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HE Lord had resolved upon the selection of the
Twelve, in order thereby to moderate the excessive

concourse of the people to Himself. How necessary
this measure had become, was now especially shown,

when He returned from the mountain solitude to His dwelling

in Capernaum.

The multitude immediately assembled anew, and in such

numbers, that they were not able to move for the crowd-not
even so much as to eat bread. Whilst, however, the enthusiasm
in His favour was excited to the utmost, the enmity of His Gali-
lean opposers manifested itself, on the other hand, with a blas-
phemous daring which occasioned a decisive spiritual collision.

The formidable character of this conflict is manifest from
the fact, that about this time His friends went out to lay hold
on Him, saying, He is beside himself.

The occasion which led to this issue was as follows.1 Cer-


tain scribes had come down from Jerusalem. These now publicly pronounced, as their judgment concerning the Lord: 'He hath Beelzebub (he is possessed of him), and by the power of this prince of the devils casteth he out devils.' But He called them together, and spake to them in parables: How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Thus, also, if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided against himself, he cannot stand, but there is an end of him!'

He had thus shown that He could not destroy the kingdom of Satan by a satanic power. But that His power also was not merely human, but the power of God Himself, He now proceeded to prove.

'No man,' He said, 'can enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man. Then may he spoil his house.' In this parable Christ appeared as the stronger, who had forced His way into the spiritual kingdom of Satan, and, having laid him in chains by His superior spiritual might, now rescued from his grasp his instruments (the possessed).

Thereupon followed the warning, 'Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, even blasphemies themselves, of what sort soever they may be. But he that speaketh blasphemy against the Holy Ghost hath no forgiveness for ever, but hath incurred the penalty of eternal damnation.' This He said, because they had said, 'He hath an unclean spirit.'

This was the attitude in which He stood towards the Pharisees and the highly-respected scribes from Jerusalem, at the moment when His mother and His brethren came, and, standing without, sent unto Him to call Him. We have thus also, at the same time, the explanation, why they (with well-meant intention) might seek to lay hold on Him (see above, vol. iii. p. 183). From this intention of His friends the answer of the Lord becomes also quite intelligible. The multitude sat round about Him in a circle, when it was announced to Him, 'Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek thee.' The Lord returned them for answer, 'Who is My mother or My brethren?' And looking round on those who sat about Him, He said, 'Be

hold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and is to Me a sister and mother.'

So little thus could the Lord be intimidated by the terrible fact, that the respected leaders of the people—their theologians, jurists, and hierarchs-began publicly to declare that He stood in league with devils; nay, that He was possessed of the prince of the devils, and by his authority performed works of satanic jugglery. He could calmly give His opposers to understand that He was animated by the Holy Ghost, that is, by the Spirit of God in His highest form of manifestation; and that they were in danger of blaspheming this Spirit in the most heinous manner. And when even His friends, in this the hour of intensest discord in His life, were in danger, along with His powerful enemies, of being offended in Him, and of becoming unlike to the true spiritual image of His family, He could placidly point to the great spiritual family, which for His refreshment was provided Him by the Father in His chosen people.


This section, according to its chronological arrangement, follows on the healing of the man with a withered hand; belongs thus to a later period.



(Chap. iv. 1-34.)

A second time did the Lord withdraw Himself, on account of the hostility of His opposers, to the sea. And now also He was again followed by a large body of adherents, who had not allowed themselves to be alienated from Him by the blasphemies of the ruling hierarchs; so that He was again obliged to enter into a ship, in order, 'sitting on the water,' to teach the people on the sea-shore. The blasphemous spirit, however, which He had already encountered publicly, now compelled Him, in His

public discourses to the people, to guard the truth which He taught by enveloping it in parables.

In this form especially He communicated to the people the doctrine of the establishment and spread of the kingdom of heaven. Three of these parables give a graphic representation of the development of this kingdom in its fundamental features.

'Hearken,' He said: 'Behold, there went out a sower to Sow. And as he sowed, it came to pass (in the way proper to it). Some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it, had not much earth, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up, it was scorched ;1 and because it had no root, it withered away. And again some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. But some fell on good ground, and did yield fruit, that sprang up and filled: some of it brought forth thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred-fold.' To this the Lord. added, 'He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.'

After the Lord had thus delivered the first parable to the disciples, as likewise to the people, it became necessary to instruct the former regarding the nature and the object of parables generally. This also took place without delay, in a conversation which has immediate reference to the first parable, but applies at the same time to all that followed.

When, therefore, He was again alone, His trusted attendants, along with His disciples, asked Him concerning the meaning of the parable. And He said unto them: 'Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are imparted in parables, that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear,' and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.' Judgment, that is, cannot stand suddenly still in the midst of its course, but must proceed in its career, even to its completion; which no doubt has again reference to deliverance. It is this judgment which to the blind turns all the discourses of Jesus into dark parables;

1 The translation, 'it decayed,' gives a false meaning. The xavμatíCola is experienced by all plants under the burning heat of the sun, and they suffer from it, yet without decaying. In the case of those, however, which have no proper root, it comes to the Enpaivadai.

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