Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

. (page 60 of 77)
Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 60 of 77)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

think it, the Son of Man comes."

Peter broke in with, " Lord, do you speak this parable to us, or
even to all '\ " Jesus replied :—

; ' What 1 say to you I say to all, Watch. It is as a man taking a far journey,
who, leaving his house, gave authority to his slaves, and to each man his
work, and commanded the gatekeeper to watch. Who, then, is the faithful
and wise slave whom the Lord will make ruler over his household, to give
tin in the food in season ? Happy slave that, whom his lord coming shall find
doing so ! I assuredly say to you that he shall make him ruler over all his
possessions. But if the bad slave shall say in his heart, ' My lord delays,' and
shall begin to strike his fellow-slaves, and to eat and drink with the drunken,
the lord of that slave shall come on a day which he expects not, and in an
hour that he knows not, and shall cut him in two, and give him his part with
tlic hypocrites; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

" Now that slave who knew his Lord's will and prepared not, neither did
according to his will, shall be beaten much; but he who knew not and did
commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few. To whom much is
given, of him much shall be required; and to whom men have committed
much, of him they will ask the more. Watch, therefore, for you know not
what day your Lord comes — whether at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-
crowing, or in the morning — lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.

" Then the kingdom of the heavens shall be likened to ten virgins, who,
having taken their lamps, went forth to meet the bridegroom. Five of them
were foolish, live prudent For the foolish, having taken lamps, took no oil
with them ; but the prudent took oil in the vessels with their lamps. Hut, the
bridegroom delaying, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry
was made, ' Behold I the bridegroom! go out to meet him.' Then all those
virgins arose and trimmed their lamps; and the foolish said to the prudent,

' Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out' Bui the prudenl answered,

Sa\ illg: ' Lest there be Hot e! loll- 1 1 for II, 111 id V oil. go rather to tltOSe WllO Sell,

and buy for yourselves.' And while they went, to buy, the bridegroom came,
and they who were read v went in with li: m to the wedding-feast ; ai d the


door was shut. Afterwards come also the other virgins, saying: ' Sir, sir, open
to us; ' but lie answering, said, ' I assuredly say to you, I do uot know you.'

" Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning, and yourselves
like men waiting for their lord, when he will return from the wedding, thai
when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Happy
slaves they whom the lord coming shall find watching. I assuredly say tc
you, that he shall gird himself and make them recline, and will come near and
serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or in the third watch,
and find them thus, happy are they ! Watch, therefore, for ye know neither
the day nor the hour.

"And when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with
him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be
gathered all the nations ; and he shall separate them from one another, as the
shepherd separates the sheep from the goats ; and he will place the sheep on
the right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to those on
his right hand, 'Come, you who are praised of my Father, inherit the king-
dom prepared for you from the foundation of the world : for I hungered and
you gave me to cat, I thirsted and you gave me drink, I was a stranger
and you made me a companion, naked and you clothed me: I was sick, and
you visited me; I was in prison, and yon came to me.' Then shall the right-
eous answer him, saying: ' Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed you ?
or thirsty, and gave you drink ? and when did we see you a stranger, and en-
tertained you; or naked, and clothed you? and when did we see you sick, or
in prison, and came to you ? ' And the King, answering, shall say to them :
' I assuredly say to you, inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of these
my brethren, you did it to me.' Then shall he say also to those on the left
hand, ' Depart from me, you accursed, to the perpetual fire prepared for the
devil and his angels ; for I hungered and you did not give me to cat, I thirsted
and you did not give me to drink, I was a stranger and you did not enter-
tain me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did
not visit me.' Then they shall answer, saying, ' Lord, when did we see you
hungering, or thirsting, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did
not minister to you ? ' Then he shall answer them, saying, ' I assuredly say
to you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of these least ones, ye did it not to
me.' And these shall go away into perpetual punishment, but the righteous
into perpetual life."

This extraordinary discourse contains statements of what was
then future, which cannot be regarded as the mere results of
extraordinary sagacity, as some political men
foretold the French Revolution years before it
broke upon Europe. The character of the average Jewish mind
and the state of feeling among the Jewish people might have led
any observant person to perceive that the fanaticism of the people
was becoming frantic, and that the wild excitement which led
them to persecute Jesus to the death, because he would not be a


political leader against Rome, would finally dasli Judaism with
such violence against the Ruler of the nations as to produce such
results as came forty years afterwards, in the taking of the city
by Titus and the dispersion of the Jewish people by Hadrian.
But here some of the details are such as one would utter who had
the veil of the future lifted, and beheld coming events with the
intense spiritual insight of an inspired Seer. And yet there are
none of the particularities which distinguish the predictions of
the believers in a millennium, none of their chiliastic sensuous
ideas, lie takes the complexity of the question of his friends as
the foundation of a description of the future, which embraced
both the destruction of the Jewish theocracy and the final ground
of judgment of men and nations.

What he had said in the Temple naturally led his disciples to
ask for further information. He had dislocated their ideas of the
government of the world. They had not dreamed that the Tem-
ple would be destroyed. There would come days of darkness,
but the arrival of the Messiah would cover Mount Zion with
splendor and flood the world with theocratic glory. Now he saya
that Judaism, with its Temple, is to be swept away. What then
should be their relation to the world and to God ? They had rea-
son to seek to be taught on these points.

He first warns them to beware of interpreting the pangs of

child-birth into the agonies preceding death. The nations would

be astir. Vast physical and national upheavals

1 J . . The nations

would take place, but the end of the existing or- 6tirre( i

der of things is not yet. What men call endings
are really beginnings. Deaths are births. His people, those who
adopted his principles, would suffer many bitternesses. Christians
should suffer especially at the hands of churchmen. The truth,
for which he was about to suffer death, would always be an occa-
sion of contention. There would always be the double trouble of
opposing ecclesiastical influence and those distracting pretenders
the false prophets. Bui endurance, prudence, and vigilance would

bring his followers through all troubles.

Jerusalem should certainly be destroyed. A desolating abomi-
nation should stand in the holy place, when the
eagles of the Roman standard, which were wor- J -' ni ^ lom tlc "

, . , . , , . , ,. . . -. strayed.

snipped as idols, as representing the divinity of

power, should be planted in the precincts of the Temple of Jcho-


vali. lie gave directions to his followers what to do then. They
should flee to the mountains, probably those of Perea, any place
which should take them from these horrors. That the gospel of
Matthew was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, ap-
pears from the fact that he calls attention to this prediction and
these directions by the parenthesis, " Let the reader understand."
The Christians subsequently obeyed these directions. When the
Roman armies encamped against Jerusalem, they lied to Pella,
and thus escaped that terrible slaughter in which 1,500.000 Jews
are said to have fallen. If the whole Jewish populace had given
up their idea of a political Messiah, and yielded to the spiritual
teachings of Jesus, and felt that the Messiah's kingdom was inward
and not outward, and abandoned all thought of attempting by
the sword what was in that way wholly impracticable, they would
have avoided that terrific catastrophe, which filled the world with
shudderings, and to this day stands up as the bloodiest horror of
the past.

But amid all commotions, when pseudo-Christs arose, the dis-
ciples of Jesus were not to be drawn hither and thither in vain

expectation of the revelation of the Son of Man.

When that really occurred, men should not have
to look after it. It would force itself on the attention of all men
like a lightning-flash. It would fall like a thunderbolt. The
disciples said, " Where, Lord ? " His reply was a proverbial form
of expression containing a general principle. Wherever there i3
a dead carcass, there the vultures do come. To keep from being
eaten by birds of prey, you must keep alive. God has his scaven-
gers everywhere. If a man die, or a nation, or a church, there
are forces provided to consume the dead body and transmute it
into live tissue. Judaism is dead. The wings of the vultures are
abroad in the sky, and these devouring birds will scent the prey,
and come and take it away.

From the fatal downfall of Jerusalem the Teacher ascends to
the general judgment of mankind. Here there is nothing to

gratify vain curiosity. There is a graphic repre-

Gencral jud^- ...-,.. . i •

mentof mankind, station of prodigious events m nature and m

human society, as ushering in what Jesus calls
the Parousia of the Son of Man, that is, his coming, his appearing,
his revelation of himself. It may be delayed, but it will come.
God works gradually forward to great results ; but they often



break upon the world at last like thunder-claps. The flood in the
days of Noah and the rain of fire in the days of Lot are examples.
The people on whom this ruin fell were years in ripening for
their doom ; but it fell at last like the downcoming of an enor-
mous trip-hammer. It will be so as often as God shall visit the
world with summary judgment. One cataclysm may succeed an-
other, but the world does not take warning. The Deluge was no
lesson to Sodom and Gomorrah, nor the destruction of those cities
a warning to the Jews in the days of Jesus, nor the downfall of
Jerusalem and Judaism any preventive of the French Revolution.
So whatever this "Parousia" of the Son of Man may mean, it
will come suddenly, and all the development of the causes will
not make men ready for the results. The race of mankind, Jesus
taught, should not disappear from the earth before all the things
he had predicted should come to pass. The certainty should
strengthen the faith, while the suddenness should keep all who
believe that Jesus is a true Teacher on the spiritual alert. The
words of warning, he distinctly asserts, were not confined to his
immediate friends, but to all men, for they are founded on gen-
eral and perpetual principles.

The necessity of vigilance is illustrated further by the case of
servants whose master is absent. Of the time of his return they
have no certain knowledge, but they know he will return, and
they must keep in a perpetual state of readiness. This is further
illustrated by the parable of ten virgins, who, according to Oriental
custom, were waiting until the bridegroom should appear, bringing
his wife to his home. They were to add to the splendor of the
procession by their torches. A.8 is often the case in these in-
stances, a delay keeps the bridegroom until midnight. The vir-
gins all Bleep, SO that the foolish do not perceive that their lamps
are dying out, nr are the wise virgins wakeful enough to warn
their sisters of their danger; and so the call comes upon all Bud-
denly. The wise have oil enough for themselves, and they proper-
ly conclude that it is better to haw live torches burning brilliantly
through the whole time of the prOCe68ion than that the party

should enter with ten, all of which should soon be extinguished.*

• Trench quotes Ward iVinr f tin Hesaya: l( After waiting two or three
Hindoos, vol. 2, p. 29), who describe* hours, at length, near midnight, it wm
the parts of a marriage ceremony in annonnoed, aain the veiy words of Scrip-

India of which he was an eye-witness. ! ture, 'Behold, the bridegroom comes


He thus teaches personal responsibility and the necessity of cease-
less vigilance.

Jesus sets forth himself as the representative of humanity.

Humanity shall be judged by him in both senses. His moral

sense is the standard of judgment. Whatever

Jesus the re- J n j ur y j s done to any human being, however feeble,
hum-mil - friendless, uninfluential, apparently worthless, is to

bring to the injurer just what that act would
bring if done to Jesus. He is the Son of Humanity. Hurt
humanity and you hurt him. Do good to humanity at any point,
and you do good to him. Water to any thirsty man, bread to any
hungry woman, clothing to any naked child, kind attention to any
unknown stranger, visit to any prisoner, criminal or innocent, is
set down as done to the Son of Man. He refuses to have any-
thing which the giver is not willing to bestow upon humanity.
He takes the lowliest human being, whoever he or she may be,
and says, " Inasmuch as you did it not to this least one you did it
not to me." An}' failure of duty to any human being Jesus takes
as a personal neglect of himself, while he acknowledges as a per-
sonal favor the slightest kindness done to the most nearly insigni-
ficant human being.

This is the most sublime and tender Humaneness.

It is to be remarked how, in the setting forth of the doctrine of
future rewards and punishments, the goodness of the heavenly
Father is presented by Jesus. From the foundation of the world
a state of exaltation had been prepared for all the good. God
does not make devils, and bad people, and hells. Angels may
make themselves devils, the sons of God may make themselves
bad people, wickedness may make hells ; but God makes only
kingdoms of glory, and angels, and sons of God. He does all he
can to keep ar.gcls from becoming devils, and men from becoming
bad, and high celestial places from becoming infernal pits. He
uses all possible attractions to keep men from going away from
him. He does not curse them, but they are accursed. He does
not drive them away, but they do depart. To be a man, one must
have a free will. To be a son of God, and made in the likeness

go ye out to meet him.' All the per- I some of them had lost tlia'r lights and
bods emplo3 r ed now lighted their lamps were unprepared, but it was then too fate
aud ran with them in their hands to fill i to seek them ; and the cavalcade moved
up their stations in the procession — ' forward."


of God, one must be as free as God. Does not every man who re-
flects and examines his consciousness feel sure that he is ? When
a man chooses to put himself in such position that the attraction
of hell becomes greater than the attraction of heaven, he gravitates
naturally toward hell.

And yet there is nothing dogmatic in all this wonderful dis-
course. There is no question of curiosity settled, no question the

answer to which could have no bearing on the

, , „ at i • • Absence of dog-

moral character or men. JNo subscription to matisn ,

formal creeds secures the final benediction, but
only such belief as is the necessary root of the moral tree which
bears the fruits of humanity, is saving. God's discriminations
here are all made in regard to character ; and so will be the dis-
criminations of the other world. Jesus sets himself forward as
the representative of humanity, while he is the judge of mankind.
Such belief in him, as that representative, as shall lead to such
love for him as shall produce on all possible occasions all possible
kindness to all kinds of men, it is that belief which keeps a man
in the circle of the. humane, and the humane are those who are
drawn closely to Jesus, " the Son of Man" and thus to one an-
other. As humanity dies out of man devilishness sets in. Jesus
recognized the existence of a personal devil. Men, in every act,
become more and more like one or the other — like Jesus or the
devil. There are judgments from time to time on earth: there
are to be judgments in the future, the details of which are not fur-
nished, but in general terms of appalling grandeur those judg-
ments are described. One of these temporal judgments of men
should be had at the destruction of Jerusalem, the horrors of which
should typify another, a spiritual, a grander judgment on a broader
Scale. That stupendous event should have no effect upon the
character of those whose sentence it should pronounce, but that
character should determine the sentence. They shall go away, the
righteous — that is the humane — into continuous life; the wicked — •
that is the inhumane — into continuous punishment, lie does not
t.'ll us how long that punishment and thai life Bhall be. lie uses
a word (alcovio^) which specially conceals any definite conclusion.
Il may he endless, it may have an end, it may be immediate and
• ntinue through the existing .-fate of things; it is pain ami
rare set over against one another, with no limit of time. Time,
measureless or limited, i- very little, but charach r is over} thing.




At the conclusion of tliis speech, most probably on the same

evening, Tuesday, which was the beginning of the fourth day of

the week, according to Jewish reckoning, and
Disappointed . ., . . D

h p es while they were going towards Bethany, Jesus

said to his friends, " You know that after two
days is the Feast of the Passover, and the Son of Man is be-
trayed to be crucified." There could be nothing plainer than
that. He should not carry out the Jewish Messianic idea. lie
should disappoint all the worldly hopes of his personal friends.
They must give up forever their expectations that he would prove
a temporal Deliverer and regard him hereafter as a spiritual

When Jesus and his disciples reached Bethany they found that
an entertainment had been provided for them in the house of

Simon "the leper." Who he was we do not
Feast in Simon's know. It is probable that he had had the leprosy

evenL Arff? a " d Lad been heak ' d hj JeSUS ' aild that he S ave
A D 3 Q ' this supper in token of his gratitude. Perhaps

he was a relative of Lazarus ; if not, the two
families were intimate, as Lazarus, and Martha, and Mary were
present, " and Martha served."

After the meal had begun, while Jesus reclined at the table,
Mary came in quietly and opened a flask, and noiselessly poured

the ointment on the head of her friend. She had

Mary anoints Je- . , n . . , ,, r i • 1

eug watehed with loving eyes the agony or ins soul,

his harassed look as he returned from his daily
conflicts in Jerusalem. She naturally desired to make some
marked and significant display of her love. On that aching head
she poured the nard. There, stretched from the couch, were the
rollen, throbbing feet that had been standing in the Temple


during the day, and bringing him across Olivet in the evening
She recollected that they had stood beside her brother's grave.
Now, there sat that brother, alive, well, and eating. Her heart
went out in all lovingness. She spent the remainder of the oint-
ment on his feet, then threw the flask away, and wrapped the dear
limbs in her hair.

So silently and unobtrusively had she done this, that it was only
when the house was filled with the odor of the ointment that the
disciples perceived what had been done, although Jesus from the
first knew that it was Mary, and what she was doing.

There was one dark spirit at the feast, who was about to do the

deed of treason which was to damn his fame forever. It was Ju

das Iscariot. He ventured the first sinister criti-

„ Judas objects.

asm. " Why was tins waste or the ointment

made ? Why was it not sold and given to the poor?" The othci

disciples concurred in this view, after it had been suggested by

treasurer Judas under the specious guise of consideration for the

poor. The criticism grew into a murmur round the table.

The reply of Jesus is most striking. " Let her alone," said he ;

" why do yon trouble her? She lias wrought a beautiful work on

me. You have the poor with you always, and

i -ii i *i ii* The reply of Je-

when you will you may do them good ; but me gus

you have not always. She has done what site •
could: she came beforehand to anoint my body for the burial.
Verily I say to you, Wherever the gospel shall be preached in the
whole world, what she has done shall also be spoken of as a me-
morial of her."

This is a remarkable speech every way. Jesus was caught m
the toils of his enemies. He always knew that there was to be
no temporal kingdom, with offices, and honors, and emoluments,
and that now death lav near before him. Beyond that death he saw
that his cause was to rise and conquer, that the whole world was
to hear the glad tidings of Jesus, and that whenever and wher-
ever thai gospel was preached, Mary's gracefnl tribute should be

recited as a memorial of her. It is noticeable as showing the
care of Jesus for the graceful when it lias no Bpecial utility.
JesUS took care of the beautiful; he knew that the useful would
take care of itself. lie showed how much more precious in hie
sight is the service of the heart than the service of the head; the
worship of love than the labor of thought.



A meeting of

While Jesus was predicting the downfall of Jerusalem, as he
sat on a projection of Mount Olivet, the churchmen inside the
city were plotting his destruction. lie had that
day humbled them in the sight of the people.
lie had every day increased their rage more and
more, and had constantly escaped, always going out of the city at
nightfall. They felt that they must do something promptly and
decisively to suppress Jesus. With that view a large, and perhaps
confidential, assemblage of chief priests and scribes and elders
met together " in the palace of the high-priest," says Matthew.
They did not go to the usual place, the council-chamber called
Gazith, which, according to the Talmud, joined the south side -of
the Temple ; they went to the hall or court of Caiaphas, son-in-
law of Annas, a man who had degraded the pontificate by giv-
ing it political connections. It is not certain where this " palace,"
or hall, or court was. An ancient tradition makes it the country-
house of Caiaphas, the ruins of which are still shown on the sum-
mit of the Hill of Evil Counsel.*

The intent of the meeting was to devise some scheme of subtil-
ity by which they could quickly move him out of the way. They
did not dare to attempt to take him openly. lie
had adherents and warm partisans. The popu-
lace were excited in his behalf. His recent mir-
acles and his manifest triumph over the church party in the most
public manner had brought the people to his side. The shouts of
the Palm-Sunday Messianic salutations had scarce yet died out of
the air. If they arrested him publicly there might be a public
attempt at rescue, and then there would have been a collision.
The Roman guard, who never studied Jewish ecclesiastical ques-
tions, and who, from the tower of Antonia, looked down upon the
Temple court and kept the often tumultuous crowd of worship-
pers under surveillance, would have rushed upon them with the
sword and consigned both parties to indiscriminate slaughter. By
craft, therefore, must he be taken. After a long consultation this
was the result of their deliberations: that the Passover should be

The capture

* " Tradition makes the bargain with

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 60 of 77)