Wilfrid John Richmond.

The Gospel of the rejection : a study in the relation of the Fourth Gospel to the three online

. (page 6 of 8)
Online LibraryWilfrid John RichmondThe Gospel of the rejection : a study in the relation of the Fourth Gospel to the three → online text (page 6 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And when once we are brought face to
face with the probability that there was a
Jerusalem Ministry and a Jerusalem Gospel,
as it is suggested by the Three that there


was, we see that the supposition that there
was such a Ministry and such a Gospel
has an intrinsic probability of its own,
almost amounting to a moral and spiritual
necessity. The main object of the Fourth
Gospel, it is true, is beyond place or
history, but it is quite inseparable from
place and history, and to leave place or
history out of account is, in part at least,
to lose touch with the deepest truth of
the Gospel itself.

2. // is the Gospel of Eternal Life in the
Son of God, the Universal Need of
Man, which the Jew had been Divinely
prepared to receive.

The main object of the Gospel is to
record in its full meaning the offer of
Eternal Life, as rooted in the Divine and
Eternal character of Him who made the
offer. But this teaching of Eternal Life
was at once, and for the same reasons, the
Gospel which the Jew, the instructed Jew,
the Jew of Jerusalem, ought to have received


with eager and sympathetic welcome, and
the life, at first the unconscious life, later
the conscious faith and life of that universal
human fellowship in God, which grew out
of the society founded in Galilee.

There are passages in the record of the
Three, the record of the founding of this
fellowship, which presuppose or lead up to
the deeper teachings as to the Divine Life
given to men, with which the later chapters
of St John's Gospel finally present us. 1 But
it is St John who records the manifestation
of that Eternal Life, of that gift of the
Divine Life in man, whose growing fruition
we watch in the Church of the Epistles.
And he records it as the offer made to
the Jews in the home of Jewish religion,
and commended to them by appeals to the
inner spirit of the Law and the Prophets.

When He demands of the teacher of
Israel the knowledge of the need of a
new spirit and a new life, He demands
that Israel should have learnt to long for
the high promise of Jeremiah and Ezekiel,

1 St Matthew x. 40, xviii. 20. xxviii. 20 ; St Luke xi. 13.


the promise of the new heart and the
new spirit which God would put within
them. He challenges acceptance as the
Life-giving Deliverer in the name of the
God of the Sabbath. The Bread, the
Water, the Light of Life, are offers, all of
them, that carry back to the inspiration of
the history whose memories they treasured.
As the Shepherd He takes up the threads
of history and psalm and prophecy that
lead, through the memories of deliverance
and fostering care, to thoughts of the ties
of tender and intimate fellowship by which
God was bound to His people. He appeals
to the need, the human need, of God, as it
had been developed, in God's providence,
in Israel, the religious protagonist of
humanity. To the Israelite the ideas, the
experiences, were familiar history by which
the sense of this need should have been

To them whom the Love of God had
thus prepared, the Love of God must thus
and no otherwise be manifested, because
no otherwise could the Love of God to


man be manifested, than through His Love,
His " Dilectio," of the people of His choice.
Only through the manifestation of this Love
to them, and its rejection, could the force
of Love that lay behind the manifestation
be shewn forth, the force which brought
out of the very material of the rejection
the greater manifestation of Love. The
need of the new Life, the need of deliver-
ance and "Healing, the hunger aricT'the
thirst for God, the longing for the Light
in answer to all these, as they cried aloud
in the records of Jewish religious aspiration,
the Presence of God among His people,
at the heart and home of their religious
life, must be manifested to satisfy these

3. Rejected by the Jew, interpreted in its
Fulness to the Disciple as the Gospel
of the Indwelling Life,

And so far the manifestation could and
must be made even to those who rejected
the Divine offer, although it was to be


in a sense even in order that it might be
rejected. But how the need was to be
satisfied, by what gift of the Divine In-
dwelling, by what spiritual union with Him
who made the offer this could only be
told to the disciples of His Love. To
one among these, who, belonging to the
company of the Galilean fellowship, had
watched with amazement and horror the
growing tragedy of rejection, it was given
to learn, before its consummation, in the
hour of parting, that Gospel within the
Gospel, that communication of the Divine
Life to man, by the gift of which alone
the need of God, in which the Jewish
spirit had been trained, would find the
satisfaction of its hope, and in after years
to enter into the full meaning of what
he learnt. In his story the manifestation
which was rejected passed on into and
is fused with the manifestation which is
received. He interprets the Gospel of the
Rejection, as it could only be interpreted in
the light given to the love of the disciple.
He brings to illuminate the disciple's faith


and the disciple's experience the memory
of the great rejection of the manifestation
of Love.

4. Whose Manifestation is the Act of the
Eternal Word by Whom all Things
were made.

And the scene of that manifestation
and of that rejection becomes to him the
central scene of the drama of the creation
of God. We are in the presence of the
great necessities of the Divine Being. As
it is the Divine Fellowship, the fruit of
the Divine Indwelling, which has come
to satisfy the inspired and instructed need
of man, so it is the Eternal Word, the
expression of the Divine mind and the
Divine will, by whose agency all things
were made, and man that he might receive
the Light of Life, the shining forth of
whose glory the disciple has seen, the
light shining in the darkness of humanity,
the God who had chosen Sion to be His
own coming to His own and His own


receiving Him not, but as many as received
Him, Him who was rejected by His
own, receiving the sonship to God, which
was the living experience of the Christian



IN the foregoing chapters a view of the
relation of St John's Gospel to the Three
has been set forth in relation to three
main points of difference between them,
(i) the difference as to the scene of the
Ministry, (2) the difference as to the
development of the teaching as to our
Lord's Person, (3) the difference as to
the development of the disciples' appre-
hension of the Master's claim. It may
help to illustrate the view set forth if we
indicate its bearing on some of the less
obvious differences between St John and
the Three; viz. (i) The omissions in the
one story of incidents told in the other,



such as we should expect to be told in
the story from which we find them to be
omitted ; and with these we may note the
different light in which the Ministry of the
Baptist is presented: (2) The different
place taken by the miracles in the two
narratives : (3) The ~HifTerent impression as
to our Lord left upon our minds by the
one story and the other, the different picture
of His Person and character.



i. The Biographical Fallacy.

As to the difference in the events recorded
or omitted in St John's Gospel and the
Galilean Gospels, it would clear the ground
for the consideration of the question, if we
could banish from our minds in relation to
the Gospels all the associations suggested by
the word "biography." Even the phrase
" Life of our Lord " suggests a completeness
of knowledge which we do not possess, and
an aim which was altogether absent from
the minds of the Evangelists.

St Mark's Gospel opens with the words :
" the Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus

Christ," and its first mention of our Lord



tells how He came into Galilee preaching
the Gospel of God, and saying: "The time
is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at
hand." Here is no suggestion of the
beginning of a biography. The book is
written at a time when " The Gospel " is
a well-known thing. It is realised "" and
embodied in a Christian fellowship, whose
life and faith is pictured to us in the
earlier Epistles of St Paul. Writing in
the midst of this society the Evangelist
gives the rec{d*44ts origin. It is the
story of trie Gospel ofl Jesus Christ, not
the story of Jesus Christ.

The preface of St Luke's Gospel gives
a similar and more detailed description of
his object. He is undertaking, as many ,
others have done, to draw up a narrative \
"concerning those matters which have
been fulfilled among us," that Theophilus
may know the certainty concerning the
things wherein he was instructed. And,
for the purpose of doing this, he has
traced the course of all things from the
first, and has gone to those as his sources


who delivered these things, who from the
beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers
of the Word. Drawing on other sources
besides those open to St Mark, he has
also presented a different aspect of the
story. Comparing his Gospel with St
Mark's we can see that the mind of
the author was possessed by an aspect
of the Gospel, and that with the view
of presenting this aspect he selects the
incidents on which he shall dwell, and the
details which he shall emphasise. This
pre-occupation with the presentation of an
aspect of the Gospel is such as to exclude
all idea of the completeness of a biography,
even in a Gospel which, like St Luke's,
prefixes to the ceremonious opening of the
history of the Ministry, the stories of the
birth, and of the scene in the boyhood of

St Matthew's Gospel is even further re-
moved from a biography than the Gospels
of St Mark and St Luke. The grouping
of events, the pre-occupation with the idea
of the kingdom, and with the fulfilment of


the law and the prophets, are sufficient to
make this plain. We have once more the
story of the beginning of the Gospel in
one aspect of it. As ''the generations" of
Terah or of Isaac or of Jacob introduced
a chapter in God's dealings with His chosen
people, so " the Book of the generation of
Jesus Christ, the Son of Abraham, the Son
of David" is the final chapter in this

St John's Gospel itself implies and alludes
to these earlier records of the beginning of
the Gospel, and chooses the events to be
dwelt on with a view to its own peculiar
purpose, covering the same ground as they
did only when the particular event to be
recorded subserves that purpose.

The question is then Does St John omit
any event recorded by the Three, which
from the point of view of his purpose we
should have expected him to insert, and
do the Three omit any event recorded by
St John, which from the point of view of
their purpose we should expect them to
insert ?


We may briefly indicate in particular
instances the bearing of the clear recogni-
tion of the purpose of the Gospel on the
answer to be given to these questions.

2. The Virgin Birth.

The special point of difficulty in this case
is that there are two passages in St John 1
in which Jesus is spoken of as the Son of
Joseph, and that there is no correction.
The speakers are (i) Philip, immediately
after his call, (2) the Jews at Capernaum.
The words used are natural on any
hypothesis in the mouths of those who
used them. As to correction by our Lord,
which was possible only in the second case,
the Virgin Birth does not appear in St
Matthew or St Luke as part of the initial
Gospel deliverance. It appears as an affix
to the Gospel of the Fellowship, a truth for
the enlightenment of the believer, never as

O ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

a means of winning belief. We should not
therefore expect any allusion to it by our

1 St John i. 45 ; vi. 42.


Lord. As to correction by the Evangelist,
if, as the Fourth Gospentseljmplies, ij^ was
written for a church which already possessed
the other Three, it would have been quite
unnecessary for his readers' sake that he
should break in upon the strain of remi-
niscence to supply a correction of a form
of speech, which would not strike them as
unnatural in the mouths of those who used
it, a correction which, if it had been needed,
they would almost unconsciously and as a
matter of course supply of their own

If it seem strange that there should be
no allusion to the Virgin Birth in St John,
with whose Gospel of the Incarnation it so
readily harmonises, the explanation lies in
the fact that St John is throughout recall-
ing his recollection of what Jesus said, and
that, if he expands his recollection according
to his fuller appreciation of the meaning,
there is no sign that he adds to it, in the
sense that he is otherwise than true to his
recollection of the subjects on which our
Lord spoke.


3. The Ministry of St John the Baptist

is very differently recorded. The difference
of purpose is clear. In the Galilean Gospels
we have a picture of John's Ministry as the
beginning of the- GospeT TnSt John we
have a record of the witness of John, (i)
as the first step in the manifestation to the
rejecting Jews ; (2) as giving our Lord the
nucleus of the body of disciples.

In the former case we are told how,
according to the prophecy, (i) John came
and baptized and preached (2) the baptism
of repentance, and (3) there went out unto
Him the country of Judaea and all they
of Jerusalem ; (4) how he foretold another
greater than himself, (5) Who should baptize
with the Holy Ghost ; (6) how Jesus came
to him from Galilee and was baptized ; and
(7) how the Spirit came down upon Him
and the voice from heaven said, " Thou art
My Beloved Son." In St John, with the
one exception of (6) the actual Baptism of
Christ, these are all alluded to, viz., (i)


"Why baptizest thou?" (2) "Behold, the
Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of
the world " ; (3) " The Jews sent unto him
from Jerusalem"; (4) "the latchet of whose
shoes I am not worthy to unloose " ; (5) "He
baptizeth with the Holy Spirit " ; (7) " I
beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out
of heaven, and it abode upon Him," and " I
have seen and have borne witness that this
is the Son of God." But the allusions are
incidental to St John's own purpose. He
is not professing to give the story of the
Baptism or of the Ministry of St John the
Baptist. He is recording the witness of
John, first, the negative witness, " I am
not the "Christ n ; secondly, the prophetic
announcement, " There standeth One among
you whom ye know not " ; (3) The positive
witness to Jesus, as (a) the Lamb of God
that taketh away the sin, (b) the final cause
of His own Ministry "that He should be
made manifest to Israel, for this cause came
I baptizing with water," (c) the recipient of
the visible descent of the Spirit, in virtue
of which he recognises Him as the Son of


God. The actual Baptism of Jesus (6) is
notable when we are considering the
Ministry of St John the Baptist as intro-
ductory to our Lord's. It has no special
connection with his witness to Christ. The
allusion to the preaching of repentance (2)
takes the form of the designation of our
Lord as taking away sin, through which
the first disciples became attached to Jesus.
The attachment of these disciples is a main
element in St John's story. The designa-
tion is first public and ineffective, afterwards
private and effective on the two disciples
who heard. This is in accordance with the
whole record of the Gospel, in which the
general rejection is contrasted with the
sympathetic belief of the few. So it is
here : the general rejection in spite of
John's witness is contrasted with the belief
of the few as arising out of John's witness.
The descent of the Holy Spirit (/) in the
form of a dove is mentioned as witnessed
by the Baptist, and the designation as the
Son of God is given, not as spoken by the
voice from heaven, but as echoed from


that voice by the Baptist's witness and
acknowledgment. Considering the complete
difference of purpose between the two stories,
the amount of explicit agreement in detail is
matter of surprise.

As to the broad difference in the spirit
of the picture of the Baptist, this is more
than sufficiently accounted for by the fact
that in St John we have the picture of
the Baptist by a disciple who entered
most deeply into his teaching and who
was one of those through whom the
Ministry of the Baptist did actually lead
on to the Ministry of Christ. The general
fact that it did thus prepare the way is stated
by the Three. The general statement could
not be true unless there had been some such
inner story of detailed actual connection as
St John has given us.

The suggestion that, if John had made
the complete declaration of faith which is
ascribed to him by St John, he would have
become a disciple of Jesus seems to over-
look (i) the prophetic character of the
utterances of John they represent moments


of inspiration, of insight, of enthusiasm,
and (2) the very varying significance of the
title, the Son of God. And, as a point of
contrast between St John and the Three,
this suggestion seems to be sufficiently met
by the reminder that according to the Three
the voice from heaven would seem to have
been heard by the Baptist.

4. The Temptation

has no obvious connection with the Ministry
recorded by St John, and, on our general
view of what regulates the choice of incidents
to be recorded, there was no reason to expect
its inclusion.

5. The Institution of the Sacrament of
the Lord's Supper

finds its place very naturally in the history
of the Fellowship, but it played no part in
the preparation, through the sorrow of the
parting, for the gift of the Spirit and His
indwelling presence, and it is of this that


the story of these chapters in St John is
the record.

6. The Agony

in the Garden is omitted in St John, and on
the same principle its inclusion was not to
be expected.

7. The Incidents connected with the

present several differences. The cry of
desolation on the Cross is omitted in St
John as in St Luke. The words recorded
by St John are, (i) the words which mark
the final parting in earthly intercourse from
the disciple himself, and (2) the words which
mark the consummation of the great conflict
and of the sacrifice in which the rejection
issued, with the words "I thirst" which
led up to these. The rending of the veil of
the Temple would not have come naturally
among the vivid experiences of the eye-
witness of the Crucifixion. The piercing of


the side was not a detail which need have
been recorded by the Three. Its inclusion
in St John's record is characteristic of the
brooding imagination of the writer, who

1*1 "^^^'^^''VBMtfMWH^HMMVMMMHi^P'''

seems like a man habitually silent and
reserved, whose imagination is liable to be
kindled to the point of utterance by some
vivid and appealing fact.

S8. The Doubt of St Thomas
f *

is not the only distinctive feature of St
John's story of the Resurrection, but it is
the most marked addition to the record of
the Three. It seems a natural account of
its inclusion that it is recorded for the sake
of the confession to which it leads, and
that it is intended, in accord with "he saw
and believed," to show how the actual
resurrection, manifest to sense, was the
means by which the disciples were led to
the full recognition of the Divine Christ,
believing on Whom they had life. Its
omission by the Three is in harmony with
the general character of the Resurrection


stories, which show no attempt at a complete
record, and give vivid pictures of appear-
ances, such as fit in with the purpose and
spirit of each Gospel.

9- The Record of the Miracles.

There remain the differences in the record
of the miracles.

(a) TJFtlie miracles recorded by the Three,
but not recorded by St John, there are none
which would have any particular claim for
insertion in his story. The raising of Jairus'
daughter, and of the widow of Nain's son,
as miracles of raising the dead, might seem
to have a claim for insertion in the Gospel
of Life. But, when we realise that St John's
story is the story of the manifestation to
the Jews at Jerusalem, we feel that their
inclusion in this story would have been
almost impossible. As to the omission of
all miracles of casting out demons, it is to
be remembered UiaL 1M 'ffllretclbs recorded
by St John are very few in number, that
those that are recorded are chosen evidently,



not for their own sakes, but as marking
steps or epochs in the development of the
antagonism of the Jews, and that there is
no sign of their being intended to be
representative of the healing of different
kinds of disease, e.g., there is in St John
no healing of the deaf and dumb, or of
the leper. There would be no particular
appropriateness to St John's purpose in any
of these three classes of miracles. And the
fact that no miracle of any of these classes
marked a stage or a crisis in our Lord's
manifestation and rejection at Jerusalem is
not in itself at all surprising.

(6) Galilean miracles recorded by St John.
The Feeding of the Five Thousand and
the Walking on the Sea are recorded in
St John, although they occurred in Galilee,
and are also recorded by the Three, because
they were the events leading up to the
discourse on the

substance of which the former, the Feeding
of the Five Thousand, is also connected.
And this discourse, as we have indicated
above, we believe to be included in St


John's Gospel, because it represents the
antagonism of the Jews of Jerusalem follow-
ing our Lord into Galilee (see above, p. 1 3).

(c) Of the miracles recorded by St John
and omitted by the Three there are three
that call for notice, two because they
occurred in Galilee, and the third because
of its special character.

The Turning of the Water into Wine
plainly dwelt in 5t John s mind as con-
nected with the dawn of belief in our
Lord in the inner circle ot me disciples.
He notes that it is part of trie"" proem to
the story. His hour was not yet come.
It occurred in Galilee, but before the
imprisonment of John, which is given by
the Galilean Gospels as the date of the
public beginning of that Ministry in Galilee
which it is their business to record.

The Healing of the Noblemans Son again
dwelt in St John's mind, perhaps partly as
in fact the first miracle in Galilee on His
return there to begin His Ministry, but
mainly as an example of the Galilean
temper, that sense of imperative need


which made Galilee the place of the
manifestation. To the Three it had no
such importance. It perhaps preceded
the beginning of the public preaching in
Galilee. In any case it is merely one of
the many miracles of Christ which are not
recorded by them in detail. They record
certain representative miracles which left
their mark upon the mind, and dwelt
in the memory, and helped forward the
apprehension of the disciples.

The Raising of Lazarus. The omission
of trns ""miracle bytKe Three seems to
deserve special consideration. It is closely
connected with the final catastrophe at
Jerusalem. They record the catastrophe.
Why do they not record a miracle which,
according to St John, did so much to
precipitate the issue ? The^answer to be
given to this question does not perhaps
altogether overcome our surprise at the

In St John's record the story is of the
? first importance. It is the climax of the
* manifestation in works, and it brings the


antagonism to a point. But it is to be
observed that its importance in St John
is altogether relative to the conflict with
the Jews at Jerusalem. Primarily, there-
fore/ its omission by the TThree is no
more surprising than their omission of the
other incidents of the Jerusalem Ministry.

1 2 3 4 6 8

Online LibraryWilfrid John RichmondThe Gospel of the rejection : a study in the relation of the Fourth Gospel to the three → online text (page 6 of 8)