Our Lord's claims in the Synoptists.


Absolute Good, Christ tests the moral worth or worthlessness of men by their acceptance or rejection, not of His doctrine but of His Person. It is St. Matthew who records such sentences as the following : ‘Neither be ye called Masters; for One is your Master, even Christ f;' 'He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me?;' Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father h;' ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and I will give you resti;' "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Mek.' In St. Matthew then Christ speaks as One Who knows Himself to be a universal and infallible Teacher in spiritual things; Who demands submission of all men, and at whatever cost or sacrifice; Who offers to mankind those deepest consolations which are sought from all others, in vain. Nor is it otherwise with St. Luke and St. Mark. It is indeed remarkable that our Lord's most absolute and peremptory claims 1 to rule over the affections and wills of men are recorded by the first and third, and not by the fourth Evangelist. These royal rights over the human soul can be justified upon no plea of human relationships between teacher and learner, between child and elder, between master and servant, between friend and friend. If the title of Divinity is more explicitly put forward in St. John, the rights which imply it are insisted on in words recorded by the earlier Evangelists. The synoptists represent our Lord, Who is the object of Christian faith no less than the Founder of Christianity, as designing the whole world for the field of His conquests m, and as claiming the submission of every individual human soul. All are to be brought to discipleship. Only then will the judgment come, when the Gospel has been announced to the whole circle of the nations n. Christ, the Good and the Truth Incarnate, must reign throughout all time . He knows, according to the synoptists no less than St. John, that He is a perfect and final Revelation of God. He is the centre-point of the history and of the hopes of man. None shall advance beyond Him: the

* Ibid. ver. 29.

i St. Matt. xxiii, 1o.

8 Ibid. x. 37: Ibid. ver. 32 ; St. Luke xii. 8.

i St. Matt. xi. 28.

' Ibid. x. 39; St. Luke xiv. 26. m St. Μatt. Χxviii. 19: πορευθέντες ούν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τα έθνη. St. Mark xvi. 15; St. Luke xxiv. 47. Cf. St. Matt. xiii. 32, 38, 41, xxiv. 14.

η St. Μatt. Χxiv. 14: και κηρυχθήσεται τούτο το ευαγγέλιον της βασιλείας εν όλη την οικουμένη, είς μαρτύριον πάσι τοις έθνεσι και τότε ήξει το τέλος.

• St. Luke xxii. 69 : από του νυν έσται ο Υιός του ανθρώπου καθήμενος εκ δεξιών της δυνάμεως του Θεού.

pretension to surpass Him is but the symptom of disastrous error and reaction P.

The Transfiguration is described by all the synoptists; and it represents our Lord in His true relation to the legal and prophetic dispensations, and as visibly invested for the time being with a glory which was rightfully His. The Ascension secures His permanent investiture with that glory; and the Ascension is described by St. Mark and St. Luke. The Resurrection is recorded by the first three Evangelists as accurately as by the fourth; and it was to the Resurrection that He Himself appealed as being the sign by which men were to know His real claim upon their homage. In the first three Gospels, all of Christ's humiliations are consistently linked to the assertion of His power, and to the consummation of His victory. He is buffeted, spat upon, scourged, crucified, only to rise from the dead the third daya; His Resurrection is the prelude to His ascent to heaven. He leaves the world, yet He bequeaths the promise of His Presence. He promises to be wherever two or three are gathered in His Namer; He institutes the Sacrament of His Body and His Bloods; He declares that He will be among His people even to the end of the world t.

4. But it is more particularly through our Lord's discourses respecting the end of the world and the final judgment, as recorded by the synoptists, that we may discern the matchless dignity of His Person. It is reflected in the position which He claims to fill with respect to the moral and material universe, and in the absolute finality which He attributes to His religion. The Lawgiver Who is above all other legislators, and Who revises all other legislation, will also be the final Judge. At

P St. Matt. xxiv. 23-26, &c.

Ibid. xx. 19; St. Mark x, 34; St. Luke xviii. 33.

St. Μatt. xviii. 20: ου γάρ εισι δύο ή τρεις συνηγμένοι εις το εμόν όνομα, εκεί είμι εν μέσω αυτών.

• Ibid. xxvi. 26; St. Mark xiv. 22; St. Luke xxi. 19.

• St. Μatt. XXviii. 20: εγώ μεθ' υμών ειμι πάσας τας ημέρας έως της συντελείας του αιώνος. .

1 Ιbid. vii. 22: πολλοί ερουσί μοι εν εκείνη τη ημέρα, Κύριε, Κύριε, ου τω σω ονόματι προεφητεύσαμεν, και τα σω ονόματι δαιμόνια εξεβάλομεν, και τω σώ ονόματι δυνάμεις πολλάς εποιήσαμεν ;' και τότε ομολογήσω αυτοίς, ότι ουδέποτε έγνων υμάς. αποχωρείτε απ' εμού οι εργαζόμενοι την ανομίαν.' St. Luke xiii. 25. St. Matt. xiii. 41: &TOOTEMET Tids Toù år opórov Tous αγγέλους αυτού, και συλλέξουσιν εκ της βασιλείας αυτού πάντα τα σκάνδαλα και τους ποιoύντας την ανομίαν, και βαλούσιν αυτούς εις την κάμινον του πυρός. Ibid. x. 32: St. Mark viii. 38. St. Matt. xxiv.31 : STOOTEAE TOùs ágyékovs αυτού μετά σάλπιγγος φωνής μεγάλης, και επισυνάξουσι τους εκλεκτούς αυτού

prominently reported in the Synoptists.

257 that last awful revelation of His personal glory, none shall be able to refuse Him submission. Then will He put an end to the humiliations and the sorrows of His Church; then, out of the fulness of His majesty, He will clothe His despised followers with glory; He will allot the kingdom to those who have believed on Him; and at His heavenly board they shall share for ever the royal feast of life. Certainly the Redeemer and Judge of men, to Whom all spiritual and natural forces, all earthly and heavenly powers must at last submit, is not merely a divinely gifted prophet. His Person has a metaphysical and cosmical significance x None could preside so authoritatively over the history and destiny of the world who was not entitled to share the throne of its Creator.

The eschatological discourses in the synoptists do but tally with the prologue of St. John's Gospel. In contemplating the dignity of our Lord's Person, the preceding Evangelists for the most part look forward; St. John looks backward no less than forward. St. John dwells on Christ's Pre-existence; the synoptists, if we may so phrase it, on his Post-existence. In the earlier Evangelists His personal glory is viewed in its relation to the future of the human race and of the universe ; in St. John it is viewed in its relation to the origin of created things, and to the solitary and everlasting years of God. In St. John, Christ our Saviour is the First; in the synoptists He is more especially the Last.

In the synoptic Gospels, then, the Person of Christ Divine and Human is the centre-point of the Christian religion. Christ is here the Supreme Lawgiver ; He is the Perfect Saint ; He is the Judge of all men. He controls both worlds, the physical and the spiritual ; He bestows the forgiveness of sins, and the Holy Spirit; He promises everlasting life. His Presence is to be perpetuated on earth, while yet He will reign as Lord of heaven. “The entire representation,' says Professor Dorner, of Christ which is given us by the synoptists, may be placed side by side with that given by St. John, as being altogether identical with it. For a faith moulded in obedience to the synoptic tradition concerning Christ, must have essentially the same features in its resulting conception of Christ as those which belong to the Christ of St. Johny.' In other words, think over the miracles εκ των τεσσάρων ανέμων, απ' άκρων ουρανών έως άκρων αυτών. Ιbid. ΧΧν. 34-46; St. Luke xii. 35, xvii. 30, 31. See Lect. IV. p. 176. 's Martensen, Christl. Dogm. $ 128.

Dorner, Person Christi, Einl. p. 89: Das synoptische Totalbild von

wrought by Christ and narrated by the synoptists, one by one. Think over the discourses spoken by Christ and recorded by the synoptists, one by one. Look at the whole bearing and scope of His Life, as the three first Evangelists describe It, from His supernatural Birth to His disappearance beyond the clouds of heaven. Mark well how pressing and tender, yet withal how full of stern and majestic Self-assertion, are His words ! Consider how merciful and timely, yet also how expressive of immanent and unlimited power, are His miracles! Put the three representations of the Royal, the Human, and the Healing Redeemer together, and deny, if it is possible, that Jesus is Divine. If the Christ of the synoptists is not indeed an unreal phantom, such as Docetism might have constructed, He is far removed above the Ebionitic conception of a purely human Saviour. If Christ's Pre-existence is only obscurely hinted at in the first three Gospels, His relation to the world of spirits is brought out in them even more clearly than in St. John by the discourses which they contain on the subject of the Last Judgment. If St. John could be blotted out from the pages of the New Testament, St. John's central doctrine would still live on in the earlier Evangelists as implicitly contained within a history otherwise inexplicable, if not as the illuminating truth of a heavenly gnosis. There would still remain the picture of a Life Which belongs indeed to human history, but Which the laws that govern human history neither control nor can explain. It would still be certain that One had lived on earth, wielding miraculous powers, and claiming a moral and intellectual place which belongs only to the Most Holy; and if the problem presented to faith might seem for a moment to be more intricate, its final solution could not differ in substance from that which meets us in the pages of the beloved disciple.

V. But what avails it, say you, to shew that St. John is consistent with himself, and that he is not really at variance with the Evangelists who preceded him, if the doctrine which he teaches, and which the Creed re-asserts, is itself incredible? You object to this doctrine that it involves an invincible contradiction.' It represents Christ on the one hand as a Personal Being, while on the other it asserts that two mutually self-excluding

Christus dem johanneischen insofern vollkommen an die Seite setzen kann, als der durch Vermittlung der synoptischen Tradition gebildete Glaube wesentlich ganz dieselben Züge in seinem Christusbegriff haben musste, wie sie der johanneische Christus hat.' For the preceding remarks, see Person Christi, Einl. pp. 80-89.

Christ, thus God and Man, in One Person. 259

Essences are really united in Him. How can He be personal, you ask, if He be in very truth both God and Man! If He is thus God and Man, is He not, in point of fact, a double Being ;' and is not unity of being an indispensable condition of personality? Surely, you insist, this condition is forfeited by the very terms of the doctrine. Christ either is not both God and Man, or He is not a single Personality. To say that He is One Person in Two Natures is to affirm the existence of a miracle which is incredible, if for no other reason, simply on the score of its unintelligibility .

This is what may be said; but let us consider, first of all, whether to say this does not, however unintentionally, caricature the doctrine of St. John and of the Catholic Creed. Does it not seem as if both St. John and the Creed were at pains to make it clear that the Person of Christ in His pre-existent glory, in His state of humiliation and sorrow, and in the majesty of His mediatorial kingdom, is continuously, unalterably One Does not the Nicene Creed, for instance, first name the Only-begotten Son of God, and then go on to say how for us men and for our salvation He was Himself made Man, and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate? Does not St. John plainly refer to One and the Same Agent in such verses as the following ? 'All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made a.' · He riseth from supper, and laid aside

• Schenkel, Charakterbild Jesu, p. 2: "Es gehört vor Allem zum Begriffe einer Person, dass sie im Kerne ihres Wesens eine Einheit bildet; nur unter dieser Voraussetzung lässt sie sich geschichtlich begreifen. Diese Einheit wird durch die herkömmliche Lehre in der Person des Welterlösers aufge. hoben. Jesus Christus wird in der kirchlichen Glaubenslehre als ein Doppel. Wesen dargestellt, als die persönliche Vereinigung zweier Wesenheiten, die an sich nichts mit einander gemein haben, sich vielmehr schlechthin widersprechen und nur vermöge eines alle Begriffe übersteigenden Wunders in die engste und unauflöslichste Verbindung mit einander gebracht worden sind. Er ist demzufolge Mensch und Gott in einer und derselben Person. Die kirchlichen Theologen haben grosse Anstrengungen gemacht, um die unauflösliche Verbindung von Gott und Mensch in einer Person als begreiflich und möglich darzustellen; sie haben sich aber zuletzt doch immer wieder zu dem Geständniss genöthigt gesehen, dass die Sache unbegreiflich sei, und dass ein undurchdringliches Geheimniss über dem Personleben Jesu Christi schwebe. Allein eine solche Berufung auf Geheimnisse und Wunder ist, wo es auf die Erklärung einer geschichtlichen Thatsache ankommt, für die Wissenschaft ohne allen Werth; sie offenbart uns die Unfähigkeit des theo. logischen Denkens, das in sich Widersprechende vorstellbar, das geschichtlich Unbegreifliche denkbar zu machen.' Cf. Strauss, Leben Jesu, § 146; Schleiermacher, Glaubenslehre, ii. & 96-98.

a St. John i. 3.

« VorigeDoorgaan »