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Jesus' idea; a study of the real Jesus online

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of brotherhood. Yet to-day the rite so redolent of brother-
hood is the symbol largely of division and of strife. The re-
quirement of brotherhood, in fact, is often ignored for some

^ Four accounts of the institution of the Lord's Supper are found
in the New Testament: St. Mt. 26:26-29; St. Mk. 14:22-25; St. Luke
22:17-20; I. Cor. II :24fif. The accounts in St. Matthew and St.
Mark are virtually the same ; while those of St. Luke and St. Paul
present minor differences. It is singular that neither St. Matthew
nor St. Mark record the words : "Do this in remembrance of me,"
which are recorded by St. Luke and by St. Paul. The earliest
account, however, is that given in I. Cor. 11:24, which represents
these words as spoken by Jesus. However this may be, it is certain
that the occasion and the significance of the Lord's action at the
Last Supper would more and more commend itself to the growing
insight of the Apostles, as worthy of a permanent memorial. This
will appear as we proceed.

It is probable that the "blessing" given by Christ was akin to
those used at their meals by the Jews. Thus at the present day the
following blessing is said over the bread: "Blessed art thou, O
Lord our God, King of the Universe, who bringest forth bread from
the earth," and before drinking wine : "Blessed art thou . . . \yho
Greatest the fruit of the vine."

' "Drink ye all" "They all drank."

The Church and the Kingdom 195

requirement of a fancied faith.

This thought, however, does not exhaust the significance of
the rite. While there is a strict unity of conception underlying
the act of Jesus, many subordinate and diverse elements are
included. About a year before the institution of the Lord's
Supper, Jesus had engaged in a very remarkable conversation
with the Jews at Capernaum, which cost Him the allegiance of
several of His disciples.^ The meaning of His enigmatical lan-
guage on this occasion^ if hidden from the Jews, was at least pat-
ent to spiritual insight. The idea was that Jesus was the life of

^ "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread
from Heaven ; but my Father giveth you the true bread from
Heaven. . . . Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life : he that
Cometh to me shall never hunger ; and he that believeth on me
shall never thirst." The Jews did not understand ; they "murmured
at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from
heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose
father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came
down from heaven." Jesus, however, undismayed, asserted with
greater positiveness, "I am that bread of life ; your fathers did eat
manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which
Cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not
die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven ; if
any man eat of this bread he shall live forever : and the bread
that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the
world." The antagonism of the Jews became more pronounced :
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus, however,
replied. Verily, verily, I say unto you. Except ye eat the flesh of
the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal
life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat
indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and
drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living
Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth
me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down
from heaven : not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead :
he that eateth of this bread shall live forever." In consequence
of this teaching, "many of his disciples went back, and walketh
no more with him." Jesus, however, retracted nothing; He only
added the significant remark: "It is the spirit that quickeneth;
the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they
are spirit, and they are life" (St. John 6:32 ff). St. Peter and
the Twelve, however, even if they did not understand, remained
faithful ; the former, indeed, seized the opportunity to attest again
his faith in Jesus as the Messiah : "Thou art that Christ, the Son
of the living God."

196 Jesus* Idea

the soul ; that He was to the spiritual life of man exactly what
bread — the staff of life — was to the physical life: its nourish-
ment; that only by "feeding upon Him, could man truly live/'
"I am your nourishment," when translated into figurative speech,
became, "my flesh is your bread, my blood your drink." Renan
may well remark: "Jesus was, at once, very idealistic in his con-
ceptions, and very materialistic in his expression of them."
So, at the Last Supper, when great thoughts must have agitated
His mind, and great affections stirred His heart, Jesus person-
ally present and before the very eyes of the disciples, took bread,
and showing it to them, said, "this is my body"; showing also
the wine, "this is my blood," — action and language alike signi-
fying, "I am your life/' His whole desire, indeed, was that
He might be their life; that they might feed upon Him, might
drink Him. Wisdom, in Prov. 9:5, is represented as saying,
"Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have
mingled." So Jesus represents Himself as giving Himself to
be eaten and drunk. As Wisdom desires to be "spiritually ap-
propriated and assimilated," so Jesus desires that He — His
thoughts. His aims. His spirit — may become part and parcel,
nay, the very essence of the individual life. If the Lord's Supper
was enacted without the use of the words, "Do this in remem-
brance of me," it was then simply the enunciation symbolically
of the universal principle underlying the conversation with the
Jews in Capernaum. If, however, as we believe, the Supper
was to be a perpetual memorial, Jesus pleads that in the per-
formance of the rite there may be a spiritual assimilation of
Himself in His ideas, His aspirations and His spirit; that the
participants may no longer live, but that He may live in them.^
Jesus, however, desired something further: a feeding upon
His body as broken, and a drinking of His blood as ''shed''
or ''poured out." In the Last Supper He advanced a step
further than in the teaching given at Capernaum. "Flesh" and

*The failure of the Fourth Gospel, which seems to have so much
of the "mind of Christ," to mention the institution of Baptism, or
of the Lord's Supper, while it especially emphasizes in the third
chapter the reality for which baptism stands — a new birth by
water and by Spirit — and in the sixth chapter, the reality which
the Lord's Supper represents — a feeding upon the body and blood of
Christ, is very remarkable, and may indicate at least that the
realities are of more importance than the symbols.

The Church and the Kingdom 197

"blood" have now become "a body broken' and **blood shed."
The change is subtle, yet essential, and most suggestive. The
idea of His life as sacrifice — a living death — Jesus indeed brings
vividly before His disciples at the Last Supper under the figure
of a "body broken" and "blood shed," with the added thought
that His disciples are to feed upon that life. They are to eat
and drink not merely His body and blood — that is His life —
but His life as it is represented by a broken body and shed blood,
i. e., by service and by sacrifice. How splendid His idea was
now becomes apparent. The conception was ethical, practical,
vital. His life of sacrifice and service was to become the essence
of their life ; was to be bodied forth in their lives as they repre-
sented Him.^

Jesus' thought, however, goes even a step further. Content
with suggesting that the bread be interpreted simply as His
body, the cup of wine, representing His shed blood, is made to
signify a "covenant," or a ''neiv covenant/' "For this is my
blood of the New Testament (covenant) which is shed for many
for the remission of sins" (St. Mt. 26:28).^ In explanation of
this allusion, our minds instinctively revert to the blood-shedding
which inaugurated the Covenant or alliance, described in Ex.
24:4-8.^ Our Lord, indeed, means that just as Moses sprinkled
blood alike on altar and people, sealed an alliance between Israel
and Jehovah, so did His blood shed for men, i. e.. His life of sac-
rifice, obedient to God even unto the death of the Cross, seal a
new alliance bet\veen God and man. This alliance, the cup of

* See Appendix H., "The Significance of the Sufferings and Death
of Jesus."

^ "The blood of a covenant was not life-blood flowing in the veins
of the living, but life-blood shed in sacrificial death."

* "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up
early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and
twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he
sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt
offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord.
And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and
half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar, and he took the book
of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people : and they
said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.
And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and
said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made
with you concerning all these words."

198 Jesus* Idea

wine, representing the shed blood of Christ, signified. Of this
cup, i. e., this new alliance, Jesus would have His followers
drink; entering fully into all the privileges and the obligations
of the New Covenant, of which Jeremiah had sung so nobly:
"Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah"
(31 131) ; and in which the law of God should be written upon
the heart, the knowledge of God abound, and mankind exult in
the forgiveness of their sins (vs. 33, 34). Thus we gain a
glimpse of the august idea of Jesus as He instituted the Lord's

Returning now to first principles, we find that eKKXrjaUy as
used in the Gospels, is comprehensive enough to include the his-
toric churches of Christendom, the Protestant communions, and
that large number of men and women, who, unaffiliated with
either Catholicism or Protestantism, manifest, "practical recog-
nition of the 'Lordship of Jesus' in their lives." The word
is large enough to take in those who are frequently outside
the church; to render valid the ministries now deemed invalid
or irregular; to break down many figments of the ecclesiastical
imagination now sundering man; and to include all who ac-
knowledge the Messianic Lordship of Jesus in one noble and
triumphant whole. What could do more to advance the spirit
of brotherhood among men than the free and full recognition
of this fact? The church, however, which was to be the mighty
embodiment and exponent of the brotherhood of man, has been,
and is to-day, the scene of the keenest violation of that sense,
and largely, as we believe, because the fundamental meaning
of eKKXrjffia was neither understood nor borne in mind. "If
the salt shall have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?"
The unity of the early church was due to the vivid conscious-

^ That the rite was one of extreme solemnity, and destined for
the weal or woe of the participants, St. Paul indicates in the sober
words : "Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the
Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the
Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that
bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh
unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not dis-
cerning the Lord's body" (I Cor. 11:27-29). Realizing the
significance of the rite, we can see the utter mockery in unworthy

The Church and the Kingdom 199

ness of brotherhood; and if church unity is ever to come in the
future, it will come, and come only, through a deepening con-
viction of the undeniable brotherhood of all who are seeking
to possess the mind, the spirit, and the life of Jesus — brother-
hood which outweighs all differences. He labors best for church
unity who seeks to deepen the sense of Christian brotherhood;
not he who advocates impracticable schemes which will prove
but iridescent dreams.

The history of Christianity has been largely the history of
misplaced emphasis; but happily the day of ecclesiasticism is
passing, and the day of vital Christianity is dawning. Prior
to the Reformation we have the era of triumphant ecclesiasti-
cism. Since the Reformation the age of credal statement has
held well-nigh sovereign sway; but signs are not wanting that
our own time is witnessing an ever-increasing return to Christi-
anity in its simplicity, its pristine power and beauty. To under-
stand the large and generous meaning of eKKXrjaia as it is used
in the Gospel of Matthew, is a step in that direction. It means
the dissipation of prejudice; the acceptance of the true instead of
the false; the placing of emphasis upon the unifying bond of
brotherhood ; the dethronement of invidious distinctions ; the ab-
sence of all taint of insulting condescension. Above all, it will
banish from the world forever that most unjustifiable and ob-
noxious of world-wide and omni-denominational phenomena, the
prolific source of religious animosity, the inveterate opponent of
brotherhood — the ecclesiastic. We mean the man who is the
incarnation of provincialism; who forgets that he was a man
before he was a clergyman ; who, as a clergyman, takes but little
interest in, and has but little to do with, the larger affairs of
life — political, educational, social, temporal — remaining but a
cipher in his community, so far as these are concerned; the
victim of that most fallacious of heresies, the divorcing of the
sacred and the secular. We mean the man who also forgets
that he was a minister of Christ, pledged to His undying service,
and to profound sympathy with every movement for God and
righteousness, from the Church of Rome, with her noble Bene-
dict XV, all along the line, to the Salvation Army; pledged
to these by Baptism long before he assumed the ministerial yoke
of his respective denomination. We mean the man who loves
his sect more than his fellow-man, more than the universal

200 Jesus* Idea

priesthood of all Christians; whose eyes are blind to the distinct
excellencies and achievements of other religious bodies; the man
of little weight, narrow vision, circumscribed sympathy; the
bane of the Church, and often met with. Such a man, indeed,
reverses the order of nature, ^nd of chronology; he is the viola-
tion of their laws. Adequate appreciation of the essential mean-
ing of eKKXrjcrLa would rid the world of him, and in his stead
would give a band of strong, large-visioned, spiritually minded
men, who would remember that they were first men ; that noth-
ing of concern to man was foreign to them ; that, secondly, they
were ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, last, but not
least, they were clergymen of their respective denominations, and
that this relationship only accentuates, intensifies, and conse-
crates the former obligations. Such men will the eKKK7](jia of
Jesus give us; and it means the passing forever of that hapless
and hopeless mediocrity which now so often, by virtue of its
very mediocrity, basks in the sunshine of ecclesiastical favor and
preferment, and the elevation of that substantial worth and
avowed ability which often pine and wither, unnoticed and un-

Led by men of this type, the Church would assume the
relationship toward the Kingdom which Jesus intended it to
assume. The Kingdom is the far-larger category.^ The sub-
lime conception, indeed, is that of Isaiah: ''The government
shall be upon his (Messiah's) shoulder; ... of the in-
crease of his government there shall be no end" (9:6-7). The
Church is simply the witness to this purpose, and the chief
instrumentality to this end. The Church, indeed, is not an end
in itself, but a means; it is destined to be as temporary as the
Jewish eKKkqcTta was. Both, in fact, derive their importance
from their relationship to the Kingdom of God, and the effi-
ciency of both is to be tested solely as they minister to that end.
The visible Church is not in itself divine; it is the spiritual
life of which the Church is but one manifestation that is divine.
The life is far more than its embodiment, and can assume vary-
ing forms. The malady of the Church to-day is precisely the
malady which afflicted the Jewish Church ages ago : these truths
are forgotten. Much of our religion, indeed, is Judaism under

^ The term "kingdom" occurs one hundred and twelve times in
the Gospels; the word "church" only twice.

The Church and the Kingdom 201

the veil of Christianity, and there is the need to-day of a race
of prophets to keep the Church true to her allegiance, though
their task were as thankless and as futile as that of the Ancient
Prophets of Israel.

From the standpoint of the Kingdom, indeed, one must look
with much commiseration upon the Church, both of the past
and of the present. Truly it is a "tragic, humiliating, dis-
enchanting tale." In the words of the late Professor Bruce,
"To be enthusiastic about the Church in its present condition
is impossible, to hope for its future is not impossible; but if
it were, there is no cause for despair. Christ will ever remain,
the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and the kingdom of
God will remain, a kingdom that cannot be moved" ("The King-
dom of God" p. 272). Indeed, the Church of Jesus, which was
to lead the world away from the temporal and the material,
has itself become painfully engrossed in that from w^hich it was
to deliver. Civilization is nominally Christian, but not prac-
tically so. Men detect the falsity of the Church's faith and
practise, and, when not angered, are profoundly saddened. In
fact, the Church is largely a miserable travesty, a lamentable
failure; it is too often a club of self-satisfied egotists, or to
express the truth variously, the mausoleum of effete respect-
ability, the hopeless tomb of ardent aspiration and spiritual in-
sight, and the very incarnation of those principles which cruci-
fied the Jesus whom it professes to worship. "A prophet is
not without honor save in his own country," is emphatically true
of the Church. Instead of being a school of the prophets, it
is usually their sepulcher. To such an extent is this the case
that many feel that if they would be Christian, they must
remain apart from the visible Church.^

^ If these strictures upon the Christian Church be deemed severe,
the writer can only say that an experience and observation of some
twenty odd years has convinced him of their substantial justice.
If Christ, His spirit and aims, are the soul and essence of Chris-
tianity, then the World's greatest need to-day is a Society for the
conversion of Bishops and Clergy. We have organizations for all
things save the one thing needful. Not that the writer would cast
any aspersion upon the characters of these men, but he would chal-
lenge the legitimacy of their conceptions and methods. He is often
impelled to ask, Where is Jesus in the miserable mess? In the
hearts of many humble worshipers. Yes ! but the closer you get
to Organized Christianity, the so-called Church of Jesus, the less

202 Jesus* Idea

In conclusion, let us say that the Reformation, with its
convulsive throes, was an effort of the divine life in man to
free itself from an intolerable ecclesiastical thraldom. In some
respects, however, it was the birth of a new thraldom ; an intel-
lectual slavery being substituted for an ecclesiastical slavery.
To-day, the noble work of the Reformation must be completed.
The Church of Jesus must be organized on the principle of the
Kingdom of God. Ridding itself of its Pharisaism, which
throughout the ages has tithed the mint, anise, and cummin
of ministry, belief, and lesser things, while neglecting the weigh-
tier matter of the Law — the Kingdom of God, the Church must
awaken to the mind of Jesus. The Church must have a vision
of the Master's purpose, must catch a glimpse of the bleeding
heart of humanity. The Kingdom of God must become the
salvation of the Church. Breaking the fetters of ecclesiasticism,
intellectualism, and traditionalism, the Church must be free.
Men must learn that when they think and act in the terms and
in the spirit of ecclesiasticism, they are neither thinking nor
acting in the terms or in the spirit of Christianity; that the
true Church of Jesus cannot be identified with any nor with all
ecclesiastical organizations; that it can only be identified with
those in every ecclesiastical organization, who, possessing the
mind and the spirit of Jesus, are striving to bring about the
sovereignty of God, and that the ''Church" can only be identi-
fied with the Kingdom of God when it is interpreted in this
sense. When our Divinity Schools shall be instinct with the
idea and with the spirit of the Kingdom, rather than with de-
nominational shibboleths; when Sunday-School instruction is
based upon the idea of the Kingdom, then will the Church go
forth to conquer, a clearer ethical note will be sounded, and

of Jesus you find. Verily, to be ecclesiastically minded is death.
It may be said with much truthfulness that the three chief foes
of the Kingdom of God are human sin, human ignorance, and
ecclesiasticism; and really the foes might be narrowed to two, for
ecclesiasticism is but a department of human ignorance — ignorance
of the Spirit, the Aim and Purpose of Jesus; an ignorance which
has furnished the Church-conditions which now largely prevail. The
blind have led the blind and, as usual, leader and led have fallen
into the ditch. The day calls preeminently for the intellectual
emancipation of the ministry primarily, then the emancipation and
the salvation of the Church may follow.

The Church and the Kingdom 203

a more Christian life lived.^

* A portion of this Chapter appeared in an article entitled, "The
Essential Meaning of 'Ekklesia," which was published in The
Biblical World for March, 1905. It now appears here through the
courtesy of the Editors of that Journal.



The reader of the Gospels is soon aware that he dwells in
the midst of the Miraculous. Jesus is constantly represented
as possessing miraculous power, and indeed, according to the
Gospel story, He manifested no surprise at his ability to perform
miracles. That which appears extraordinary to us, appeared
to him seemly and natural. The suspicion with which the
modern man approaches this subject was utterly foreign to
Him; for Jesus, the supernatural was, in fact, the natural.
While attempts have been made to strip the Gospel of its super-
natural element, they have never met with entire success;^ yet
the suspicion lingers in many minds that the supernatural ele-
ment in the Gospel is not really credible in view of the scientific
knowledge of the present era, and w^here this element is readily
accepted, there is often little understanding of its relationship
to Jesus' idea. The writer believes in the credibility of the
miraculous and that it bore close and intimate relationship to
Jesus' idea. Before we proceed, however, to see how this could
be, let us inquire what we mean by the word "miracle."

If we accept the etymological meaning, ''the original idea
in the word 'wonder' (Latin, 'miraculum,' English, 'mir-
acle') seems to have been that of turning aside through a feeling

^ The words of the author of "Ecce Homo" are interesting in
this connection : "Miracles play so important a part in Christ's
scheme that any theory which would represent them as due entirely
to the imagination of His followers or of a later age, destroys the
credibility of the documents, not partially but wholly, and leaves
Christ a person as mythical as Hercules" (p. 51). Speaking of
the Gospel History, Harnack says : "Much that was formerly re-
jected has been reestablished on a close investigation, and in the
light of comprehensive experience. Who in these days, for exam-
ple, could make such short work of the miraculous cures in the
Gospels as was the custom of scholars formerly?" ("Christianity
and History," p. 63.)


The Kingdom and the Supernatural 205

of fear or awe (see Skeat's Etymological Dictionary). The
savage, 'ignorant of the very rudiments of science, and trying

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