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1. The retreat of Christ into the desert is connected by the Evangelist Luke, even chronologically, with the narrative of His journey through the towns and villages (chap. viii. 1–3). In the Gospel history, the journey of Christ to the feast of Purim in Jerusalem falls between these events. In like manner, the history of the transfiguration is historically separated by a series of facts from the first feeding of the multitude-even the second feeding preceded it. The discussions among the disciples regarding the primacy belong also to a later period; for the last sojourn but one of Jesus in Galilee, and the journey connected with it to the feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, as likewise His last appearance in Galilee, come between these discussions and the transfiguration.
2. We are indebted to the Evangelist here for the important notice, that Herod wished to see Jesus; as also for the intimation, that the desert to which Jesus retired lay near to the city of Bethsaida. The Evangelist, indeed, passes over the blessing pronounced on Peter; but he also omits the rebuke given to the same apostle by Christ, Get thee behind Me, Satan.' He has quoted, however, the confession of Peter. The interval between Peter's confession and the transfiguration he designates as about eight days; the other synoptists, on the contrary, say, ' After six days.' He represents the transfiguration as the result of the prayer of Jesus; and he notes the transformation of His countenance: so also the appearance of the two men in celestial glory. He informs us of the subject of conversation between Moses and Elias, and the Lord: they conversed with Him concerning His decease in Jerusalem. The state of the three disciples is also exactly described: they are for a time heavy with sleep. It is a circumstance peculiar to this Gospel, that the disciples were overcome with fear when they saw the three men enter the cloud and disappear. The youth possessed with a devil, who was healed at the Mount of Transfiguration, is designated as an only son. The important passage chap. ix. 44, 45 is found in Luke only. In the first of these verses, the contrast between the honour and the dishonour put on the Lord is brought out; in the last, the frame of the disciples' mind, averse as it was to contemplate the death on the cross, is psychologically described, in a masterly manner.
3. There exists no ground to regard Herod's desire to see Jesus as the result of suspicion, at least not in the sense that a hostile element was displayed in this mark of attention. (Comp. in disproof of this, Luke xxiii. 8.)
4. It is manifest that the mention of the interval of about eight days—that is, a week-places the transfiguration of Christ in connection with His conversation with His disciples regarding His person, and the confession of Peter; and it is singular that Gfrörer should have overlooked this simple relationship, and sought a mystic meaning in the number referred to (p. 202).
THE DEPARTURE OF JESUS FROM GALILEE TO JERUSALEM. SAMARIA. THE FOUR DISCIPLES, AND THE FOUR HINDRANCES ON THE WAY INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD. THE SEVENTY DISCIPLES. THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
(Chap. ix. 51-x. 37.)
We have already seen, that the disciples, even then, when Jesus was about to commence His journey to Jerusalem, were not wholly resigned to His spirit, nor wholly shared His views and frame of mind. This became manifest anew, when He now took His departure from Galilee. Difficulties were thrown in His way by several disciples, which sufficiently showed that, like unripe scholars, they had but imperfectly learned their Master's spirit. He, however, approved Himself, in all these cases, as the perfect Teacher.
The Evangelist has collected and arranged together four acts of this kind.
When the time was come that He should be received up, He stedfastly-with firm determination-turned His face towards Jerusalem. Thither now His way, the bent of His spirit, led Him. He knew that He went to His glory, whilst going to meet His death,1 On the way He sent messengers before Him.
1 The character of Luke's Gospel gives to this thought a peculiar significance. This it was which the Hellenic spirit first learned through Christ,
These came into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him. But the inhabitants of the village did not receive Him, because the direction of His journey showed that He would go to Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did?' But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Know ye not of what spirit—ye arethe children? For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's souls, but to save them.'" And they went to another village.
Whilst they were on the way, a second difficulty was raised by another. Meeting the Lord in the way, he assured Him: 'I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.' Jesus said unto him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.'
The Lord adBut he said, 'Lord, Jesus said unto him, and preach the king
A third opposed to Him a new difficulty. dressed to him the summons, Follow Me.' suffer me first to go and bury my father.' 'Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou dom of God.'
And finally a fourth difficulty was raised by a fourth individual. This man declared to Him: Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home, at my house-celebrate a farewell feast.' To him Jesus replied, 'No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'
Thus, the most various obstacles oppose themselves to Christ, and hindrances in the way of following Him arise within the circle of His disciples themselves. In one the resistance is of one kind, in another it assumes a different form; but in each the special nature of the dissonance stands in connection with his
that the way to the beautiful and festive manifestation of life is through the gloomy portal of death. Therefore, also, must the expression dványıs have here its full New Testament meaning; and this consideration has compelled me to give up the explanation of this passage by Wieseler, adopted by me (vol. iii. p. 400), and to prefer the common explanation as defended by Stier (iii. 474). To this must also be added a regard to the connection of this passage with the previous section, as well as the reference to something still beyond, which likewise lies (Acts ii. 1) in the ovμλnpovola..
1 Τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον, etc.
2 These words are wanting in many manuscripts. Lachmann has not admitted them into the text. See above, iii. 401.
peculiar temperament. The choleric disposition hinders, whilst it seeks to further His progress by acts of fanaticism. The sanguine follower, with his glowing but transient enthusiasm, in which he promises the boldest and most faithful service, gives Him special cause for hesitation. The melancholic disciple, who would first go and bury his father, impedes Him with his pietistic bondage and legality of spirit. The phlegmatic follower, finally, who would first celebrate a special leave-taking with his friends, has in his love of comfort and ease a cause of hindrance to the service of Christ. But Christ stands as Master above them all, and knows how to treat each one according to his nature, and train him according to his necessities. He meets the threatening zealots with a gentle rebuke; He recalls them to reflection over their motive, and the end of His own mission. He occasions the all-promising enthusiast to take into calculation, that he will find the most self-denying life with Him. Into the heart of the melancholic scrupulous man He throws that word of fire: Let the dead bury their dead. And last of all, the phlegmatic, easy and sentimental man, He summons to decided and devoted activity, with the urgent call, Whoso putteth his hand to the plough and looketh back, is unfit for the kingdom of God.
For this combination of the four disciplinary acts of Christ, we are indebted to the psychological discrimination of our Evangelist. We owe to him likewise the communication of the fact, that Jesus sent out also other disciples besides the Twelve.
After these things, the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them, two by two before His face, into every city and village whither He Himself would come (see above, iii. 403). He furnished them at the same time with instructions for their work. In so doing, He spoke to the following effect:
'The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and
drinking such things as they have ;' for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you; and heal the sick that are therein; and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God has been near unto you. I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you-spake the Lord in conclusion to these messengers-heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.'
The seventy disciples form manifestly a contrast to the Twelve. The selection of these messengers for a special mission,' shows us that the Lord did not intend to make the Twelve exclusively the channels of His life, His authority and His Spirit. This becomes the more evident, as we saw in the previous paragraphs what impure elements the Lord had still to contend with in the college of the Twelve; and here learn what promises, on the contrary, He could also give to the seventy disciples. The instructions with which the seventy were furnished are closely related to those imparted to the Twelve (Matt. x.). And even should the recollection of the one have exerted an influence on the recording of the other, those parts of the commission given to the seventy will, for the most part, certainly have formed its fundamental and original elements, in which these disciples are provided with
1 The author of Evang., etc., is of opinion, this passage has reference to Peter and his conduct in Antioch (Gal. ii. 12) and to 1 Cor. ix. 4, i.e., to the Jewish laws concerning meats, and their repeal by the Gospel; but in this case, the additional clause, for the labourer is worthy of his hire,' would sound somewhat strange.