Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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Jesus. His reticence concerning himself is a remarkable display of
modesty in a biographer who had every temptation and occasion
to glorify himself as being so intimately associated with his hero.

8. The last of the second quaternion of Apostles was Thomas,
who is coupled with Matthew in Matt. x. 3, Mark iii. IS, and Luke
vi. 15. His name in Hebrew signifies "twin,"

° , , Thomas.

and is so translated by John, who calls him Did v-
mus, which is the Greek for "a twin." It is not known where he
was born. A tradition, however, indicates Antioch as the place.
There are three prominent incidents mentioned of his connection
with the history of Jesus. "When hi- Master determined t . ► go to
Bethany, upon learning that Lazarus was dead, Thomas appealed
to his colleagues to accompany Jesns and share his peril n a jonr-
ney which Thomas believed would prove ruinous to the whole
party. (John xi. 10.) At the Last Supper, when Jesus had been
speaking in an exalted and poetic strain of lii- departure into the
realms of the unseen world, Thomas Bhowed his prosy, incredu-
lous nature by saying, " Lord, we know not whither thou goest,
and how can we know the way \ " (John xiv. 5.) After the ( Yu-


cifixion his brother Apostles reported to hirn that they had seen
Jesus. (John xx. 25.) lie broke into the vehement exclama-
tion, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and
put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into
his side, I will not believe."

These incidents show that he was skeptical, slow to believe,
demanding unusual proofs, — that he was not sanguine, but rather
despondent, — and that lie loved Jesus ardently. Although he re-
garded the journey to Bethany as almost certain destruction, his
love for Jesus prompted him to go and die with him. Although
he could see nothing before him in the future, and his practical,
matter-of-fact mind could not appreciate the spiritual, and dark-
ness lay on the path into the unseen world, his love for Jesus
made him long to know how to follow him in those paths which
the Master dimly indicated. Although he would not believe
that Jesus had risen from the dead, and although he demanded
what at first sight seems to be a most gross and repulsive method
of conviction, the very form in which he puts it shows how the
person of Jesus, in the mangled condition in which he had last
seen it, was the most affecting picture of all things retained by his

Beyond this we know nothing, but that he was with the Apostles
after the Ascension. (Acts i. 13.)

9. In the lead of the last class of the Apostles is the other
James, whom we distinguish as James II. lie is also called
James the Less. lie was the son of Mary by
Alphaeus, who was brother of Joseph, whom John
calls Clopas, and thus cousin to Jesus. I am satisfied that this
James was not the one who is called " the brother of the Lord."
None of the children born of Mary to Joseph after the birth of
Jesus became believers in him until after the resurrection. They
were not, therefore, among the Apostles. On one occasion they
became indignant at him for what they considered his intemperate
zeal and excessive labors in preaching, so much so that they
were going to lay hold on him and compel him to suspend his
work. (Mark iii. 20, 21, 31.) This James, the Apostle, was in-
side the house while that James, the brother, stood outside with
his mother. During the lifetime of Jesus James II. is no more
seen, except at this organization of the Apostolatc, when he
and his brother Jude are in the catalogue f the twelve.



After the Resurrection lie continued with the Apostles, and is sc

Twenty-four years afterward M'e find him still at Jerusalem, and
now holding a high position and discharging important ecclesiasti-
cal functions. Saul of Tarsus had been a convert to Jesus by the
space of seventeen years, and then visited Jerusalem, where he was
introduced to the Christian brethren by Barnabas, and found
James sharing the management of the infant society with Peter.
All allusions to him afterwards seem to set him forth as the Bishop
at Jerusalem, that is, as chief pastor of the congregation and
President of the Apostolic Council.* A large number of quota-
tions might be made from the earliest Christian writers confirm-
ing this view.

So excellent was the character of this man that he obtained
among his countrymen the title which Aristides won from the
Greeks, " the Just." lie is represented as being held in great
reverence by the Jews, notwithstanding his connection with the
Christian sect. lie was a most strict and exemplary observer of
all the Jewish rites and ceremonies, so much so that there is a
tradition, hardly probable as to the fact, but showing his lofty
reputation, that he was allowed to enter the holiest place. A
Stringent ritualist himself, he was so very liberal that he did not
believe the yoke and burden of Levitieism should be laid on new
converts to the Christian faith who came in from among the Gen-
tiles. He had a practical mind, and was manifestly the man of
common sense among the Apostles, as his admirable "Epistle"
^hows. That letter reminds us of his work in Jerusalem, looking
after the Jewish converts, both resident and visitors.

There is a tradition, handed down from Ilegcsippus, a Christian
of Jewish origin, who lived in the second century, as to the man-
ner of the lite anil the mode of the death of James the Just I Ie
was a Xa/.arite, abstaining from animal food and Btrong drink,

and oils and bath-. lie wore only linen clothing, and prayed
so much that his knees grew as hard :i- a camel's. And thus he
came to have great influence of the ] pie because of his sanc-
tity. When the doctrine "i the resurrection of Jesus began t'i

* Compare the following passages:
Acts xii. IT; Acts w. 1.'!, I!); GUI. ii

!» ; Acts \\i. 18. [n the passage in Qal
pre eminence i^ assigned turnover Peter

and John, and with them he is
a "pillar in tie' church." n his first
. ' Paul seems t" have mel that
James, "the Lord's brother." -Gal L 19.


have great power of the people, some of the Scribes and Phari-
sees placed James in one of the galleries of the Temple, that he
might teach the people about Jesns, expecting, it would seem, that
he should teach them what would correct their impression that
Jesus had risen from the dead. When questioned he answered :
" Why ask ye me about Jesus the Son of Man ? He sits in heaven,
on the right hand of great power, and will come on the clouds of
heaven." This convinced many, who, on the weighty authority of
James, cried aloud, " Ilosannah to the Son of David." This
made the Scribes and Pharisees so angry that they threw him
from the gallery, and stoned him, while he prayed for his perse-
cutors ; and a fellow took the club with which he was accustomed
to beat out the clothes, and despatched the Just James by striking
him a blow on the head. The tradition further states that they
buried him on the spot where he was lulled, and erected a monu-
ment to him. While there are several points of difficulty in this
tradition, it comes from so early an age, and is so vivid a picture
of a good man, and, as to his general character, so confirmatory
of what we know of him from other sources, that we furnish it
to our readers.*

Josephus {Ant., xx. 0) gives a different account of the death of
James. He says that, in the interval between the recall of Festus
and the entry of Albums upon the procuratorship, the younger
Ananus, the high-priest, called together the Sanhedrim and pro-
cured the condemnation of James the Just, whom lie delivered
over to be stoned ; that the people complained to Albinus, who
was angered by the proceeding, and that Agrippa was moved tc
deprive Ananus of the office of high-priest. AVhether this be
strictly accurate or not, we have in it another confirmation of the
tradition of the high respect in which James was held by the

10. The next in the Apostolic Catalogue is the name of Judas,
"not Iscariot." Matthew (x. 3) calls him "Lebbeus, whose
surname is Thaddeus ; " Mark (iii. 18), simply
" Thaddeus ; " Luke (vi. 10) and the writer of the
Acts of the Apostles -(i. 13), " Judas of James." That these
three names attached to one person I think must be conceded ;
but that Judas was " the brother " of James is not so clear.

* See Eusebius ii. 23, and Routh's Iicliquce Sacra, Ox. ed. p. 208.


Indeed, it is contrary to the usage of language. " The son of
James" is probably the proper tilling of the ellipsis. But of what
James we have now no means of knowing:. 11 e is not to be con-
founded with the Judas who wrote the General Epistle, who was
not of the number of the Apostles. (Jude, ver. 17.) Of the Apos-
tle Judas we have no record except in John's Gospel (xiv. 22),
where mere mention is made of his taking part in the last con-
versation which the disciples had with Jesus, and asking him how
it was that he would manifest himself to them and not to the
world, showing the material views his disciples had of Jesus up
to the last moment of his mission, and how little they sympathized
with his lofty spiritual ideas.

11. Simon II. we so call to distinguish him from Simon
Peter. Matthew"" and Markf call him "Simon the Canaanite;"
Luke X speaks of him as " Simon called Zelotes,"

and in the Acts § of the Apostles he is mentioned
as " Simon Zelotes." All we know of this man we gather from
the names " Canaanite" and " Zelotes," both words signifying the
same thing, and given to distinguish him. The writers of the
New-Testament memorabilia fail to record anything he may ever
have said or done. The descriptive addendum to his name does
not imply that he was a descendant of Canaan, nor that he was a
native or inhabitant of Cana. The Greek word in each case
would have been different. It comes from the Syro-Chaldec word
Kanean (or Kanaun) which has its Greek equivalent in " Zelotes,"
and signifies "zealous." Simon most probably had belonged to
a sect who exhibited great zeal against all who proposed any
innovation on the Mosaic ritual. At a later period it degenerated
into a fierce political sect, whose outrages are chronicled by
Josephus.| Simon probably brought to the work of the Christian
ministry the warmth of character which had formerly led him to
attach himself to the Zealots, moderated, it is to be supposed, by
the better teachings of Jesus.

12. Judas the Second is, in all the lists of the Apostles, named
last, and distinguished by the epithet " [scariol " in Matthew, ^
Mark,** and Luke,ff each of whom algo adds a mention of the

* Matthew x. 4.
+ Mark iii. 18.
% Luke vi. 10.
g Acta L 13.

I] WOTS "/the J, irs, iv. J, S '•'.

• Matt, x -1.
« Mark iii. 19.

•H Lukfl \i. 1U.


betrayal. John says that he was the son of Simon, a commoL
name among the Jews of that day. The name
Iscariot is supposed to be a Greek form for the
Hebrew Jsh-Iverioth, the man of Kerioth, a town in the limits of
the tribe of Judah, of which place he is supposed to have been a
native. Other derivations are suggested, but none seem so pro-
bable as this. He was the only Apostle who was not a Galilaean.
- The part which Judas came to play in the tragedy which closed
the life of Jesus has always excited a horror which has been so
intensified by oratory, poetry, and painting, that it requires some
effort to examine his case with perfect freedom from all preju-
dice, which, however, it is necessary to do, not only for strict his-
torical fidelity, but in order to comprehend the relations which
Jesus voluntarily, as well as those which he involuntarily sus-
tained toward Judas. "We have no reason to suppose that his
childhood and youth were marked with any more prognostications
of a bad manhood than those of Peter and John. Indeed, he was
not so much exposed to the danger of contracting vicious habits
as those youngsters in a small fishing town. His subsequent
defection flings its shadow back ; but it is to be remembered that
crimes have been committed in his maturer years by many a
man who, if he had died young, would have been canonized
because his youth had been so saintly. The foolish stories of the
Apocryphal New Testament are mere fantasies. The first inti-
mation of him in the Gospel histories is that he had Messianic
hopes, was looking for the deliverance of Israel, with probable
secular aspirations, but not more worldly than those which ani-
mated the sons of Jonas and of Zebedee, and thousands of other
ardent young Hebrews. It is possible that he was among the
disciples of John, and had been led by his indication to follow
Jesus as the leader of the great national hopes.

There is this much certain, that nothing had appeared in his
conduct to arouse any suspicion in the minds of his brother Apos-
tles. There was no prejudice against him. On the contrary, he
ivas a trusted man among them, and was made the treasurer of
the exchequer which contained their own slender means, and
whatever was contributed from time to time to be disbursed by
their charity to the poor. This post of trust and honor he held
to the very last, and no one seems to have suspected any baseness.
And Jesus chose to add him to the number of those who should


lay the foundation of his kingdom in the hearts of men. And
yet he betrayed his great and good Friend.

The selection of Judas as one of his Apostles is, to historians.
perhaps the most puzzling of all the movements of Jesus, the act
which is specially pressed by unfriendly critics. But perhaps it
is not wholly inexplicable even upon critical grounds. Judas was
a powerful man. lie had prodigious passions and he had enor-
mous self-control. When Jesus, as a warning to the other dis-
ciples, dissected the character of Judas, running the scalpel
around his heart, this wonderful man had such iron nerve, and
muscle, and blood, that by neither twitch nor pallor did he allow
his colleagues to see that Jesus was dissecting him. lie had great
financial skill, and men of thought have always had a kind of awe
for the man who can make money. Merchant princes aro greater
wonders and objects of homage to the scholar than the profound
and scholarly philosophers are to the wealthy tradesman. The
disciples admired this in Judas, and probably expected that when
the "kingdom " should be set up their friend Judas would bo
made " Chancellor of the Exchequer."

Judas had undoubtedly professed great attachment to Jesus,
and must have felt upon his rugged nature the sweet influences of
such a character. lie was also among the expectants of the Mes-
siah. The other disciples kept him in their circle, and ;is Jesus
winnowed and winnowed, and the chaff liew away, — such as loved
father or mother more than Jesus, such as must bury their dead
before they could follow Jesus, such as must be as secure of a
bed, at least, as the foxes and the birds, — as those who could not
endure the tests of the new discipleship dropped back, strange as
it may seem, it is nevertheless the historical fact, that, for some
motive, Judas clung to Jesus. The motive may have been very
base, -we all bow agree in believing that a1 Leasl Borne baseness
was in the motive, — but the disciples did not detect what may
have been very apparenl to their Bagacioua Master. When he
came to say which twelve of all the disciples ha«l exhibited the
greatest devotion to his cause and his person, it was manifest to
the whole crowd that, after tin- other eleven had been named, no
one else stood in tin' company who had any claims upon Jesus and
upon his nearest friends which could i pete with those oi Judas


Mow, if Judas had not been selected, who should have hern tho


twelfth ? The disciples trusted him. He had the purse of the
company. He was as well-behaved as any, probably much more
polished than the rude Galilaean fishermen about him. lie had
followed Jesus as closely, he had been as useful as the others.
Why should he not be chosen % Some reason would have been
demanded by the eleven, at least. He could mar, we know : such
men, it is usually believed, can make. He had probably painted
the glories of the coming Messianic reign very brilliantly to the
imagination of his co-disciples. Why should he not continue of
them ? They had selected him as their treasurer. These twelve
had been coming into closer communion every day for many
months. Why should Jesus reject one of the friends ?

Jesus knew what was in man, what was in Judas. If he re-
jected Judas, that man of powerful passions might have thwarted
the designs, disordered the discipleship, and precipitated the des-
tiny of Jesus. If added to the number of the Apostles, Judas
could be kept under the eye and under the magnetism of the
presence of Jesus, so that if he had " a devil," as Jesus declared,
and if he should betray his Master, as Jesus predicted, that evil
might be postponed until the "seed of the kingdom" should be
so planted as no longer to need the personal presence of Jesus,
but be vigorous and well-grown enough to need only his spiritual
fostering for its growth to maturity. On this account it were well
to retain Judas.

And, then, it is not to be forgotten that no historical personage
displays so much lovingness as Jesus of Nazareth. His power
over the world to-day lies not so much in his position in history,
not in his superior brain, not in any special thing he has done, nor
in the remarkable thoughts he has uttered, as in the transcendent
lovingness which intensifies and transfigures and glorifies all his
deeds and all his words. Devilish as might have been the char-
acter of Judas, why might it not have been right to afford him all
the sweet influences which reside in the tender communings of a
noble brotherhood, whose spiritual father was such a soul as Jesus?
He could but betray Jesus at the last. Let Jesus do nothing to
hasten catastrophes. His life is to be too grand, and his influence
over the ages too powerful to make him afraid lest some critic of
subsequent times should suggest that in one case at least he com*
mitted a blunder. It was no blunder ; it was a sublime adven-
ture of love.



' The Twelve."

As in the case of the other Apostles, we shall trace the history
and examine the motives of Judas Iscariot more minutely in con-
nection with that of his Master. For the present we are merely
taking a view of the general characteristics of those whom Jesua
first admitted to his intimacy and' subsequently appointed hi?

That this was a special setting apart to a special work seems
quite apparent from the very face of the history. Up to this date
these men had mingled with the crowd of disci-
ples, and bore no signs of separation from their
brethren, except as they closed up in 7nore solid friendship for
each other and for Jesus. The language of the historians shows
that they were now regarded as charged with a mission peculiar
and responsible. The whole body received a name. Never before^
but almost always after this election they are called The Twelve,
01 ScoBefca, to distinguish them from the other disciples. Never
before, but by Jesus at their election, and by their brethren after-
wards, they were called "Apostles." (Luke vi. 13.) It is noticed
that not before, but after this event the name " Peter" is con-
stantly applied to Simon the son of Jonas, as his Master had con-
ferred this name upon him at his selection,* according to a well-
known Oriental custom. f

The number of the Apostles deserves some consideration.
Although many very foolish and fanciful things have been writ-
ten in regard to the symbolism of numbers, no

& . , J ' Why this number?

careful student of the ancient records can fail to
see that some meaning was among all nations, and not the least
among the Hebrews, assigned to special numbers. Thus 1 sym-
bolizes unity; 2, antithesis ; 3, synthesis and the divinity ; 4, hu-
manity, or the world, as we are reminded of the four corners of
the earth and the four elements, as anciently supposed, of the four
Beasons and the four points of the compass; 7, the sum of ■'! and

* See Mark iii. 1G and Luke vi. 1 1.
There seems to be an exception in Luke
v. 8, but there the name "Peter" is
merely added to that of Simon, and
tbia addition is supposed to be a max
ginal note which has crept iut > . the text.
Again: Matthew introduces the name
Peter with that of Simon before the
ordination, but he couples both nanus

(as in eh. iv. 18), and after the ordina-
tion uses only the name Peter. See
(In swill, Di88. xxvi.

\ This custom stil! prevails In (he
East. Chrysostom notices that m
upon purchasing slaves, frequently

changed their nanus, as a sign of the
right acquired over them.



4-, the relation of G od to the world ; 10, completeness ;* 12, the
product of 3 and 4, God's indwelling in the world, and we call to
mind the twelve patriarchs and twelve tribes, and the twelve foun-
dations and twelve gates of the heavenly Jerusalem. That Jesus
had the twelve tribes in his mind in fixing the number of the
Apostles is evident. When Peter asked him what should be the
reward of those who forsook all and followed him, Jesus said that
they should "sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
Israel." f Their original mission, we shall see, was to the twelve

Their mode of appointment must have had in it something
that solemnly designated them, whether a mere call to step for-
ward from the crowd, or, in addition thereto, the
imposition of hands — something that put them
apart from the promiscuous crowd of disciples. And there
must have been some order in which they were called. In the
enumeration above 1 have followed the catalogue as recited by
Matthew, except that I have put his name before that of Thomas,
as Mark and Luke do. His modesty seems to have led him to
make this transposition, thus yielding to Thomas what the other
historians do not give, a precedence over himself. His modesty is
further seen in adding to his own name the reproachful designation
" a publican," which Mark and Luke considerately omit.:}: That
the reader may have before his eye the slight variations in the
roll of Apostles, he w T ill find in a note the order as given by Mat-
thew, Mark, and Luke, severally. § The precise order in which

Their order.

* Biihr (in his Symbolik, i. p. 175)
Bays: "Ten, by virtue of the general
laws of thought, shuts up the series of
primary numbers and includes all in
itself. The first decade, and of course
also the number ten, is the representa-
tive of the whole numeral system; so
that 10 is the natural symbol of perfec-
tion and completeness." This view is
adopted by Dr. Fairbaim (Typol. of
Scrip., vol. ii. p. 88), who connects it
with the ten plagues of Egypt, the Ten
Commandments, and the Tithes.

f Matt. xix. 28.

% This is the view taken of this cir-
cumstance by Eusebius, Demons. Evan-
gel. , iii. v.


1. Simon I. (sur-
named Peter).

2. Andrew.

3. James I.

4. John.

5. Philip.

6. Nathanael

7. Thomas.

8. Matthew.

9. James II.
0. Judas I.

Lebbaeus (or


Simon I.

James I.


James II.
Simon II.


Simon I.

James I.





James II.
Judas I.




they were called may not be a matter of vital importance, but ag
the selection shows something of the mind of Jesus, it is interest-
ing to know whose name fell first from his lips, whose next, and
next, to the very close of the calling.

In these men some writers have seen fundamental types of
certain qualifications needed for the propagation of Christianity
Thus, Peter represents Confession • Andrew, the
manly pioneer, Missionary Zeal ; James I., the
Bon of Thunder, Martyrdom; John, "the beloved disciple,"' 5 *
Mysticism and Depth and- Calmness / Philip, Communion
(" Come and see ") ; Nathanael, Sincerity, Simplicity, Devout-
ness / Matthew, Ecclesiastical Learning / Thomas, Inquiry and
Sacred Criticism / James II., Union and Ecclesiastical Govern-
ment / Judas I. (Lebbseus), Pastoral Faithfulness, Disdplme ;

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 23 of 77)