« EdellinenJatka »
the absolute sense of the word, Redeemer-Saviour of the world. From the act of circumcision went forth that name,
which to be for millions of men the watchword of their hope and everlasting salvation.
Lastly, at a third point in the history of His birth, light and joy in special measure were to spring forth. At the expiration of the time appointed by the law, Jesus was brought to Jerusalem, into the temple. His mother celebrated here the feast of her own purification, and the child, as a first-born, was, according to the prescribed ritual, dedicated to the Lord, and freed from the obligation of temple-service. On this festive occasion it was to become manifest that Christ was appointed to renew the youth of pious old age, and, in particular, to transform men and women of the school of the ancient law, hoary with years, and bowed down with painful longing for the promised deliverance, into youthful sons and daughters of the New Covenant, into joyful messengers of a salvation now displayed. This miracle was accomplished on the aged Simeon and on the aged Anna by the appearance of the child in the temple. Both are peaceful representatives of the prophetic spirit in Israel. Simeon has only prolonged his days through the promise, that he shall still see the Messiah. On the day of the presentation of the child, he is moved by the Holy Ghost to come into the temple. He recognises the child, takes Him up in his arms, and in a song of praise proclaims the salvation that has appeared to Israel, and at the same time the end of his own pilgrimage. “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people ; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. The aged Anna was also a prophetess. She was fourscore and four
of long accustomed to spend her time in the temple in prayer. She also came in, saluted the child and praised God, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. The appearance of Christ had turned a lonely woman, stricken in years, into an evangelist, who in youthful freshness hastened with the tidings through the city.
Thus is Christ brought into the temple and presented before the Lord, without being recognised by the priesthood. The spirit of prophecy, which dwells in the simple-hearted Simeon,
age, and for has taken its departure from them. The Holy One of Israel has been brought to the temple, but they know it not. The holy child has been again carried forth from it, but no voice has become audible in their heart. They remark nothing, notwithstanding the dying strains of the aged Simeon. To this mournful state of torpor the old man pointed, when he spoke to the mother of Jesus, before her departure, the words, 'Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'
Simeon went home, and laid himself down to die; Anna spread a dawning ray of joy amongst the devout of the holy city; the holy family repaired to Nazareth ; but the temple which Christ had visited, in which His elect ones had celebrated together, in brotherly intimacy, the feast of His manifestation, remained dumb.
In Nazareth, however, grew up, in the holy, calm development of His assumed humanity, the Saviour of the world.
The manner in which Schleiermacher (Uber d. Schrift des Luk. pp. 30 ff.) combats the supposition, that the tradition of the narrative of the shepherds is to be traced to Mary, is forced. Chap. ii. 19, it is said, offers but a feeble proof; for these words stand likewise in the concluding formula. Also the narrative of the presentation of Jesus in the temple is not to be ascribed to Mary and Joseph, because 'Anna and Simeon were equally strangers to them' (p. 37). Conclusive arguments! On the other hand, Schleiermacher attributes to Mary the preservation of the incident recorded of Jesus when He was twelve years old, p. 39. In what has been said, we do not, however, deny the supposition of Schleiermacher, that single records in writing may have been in the hands of the Evangelist.
THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT OF JESUS.
(Chap. ii. 41-52.)
As Jesus was ordained to unfold the divine nature in the form of the purest humanity, it was needful that His divinehuman consciousness should develop itself in a truly human manner. Of the truth and beauty of this development, the history of the event which occurred when He was twelve
age gives us a glimpse.
His parents dwell still at Nazareth. As pious Israelites, they take part in the festive pilgrimages to Jerusalem. When Jesus was twelve years old, they take Him also with them to the feast, according to Israelitish custom. On their return, however, to Galilee, the holy youth remains behind in Jerusalem. The festive pilgrims journeyed in distinct processions. Jesus is drawn beyond the attractive sphere of such a company, by a more powerful attraction to the temple. This is the ascendency of the spirit above outward ordinances. His parents suppose Him to be in the company, and thus they accomplish a day's journey. They seek Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance, but in vain. On the second day they return to Jerusalem to seek for Him. On the third day they seek Him there. After the lapse of the three days, they at length find Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And they find that all who listen to Him are astonished at His understanding and answers. When they thus found Him, they were amazed; but His mother said to Him, Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.
' The answer of Jesus was as follows : ‘How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?'
That is His consciousness. God is His proper Father, in the essential sense of the word, in contrast to the paternal relationship of Joseph in a civil sense, to which Mary points. Therefore is the house of the Father—the temple—His dearest residence,
and converse regarding the will of the Father, according to His word, His most grateful occupation.
This conception of His relation to the Father does not fill Him as yet in the form of a perfected consciousness, but as a lofty presentiment, whose undefined and dark outline stands forth unmistakeably, and with incomparable beauty, in the form of His expression. In the life He had in the things of His Father, He could altogether forget both time and place.
However, there is needed only a single hint from His parents, and He returns with them to Nazareth, and is subject unto them. Thus in obscurity He increases in wisdom and years, and in favour with God and man.
The scribes and priests in the temple, however, allow the holy child once more to take His departure without forming any anticipation of the glory and significance of His inward life; although, this time, they themselves were compelled to wonder at His understanding and His answers.
But His mother kept the words, in which the centre of His glorious development had made itself known, faithfully treasured up in her heart.
THE THREEFOLD ATTESTATION WITH WHICH CHRIST OPENS
HIS PUBLIC MINISTRY.
The life of Christ was in an altogether peculiar sense a life for mankind. Viewed historically, it formed the innermost centre of the history of our race. The commencement, therefore, of
. the public ministry of Jesus must be determined in relation to the political history of the world. For the public ministry of Christ, however, preparation was made in the public ministry of John the Baptist. And therefore has Luke chronologically fixed the last, and through the last the other also.
John, the son of Zacharias, appeared in the wilderness at the call of the Lord—that is, as a prophet, after the manner of
Old Testament prophets—in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod ruled as tetrarch over Galilee, his brother Philip over Iturea, and Lysanias over Abilene—Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests.
John was appointed as His forerunner to introduce the Lord into His place in the history of the world. This constituted his entire mission. The anti-pharisaical, universal tendencies of his spirit were in harmony with it. It expressed itself in the human views he taught concerning life; and finally, it was sealed by a career of much personal suffering.
His mission is completely described in the words of the prophet Isaiah : “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His side-paths into thoroughfares (in the following order) :-Every valley shall be filled ; every mountain, and even every hill, shall be made low-removed, all curves—or crooked parts--shall be made straight, and all rough places—or inequalities—shall become a smooth road-without obstruction.'
The universal character of the Baptist's position is shown in the earnest rebukes which he directed not only against the Pharisees and Sadducees, but also against the multitudes of the Jewish people who flocked to him; in his designating them a generation of vipers, and demanding of them to bring forth the right, true fruits of repentance; in his warning them against placing their trust on their descent from Abraham, in the words, God is able of these stones to raise up
children unto Abraham;' and in his announcing to them that the axe was already laid unto the root of the trees, that every tree which brought not forth good fruit should be hewn down and cast into the fire.
Also, in his ethical teaching and views of life the same character distinctly appears. These are distinguished by two characteristic features. They are religious, and they are human. His doctrine is thus a precursor of the doctrine of Christ. To all classes who questioned him regarding the conduct of life, he gave instructions in this spirit. To the multitude in general he said, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him—or share with him—that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.' To the publicans he gave the fol1 Regarding these chronological and historical data, see above, vol. ii. p. 1.