« السابقةمتابعة »
he would hardly have made a rather difficult expedition of two short days' journey, unless he had had some strong reason for it. How long he stayed in the neighborhood of Tyre we are not told. Mark makes him journey still farther north, through the district of Sidon, and then turn south-east to the lake of Galilee, pass some way down its eastern shore apparently, and finally take ship and cross in a south-westerly direction to Dalmanutha, where we meet him once again.' But the Evangelist's geography is open to suspicion, and we are inclined to lay these apparently purposeless wanderings of Jesus to the account of Mark's want of accuracy. rate, Matthew does not make him go either so far north or so far east, but represents him far more simply as returning from the boundaries of Phænicia to the lake, and then crossing over to the neighborhood of Magdala.?
But did he really retreat at all? A similar step is mentioned earlier, after an account of his violating the Sabbath. But this is only in one of the Gospels, and the connection in which it occurs throws suspicion on it. It is at any rate worthy of notice that Jesus is said to have retired or fled on several similar occasions. When he heard that John was murdered he crossed the lake. After his dispute with the Pharisees about cleanness he went to Phænicia ; and presently, after another hostile encounter with the Pharisees, he crosses to the north-eastern shore and passes through Bethsaida to Cæsarea Philippi. Thus we find him repeatedly retiring to a place of safety, and quitting the scene of conflict just when appearances are most threatening. If we may add the earlier voyage to the land of the Gadarenes, then we have four of these special journeys unconnected with missionary labors, — two of them south and north across the lake, and two to the extreme north of the country, east and west. This is a very curious illustration of the growing difficulty of his position, and a proof that even if no overwhelming reasons had soon compelled him to set out for Jerusalem, he could hardly have quietly continued his work in Galilee. He had, in fact, no choice.
it possible that Jesus fled? Was it in keeping with his character or consistent with his dignity to do so? Not if he was really the wonder-worker that the Gospels say he was ; nor yet if he followed the prophets, as some people seem to think he did, in cherishing and recommending a trust in God
i Mark vii. 31, viii. 10.
2 Matthew xv. 29, 39.
which is fatal to all self-help and foresight, in leaving every thing to God and resting passively and blindly in his will and pleasure revealed by chance events! But Jesus was not a man of this stamp. His religious belief, that all things were ordained by Providence, had no injurious effect whatever on his moral perceptions; and he by no means felt absolved from the duty of self-preservation or from obedience to the moral law, that commands us to protect our lives as long as it is in our power to do so. Jesus knew that to lose his life was to save it; but that was only if conscience and the good cause require him to “hate” his life, and if he could only preserve it by forsaking his duty, — by falsehood and unfaithfulness. There was a difference between sacrificing his life and wantonly squandering and despising it. Jesus was no fanatic. Afterwards he came to see that the conflict must in all probability result in his destruction, but at present this seemed far from certain ; and even when he saw that the catastrophe was almost inevitable, he still took every possible precaution that prudence could suggest, that he might have no cause to reproach himself. Again, at the time of which we are now speaking, that is to say, during the last few months of his Galilæan ministry, - he had not yet fulfilled the task for which he felt himself to be personally responsible. The training of his disciples, to which he had been able to give too little time as yet, lay upon his heart, and he must of necessity make an appeal to the nation at large; nor could this appeal be made anywhere but at Jerusalem. He had abundant reason, then, for not throwing his life away.
There is, however, a more valid objection to the truth of these accounts, and we have therefore expressed ourselves with hesitation. Two of the journeys, those to Gadara and Tyre, both of them places inhabited by heathen, are made the occasion of events which are entirely unhistorical, emblematic representations of the position of affairs in the apostolic age.
The other two journeys - the one that followed the death of John, and the one to Cæsarea Philippi are certainly historical ; but in both these cases the desire to be alone with his disciples was a subsidiary, if not the primary, motive in the mind of Jesus. On the other hand, it does not follow that because the accounts of what took place on two of the journeys are incredible, the journeys themselves were never made ; whereas the very desire to be alone with the Twelve for so long a time and at so great a distance is itself exceedingly significant. We may, therefore, adopt the con
clusion with some confidence, that the work of Jesus assumed a new aspect during the last period of his stay in the regions of Galilee. He no longer appeared regularly in public, for he was constantly beset by his opponents. His previous journeys, generally short ones, had no other object than to enable him to preach the gospel of the kingdom at different places, but henceforth he repeatedly withdrew altogether, and for a time desisted from preaching. He seldom appeared in Capernaum, never stayed there long, and — this can bardly be an accident - never again, so far as we know, taught in a synagogue. Henceforth he was much alone with his trusted friends till he set out for Jerusalem. It soon became clear that the end of his Galilæan ministry, and with it the decision of the conflict he had entered upon and the fate that awaited him, was approaching with rapid steps.
JEWISH THIRST FOR THE MARVELLOUS.
LUKE XVII. 20, 21; Matthew XVI. 1-3 ; MARK VIII. 11-13.1
E have seen the various powers in Israel adopt a
the consequent modification in his line of action ; but we cannot consider our sketch of the growing embarrassment of his position complete until we have pointed out one of the deeper causes which made his rejection by his people almost certain. This rejection was not due to any concourse of accidental circumstances. It was the necessary outcome of the character of the age and the religious disposition of the Jews. They had not the moral culture or the independent strength of faith which were required to understand and follow Jesus. In a word, they had not that sense of truth which was needed to test his words and principles, and to adopt them as approved. When we remember the direction taken by Judaism since the days of Ezra, we shall hardly expect to find that quickness of moral perception, still less that independence of the authority of Scripture and tradition, without which it was impossible to do Jesus justice. There is, therefore, nothing
1 Luke xii. 54-56, xi. 16, 29; Matthew xii. 38, 39.
to surprise us in his fate. An age in which orthodoxy holds sway over fettered reason and conscience cannot comprehend the proofs of the spirit, and is not satisfied with the credentials that Truth herself brings with her. An unspiritual people must have not only its conscience but its imagination fed, and this was a demand which Jesus could not meet.
On this subject we have thc unimpeachable evidence of a converted Jew, who had fought against the Nazarene with all his powers. Paul himself declared that the great reason why Israel did not believe was that “ The Jews require a sign. He meant : “ Signs and wonders are the only proofs they will admit that any one is sent by God and is preaching the truth. If they cannot have this palpable, external proof, they withhold their faith.” On that demand for miracles, that deficient sense of truth, and the constant collisions that it caused between Jesus and the leaders of the nation, we will now fix our special attention.
In the first place, our Gospel narratives, in their present form, are themselves the strongest proof how universal and how formi.lable this morbid craving bad become. Issuing as they do from the circles of the faithful, they bear the stamp of the spirit that prevailed among them, and show us the conditions with which the preaching of Christianity had to comply, or rather the price it had to pay in order to gain a hearing. We see that it was compelled to set its original simplicity and purity aside, and make a wonder-worker of Jesus of Nazareth. Prodigies, it was imagined, were necessary to mark him as the Christ. “ Truly thou art the son of God!” cry the witnesses of his miraculous deeds.? 6 Is not this the son of David?” ask the astounded multitudes, and the demons prove again and again that they are well aware of his dignity.“ In this spirit and from this cause all the emblematic sketches of the Master's outer actions and inner life which were in circnlation from the earliest times were gradually transformed into stories of miracles.
We have constantly endeavored to restore these sketches to their original significance, but there are some narratives which hardly admit of such treatment. We will give two of them as specimens. They differ from the stories we have already examined, inasmuch as the others simply speak of all kinds of miraculous healings, whereas these two show that the Christians actually went so far as to ascribe raisings from the 11 Corinthians i. 22, 23.
2 See p. 269. 3 Matthew xij. 23; compare pp. 38--40.
4 See pp. 131, 136.
dead to their Master. Jesus did indeed declare that he called the (spiritually) dead to life again; but these stories owe their origin not so much to a misconception of this saying, as to the simple love of the marvellous which could not bear the Christ to be outdone by the prophets Elijah and Elisha. It is possible, however, that Jesus may on some occasion have entered a house of mourning and endeavored to restrain the violent demonstrations of grief, and to banish the sorrow without hope, by the consoling assurance that death was but a sleep which a glorious waking would succeed. Some such saying may have determined the form of the following story:
A certain man called Jair, the chief of the city or the synagogue, once came to Jesus and bowed down to the earth before him, passionately entreating him to return with him to his house, where his only child, a daughter twelve years old, lay dying. If only he would lay his band upon her she would recover and live! Jesus yielded to his entreaty and went with him, accompanied by the Twelve. On their way they met some people who came from Jair's house and said, " Trouble the Master no more, for your child is dead.” But when Jesus heard the message he cheered the disconsolate fatber with the words, “ Fear nothing! Only believe!” When they came to the house of mourning, Jesus allowed none but Peter, James, and John to go in with him. They found the hired mourners and flute-players already busy, while all the inmates of the house and the relatives of the child joined them in raising the extravagant signs of grief which were customary among the Jews.
But the lamentations of all these people, as they wept and wailed aloud, offended Jesus. As soon as he entered he commanded them to be silent, and said : " Why are you weeping and wailing ? The child is not dead but sleeping.” They laughed him to scorn ; but he had them all sent out, and with the parents and his three friends only entered the room where the girl was lying. Without pausing a moment he took her by the hand and said, “ Talitha cumi!” that is, “ Maiden, arise !” Upon this the spirit returned to her body, and she raised herself and stood up. Picture the joy and amazement of the parents ! Jesus told them to give her something to eat, and strictly commanded them not to let any one know what had happened. 8
i Matthew xi. 5; compare p. 254. 2 1 Kings xvii. 17-21; 2 Kings iv. 18-37; compare vol. ii. chaps. XI., xii. 3 Matthew ix. 18, 19, 23- 26 (Mark v. 22-24, 35 43; Luke vjii. 41, 42, 49-56)