Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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stress was laid on this. The interment was conducted with mi-

* The Greeks burned the corpses of I Pliny (vii. 55) say that burial was the
their friends. Cicero {Legg. . ii. 22) and I ancient mode of disposing of the dead.



A CHAPTER OF MIRACLES. 363

nuteness of ceremonial. It was considered one of the most sacred
duties of a son to bury his parents when they deceased.* The
disciple in this case seemed to desire to follow Jesus. He did
not make an excuse that he might go seeking his own pleasure or
his own gain. It was to perform what all his nation regarded as
a son's imperative duty. Celsus, early in the third century, brought
the reply of Jesus as objection to him, because he demanded what
was opposed to duty to parents.

This saying of Jesus does present grave difficulties. "We must
interpret the word " dead " in both places in the sentence as mean-
ing the same or different things. If the same,

i • • o mi • • Its difficulty.

then what is it s I he plain sense is usually ac-
cepted, namely, naturally dead. But this seems unintelligible,
because corpses cannot inter corpses. If different, then we may
attach to the former the sense of spiritually dead — those described
by Paul as dead in trespasses and in sins — and to the latter the
natural meaning ; and then the passage would signify, " Let the
work of interment be committed to sinners." But that is a most
harsh interpretation, and not consistent with the temper of Jesus
and the general spirit of his teachings.

If the whole expression be taken as hyperbolical and paradoxi-
cal, it will give us this sense : Jesus thus teaches in the most strik-
ing and impressive manner the lesson that the
. ects most touching, and set forth the
charm which the lovingness of Jesus, combined
with his extraordinary power, was exerting upon people of all
ranks.

There was a man of distinction, the president of a synagogue,*

whose name was Jairus. lie had an only daughter, twelve years

of aire, and the srirl was about to die. In his des-

Jairus. °, „ .

peration of grief the father bethought him of Je-
sus, and, knowing where he was, ran to him and fell at his feet, and
besought him to come and save the child. So bewildering was his
grief that he gaA T e a hurried and somewhat contradictory report
of the state of affairs at home. lie says she is dead. He says
she is dying.f The facts seem to have been these : when he left
the house she was apparently in extremis, she could live but a
short time ; he had been absent about long enough for the end to
have come ; " she would be dead," he said ; but he had not re-
ceived distinct information of the event, and therefore was not
prepared to affirm it ; and so in his agitation and hurry the father
says : " My daughter is dead — she is dying — come ! Lay thy
hands on her, and she shall be saved and live ! " He forgot the
formalities and dignities of his office in his natural love for his
child. His faith seemed to increase in his extremity. It touched
the heart of Jesus, who arose and went with him, and all the
throng about him followed the party to see what the end of this
might be, as the very going of Jesus seemed to promise that he
would do something.



* Eveiy synagogue had its president,
who superintended and directed the
services, and was at the same time
president of its college of elders.

f It seems heartless to cite these self-
contradictions of the poor man as proofs
of the contradictions of the historians
and the unreliability of the narrative.
It is more than heartless ; it is sense-
less. Careful observers of the workings
of human passions, and close students
of the poets, those quick reporters of
the soul of the humanity, cannot, it



seems to me, fail to see in these touches
proofs that the affair occurred as all
these historians tell it ; that Matthew,
and Mark, and Luke are right, each
and all, and that they could not have
colluded here, and that this little scene
could not have been painted by any
master of fiction not superior to Shake-
speare. To my mind there are few
stronger internal marks of the genuine-
ness and truthfulness of these narra-
tives than this particular passage.



A CHAPTER OF MIRACLES.



371



On the way there was an interruption and a wonder, shewing
again what faith in Jesus was growing in the hearts of the peo-
ple. There was a woman, whose name is pru- The woman with tho
dently withheld, who had had an internal hem- hemorrha s e -
orrhage for twelve years. This troublesome disease had been an
annoying and exhausting plague through all that time. It had
probably prevented her marrying. She had expended her estate
on physicians and nostrums.* She had not been helped, but in-
jured. Now she was reduced from competence to poverty, and
was afflicted with what seemed an incurable disease. But she
had not lost her womanly delicacy. Hearing of the wonderful
things which Jesus was doing, she had formed an incorrect idea
of his character and power. She fancied that there was some-
thing magical in his person. She said to herself, "If I touch f
but the hem of his garment I shall be saved." As this hem, or
blue fringe, was put on the garment by divine command,:}: perhaps
she also fancied that special virtue would come through that part
of the garments of the Great Healer. While the crowd thronged
him she quietly mingled with them, and at a moment when
she thought she was not perceived, she came up from behind him
and touched the hem of his garment, and instantly felt a thrill
and knew that she was healed of her plague.

The loftiness of the character of Jesus now exhibits itself sub-
limely. He knew§ what had been done. lie knew the woman's
mistake and the woman's faith. He intended to is healed in touching
correct the- one and confirm the other. lie would Jesus -
not for a moment consent to have himself confounded with jug-
glers, magicians, and miracle-mongers, even in the simple mind
of a woman weakened by disease. He turned upon the crowd



* For an extraordinary list of etirea
prescribed for this disorder, consult
Lightfoot's Jfor. llih. on Mark v. 2ti.

\ The beauty is lost in our transla-
tion, " may but touch," which may im-
ply permission, while the idea with her
was that if she could but accomplish of
herself mere contact with his garment,
it would be enough)

(See Numbers xr. 37-40; Dcut.
xxii. 12. Because it was a badge to
the Jews of being God's peculiar people,



those who desired to be considered emi-
nently pious were accustomed to " en-
large the borders of their garments," a
Custom which the simple Jesus con-
demned. See Matt, xxiii. 5.

§ Not "perceived," as Luke viii. -1'i
is nndercd in our common version,
which seems to favor the idea that it
was involuntary upon the part, of JeSUS,
while It im whole conduct is quite the re-
verse of this.



372 SECOND AND THIRD PASSOVER IN THE LIFE OF JESUS.

and said : " Who touched my clothes % " They all denied. L J eter,
always impetuous, and sometimes impatient even with his Master,
said : " You see the throng, and you say, ' Who touched me % ' "
But he assured them that some one had touched him with a pur-
pose, and that he knew that that purpose had been accomplished,
lie evidently did not ask the question for his own information,
but to draw the woman into an open confession. He would net
let her go mistaken, although healed. lie desired to put himself
right before her mind, and to leave with her an intellectual and
spiritual blessing which should even surpass the extraordinary
physical favor he had conferred upon her. All the multitude
had come in contact with him, probably each one having touched
more of his garment than this woman. She only had received
any benefit. lie determined to make her know that it was not mere
animal magnetism, nor any unconscious magical influence, but
that it was a voluntary response on his part to the pleadings of
faith on hers.

When the woman saw that she could not be hid, she came for-
ward with confusion and trembling, and fell down before him
and told before all the people all the truth — for

Her faith confirmed.

what cause she had touched him, and how she had
been immediately healed. This was all that Jesus desired. He
had tenderly abstained from extracting this confession until the
poor woman was healed. She might not have been able to make
it in advance. Now, although a trial, she was able to endure it.
Jesus said : " Daughter, your faith hath saved you. Go in peace,
and be well of your plague." He caused her and those who
were about him to know that no miracle of good would ever



Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 37 of 77)