the lake they were overtaken by a storm, and that the Master's unshakeu trust put to shame the terror of the disciples. A similar story is told of Julius Cæsar. Once he had taken ship in disguise to cross the Adriatic Sea, and the helmsman, terrified by the adverse wind, dared not pursue his course. But Cæsar said to him, “ Fear not, my friend! you carry Cæsar and his fortunes !” The analogy, however, does not appear to us a happy one; and the whole line of investigation seems fruitless, and even frivolous, for the original picture was obviously symbolical. Others have found in it a type of the
i Compare pp. 151 ff., 168 ff.
Christian Church under the storm of persecution which threatened it with destruction till Christ rescued it. But the Gospels obviously lay the stress upon the circumstance that Jesus was asleep, — that he was absolutely at rest in the midst of such dire agitation and distress. How many storins broke loose upon him in his own personal experiences and the frenzied indignation of others, — in the passionate opposition and the dark schemes of his antagonists! Yet in the might of his faith in God he maintained his own unruffled serenity, and quieted many a storm which the opposition he met had raised in the bosoms of the terrified disciples.
Now, this trust was sustained and strengthened by prayer. It is only natural that we should have but scanty accounts on this subject; for prayer belongs essentially to our secret life, and we know that Jesus least of all men could bear that his intercourse with God should be pried into by the eyes of strangers.' But still we hear enough to enable us to form some approximate conception of the fact. It is with true perception that our Gospels, especially the third, represent Jesus as praying to God at every crisis of his life, and before every step of special importance. He prays after his baptism, after his first success at Capernaum, before selecting the Twelve, before asking the question which results in his recognition as the Messiah. The symbolical account of the transfiguration represents him as praying; he has been praying when his disciples ask him to teach them a prayer; he prays when about to enter on his last sufferings; and, finally, on the cross itself.2
We have already called attention to this, and we have heard Jesus more than once dwell upon prayer and its efficacy:: At present we need only call to mind that he appears to have attached little value to prescribed or formal prayer, and that when he felt the need of turning aside from his active duties to hold communion with God, he loved to be alone, - climbing some hill or seeking out some uninhabited spot (which the Gospels call a "wilderness"). If he could find no time in the day, he would steal the hours of the night ; and indeed his heart and head must often have been too full to allow him to sleep. Not that we are to think of him as
Compare p. 222. ? Luke iii. 21, v. 16 (compare Mark i. 35; vi. 46 ; Matthew xiv. 23), vi 12, ix. 18, 28, xi. 1, xxii. 41, 42 (Matthew xxvi. 36 ff.; Mark xiv. 32 ff.), xxiii. 34, 46
8 See pp. 138, 182, 191, 193, 194, 196, 222, 223. * See pp. 110, 180, 250.