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had recourse to open violence. He entered into Judas afterwards, when a fit opportunity offered of working upon his resentment, and his avarice, to betray his Lord, Luke xxii. 3, John xiii. 2, and he worked upon the inveterate malice of the Jewish council, by the agency of Judas, to apprehend him by night, for fear of the people, and by their clamour and importunity to intimidate the pusillanimous Roman governor Pilate to condemn him to death, knowing and declaring him to be innocent.
It is remarkable, in the history of the temptation, that OUR LORD did not deny Satan's pretensions to worldly sway. On the contrary, he rather confirmed them. He afterwards styled him "the prince of this world," John xii. 31, xiv. 30, xvi. 11, and “the power of darkness,” Luke xxii. 53, Col. i. 13. And he commissioned his apostle Paul, after his resurrection, "to turn the Gentiles from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God," Acts xxvi. 17, 18, whence Paul styled Satan “ the god of this world," 2 Cor. iv. 4; and John remarks for the consolation of believers, "Greater is HE [presiding] in you, than he [presiding] in the world," 1 John iv. 4.
THE DEPUTATION TO JOHN.
The fame of John's baptism at length attracted the notice of the Jewish Sanhedrim, and they sent a formal deputation of priests and Levites, of the sect of the Pharisees, to enquire of him who he was, whether he was "the CHRIST, or Elijah, or the prophet like Moses," whom they severally expected. And when he expressly denied that he was any of these, then they enquired by what authority he baptized? To which he answered, as the herald of CHRIST, foretold by Isaiah," The voice of one crying in the wilderness," &c. as before, further intimating, that CHRIST was actually come, and "in the midst of them*, though they knew him not," John i. 19-27.
This deputation appears to have taken place after OUR LORD's baptism, during his absence and temptation, and before he returned to Bethabara, on the day after their departure. John dismissed them with the foregoing general answer, prudently declining to give them any more particular information
• Meσoc vμwv, “In the midst of you." So Moses described the future prophet like himself, Deut. xviii. 15.
respecting the person of CHRIST, whom he judged they sought, like Herod, only to destroy, John i. 28, 29.
On the return of JESUS, whom John beheld coming towards him, he said to some of his confidential disciples, who were with him, "See the LAMB OF GOD who taketh away the sins of the world!" thus pointing out JESUS to them as "THE LAMB to be led to the slaughter," or expiatory “sacrifice," as the grand atonement for the sins of mankind, foretold by the prophet Isaiah, in that remarkable description of the rejection and sufferings of CHRIST, in the 53d chapter, when "he was numbered with the transgressors," as applied by OUR LORD to himself, Luke xxii. 37, and by the HOLY SPIRIT, Acts viii. 32—35. For he was the true paschal lamb, typified in the mysterious institution of the passover, who was to be "slain from the foundation of the world," in that "grand charter of God's mercy to mankind," the judgment of the old serpent, Gen. iii. 15, Rev. xiii. 8. See p. 16, &c.
The day following, John again pointed out JESUS, as he was walking about, to two of his disciples, Andrew, Simon's brother, and John the Evangelist, most probably, (who, through modesty, suppresses his own name in his Gospel, see xiii. 23, xx. 2, xxi. 7,) and said, "See the LAMB OF GOD!" alluding evidently to his former conversation, at which therefore they had been present.
This emphatic repetition they considered as a recommendation to follow "THE CHIEF," in preference to the "harbinger," and accordingly they enquired of JESUS where he lodged, and followed him thither, on his gracious invitation, and spent the remainder of the evening with him, from "the tenth hour," or four in the afternoon.
To these two first disciples was added Simon, Andrew's brother, whom OUR LORD afterwards surnamed Cephas, or Peter, (the former in Hebrew, the latter in Greek, signifying "a stone,") and, "on the morrow," Philip and Nathanael, surnamed Bartholomew, who uttered that noble confession of faith, when his prejudices against "Nazareth," were overcome, by our Lord's intimate knowledge of some secret transaction of his under a figtree, “Rabbi, thou art THE SON OF GOD! thou art [THE CHRIST] the KING OF ISRAEL!" John i. 35—50.
JESUS returned from Bethabara to Galilee, and on "the third day after," he worked his first miracle at Cana, on the
confines of Tyre, where, at a wedding, to which he and his disciples were invited, he turned the water into wine, to confirm the faith of his early disciples. There "he manifested his glory," or "miraculous power," (which marked his superiority over John, who did no miracles,) " and his disciples believed on him."
On this occasion, he, perhaps, communicated his design of working the miracle to his mother before-hand, and when she said, "they have no wine," he repressed her impatience by a gentle rebuke: Woman, what hast thou to do with me? my time is not yet come." In this she meekly acquiesced, saying to the servants, "whatsoever he may say to you, do," John ii. 1-11.
Some time after, when Jesus had opened his commission publicly at Jerusalem, and his disciples baptized in Judea, John removed from Bethabara to non, near Salem, or Shalem, northward, in the province of Samaria, Gen. xxxiii. 18, and also "because there was much water there," convenient for baptizing, in a different part of the country.
While John was employed there, before he was cast into prison, there arose a question between some of his disciples and the Jews concerning purification, or the comparative efficacy of the baptisms of JOHN and of JESUS, which John decided, as before, in favour of the latter, declaring that he was only sent before CHRIST as his harbinger; that CHRIST was "the bridegroom" of his spiritual bride, the Church, as foretold by David, Ps. xlv. 9, Rev. xxi. 2, but that himself was only the bridesman, "the bridegroom's friend," or attendant, who heard and obeyed his voice, and shared in his joy upon that occasion. He then foretold CHRIST's encrease, and his own decrease; that CHRIST came from heaven, and testified heavenly things, himself earthly things; that CHRIST testified what he had seen and heard, but that none received his heavenly testimony, generally speaking; but that whosoever did receive it, sealed, or subscribed to the veracity of GOD, in performing his promises of redemption to mankind by the prophets, in sending HIS SON, the Oracle, into the world, that whosoever believed on him should have eternal life, but that whosoever believed not, or disobeyed THE
"Why dost thou interfere in my concerns?” See this phrase explained, 2 Sam. xix. 22, in the history of David.
SON, should not see life, but was liable to the permanent wrath of GOD, John iii. 23-36.
The amount of John's testimony to CHRIST was considerable, and included the leading doctrines of CHRISTIANITY.
1. He proclaimed to all the people, as his herald, the approach of CHRIST, in the character, though not the person, of Elijah, foretold by Isaiah and Malachi, and interpreted by Gabriel and JESUS.
2. He stated his pre-existence and dignity, as the eternal SON OF GOD, and THE ORACLE, and his own CHIEF.
3. He foretold his atonement for the sins of the world, as the predicted LAMB OF GOD.
4. He foretold the rejection of CHRIST by the Jewish nation, and the adoption of the despised Gentiles in their room.
5. He foretold the judgments to be inflicted on the Jewish nation, for their impenitence and apostacy, and the general judgment of all mankind by CHRIST, and the final separation of the good from the bad.
6. He foretold CHRIST'S encrease and his own decrease.
7. He witnessed CHRIST'S spiritual unction at his baptism, and pointed him out personally to some "true Israelites, without guile."
When he had thus fulfilled the important purposes of his ministry, that it might not interfere, we may presume, with that of CHRIST, by an apparent competition, or rivalship *, though there existed none in reality," he finished his arduous course," and thankless office of a national reformer, being cast into prison by Herod, at the instigation of his wicked paramour Herodias, within a year after he had baptized, and borne witness to JESUS as THE CHRIST. And after spending near a year longer in prison, this holy man was at length wantonly sacrificed, in the midst of conviviality and mirth, to the licentious fascinations of a young woman, instigated by the implacable vengeance of an old one, her mother, to degrade herself, and to be guilty of a complicated crime of treachery and cruelty, repugnant to youthful simplicity and innocence, and to the rash oath of a worthless and merciless prince, which had better been broken than kept, Matt. xiv. 3—11, Mark vi. 17—28, Luke iii. 19, 20.
The speedy termination of the Baptist's ministry and life, according to Chrysostom, was designed by Providence, that the people might not be divided in their opinions between both.
JOHN'S MESSAGE TO CHRIST.
During John's imprisonment, having heard of the works of CHRIST, he sent two of his disciples to enquire of him," Art thou He that should come*, or look we for another?"
This message was delivered in public, while he was employed in the specific works foretold of the MESSIAH by the prophets, his peculiar miracles, Isa. xxxv. 3-6, xlii. 6, 7, Ezek. xxxiv. 16, and his doctrines, Isa. lxi. 1, Ezek. xxxiv. 15, Zech. xi. 7, Luke xix. 10.
And JESUS answered and said unto the messengers, Go and shew John again these things which ye do hear and see; the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are healed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have THE GOSPEL preached unto them.
And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me, Matt. xi. 2-6, Luke vii. 18-22.
The design of John's message has been variously represented : some think it was designed to remove the doubts of his disciples respecting CHRIST'S mission, others his own. The latter opinion, which was that of Tertullian, seems to be more probable, for the following reasons:
1. Notwithstanding the ample testimony which John had borne to JESUS as the CHRIST, and which surely his miracles were calculated to confirm, he might have entertained wrong apprehensions respecting the nature of his kingdom, with the generality of the Jews, and even OUR LORD's own disciples. John might not have thoroughly understood the nature of CHRIST'S kingdom, and therefore expressed a jealous wonder, why JESUS who worked such stupendous miracles, did not deliver him from the hands of his enemies, but suffer his faithful herald to languish in prison. John, too, was not better instructed than the apostles James and John, who applied to be made the prime ministers of CHRIST," to sit the one on his right hand, the other on his left, in his kingdom," Matt. xx. 21, or than Peter," Behold we have forsaken all, and followed thee: what shall we have therefore?" Matt. xix. 27. Nor were even they fully instructed in the spiritual nature of his kingdom, until they
"Blessed be He that cometh in the name of THE LORD," Ps. cxviii. 26, was universally understood of THE MESSIAH, and applied by the multitude to JESUS, Matt. xxi. 9, Heb. x. 37.