Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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It was on this day, the great day of the feast, when the failure
to draw water from the fountain of the Siloam reminded the peo-
ple of the absence of all fountains in the Temple,
. i and the predictions which many undoubtedly in-

terpreted literally, and to which a few assigned a
high spiritual significance, Jesus, who was accustomed to sit as he
taught, rose up, and lifting his voice, cried out to the multitude,
"If any one thirst, let him come and drink. He who believes on
me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters, as the Scrip-
ture has said." He made allusion, probably, to such passages as
Isa. xliv. 3, lv. 1, lviii. 11. The meaning seems to be, that in
that man's inmost nature shall be sources of refreshment for him-
self, which shall yield streams of refreshment for others. This
appeal touched the hearts of some, who said, "Of a truth this is
the Prophet," Others grew more emphatic, and said, " This is the
Christ, the Messiah." Others said, " No ; for doth the Christ come
out of Galilee ? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes of
the seed of David, and from the town of Bethlehem, where David
was ? " The party feeling grew strong. Some of the multitude




called out to arrest him, but no one had the courage to lay hands
on him.

The officers sent by the Sanhedrim returned without him, nm\
to the indignant question, "Why have ye not

.. , n ,.-vr tt They cannot

brought him? "they answered, " IS ever did man arresthim-
speak as this man speaks." The enraged Phari-
sees taunted them: "Are ye also deceived? Have any of the
rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him % But this cursed mob


(From an ancleni description.)

do not know the law." Here Nicodemus, a member of the San-
hedrim, the person who had had an interview with Jesus bynight,
interposed with the question, " Does our law condemn a man,
excepl it hearfirsl and know whal he does?" It seemed to be a
plain and honest question, but bo excited were this assembly of
judges that they began to deal in invective, saying, " Art thou


also of Galilee ? Search and look, for out of Galilee arises no
prophet." They were ready to qnote Moses for their purposes,
but would not listen when it made against them and their prac-
tices; and it was not true that no prophet came from Galilee, as
Jonah and Amos, and perhaps others, were of that country.

So the assembly was broken up in disorder, and every man
went to his house, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and
there spent the night.

Again he came back to the city. The Feast of the Tabernacles

had -ended. The lights were dead in the great candelabra that

had shone upon the city, a reminiscence of the

Jerusalem; the pjp ar f fl re which had led their fathers through

' e ' T1 e ... the wilderness. It was the painful darkness fol-
snry. John vui. L

lowing a great light, the silence of a deserted ban-
quet hall, which now lay upon Jerusalem. Jesus entered the
Temple to teach the people. Every day a teacher could find
hearers there. Now he might still find many who had come up
from the provinces and were still lingering in the city. As soon
as he was seated and prepared to teach, a very great concourse
gathered about him.

In the mean time the Scribes and Pharisees had concocted a
plan to entrap him, and to raise against him the dislike of the

people. They brought to him a woman taken in

e - 1 W 1 . m adulterv, and sat her in the midst of the crowd, and
taken m adultery. •> ' 7

said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was taken
in adultery, in the very act. Now, Moses in the law commanded
us that such should be stoned ; but what do you say ? " The refer
ence was to Deuteronomy xxii. 21. The woman must have been
unmarried, but betrothed, as stoning was prescribed by the law
only for such persons. She was therefore probably young and
not hardened. This must have been a most painful ordeal. In
nothing does the superior beauty of spiritual goodness over hard
and technical morality appear more than in this scene. Jesus was
spotlessly pure. He did not assert his purity by bursting into
invectives against the "horrid creature." lie modestly bent his
head, and wrote on the ground with his finger. He had no pruri-
ent curiosity. The subject was distasteful. But the Scribes and
Pharisees seemed carried away with their zeal for purity. They
had dragged the poor guilty thing before the public gaze. They
were then committing a sin greater than hers, as malicious


hypocrisy is worse than incontinence. But every man engaged
in this exposure had himself committed adultery.

Jesus did not wish to touch the question. Put they urged it
They thought it would embarrass him. If he should say, " Stone
her ! " he would be advising a breach of Roman law, which took
such power out of Jewish hands. If he considered the case mild I y,
the populace would be excited against him, as one who was dis-
posed to relax the law of Moses. These bad men were animated
by many forms of vile passions. So they urged the question.

Jesus, blushing, lifted himself up. He looked through each
man's eyes to the bottom of his soul. lie said : '■ Let him among
you who has never sinned first cast a stone at
her." (See Dent. xvii. 7.) Again he blushed, Caught in their

i it mi i own trap,

and stooped, and wrote. Hie word smote them.

It aroused their consciences. The oldest Pharisee among them
was an adulterer ; so was the youngest Scribe ; so was each man.
Some of the crowd probably knew the licentiousness of these
hypocrites, and, if so, gave them such significant looks as must
have been most embarrassing. The oldest Pharisee among them
sneaked off ; so did the youngest Scribe ; so did each man. "When
Jesus again rose from his stooping posture they had all departed.
The woman had not moved. He said : " Where are those your
accusers ? Has no man condemned you 2 " She answered :
" No, sir." — "Neither do I," said Jesus; "go, and sin no more."
She had sinned. He had no license to give to sin. Whether the
popular opinion, or even his indulgence, should withhold condem-
nation, her only safety was in abstaining from sin. Nothing could
have won her from the downward course on which she hud en-
tered so much as this exquisite tenderness of Jesus.

Perhaps, pointing to the huge lamps now kindled, he ex-
claimed: " I am the light of the world : he that follows rue shall
not walk iii darkness but has the light of life."
On the spot his adversaries endeavored to coun- c ° nflict of JpSHS

. . with his enemies.

teracl the torce oi his teaching by 6aying to. him :
iv "» "ii hear testimony concerning yourself; your testimony Is
not true." As if they would quote him against himself, and
urge that Belf-glorification was his aim. Jesus answered : "Even
if I bear testimony concerning myself, my testimony is true; for
I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye know riot

whence I cine, and whither I go. Ye judge according to thu


flesh ; I judge not any man. And even if I do judge, my judg-
ment is true; for I am not alone, but I and lie who sent me.
But it is also written in your own law that the testimony of two
is true. I am a witness concerning myself, and my Father who
sent me witnesses for me." Here is a claim to a mysterious origin
and high position in the universe. The nature of the case waa
such that he was compelled to bear witness concerning himself.
Xay, more, his very nature was such that he was compelled to
testify of himself, as light, which shows the existence of other
things, makes its own existence known. Moreover, they were so
fleshly that they could not of themselves discern spiritual things,
so that he was obliged to show them. They took a sinful plea-
sure in discerning in man what they might condemn. lie took nc
such pleasure. lie was not ready to judge and condemn men
If they had been as free from this evil disposition as he, they
would not seize every word he spoke as matter for condemna-

But when he spoke of his Father as being a witness for him,

his enemies asked : " Where is your Father ? " His reply was :

" Ye neither know me nor my Father : if ye had

ere is y j, nown me „ e won ](| have known my Father

Father? J J

also. They must have understood him to mean
that he felt a consciousness of being one with God. That cer-
tainly was the claim which Jesus set forth. "Whether he was mis-
taken or not, whether he told the truth or a falsehood, — these are
two other questions ; but whether he made this claim is a ques-
tion readily answered. He most manifestly did. And no one
could find such a claim made by any man, otherwise very good
and exemplary, without feeling that however mistaken he might
be, he is unquestionably sincere in his belief. The whole ques-
tion of the divinity of Jesus is narrowed to the inquiring whether
his judgment was hurt by a false consciousness. If that ques-
tion be determined in the affirmative, then we have these difficul-
ties on our hands, namely, to account for a man so immaculate,
so surpassingly good, so profound, so rapid and searching a reader
of the human heart, that the like of him has never risen among
the sons of men, — a being with such self-control, such vast powers
of mind and wonderful endowments of physique, living the most
resplendent of human lives, and dying a sublimest death of mar-
tyrdom, and influencing the ages by his life and death, while he


himself was inwardly crazed by believing himself to be one
person while he was in reality another, — living and dying in the
belief that he was God, while in point of fact he was really
inferior to even any man who knows who he is.

It was truth or blasphemy which he was speaking. From the
standing-point of the Jews they must have deemed it the latter,
and yet they had not the courage to lay hands on the man who
had committed in their hearing the greatest crime possible under
the theocracy. His good greatness seemed to paralyze them.

Then said Jesus again to them : " I go away, and you shall seek
me, and in your sins you shall die: for where I go yon have not
the ability to come." The Jews said : " Will he kill himself % "
He replied : "You are of those beneath; I am of those above;
you are of the world ; I am not of the world. I said to you that
you shall die in your sins ; for if you do not believe that 1 am, you
shall die in your sins." They asked him, sarcastically : "Who
are you?" lie replied: "What say I to you from the first? I
have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but the
Father who sent me is here; and I speak to the world those
things which I have heard from Him." John inserts the explana-
tory sentence — " They understood not that he spoke to them of
the Father, God." So utterly obtuse and fleshly were they that
even these mystical utterances of Jesus were incomprehensible.
Then he said to them: "When you have lifted up the Son of Man
then shall you know that I am, and from myself I do nothing,
but as the Father has taught me, so I speak. And lie who s< at
me has not left me alone. He is with me, for I do always those
things that please Him."

Upon this many of the people believed on him. There was
something in the words or in the manner, or in both, which
touched them and awoke them into faith. But
it was not very great or very intelligenl faith, as Many believe on
appears from what immediately follows. lie
said to Buch : "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disci-
ples indeed ; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall eman-
cipate you." lie saw that they were regarding him in a sensuous
light, as a political deliverer Prom the [toman yoke, and therefore
spoke this word to set them right. He had exhibited such cour-
age in peril, and spoken so frankly of his consciousness of being

one with God that they had begun to think that they might have


been misled by his antecedents and his manner, and that thi3,
after all, was the Christ, the Anointed, the Messias, — still connect-
ing him, however, with their hopes of freedom from the Roman
yoke. This speech, which claimed that all his triumphs were to
be spiritual, opened their eyes to their misapprehension. More-
over, it touched them on the sorest spot of their hearts, as their
reply shows. They indignantly answered him : " Seed of Abra-
ham are we, and to no man have we been slaves at any time : how
do you say then, 'Ye shall be emancipated?'" So blind were
they as to forget that their fathers had been slaves in Egypt and
Babylon for generations, and that they were virtually at that very
moment the slaves of the Roman Empire.

Jesus replied : " I most solemnly assure you that whoever is do-
ing sin is the slave of sin. And the slave abides not in the house
continually. If, therefore, the Son shall emancipate you, you
shall be indeed freed. I know that you are Abraham's seed ; but
you seek to kill me because my word has no place in you. I
speak what I have seen with my Father, and you then do what you
have seen with your father."

These last words seem addressed to the crowd promiscuously.
It excited their anger greatly. If they had believed on him
before, they dropped him now, and with vehemence replied, "Abra-
ham is our father."

Jesus said unto them, "If you were Abraham's children you
would do the works of Abraham ; but now you seek to kill me, a

man who has told you the truth, which I have
Jesus most deep- heard from Qo± Thig fjid not Abraham< Y OU
)y incenses them. .

do the works or your rather. lhis still more in-
censed them, and they retorted, " We are not born of fornication.
One father have we, God." — " If God were your father," replied
Jesus, "you would have held me dear; for I proceeded forth and
have come from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me.
"Why do you not understand my speech? Because you cannot
hear my discourse.* Ye are of your father Diabolus (the Calum-
niator), and the desires of your father you are minded to do. He
was a manslayer from the beginning, and in the truth he has not
an abiding-place, for the truth is not in him; when he speaks a

* It is important to notice the dis- i late utterance of the latter, which
tinction between \a\ia and \oyos, the , means a reasonable connected line oi
former signifying the outward articu- I thought.


lie he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the liar's father.
But because I speak the truth you do not believe me. "Who of
you convicts me of wrong ? * Why do you not believe me if I
speak the truth ? lie who is of God hears the words of God : on
this account you hear not, because you are not from God.''

Upon their claiming to be Abraham's children Jesus showed
them that they had none of the characteristics of the spiritual
descendants of Abraham. That was tantamount
to a charge of spiritual bastardy, which they re- ' reno ra "
pelled by claiming God as their father. But
Jesus shows them that they have not the characteristics of spirit-
ual children of God, because they hate the One who has come out
from God. If they were God's spiritual children the truth would
be their vernacular; but they cannot receive the truth; it is as un-
intelligible to them as an unknown' language. lie then pours the
awful statement into their ears that they are the children of the
Devil, who was at once a liar and a murderer, who in the begin-
ning sought to destroy the race, and endeavored to accomplish
his nefarious designs by a lie. The Jews showed this disposition
towards Jesus — the lying, homicidal spirit — in that they sought to
kill him, not for any error of thought or wrong of life, for he
appeals to them if they have ever been convinced on evidenco
that he had done a wrong or made a mistake. It was a great
claim. lie challenges any flaw to be shown in his doctrines or
life. And yet they hate him murderously. If they were of < rod
they would hear the words of God; but their failure to hear the
words of God, which Jesus professed to speak, is proof that they
are not of God. Then, they are of the Devil.

Jesus rested his reproof on actual facts of which they were
cognizant, such as their known desire to slay him. To his lofty
rebuke they reply with coarse invective : "Is it nol
polite in us to Bay that thou art a Samaritan, and JesU9 **

• n ™ mi • with haying ;i de-

hast a demon i lney were going to throw at mon

him the twohardesl words known in Jewish quar-
relling, just because they knew no harder; but they sought to in-
tensify them by saying It is really a stretch of politeness to call

* The word means " error " a>< well signifies t

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 46 of 77)