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a promiscuous crowd, but by persons of rank
and name. Among these were several female
friends, who, it is said, " ministered to him of
their substance," and through whose kind atten-
tions and charities he and his disciples were ena-
bled to devote themselves to their work without
anxiety. On the part of these ladies, this seems

Matthew ix. 35. Luke viii. 1.


to have been the oftermg of gratitude for the ex-
ercise of his miraculous power in their behalf
They had been " healed by him of evil spirits and
infirmities." To Mary Magdalene he had been
a peculiar benefactor. Joanna was the wife of
Herod's steward; probably, therefore, a person
of some consequence. Of Susanna and the oth-
ers nothing special is known. But the names of
these faithful friends, who sought to promote the
comfort of their benefactor during his laborious
life, who forsook him not when in shame and
suffering, and who affectionately watched at his
tomb, deserve to be recorded to their everlasting
honor. They could not go abroad and preach his
gospel, like Peter and James; but they did what
they could, while he lived and when he died, with
tender and persevering fidelity. They gave him
their time, their property, their affections, and
their tears; and they have put to shame the cold-
ness of many among his modern followers, who
know more of his real glory than they did, and yet
are backward to sacrifice any thing in his cause.

It was about this time, either just before com-
mencing this new journey or soon after its com-
mencement, that he selected from among his dis-
ciples the twelve apostles. Tliis was a great and
important step. He needed assistants in his min-

Matt. X. 1, Mark iii. 13. Luke vi. 12.


istiy, for he was unable to go every where himself,
and yet it was important that many places should
be visited. He knew too, that he should continue
to labor but a short time, and that it was neces-
sary to make provision for carrying on and com-
pleting his work after he should be taken away.
Having this object in view, Luke tells us, that he
retired to a mountain to pray, and continued all
night in prayer to God. When it was morning,
he called together the disciples, and from among
them chose twelve; — undoubtedly men who had
been acquainted with him, and whom he thorough-
ly knew. Four of them, Andrew, Peter, John, and
Philip, had been attached to him from the very
beginning of his ministry, and the first James from
an early period. Matthew was, like himself, a citi-
zen of Capernaum. The other six are not named
in the Gospels until now. Two of them, Thomas,
the incredulous, and Judas the traitor, became
conspicuous in the history of their jMaster's life.
James, the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, or Ju-
das, his brother, were afterwards distinguished as
writers of Epistles. The other two are less known.
Their names were Bartholomew and Simon.

These are the men who devoted their lives to
Christ, and through whom his religion was pre-
served and spread. Doubtless they felt them-
selves honored by the distinction conferred upon
them; but they little understood its true nature.



It is evident that at this time, and long after, in-
stead of comprehending that Jesus was only a relig-
ious teacher, establishing a religious empire, they
thought him preparing the way for a secular king-
dom. It was nothing strange in their view, that
he should devote himself to religious teaching;
for the whole history of their people was religious ;
David had been at once a prophet and a warrior;
there was no distinction in their minds between
the church and the commonwealth, and the Mes-
siah, who was to renew the one, would necessari-
ly plead for the other. It did not help, therefore,
to undeceive the people or the disciples, that Je-
sus was occupied as a religious teacher. They
perhaps thought it the most politic course to be
pursued, until he should have collected adherents
in sufficient numbers to maintain his ground
steadfastly. When we read the instructions given
to the Twelve as they went forth, we can hardly
realize that they should not have perceived their
error. Yet their subsequent history abundantly
proves that they did not. It happened with them,
as has often happened with others; — their state of
mind colored what they heard, and enabled them
to put upon it such an interpretation as they liked.
And it is no more strange, that they found their
own notions favored by their Lord's teachings, than
that Christians of every variety of faith have found
their own peculiar views written in the Scriptures.


In giving them their commission, our Lord,
first of all, endowed them with the power of work-
ing miracles, that it might be known at once,
wherever they went, that they were sent out by
him, and that the kingdom of God was at hand.
Their mighty works were to be their credentials.
He commanded them to limit their visit to their
own countrymen, to carry nothing with them on
their journey, to use conciliating manners to all,
yet to be prepared for opposition, persecution, and
even death. The closing passages of his charge
were impressive and awful in the highest degree,
and must have made those humble men feel, that
they were accepting a mission of the most fearful
responsibility; for which their lives and habits
had ill prepared them, and which they could hope
to sustain only by a reliance on the divine power
which Jesus promised for their aid. What must
have been the emotions of that moment, when they
found themselves removed from their obscure oc-
cupations and mechanical employments, to take up
the sacred office of prophet, to go out as messen-
gers of the glorious Messiah, and, amid obloquy
and peril, summon the nation to its allegiance!
Clothed with the power of miracles, commanded
to do good and to proclaim repentance and the
coming of the Messiah, they departed to begin their
work; a work, whose true object they knew not;
which is still going on ; and which is to cease only


when all men in all lands have received the tidings
which they spread.

To the mind of Jesus only was the full gran-
deur of this undertaking known. He alone knew
that he was commencing an enterprise, never be-
fore imagined by man, — the regeneration and sal-
vation of the human race. It was the conscious-
ness of this, and his knowledge of the resolution,,
faith, and self-sacrifice, requisite for the task, which?
imparted such solemn earnestness to the warnings*
and appeals with wliich he introduced the Twelve
to their share of the work; and which, we may
believe, had led him to consecrate the previous
night to solitary prayer on the mountain.

This important step having been taken, Jesus
proceeded on his second tour through Galilee. In
v/hat direction he went, through what places he
passed, how long he was thus occupied, and what
were the works he did, are matters which have
not been recorded by the Evangelists.

It seems to have been during this tour, that he
received a message from John the Baptist. John
had been now for some time in prison; and, hear-
ing there a report of the wonderful things done
by Jesus, seems to have thought it strange that
he, the Messiah, should not do something for
his deliverance. He not improbably expected

Matt, xi 2. Luke vii. 18.


that he would come and rescue him. Perhaps,
too, he wondered that he continued peaceably to
preach, without assuming the state and power of
his office. As he brooded over these thoughts
in the confinement of his dungeon, he might even
come to doubt whether after all this was the real
Messiah. At any rate, he wished to convey to him
a rebuke for leaving his forerunner to suffer when
he could so easily deliver him. He therefore sent
to him two of his disciples to put the question to
him plainly; — " Art thou he that should come, or
do we look for another? "

The two disciples came, and delivered their
message. It happened, that at that time Je-
sus was occupied with the people who attended
him, and he went on doing his mighty works with-
out replying to what had been said. When he
had finished, he turned to the messengers, and
bade them go back and tell John what they had
seen him do; — this would be a sufficient answer to
his inquiry; and he added, with something of re-
proof, that it would be happy for him if he did
not allow his own personal feelings of disappoint-
ment to create doubt in his mind concerning him.-
But though he thought it necessary to send
to John a message somewhat severe, no sooner
had the disciples departed, than he turned to the
people, and in earnest language pronounced a
eulogy upon him; praising his firmness and self-


denial, and declaring him the greatest of the
prophets. From this, he passed to censure the
inconsistency of the people, who rejected John for
his austerity, and yet condemned himself for his
indulgence. He then uttered his severe and thril-
ling denunciation against Chorazin, Bethsaida,
and Capernaum, because, having witnessed so
much of his miracles and his ministry, they yet
had not repented and reformed. But his compas-
sionate mind could not pause here. He burst
forth in loud praise to God for the gracious wis-
dom with which he had revealed himself, not to
the wise of this world, but to the simple; and he
ended with that affectionate invitation to receive
him and his doctrine, which it is impossible in
certain states of mind to read without tears.
" Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek
and lowly in heart, and ye shall jfind rest to your
souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is

In these labors and excursions, the autumn was
now far advanced, and the feast of Dedication
was approaching. This was not an appointed
festival of the law, and therefore it was not bind-
ing on the people to attend it. Our Lord, howev-
er, proposed to be present at its celebration; and
therefore, instead of returning home to Caperna-


um, he took the road to Jerusalem. At this time
it probably was, that he went through Samaria,
and fell in with the ten lepers near a certain town,
who besought him to heal them, and only one of
whom, a Samaritan, returned to express his grati-
tude. The exclamation which Jesus made on the
occasion, is eminently characteristic and touching.
" Were there not ten cleansed? " said he; " but
where are the nine ? There are none returned
to give glory to God, save this stranger." The
nine Jews made no acknowledgment for the bless-

Now also it probably was, that, when arrived at
Bethany, within about two miles of Jerusalem, he
visited the family of IMartha and Mary. Martha,
little understanding his true character, made great
exertions to provide an entertainment for the dis-
tinguished guest ; and when she found Mary wholly
taken up with listening to his conversation, she
went so far as even to complain to him, that she
was left to attend to the family concerns alone,
and begged him to direct her sister to help her.
Our Lord replied in those memorable words, so
often quoted since, — "Martha, Martha, thou art
careful and troubled about many things; but one
thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good
part which shall not be taken away from her." It

Luke xvii. 11, Luke x. 38.


was attention to his instructions, not to himself,
which he desired.

From Bethany he proceeded to Jerusalem, and
arrived there in the midst of the Feast of the
Dedication. This festival occurred in the begin-
ning of winter. It was instituted by Judas Mac-
cabaeus in commemoration of the cleansing of the
Temple, after it had been profaned by Antiochus
Epiphanes. It seems to have become one of the
favorite solemnities of the nation; being kept with
great pomp for eight days, during which time the
sacrifices were multiplied, the houses were illumi-
nated, and the rejoicing of the people was testified
by a variety of diversions and music. It was
sometimes called the Feast of Lights.

The people thronged the courts of the Temple,
as at the other festivals; and there Jesus appear-
ed amongst them, walking in Solomon's porch, —
the piazza, it is thought, which extended along
the eastern side of the Court of the Gentiles. It
was about ten weeks since he had last been seen
there. Then he had been beset by enemies, and
driven from the Temple in fear of his life. Since
that time he had been in a distant part of the
country, active in teaching the people, gathering
his followers, appointing his assistants, seeming
to claim the Messiahship, yet not openly declaring

John X. 22.


himself, and by no means assuming the appear-
ance which the Messiah was expected to assume.
Therefore the opinions of men were still divided
about him, as they had been at his former visits.
And when he now returned to them, they imme-
diately came round him, to gain satisfaction to
their minds. " How long," said they, " dost
thou keep us in doubt? If thou be the Christ,
tell us plainly." Now it is clear, that if they had
been disposed to believe, the evidence which he
had laid before them in his doctrine and miracles,
was ample. It was because they did not like
the character in which he appeared, that they
doubted. If he had come in majesty and power,
like the princes of the world; denouncing woes
on the oppressors of the nation, like Jeremiah;
and like the Maccabees, sounding the trumpet
and lifting the standard; then they would have
believed. It was in vain, therefore, that he
attempted to explain himself to them. They were
wedded to their own notions; they were fixed in
their own prejudices; they would not understand
him. They carped at his words; they perverted
his meaning; they took up stones once more to
stone him; they sought to seize his person. But
he again escaped from them; and after having
passed, as it appears, less than a day in the city,
he quitted it, as if hopeless of doing any good to
so conceited and prejudiced a people.




Having thus quitted Jerusalem, our Lord pass-
ed over the Jordan, and took up his abode for a
time at Bethabara, where John had formerly bap-
tized. Many resorted to him there, and he in-
creased the number of his disciples. It is thought,
that it was during his residence here, that the
seventy disciples returned to him. He had sent
them out, soon after the twelve apostles and with
similar instructions, to preach in the villages.
The return of the Twelve is nowhere recorded,
nor is any thing related of the course or effects of
their ministry. Some of them at least, perhaps
all of them, were with him at the present time;
but when they joined him is not said. The re-
turn of the Seventy is particularly mentioned by
Luke, but he gives no history of what they had
done, or where they had been. He simply states,
that they came to their Master "with joy," es-
pecially exulting that the demons were subject to
them in his name. Jesus sympathized in their
feehng, and cried out, " I beheld Satan as light-
John X. 40. Luke x. 17


ning fall from heaven; " thus expressing the ra-
pidity with which the dominion of evil and sin was
falling before the spread of his truth. He added,
that he had given them power to effect this great
work, in spite of all opposition, and to triumph
over all enemies. Then, knowing how easily their
pride might be excited by this distinction, he cau-
tioned them not to boast themselves in the posses-
sion of miraculous power, but to count it their
true cause of joy, that their names were written
in heaven.

" In that hour," says Luke, " Jesus rejoiced in
spirit," and broke out into a loud thanksgiving.
It is the only instance in which he is said to have
exhibited an emotion of this nature. It is a
solitary example, in the midst of a life of anxiety
and toil, of his giving way to a feeling of gladness
and exultation. The story of his humble follow-
ers, recounting their labors and animated by suc-
cess, seems to have brought up to his mind a vis-
ion of the great and joyful triumph which should
hereafter attend the preaching of his truth. He
caught a glimpse of that glorious result, which
was to compensate all his toil. It cheered him
under the recollection of his late rejection at Je-
rusalem, and led him to congratulate his disciples,
saying, "Blessed are the eyes, which see the
things which ye see."

John xi.


While Jesus remained at Bethabara, he receiv-
ed a message from the sisters in Bethany, inform-
ing him of the ilhiess of his friend Lazarus, The
affectionate intimacy existing between the Saviour
and this family, is touchingly indicated in the
words of the message he received; — " Lord, be-
hold, he whom thou lovest, is sick." And the
evangelist John, who was doubtless with his Mas-
ter at this time, adds, that " Jesus loved Martha,
and her sister, and Lazarus." Still, though he
knew that they had sent to him with the desire
that he should come to them, he for two days re-
mained where he was, and left them to their anxi-
ety. He would willingly do any thing for them,
but he meditated some greater good than their
immediate relief. It is often the order of Provi-
dence to inflict suffering for a time, in order to
prepare the way for blessing. So these sisters
were left to mourn, that they might the more re-

To the great surprise of his disciples, our Lord
at length proposed to go back to Judea. What,
said they, when the Jews so lately attempted
your life, will you unwisely return and put your-
self in their power.'' But when they learned that
Lazarus was dead, they readily consented to ac-
company him; and it is worth remarking, that it
was Thomas, the disciple afterwards so slow to
credit his resurrection, who now expressed in


strong terms the devoted affection they bore their
Master. " Let us go too, " said he, " that we may-
die with him," If the Jews stone him, we will
share his fate.

They left Bethabara, crossed the Jordan, and
proceeded toward Bethany. He might have raised
Lazarus while at a distance,- as he had healed the
Centurioii's son at Capernaum. But he preferred
to take the long journey, (the distance was about
thirty miles,) because he designed to glorify God
and establish his own claims by a signal work;
and he would have all its attendant circumstances
solemn and striking.

Lazarus had been four days buried when they
reached Bethany. It was therefore in the midst
of the seven days of mourning, and the friends of
the family, from Jerusalem and elsewhere, were
with the sisters, making the customary visits of
condolence. On hearing of his arrival, Martha
rushed out to meet him; but, though overjoyed at
his coming, she showed how disappointed and hurt
she had been at his neglecting to come sooner.
"If thou hadstbeen here," said she, "my brother
had not died." Yet she ventured to hint a hope,
that he would do something for them. But that
she little expected it, is evident; for when Jesus
kindly hastened to assure her, that her brother
should rise again, she answered, as if that did not
satisfy her, " I know that he will rise again in the


resurrection at the last day." Jesus answered
her in those sublime and glorious words, which
are so familiar to our ears, and which must have
been wonderful to those who heard them: " I am
the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in
me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and
whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never
die." Martha evidently felt these words to the
bottom of her soul. She could only reply, that
she believed him to be The Messiah; — that one
word comprehended every thing; and then, as if
she liad gained all she desired, she went back to
the house, and whispered to Mary that the Master
had arrived and was waiting for her.

Mary immediately left the house, and accom-
panied her sister. The friends who were with
her, followed, thinking that she was going to visit
the grave, and all arrived together at the place
where Jesus was. Mary threw herself in tears
at his feet, and reproached him, as Martha had
done, for his tardiness in coming to them. " If
thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."
The scene was a moving one. When Jesus beheld
the two sisters, distressed and in tears, the friends
weeping around them, and appealing to him as
one who might have helped them, and did not; —
he could not repress his feelings. He groaned in
spirit, and was troubled. He wept, and asked to
be conducted to the tomb. The Jews were struck


with his sensibility, and said, " Behold how he
loved him! " Yet at the same time some of them
cavilled, and wondered why, if he could heal a
poor blind beggar, he had not saved his friend
from death.

The company arrived at the tomb. It was a
cave, having the mouth closed with a stone. Our
Lord directed that the stone should be removed.
Martha, who seems not yet to have suspected
what was to take place, objected to this, because
it would be offensive. Jesus quietly rebuked her
interference: — -" Said I not, that if thou wouldst
believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?"
The stone was removed. The multitude stood
around, looking on, in wondering and silent ex-
pectation. And Jesus, whose feelings of sympa-
thy with the mourners had now given way to the
joyful confidence that he should at once relieve
them, and display the power of God, lifted up his
eyes, and uttered a brief thanksgiving; — " Father,
I thank thee that thou hast heard me! " This he
did that the bystanders might hear him, and be
persuaded of his divine mission. Then, with a
loud voice, he cried out, " Lazarus, come forth."
This was all; — these three simple words; without
parade, without pretension, in the simple tone of
unquestionable power, he spoke, and the dead man
heard him. Enveloped as he was in the garments
of death, which were wound close around his


body and limbs, he raised himself up from the
niche where he was lying in the side of the cave,
and stood down upon the floor. Jesus gave di-
rections to loose the raiment which bound him,
and he walked out of the cave. We may conjec-
ture the rapture with which the brother and sisters
embraced each other, and returned thanks to their
friendly deliverer, while they hailed him, with new
faith, as the Son of God. Many of the attendant
multitude joined them in their acknowledgments,
not doubting that he, who had thus raised the dead
before their eyes, was indeed the promised and
expected one.

Some, however, were of so prejudiced and per-
verse a mind as to be proof even against this evi-
dence. They went away to inform the Pharisees
of what had taken place. A meeting of the San-
hedrim was summoned to discuss the matter.
They acknowledged his miracles; indeed they
never had pretended to deny what was so unques-
tionable; but they reasoned, that this was not the
sort of Messiah whom they expected or desired;
and that if the people should be brought to main-
tain his pretensions, it would subject them to the
charge of sedition and expose them to the dis-
pleasure of the government; "the Romans will
come and take away both our place and nation."

John xi. 47.


It was time, therefore, that they should take reso-
lute measures to put a stop to his further progress.
And the high priest, Caiaphas, urged them to their
bloody purpose, by declaring, that it was far better
to put one man to death, than to run the hazard of
this evil to the whole nation. He spoke, says the
Evangelist, as high priest under a divine influence.
Little did he imagine, that he was urging what, in
the mysterious counsels of God, was to promote the
glory of the man he strove to destroy, and to has-
ten the overthrow of the nation he was anxious to
save. His counsel prevailed; and from that hour
it was resolved, that the benevolent prophet of
Galilee should die.

Jesus had more than once been exposed to the
loss of life from his enemies at Jerusalem, and

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Online LibraryHenry WareThe life of the saviour → online text (page 8 of 15)