« AnteriorContinuar »
nearly a year, belongs mainly to Jerusalem. The characteristic feature of it is His assertion of Messiahship before the rulers and people. He comes to His own in their metropolis and temple, and awaits their recognition or rejection. The first three Evangelists give no account of this part of His ministry ; only they leave room for it between the temptation and the imprisonment of the Baptist. The blank is partially filled in, but only partially, by the Gospel of John, i. 43; v. 47. From these chapters we learn that He takes action before the nation, and particularly its rulers, as the Christ, and awaits their decision, which is finally given against Him. As regards John's attendance on the Lord during this period, it was only occasional. We gather that he accompanied Him to Cana, where he witnessed the “beginning of miracles;" that he went up with Him to Jerusalem to the Passover; that he returned with Him to Galilee, going through Samaria ; and that he visited Jerusalem again at the following feast. With slight exception Jesus is out of our view during this period, while it would seem that John and the other disciples return to their ordinary employments. The thoughts, longings, hopes, that Jesus has created, have time to lie and ripen somewhat in their hearts. The second division of the Lord's
ministry belongs to Galilee. Jeru. salem has not received Him, and He withdraws from it, though not finally and utterly, to labour among a simpler people. This division extends from His leaving Jerusalem as a centre, to His final return thither to die, comprising about a year and a half. His head-quarters are in Capernaum, whence, accompanied by His disciples, He makes numerous circuits of Galilee (we find traces of eight or ten), taking in the whole region. We have not data to arrange His journeyings chronologically, or to draw the lines of movement; but we can forma very distinct idea of what goes on. He proceeds from place to place on foot, and great multitudes attend and press upon Him, not in cities only, but even in desert and solitary places. He meets individual inquirers ; teaches in the synagogues, in houses, on the sea-shore, on mountain-sides ; proclaims the kingdom of God; graciously gathers the outcast; heals all manner of sickness and disease, pouring forth blessings on all sides with the richest profusion. It is the springing up of day on those who sit in the region and shadow of death.
Early in this period He calls John to be a personal attendant. Finding him on the sea-shore, washing and mending his nets, He said to him, Follow me. From that moment he became the Lord's constant attendant, a sharer of His wanderings, a joyous hearer of His words, a witness of His mighty works, receiving the impress of His personality in a sympathetic and loving soul. He is not now a mere ordinary observer, a private person following Jesus, but a chosen witness. His manner of life henceforth is exceedingly different from what it had been before. Sometimes a picture is painted in which it appears as a delightful wandering from place to place amidst delightful scenerya smiling holiday in a terrestrial paradise. In point of fact, it was attendance on the Man of sorrows, and selfishness must have turned away from it. If we crowd into one life whatever of toil and privation there is for an evangelist, for a teacher, for a physician, for a philanthropist going about among the poor, the sick, the ignorant, and the neglected, the day spent without food or rest, and the night often given to prayer,—the burden of a world's sin and woe on His heart, we shall understand what John's following of the Lord must have been. It would create an untrue impression were we to take only those occasions on which his name is mentioned, as if there were contact only then ; we must read the record remembering that he is present throughout, and cognizant of all the wondrous disclosures made by the Only-begotten of the Father. To comment on all he witnessed would be to comment on the Four Gospels.
After being a chosen companion for some time, he is solemnly ordained an apostle,--one of twelve who should go forth, endowed with the Holy Spirit, to testify what they had seen and heard, and to work in the Lord's name, for all ages and nations. In ordaining him, Jesus names him a son of thunder,” a name descriptive of his spiritual character in its intensity, power, and glowing zeal. Grace sometimes takes a very small soul, of naturally mean constituents, and fashions even out of that soul an instrument for great uses ; but in this case it is a great nature that is chosen, with splendid, even imperial attributes, with magnificent capacity of outlook and receptivity, with heights and depths and grandeurs beyond the rest, full of the loftiest possibilities, answerable in some measure to the greatness of the Lord Himself. The man is now a prince in the kingdom.
Returning to Capernaum from one of His circuits of Galilee, He makes John a chosen spectator of one of His mightiest and holiest works—the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead. The story is very touching. A child of twelve, the only daughter of a ruler of the synagogue, falls sick and is ready to die. We know not whether death crept near slowly and stealthily, or sprang suddenly upon her as with the bound of a tiger from its lair; the simple entry is," She lay a-dying.” Some of us will read the story through experiences of our
We recall the alternations of hope and fear in our bosoms over some dear one laid low, the suspense, the sinking of heart, the prayers that were groanings, our choking reception of the doctor's words when he told us to hope no more; and thus we interpret to ourselves what was going forward now in this ruler's house long ago. The father hears of the return of Jesus to the neighbourhood, goes to seek Him, tells his story, and presents his request, we may imagine with what lowly yet pressing wistfulness. Without saying what He will do, Jesus goes with him. Every step He takes is a promise, and the father would understand it so. He is stayed on the way, however, and meanwhile the message is brought to the father, " Thy daughter is dead: trouble not the Master.' There seems nothing now but to say, The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; and blessed be the name of the Lord. We know not how the words of the messenger smote the father's heart; but instantly Jesus stretches out a helping hand to him, saying
out of His consciousness as the Son of God, “ Fear not; only believe ; ” and again He begins to accompany him to the house. Every step is promise again, only of more wondrous kind. Every step now means," I am the Resurrection and the Life; " and He can no more falsify His
steps of grace” than His word of grace. When He reaches the house, it is already filled with the loud lamentations of the professional mourners. He rebukes the noise, adding, “ The maiden is not dead, but sleepeth ;” but they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead, -the laughter genuine if the grief was not. He put them all forth, as Joseph put forth the Egyptians ere he revealed himself to his brethren; and then with His three disciples, Peter and James and John, He entered the chamber where the maiden lay. She has passed beyond the bounds of earth, beyond the bounds of time. There is the un breathing marble, the cheek that has scarce lost the warm tint of life, the lately vermilion lip already ashen, the fringed lids drawn down by loving fingers over eyeballs now sightless as stone, the unutterably tranquil and moveless repose that no passionate outery can break. Jesus lifts the passive hand, -John all the while looking on and listening, and at the two words, “Talitha cumi,” life returned, and she arose. John is a witness of the transaction from first to last; not only of the wonder at the end, but of all that led up to it. It is not a mere revelation to him of naked omnipotence; but of tenderness, graciousness, loving-kindness, calm consciousness of possessing Divine resources, and all that lies in that unfathomable name, The Eternal Life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us."
The next great event in the Lord's life of which John is a chosen witness is the Transfiguration. It takes place in the afternoon of the Galilean ministry. Jesus makes only one circuit more,—the most solemn of all,-before He returns to Jerusalem to die. These closing weeks are shadowed by His approaching sufferings; the cross is ever present in His view. Ere the darkness
finally closes round, a glimpse is given of the kingdom in its power. He has conducted His disciples northward to the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi," and seems to be still lingering in that neighbourhood. Toward evening, taking with Him Peter and James and John, He climbs “ a high mountain apart," where for some time He continues in prayer, the three praying in silence near. Gradually the eyes of the three become heavy-lidded, till they close. How long they slept they could not tell; but they are awaked by a bright effulgence streaming on their eyes, and when they look up, there is their Master transfigured before them. The fashion of His countenance is altered; light shines forth from it like the sun. His raiment too is white and glistering as the snow which gleams on lofty Hermon. Two men are with Him from the unseen world: Moses, the giver of the law, and the prophet Elijah, its great restorer. They converse with Him about the decease, the exodus, which He was soon to accomplish at Jerusalem : that mighty event to which both the law and the prophets looked forward, and to which all subsequent ages look back. When the conversation ends, Peter exclaims, "Lord, it is good to be here
and if Thou wilt, let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee and one for Moses and one for Elias ;" not knowing what he said. While he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a Voice came out of the cloud,“ This is my beloved Son; hear Him." They fell on their faces sore afraid; and when next they lifted up their eyes, they saw no man save Jesus only:
Of this marvellous and profoundly significant event John is a chosen witness. It is a symbol of the harmony of old and new, a disclosure of the dignity of the Lord's person, a testimony to the vital importance of His death, a momentary glimpse of the kingdom in its power, a token of His mediatorial supremacy and glory, kingly, priestly, and prophetic-offices that in Him meet and form á Unity, which in our theological nomenclature we have no name for. The influence of the scene upon John's mind is not declared; but we can see it in his Gospel when, long years after, he wrote these words, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father."
Shortly after, there arose a reasoning among the twelve as to who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The question is brought for decision to Jesus, and, in recording how He dealt with it, the evangelist Luke introduces a little parenthesis, in which the name of John is prominent. John remembers the case of one whom they had seen casting out devils, and whom they had forbidden, “because he followeth not with us.” I do not suppose that they fancied they had a monopoly of healing, and wished to guard it from this unlicensed practitioner; more probably, they feared some injury to their Master's
Whatever may have been the association of ideas in John's mind, he now calls this case up, and brings it under the notice of the Lord.
We must not assume that it was he who interfered with the nameless man; he merely fell in with the rest—"we saw, we forbade” --and now he reports the case in order to elicit the Lord's judgment; was it right or was it wrong to do what we did ? The Lord answers, “ Forbidhim not; for he that is not against us is for us ; the “ forbid not,” with its added reason, being as much as to say, Wish him rather God speed. Here is a word that goes very deeply into the question of practical Christian work. The man who is working on Christ's side, even though he does not fall in with us, is not to be hindered, is not to be regarded suspiciously or strangely. There is often perplexed uneasiness among good men about this matter. Jealousy has crept in where there might have been holy emulation; estrangement and halfdislike where there might have been mutual confidence. We have not always had the pleasure we should have had in good work not done by us or our friends, or in noble Christian character existing beyond our borders. We may not have gone the length of forbidding others (even in our hearts) to do the Lord's work, because they followed not with us; but we have come short of Paul's word, “I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.". The teaching now given to John goes farther than toleration” of those who are not of our special fellowship; it paves the way for hearty delight in every good work wrought in the name and power of Jesus Christ.
The time at length approaches for Jesus to be received up” into His glory. So He steadfastly sets His face toward Jerusalem, with a will surrendered to His Father, knowing the dark and terrible things immediately in advance. His march to Jerusalem gathers awe from something in the manner of it as well as from the often-reiterated intimations of His approaching death. The trembling disciples follow Him, amazed and afraid. On His way, standing in need of refreshment and lodging for the night, He sends forward two disciples to a neighbouring Samaritan village to make preparations; but the villagers refuse to receive Him, His face being toward Jerusalem. It was not a simple refusal of hospitality, but a refusal on religious grounds. Instantly, it may be, John recalls to mind what Jesus said about the place that would not receive His messengers, “It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah,” the cities that were consumed with fire from heaven, or His awful Woe against Capernaum ; his anger is kindled by the indignity offered to his Master; and with swift energy he would clutch the lightnings and hurl them against the offending village. May we execute Thy Woe? Shall we command fire from heaven to consume them, as Elias did ? It is not a mere outburst of passionateness, that might calm down in an hour; it is rather an importation of the spirit of human nature into the cause of Christ, proposing to inflict temporal pains and penalties on His opposers. It is out of this spirit that persecution for conscience' sake has since arisen, --that men who could not call down fire from heaven have kindled fires on earth to burn heretics and to consume error. The Lord rebukes John, and sets him right, telling him, You know neither the manner of your own spirit, nor of mine ; for I am not come to destroy but to save.
The rebuke is a fresh revelation to John, giving him deeper insight into the mind of Christ. We shall not afterwards find him disposed to use physical force on the Lord's behalf, or to anticipate the awful day of the righteous judgment of God. He understands from henceforth that Christ is not to be served by the wrath of man, by the fires of Smithfield, or the fires of sarcasm and scorn, nay, not even by invoking the wrath of God upon opposers ; but by truth and love and righteousness and holy self-sacrifice.
THE WOUNDED SOLDIER. A NARRATIVE TAKEN FROM THE LATE WAR BETWEEN GERMANY AND FRANCE.*
“FAREWELL, dear mother! do not my hand and an order upon my sorrow and weep for me. Remember breast !” that I shall fight for the glory of Thus spake young François, beautiful France ! Soon I shall whilst taking leave of his mother, return, with a Prussian helmet in in order to join his regiment as soon
* The above narrative, which is from the pen of our friend, the Rev. J. G. Oncken, is published as a tract by the Baptist Tract Society.