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JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF.
ceremony emblematic of moral and spiritual purification. To him, as to the most unclean of strangers, baptism was to be the mark of his initiation into the new faith; and a secret internal transmutation was to take place by divine agency in his heart, which was to communicate a new principle of religious life. Without this, he could not attain to that which he had hitherto supposed either the certain privilege of his Israelitish descent, or at least of his conscientious adherence to the Law. Eternal life, Jesus declared, was to depend solely on the reception of the Son of God, who, he not obscurely intimated, had descended from heaven, was present in his person, and was not universally received, only from the want of moral fitness to appreciate his character. This light was too pure to be admitted into the thick darkness which was brooding over the public mind, and rendered it impenetrable by the soft and quiet rays of the new doctrine. Jesus, in short, almost without disguise or reservation, announced himself to the wondering ruler as the Messiah, while, at the same time, He enigmatically foretold his rejection by the people. The age was not ripe for the exhibition of the Divine Goodness in his person; it still yearned for a revelation of the terrible, destructive, revengeful Power of the Almighty-a national deity which should embody, as it were, the prevailing sentiments of the nation. Nor came He to fulfil that impious expectation of Jewish pride—the condemnation of the world, of all Gentile races, to the worst calamities, while on Israel alone his blessings were to be showered with exclusive bounty.o
• Quæ sequuntur inde a versiculo | Domino contra opinionem illam imdecimo septimo proprie ad Judæos piam et in genus humanum iniquam, spectant, et haud dubie dicta sunt a cum existimarent Messiam non nisi 164
END OF FIRST VISIT TO JERUSALEM.
He came as a common benefactor—as an universal Saviour—to the whole human race. Nicodemus, it may seem, left the presence of Jesus, if not a decided convert, yet impressed with still deeper reverence. Though never an avowed disciple, yet, with other members of the Sanhedrin, he was only restrained by his dread of the predominant party : more than once we find him seizing opportunities of showing his respect and attachment for the teacher, whose cause he had not courage openly to espouse; and, perhaps, his secret influence, with that of others similarly disposed, may, for a time, have mitigated or obstructed the more violent designs of the hostile Pharisees.
Thus ended the first visit of Jesus to Jerusalem since his assumption of a public character. His influence had, in one class probably, made considerable, though secret, progress; with others, a dark feeling of hostility had been more deeply rooted; while this very difference of sentiment was likely to increase the general suspense and interest, as to the future development of his character. As yet, it appears, unless in that most private interview with Nicodemus, he had not openly avowed his claim to the title of the Messiah : an expression of St. John, “ he did not trust himself to them,” seems to imply the extreme caution and reserve which He maintained towards all the converts which He made during his present visit to Jerusalem.
Judaicum populum liberaturum, re- | Joan. p. 128. liquas vero gentes omnes suppliciis Ρ John ii. 24, ουκ έπίστευεν atrocissimis affecturum, penitusque é autóv: he did not trust himself to nerditurum esse. Titman. Mel. in them, he did not commit himself.
DEPARTURE FROM JERUSALEM.
Public Life of Jesus from the First to the Second Passover.
On the dispersion of the strangers from the metropolis, at the close of the Passover, Jesus, with his Departure more immediate followers, passed a short salem. time in Judæa, where such multitudes crowded to the baptism administered by his disciples, that the adherents of John began to find the concourse to their master somewhat diminished. The Baptist had removed his station to the other side of the Jordan, and fixed himself by a stream, which afforded a plentiful supply of water, near the town of Salim, in Peræa. The partisans of John, not it might seem without jealousy, began to dispute concerning the relative importance of the baptism of their master, and that of him whom they were disposed to consider his rival.
But these unworthy feelings were strongly repressed by John. In terms still more emphatic he reasserted his own secondary station : he was but the paranymph, the humble attendant on the bridegroom, Christ the bridegroom himself: his doctrine was that of earth, that of Christ was from heaven; in short, he openly announces Jesus as the Son of the Almighty Father, and as the author of everlasting life."
The career of John was drawing to a close. His new station in Peræa was within the dominions of John the Herod Antipas. On the division of the Herod.
• John iii. 22, 36.
JOHN THE BAPTIST, AND HEROD.
Jewish kingdom at the death of Herod the Great, Galilee and Peræa had formed the tetrarchate of Antipas. This Herod was engaged in a dangerous war with Aretas, king of Arabia Petræa, whose daughter he had married. But having formed an incestuous connexion with the wife of his brother, Herod Philip, his Arabian queen indignantly fled to her father, who took up arms to revenge her wrongs against her guilty husband. How far Herod could depend in this contest on the loyalty of his subjects, was extremely doubtful. It is possible he might entertain hopes that the repudiation of a foreign alliance, ever hateful to the Jews, and the union with a branch of the Asmonean line (for Herodias was the grand-daughter of Herod the Great and of Mariamne), might counterbalance in the popular estimation the injustice and criminality of his marriage with his brother's wife. The influence of John (according to Josephus) was almost unlimited. The subjects, and even the soldiery, of the tetrarch had crowded with devout submission around the Prophet. On his decision might depend the wavering loyalty of the whole province. But John denounced with open indignation the royal incest, and declared the marriage with a brother's wife to be a flagrant violation of the Law. Herod, before long, ordered him to be seized and imprisoned in the strong fortress of Machærus, on the remote border of his Transjordanic territory.
Jesus, in the mean time, apprehensive of the awaken
b Luke iii. 19; Matt. xiv. 3, 5; Baptist to Herod's dread of popular Mark vi. 17, 20.
tumult and insurrection, without men© This natural view of the subject | tioning the real cause of that dread, appears to me to harmonise the accounts which we find in the Evangelic narin the Gospels with that of Josephus. rative. Josephus traces the persecution of the
JEWS AND SAMARITANS.
ing jealousy of the Pharisees, whom his increasing success inflamed to more avowed animosity, left the borders of Judæa, and proceeded on his return to Galilee. The nearer road lay through the province of Samaria. The mutual hatred between the Jesus passes Jews and Samaritans, ever since the secession Samaria. of Sanballat, had kept the two races not merely Hostility of distinct, but opposed to each other with the Samaritans. most fanatical hostility. This animosity, instead of being allayed by time, had but grown the more inveterate, and had recently been embittered by acts, according to Josephus, of wanton and unprovoked outrage on the part of the Samaritans. During the administration of Coponius, certain of this hateful race, early in the morning on one of the days of the Passover, had stolen into the Temple at Jerusalem, and defiled the porticoes and courts by strewing them with dead men's bonesan abomination the most offensive to the Jewish principles of cleanliness and sanctity. Still later, they had frequently taken advantage of the position in which their district lay, directly between Judæa and Galilee, to interrupt the concourse of the religious Galileans to the capital. Jealous that such multitudes should pass their sacred mountain, Gerizim, to worship in the Temple at Jerusalem, they often waylaid the incautious pilgrim, and thus the nearest road to Jerusalem had become extremely insecure. Our History will show how calmly Jesus ever pursued his course through these conflicting elements of society, gently endeavoured to allay the implacable schism, and set the example of that mild
d Matt. iv. 12; Mark i. 14; Luke iv. 14.
e John iv. 1, 32,
f Hist, of the Jews, ii. 118. & Ibid., 123.