Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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be wrought for men who did not trust his beneficence ; and that
in every case there must be desire and faith on the part of the
subject, and volition upon the part of Jesus, to make the happy
operation complete. This single incident lifts Jesus forever out
of the mass of tricksters and magicians.

While he was engaged in this work of mercy, messengers ar-
rived from the house of Jairus informing him that his daughter
nenth of joirus'a was certainly dead, lie had accompanied Jesus
daughter. uncomplainingly, but doubtlessly extremely rest-

lessly, and now it appeared that the delay had blasted his hopes.
lie seems scarcely to have trusted that Jesus could raise her from
the dead, while he believed that there was such power in him



that he could pluck her back from death even when she was
almost m the last gasp. The messenger who announced the
fatal news added : " Why troublest thou the Teacher farther?"
as though Jesus could now be of no avail. But his quick ear
caught the word, and before Jairus could sink away into doubts
Jesus said to him: "Be not afraid ; only believe ; and she shall
be saved." Jesus by this word seemed to pledge himself to save
her, even if she were really dead.

And so he proceeded towards the house of Jairus. And when
he arrived he found that they had already brought in the profes-
sional mourners, who, after the vicious fashion j esus brings her back
of the Jews, were making loud lamentations, tolife '
howling dirges amid the din of musical instruments, and beating
themselves in token of grief. Jesus said to them : " Give place ;
why make ye this ado? The child is not dead, but is sleeping."
They took these words in their literal sense, and laughed Jesus
to scorn. They knew that she was dead. She was, undoubtedly.*
But Jesus taught the resurrection of the dead. On another occa-
sion he called himself "The Besurrection." Since he has taught
the world, those who believe his teachings do not sorrow for the
dead as those who have no hope. Death is not destruction, nor
annihilation — it is sleep. Sleep implies waking. So to the
thought of Jesus, and of all who believe in his teaching, sleep is
the most appropriate possible representation of death. When
men die we see them fall asleep. We do not see them awake.
But Jesus, this wise Teacher, assures us that they do, and here he
exerted his power to give men a visible and tangible example of

* The attempt to put away all mira-
cle out of this transaction, by taking the
of Jesus literally, "She is not
dead, but Bleeping," cannot succeed.
For suppose we grant that this was a
mere case of syncope, ami that the girl
was still alive, there will yet remain
these miraculous facts : 1. That before
Jesus readied the house or saw the
girl, lie knew that she was not totally
dead, although he bad not seen her. ami
hex father had represented her as dying,

if nut. dead, ami niessi liters direct from

the house had proclaimed her dead ;
and, 2. When, 1 hurried, but

stopped to cure the woman with the
hemorrhage, he reached the house, the
mourners and assembled friends .-till
saying she was dead, and laughing to
scorn his literal or figurative saying,
" She is not dead, but sleeping," he pi ■ -
cecded to her chamber, accompanied
by her parents and three other persons,
and by two words and a single touch he
brought her instantly to her feet, and to
perfect health, after all the I

which the skill of the physicians could
dev ise had utterly faded. We mu ri put

the whole of Je us oui Of history ot

accept the miracqloua.


this great awakening. He entered the chamber of the dead, ac-
companied by the father and mother, and by the three disciples,
Peter, and James, and John, whom now for the first time we see
elected from among the elect friends of Jesns, that they might
be special witnesses of his greatest and most sacred doings. He
approached the bed, took the girl by the hand, and said to her in
the Aramaic tongue, " Talitha-cumi," which is simply, " Maiden,
arise." It was no magical formula, no incantation, but a simple
authoritative command. Her spirit came to her, and she arose

In the confusion of the rapid and great transitions through
which she had been passing, the girl walked about the room.
The astonishment of the parents was so great that they forgot the
necessities of the child ; but the ever calm Jesus simply told
them to give her something to eat. She was necessarily weak.
She was no ghost, although if a ghost had come it could scarcely
have produced a different effect upon the spectators. So self -sus-
tained was Jesus that these wonderful displays of his power
seemed to him as the ordinary work of his hands. What man
ever did such things and made no ado, exhibited no sense of his
importance, took no pains to give the transaction all possible eclat ?
Jesus told them not to spread it. But they did.. The fame of
this miracle went abroad into all that land.

As Jesus went from the house of Jairus, occasion presented
itself for the performance of other strikingly wonderful works.
On the road two blind men followed him, and
solicited the exercise of his great healing power
In the history of Jesus he is often confronted with blindness.
We shall not wonder at this when we recollect how common that
disease is in the East. In Cairo alone it has been estimated that
there are four thousand blind persons, and one traveller supposes
that one in every five is partially or totally blind. This arises
from the brightness of the sun, the intense reflection of the light,
the dust so impalpable or so constantly abroad in the air, and the
custom of sleeping in the open air at night, exposing the eyes to
noxious dews which produce inflammations that are usually neg-
lected until they end in incurable blindness.

Two such patients, perhaps by the way-side begging, learning
that Jesus was passing, followed him, led by the crowd, it may be,
and cried after him, " O Son of David, have pity on us." " Son


of David : " this was the recognized title of the Messiah. To
accept it was to claim Messiahship. The blind men continued
to repeat it. Jesus apparently paid no attention two wind men r9
to it or to them, but passed on and entered his stored •
lodgings. The blind men somehow found their way to his pres«
ence. Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do
this for you ? " They answered, " Yes, Lord." Then he touched
their eyes and said, "According to your faith be it unto you."
Their sight was instantly restored. Then Jesus, who made this
response to their faith, charged them sternly — he really seems to
have threatened them — that they should not make proclamation
of their belief in his Messiahship. lie could not have charged
them to conceal their restoration to sight. There could be no
reason why this should not be known. But there was a good
and sufficient reason for restraining the public announcement of
his claim to the Messiahship. The people were already begin-
ning to believe it. They were in a state of intense excitement, and
being always ready for a revolt against the Roman government,
and their enthusiasm for Jesus growing at each display of his
power and wisdom and goodness, a single word of incitement
would have been, like a spark to a keg of gunpowder, the occasion
of a terrific explosion. With extraordinary wisdom Jesus saw
that his time had not yet arrived.

Nevertheless, the blind men, in the exuberance of their grati-
tude, proclaimed that the Messiah had healed them. The prac-
tical effect of this disobedience, which can only be charitably
excused on the ground of their uncontrollable delight at their
recovery, had no good effect on the minds of the enemies of Jesus.

These men had scarcely left the house when the people brought
to Jesus another of those bewildering cases of fearful disease, a
demoniac. The patient in this case was one j cs „ s cures a dumb
whose psychical disorder had the physical exhi- dcmoniac -
bition of dumbness. His diseased soul locked up his tongue.
His ineanity took on the form of speechlessness, through pro-
foundest melancholy or most obdurate stubbornness. As soon :is
the evil of his soul was cured his speech returned. The multi-
tude marvelled still more, and said, " It was never so seen in

Israel," or, as it may be translated, " He has never been bo seen
in Israel."' Either rendering makes the speech of the populace

an ascription to Jesus of glory greater than that of any of the


prophets. It lifted him above Moses and Elijah. It declared
him to be, in their opinion, the most splendid display of God's
glorious goodness and power ever made to Jehovah's chosen peo-
ple. It was the most magnificent compliment which people living
under a theocracy could pay to any man.

Of course the tendency of this was to inflame the Pharisaic;
party against him. They made the old objection, " He casteth
chafed with being out demons by the ruler of the demons." It is
a confederate of the now no longer a whisper, slyly circulated, but an
open accusation, made to break his influence over
the popular mind. Infernal passions manifestly swayed these
Pharisees, so that naturally it was not difficult for them to believe
that any one so strong as Jesus had his strength from bad spirits.
There has always been in human nature an unfortunate pro-
pensity to imagine the chief evil spirit of the universe to be
mightier than he is. Men are prone to deify the devil. Even
many Christians have to pause and think before they disabuse
their minds of the prejudice that Satan is just less than Almighty
God. Creative power is often assigned him, and the power of
inspiring great thoughts and stimulating human genius. When
printing was invented, the honor was assigned to " the devil and
Dr. Faustus." It is a popular opinion in parts of Germany to
this day, that the famous cathedral of Cologne owes its magnifi-
cence to the co-operation of the devil : it is too splendid a struc-
ture to have been erected without his aid ! On the road over the
St. Gothard Pass, in Switzerland, is a wonderful bridge across the
river Peuss, joining the wild scenery of two mountains by a span
of seventy-five feet. Of course it is the " Devil's Bridge ! " The
Pharisees would have gladly obtained power from the ruler of
the demons if they had only known how: it was quite easy, then,
for them to fancy that Jesus had discovered the secret. That the
Father of Men should confer so beneficent a power upon any of
his sons was an idea too broad for the narrow minds of the
Pharisees. And so they persecuted Jesus, not because of the sin
of being in league with the devil, but out of sheer envy that he
had made better terms with Satan than they and their children
had been able to do. In Matthew xii. 27, does not Jesus intimate
as much ?

Jesus now withdrew himself and went with his disciples to his
own country. This avoidance of the spite of his enemies seems to


evince only a prudential regard to the success of his work, and

in no way to indicate cowardice, as lie was always ready to meet

them in argument ; and when he shifted the range

of his operations, he never for a day ceased to *™^ Matt - Siii -"-

urge forward his work. lie was not yet ready to

give himself up. His disciples were not yet ready to lie left.

Jesus was no wild fanatic, no furious enthusiast rushing on fate.

He had the great faculty of being able to wait : but he was a

ceaseless worker. He foresaw his time coming. He would not

hurry it. It Mas coming fast enough.

Once more he entered Nazareth, a town to be made immortal
by being attached to his name. On the Sabbath he entered the
synagogue and began to teach. He taught astonishingly. His
knowledge, his goodness, his power, and, perhaps above all, his
authority came out in his speech. The Nazarenes could not com-
prehend it. It seemed to them only a few months, and it had not
been long since he had lived in their midst among their humblest
fellow-citizens. They knew the dwelling of Mary. They knew
her other children. None of Mary's other children made any [ire-
tension to either special sanctity or special authority. Nay, they
did not believe in the pretensions of their brother Jesus. He had
failed to inspire them with confidence. He came to them with a
crowd at his back, and bringing home a reputation as a prophet
the like of which had not been known in their day. He had per-
formed miracles, had even raised the dead, not far from Nazareth.
But it seemed like yesterday since they had seen him in his shop
with the implements of the mechanic, making or mending plain
furniture, or had seen him carrying his tools to neighboring houses
to do repairs. There was nothing specially attractive in his ap-
pearance. When he sat in the synagogue no halo hung over his
brow. But now this plain man came back and assumed gnat
authority, and really did teach in a style surpassing anything they
had ever heard before.

And so they talked among themselves and said, " Whence hath
this one this wisdom and mighty powers \ [s he not a carpenter I
Is he not a carpenter's son? Is not his mother
the woman called Mary > Is he not the brother 1 "- vh: '

of James and Joses, and Judas and Simon '.

not his Bisters all here with ub \ Whence hath this man all these

thin: They showed him no violent opposition, hut merely



regarded him with contempt. His return for this treatment was
the simple announcement of a well-known fact in human nature :
" A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and
among his own kin, and in his own house." lie did nothing- note-
worthy in Nazareth, except that he laid his healing hands on a few
sick people. He left Nazareth, marvelling at the unbelief of ita




From Nazareth Jesus entered upon his third circuit in Galilee,
the extent of which tour cannot be defined. Matthew says that
he " went about all the cities and villages." Mark,
that "he went round about the villages." All InGaIi ^ e - **£

o x., xi.; MarkYi., ix.t

concur that he was teaching and preaching his Luieix., x.
peculiar doctrines, and displaying his great power
of healing. The multitudes continued to throng him. They had
had the formal instruction of the Established Church, but the
mass of the people were destitute of moral and religious culture.
They appeared to the eye of Jesus as sheep that had no shepherd,
torn to pieces by hierarchic wolves. And yet the people seemed
desirous of spiritual training. At sight of this Jesus said to his
disciples, "The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few:
pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth
laborers into his harvest." It was the suggestion of the mission-
ary idea and the kindling of the missionary spirit. It was a hint
as to what his intentions were for immediate missionary opera-

In pursuance of this design he called his twelve chosen disci-
ples together, and commissioned and instructed them for this
new institution of propagandism. He intended
to disseminate his doctrines more rapidly and
nunc widely. These men had been with him long
enough to be weaned from other pursuits, to be attached to his
person and his plans, and to have acquired such facility in co-
operation that they could work together. Jesus instituted Beven
itinerant centres of influence. Not stopping in his own work, ho
Bent the twelve in pairs. Their work may be better gathered
from their commission in the words of Jesus than from any para*
phrase. He addressed them thus: —

A missionary move-


" Go not into the way of tlie Gentiles, and enter not into a city of the
Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And
going, preach, saying, The kingdom of the heavens ia
at hand. Ileal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lep-
ers, cast out demons : freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither
gold, nor silver, nor copper in your girdles, nor a wallet for your journey, noi
two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff. And into whatever city or village ye may enter,
inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till ye depart: go not from house
,'to house : and into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such
tilings as are set before you ; for the laborer is worthy of his food. But as ye
enter into the house, salute it, saying, 'Peace be to tliis house.' And if indeed
the house be worthy, your peace shall come upon it : but if it be not worthy,
your peace shall return to you. And whoever will not receive you, nor hear
your words, on going out of that house, or city, or village, shake off the dust
from your feet for a testimony against them : notwithstanding, be ye sure of
this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto them. Verily I say to you,
it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and the land of Gomorrah,
in the day of judgment, than for that city.

" Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Begin ye
therefore to become wise as the serpent, and simple as the doves. But beware
of men: for th«y will deliver you up to councils, and will scourge you in the
synagogues: and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake,
for a testimony to them and to the G°utiles. And when they deliver you up,
be not over-anxious how or what ye shall speak : for it shall be given to you
in that hour what ye shall speak. For ye are not the speakers, but the Spirit
of your Father speaking in you. And a brother shall deliver \ip a brother to
death, and a father a child ; and children shall rise up against parents, and
shall put them to death. And ye shall be hated by all on account of my
name; but the one having endured to the end shall be saved. But when. they
persecute you in this city, flee into another: for verily I say to you, Ye shall
not finish the cities of Israel until the Son of Man come.

" A disciple is not above his teacher, nor the servant above his lord. Suffi-
cient for the disciple that he be as his teacher, and the servant as his lord. If
they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of
the household ? Fear them not, therefore, for there is nothing covered that
shall not be revealed, and hidden that shall not be known. What I say to you
in the darkness, speak in the light : and what ye hear in the ear, preach upon
the housetops. And fear not those who kill the body, but are not able to kill
the soul : but rather fear the one able to destroy both soul and body in Gehen-
na. Are not two sparrows sold for an assarion? * and not one of them shall

* This indicates a coin of small value,
perhaps more than an American cent and
less than an English penny. Here is a
picture of a bronze specimen of this coin.
On one side is an anchor, and the Greek
mite of herod. letters for Herod Bad (Herod King), and

on the obverse two cornucopia; and a pomegranate.


fall on the ground without your Father. But even the hairs of your head are
all numbered. Fear ye not then ; ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Every one, therefore, who will confess me before men, I also will confess him
before my Father in heaven.

" Think not that I came to cast peace on the earth : I came not to cast peace,
but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter
against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And
the enemies of a man are those of his own household. lie who loveth father
or mother above me, is not worthy of me: and he who loveth son or daughter
above me, is not worthy of me. And he who taketh not his cross, and fol-
loweth after me, is not worthy of me. He who tindeth his life shall lose it :
and he who loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He who receiveth you
receiveth me, and he who receiveth me receiveth him who sent me. He who
receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive the reward of a
prophet ; and he who receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous
man, shall receive the reward of a righteous man. And whoever may give to
drink to one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a
disciple, verily I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."

Jesus gives directions to his disciples as to the route they were
to take, as well as a coi.n mission for the work they were to per-
form. They were not to go among the Homan

J . . Their route.

settlements nor beyond the boundaries of Samaria.
"Rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," explains the
direction as one not founded on bigotry or Jewish intolerance, but
as a temporary economic arrangement. All men were afterward
to have his gospel, but this was a "trial trip," a missionary exer-
cise for the Apostles among their own people, almost under his
own eyes.

lie imparted to them, of his peculiar power, ability to heal tho
sick, to cleanse lepers, to eject demons, :tnd to raise the dead.
Whether they found on this excursion any occa-

■' , # Their powers.

sion to exercise this great power in the raising or
the dead, we are not informed. But all these things were merely
subservient to the "preaching of the kingdom." That was to bo
their great work, the chief absorbing labor of their lives.

The next direction is that they are to make no provision for
their personal comfort, in the way of money and clothes. They
were to preach the gospel without pay. They

\ - ' . " - Their provision.

had received freely, they were to give freely.
The gospel was not to be sold. They were to go forth Free of
care and do their great work. Their Lord assured them that they
Bhould not fail of support. The people would receive them


They were not to be encumbered with baggage. Their wants
were to be simple, and those wants were to be supplied. It was
a general principle he seems to have laid down for the governance
of all future missionary operations. A man going forth with the
truth will find those who. are ready to minister to his wants.

And then he sets forth the method in which he desired his gos-
pel propagated. It was not by founding churches, not by erect-
ing creat and powerful ecclesiastical apparatus.

The home-altar. ° ° l , L r

lie seems never to have intended to found a
church like this, like anything indeed now represented by our
modern " denominations." His " church " was to be of all those
who trusted in him, believed him, followed him, loved him. Its
work was the dissemination of certain principles. It is observa-
ble that he chose the hearth-stone as the altar of the temple of
the new faith. His apostles were to enter houses, not cry aloud
in the streets, nor harangue the crowds. They were to carry the
seeds of the newly quickened religion to the homes and the hearts
of men. They were to sit down among the parents and children
and servants, and tell them what Jesus was teaching, explain to
them what the " kingdom " was, and was to be, and how it was to
interpenetrate all life from bottom to top. They were to cure and
cleanse men spiritually, and in confirmation of their mission cure
and cleanse them physically. The religion of Jesus is not a tem-
ple religion. It does not consist in periodical visits to the altar-
spot, ceremonial offering of specified sacrifices, nor anything else
churchly and ritual. It was to be the religion for the home. It
was to draw all men near to the Father of all men. It was to
make the earthly home a type of the heavenly, a terrestrial school
of preparation for the celestial " life to come." It was to be a
religion of principle. Some families would receive them, others
would reject. They are told how to conduct themselves in either

But he warns them that it is not to be always easy work. They
were not always to be immediate and radiant victors. The oppo-
i sition thev should meet would be powerful and for-

A warning. § mi t i o

midable. The Jews would oppose them. Some-
times, instead of carrying captive the congregation in the syna-
gogue, the poor Apostle would be enduring a scourging. The
Gentile governors and kings would set them at naught. What
seemed so true to them would seem so false to others; what seemed

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 38 of 77)