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divinely prepared to long for and to receive.
He came to them as to a kingdom waiting
for its king, the king who was to vindicate
his claim to rule over them by the manifesta-
tion of the Divine Love, and to exercise
His rule through their welcome of the
manifestation. If they had been of the


Truth they would have heard His voice.
They sealed their rejection with the words
which unconsciously expressed their repudia-
tion of the Messianic promise, " We have
no king but Caesar."

The fact that it is thus the Gospel of the
Rejection gives to St John's Gospel at first
sight a strangely unpractical character. The
manifestation of our Lord at Jerusalem
leads to no result except rejection. At
Jerusalem itself there is no recorded instance
of immediate acceptance except the man
born blind. Joseph of Arimathea appears
late upon the scene as a secret disciple.
Nicodemus seems to be gradually won.
He did not trust Himself to those who
"believed on His name" at the first Pass-
over. Those who believed on Him when
He spoke of His being lifted up are
immediately afterwards repelled. 1 And a

1 Dr Sanday has commented on the ambiguity of the one
word which denotes all the different stages of belief. 'The
context, both in chapter ii., where our Lord did not trust
Himself to those who are said to have believed on His
Name, and in chapter viii,, where those who "believed on
Him," or "believed Him," are driven away by the suggestion
that they need the gift of freedom, is in each case decisive


Gospel which is not accepted is necessarily
a Gospel obscured. The utterance is
checked, it is not completed by the ampli-
fication which a sympathetic hearing calls
forth. It is a Gospel in the air.

But this apparently unpractical character
of the Gospel by no means belongs to its
substance. Sheer moral fact is the core
both of the Gospel and of its rejection. No
simpler moral issues could be conceived than
those which are presented by our Lord's
acts. The making of the House of God
a house of merchandise was just such an
obvious iniquity as would have stirred the
wrath of Amos or Jeremiah. It was sheer
moral blindness which prevented them from
welcoming the condemnation. The healing
of the cripple at the pool on the Sabbath
Day was a plain work of mercy. Of such
a work He might well say, 1 "The very
works that I do bear witness of Me, that
the Father hath sent Me." It is to the

that phrases, in which we might naturally have read the
deeper meaning, really bear the shallower significance of
" believing."
1 St John v. 36.


plain moral issue that He appeals when He
says in reference to this work, 1 "Are ye
wrath with Me because I made a man every
whit whole on the Sabbath Day?" In the
same sense we should take His words in
chapter x., spoken probably in reference to
the healing of the man born blind, whose
blindness He refused to consider in any other
light than as it called for healing. In the
discourse of the Good Shepherd 2 He had
said, " I know Mine own and Mine own
know Me, even as the Father knoweth Me
and I know the Father, and I lay down
My life for the sheep." And this thought
governs what He now says in reference to
His works: 3 "The works that I do in My
Father's name, these bear witness of Me.
But ye believe not because ye are not of
My sheep. If I do not the works of My
Father, believe Me not, but if I do them,
though ye believe not Me, believe the
works, that ye may know and understand
that the Father is in Me and I in the

1 St John vii. 23. 2 St John x. 14-15.

3 St John x. 25, 26, 37> 38.



Father." This is the Truth which they will
not hear, this declaration of the Father's

But because they will not hear, the Gospel
remains throughout its story of rejection a
Gospel of manifestation, the Gospel, as St
John describes it in the Preface, of "the
Word." It is the truth which will out. It
is the truth which must manifest itself,
whether they will hear or whether they
will forbear.

6. But it is the Rejection witnessed and
recorded by one of the Disciples of
His Love.

But plainly this very drama of Rejection
could not have been recorded if it had not
been acted out in the presence of one of
those who believed, and in whose belief the
whole story is framed. It is a drama within
a drama. We see the one drama as it was
witnessed by a person in the other. The
Revelation of Rejection is witnessed and
recorded by one of those who had themselves
received the Revelation of love. Before


the series of events begins which make up
the story of the Rejection, we have a record
of the initial acceptance of our Lord by His
disciples! "They Tiad found the Messiah, 1
He had manifested forth His glory and His
disciples had believed on Him. 2 We have
only very scanty glimpses and indications '
of their presence as the story of the Rejec-
tion proceeds three times only at Jerusalem
itself before the Passion. 3 After the rejec-
tion is an accomplished fact, 4 and before it
takes effect in the Crucifixion, we have the
record 5 of the final Revelation of love in the
light of which they witnessed the last issue
of the Rejection, and saw and believed the
victory into which it was transformed.

7. Embodying His own Meditative Memories
of the Manifestation.

It is the record then by a disciple of
teaching not directly addressed to disciples,
not Hirectly adapted to the state of mind

1 St John 5. 41, 45, 49. 8 St John ii. 22 ; ix. 2 ; xii. 21.
8 St John ii. n. * St John xii. 36-50.
6 St John xiii.-xvii.


in which they were then when this disciple
heard and treasured what he heard. How
much he heard himself and remembered,
how much he derived from others from
Nicodemus, for instance, or the woman of
Samaria, or the man that was born blind
we cannot attempt to say. How far his being
known unto the High Priest mayKave~given
him access afterwards to sources of informa-
tion from within the circle of those who took
part in the conflict between the rulers and
the new teacher, how far his contact with
this region of life and opinion may have
enabled him at the time to enter into the
meaning of what he heard, it is perhaps
impossible to attempt to judge. It seems
to be evident that, in the Gospel as a whole,
he is presenting us with the results of the
growth of his own spiritual apprehension
of utterances, whose significance he came
gradually to realise and understand, utter-
ances which must have been largely
enigmatical to the disciples at the time,
and which were understood only in retro-
spect, as the society which our Lord was


building up came to be conscious of its
strength and being, and to need the record
of the first steps in the conscious knowledge
of the Spirit that was its Life. It is the
record of a brooding meditative memory.
Words ot Christ come back to him, spoken
in the heat of the great conflict, burnt into
his heart, the heart of a passionately loyal
partisan, as his soul thrilled with the sense
of battle these come back upon him, when
time and years and all that had gone
between n"a^"Taugrit~Tirni their '"meaning,
words spoken to others and handed on
to him, treasured side by side with words
which he had heard himself, treasured and
thought over and ordered into the wondrous
story, in which He shows us, as it was
exposed in that spiritual Passion which went
before what we call the Passion, the inner
truth which was at the core of the Gospel
of Life.

8. Seen in Retrospect as the Gospel presents it.

That the substance and purport of this
teaching became part and parcel of the


life of the Church is evident from a com-
parison of the working Gospel of the Church,
as it is exhibited in the early Epistles of
St Paul, with the Gospel of the Three.

The contrast between the two is striking
in many ways. That a record, so uncoloured
by a creed or by a reflective theory of
the religion whose origin it pictures as
the Gospel of the Three, should have
lived on through the time when St Paul's
early epistles were written, and when we
see, not from what he maintains but
from what~ he assumes, that a creed, a
reflective theory of the Gospel, had become
part of the daily life of the Church, is a
wonder which is done away by no
theory of the origin and credibility of the
documents concerned. But what concerns
us here is that the creed, the current
creed of the Church of the early Epistles,
is the creed of the Four Gospels, not the
creed of the Three. To take the two most
obvious instances, the Johannine doctrine
of the Holy Spirit as the principle of life
in the believer only appears in two passages


in the Three. 1 It appears five times in
the Epistles to the Thessalonians, and is
so much part and parcel of the whole con-
ception of the Christian life implied in
i Corinthians, that no enumeration of the
passages in which there is explicit mention
of the Holy Spirit in this relation would
do justice to the facts. And the Johannine
doctrine of the co-equal Godhead of the
Father and the Son, which in the Galilean
Gospel appears explicitly only in the bap-
tismal formula, 2 and in St Matthew xi. 27,
and St Luke x. 22, is again part and parcel
of the working creed of i Corinthians.

But though the purport and effect of
the Revelation to the disciples through the
Ministry at Jerusalem thus plainly passed
into the conscious soul of the Christian
Society, we can well believe that it took
all the years, which the longest spaiT"of
human life could give to the disciple that
witnessed of these things and wrote these
things, to afford him the spiritual perspective

1 (i) St Matt. x. 20 ; St Luke xii. 12 ; (2) St Luke xi. 13.
8 St Matt, xxviii. 19.


in which he sees the story that he tells.
The Gospel has been in this respect compared
to the prophetical retrospects of the Old
Testament. To accept the comparison as
luminously suggestive is not necessarily to
accept any view, with which the suggestion
may be associated, as to the degree in which
the record of sheer fact enters into the story.
The value of the suggested comparison would
not be diminished, if we believed St John's
to be the most trustworthy historical guide
of all tlie Rjur G6J>els. /vna as regards
our present purpose of describing in outline
the Gospel of Jerusalem, the Gospel of the
Rejection, even if it must be largely a
matter of individual judgment of what pro-
portion of the discourses in St John we can
say These are the veritable words that
fell from the lips of Christ even if we were
to accept the conclusion that ihe writer
himself would hardly have been able to
distinguish the original remembrance from
the later interpretation which emerged in
his mind, as reflection led him to the true
understanding of its meaning the fact that


these questions are left undiscussed and
undecided is so far from incapacitating us
from asking what are the main lines of the
teaching of the Gospel of the Rejection at
Jerusalem, that the answer to this latter
question may well put us in a better position
for giving to the former questions such
answer as they may need to have or may
be able to receive.

9. The Gospel of the Offer of Life in the
Person of the Son of God.

The Gospel of the Jerusalem Ministry then
is the "Gospel of the offer of (i) Life ; (2)
in the Person of the Son of God.

Since the offer of life is not accepted, our
Lord is continually driven back, in self-
defence, on the personal claim which was
involved in the offer and justified it. Hence
there is a triple development to be observed :

(1) The Development of the Offer of Life.

(2) The Development of the Rejection.

(3) The Development of the Personal Claim.
It is in meeting the rejection of the



offer that the offer and the claim become
separated from one another, that the personal
offer of Himself as the Life is converted into
a personal claim to the possession of the
authority and right to make the offer. The
offer being rejected, the claim remains, and
remains not by His act but by theirs
isolated from the offer of which it was
naturally a part. And the successive stages
in the development of the Gospel of Life
are accordingly marked by a series of great
utterances in which the personal claim
crystallises, and stands out as the ground
of conflict. These successive stages in the
development may be briefly indicated here.



Preparatory Stage : The Need of Life
(Chapters II., III., and IV.).

WHEN our Lord purged the Temple at the
Passover, His act was nothing less than a
national call to repentance, an appeal to
the need of moral regeneration. The scene
presented by the Temple court was an out-
rage to Jehovah, the God of Righteousness.
His act was a rebuke of sin, touching
probably directly the interests of the rulers,
the High Priestly caste, who would be the
gainers by the traffic, but addressed to the
conscience, not only of the rulers, but of the
religious community at large. The moral
appeal fell flat. There was no moral re-
sponse. The traffic was probably not specially


popular, and this may have checked the ex-
pression of the resentment which the rulers
would naturally feel; but in a spiritually inert
religious society it may well have been re-
garded with the acquiescence of a merely
passive dislike. At any rate, the only
recorded response is a demand for an
external sign to justify the act. The
answer as to the rebuilding of the
Temple to those to whom it was made
merely enigmatical, and signifying on His
part only His entire disregard of the
temper that prompted the demand, in
itself pointed on to a future manifestation
of the power of renewal of religious life.
It was understood by them literally of the
fabric. It was meant by Him no doubt
somewhat in the sense of "God is able of
these stones to raise up children unto
Abraham." It was afterwards referred by
the disciples to the Resurrection, as the
supreme manifestation of the life-giving
power. The act of rebuke did not bite
home enough to provoke any notice of
the claim involved in the words, " My


Father's House." The claim is here put
forward merely in its natural association
with the act. It is not aggressively put
forward, and there is no controversy to
draw it into separate prominence.

The offer therefore is the call to re-
pentance, the offer of moral regeneration.
The rejection simply lies in the fact that
the call to repentance is disregarded, that
the need of life, the need of moral regenera-
tion, is unfelt. And the claim is the claim
of authority implied in the act, and expressed
in the words, " My Father's House."

This passive rejection appears in another
form as apparent "belief on His Name,"
belief which he rates at its true value and
disregards. The significance of the fact
that He disregards it can scarcely be ex-
aggerated. Plainly it made a great im-
pression on the disciple at the time that He
should do the works which evoked belief,
that the belief should be evoked, and that
He should disregard it. It implied in our
Lord a sense that virtue had not gone out
of Him, that the Love had manifested itself,


and had met with no real response. The
rejection on His part of the unreal response
testifies to the strength of the expectation,
to the spiritual force which He had put forth,
to the significance of the appeal which He
had made, and made in vain.
j And the inner meaning of the whole story
! of the first offer to Jerusalem is given to us
j in the talk with Nicodemus. Nicodemus
represents the highest point reached at
Jerusalem in the apprehension of the offer
of our Lord. And the highest point reached

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is the recognition of our Lord as a teacher
come from God. Against this attitude of

(receptivity towards new teaching, our Lord
sets the need of the new birth without which
no man can enter into the Kingdom of God.
" The teacher of Israel " failed of his vocation,
who clid not understand this neecL This,
the need in man of the new life from God,
was the " earthly thing." To be ignorant
or unconscious of this need of a new life
was to be incapable of apprehending the
"heavenly" thing, the offer of eternal life
which the Love of God would give through


the lifting up of the Son of Man, as God
had given life and deliverance of old when
Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilder-
ness. This was the nature of the rejection
at its earliest stage the unconsciousness of
spiritual need, which rendered them in-
capable of hearing and believing the offer
of spiritual life that was to be made. This
was the root of that antagonism which
grew into embittered enmity. Nothing is so
provocative of apparently unreasoning hatred
as the suggestion of a deep defect of which
the subject is unconscious, the offer of a moral
rehabilitation which he does not feel himself
to need. It gives mortal offence to the
deepest instinct of self-sufficiency. This is
the rooted moral enmity with which at
Jerusalem our Lord finds Himself face to
face from the first.

Feeling Himself to be in an alien and
unreceptive atmosphere, He leaves Jerusalem,
at first for the borders of Judaea, and then,
on the imprisonment of St John the Baptist,
for Galilee. 1

1 Cp. Part I., i., pp. 4, 5.


The journey through Samaria shows us
what thoughts were uppermost in His mind
as He turned His back upon Jerusalem : (i)
The gift of the Spirit "Thou wouldest
have asked of Him and He would have
given thee Living Water"; (2) The con-
viction of sin, which was the first step
towards receiving the gift " Come, see a
man which told me all that ever I did " ; (3)
The spirituality of the worship or service of
God which was the end to be attained that
which it was the privilege of the Jew to
know " We know what we worship,"
" They that worship Him must worship
Him in spirit and in truth," "The Father
seeketh such to worship Him;" and under-
lying all these, though put forward only to
confirm them " We know that Messiah
cometh," " I that speak unto thee am He."

The upshot of this visit to Jerusalem,
preparatory to the offer of the new Life
and the Rejection which was to follow, is
that the rejection of the offer of the Divine
Life by the Jewish religion as an organised
whole is predetermined by their whole moral


attitude, by the absence of response to the
moral appeal, by the absence of spiritual
discernment of the meaning of His signs,
by the absence of any sense of the need of
renewal, of the need of a new Life.

Nevertheless the offer had to be made,
and made to them, in order that through
the witness of His own who believed, it
might stand on record as the appeal of the
Love of God to the sin of niari~tHrougE His

people whom He had chosen.

- - .-,,..-

i. The Offer of Life : The Life that
Heals (Chapter V.).

The Life is offered first as the Healing Life.
This is"' the simplest, the most obvious, the
most direct appeal that could be made. The
healing of the impotent man at the Pool
is the appeal of a work of mercy, done^on
the Sabbath Day as a challenge to the
Rulers of the Jewish religion to welcome
the work of mercy as God's work done on
God's Day. The Sabbath is God's rest.
The work of mercy is a part of that work



of Love which God worketh even until now
in this present time which is the day of
His Rest. The work should have spoken
for itself, and shown that He who did it
came from God. As it did not speak for
itself to them, He is driven to justify it in
words which embody His claim as the Son
to interpret the Father's mind, and to do
the Father's life-giving work. " My Father
worketh hitherto and I work." " As the
Father raiseth the dead, and quickeneth
them, so the Son also quickeneth whom He
will." 1 He does nothing of Himself. 1 He
does not bear witness of Himself. The
works which the Father hath given Him
to do, the very works He does, bear witness
of Him that the Father hath sent Him. 8
They have not His word abiding in them. 4
They have not the Love of God in them-
selves. 8 And so the outcome of this mani-
festation of the Life as Healing Power is
that " for this cause the Jews sought to

1 St John v. 21. 3 St John v. 36.

a St John v. 19, * St John v. 38.

St John. v. 42.


kill Him," 1 because, not seeing the moral
appeal of the work of mercy, ancf therefore
resenting it as a breach of the Sabbath,
they further resented the claim of " My
Father worketh hitherto and I work,"" the
claim to be verified only in the apprehension
of the work of Love as Divine, the claim that
He was one with the authority from which
the religious institutions of Judaism derived.
The latent antagonism has now developed
into a declared opposition with a definite
issue, the claim of a Divine authority, but
the manifestation proceeds upon its course.

2. The Bread of Life: The Water of
Life : The Light of Life ; The Con-
flict in Galilee (Chapter VI.) and in
Jerusalem (Chapter VII.).

At the next point at which St John
takes up the story, the opposition thus
provoked at Jerusalem has followed Him

to Galilee, and the conflict there set up

then surges Back to Jerusalem. He now

1 St John v. 1 8.


presents Himself not as the Healer, the
Deliverer, but as the Satisfier of the
constant needs of the^ soul. "I am the
Bread of Life " " If any man thirst let Hlfti

come unto Me and clrinkT^ - " I am the
Light of the World," identifying Himself
with the FatKer in the manifestations of
His care for His people in the wilderness
after the deliverance, the giving of the
manna, of the water from the rock, of the
light to guide them on their way.

It is on the occasion of the first great
utterance, just at the time when our Lord's
popularity in Galilee reaches a climax " they
were about to come and take Him by force
to make Him king" that the opposition
of "the Jews" breaks in, not only to
strengthen and consolidate the tendencies
which in Galilee ran counter to this popu-
larity, but to invade with their influence
the body of disciples whom He was gather-
ing out of those who flocked to follow
Him. "The Jews murmured concerning
Him because He said, I am the bread
which came down out of heaven." They


murmured at the claim of a Divine

Our Lord's answer was to restate the
offer and the claim : " The bread of God is
that which cometh down out of heaven and
giveth life unto the world," and to restate
it now in words which implied, what their
rejection of the offer of Life forced upon
His own mind, that the life will be given
by sacrifice. " The bread which I will
give is my Flesh, for the life of the
world." When these words provoke fresh
questioning He makes this meaning plainer.
" Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of
Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life
in yourselves." And it is on the issue
thus raised that His disciples are divided;
many of them went back and walked no
more with Him.

St John represents our Lord at this point 2
as reluctant to precipitate the issue of the
conflict. He went on walking in Galilee. 3

1 Cp. Part III., ch. iii., p. 97. 3 St John vii. I.

3 The words are " After these things Jesus was walking "
or "went on walking in Galilee." (i) It is not implied that
this was TH^S8g333ng7ra llw Valkmg in Galilee." (2) Galilee,


He refused to come up to the Feast of the
Tabernacles with any challenging publicity.
When He does come He finds Himself in
the midst of the waves of controversy about
Himself, controversy between a partial and
hesitating popular acceptance "some say
He is a good man" and the determined
rejection of the Jews, determined, as St
John expressly tells us, by His having made
a man every whit whole on the Sabbath ;
controversy between Jerusalem and Galilee
" Doth Christ come out of Galilee ? " " Art

1 3 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryWilfrid John RichmondThe Gospel of the rejection : a study in the relation of the Fourth Gospel to the three → online text (page 3 of 8)