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He gave as his judgment concerning him : John the Baptist is risen from the dead; and therefore miraculous powers do show themselves in him (which formerly he did not exhibit). He seemed to have been led to this declaration by the expression of similar judgments by others concerning the Lord. Some said, It is Elias. Others said, He is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. But Herod said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.
We learn here first the beheading of John the Baptist, quite incidentally. A retrospective account of that event is due in this place.
Herod, namely, had sent forth messengers, and laid hold upon John, and had cast him, bound, into prison, for the sake of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and sought to have him put to death ; but she could not attain her object. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and saved him. And he did many things after hearing him (as if he intended to obey him); and it was to him (at least) a pleasure to hear him. But there came (for John's enemy) an opportune occasion, viz., the birth-day of Herod, on which he made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief officials in Galilee. When now, at this feast, Herodias' own daughter came in, and danced, with the applause of Herod and his guests, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he confirmed this promise to her with an oath. Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me I will give it thee, even to the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask?' And she said, “The head of John the Baptist. And straightway she came in with haste unto the king, and presented to him the request : 'I will that thou give me immediately in a charger the head of John the Baptist.' The king was exceedingly sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes who sat with him, he would not reject her. And forthwith the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger,
I Concerning the difficulties of this passage, vid. Hitzig, p. 22, where the reading of the Codex of St Gall, which leaves out étoise xai, is approved of.
and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother. When the disciples of the Baptist heard of it, they went, took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
, This occurrence had thus taken place a short time previous to that when Herod heard of the mighty works of Jesus, and declared Him to be the Baptist again risen from the dead.
Meanwhile the disciples of Jesus returned from their mission, and gave the Lord an account of all that they had done and taught. And: He said unto them, “Come ye with Me apart into a desert place, and rest a while. For the multitude of those who were coming and going was great, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship, privately.
Many of the people, however, saw them depart, and knew Him, and ran afoot out of all the cities (by land) to that region (whither they had seen them take ship), and even outwent them, and thus met them on the other side. It was too difficult for Him long to remain in solitude. He came out (from His retirement); and when He saw the great multitude of people, He was moved with compassion toward them, for they were as sheep having no shepherd (although Herod, with his princely title, occupied a shepherd's place); and He began to teach them in a long discourse. And as the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a desert place, and the hour is now late: send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.' But He answered them, “Give ye them to eat.' They say unto Him, • Shall we then go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat' (see John vi. 7)? He saith unto them, • How many loaves have ye? Go and see.' They inquired, and brought back word,— Five, and two fishes.' And He commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass; and they sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties. And He took the five loaves and the two fishes, looked up to heaven, gave thanks, brake the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fishes He divided among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up the fragments twelve baskets full, (in which) also (was that which remained) of the fishes. And they that did eat of the
loaves were about five thousand men. And straightway He constrained the disciples to get into the ship, and to go before to the opposite coast, towards Bethsaida, while He sent away the people. And when He had dismissed them (the people) with a parting word, He departed into a mountain to pray.
When even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea; but He was still on the land alone. And He saw them toiling with the oars, for the wind was contrary. And about the fourth watch of the night He came unto them, walking on the sea, and He would have passed by them. But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, , and cried out aloud. For they all saw Him, and were seized with terror. But immediately He talked with them, and said,
Be of good cheer: it is I: be not afraid !' And He went up unto them into the ship; and now also the wind ceased. And they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For their understanding was not opened concerning the loaves, because their heart was hardened. Their passage across brought them to the land of Gennesaret, and here they drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway the people knew Him, and ran through the whole region around, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick (always following Him) to the place where they heard He was. And wherever He now entered into towns, or cities, or villages, they laid the sick in the market-places, and besought Him that they might touch, if it were but the border of His garment; and as many as touched Him were made whole.
Thus the kingly spiritual glory with which Christ ruled amongst the Galilean people, in contrast to the sensual feasting of King Herod, which had for its result the murder of the greatest of prophets, displayed itself in a series of manifestations. First in this, that He sent twelve messengers through the land, all of them to announce the coming of His kingdom; and that He furnished them with powers to heal, which filled the land with His blessings, and spread abroad the fame of His name. Then also in this, that His labours should excite the conscience of a prince such as Herod was, and occasion in him strange thoughts and speculations; that He already, in a spiritual sense, has raised from the dead the murdered Baptist, John, and
brought him to honour. Farther, we see how He, as the true Shepherd of this scattered people, who have no shepherd besides, gladly sacrifices on their behalf even the hours of refreshment, and feeds them by thousands in the desert. But He also, who in the wilderness keeps open table for the poor with divine miraculous power, is at the same time the Deliverer of the distressed on the sea, in regal might walking over the rebellious waves, and bringing them His peace. Then again He wanders through the towns, cities, and villages, as the Saviour of all the sick and necessitous; and after Him a moving infirmary of needy sufferers is carried, in order to spread themselves out before Him at the different stations of His journey, and by His miraculous hand be turned into a new people, of living witnesses of His love and might. Thus does He rule among the people, and in the desert, by land and by water.
But glorious as is the kingly power with which He rules, even so holy is it also, and so unearthly. This is shown not only by His marvelling at the unbelief of the people of Nazareth, and His silent withdrawal in the face of it; not only by the spirit-like haste with which He passes by the court of Herod, and the stillness with which He prepares for the refreshment of the poor a great feast in the desert, on the other side of the sea ; not only by the exalted wisdom with which He withdraws Himself from the worldly homage of this people; but also by the humility with which, towards the end of the voyage, He enters into the ship, and lands like one returned after a safe passage, although He has strode the greatest part of the voyage across the waves; finally, by the angelic elevation of character with which He everywhere quickly withdraws from those who come with thanks, in order to turn to others who are still in need of help.
1. The Evangelist seems to narrate the visit of Jesus to His native city in this place, because it obtains its entire and full significance only in connection with the greatest displays of His miraculous power. The first mission of the Twelve he has likewise separated from their formal calling, no doubt on grounds of historical composition. It must serve in this place to illustrate the fact, that John heard of the great works of Christ. That Mark equally with Matthew gives the history of the beheading of the Baptist retrospectively, is evident.
2. Peculiarities of Mark: Jesus ó TÉKTWV, ver. 3; the strong expression, ver. 5; the marvelling of Jesus, ver. 6; the sending of the disciples by twos, ver. 7; the anointing of the sick with oil, ver. 13; the inclination of Herod towards the Baptist, ver. 20; the omekovNátwp, ver. 27; the pictorial arrangement of the guests of Jesus, vers. 39, 40; the remark concerning the hardened heart of the disciples, ver. 52; the description of the excitement of the people on the landing of Jesus, vers. 53 et seq., and various strongly marked individual features.
THE DIRECT HOSTILITY TO JESUS EXHIBITED BY THE SCRIBES
FROM JERUSALEM, AND HIS PUBLIC DECLARATION AGAINST
(Chap. vii.-viii. 9.) We have already become acquainted with the glory of Christ, on the one side as a divine power, with which He subdues all powers, conquers all enemies ; on the other side as a holy sensitive reserve, with which He turns away from unbelief, withdraws from unsusceptibility, in order to return ever anew to impressible hearts, even should He have to avoid the first of these in the stately robes of Israelitish holiness, in the rulers of the holy city, and should He have to seek for the latter amidst the most impoverished nakedness of heathen piety, in the darkest regions of the heathen world. This power, and this sensitive reserve, were manifested by
, the Lord in their living unity towards the scribes from Jerusalem, who, with sanctimonious zeal for tradition, publicly sought to brand Him as a sinner. He revealed His divine power by laying bare their hypocrisy and irreligion in the maintenance of their traditions, by asserting the freedom of true Israelitish worship, and by making His first and only journey into the border lands