Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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ence my son.' But these farmers said among themselves, ' This
is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be
ours.' And they took and killed him, and cast him out of the

Then Jesus put the question : " When, then, the lord of the vine-
yard shall come what shall he do to these farmers?" From some
one burst forth the reply: u lie will miserably destroy those
wicked men and let out the vineyard to other farmers, who shall
render hira the fruits in their season." Some one present ex-
claimed: "Be it not so!" or, as the passage stands in our com-
mon version, " God forbid." Quoting Psalm cxviii. 22, Jesus said:
"Have you not read this Scripture : 'A stone which the builders
rejected the same became a head of a corner; from the Lord this
came, and is wonderful to our eves \ ' "

The chief priests and Pharisees felt the keenness of the speech
against their principles and practices. They were not able to an-
swer him, and therefore sought to silence by killing him, a tiling
thej had already decreed to do. They were deterred only by a
fear of the people, whose enthusiasm for Jesus was still easily ex-

Jesus went forward with his parables, so searching and so in-
structive, lie said to them: "The kingdom of the heavens is
likened to a man, a king, who made wedding-
feasts for his son, and sent forth his slaves to call Pn to God, all justice towards
man, all equipoise of character were set forth in a sentence which
can be pronounced in a breath. They had accepted money from
Caesar's mint, thus acknowledging the dominion of the Emperor ;
thus they had settled against themselves in practical every-day
life, the question which one of their schools had determined in
the rabbinical rule, "The coin of the country shows the master."*
Jesus thus gave a summary of his teaching in an answer the
most profound, because it states what underlies all life and all the
duties thereof; the most lofty, because it crowns
the highest hopes of man for this present life, and
his grandest for the life to come; the most beauti-
ful, because in it law and freedom kiss each other; the most power-
ful, because it holds despotism and anarchy apart, and holds
religion and progressive tree life together. No other one sentence
uttered among men has done so much for the progress of human
Bociety. It was wA adivorcingof religion from government, and
a putting of God out of the affairs of the nations, as if human

A profound les

* Ellicotl quotes Maimonides in 0&-
fe^/o," chiip v.: " TTbicunqne numisma

rejjia olicujus obtinet, illic incolx' r>^m

latum pro domino agnoscant," Be6 also

Lightfoot, Hov. Ihb., in Matt, xxii. 20,


government and divine rule stood at neutrality or in antagonism.
Nor was it a sanction of Jewish ideas of unity, as if service to an
earthly monarch were treason to God, as under their theocracy
they had grown to believe, since God was king. Caesar exists by
appointment of God. Government does not exist b} r the will
of the governed, nor by the will of the governor, but by the ordi-
nance of God. Men dare not be without government; nor is it
practicable if men should attempt it. Duty to the government is
best discharged by devotion to God ; and duty to God involves the
discharge of obligations to the government. These hypocrites and
liars who were tempting Jesus were like all the disciples of the
"higher law" school in every age, making their pretended piety
an excuse for a violation of civil obligations. They were willing
to serve neither God nor Caesar, pleading one against the other that
they might be free from both. But Jesus, instead of admitting
the alternative of Caesar or God, assumes and impresses the con-
nection of Caesar and God.

Perhaps the idea that Jesus intended to convey a lesson by the
allusion to the image on the coin is not without foundation. It has
obtained in all Christian ages. Man bears God's image in his
soul from the birth, and is a man because he does bear that image,
as a piece of silver is a coin because it bears the image of the
reigning prince. Render your inner spiritual life to God and
devote your outer worldly life to your country, might seem to be
the lesson for each individual. In any case there is no collision of

When the Pharisees and Ilerodians heard the saying of Jesus
they marvelled at the wisdom of his reply, and seeing that they
could not take hold of his words before the people, they held their
peace and left him, and went their way.

But their pursuit of Jesus was not to be thus abandoned. If he
cannot be caught by an adroit question regarding political princi-
ples, perhaps he can be betrayed into saying some*

The pursuit not fofag w hi c h shall rouse against him the adherents
abandoned. ° . t m 1

of one of the sects among the people, lo that
end the Sadducees approached him; and they had a question so
shaped that any answer they could conceive would either commit
him against the law of Moses or drive him into the helplessness of
silence. Jesus had endorsed the law of Moses, and had also
explicitly taught the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.


The Sadducees were materialistic pantheists. They did not
believe in any spirit, whether of man, angel, or God. They did
not believe in the resurrection of the body, and therefore, as the
body was all there was of man, the continued existence of con
scions personal identity was not received by them. They ran their
principles to the logical ends of atheism or pantheism. In out-
ward life they were decent, and considered themselves a part of
the " church," and, so far as we can see, were not debarred by their
philosophical tenets from being members of the Sanhedrim. For
political reasons they were ready to join the Pharisees and the
Herodians — indeed some of the sect may have been Ilerodians —
in putting aside a man whose course threatened to bring the Jews
into collision with the Romans without the prospect of making a
successful revolt against the dominant empire.

The Sadducees plant themselves on Moses and quote the law of

the Levirate marriage, thus : " Teacher, Moses said, If any one

die, having no children, his brother shall marry his

wife and raise up seed t6 his brother. But there Option by the
1 , . Sadducees.

were with us seven brothers; and the first, having
married, died, and not having ^vd he left his wife to his brother.
Likewise the second also, and tin: third, until tin; seventh. Ajid
lasl of all the woman died. Now in the resurrection of which of
the seven shall she be wife?" From their standing-point this
seems like ;i difficulty from which Jesus cannot extricate himself.
lie must admit that their statement of the law, being a free render-
in - 'J Deuteronomy xxv. 5, is quite correct. Then they state a
case. Whether it occurred in real life or is imagined in order to
test the principle, is not important. It might occur. It would
have been sufficient to take the very case which Rioses supposed,
namely, of two brothers ; but the greater the number the greater
the perplexity, and therefore they state seven. It is clear that
they suppose that Moses did not believe in the resurrection, and
the question which they -tate involves, as they think, in any reply
which Jesus can make, h surrender of the truth of the doctrine
oi'the resurrection, or of the binding force of the law of Mo-e-
If is quite clear that they did not propound the question that they

might 1 alightened. It was to entangle Jesus.

The reply of Jesus was lofty in its spirit and demolishing in i* =

Stroke. lie did liol deign :i reply to a sneer :it a greal d'Ttrh •'.

nor a solution specialh applicable t.> a usually cone.


and coarsely stated. lie showed their folly and stated the great
principle involved in the case, and demonstrated by a single quota-
tion from the writings of Moses that the great law-
giver was neither pantheist nor Sadducee. His
reply is, " Yon are wandering, knowing neither the Scriptures Dor
the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor
are given in marriage, but as the angels of God in heaven are
they. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not
known precisely that spoken to you by God, saying, ' I am the God
of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob?' lie is not
the God of the dead, but the God of the living."

lie rejects their pantheistic notions, asserts the personality of

God, teaches that those of whom Jehovah is God cannot be dead,

but alive. God is y Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

esus agaius are These men are dead, so far as the world is

pantheism. '

able to perceive; but they are as certainly alive as
God is. lie answers their quotation from Moses of the provision
for Lev irate marriages, by showing them, by another quotation
from Moses (Exod. iii. 6), how the belief in the continued exist-
ence of men after death underlay the highest teachings of the
great lawgiver. He gives them to understand that their question,
which was propounded in the spirit of libertinism, involved a
gross error, which came of their ignorance of both the meaning of
Scripture and the power of God. It does not seem that Jesus
charged the Sadducees with being ignorant of the omnipotence of
God, but that they did not discern the power of God in holy
Scripture; that to them a writing was a writing, and nothing more;
in short, that they did not know that the fact of the power of God
being in the Scripture was a proof that God is a spirit.

The marriage relation is one of the natural and not of the spir-
itual body. This forced Levirate marriage was most unnatural.

Whether anv love existed between the widow and
Marriage natu- . , . . , . . . ,

tg ^ her brother-in-law, whether or not she loved an-

other man better, or he had already a wife whom
he loved, his brother's widow must be taken to his arms. The

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 57 of 77)