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Jesus' idea; a study of the real Jesus online

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made Him the inveterate opponent of the idea of an ecclesiastical
institution, which should be the chief depository of the Holy
Spirit, and its chief channel of communication : in other words,
an ecclesiastical trust or monopoly, the earliest of all monopolies,
the parent of all trusts, and the most remorseless. The darting
tongues of fire would recall John's promise of the Messiah's bap-
tism, which would "burn up the chaff" of error, sham, and evil
"with unquenchable fire." (St. Mt. 3:ii-) The gift of tongues, or
the ability to speak in foreign languages, which enabled the Apostles
to gain on that day many converts for the Kingdom, who would
becom.e its witnesses upon their return to their homes, thus pre-

224 Jesus^ Idea

In the light of this teaching of Jesus about the Holy
Spirit, the sublime meaning of the Baptismal Formula again
comes into view. Into that Spirit of Truth and of Holiness,
into which the Father had baptized Him — the Spirit, which
according to Jesus' own testimony, was the source of His
Teaching and His Miracles (St. Mt. 12:28; St. Lu. 4:18;
St. Jn. 14:10), He would baptize the Apostles, who in turn
should baptize the nations of the earth. Language is inade-
quate to do justice to the sublimity of this conception. That
Jesus' emphasis, however, was upon the function rather than
the "Personality" of the Spirit is patent to every reader of
the New Testament page. While He did perhaps speak of
the Spirit as "he," and thus appears to justify the orthodox
Christian faith, yet many thoughtful minds have agreed with
Beyschlag that this personal reference is "just a pictorial per-
sonification," and that "the notion of the Holy Spirit as a
third Divine personality — is one of the most disastrous im-
portations into the Holy Scriptures" ("N. T. Theology," Eng.
Translation. Vol. 2, p. 279), and yet they have not lost faith
in the Spirit's work. This brings vividly to our attention one
of those monstrous anomalies which exist and thrive in the
Christian Church : A man may deny totally the Holy Spirit in
the conduct of his daily life, and yet be a member of the
visible Church, have obsequious attention paid to him by
titled ecclesiastics — upholders of the much-talked of "Catholic
Faith" — while the man whose whole life is attuned to the
Spirit's guidance, yet who cannot and does not accept the
"personality" of the Holy Spirit, cannot be a member of the
orthodox ( ?) Church, and is often, with much patronizing con-
descension on the part of both intellectual and moral vacuity,
accounted a "heretic." Manifestly, God's ways are not man's
ways, nor are His thoughts man's thoughts even in His "Holy
Church" of which we frequently hear so much.

Having now considered some of the supernatural features
of the Gospel, let us say that, whatever may be our attitude
toward the Supernatural and the Kingdom, any candid mind
must admit that there is a unity, a harmony, and congruity in

paring the soil for the future labors of the Apostles, was a distinct
evidence of the universal aim or extent of the Kingdom. This
gift, however, was not a permanent one. (Cf. St. Mk. 16:17.)

The Kingdom and the Supernatural 225

the relation of the two as they are disclosed in the Gospels that
makes for truthfulness. The Supernatural occurrence and the
Teaching harmonize; the miraculous events accord with each
other; part fits in with part; the whole is logical and rational.
Further, the very idea — ''The Kingdom of God" — posits a
supernatural element. Such an element, indeed, was to be ex-
pected in view of what Jesus was endeavoring to do with a
sinful humanity: establish the sovereignty of God. This
thought, also, assists us in interpreting the miracles of the Old
Testament; not that we are to accept unquestioningly the
miraculous character of every event which purports to be a
miracle, for we are rather to question them severely. We
should, however, bear in mind the unique mission of Israel,
which, under certain circumstances, would render the perform-
ance of miracles likely. This thought also gives the point of
view from w^hich to determine the possibility and the probability
of the various New Testament miracles, and also of later ec-
clesiastical miracles.



In view of the Teaching and the Works of Jesus, we are
not surprised to find that men both wondered and questioned
with regard to Him. "From whence hath this man these
things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him,
that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is
not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James,
and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters
here with us?" (St. Mk. 6:2, 3.) Yet "never man spake like
this man." "Who is this that even the winds and the sea
obey him?" The problem, indeed, that perplexed his country-
men has perplexed the world. Who was this man of this
august idea, these mighty w^orks, this majestic personality?
He flashed across the sky of human life like a meteor, brilliant
and dazzling, whose splendor was unequaled before and has
remained unrivaled, challenging comparison and classification.
Jesus and His idea, indeed, are so intimately related — the
idea being incarnate in the Man — that any study of His idea
would be incomplete without some consideration as to His
Person. Hence we ask : Who was this Man ? What, especially,
did He say of Himself?

As soon as this question is asked, Jesus' self-selected and
self-imposed title — "Son of Man" — presents itself for con-
sideration. This title is represented as being used by Jesus
about eighty times in the Synoptic Gospels, while it is never
applied to Him by His followers except in the speech of St.
Stephen (Acts 7:56). If we study these various passages in
detail, we find that they refer to Jesus under two rather para-
doxical aspects: that of suffering or humiliation, and that of
majesty. This at first sight perplexes. We know also that the
title was not a commonly accepted designation for the Mes-
siah, because Jesus carefully concealed His Messiahship, while


The Vicegerent of the Kingdom 227

freely applying this expression to Himself. It was not, however,
an unknown term. In the Old Testament, we find the expres-
sion used in several senses.^

There can be little doubt, however, that Jesus' use of the
title was historically connected with Daniel 7:13. There
we find the historic expression of Jesus' great idea and theme —
"The Kingdom of God." Hence nothing could be more
likely than the derivation of this title from the same source.
This is indicated, too, in marked manner by Jesus' obvious
reference to this passage in the apocalyptic discourse in St.
Matthew 24:30: "And then shall appear the sign of the
Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the

^ In Psalm 8:4, for instance, it refers to man as the subject of
weakness and mortality : "What is man, that thou art mindful of
him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him." In the Book
of Ezekiel it is used some eighty times to designate the prophet,
especially emphasizing the aspect of weakness. In Daniel 7:13,
as we have found, the expression was applied to Israel as the
Founder of a Kingdom humane in character, while later it was
thought in limited circles to refer to the personal Messiah. This
conception, indeed, characterizes its use in the Apocalyptic Book
of Enoch. Illustrative of this usage are the passages : 'And I
asked the angel who went with me and shewed me all the hidden
things, concerning that Son of Man, who he was, and whence he
was" (46:1). "For the Son of Man has appeared and sits on the
throne of his glory" (69:29). Scholars are divided in opinion as
to whether the portion of this book — the Similitudes, Chs. 37:71 —
which contain these references to the Son of Man are pre-Christian
or post-Christian in origin. Hence it is impossible to judge of the
influence, if any, of this book upon Jesus' usage of this title. But
just how this title came to be applied to an individual is, indeed, a
puzzling question.

Jesus' motive in the selection of this title has been variously
explained. Meyer says, for instance, that He intended it to signify
simply the Messiah. Schleiermacher and Neander find in it the idea
of the Ideal Man. Orr, Baur, and others, combine these two ideas,
and make it signify a Messiah who is the Ideal Man. Wendt finds
the title indicative of Jesus' weakness and dignity, Daniel furnishing
the form of the title, and other passages its content. Charles, again,
interprets the expression as combining the idea of majesty disclosed
in Daniel, and the Suffering Servant of Jehovah in the Second
Isaiah. Others, however, empty the term of Messianic significance,
and make it the equivalent of the Aramaic word for man — barnasha.
Others, again, find its significance in the promise in Genesis that
the seed of the woman should crush the serpent's head. Jesus was
this Son of Man, they claim.

228 Jesus' Idea

earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the
clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (cf. St. Mk.
13:26; St. Lu. 21:27); and in His admission before the
Sanhedrin: "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting
on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of
heaven" (St. Mt. 26:64, cf. St. Mk. 14:62). By means of
this title, then, Jesus referred to Himself as the Founder
and the Head of the Kingdom of God. Borrowing the Old
Testament term, He fulfilled it however. The expression
became with Him not only a title, but an index to character.
It revealed not only the King of the Kingdom, but one who
through humiliation and suffering entered into the glory of
sovereignty. It suggested not only Daniel's imperial vision,
but the prophetic idea of the Messiah's triumph through weak-
ness and pain.

Possessing these merits, the title served admirably as a
veiled designation of the Messiah.^ This expression, indeed,
was as suggestive as the parables themselves. The same motive,
too, probably governed its selection, and certainly the same
principle conditioned appreciation of its meaning. To all it
was puzzling; to some it remained insoluble; to those of
spiritual insight it disclosed the Person and the Pathway of
the Messiah.^ Indeed, the implication of this title is pro-
found and far-reaching. This must have especially com-
mended it to the poetic temperament of Jesus. For instance,
the Son of Man ''comes with the clouds of heaven." Pro-
fessor Dalman suggests that it would be more appropriate
if the one like to a son of man were to come ^'upon the clouds
of heaven," and remarks that such a reading appears to be
presupposed by the Greek of the Septuagint in Daniel 7:13.
He then adds: "It belongs to God only to move upon the
clouds; see Isa. 19:1, Ps. 104:3." And after explaining how
"upon' probably would have been changed into ''with'' by a
subsequent writer to "minimize the divine manifestation in the
one like to a son of man," he says: "But even if one reads

^ Jesus' teaching was the product of intuition : hence its form
was illustrative, rather than argumentative.

^ To the Apostles, the meaning of the expression became some-
what apparent at Csesarea Philippi, while it was disclosed to the
Jewish nation in Jesus' confession before the Sanhedrin, which has
been quoted above.

The Vicegerent of the Kingdom 229

'with/ the fact remains that the destined possessor of the uni-
versal dominion comes, not from the earth, far less from the sea,
but from heaven. He is a being standing in a near relation
to God, well fitted to typify the people of the saints of God.
It is noteworthy that nothing more is said of him than that he
resembles man. He is distinguished from the four beasts, not
because he alone possesses reason; the first beast, according to
7:14, receives a man's heart, the last has 'the eyes of a man,'
and can speak. The emphasis rather lies on the fact that in con-
trast with the winged lion, the devouring bear, the four-
headed leopard, the fourth beast with ten horns terrible ex-
ceedingly beyond its predecessors, he appears unarmed and
inoffensive, incapable through any power of his own of making
himself master of the w^orld; he is only as a son of man. If
ever he is to be master of the w^orld, God must make him so."
(''The Words of Jesus," p. 242.) The humane character
of the Son of Man in contrast with the brutishness of his
predecessors, would also suggest intense human sympathy. Now
because of this great suggestiveness, Jesus gladly availed Him-
self of the term, while carefully avoiding the popular designa-
tion for the expected Messiah — "The Son of David." Con-
tradicting in every particular the current Messianic expectation,
it yet brought out His relation to the earth and to man, while
suggesting much with regard to Himself.

This title, however, does not exhaust Jesus' testimony to
Himself. Additional disclosures group themselves around the
title — "Son of God." While this expression is never explicitly
applied by Jesus to Himself in the Synoptic Gospels, it is im-
plicitly applied, and is frequently used of Him by others. In
St. John's Gospel, however, the term is frequently used by
Jesus. What, then, is signified by its use ? Here again we must
turn to the Old Testament. And there a diversified usage
awaits us.^ Taking the title itself, however, as it was used

^ In Genesis 6:1-4, the title is applied to angels: "The sons of
God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took
them wives of all which they chose." In Psalm 82 :6, 7, it is applied
to judges or magistrates: "I have said, Ye are Gods; and all of
you are children of the Most High." In Deuteronomy 14:1, 2, and
Rosea 1:10, it is used of an individual Israelite. In 2 Samuel 7:14,
and Psalm 89:27, and 2:7, the term is used especially of the
Theocratic King. In Exodus 4:22, Israel as a nation is spoken

230 Jesus^ Idea

among the Jews, its patent senses are the human, the official, and
the ethical. The "Son of God" is either simply a human being,
or one chosen for some special mission, or one bearing special
moral and spiritual resemblance to God. It now remains for us
to consider the sense or senses of the title as it is applied to

The expression is never used of Jesus by Himself or by
others as the mere equivalent of a human being. Whatever
the motive may have been, Jesus, if we may trust the Greek
of the Gospels, always carefully preserved a distinction between
Himself and humanity in general. He speaks, for instance, of
"My Father" (St. Mt. 11:27, 20:23, 25:34, 26:29, 53; St. Lu.
10:22), and of "your" or "thy" Father (St. Mt. 6:8; 10:20,
29; 13:43; 6:4, 18) with careful discrimination, and if we

of as Jehovah's Son — "even my first-born." Generalizing from these
instances, and speaking freely, we may say that "a son of God" in
the Old Testament sense is "one uniquely loved, chosen, and endowed
by God." In the extra-canonical literature of the Jews, only the
Book of Enoch and Fourth Esdras use the title. While it is not
employed specifically of the Messiah in the Old Testament, it is
so employed in these books. Jehovah is represented as saying: "For

1 and my Son will unite with them forever in the paths of up-
rightness in their lives; and ye will have peace." (Enoch 105:2.)
"For my Son, Messias, shall be revealed with those that are with
him." (4 Es. 7:28, cf. 7:29.) Thus, among the Jews, the expression
was occasionally used as a title for the Messiah.

The chief source, however, in the Old Testament for this use
is Psalm 2:7: "The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son;
this day have I begotten thee." But this language, which is used of
the king of the Theocracy, must be considered in connection with

2 Samuel 7:14, where the promise is made that Jehovah will be to
the house of David as a father is to a son: "I will be his father,
and he shall be my son." In the Psalm, the title is used simply of
one who is anointed of God, and receives the heathen for inheritance
and the uttermost parts of the earth for possession (vs. 8). While
"Son of God" in the popular thought of to-day suggests at once
divine descent, it was not so among the Jews. Unlike the Egyptians
and even the Romans, the Jews did not ascribe divine origin either
to the nation or to its kings; hence the idea of the "Anointed"
Son possessing the divine nature was foreign to them. Because
of this idea of Divine Descent, however, in the Hellenic world, the
term, "Son of God," would be interpreted as signifying the divine
origin of Jesus, quite as naturally as "the Son of Man" would
suggest His essential humanity. (See Dalman, "Words of Jesus,"
pp. 288, 289.)

The Vicegerent of the Kingdom 231

may judge from St. Luke 2:49, this usage dates from His
childhood. The only apparent violation of this rule is in the
words *'Our Father" of the Lord's Prayer. These, however,
were a necessity, if He would furnish His followers with a
model prajTr. This careful distinction is also preserved in the
Fourth Gospel by means of the ^words ''only begotten Son/'
that is a son different from other sons in marked manner.

In an official sense, the title is applied to Our Lord both
by Himself and by others. St. Peter's response to Jesus' ques-
tion at Caesarea Philippi, according to St. Matthew's version,
is: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." This
meant, of course, that Jesus was the "Anointed" one, or the
Messiah. In commending St. Peter's insight, Jesus admitted
the truthfulness of his avowal, and thus practically applied the
title to Himself.^ Perhaps the most explicit use of this title,
however, in an official sense was Jesus' declaration before the
Sanhedrin: "The High Priest . . . said unto him, I adjure thee
by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ,
the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said" (St.
Mt. 26:63; cf. St. Mk. 14:61 and St. Lu. 22:66-71). The
title, however, is frequently applied to Jesus by others in this
sense. At His Baptism, the Divine Voice declared: "Thou art
my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (St. Mk. i:ii;
St. Lu. 3:22; St. Mt. 3:17). A similar declaration was also
made at the Transfiguration (St. Mt. 9:8; St. Lu. 9:35; St.
Mt. 17:5). Here the official sense, while not exclusive, is

^ St. Mark 8:27-30, and St. Luke 9:18-21, make Peter say simply,
"Thou art the Christ." If this is the original, St. Matthew at least
offers an interesting use of the expression. In speaking of the
time of the Parousia, Jesus says : "Of that day, and that hour
knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither
the Son, but the Father." (St. Mt. 13:32, cf. Zech. 14:7 and Ps.
Sol. 12 :23.) Here the reference is manifestly to Himself as the
Son of God. In the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, as we
have seen, Jesus identities Himself with the son of the Lord of
the Vineyard, the heir of the inheritance. Since God is manifestly
the Lord, Jesus is the Son of God. "Having therefore one son, his
well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will
reverence my son." (St. Mk. 12:6.) Again in the parable of the
King's Supper, Jesus impHes that He is the Son of God. "The
Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a
marriage for his son." (St. Mt. 22:2.)

232 Jesus' Idea


The ethical sense of this expression, however, is paramount
in the New Testament. Jesus, at least, could have been satis-
fied with nothing less than this usage. He was preeminently
the Son of God in that He bore most intimate spiritual re-
lationship to the Father. This is evident from His own words :
'Wo man knoweth the Son, hut the Father; neither knoweth any
man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son
will reveal him'" (St. Mt. 11:27, cf. St. Lu. 10:22). These
words, indeed, are most significant. They imply an ethical
unity between Jesus and God which is absolutely indivisible,
and upon which hangs the revelation of Jesus. The words
of Dalman are so helpful here that we quote them. "Between
Father and Son there exists a perfect mutual understanding
so unique, that any other persons could participate in the com-
plete knowledge of the Father only through the medium of the
Son. The two clauses referring to the knowledge of the Son
by the Father and of the Father by the Son must therefore
be taken together, and not independently expounded. They
really constitute a detailed Oriental mode of expressing the
reciprocity of intimate understanding. But in this case of
mutual understanding, its thoroughness and absolute infallibility
are assumed. He who stands in so uniquely close relation to
God is the only possible mediator of the kind, and also at the
same time the absolutely reliable revealer of the whole wealth
of divine mysteries." ("Words of Jesus," p. 283.)

Jesus was thus in a unique sense the Son of God. While
men could become sons of God: "Blessed are the peace-
makers: for they shall be called the children of God;" "Love
your enemies — that ye may be the children of your Father
which is in heaven," Jesus was ab initio the Son of God. "Be-

^ The demoniacs of Gadara are also represented as addressing
Jesus as the Son of God. (St. Mk. 5 7; St. Lu. 8:28; St. Mt. 8:29.)
Again the multitude at the Cross, according to St. Matthew, mock
Jesus, crying: "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the
cross," while the centurion exclaims : "Truly this man was the
Son of God." (St. Mk. 15:39; St. Mt. 27:54; cf. St. Lu. 23:47;
St. Matthew 27:40. St. Mark 15:32, however, has "the Christ, the
king of Israel"; St. Luke 23:37, "the King of the Jews.") Associa-
tion with the Jews may have made the centurion conversant with
their use of the title, or he may have intended simply a demi-god.

The Vicegerent of the Kingdom 233

coming" was impossible and unnecessary. This spiritual union
of Jesus with the Father is also to be posited from the Divine
Voice at the Baptism and at the Transfiguration. In fact, it dis-
closes itself throughout the entire career of Jesus: in His
prayers, in His actions, and in His words. Everywhere it
presents the character of uniqueness. Dalman is again helpful:
"The peculiar relation of Jesus to God is one that cannot be
transmitted to others or be subject to change. His disciples, in-
deed, through His means attain the same knowledge of God that
He Himself possessed. But their knowledge is derived through
a medium, while His is acquired by direct intuition" (p. 284).
This ethical union with the Father is also a basic thought in
the Fourth Gospel. It is most conspicuous in the following
passages: St. John 3:16-21; 5:16-47; 6:32-58; 8:45-58; 10:30-
38; 14:11 ; 17:5, 21, 23. We will quote only one or two of the
texts, however. "That they all may be one; as thou. Father, art
in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that
the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (17:21). "I
and my Father are one" (10:30). "The Son can do nothing
of himself but what he seeth the Father do: for what things
soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (5:19).

Now this ethical union of Jesus with God in itself raises
a question of vast import. How was it that this man alone
of all the sons of men possessed this peculiar affinity? From
the beginning of time, no other man has borne an ethical resem-
blance to God of so intimate a character as to fit him to be an
absolute intermediary between heaven and earth. How, then,
shall we explain the sinlessness — the absolute ethical purity of
Jesus? No thoughtful mind, indeed, can escape the problem,
and the solution at once beckons us toward the realm of
metaphysics, where we consider the innermost essence of being.
The question then becomes: Was Jesus the Son of God only
in an official and an ethical sense, or is an even more intimate
essential relationship to be claimed for Him?

Upon this point there are no absolutely clear statements
in the Synoptic Gospels. There are, however, some very
suggestive passages.^ But with the Fourth Gospel we advance
a step. Implicit testimony becomes explicit testimony. For

^ See_ Appendix J, "The Metaphysical Sonship of Jesus in the
Synoptic Gospels."

234 Jesus' Idea

Instance, Jesus is represented as saying to the disciples: "What
and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up ivhere he was
before f (St. John 6:62). This statement also is convincing:
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it
and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not
yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus

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