Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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blows aimed so adroitly and delivered so powerfully that the pop-
ulace rejoiced in the discomfiture of the rulers. In all other par-
ticulars he so carefully avoided publicity and general popularity
that to one of his biographers at least (Mark iii. 17) were recalled
the striking words of Isaiah (xlii. 1-4): " Behold my servant whom
I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delighteth : I have put
my spirit upon him ; he shall bring forth judgment to the nations,
lie shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the
street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking tlax
shall he not quench." To us at a distance this reticence, with this
power, seems to be marvellous. To those who were in daily and
full sight of both it must have produced a wonderful impression.
So great was the crowd that his friends procured for him a
small boat, which could be used as a kind of movable pulpit, so
that from it he could preach to the people on the

i • i i i i i l • A movable pulpit.

beach at a distance which should not render his

voice inaudible, while it should save him from the pressure of the

crowd. There might also have been the additional reason of being

able to go quickly from one side of the lake to the other, and thiifl
elude the machinations of his enemies.



CHAPTER III.



THE TWELVE.



It was a crisis with Jesus. He had attained immense popular-
ity with the masses, and had aroused the deadly hatred of power-
a cnsis. Matthew ful ecclesiastics and politicians. The posture of
x.; Markm.; Lukevi. j^ s a ff a j rs was &uc \i that it became him to move

with great caution, and to act with great despatch. We have
learned what his opinions of himself were, and have seen some-
thing of his character by his words and acts in the emergencies
into which his career brought him. He must have had the sa-
gacity to see now that there was only one of two courses before
him : to go forward in what he believed to be the establishing of
the kingdom of God, or to retreat, give up the mission, and retire
into the utmost privacy and draw out an insignificant life, and
leave the world merely a torso of a memory. To do the former
was certain death ; to do the latter was an abandonment of the
Hessiahship.

Out of Capernaum he went to a neighboring mountain alone,
and spent the night, we must suppose, in looking the dread near
a night in a moun- f uture in the face. He must have canvassed all
tain - the probabilities on both sides. It must have

been a night of torture to him. But he saw his way clear, and
came forth in the morning prepared to walk it at all hazards. He
must not take measures to avoid the supreme fate, if death were
necessary to achieve the great result he had set before himself as
the mission of his life. But he must not both die and fail. He
must manage himself and his affairs in such a manner that before
his enemies could kill him he should have so implanted the germ
of his doctrines in the world that it would grow after his depar-
ture. He must so instruct others in the kingdom of God that
they might be able to place the torch of light in the upturned
hands of the coming generations, lie must so breathe his spirit
into other souls that even when dead he could through them
cause his religion to live and grow in the hearts of men.



THE TWELVE. 219

When the morning came lie called together all those who, from
whatever motive, had followed him, or shown attachment to his
person, or interest in his movements. And from

Selection of the Twelve

them he set apart twelve men, who were to be
near his person, to be carefully instructed in his doctrine, to re-
ceive of his power to cure physical and mental maladies, and to
l)c representatives to the world of the principles he had taught.
It will be interesting to make a study of the character of each of
the men whom Jesus would put in this extraordinary position, the
men whom his choice has made immortal. We shall take them
in the order in which they are named in the sixth chapter of
Luke, calling attention to the fact that they are there catalogued
in pairs, as we are informed in the sixth chapter of Mark they
were sent out " by two and two." It will also be noticed that the
first seven had received some kind of call from Jesus before this
definite setting apart to the Apostleship.

1. At the head of the list stands the name of Simox I., whom
Jesus named Peter. Simon, "v~v, signifies " hearer." Ky^a*;, Ce-
phas, or Ueroo?, Peter, signifies "rock." It will

1 r ? ;-> ^ Peter.

be recollected that when Jesus first saw him this
name was given theApostle. (Matt.xvi. IS.) His father's name was
Jonas ; his mother's name, according to tradition, was Johanna.
lie resided originally at Bethsaida, and afterward in his own house,
or the house of his mother-in-law, in Capernaum. (Luke xiv. 38.)
BCe was brought up to his father's occupation ; he was a fisherman
on the lake of Tiberias. This was not a very exalted employment,
nor was it degrading. It developed his courage, his watchfulness,
his fortitude, in theself denyinglaborson the sea, the night-watches,
the frequent and trying postponements which men who make;
their livelihood by fishing often encounter, lie became a rough,

ready, impetuous, hard man. lie had the vices of his class, lie

was not always truthful, and he was profane. Wo judge these to

have been the vices of his youth, as we generally find that when
a fierce temptation assails a man in advanced life ir brings out

his earliesl vices. When Peter's crisis came, in the hour of his
Master's trial, he used both falsehood and profanity for his own
safety. (John wiii. L5, 17, 25 27.) tie waa qoI a wholly unedu-
cated man.'' lie niibt have enjoyed the benefil of the public

* Smith well remarks thai the rceived tint thej (Peter and John)

meat in Act iat "the oonnei] were unlearned and Ignorant mi



220



SECOND AND THIRD PASSOVER IN THE LIFE OF JESUS.



schools maintained by the community in which he lived, which
the young were compelled to attend, according to a law enacted
by Simon Ben-Shelach, one of the great leaders of the Pharisaic
party under the Asmonean dynasty. The Holy Scriptures and the
history of his country he probably knew from his earliest child-
hood. The regular attendance upon the synagogue service would
have been a species of education. And these remarks apply to
all the disciples. Moreover, in the case of Peter there was the
culture which came from trade and intercourse with cultivated
foreigners. He seems to have picked up some rudimental knowl-
edge of the Greek tongue, and to have profited generally by
mingling with his fellow-men of diverse education.

He was not a very poor man. His father, Jonas, was a person
in good circumstances. Fishing was lucrative. The great popu-
lation of the district, the influx of people from among the culti-
vated heathen, and the pleasure-seekers whom the beauty of the
lake attracted, must have afforded a good market. He may have
also acquired money by his marriage, as the house to which he
invited Jesus and his fellow-disciples would seem to have been
roomy, and to have been his property, or that of his mother-in-
law. He makes mention of the sacrifices which he had incurred
to follow his Master, and Jesus does not deny that they were
great.* Peter seems to have married in early life, and to have
been a devoted and affectionate husband. Clement of Alexan-
dria, whose testimony is made more valuable by the fact that he
was connected with the church founded by St. Mark, tells us from
very ancient traditions, as other historians do, that the name of
Peter's wife was Perpetua, by whom he had a daughter, and per-
haps other children, and that she suffered martyrdom. Paul
informs us that Peter was accustomed to be accompanied by his
wife on his apostolic journeys.

The quality Peter most lacked is precisely that which seems to
be indicated by his name, firmness. In no way does the word
"rock" recall Peter, except as it reminds us of his hardness.



/lot at all incompatible with the state-
ment made above, and the translation
of this passage in the authorized version
is rather exaggerated, the word ren-
dered "unlearned" being rather equiv-
alent to "laymen" — men of ordinary



education, not specially trained in the
schools of the rabbis — so that the term
might have been applied to a man thor-
oughly conversant with the Scriptures.
* Matt. xix. 27.



TEE TWELVE.



221



He was Hard and unstable. He asked Jesus to invite him to
eorne to him on the water, and when bidden lie started off boldly,
soon lost courage, and began to sink.* At the last supper which
Jesus had with his apostles, the Master offered to wash the feet
of his disciples as a symbol. Peter vehemently refused, but at a
word from Jesus impetuously thrust forward his hands and hid
head.f When his Master was betrayed he frantically undertook,
single-handed, to fight the whole body of Roman soldiers ; but
when Jesus ordered him to put up his sword he fled, and left his
Master in the hands of his foes.;}: With another disciple he fol-
lowed Jesus into the palace of the high-priest, and when the
crisis came he denied all knowledge of his Master, and did this
with oaths and vehement protestations.§ After the Christian
society began to take form, he was in the front of the movement
to baptize converted Gentiles; but when opposition came from
the Judaizing element in the Christian community, he inglorious-
ly abandoned his position. ||

And yet there was something so daring and dashing, so eagle
swift, so unthoughtful of consequences, so sympathetic and elas-
tic in this man, as to make him most receptive of such spiritual
influences as the character of Jesus would produce upon tho
human heart, and most capable of being the ardent pioneer
preacher of a new faith, lie led the band of Apostles as a bold
chieftain would his clan.

2. The next Apostle in the catalogue is Andrew, whose name is
Greek, 'Av&peas, and signifies "manly." He may have had a
Hebrew name, and this Greek surname been

Andrew.

given him as indicative of the manliness .

] John xiii. 0, K, {).

J John xviii. ID; Matt. \:e given to
children born in the Bacerdotal circles, and was probably rendered



• Mark*. 85. % Acta L La

f Matt. xxvi. 87. § Acts xii. 1.



224 8EC0ND AND TniRD PASSOVER IN THE LIFE OF JESUS.

all the more popular by the circumstances of marvel which had
attended the birth of John the Baptist, and by the general hope
that " God's gift," Jehovah's special gift of grace, the Messiah,
was about to be bestowed upon the world.

John must have been quite young when called to the Aposto-
late, as we learn that he was still alive in the days of the Emperor
Trajan. The appearance of John the Baptist at Jordan roused
the religious fervor of the young man, who became a disciple of
his namesake. He was an earnest seeker after truth, and this led
him to follow Jesus on John's saying that he was the Lamb of God
that taketh away the sins of the world, and this predominant
characteristic, notwithstanding his faults of temper, won him the
love of Jesus. With Peter and James we find him in the cham-
ber where the dead daughter of Jairus was brought to life, amid
the dazzling splendors of the Transfiguration, at the solemn an-
nouncement of the impending destruction of the holy city, in the
garden of Gethsemane, at the fearful agony, and near the cross
as Jesus expired. lie had nothing of that soft effeminate manner
which is so usually assigned to him.

He never married. He was very passionate, narrow-minded,
ambitious, and vain, as is shown in his hatred of the Samaritans,
his desire to consume a village with fire, his attempt to extort a
pledge from Jesus to share the highest honors of the new dynasty
between himself and his brother, and the way he alludes to him-
self in his writings. But he loved the truth, and he loved Jesus
with a supreme passion, which subsequently ripened and mellowed
his character into exceeding sweetness and beauty. And Jesus
loved him. He leaned on the bosom of the Master at the Last
Supper, and received from him the tender consignment of his
mother when the Master died. To him and Peter, Mary of Mag-
dala brought the news of the resurrection of Jesus. Although
Peter had denied the Lord, the old friendship survived, and the
penitent friend was received again with warmth. John grew out
of his narrowness so much as to lose all his prejudices against the
Samaritans, and to become willing to reoeive them into the Chris-
tian society, in which his subsequent position was one of honor
and usefulness, organizing, teaching, encouraging. There is
much legendary notice of his latest years, some very trivial and
some very beautiful, but not much that is reliable or worth men-
tioning in a history.



THE TWELVE.



225



5. The Apostles are catalogued in groups of fours, Simon Peter
being at the head of the first, and Philip of the second quaternion.
Of this Apostle the Gospels give lis very slight
memorials. He is said to have been of Bethsaida,
the city of Andrew and Peter, whether a native or inhabitant
does not appear.* It is to be noticed that Jesus is said to have
found him (John i. 43), as though he had been seeking him, and
that to Philip, first of all the Apostles, does he address that re-
markable appeal, " Follow me," which was to become the terms
of Christian discipleship for all succeeding ages. He was quite
eager to declare the discovery he had made of the character of
Jesus to Nathanael, with whom he seems to have been in relations
of intimacy, both being men of earnest simple-heartedness, and both
looking for the Deliverer. Yet the faith of Philip was not such
as to make him ready to expect any miraculous display. At the
feeding of the great multitude, Jesus addressed Philip specially,
as to how to provide food for so large a number : f and this he
did " to try him." It does not easily appear why this should have
been done, as Philip does not seem strikingly weak in the faith
which soars above the externals, as Chrysostom suggests. But his
calculation of the money in hand and the cost of feeding such a
multitude shows that Philip was not expecting a miracle.

The next glimpse we have of him is in John xii., where we are
told that certain Greeks who had come up to the feast had a great
desire to see Jesus, and, attracted probably by the Greek form of
Philip's name, applied to him to introduce them to his Master.
"With a modesty to be noticed, Philip first goes to his friend
Andrew, and they together convey to Jesus an expression of the
desire of the Greeks. He must have heard the voice from heaven
which replied to the remarkably striking words of Jesus, which
we shall consider when we reach them in the regular narrative.
Philip probably brooded over the address, li Father^ save me!
Father, glorify thy name!" and so when, in his latest interviews
with his disciples, Jesus spoke of going to the "Father," the



* John i. 44. Greswcll calls attention
to John's use of the prepositions ano
and *£ , the former meaning an inhabi-
tant, and the latter a native of the place
mentioned, i Di.s.s, it. xxxii.) The for-
mer is the preposition used In this
passage. Dut Alford thinks this dis-
15



tinotdon futile, (ov. Test., in loco.)
f John vi. 5. Bengal, on thi

sage, suggests that Philip was one of
cjplea to whom the domestic at*
Lents for the oompanj were com-

mitted. Bee p. 1 1">, ante.



226



SECOND AND TOTED PASSOYEK EST THE LIFE OF JESUS.



Nathanael.



childlike simplicity of Philip gave vent to the request, " Lord
Bhow us the Father, and it sufficcth us."

This is the last we see of Philip, unless we suppose him to have
been one of the two unnamed disciples in that group to whom
Jesus is said to have exhibited himself after his resurrection, in a
scene described in John's last chapter.

6. Of the excellent Nathanael, who was of Cana in Galilee,
only two notices are made, both in John's Gospel : one in the

early ministry of Jesus, and one after his resur-
rection. When Philip was first called by Jesus,
shortly after the terrible passage of his temptation, he went im-
mediately in search of his friend Nathanael, whom he brought to
the person announced by John the Baptist as the Messiah. Upon
sight, Jesus declared Nathanael to be " an Israelite indeed, in
whom was no guile." (John i. 47.) And then no more mention
is made of him until after the resurrection, when he is named in
the company of the fishermen who had such a fruitless night of
toil, to be followed by a morning in which the crucified and buried
Master should reveal himself to them. (John xxi. 2.)

And this is all that is said of this guileless man whom Jesus so
commended. But, being thus associated with the chief of the
Apostles, and praised above them all by the Master of the com-
pany, it is perplexing to find so little mention of Nathanael. This
has led to the belief that Bartholomew is the same as Nathanael,
the former signifying son of Tholmai, being a surname of the lat-
ter, as Bar jonas was of Simon. The reason assigned for this be-
lief is, that John mentions Nathanael twice and Bartholomew
never, while the name of Bartholomew occurs in the other three
Gospels, but that of Nathanael is totally omitted. In John,
Nathanael is associated with Philip in both instances, while in
the other gospels Bartholomew is in like manner always associated
with Philip *

If Nathanael and Bartholomew be the same individual^ he was
associated after the ascension with the body of the Apostles, as
we learn from Acts i. 13.

7. Matthew is the surname of Levi. He calls himself " the
publican," in his own Gospel, but is not so called by the other



* See Matt. x. 3 ; Mark iii. 18; and
Lake vi. 14 ; and p. 119, ante.
f St. Augustine de:iics that Nathanael



was an Apostle ; so does St. Gregory.
Others have held that Nathanael and
Bartholomew were different persons.



THE TWELVE. 227

biographers. "We learn that he was the son of Alphams. lie
must have been a man of low estate and of gen-

. Levi or Matthew.

eral bad character, otherwise he would not have
accepted the position of sub-collector of taxes, a post filled only
by the meanest of the Jews. The real publican was one who
farmed the taxes of a province, paying so much to the empire for
the privilege. The sub-collectors (portitores) were those to whom
the collection of the taxes was relet. The former were generally
Roman knights; the latter, mercenary inhabitants of the province,
who made all they could by oppressing the people. In the caso
of a Jew, a jportitor was a special object of dislike, as he kept
before the Hebrew mind perpetually the sign of the national
degradation. Of course no Jew of any respectability would ac-
cept such an odious office. Matthew (x. 3) frankly acknowledges
that he had fallen that low, a circumstance which the other biog-
raphers refrain from mentioning.

Of this man, in whom Jesus saw something of a religious cle-
ment, and whom he called to be one of the earliest and chief
propagators of his religion, this is all we know, except that he
contributed one of the four collections of Memorabilia of his
great Master, upon which the world depends for its knowledge of



Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 22 of 77)