Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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as even embodying the popular idea. It was written after the < lap-
tivity. Can any man find in this, and in the text from Chronicles,
the slightest trace of Persian origin '. And this is all, except a few
passages such as 2 Samuel xix. .?•_', and 1 Kings v. 4, in which

the word mtan is admittedly properly translated u adversary ."

* I believe the Septuagint generally, I "adversary."
p >rhau» invariably, translates the word I


The Jews, then, did not find their conception of Satan in the
Captivity. They never adopted the Oriental mythology. Nor
did Jesus adopt their notions. Tke Satan of his teaching is a
revelation, as we shall see as we make progress with this history.
We shall find that Satan is a person spoken of as thoroughly
individualized in the mind of Jesus, and subsequently of las fol-
lowers, and his existence repeatedly referred to, " asserted or im-
plied as a familiar and important truth."

Jesus believed himself to have been assailed by Satan, and as
we know nothing to the contrary, we believe so too. But he no-
where states, and we have no right to affirm, cor-
.. r , tainly no right to consider it an article of faith,

that Satan appeared to him in bodily form as
a man, a " member of the Sanhedrim," or a " Scribe." When a
cunning evil man discovers a pure and great spirit about to en-
gage in a great work, he offers resistance and presents obstacles.
The attractions of the universe bring them face to face, as a neg-
atively electrified body is drawn towards one that is positively
electrified. Satan found Jesus as he -finds you and me, and lie
instantly opened an attack on his virtue.

Whether Jesus saw Satan or not, and held this colloquy in ar-
ticulate words, or had the suggestion presented to him, and from
his inmost spirit made the response, we cannot
^ i 1C T«- e01 7 know. Nor is it important. The spiritual his-

has less clmicul- L ■*• .

ties tory of Jesus comes forward as well on either the-

ory ; and on either we have all the lessons neces-
sary for our instruction. The latter is free, however, from the
embarrassments of the former, as before mentioned, such as the
bodily visible tempter taking the person of Jesus to the battle-
ments of the Temple and the top of the mountain. But if Al-
mighty God gave Satan temporary power to do these things, as
he is represented in the book " Job " to have done, it need
give trouble only to such historians as strive to read the history of
God's world with God totally ignored. The writer of these pages
believes as much in the existence' of God as he does in the exis-
tence of man.

The first temptation of Jesus was through the body, by " the
lust of the flesh." The Tempter said : " If you be the Son of
God, command that these stones be made bread." It was well put.
Jesus had just received at Jordan a marvellous confirmation oi


his opinion of himself as the Son of Gcd. If he was the Son

of God lie was the Messiah. If the Messiah, he

could work miracles. Here was a ease where a The first tem P-

-, j A , t," .. ,. tation: the " lust

miracle seemed needed. J3nt it was a temptation .„ , L fl .„

to place himself out of the harmony of the uni-
versal order, and to do so for a selfish purpose. He replied in tha
language of the holy boohs : " It is written, Man shall not live by
bread alone, but by every word that proceedfeth out of the mouth
of God." It was a human and a manly response. Whatever may
have been his inmost thoughts of himself, whatever profound and
inscrutable self-consciousness, he always knew himself to l>e a
man. He meets the tempter on the platform of common hu-
manity, and there fights out the battle of virtue. The passage he
quotes in reply is from Deuteronomy viii. 3, and occurs in the his-
tory of the Temptation of the people of Israel, in which tempta-
tion they fell, even as Adam fell when he was tempted. It im-
plies, not that men are to put aside the ordinary food of the body,
but that when a man is in the discharge of duty he may depend
upon God's providential arrangements. " Word" does not occur
in the original. It is "every — [thing] — that proceedeth from
God's mouth," every expression of His will. Even when men
eat " bread," they do not live by bread alone. There is a vitality
maintained by the Father of spirits in men which makes the
bread productive of growth or reparative of decay.

Jesus might have yielded to the temptation. Then had he
parted with his Messiahship, his ordination to the leadership of
those striving to be bravely good. He would no longer have been
a Deliverer, lie would himself have been a captive of his lusts.

The second temptation* addressed the spirit of Jesus through
the intellect, "the lust of the eye." Jesus was present bodily or
by vivid mental representation, it matters not
which, in Jerusalem, and "on the pinnacle of '^

, „ mi • ■ r ti0n: "thelustof

the temple" The precise spol is oi course not t , „. ,. vc »
ascertainable, but a probable suggestion! is that
Jesus was placed on the lofty porch which overhung the valley
..I' the Kedron, where the steep Bide of the valley was added to
the height of the temple wall, as described by Josephus,} and

* It will be perceived that I follow
the order of [iuke rather than of Mat-
thew, as being more I

] Smith's .V. T

j Ant, xv. . 1, g 5.


made a depth down which it was terrific to gaze. Then the
tempter said, " Cast thyself down." lie followed up the sug-
gestion by an abbreviated but verbatim quotation from the sacred
book, namely the 91st Psalm: "It is written, He shall give His
angels charge over thee, to keep thee ; and in their hands they
shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." An
assurance given to the children of the Almighty God in general
must a fortiori apply to the Son of God, one who had been pro-
nounced so by a voice out of the heavens. " Now, then," said
the tempter, "perform a brilliant miracle. Fling thyself from
this* height, and when thou touchest the ground the people will
flock to thee, and without question hail thee as the Messiah." It
addressed itself principally to the imagination of Jesus. It was
one form of miracle which the Messiah, such as the Jews looked
for, was traditionally expected to perform. Jesus replied, " It is
written again, * Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." f To
obey the seductive suggestion would have been so grateful to a
selfish vanity. But he repels it. The Divine Providence must
never be invoked for selfish ends.

The third form of temptation assailed Jesus through the pas-
sions, — " the pride of life," ambition, " the last infirmity of noble
minds." Satan made to pass before the mind of

Third tempta- j esus a panorama of the kingdoms of the world,
tion: "the pride . . , . . , TT P , , ,

of life " their power and their glory. lie professed to be

owner and master of these. He tendered them
to Jesus on the solitary condition that Jesus should pay him
homage. As if he had said : You came to be the Messiah. ' You
can accomplish your message better by a partnership with me.
You can at once go to the head of the world. You are the Son
of God : join me : acknowledge my world-sovereignty, and then
I will remove all obstructions from your path to supreme power
and glory ! It was a proposition to use physical force for the
accomplishment of moral results — to turn from the path of suffer-
ing and labor and martyrdom for the truth. It was the State
proposing an alliance with the Church, for the accomplishment
of a good end by sinister means. Put it involved homage to Evil,
tribute t > the Chief of Evil.

Whatever may be said of the other temptations, this must be

* The word jh/iv, translated "again," I rather "in another place."
ioes not signify " on the contrary," but I \ Dcut. vi. 1G.


admitted to have been internal. The physical conditions of the
planet are such that there cannot possibly be an elevation from
which all the kingdoms of the world could be seen, and there is
no conceivable position in which their "power" and "glory"
could have been visible.

It is to be observed that this temptation assailed Jesus on the
Messiah side of his nature and expectations. lie now, if never
before, believed himself to be the Messiah. lie
was about to exhibit himself as such to his nation. Assault on the
The people of the Jews, as he knew, held that Je ",
the Messiah upon his arrival should first break
the Roman yoke, and then, by a series of conquests, military and
moral, reduce all the nations to the rule of the Jews and to the
religion of Judaism. Why should not Jesus satisfy this natural
expectation? Why not abandon the method of leavening the
world by the sure but very slow process of the operation of truth,
and transmute it at once by a single stroke of divine power, such
as he could have exercised if he were the Son of God ? The very
attempt would have been homage to Satan, a bending of the knee
to Evil. lie was willing for this wonderfully endowed young man
to exercise all the authority and enjoy all the glory of the most
splendid viceroyalty of the world, while he retained supreme

The reply of Jesus is : " Get thee hence, Satan, for it is writ-
ten, Thou shalt do homage to the Lord thy God, and him only
shalt thou worship." The answer shows that Jesus now certainly
recognized the instigator of his evil thoughts. The suggestion
of idolatry of a very foul kind, the worship of the Spirit of Evil,
unveils the Satanic character of the tempter, and Jesus repels

There is an expression in Luke (iv. 0) worth notice. Satan

says: "All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them;

for that is delivered to me, and to whomsoever I
... _ . . ,, _ , . . . . . Satan's admission.

will 1 give it. lliat to which special attention

is called is the acknowledgment of his inferiority by the Chief
of Evil Spirits, amid intense braggadocio. lie had ii"t this
dominion of personal natural right, but had been permitted t
• liter upon it. The whole statement is a falsehood, when asserted

by the Evil One ; but the subservience and limit which he admits

is a characteristic of the Satan of whom Jesus .-peaks, whicl


tinguishes him from the Airiman of tlic Magian mythology,

from which Jesus and the -lews are Baid to Lave derived their

notion of Satan, and is very important in this beginning of our

examination of whal Je m teaches as to the Chief of Evil.

Another general remark must be made. It is observable that

Je ii never attempts to rebut temptation with logic. He has no

argument with Satan. He confronts him with

'' ' l the Word of God. He quotes the sacred books of

Scripture. _ '

his people. This homage paid to the Old T<
menl Scriptures by a mind endowed naturally with greater gifts
than that ;i\ id, or any of the prophets, or any other
human being, gives those hooks an exalted and enduring impor-

The history tells us that when the tempter departed angels

"came and ministered" to Jesus. We have seen the statement

of the announcement of his birth by angels, hoih

Ministry of an- .. \ .

ls before and alter it occurred. J heir immediate

attendance upon Jesus brings them nearer to (his
biography, and as this portion is taken to he autobiographic, it is
the first, mention made by Jesus of these superior beings. It is
the propei- place to institute an inquiry into the position which they
held in Jewish literature and thought before the birth of Jesus,
as preparatory to what he himself teaches upon the subject.

It is to he noticed how little is given in the Old Testament
writings to gratify the curiosity of man. Of that with which he is
supposed to have immediate and great concern there is much
Btated. The heavenly world, the residence of good spirits, is fre-
quently spoken of, and many things told of its inhabitants, not as
doctrines of religion hut as fads.

They are regarded as the highest order of created intelligences,

all other creatures being below them in dignity and station. The

prophet Isaiah says : "In the year that king
Angela the high- ....... ' , , ' . .

est of creatures UZZiab died 1 saw also Jehovah sitting upon a

throne, high and lifted up, and his train lilted the

Temple. Above it Stood the 8t rfi hit : each one had six wings.

And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah

of hosts ! the whole earth is full of his glory ! " This nearness to

the central throne of the universe is set forth also in Ezekiel, and
Daniel. The former says (x. J): " Then I looked, and, beholdj


in tlic firmament that was above the head of the chembim, thcro
appeared over them as it were a sapphire-stone, as the appearance
of the likeness of a throne." Also (in xxviii. 14;: "Thou art the
anointed cherub that covereth ; and I have set thee so: thou wast
upon the holy mountain of (rod; thou hast walked up and down
in midst of the stones of fire." in Daniel x. L3, the angel .Michael
is called " one of the chief princes ; " and in xii. 1, " the great
prince." In 2 Chron. xviii. IS, it is written: "Again he said,
Therefore hear the word of the Lord : I saw the Lord sitting upon
His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand
and on His left." In 2 Kings xix. 15, Jehovah is represented aa
dwelling among the cherubim.

They are represented as powerful creatures. In Psalm ciii. 20,
David exclaims: "Bless the Lord, ye angels that excel in
strength." Evidence of their strength is sup-

, . . . , , . , Thoy ;irc pow-

poscd to be given in the statements that m three eriul cn .. llun . s

days an angel, as an agent of God, destroyed
seventy thousand persons out of Israel and Judall (2 Sam. \.\iv.) ;
and that in one night an angel destroyed the army of Sennache-
rib, numbering one hundred and eighty-five thousand men (2 Kings
xix.). J>ut iii the latter case certainly the "Angel of Jehovah"
is meant*, and of him we shall find more hereafter.

Their activity is set forth in such expression civ. -1,:

" Who maketh His angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of lire."
Many things are ascribed to cherubim and sera- „,

J o They arc active.

phim. In the ninth chapter of Daniel we are
told that during the time it required to utter a prayer the a
Gabriel came to him from the supreme heaven. Dr. Dwight
says (System of TJi£ology y vol. i.) : " This is a rapidity exceeding
all the comprehension of the mosl active imagination; surj
ing the amazing swiftness of light."
Their intelligence was sel forth in the ascription to them of

u eye.-,'' and, as in K/.ekiel, of the " face of man," the USlial Orien-
tal symbol of intelligence. The name " cherub " ,.., . . ....

1 heir intclli

means " fulness of knowledge." In the Bpeech

of Mephibosheth to David tlie wisdom of the angels is implied :

" I lnt n iv lord tlie king is as an angel of God : do therefore what

od in thine e 2 Sam. xix. 27.)

In every mention of them, or allusion to them, their holi
Beoma to be implied, aa in Daniel iv. L3, 23j \ iii. L3 \


xxviii. 12. More than in any precise statement does the air of
__.,,. this thought pervade all the Jewish holy books,

Their holiness. . , , . -, -. . r

written by men diversely educated and living far


Their numbers are described as immense. In Genesis xxxii. 2,
Jacob is said to have called the place Malianaim, signifying

Their numbers " two hosts or camps," for when he met the an-
gels of God he said, " This is Jehovah's host."
The same idea is in 1 Chron. xii. 22 : " For at that time, day by
day, they came unto David to help him, until it was a great he .t,
like the host of God." The Supreme Being is repeatedly called
"Jehovah, God 'of Hosts." David, in Psalm lxviii., exclaims :
" The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousand's of

But whatever spirituality, intelligence, power, activity, and

holiness are ascribed to them, there is always implied an infinite

distance between them and Jehovah. The well-
Infinitely below . T , . ^ _ . , .
God known passage m Job iv. lb, is very emphatic :

" His angels he charged with folly." " AVe some-
times find angels, in their terrene manifestations, eating and
drinking (Gen. xviii. 8 ; xix. 3) ; but in Judg. xiii. 15, 10, the
angel who appeared to Manoah declined, in a very pointed man-
ner, to accept his hospitality. The manner in which the Jews ob-
viated the apparent discrepancy, and the sense in which they un-
derstood such passages, appear from the apocryphal book of Tobit
(xii. 19), where the angel is made to say: 'It seems to you, in-
deed, as though I did eat and drink with you ; but I use invisible
food which no man can see.' This intimates that they were sup-
posed to simulate when they appeared to partake of man's food,
but that yet they had food of their own proper to their natures.
Milton, who was deeply read in the 'angelic' literature, derides
these questions (Par. Lost, v. 433-430). But if angels do not
need food ; if their spiritual bodies are inherently incapable of
waste or death, it seems not likely that they gratuitously perform
an act designed, in all its known relations, to promote growth, t
repair waste, and to sustain existence." (See McClint< ck and
Strong's Ot/c, in loco.)

There are only dim suggestions of their employment in heaven
(as in 1 Kings xxii. 19 ; Isa. vi. 1-3 ; Dan. vii. 9, 10), intimating
most profound worship and adoration. But they are everywhere


spoken of as the agents of God's providence wlieii lie discharges
the functions of Supreme Moral Governor in
punishing the wicked and directing the good and
sustaining the despondent; as when they destroyed the first-born
of Egypt (Exod. xii. 23), guided Abraham's servant (Gen. xxiv
7, 40), and cheered Jacob at Bethel (Gen. xxviii. 12). In the
earlier history, the intercourse of the angels with men, repeatedly
hallowing familiar domestic life, is destitute of awfulness. This
is illustrated by the story told in Genesis xviii. For a season they
are not so frequently mentioned; but in the times of the Judges,
when the people were deprived of prophetic guidance, and in the
time of the Captivity, when they were especially exposed to the
influences of heathenism, these angelic visitations reappear, and
seem to have constituted God's special agency for communicating
with His chosen people. They then inspired awe. More and
more that feeling deepened. With Abraham's dignified and nat-
ural entertainment of the angels, as so graphically given in Gen-
esis xviii., contrast Gideon's apprehension (Judges vi. 22), and the
fright of the sons of Oman (1 Chron. xxi. 20), and David's fear
(1 Chron. xxi. 80), and the quaking and flight of Daniel's friends
(Dan. x. 7), and Daniel's own speechlessness and swooning (Dan.
x. 8, 15, 17). This sentiment, as we shall sec, prevailed in the
popular mind in the times of Jesus, and always prevails in times
of materialistic tendencies and among peoples made gross by de-
votion to mere animal results.

In this connection there is a presentation in the Old Testament
writings which has of late years attracted great attention. Among
the an

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 11 of 77)