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in Messiah,' Son of God,' Son of Man.' How inadequately at bottom all this applies to Jesus. Not one of these words expresses even remotely what He was amongst men, or what He was called to be by God for all time. Hence it is a part of true reverence for Jesus that we should venerate, not the titles, but Himself.
There was in Him something entirely new, a surpassing greatness, a superhuman self-consciousness which sets itself above all authorities, declaring God's will and promises, imparting consolation, inspiring courage, delivering judgment with divine power, a new mediatorship between God and man, that left all the former far behind it. But this that was new in Jesus appeared clothed in a contemporary and at bottom unsuitable form, His consciousness as Messiah. And in spite of all His labour to change the antiquated, the petty, and the transitory, He did not entirely destroy it. Hence immediately after Jesus' death a twofold movement can be traced amongst the disciples. Jewish patriots attach to the one word Messiah all the fancies and all the political Utopias of Judaism. But those who understand Him continue His work and set Him entirely free from these Messianic surroundings. road leads to the Messiah of the Apocalypse, the other to the Second Adam’of Paul and the Logos of the Fourth Gospel. The future belongs to the latter alone.
THE RISE OF THE RELIGION.
JESUS began His ministry with a clear and simple promise: “ The kingdom of God is at hand.” By so doing He proves His acceptance of the Jewish eschatology in its simplest form. The Jews waited for the kingdom of God as the state of things when Israel should be free and exalted to a position of power and splendour, when the Gentiles should be in subjection, and the patriarchs and holy men of old should have risen from the dead, and God be enthroned visibly amidst the people. Jesus' original hope, too, must have been very similar to this, though not exactly the same. This we necessarily infer from the following considerations. Jesus never explained the conception of the kingdom of God, for He presupposes it as well known, nor does He anywhere criticise any false conception of the kingdom of God, He merely lays all the emphasis on its near approach, and on the conditions of entrance. Furthermore, He addresses His promise exclusively to the Jews, His own people, and not to the Gentiles. Lastly, He speaks of being together with the patriarchs,
and thus reveals the Jewish foundation of His message.
The Jewish starting-point of the promise of Jesus will therefore form the first portion of our enquiry. But Jesus' greatness begins in every case where He sets Himself free from these Jewish presuppositions. Three points deserve notice: The place and the manner; the time; the recipients of the Promise.
1. The national pride of the Jews, the fantastic and material turn of the Oriental mind, combine to embellish the Jewish hope in the kingdom of God with a number of individual touches. This process can be traced from the apocalypses, both Jewish and Christian, down to the Koran. Read in the Apocalypse of St John the song of triumph over the fall of Babylon, the exultation over her misfortunes, the description of the final battle with all its cruel details, the delineation, at once fantastic and material, of the Jerusalem which is far indeed from being heavenly, with its arrogant contempt of the Gentiles. Mahomet's descriptions of Paradise with their repulsive sensuality may be passed over in silence. Even so harmless a vision of the future as is contained in the Magnificat and the Benedictus, the songs of Mary and of Zacharias, that St Luke has preserved for us, is limited to the political liberation of the people. We may not indeed conclude that because the political and the fantastical elements are almost entirely absent from the sayings of Jesus, that therefore He never thought or spoke of these things. Jesus never expected that the kingdom of God and the Roman empire could co-exist. The latter would have to pass away with the advent of the former. His other conceptions, too, will probably have been fantastic enough to our way of looking at things. But the Evangelists were under the impression that all these traits—the political as well as the material embroidery—were meaningless for Jesus, did not belong to the essential which alone He emphasized. Jesus must have understood how to purify and to simplify the hopes of His disciples, and to concentrate them on the religious kernel. They remained indeed Jewish hopes, but such as had passed through Jesus' soul. Without setting Himself in opposition to His surroundings, the hopes of a religious genius such as Jesus were from the very first of a different nature. All those features of vindictiveness, ambition, cruelty, sensuality, the artificial and fantastical pedantry, the minute and subtle calculations, did not harmonize with the simplicity of His soul. The acceptation of the Jewish eschatology by Jesus is of itself tantamount to its purification.
No very great importance, therefore, attaches to the place and the outer circumstances of the kingdom of God. It is clear that Jesus did not think of heaven or the other world. This earth, or, more strictly speaking, the land of Palestine, is the scene of the kingdom. There is no breach of continuity between the life that men live here and now, and their existence yonder. They eat and drink and take their pleasure; they live as men and not as spirits. To speak of the metaphorical language of Jesus is of itself enough to impair the naïveté of the whole picture. The entire harmlessness and innocence of Jesus are reflected in the simplicity of His expectations. For Jesus the earthly and the simply human are entirely free from any suggestion of the sinful. Why should that God to whom we pray for bread here below be less likely to give us food and drink in His heavenly kingdom ? There is something almost countrified in Jesus' language about the future. Even an inhabitant of Jerusalem would have used richer colours in his picture. That is why we are told nothing of the city, the length and the breadth and the height of which are equal, and the streets of which are of gold.
But what an entire misunderstanding it is of Jesus when emphasis is laid, as it often is to-day, upon the earthly elements in His hope. That which He pictured to Himself, being a Jew of His age, in earthly guise, He would have imagined in a later century just as easily after a heavenly fashion. All the emphasis is laid, not upon the place, but upon simple happiness and upon community with God. When His kingdom comes, all suffering, all sorrow and lamentation, all sense of abandonment by God, shall be changed into joy, exultation, and the blessed feeling of nearness to God. To behold God, to be called the Children of God, to experience God's comfort and mercy—that is the centre of the promise. Therefore, too, the picture of the kingdom is enriched by a multitude of features which go beyond the earthly framework: the resurrection of the dead, the angelic body, the everlasting life. Even if this earthly stage is never left, yet the barriers between this world and the next have been removed, and the visible communion with God and with all His saints, conjures forth a new world. But there is one fact which, plainer than all else, shows us of what little