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into heaven, with bodily capacities, divinely free, yet true and well defined. There He dwells, and there with Him is the place of the festive manifestation of the new life, the kingdom of glory.
Thus did the disciples see with their eyes the perfecting of their Lord's exaltation. And they worshipped Him, and returned
, to Jerusalem with great joy; and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.
They were now assured in faith of one day beholding their Lord in His glory. The living certainty of their communion with the Lord in His resurrection and ascension expressed itself in the great joy of their heart. In this blessed frame of mind, they could now with composure revisit the scene of the crucifixion of Christ. Their prayer was now no longer a service of prayer which confined itself to appointed hours; they were continually, ever anew, in the temple. It was not now any longer the prayer of fear and of complaint, but a jubilee of the heart in praising and blessing God.
Thus, once more, at the conclusion of the Gospel history, did the brightness of the exalted Christ glorify the temple, which had been lighted up at its beginning by the appearance of the angel Gabriel, and later had been ever enlivened and consecrated anew by the visits of the Lord. The glory now imparted to it was the highest of all; for now was the perfecting of Christ proclaimed and celebrated in it by the mouth of living witnesses—it was filled with songs of praise by the witnesses of the victory of Christ. Therefore, also, its end was now accomplished. It still stood for a time radiant with the light of the glory of Christ, a dwelling-place of the Spirit, a symbol of the divine spiritual temple, which should now extend itself through earth and heaven, until, as an abode of desolation, as the home and the symbol of Israel forsaken of the Spirit, it was burnt, and became a heap of ruins, in the judgment which was decreed against that people.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN; OR, THE REPRESEN
TATION OF THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST SYMBOLIZED BY THE EAGLE.
GENERAL VIEW AND DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS.
The fourth Gospel has for its object, to describe the life of Jesus Christ in its ideal character.
The ideality of the being of God Himself is His holiness; the infinite clearness, harmony, and certainty of His eternal self-consciousness, or the eternally self-perfected form of His personality, the purity and majesty of His spiritual character.
The ideality of the creation of God, in which His whole being, and thus also this special feature of His being, is reflected, appears in this, that all created things, as they proceeded from the Word of God as their original source, also bear on them the stamp of the Word, are sustained and breathed upon by the Word, and therefore tend ever back to the Word. Hence, also, nature seeks and finds its culminating point in man, especially in the word of man, in the vocal ripeness of his spiritual being, and therefore, finally, in the man, whose whole being is one with the eternal Word—the pure utterance of the Word Himself, who laid the foundations of the whole creation, sustains it, and is the principle of its life. This, then, is the ideal beauty of the great tree of life, which proceeded forth from the root of the Word, that it testifies of the Word in stem, branches, and leaves, and unfolds its blossoms in millions of words, until at
length, in the adornment of its abundant fruits, it becomes glorious all around with the words of life, which were contained in the manifestation of the one eternal Word.
And this is the ideality of the life of Christ: He is the eternal Word itself—in His whole being, Word, and also the whole Word, which draws up all unexpressed and inexpressible things in the world into the transparent light of the Spirit, from which then stream forth the words of eternal life, whose end is to transform all the world into a glorious manifestation of God.
Therefore, also, is the whole history of the life of Jesus, symbol and poetry, a typical and festive embodiment of eternal ideas, truths, and relationships, in the midst of the dark, surging tide of time. All His works are words, as all His words are works; all His operations are meditations; His whole history is an infinitely rich manifestation of the eternal Spirit. Every act of Christ is a symbol of the eternal ; every step of Christ has in it the silver ring of poetry.
The man who was called specially to apprehend and describe this side of the life of Christ, was the beloved disciple, who leant on His bosom, John. All the peculiar features of his individuality made him to be the contemplative disciple, the most intimate confidant and keeper of the deepest words of Christ, the theologian, the patron of true Christian religious philosophy and speculation. The eagle which flies upwards towards the sun is his symbol, the Germanic races are the people of chosen affinity with his spirit, and among them the coming of the Johannean age of the Church is being prepared.
The proof of what has been said, is the Gospel of John itself. This Gospel delineates the life of Jesus in its perfected ideality, in its continuous absolute emanation from the Spirit, in its return to the Spirit, in its being pervaded by the Spirit.
It describes a history which is sustained throughout by the Word, nay, is a representation of the Word itself in an organically developed life-picture.
Hence the fourth Gospel is even in its form adorned with all the characteristic features of ideality—with the ornaments of contemplativeness and of pictorial conception, of depth and of clearness, of repose and of mobility, of inward concentration and of observant quicksightedness, of simplicity and of sublimity, of beauty and of spiritual consecration. What holds true of the
Gospel history as a whole, is therefore true in the most special sense of the fourth Gospel : here there is shown the most perfect identity of history, of miracle, of symbol, and of poetry; it is the diamond among the Gospels, which the light of life most brightly shines through, in which earthly reality is clothed with a pure heavenly splendour, in which the glory of God meets us in flesh and blood, nay, even in the thorny crown of earth's hardest realities.
From all this it follows as a necessary consequence, that this Gospel, more than any other, must have a complete and clearly defined organic form.
The fundamental idea of the Gospel is the following: Christ, as the eternal Word, and the original ground of the world, is the light of the world, which enters into contest with the darkness of the world, and subdues it, in order to transform the world. As the light of the world, He is always present in the world, but the forms of His manifestation change. First, He was in the world in pre-historical form, as the Coming One, being represented finally by John the Baptist; then He appeared in the world, and completed His work in the form of an historical life; and in conclusion, He spreads the blessings of His life in posthistorical form by His Spirit, and the representatives of this life are the apostles Peter and John. Accordingly, the narrative portion of the Gospel of John is provided with a prologue, which delineates the pre-historical agency of Christ (chap. i. 1-18), and with an epilogue, which declares His post-historical operations (chap. xxi.). In the prologue and epilogue, the fundamental idea of the Gospel, the ideality and eternity of the life of Christ, necessarily assume the highest prominence. They are, so to speak, the two wings of the eagle; and those who would dissever the one and twentieth chapter from the Gospel, will in the end be obliged to acknowledge that it is easier to pluck off a wing from a dead sparrow than from a living eagle.
The prologue, therefore, forms the first part of the Gospel. It describes the pre-historical form of Christ, as the light of the world, to the time of His perfected manifestation in the world (chap. i. 1-18). Christ appears here according to His eternal existence, in His relation to God, ver. 2; to the creation, ver. 3; to man in his original existence, ver. 4; to historical man in
1 Comp. vol. i. pp. 172 and 268.
his fall, and to the principle of this fall, the darkness, ver. 5. He then appears according to His coming into the world, as this was announced by the Spirit of prophecy represented by John. First, the representative of the coming of Christ, John, is introduced, vers. 6, 7. His relation to Christ is determined, ver. 8. Then the coming of Christ into the world, His gradual incarnation, His great advent, is mentioned, ver. 9. The groundwork of His advent is the intra-mundane operation of His Spirit, ver. 10; its fundamental form is His gradual emergence amongst mankind, as seen within the contrasted elements of the elect and the unsusceptible, vers. 11, 12; the means of effecting it, consecration of the birth, as preparative to the second birth, ver. 13; its completion and crown, the absolutely new birth, the incarnation of the Word, ver. 14. The advent of Christ is materially and individually completed in the assumption of human flesh by the Word ; but in its universal aim it is completed by the historical testimony concerning Christ, by the testimony of the Old Testament, whose last representative was the Baptist, ver. 15, and by the testimony of the New Testament, whose first representatives were the apostles, vers. 16–18.
With the second part commences the Gospel in its more limited sense, as a description of the historical life of Jesus. The Evangelist describes the reception which Christ, as the light of the world, finds among the men whose spirits are akin to the light, the elect (chap i. 19-iv.). Here the Baptist precedes all others with his repeated testimony to Christ, i. 19–36. He is followed by the most susceptible among his disciples and friends, who become the disciples of Christ, vers. 37-52. With these, the relatives and friends of the Lord in the region around His home, associate themselves, ii. 1-12; then Jesus finds faith among many of His countrymen in general at the feast in Jerusalem, ii. 13-25; and in single cases even among the better disposed Pharisees in Jerusalem, iii. 1-21; among many Jews in Judea, iii. 22-iv. 3 ; among the Samaritans at Sychar, iv. 4–42 ; among the Galileans, especially in Capernaum, vers. 43–54.
The third part shows us how the conflict, already announced, between Christ, the light of the world, and the elements of darkness in the world, especially in its proper representatives, the unbelieving, but also in the men who are better disposed so far as they still belong to the world, more distinctly manifests itself