Imatges de pàgina

S. Luke iv. 2), and thirst (S. John xix. 28). To crown all He died, was recognized as dead, and buried. Thus throughout His life He gave cause, as these notices imply, for supposing Him no less human than one of ourselves.

At the same time, together with these manifestations of ordinary human character, there arose a growing sense amongst His nearer followers that He was something more than man. This consciousness certainly developed, but it is not perfectly easy to see by what steps. We propose to consider the question under two heads, (1) with reference to the Synoptic tradition, (2) with reference to that of S. John. (1) The first three, or Synoptic Gospels, are concerned largely, as every one knows, with the history of the Galilean ministry, and describe in a simple and straightforward fashion acts and words of our Lord in His ordinary intercourse with simple and unlearned folk. Yet even in this simple narrative there are signs of a gradual growth of feeling in two distinct directions, one in the direction of more unlimited devotion. to our Lord's Person, the other in the direction of increasingly open hostility. Thus the wonder which S. Matthew notes as the effect on the multitude of Christ's Sermon on the Mount breaks up into its two component factors -attraction and annoyance. The Disciples, upon whom the moral appeal was effective, draw closer round the Lord, while the Pharisees, who see their methods directly assailed by the new Teacher, are surprised and also annoyed. The crowd (o oxλos) get a very little way beyond this mere wonder. It is noted in S. Matthew's Gospel more than once. In one case (xii. 23, 24) the contrast is drawn between the verdict of the crowd and that of the Pharisees, the crowd being inclined to

identify the new prophet with the 'Son of David.' In chap. xvi. 13, 14, our Lord's question to S. Peter, Whom do men say that I am? obtains for us a glimpse of the uncertain and vague speculations that prevailed at that stage. At the triumphal entry into Jerusalem the crowd came nearest to a positive view about our Lord: but when they cry Crucify, Crucify Him, they cast in their lot finally with the leaders of the people. On the other hand, the Pharisees pass into a position of hostility at a comparatively early date: they soon ascribe the miracles of our Lord to the powers of darkness, and this draws down upon them a rebuke the most tremendous, perhaps, which our Lord ever uttered (S. Mark iii. 28-30). From that point forward their position remains practically unchanged.

The circumstances which called out this twofold judgment were generally of two kinds-miracles and teaching. Our Lord traversed in His teaching questions which were regarded as settled, such, for instance, as that of Sabbath observance: but He also gave utterance to many things which no active moral sense could condemn. Moreover, His miracles were almost invariably acts of mercy-relief of the sick, restoration of the dead. That is, they were a practical comment on His words; they expressed in action what His words were intended. to convey. They do not, however, occur with equal frequency over the whole period. As time goes on, our Lord seems less anxious to perform them, more anxious to insist on secrecy. He charges those on whom they are worked to tell no man, and Himself draws back from the advances of the crowd. At the same time His instructions to the Apostles tend to become more and more distinct; as He withdraws Himself from the

crowd, He draws nearer to the Apostles, and they do not need any longer the special teaching of miracles. In them miracles have had their proper effect. They have realized the presence of the Son of God in the humble surroundings of Jesus of Nazareth; they have seen His miracles and heard His words; and to them it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven. In this connexion great weight should be laid upon the account in S. Luke's Gospel of S. Peter's call (v. 8). The miraculous draught of fishes so impresses S. Peter with a definite idea of Christ's character that he cries, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.' It is not necessary, nor indeed is it possible in view of the history of the fourth Gospel, to suppose that this was the first time S. Peter had seen our Lord, but it supplies an example of the way in which our Lord's miracles impressed those to whom the Father was revealing the truth of His Son's nature. And it suggests an account of the real position which the miracles were intended to occupy. It suggests that they were not to be considered as a chief object of our Lord's coming. He performs them naturally enough when occasion demands, but He does not search for an occasion. He does not attempt to force men to bring their sick to Him for healing. He does not heal regardless of the moral condition of the subject of His exercise of power. But He seems to use His acts of power in the same way as His words, to attract that attentive wonder which may in the right sort of soul develop into faith.

(2) This process, which is not perfectly clear in the Synoptic Gospels, is definitely marked in S. John. In this Gospel we have at intervals deliberate notes of the growth of feeling as to the Nature of our Lord. Thus at the end

of the account of the miracle at Cana, S. John remarks, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus at Cana in Galilee, and manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him.' At the end of the sixth chapter, the mysterious discourse upon the Bread of Life, although it followed so closely upon so important a miracle as the Feeding of the Five Thousand, has a double effect. Some go back and walk no more with Him, but this is made a means of tightening the bond with the Disciples. Again, at the end of chap. vii., S. John notes a growing division of opinion; in like manner, after the healing of the man born blind, in chaps. ix. and x. Lastly, in chap. xii. S. John deliberately sums up the whole position, showing how the position of the Jews at that moment fulfilled the gloomy prophecy of Isaiah: 'He hath blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart; lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and should turn, and I should heal them.'

The Life of Christ is presented, then, in the Gospels as having been the means of judgment. It drew out the secret affinities of the people before whom it was displayed, it revealed the thoughts of many hearts. This aspect of it, as we have said, is most plainly marked in S. John, but there are signs of the same thing in the Synoptists also. What then was it which our Lord claimed, which it required moral affinity to understand and to grant? What account does He give of Himself?

(1) Beginning again with the Synoptic Gospels, we find our Lord assuming a position of exceptional authority. 'He taught as though He had authority, and not as the scribes.' He contrasted His own assertions as to moral right and wrong with those in the older law, and yet claimed that He had come to fulfil it. He claims the

right on earth to forgive sins as Son of man (S. Matt. ix. 2-6; S. Mark ii. 5-12), to reveal the will of the Father (S. Matt. xi. 27), the laws of the Divine judgment (S. Matt. xii. 36, 37), of forgiveness (S. Matt. xviii. 35), of life eternal (S. Matt. xix. 16-21). He reads the thoughts of men, He knows beforehand His own sufferings. And He claims the right to confer His own powers upon others-in the mission of the twelve (S. Matt. x. 1; S. Mark iii. 14-15, vi. 7-13; S. Luke ix. 1), in the mission of the seventy (S. Luke x. 1-20), in the permission to S. Peter to walk upon the sea (S. Matt. xiv. 28), and lastly, in His commission to the Church (S. Matt. xxviii. 18-20; S. Mark xvi. 15-18; S. Luke xxiv. 44-48). Further, He speaks of Himself as the Son in close connexion with the phrase 'the Father' (S. Matt. xi. 27); as the Son of man frequently; greater than Solomon or than Jonah (S. Matt. xii. 41, 42; S. Luke xi. 31, 32); and at Nazareth (S. Luke iv. 21), and before the High Priest at His trial, He definitely claims to be Messiah, and to be coming in judgment as Son of man (S. Matt. xxvi. 64, 65; S. Mark xiv. 62, 63; S. Luke xxii. 70). (2) The Gospel of S. John is written 'that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in His name.' The whole book, therefore, aims at setting forth this one idea. The life of Christ is presented as the manifestation under the conditions of human flesh, of the glory of the Eternal Word. The structure of the Gospel around this central thought is so plain that we need not spend much time in illustrating it. It will be well, however, to put together a few facts which may serve to show the character of our Lord's claims. Our Lord definitely

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