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Jesus' idea; a study of the real Jesus online

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also forever settle any doubt as to his authority, placing it
above even that of the Law and the Prophets. To Jesus
Himself, the Transfiguration meant the removal of the sense
of isolation. If men did not understand the necessity for
His death. Heaven, at least, did. The Apostles of the Old
Testament — Moses and Elijah — understood, if the Apostles
of the New Testament did not. The voice, too, signified His
Father's absolute ratification of His course (Cf. St. Mk. i:
II, • St. Mk. 3:17; St. Lu. 3:22).

Thus, whether we regard this incident as an objective
fact, or as real only in the sense of being a subjective vision,
we can appreciate the fitness inherent in both the form and
the content of the phenomenon. The thoughtful reader will
also note how closely the supernatural phenomena of which
Jesus is the center fulfil the condition which characterized
the miraculous phenomena of which He was the source. Each
incident is not merely a wonder but a "sign"; each is an event
with a purpose; each bears a distinct relation to the Kingdom
of God. How great a crisis, indeed, in the development of the
Kingdom, the Transfiguration itself relieved, it is impossible
to say.

Yet other phenomena await us. The Resurrection of Jesus
is par excellence the prime supernatural credential of Christian-
ity. The fact of the Resurrection itself is indisputable. The
artless, straightforward character of the account, indeed, goes

The Kingdom and the Supernatural 215

far toward substantiating its truthfulness. Despite Jesus' refer-
ence to the fact on several occasions (St. Mt. 16:21 ; 17:22, 23;
St. Mk. 8:31; 9:31, 32; St. Lu. 9:22), the Apostles were
utterly unprepared for so stupendous an event. They were not
awaiting the Resurrection, and they would not believe its
earliest report (St. Mt. 28:17; St. Mk. 16:1, 11, 13, 14;
St. Jn. 20:25). "Their words seemed to them as idle tales,
and they believed them not" (St. Lu. 24:11, cf. 36:43).
Jesus also "upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness
of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him
after he was risen" (St. Mk. 16:14).^

This stupendous fact, however, was the great theme of the
Apostolic preaching, and it must necessarily have been so.
Jesus had claimed to be the Messiah. His claim, however,
had been rejected. But now the Resurrection had proved His
claim. That He had actually risen from the dead, the Apostles
fully believed. Nine appearances, in fact, of the risen Christ,
during the space of forty days, are recorded.^ Attempts have

^ The account of the Resurrection as given by St. Mark is as
follows : "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and
Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices,
that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the
morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher
at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who
shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? And
when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away : for it
was very great. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a
young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white gar-
ment ; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not
affrighted : Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified : he is
risen ; he is not here : behold the place where they laid him. But
go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you
into Galilee ; there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they
went out quickly, and fled from the sepulcher, for they trembled
and were amazed : neither said they anything to any man ; for
they were afraid" (16:1-9).

^ The appearance to the women of Galilee (St. Mt. 28:9, 10); to
the Magdalene (St. Jn. 20:14-18) ; to the two disciples on the road
to Emmaus (St. Lu. 24:13-35 cf . ; St. Mk. 16:12, 13) ; to Peter (St.
Lu. 24 -.2,3, 34) ; to the disciples in Jerusalem, Thomas being absent
(St. Mk. 16:14; St. Lu. 24:36-43; St. Jn. 20:19-25) ; to the disciples,
Thomas being present (St. Jn. 20:26-29) ; to the seven disciples
by the sea of Galilee (St. Jn. 21 :i-24) ; to the eleven (and probably
others, cf. L Cor. 15 :6) on a mountain in Galilee (St. Mt. 28:16-20) ;
the last appearance (St. Lu. 24:44-49, 50-53).

2i6 Jesus* Idea

been made, however, along several lines to discredit the fact of
the Resurrection. We are told, for instance, that Jesus did not
really die, but simply swooned, and was restored to consciousness
by the damp tomb; or that the whole account is legendary; or
that the belief in the Resurrection was due to ''mental hallu-
cinations." These hj^potheses, however, are unconvincing. A
resuscitated man is utterly inadequate to account for the
valor and the vigor of the early Church. Legends again require
much time for development ; yet we find the story of the Resur-
rection generally accepted at an early date, and recorded in
Gospels written only some forty years after the event. Further,
the fact is the presupposition of all of the Apostolic Letters.
Four of St. Paul's Epistles — Romans, Galatians, and I and II
Corinthians — even the most stringent criticism admits to be
genuine. These were written before A. D. 60, that is, about
twenty-five years after the death of Jesus, and they bear un-
equivocal testimony to His Resurrection (Rom. 14:9; I Cor.
i5:3-7>* Gal. 1:1). As for the theory of "mental hallucina-
tions," we would say that if these continued for some six
weeks, and had as their subjects so many different people on
different occasions — as many as five hundred at one time — this
in itself would be convincing evidence of the hand of God,
and the guarantee of the reality of the vision; not of its
illusory character.

The external evidence for the Resurrection, however, is
strongly supplemented by the inner probability of that event.
The Resurrection of Jesus was not merely the resurrection of a
man, it was the resuscitation of a Cause. The Kingdom of God
was at stake; with the Crucifixion, its doom seemed to have
been sealed, its future appeared hopeless, its King discredited.
The Resurrection, however, changed the aspect of the situation
entirely. It was, indeed, a mighty "sign," the sign that the
King was not discredited, but accredited; that the cause of
the Kingdom was not hopeless, but triumphant. It revealed
Jesus at once as the Lord of both Life and Death, placed the
imprimatur of God Himself upon all His claims. His teaching,
and His work, and showed that those who trusted Him, whether
in life or in death, would never be confounded. Had Jesus
remained silent in the tomb in spite of His august Personal-
ity, His sublime Teaching, and His mighty Works, humanity's

The Kingdom and the Supernatural 217

trust in morality and truth must have been shaken to the
foundation, and humanity's confusion in the presence of death
must have been infinitely intensified. The fabric of faith would
have tottered to its fall. Well, indeed, might St. Peter say:
"Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death:
because it was not possible that he should be holden of it."
(Acts. 2:24.) In the light of the Resurrection, too, the
disciples could understand many things about the Kingdom
which had been obscure before. Jesus, in fact, standing in
the light shed by this event, explained many matters to their
keen satisfaction (St. Lu. 24:25-32; 44-47; Acts. 1:3).
Taking, therefore, both the a priori and the a posteriori evi-
dence, we may accept the following statement without hesi-
tation: "The consensus of opinion among the best critics is
that no past event stands on firmer historical grounds than that
Jesus being dead rose again, and that His appearance to the
disciples begot their faith anew, and filled them with en-
thusiasm for their future work."

The next supernatural event to demand attention is the
Ascension.^ The Kingdom, indeed, had now been inaugurated,
the King had been accredited, and nothing remained but the
Kingdom's development and extension. Could the interests of
the Kingdom be better served by the King remaining on the
earth, or by His withdrawal to become a spiritual presence —
absent in body, yet present in spirit? The Ascension is the
answer. The Master's arms w^ere then outstretched to bless:
the very attitude was significant of the reality. Despite the clear
note of finality — the Ascension being the termination of the
earthly appearances — the departure was a blessing, and it was
so understood by the disciples: "They worshiped him, and re-
turned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the
temple, blessing God." This departure, indeed, meant the
exaltation of their Lord, and it transformed the personal friend
of the few into the spiritual Savior of the many. Heaven,
too, would henceforth be their constant support in the extension

*This is described by St. Luke as follows: "And he led them
out as far as Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed
them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted
from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him,
and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in
the temple, praising and blessing God." (St. Lu. 24:50-53.)

2i8 Jesus' Idea

of the Kingdom, and a restricted sphere of activity had given
place to a universal sphere. Besides, all power was now in
the hands of their Lord: what need they fear then?

Indeed, shortly before the Ascension, Jesus had said to the
disciples: "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon
you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued
with power from on high" (St. Lu. 24:49). In Acts, 1:8,
Jesus is represented as saying: "But ye shall receive power,
after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be
witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and
in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." These
remarks were inevitably associated by the disciples with the
sayings of their Master at the Last Supper about the Holy
Spirit.^ In speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was not intro-
ducing the disciples to a new subject. Here, as elsewhere. He
was building upon a Jewish foundation. Their Scriptures had
made them well acquainted with the idea of "the Spirit," "the
Spirit of God," and "a Holy Spirit." ^ Hence Jesus was as-

^ "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter,
that he may abide with you forever ; even the Spirit of Truth ; whom
the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth
him : but ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in
you." (St. Jn. 14:16, 17.) "But the Comforter, which is the Holy
Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you
all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever
I have said unto you." (Vs. 26, cf. 16:13-15.) "But when the
Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall
testify of me : and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been
with me from the beginning." (St. Jn. 15:26, 27.) The Holy
Spirit, however, was also to bear an intimate relationship to the
World as well as to the disciples. "Nevertheless I tell you the
truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not
away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I
will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the
world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, be-
cause they beUeve not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to
my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the
prince of this world is judged." (St. Jn. 16:7-11.)

^ "The Holy Spirit," however, is not an Old Testament expression.
"His" or "Thy" Holy Spirit is found only in Isa. 63:10, 11, and
Psalm 51:11. Yet at the beginning of Genesis, we have the state-
ment: "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
(Gen. 1 :2.) Here the Spirit of God is an agent in Creation itself.

The Kingdom and the Supernatural 219

sured of Immediate attention, when He mentioned the Holy
Spirit. Grieving over their Lord's departure, the Apostles were
promised another Comforter. Jesus had been their strengthener
or Comforter, but now another Strengthener would come, who
would abide with them forever. The Greek word which is
translated "Comforter" is parakletos, which means primarily an
advocate — "one who pleads another's cause before a judge," but
it was also used in the larger sense of a helper, or an assistant.^
Losing their Lord, and entrusted with the cause of Heaven, the
Apostles' need of assistance and of comfort in the face of a hos-
tile world is apparent. Jesus keenly appreciated the situation,

Passing to Job, 33:4; 34:i4, and Psalm 104:30, we find the Spirit
as the conservator of life. The Spirit of God, too, made man a
living soul (Gen. 2:7; Job. 32:8), conferring upon him his mental
and moral faculties in general, and also specific powers of most
diversified character: the artizan's skill (Ex. 36:1), military ability
(Deut 34:9), and conspicuous wisdom (I Ki. 22:24). (Cf. Gen.
41:38; Num. 27:18; 11:17; 24:2; Ex. 28:3; 31:3-6.) The inspiration
of the prophets also was due preeminently to the Spirit of God.
Ezekiel 11:5 is an illustration: "And the Spirit of the Lord fell
upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the Lord.'' (Cf.
Ez. 2:2; Dan, 4:8, 9; 5:11; Num. 11:17, 25, 29; 2 Sam. 28:2; I
Ki. 22:24.) Again, the Messianic King would possess the fulness
of the Spirit, as we have seen; the Spirit conferring the intellectual
gifts of wisdom and understanding, the practical gifts of counsel
and might, the religious gifts of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
(Isa. 11:1-10, c. 61 ff.) The Spirit was also regarded as the
author of man's moral and spiritual life. It was called a "holy"
Spirit as the power-producing holiness. (Ps. 51 :ii ; Isa. 63 :io, 11, cf.
Neh. 9:20; Ez. 36:26; Zech. 12:10.) In this aspect of its presence
and power, the Spirit, as we have found, was to be more marked
in the Messianic era. (Jer. 31; Ez. 36:26 ff. ; Joel 2:28.)

According to the late Professor Davidson, "the Spirit of God"
in the Old Testament was simply "God exerting power." "Person-
ality," in an absolute sense, was not ascribed to the spirit; whatever
of personal qualities and of personal acts were ascribed to it, were
due to its identification with "God exerting Power." (See Art.
"Holy Spirit," by Swete, in Hasting's Bible Dictionary, vol. 2.)
While the references to the "Spirit" are fewer in the Apocryphal
Old Testament Literature than in the Canonical Testament, and
reveal generally a lower conception — due perhaps to the ever-
developing angelology of the period, many of the functions formerly
attributed to the Spirit of the Lord being attributed to angels — this
did not cause the popular mind to lose sight entirely of the Spirit's
activity and mission.

*In verses 21 and 23, this Assistant is identified alike with God
and with Christ.

2 20 Jesus' Idea

and further, He specified in what direction their need lay, and
what form their assistance would take.

"The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, he shall teach
you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance,
whatsoever I have said unto you" (St. Jn. 14:26). "How-
beit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into
all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever
he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you
things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of
mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father
hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and
shall show it unto you" (St. Jn. 16, 13-15), Jesus, indeed,
had been the Apostles' teacher; but this Spirit will now take
His place. Even the many things which Jesus had to say
to the disciples, but which they could not then bear (vs. 12)
would be declared by this Spirit of Truth, who would in this
way glorify Jesus. We must not think, however, of the truth
which would be disclosed as intellectual truth alone. The
Greek, aletheia, here includes *'a mode of life in harmony with
divine truth." Theory and practise go hand in hand. Both
intellectual truth and ethical practise, indeed, are the Spirit's
mission. Further, because of the unique relationship which
the disciples bore to Jesus the Spirit would also bring to their
remembrance whatsoever He had said to them. In view of
this, Alford may well say: "It is in the fulfilment of this
promise to the Apostles that their sufficiency as witnesses of
all that the Lord did and taught, and consequently the au-
thenticity of the Gospel narrative is grounded."

We make a sad mistake, however, if we interpret the Spirit's
guidance into truth only in this sense, and restrict it to the
Apostles. This promise, like that of the peace of God (vs. 27),
the abiding presence of the Father and the Son (23), and the
revelation of the Christ (21), is applicable, individually and
universally, to all Christians. It guarantees to the brother-
hood of Christ a perpetual progress into truth, born of a con-
stantly enriched human experience, both mental and spiritual.
Truth, indeed, does not depend upon a priesthood, a tradition,
or an ecclesiastical creed, but upon honest hearts and the
Spirit's guidance. Christ was an evolutionist. His mind
was of the prophetic order. Humanity, indeed, from a re-

The Kingdom and the Supernatural 221

llgious, a political, a social, or an intellectual standpoint may
always be divided into two classes — priests and prophets.
The one worships at the shrine of the past; the other always
hails the dawning future. To the priestly mind, every in-
novation is revolutionary: it "worships the dead corpse of old
King Custom, where it doth lie in state within the Church";
to the prophetic mind, many innovations are evolutionary: it
realizes that "God fulfils Himself in many ways lest one good
custom should corrupt the world." For Jesus, at least, the
Golden Age of Truth was not in the past, but in the future.
The Spirit would guide into all Truth. The Comforter was
also to assist the disciples in bearing testimony to Christ. "But
w^hen the Comforter is come — he shall testify of me: And j^e
also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the
beginning" (St. Jn. 15:26, 27). The evidence for the King-
dom was thus to emanate from both an external and an internal
source — the Apostles and the Spirit. The one was to supple-
ment the other. This, indeed, has ever been the Kingdom's
strength — the witness borne by the individual Christian in
word and in deed, and that borne by the Spirit of Truth acting
within the man^ pleading and convincing (Cf. St. Mt. 10:
igff; St. Mk. 13:11; St. Lu. 11:13; 12:11).

The relation of the Spirit of Truth to the World, however,
Jesus revealed more specifically. "When he is come, he will
reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, be-
cause I go to the Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment,
because the prince of this world is judged (St. Jn. 16, 8-11).
The word here translated "reprove" means rather to convict,
and, as Thayer tells us, "generally with a suggestion of the
shame of the person convicted." The Spirit of God, then,
was to convict the world, i. e., the human race estranged
from God, in three particulars. It was to be compelled to take
account of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, in
that it had missed its aim because it did not believe in Jesus,
did not accept Him as the Lord of its Life and its Opinion.
Faith, indeed, is an active principle, not a passive virtue; be-
lief in Jesus is not intellectual assent, but ethical consent;
faith is service. The world's infidelity, let us remember, is
not shown in the denial of facts about Jesus, but in a refusal

222 Jesus' Idea

to be led by Him. Of righteousness. In that the world would
learn what was the condition which made a man acceptable to
God. In contradistinction to Pharisaic righteousness — cere-
monial religion — and scribal righteousness — intellectual religion
— the Holy Spirit would convince of true righteousness — spirit-
ual religion. The conviction of sin In itself would inevitably
reveal this righteousness. In the hideousness of the one would
be seen the beauty of the other. The positive would appear
from the negative. And this would happen because Jesus
was going to the Father, and the world would see Him no more.
This means that in the light of His departure, the world would
have clearer vision. Then peasant birth, humble environment,
Jewish descent, obscurity, ignominious death — the accidents of
His life — would be lost sight of In appreciation of His char-
acter. His teaching. His aim, and His self-sacrificing service —
the realities of His life. Then the world would have the true
perspective; until then, it would see through a glass darkly.
Men, Indeed, are never appreciated at their true value, while
they are alive. True biography must be written in the perspec-
tive of time.

The world would also be convicted of judgment, ''because
the prince of this world was judged." In the Crucifixion of
Jesus, the world seemed to have passed judgment upon Him.
In reality this event had passed judgment upon the world.
The prince or ruler of the world was judged. In that a new
standard of value was given to man; the former glory of the
world, reveling in the blood of Jesus, was seen to be its
shame. A great crisis, indeed, in human affairs had come.
Henceforth men must judge all things In accordance with a new
principle: the very principle. In fact, which they had crucified.
The world was even then standing In the shadow of an
impending judgment. Spiritual Insight, indeed, had already re-
vealed to Jesus the Crown supplanting the Cross.

One can see at once in view of these declarations of Our
Lord, how Intimately the work of the Holy Spirit was related
to the idea of the Kingdom of God. The Spirit would be
Heaven's agency In the extension of the Kingdom; Heaven's
supplement of man's endeavor, vitalizing the seed of truth sown
by man in the congenial soil of human hearts. With the Spirit's
advent, a new era would dawn for the Kingdom; its ma-

The Kingdom and the Supernatural 223

chinery for extension would be complete. Hence Jesus, in
spite of the fact of His departure, urged His Apostles to be

* "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again
unto you. If ye loved me ye would rejoice, because I said I go
unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (St. Jn. 14:28.)
Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your
heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth ; It is expedient for you
that I go away : for if I go not away, the Comforter will not
come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." (St. Jn.
16:6, 7.) Symbolic, too, of Jesus' promise was His action on the
night after the Resurrection, when He appeared to the Apostles,
and said : "Peace be unto you : as my Father hath sent me, even
so send I you. And when He had said this, he breathed on them,
and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost : Whose soever sins
ye remit, they are remitted unto them ; and whose soever sins ye
retain, they are retained." (St. Jn. 20:21-23.)

The fulfilment of the Master's promise is recorded in Acts 2,
if we accept the narrative as historical. On the Day of Pentecost,
when thousands of Jews had assembled in Jerusalem from foreign
parts to observe the feast, "there came a sound from heaven as of
a rushing mighty wind, filling all the house where the Apostles
were, and there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of
fire, which sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the
Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit
gave them utterance." The sound of the rushing wind probably
recalled at once Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus, in which He
had revealed the mysterious and the absolutely indefinable working
of the Spirit: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest
the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it comcth, and whither
it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (St. Jn. 3:8.)

In view of this teaching, the attempt to enchain the Spirit to the
water, or even to the act of Baptism, or to the elements, or even
to the act of the Lord's Supper, is futile on the very face of it.
The Holy Spirit may organize men, but men cannot organize the
Holy Spirit. Jesus, indeed, must have been unalterably opposed
to such materialistic conceptions ; while His spirit and teaching

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