Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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soon suffer the extreme fate of nations by being utterly destroyed.
They had become spiritual adulterers, which means, in Jewish
phraseology, contaminated with heathenism. To such heathens
there would be vouchsafed only the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Let them ponder that. lie gave them no explanation, he sug-
gested no application of the reference to the case in hand. He
left them, and crossed the lake.

In the excitement of this interview and the haste of the de-
parture the disciples forgot to carry provisions with them. The
thoughts of Jesus also were upon other things. He saw how


p^ruully even yet his disciples entered into his grand life of self

abnegation. They were yet very secular; they were yet some

how hoping for sensuous Messianic displays.

Their thoughts and desires lingered with the flesh- J h * leaven of

pots of the Egypt they were leaving. lie said to

them, very solemnly : " See and beware of the leaven of the

Pharisees and of the Sadducees and of Herod." That is, keep

yourselves from hypocrisy, and skepticism, and secularism. The}

are contagious. They spread in the heart and in a community

like leaven.

How blind they still were is apparent from their comments
among themselves. They said : " It is because we took not loaves."
Jesus perceived, it and said : " Why do you reason among your-
selves, O Little-Faiths ! because you have not loaves ? Do you
not yet perceive ? Do you not yet understand ? Have you your
heart hardened ? Having eyes, do you not see ? and, having
ears, do you not hear? When I broke the five loaves among
five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye
up?" They answered: "Twelve." "And when the seven loaves
among the four thousand, how many baskets full ? " They said :
" Seven." And Jesus said : " How is it that you do not under-
stand that I did not speak concerning bread, when I warned
you of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees ? "
At last their dense stupidity was penetrated, and they perceived
that he had not warned them to break from all communication
with these sects, but to guard against their wicked doctrines.

They were now at Bethsaida-Julias, in Perea. Matthew re-
cords (xi. 21) that Jesus said that he had wrought many mighty
works in this Bethsaida ; but the only one dis-
tinguished and recorded is the cure of a blind Bethsaida, on
man. Mark tells the story. He is the historian *? e ™> rth -«*«J of
who seems specially attracted by what has the viii
characteristic of progressiveness, ami the cure of
the blind man was of that kind, lie did not seem to know much
of Jesus, or to take any special interest in him, or t have any no-
ticeable degree of faith in him, or to have any anient desire for
a cure. In this case it was the friends who seemed t have a
great ^eal in his behalf. They brought him t Jesus, and be-
sought that lie might be cured. Jesus took the blind man by tlio
hand and led him out of the village. What conversation they


had is not recorded. In all the cases of his miracles we have
studied there seems to have heen an adaptation of the cure to the
spiritual benefit of the sufferer, and some connection between hi?
state of mind 'and the method of his cure. The intent was to
develop the faith of the subject. In this case Jesus put spittle
on the eyes of the man, and then laid his hands on him and asked
him if he saw anything. The man, with a tone of joy, and in
the delightful confusion of a sudden and unexpected relief, ex-
claimed : " I see the men ; for I see them as trees, walking."
Then Jesus laid his hands upon his eyes, and he saw clearly : he
was thoroughly restored and saw all things plainly. The man
seems to have lived in the country. Jesus sent him to his house,
telling him not to return to the village.




Then Jesus and his disciples went up towards the region of
Ctesarea Philippi. This important city was originally called
Paneas, from a cave and a temple dedicated to N c
Pan. Philip the tetrarch enlarged and beauti- philippi. Matt.
tied the town, and gave it the name of Caesarea, xvi. ; Mark viii ;
in honor of the emperor Tiberius. His own Lll ^ e lx -> xa >
name was afterwards added, to distinguish this
from the Csesarea which was the Roman metropolis of Palestine,
and was situated about half-way between Joppa and Dora, on the
main road leading from Tyre to Egypt. Ctesarea Philippi, the
northernmost limit of the travels of Jesus, was a picturesque and
important place, and seems to have had a number of villages de-
pendent upon it. It was most famous as being the spot in which
the principal source of the Jordan is found. Jesus gave the re-
gion fresh historic interest.

Somewhere in this region he had retired for private devotion
when his disciples found him. It was another crisis in his life.

The hierarchic party had greatly decreased his

. mi 1 • • ,. i ■ Another crisis,

popularity, lney were working against him per-
sistently and successfully. How far they had succeeded in af-
fecting the dispositions of his disciples was to be tested. If they
had become so intimidated as not to be willing and ready to fol-
low him into any extremity, then his work was a failure. lie
should be compelled to abandon his designs totally, or reorganize
his plans and begin afresh. He had been forced from Galilee.
He was in the tetrarchy of Philip. The lines were drawn more
closely about him. Some movement must soon be made, lie
made it now.

Turning to bis disciples, he put the direct question : "Whom
do men say that I am? " This was to draw from them a statement
of their knowledge of current and popular opinions of him,


They were quite frank, and replied : " Some say that you are

John the Baptist risen from the dead; others, Elijah ; others, J ere-

miah ; others, one of the prophets." Lightfoot

A test question.

shows that the Jews believed that the pro-
phets were to rise again at the coming of the Christ. " The
nearer still the kingdom of heaven came, but so much the more
did they dream of the resurrection of the prophets." It is re-
markable that no section of the people regarded Jesus as a divine
personage — as the Messiah, the Christ — in any high spiritual
sense ; for had it been so the disciples would not have failed to
report it. According to their account Jesus did not stand so high
with the people as at the beginning of his ministry.

The reply of the disciples is really a curious and interesting
study. Herod was terrified, and really believed that John had
come back from the dead to imperil him. The Court party gave
currency to this belief, because John had emphatically declared
that he was not the Messiah, and it was to the interest of the
king's friends to maintain that view, namely, that this man Jesus
svas not to have Messianic honors paid him, nor in any sense be
regarded as Messiah. Messiah teas still to come. They were in-
terested iii keeping him in the future.

There were others who noticed the extraordinary severit} r of
his castigations, and they said he was Elijah, so like was he to that
terrible prophet.

Others noticed how he was withdrawing himself, and becoming
more and more sad. Perhaps at this period of his ministry there
did naturally come melancholy cadences into his speeches. He
was a man of sorrows. He was acquainted with griefs. He was
being rejected by his own people, whom he loved, and whom he
wished to bless. He was being driven into exile. Such melan-
choly readily suggested the prophet of the Lamentations.

To others he seemed only as some of the ancient prophets, not
individually distinguishable ; so low was the estimate of most of
the people.

He had not then struck root into his nation generally : how

might it be with his own family of disciples? He determined to

test it. It was a moment of profoundest interest

to him and to them. The question and reply were

to constitute a bond of perpetual union between them, or were to

be the signal of the dissolution of this important little community.


Hdw important they were to the world they could not possibly
have known. No very important man does know his own value.

" But whom say ye that I am % "

" You are the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God,"
was the profoundly solemn answer of Peter. It was a profession
of faith; it was a confession of everything; it was
an act of worship. lie acknowledged Jesus as Pete3 -' s solemn
the Messiah, to the exclusion of all other claim-
ants to that high and holy office ; he confessed him as a divine
person ; not a son of God, but the Son of the living God, in a
sense in which it could be applied to no other man. He does not
report the general opinion of the body of disciples,* but per-
forms an act of personal worship, using such forms and words as
men who are Christians have since employed in prayer. No such
admission had ever before been made. It embodied a Messianic
idea loftier and broader than any other Jewish mind and heart
had held. They believed that the Messiah, the Christ, should be
one of the sons of men, like any other great man, and should be
chosen and anointed, by reason of the greatness and splendors of
his virtues, to be the deliverer of his people. But Peter ac-
knowledged his Messiah as directly begotten of God. In his sol-
emn phrase he did not use the word "living" to distinguish
God, the true God, from dead idols, but to intensify the idea that
was in the word " Son." It was not the question who God was,
but the question who Jesus was, that Peter was answering.

Jesus accepted the homage. Let us remind ourselves that we
are making historical studies and not dogmatic theological asser-
tions. The question now is, not whether Jesus
was right or wrong, but what he though! and said , Jesus receivea
and did. It is most obvious thai at tin- period of
his career he believed himself to be the Son of God in a sense
separate and distinct frni any other with which the phrase could
be applied to other men. lie was the Messiah, the Christ, the
Sent, the Anointed. Hi* people were looking for a temporal

* It is to in: noticed that Peter re-
ports tli Such he held himself to be. And, more-
a revelation. . 7

over, he held that that view of his nature could not

be reached by any process of human reasoning or any leap of human
imagination. It was a direct revelation from heaven. The lit-
eral words of Jesus are: " Flesh and blood have not apocalypsed
it to thee, but my Father." From such a mystery no human hand
could have raised the veil and made the apocalypse, — no hand but
God's. It is manifest that Jesus believed his own character and
person such a miracle that no intellectual analysis of his words
and acts could enable any man to reach the apprehension of them.
lie was a blessed man to whom the Eternal Father vouchsafed
such a revelation. It must have been the deepest conviction that
drew such utterances from Jesus. lie was joyous in his solemnity.
He calls Simon by his other name, Kephau, Cephas, Peter, Rock.
"Kephau" was probably the word he used, speaking in the Ara-
maic tongue, and this word Grecized was Ke

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 42 of 77)