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Number

;9
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THE TWO

ST.
OF

JOHNS

THE NEW TESTAMENT.

BY

JAMES STALKER,
AUTHOR OF
"

D. D.,
ST.

IMAGO CHRISTI,"

"

THE LIFE OF

PAUL," ETC.

"in devotional pictures we often see st. john the evangelist and st. john the baptist standing together, one on each side of
CHRIST."

t-

AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY,


lO

EAST 23d STREET,

NEW YORK.

COPYRIGHT,

1895,

AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY,

GONTRNTS,
ST.
The
Disciple

JOHN THE APOSTLE.


Loved

Whom Jesus

page

9
23
"^^

His First Meeting with Christ


St.

John

at

Home

St. St.
St.

John the Apostle


John One of Three
John's Besetting Sin
Disciple

5i

65
79 95
109
123

The
St. St.
St. St.

Who Loved Jesus


Again

John and the Resurrection

John

at

Home

John

in the

Pentecostal Age

Hi
^^5

John in Patmos
St.

The Writings of

John

^^9

ST.
L
Birth

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


189
2*^^

and Upbringing

n. The Prophet
IIL

The Baptism

of Jesus

^^3

IV. His Testimony to Christ

^^4
236
^^'^

V.

The

Eclipse of his Faith

VL

His Eulogy

Vn. His Martyrdom

^59

ST.

JOHN THE APOSTLE.

THE

DISCIPLE

WHOM JESUS
I.

LOYED.

The

aureole round the head of St. John


disciple
is

is

that

he

]^

was "the
places

whom

Jesus loved."
times
for
;

This statement

about him both

made

several

and

in

different

the

Greek words

"loved" are emfeeling

ployed
the
der.

both

the colder, which expresses esteem, and

more

heartfelt,

which denotes

more

ten'

friend of

the patriarchs Abraham was the God," and among the kings David was "the man after God's own heart," and among the prophets

As among

Daniel was the "


followers of the
try, St.

man

greatb/ beloved," so

among

the

Son

of God, during his earthly minisfriend.


this

John was the foremost

We
inence.

cannot help asking to what he owed

prom-

Perhaps something was due to an extremely natural


cause
:

it

would appear that


as follows:

St.

the flesh, a cousin of Jesus.


, V-,

The way

John was, according in which this

to
is

made out

is

In describing the crucifixion St.


as witnesses of the

Matthew mentions three holy women


tragic scene

Mary

Magdalene, Mary the mother of

lO

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


Joses,

James and
St.

Mark

also mentions three

and the mother of Zebedee's children Mary Magdalene, Mary

the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.

In St. John four


to the Virgin

names occur
;

the

first

place

is

given

Mary Magdalene, Mary the

but the other three are


wife of Cleophas

Mary (whom we know

from other passages as the father of James and Joses),

and

Christ's mother's sister.

Thus, leaving the Virgin


in

aside,

we

find

two places

each of the three


;

lists

occupied by the same two


pies the remaining place
is

women
called

but she
St.

who

occu-

by

Matthew the
It is

mother of Zebedee's children, by

St.

Mark Salome,

and by
the

St.

John the

sister of the
is

mother of Jesus.

inferred that she


is

who
:

designated in these three ways

same person

her
;

own name was Salome


and she was the
sister

she

was the wife of Zebedee

of the

mother of Jesus.
it

If this inference

be correct, of course

follows that she

was the aunt of Jesus, and that her


full

son John and Jesus were

cousins.

Such a

relationship

would not have necessarily

made

Jesus and John friends in the sense indicated by

calling

John the

disciple

whom

Jesus loved.
effect.

It

might

have had precisely the opposite


sons, the brothers of Jesus, time, believers
;

Mary's own
life-

were

not,
little

during his

and there can be

doubt that

their
faith.

very familiarity with him was an obstacle to

They could not


closely related

believe that one to

whom

they were so

was so much greater than themselves.


so long

They had seen him


tails

engaged
it

in the little de-

of rural existence that


rising

was an offence
lot,

to their

minds when,

from their narrow

he made

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


known
his great

II

Not till he appeared to one of them alive after his passion was their unbelief overcome. John might have been affected in the same way by his kinship with Jesus. But, when he escaped
aims and claims.
this temptation, the natural relationship

may have
It

be-

come a bond even


as his Saviour that

within the realm of grace.

was
not

John loved Jesus

but

this

may

have prevented him from feeling a peculiarly cordial


the affairs of Christ because he was his and while Christ loved John from the height of his divinity, this may not have prevented him from being drawn to him, and made familiar and confideninterest
in

cousin

tial,

by the operation of
and

the

tie

of nature.

Cousinship has
delightful

in multitudes of cases

given
is,

rise to

helpful associations.

There

indeed, a

form of philosophy which


ated

scoffs at the obligations cre-

by such

relationships.

The

other day a prominent

and educated Socialist asked in public why he should have more to do with his own brother, if he bored him, than with any other man, if he was a good fellow.
But nature
is

not thus to be turned out of doors


is

hu-

man

nature, also,

wiser

and

Christianity, while not

deifying natural relationships, as

some

religions

have
the

done, honors and hallows them.


beautiful

Never were

all

and

useful possibilities of cousinship so

dem-

onstrated as

when Jesus admitted John

to the position

of the disciple

whom

he loved.

12

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

II.

Although the may have entered


this

influence of a natural relationship


into the Saviour's predilection for

disciple,
all

this

circumstance

could

have had no

weight at
to

unless there had been in St.

John

qualities

support the claim of kinship.


to

But he was one


of Mary, this

formed by nature
If his

be loved.

mother

really

was the

sister

points to hereditary advantages enjoyed

by

St.

John.

Without having any sympathy with such a doctrine as the Immaculate Conception, we cannot help believing that she

who was chosen from among


mind and body, a

all

the

daughters of Eve to be the mother of the

Perfect

Man

was, both in

rare specimen

of womanhood

pure, gentle

and gracious.

Although

her estate was lowly, the blood of kings was in her


veins,

and

in

her mind and manners there worked

the subtle influence of long descent.

Now, what Mary


hereditary

was,

it is

natural to suppose her sister also was in her


;

own degree

and she was able

to impart

advantages to her son.


Certainly there are

some of

the

children ol

men

who appear

to

be formed of

finer clay

than their neigh-

bors and cast in a gentler mould.


their superiority
is

Not infrequently

stamped even on the outward man,


see
;

their faces

carrying a certificate of excellence which


all

predisposes

who

them
and,

in their favor.
if

They are

marked out

for love

they bear their honors

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


meekly, and
if

the inward disposition corresponds with

the outward promise, they

do not

as a rule miss the

enviable destiny for which nature has intended them.

The

religious painters of all ages, with

whom

St.

John
Mrs.
says,

has always been a favorite subject, have been unani-

mous
" St.

in representing
in

him

as one

of this type.

Jameson,

her "Sacred and


art, is

Legendary Art,"

John, in Western
life,

always young or in the

prime of

with Httle or no beard, with flowing or

brown or golden hue, and in his countenance an expression of dignity and candor." How
curling hair, generally of a pale
to express the delicacy of his nature,
far in detail the actual
St.

John may have answered


doubt that the underlying

to this description

it

is

of course impossible to say,

but there can be but


idea
is

httle

correct.
fine

His must have been a

and a

gifted nature.

He

was especially strong

in the region of the affections


;

profoundly loving and sympathetic

the heart of Jesus


it

could not have gone out so cordially to him unless

had met with a corresponding


softness

return.

Yet

it

is

mistake to think of John's nature as a mere pulp of

and

toleration.

There are

clear indications,

both

in the incidents of his hfe

and

in his writings, that


intensity,

there burned in

him great moral

and

that

he was capable of strong moral indignation.


in the

To speak
This
is

language of philosophy, he was not of the letharthe

gic temperament, but of the melancholic.

temperament which beneath an outward demeanor some-

what resembling lethargy conceals the surest and


est insight;
it

swiftfire

keeps silence and broods, but

its

14
is

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


only suppressed
;

it

is

the temperament which the

ancients attributed to their greatest


cles

men to

a Sopho-

and a

Plato,

to

the philosopher, the poet, the

genius.
St.

John's writings are before us to show what he

was as a thinker, and they thoroughly bear out this No doubt they are inspired, and the glory estimate.
in

them

is

due

to the Spirit of

God

but inspiration

did not overlook or override the individuality of the

human

agents

whom

it

employed, but made use of

it,

allowing them to speak with their


think in accordance with the

own

accent and to
of
their
St.

peculiarities

minds.

Now

of

all

the

John

is

the most peculiar.

New He
as

Testament writers
cannot

make

a remark,

or describe a scene, or report a conversation or a


speech, without doing
peculiarity has
it

no one

else could.

His

been described by calling him a mystic

he does not deal

much

with the outsides of things,

but lays hold of everything from within.


occurrence
idea which
is
it

scene or

only interesting to him on account of the

embodies.

His thinking

is

intuitive

he

does not reason like St. Paul, or exhort like St. Peter,
but concentrates his vision on the object, which opens
to his steady gaze.

His ideas are not chains of argulink,

ment, united link to

but like stars shining out

from a background of darkness.

He
child,

often appears to

speak with the simplicity of a


simple form are concealed

but under the

thoughts

which wander

through
the
life

eternity.

of St.

Although the materials for writing John are meagre, yet no other figure of

the

New

Testament

not even

St.

Paul or

St. Peter

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


makes such a
reader.
distinct impression
is

on the mind of every

This
is

due

to

his

marvellous originality
it

and

it

easy to conceive what a satisfaction


in

must
fol-

have been to Christ to have


lowers one in

the circle of his

whom
shades

the profundities of his doctrine


ol

and the

finer

his

sentiments were sure of

sympathetic appreciation.

l6

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

III.
In
it

spite

of these natural advantages and graces,

John was made by Christ. That which the Saviour loved in him was produced by Himself; and here we come upon the
is

true in the fullest sense that St.

deepest reason of the attachment between them.

Per-

haps no one

whom

Jesus ever met so


;

much resembled

him
all

in natural configuration

but Jesus brought out

that

was best
evil.

in

John, and repressed or destroy-

ed what was
ciple,

He

imparted himself to his dis-

who
to

did not

thereby become less himself, but

grew

be what he could never have been without

this influence. in Christ

The

loving nature of the disciple found


it

an excellence on which

could lavish

all

its affection.

In the sayings of Christ his


it

mind ob-

tained truths on which

could brood for ever, finding


still.

beneath every depth a deeper

The supreme
that Christ

characteristic of St. John's thinking


self
is

is

himface

its

centre and circumference.

Face

to

he was gazing on the person of Christ, and, while this


steady, unaverted look revealed the Saviour,
it

at the

same time transfigured himself. Remarkable as were John's natural powers, there
is

no reason to believe

that,

apart from Christ, he


in

would ever have burst through the obscurity


the
life

which

of a Galilean fisherman was enveloped, or have


influence in the world.

become an

But

for the

redeem-

ing power of Christ his fine quahties might even have

THE DISCIPLE
been wasted on

WHOM

JESUS LOVED.

17

sinful excesses, as the powers of genius and the wealth of sympathetic natures have often been. But the Saviour not only developed and sanctified John's character, but made him a power for good he
:

set

him on one of
It

the thrones from which the

most

regal spirits rule the destinies of the race.

was

not, indeed,
St.

vouchsafed to

St.

John

to take

such a part as
Peter was

Peter in the founding of the church.

In the Pentecostal days,


St.

when

the two were associated,

action, St.

place.

always foremost both in speech and John taking a secondary and subordinate Still less had he the world- conquering instincts
St.

and the organizing genius of

Paul.

own

share, indeed, in the blessed

He had his work of spreading


There
is

the gospel
of his later

and founding the church.


life,

a legend

not without a considerable air of verisiillustrates his evangelistic zeal.

mihtude, which
ing in a certain
struck with
a

Preach-

town near Ephesus he was particularly

young man among his auditors, and, at his departure, specially recommended him to the bishop of the place, who took him home and educated him until he was fit for baptism. But the youth fell
into evil courses,

renounced

his profession,

and

at last

went so
bers.

become the captain of a band of robSubsequently visiting the same town, St. John
far as to

approached the bishop and asked, "Where is the pledge entrusted to you by Christ and me ?" At first
the bishop did not understand, but

when he rememto

bered he replied,

"He

is

dead

dead

God," and

told the sad story of backsliding.

Immediately pro-

curing a horse, the apostle set off for the robber's


?

l8

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

Stronghold.

He

was captured by one of the band and


But the apostle de-

brought before the captain, who, recognizing who his


prisoner was, attempted to
tained
flee.

him by entreaties, reasoned with him, prayed with him, and never rested till the prodigal returned
to the

bosom of the Of such scenes

church, a pattern of penitence.


there

may have been many

in St.

John's career, but, on the whole,

while others were

converting the world he was a force in reserve.


there slumbered in

Yet
inten-

him the possibihty and the


and he brought
it

tion of a priceless service;


fection
final

to per-

when, in his gospel, he gave to mankind the and incomparable portrait of the Son of God.
services.

There are many

There

is is

that
that

which
which
dis-

can be rendered immediately, and there

must ripen
ciple,

first

for a lifetime.

The ardent young

intent

on the undertakings of the hour, may


all

hardly believe at

in the Christianity of the thinker,


will

whose slowly matured thoughts


church
for

be

fertilizing the

forgotten.

hundreds of years after his zealous critic is But the church has need of those who toil

in the depths as well as of those

who busy
;

themselves

on the

She needs her Dantes and Miltons as well as her Whitefields and Wesleys her Augustines and Pascals as well as her Columbuses and Livingsurface.

stones

she requires not only the fiery energy of St.

Peter and the mighty argumentation of St. Paul, but


the exquisite feehng

and the mysdc depth of St. John.

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

I9

IV.
It was a special mark of the Lord's affection for
St.

John

that he suffered

him
I

to

Hve

to a great age.
St. Peter,
is

This he indicated himself, when he said to


" If I
will

that

he tarry

till

come, what

that to
to

thee ?"

At
of
life

the beginning St.

John appears
circle,

have

been the youngest of the apostolic


close

but at the
at

he survived
is

all

the rest.

The age
tradition

which he died
ninety

variously given

by

from

up

to a

hundred and twenty

years.

The grace of this divine appointment is apparent when we recollect that it was in extreme old age that
his

Gospel was composed

and the same

is

probably

true of his Epistles.

These writings were


its

fruit

from an
;

old tree

but the tree was not losing

sap

on the
if

contrary, the fruit


tree

was only then

fully ripe;

and

the

had been cut down

earlier its fruit

would never
St.

have been gathered.


Besides, the disposition

and character of
to great

John
in old

were of a type which shows


age.

advantage

There are natures


"

to

which the gay poet's words

apply,
That age
is best which is the first, youth and blood are warmer But, being spent, the worse and worst Times still succeed the former."

When

There are even types


this is

ol religious character of

which

true

it

is

best to see

them when

their zeal is

20

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


their speculation fresh
:

new and

afterwards they ap-

pear exhausted, or they harden into dogmatism and


censoriousness.

But

St.

John's rehgion was of the


different order
others fade,
full

type described by a poet of a


"

And

in old age,

when
and

Their

fruit still forth shall bring,


fat

They shall be And aye be

of sap.

flourishing."

His

later Hfe is
in

surrounded with a halo of legends,


his old

which unite

conveying the impression that


beautiful.

age was exquisitely

Thus,
;

it

is

told that

he

used to keep a tame partridge

and one day a noble


it,

huntsman, coming upon him as he was fondling


pressed surprise that a
"

ex-

man
is

of such renown and un-

worldHness should be so
saint

trivially
it

engaged.

But the

answered him,

Why

that

you do not carry

the

bow in your hand always bent?" And when the huntsman answered, " Because then it would lose its

" So," rejoined the saint, " do I relax my mind with what appears to you a trivial amusement, that it may have more spring and freshness when I apply it to divine mysteries." Everyone knows the legend of how, when too old and weak to walk, he
elasticity."

used to be carried into the Christian assembly and,

when

seated in the teacher's chair, to utter only the words, " Little children, love one another ;" and how,

when they asked him why he always repeated this precept, he said, Because, if you have learned to love, you need nothing more." A legend also obtained cur*'

rency, that, being of priestly descent, he wore


brov/ in old

on

his
is,

age the petalon of the high

priest, that

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


the golden plate, fastened
inscription,
this
is

21

on a blue band, with the


But obviously
the beauty

"

Holiness to the Lord."

only a mythical expression for the impression


priestlike

produced by the
Indeed,

dignity and

of holiness with which his old age was encompassed.


the fragrance of
love,
in

truth
its

and

sanctity
lin-

which breathed from


gered
in the

this life

later stages

atmosphere of the early Church

for gen-

erations.

Some have regarded

this

late
St.

development of
Peter
first

St.

John's influence as a prophecy.

stamped

himself on the Church, then St. Paul, last St. John.

And,
was
it

as
to

it

was

in that first period of Christianity, so

be

in the

subsequent ages.

For fourteen cen-

turies St. Peter ruled

Christendom, as was symbolized


his

by the church
which was,
for

inscribed with

name

in

the city

most of that period, the centre of the


then, at the Reformation, St. Paul's

Christian world;

influence took the place of St. Peter's, St. Paul's doctrines


St.

being the soul of Protestantism.


still

But the turn of


dominate the

John has

to

come

his spirit will


in

millennial age.

Perhaps

the individual Christian

three such stages

may

also

be distinguished

the
;

period of zeal to begin with,

when we resemble St. Peter; the period of steady work and reasoned conviction, when we follow in the steps of St. Paul the period of tolerance and love, when we are acquiring the spirit of St. John. But we will not defer to any
distant stage of
"
life

the imitation of the apostle of love.

Now

abideth

faith,

hope, charity, these


is

three

but

the greatest of these

charity."

"

Love

is

the

fulfill-

22

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


;"

ing of the law

and

it

is

the fulfilment of

life

it

is

both the perfection and the blessedness of humanity.

But where
John,

shall

it

be found? what
told us
in the
:

is

its

secret?

St.

who knew, has him who is love, and


do on our

it

springs from faith in


led

work which love

him
first

to

behalf: "

We

love him, because he

loved us."

HIS FIRST MEETING

WITH CHRIST.

HIS FIRST

MEETING WITH CHRIST,


V.

Contact

with Christ was not the beginning of the

religious experience of St. John.


in another religious

He had

been caught

movement

before he was connected

with that of which Christ was the centre.


disciple of
Christ.

He

was a

the Baptist before

becoming a

disciple of

At

the close of

many

barren generations, during

which prophecy had been

dumb and

spiritual death
in the valley of

had brooded over the land, suddenly,

the Jordan, a voice was raised in which the authentic

thunder of inspiration was clearly discernible


ultaneously the

and sim-

Wind

of

God began
in

mur

in

every part ot the land.

move and murNoteworthy it is how


to

any voice or movement


announces
for
itself stirs

which the Divine actually

the sleeping instincts of humanity

man

is

made

for

God, and, however dead

his reli-

gious nature
let

the right

may appear to be, it is only slumbering summons be heard and it will respond.
Beersheba; and
in

The rumor
from

of the Baptist's preaching quickly spread


to

Dan

susceptible souls

it

awakened
from the

curiosity

hill,

and longing. It drew the shepherd the husbandman from the vineyard, the
was especially potent over young

fisherman from his boats, and even the rabbi from his
books.
Its

influence

24
;

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


in the

men and

crowds which soon thronged the banks

of the river where John baptized were the brightest

and most promising spirits of the nation. Among these was St. John, attracted southward from his occupation on the Sea of GaHlee. And he was not only one of the
his
disciples.

Baptist's hearers but

one of

The

first

time

we

see
:

him he

is closely-

attached to the Baptist's person

"

John stood, and

two of

his disciples,"

one of whom was Andrew and the


he had taken
in

other John.
free course in

This shows that the movement had had


his spirit
:

the Baptist's
and, instead

message, submitted to the baptismal

rite,

of at once returning home, remained to profit by his


instruction.

Two

things this experience must

have done

for

the future apostle.

The
:

Baptist's preaching

consisted

of two principal parts

first,

the message of repentance,


that the

and, secondly, the announcement

kingdom of

God was
St.

at

hand.

John, then, had repented.


in him,
self -

The

sense of guilt
felt

had been awakened


and shame of being

and he had

the pain

condemned and God-con-

demned.

What

the

particular sins
fife

may have been


It is

which had marred

his early

and now rose up to


tell.

trouble his conscience

we cannot

easy to
St.

conceive the profanity and recklessness on which


Peter, in the

same circumstances, had to look back but one would suppose that the boyhood and youth of St. John had been singularly free from anything gross or regrettable. The sense of sin is not, however, proportionate to the

magnitude of guilt.

While

His first meeting

with Christ.

^5

the worst sinners are often utterly insensible to their

own
life,

spiritual deformity, the whitest souls a* e sensitively

aware of their own shortcomings.


either in

There

is

no human
that,

youth or age, so perfect but


Spirit of

when
be

enlightened

by the

God,

it

will see itself to

altogether as an unclean thing.

This experience exerted on


influence.

St.

John a

lifelong
it

He became
God
is

the apostle of love, and


else that the
;

is

to

him more than anyone


love

world owes the

doctrine that

but, unlike

some

teachers,

who, starting from


as so loving that

this position,

have represented God

He

overlooks the guilt of erring hu-

man

John combines the doctrine of love with the profoundest and even sternest views in regard to
beings, St.

the sinfulness of humanity and the need of penitence

and atonement.
erally

Shallow views

in

theology are gen-

due

to slight personal experience of repentance.

But

St.

to the school of Christ

John went through the school of the Baptist and the deepest Christian spirits
;

have followed the same pathway.

The
no
of

other element in the Baptist's message was

less influential.

He

proclaimed that the kingdom

God was

at

hand.

This was the revival of the hope


patriotic in Israel
in

which had stirred the godly and the


for

hundreds of years

the hope of the reign of God


which meant
at the

the land

and

in the world,

same
lifted

time the reign of righteousness and peace.


St.

This

John and the other

disciples of the Baptist out of


in

themselves, to take an interest

the weal of their

country and the welfare of humanity.

To

a youthful

mind nothing

is

so good as the awakening of unselfish

26

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


Childhood
is

enthusiasm.
scious

ensheathed

in

an unconis

and natural
at all

selfishness;

manhood
;

too often

the prey of deliberate selfishness

but in youth every-

one who

is

divinely-souled feels stirrings of the

desire to live for others

and

to

make

the world better.


short-lived:

Too
and

often,

indeed, these

emotions are

having nothing substantial to feed upon they die away,


selfishness

supervenes.

But

St.

John obtained
of

from the Baptist faith in a cause fitted not only to feed


enthusiasm but to increase
is
it
;

for the

kingdom

God
all

an object on which unselfish passion can expend


resources
;

its

and

it

outlives

every individual sup-

porter.

plement each other.


spirit

These two experiences go well together and supRepentance alone makes the
morbid, and,
if

indulged too exclusively,

may
for

degenerate into a form of selfishness.


the

Enthusiasm

with repentance
glorious
:

kingdom of God, on the other hand, if unconnected is apt to become visionary and vain-

many
to

are willing to reform the world

who

need
is

first

be reformed themselves.

The

true order

that

of John's

experience: to begin within, with


spirit of

reconciliation to

God, and then, with a

union

with him, to

go

forth to the regeneration of humanity.

HIS FIRST MEETING

WITH CHRIST.

2/

VI.

How
cannot

long John was a disciple of the Baptist we

tell.

But

at last

he was ripe

for further devel-

opment.
It is the

immortal glory of the Baptist that he was


subordinate

fully

conscious of the preparatory and

nature of his

own

mission.

His was only a herald's


Others
;

voice announcing the approach of the King.

attempted to
"

make him

a rival of the Messiah


not,

but
not

he confessed, and denied

but confessed,

am
I

the Christ,"
decrease."
cult

and added,

"

He must

increase, but

must
diffi-

Never, however, was

this attitude

so

as

when he had

to transfer his

Christ.

To have

in his

own disciples to company one like St. John


satisfaction
;

must have been an unspeakable

but, as

he

stood with St. John and St. Andrew, he pointed to


Jesus passing by and said, " Behold the

Lamb

of God,"

thus releasing them from further adherence to himself.


It is

generally taken for granted that, of the two

elements in the Baptist's

message, the second

the
:

coming of the kingdom of God was at first the one most prominent in the minds of the followers of Jesus
they are supposed to have been drawn to him chiefly

by Messianic hopes

but these words appear to indi-

cate that the reverse

was the

case,

and that the

first

part of John's message

the experience of repentance

was that

in

which they were chiefly absorbed.

It is,

indeed, a question what precisely the Baptist

28

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

meant by designating Jesus as " the Lamb of God." A choice passage in an exquisite book derives the name
from the imagery of the twenty-third Psalm
of perfect peace

" the
for
life
is

that lay
represents

most complete picture of hapIt

piness that ever

was or can be drawn.


which
all

mind of which makes


that state of

alike sigh,

and the want


it

a failure to most;

represents
enter

that heaven
it,

which

everywhere

if

we could but

and yet almost nowhere because so few of us can.


or three
;

The two
life's

who win

it

may

be called victors

in

conflict

tutum.

them belongs the reg^ium et diadema They may pass obscure lives in humble dwellto

ings, or, like

Fra Angelico,

in a

narrow monastic

cell,

but they are vexed by no flap of unclean wings about


the ceiHng.

From some such humble

dwelling Christ

came
to

to receive

the prophet's baptism.

The

Baptist
;

was no lamb of God.

He was

a wrestler with
easily,

life

one

whom

peace of mind does not come

but only

after a

long struggle.

He was among
Him whose

the dogs rather

than

among

the lambs of the Shepherd.

He

recog-

nized the superiority of

confidence had

never been disturbed, whose steadfast peace no agitations of


life

had ever

ruffled.

He

did obeisance to the

royalty of inward happiness."

These beautiful words


afford a

undoubtedly express a truth and


glimpse of Jesus and the Baptist on
they leave out the words
the world."

genuine
;

" who taketh away the sin of


fifty-third
'*

this occasion

but

Others have gone back for the derivation of the


Baptist's

phrase

to the

chapter of Isaiah,

especially to the words,

He

is

brought as a lamb to

HIS FIRST

MEETING WITH CHRIST.

29
is

the slaughter, and, as a sheep before her shearers

dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." This would demonstrate that John had grasped the idea of a suffering Messiah. The opposition which he had met with himself and his observation of the temper of the people, and especially of the ruling classes, had convinced him
that the Messiah, instead of being

welcomed with open


;

arms, would be opposed and persecuted


of the world would concentrate
itself

thus the sin

on Him, and

He

would have

to

endure the consequences.

But more than this must surely be in the name. Whether or not, as others suppose, the Baptist had in his mind the paschal lamb or other lambs of sacrifice, when we remember to whom he was speaking to his own disciples, who had undergone in his school the disciphne of repentance we cannot but conclude that by the Lamb taking away the sin of the world he

intended to point Christ out as one

who

could deal

more

effectively with sin than

he had been able to do.


:

His own work was preliminary


science, but

he aroused the conit.

he could not
?

satisfy

What,
John ?

then,

was

the next step the Fulfiller

What

virtue

was

to

be looked for in

who was

to

come

after

While

it

would be unhistorical

to attribute to the Baptist a deit

veloped doctrine of atonement,

is

equally to miss

the point of the situation not to recognize that the prime

recommendation of the Messiah to those

whom John

was
sin.

addressing was that he should be the Saviour from

30

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

VII.

Encouraged by
tist

their master,

and attracted by
Bap-

the appearance of Christ, the

two

disciples of the

followed the departing figure of Jesus.


footsteps

Hearing

their

behind

him, he turned
is
;

and asked,
in

"What

seek ye?"
St.

This

the

first

saying of our
it

Lord recorded by
deep meanings

John

and some have found


all

as

if it

were an invitation to

to seek

from him whatever they desired, and he would satisfy them. But we will content ourselves with something
simpler

its

consideration and kindness.

The two

seekers were shy, and afraid to introduce themselves

those at their stage of experience often are.


little

A very
spirit.

will

sometimes

turn aside an inquiring

But Jesus met them half-way and put them at their They replied by asking him where he dwelt, ease. evidently intimating that they intended sometime to

pay him a
teaches a

But he invited them to an intervisit. This also view at once, saying, " Co'hie and see."
lesson
:

seekers ought
their

to

be dealt with
put-

without

delay, because

impressions are apt to


visit Christ,

evaporate.
ting
off,

Many have
till

intended to
;

however,

to-morrow
in,

but some form of

distraction has

come

and the intention has never


to

been carried into

effect.

So Jesus took
him
that day.
St.

the

young men with him


tells

the

lodging in which he was staying, and they abode with

John

us the very hour of the

HIS FIRST MEETING


clock

WITH CHRIST.
it

when

this

happened
to

"

was the tenth hour,"

which some take

mean

ten in the forenoon, others

four o'clock in the afternoon.

At

all

events Jesus

afforded them a prolonged

interview, lasting for hours.

The

scene, the hour, the duration of their stay, the veryall

looks on the face of Jesus, had


apostle's

remained
life

in the

memory.

Most days

in

anyone's

are for-

gotten

they sink out of sight and are indistinguishable

from multitudes like them.

But some days are ever

memorable

we can

recollect the very

hour of the day


in

when each thing took


words were
were accompanied.

place, the

very tones

which

uttered, the very gestures with

which acts

on the memory

Which days are thus imprinted None more than those on which we
life

have made acquaintances and formed connections by

which our subsequent


enced.

has been powerfully influ-

with

And among such surely the first Christ may well be a marked date.
remember this
one thing
is

acquaintance
In one sense,

indeed, to

impossible

for

our acquaint-

ance with him goes back beyond our earhest memory.

But

it

is

to hear

about Christ from others,


in contact

and another actually

to

come
face.

with him and


at least, this

speak with him face to


is

With many,

a subsequent experience, occurring within the period

of conscious

memory;
is

and,

if such

an incident

is

remem-

bered at

all, it

likely to

be a vivid and a treasured

recollection.

St.

John's experience,

These being such never-to-be-forgotten hours of we naturally expect to learn from


In this,

him what was the subject of conversation, and what


Jesus said.

however, we are entirely disap-

32

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


word of
detail

pointed, not a

being given.
gospel
it

This
is

is

the

more

surprising because St. John's

distin-

guished for the frequency with which


vate interviews with Jesus.
tion
?

narrates pri-

What

can be the explana-

It

has been suggested that John


is

had forgot-

ten

but this

in

a high degree unlikely.

better

explanation

may be

gathered from the other incidents

of this remarkable day.

method taken by our upon those who were introduced to him at this stage was to make them feel that he had a superhuman insight into their thoughts and their character. Thus he met Simon with the announcement that he was in future to bear the name of Peter. And he met Nathanael with such full information about himself that he who had at first incredulously asked, " Can any good thing come out of Nazareth ?" burst out with, " Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art Now may we not suppose that the King of Israel !"
It

would appear

that the

Lord

to impress himself

to

St.

John

also at this time Jesus

gave proof of

his

supernatural knowledge of his history and his inmost


thoughts, communicating perhaps
to
his

future

relation to himself

some sweet secret as and his kingdom?


for

Such a communication a deep,


John's

reticent nature like St.

might

feel

to

be

too sacred

reporting.

Scripture seems to give ample encouragement to


religious experiences public

make

when

there

is

an inner im-

pulse to do so

but the impulse not to disclose every-

thing

is

equally sacred.

Some
;

experiences would be
its

profaned by being described

the soul has things of

own

with which no stranger intermeddles.

Nothing

is

HIS FIRST MEETING

WITH CHRIST.
we

33

more valuable
tion
tell it

to

our fellowmen than the communicaif

of genuine religious experience


;

are free to

but every soul of any depth and intensity has


secrets v/hich
it

many
close.

neither could nor

would
the

disfirst

And

of this nature

may have been

confidence vouchsafed to St. John,

The

Disciple, etc

34

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

VIII.

telling

Something sealed the Hps of the evangeUst from what took place at this interview but if we had
;

any doubt as to whether or not the communication was one of supreme importance, or whether the hearts of
the two hearers burned within
to Jesus for the
first

them

as

they hstened

we should be convinced by observing how they acted when they issued from the house. Both hastened away to make their experience
time,

known

evidently because they were

full

of what had

happened.
It is

only, indeed, in a peculiar


St.

way

that

we

learn

this

about
first

John.

"

He

findeth his
" first "
?

The narrative says of St. Andrew, own brother Simon," and tells him.
This implies that the other young

But why

man
is

also found his

own

brother and did the same.

It

an extreme instance of the reticence and modesty

with which in his Gospel St. John refers to himself and


his relatives.

He

never mentions his brother or his


In the present passage he describes

mother by name.
doubt to

himself only as " another disciple,"

though there

is

no

whom

he

refers.

In estimating the character

of St. John this reserve should be noticed as a prominent characteristic; and it harmonizes well with the
other qualities of his exquisite nature.
Both, then, separating at the door of Jesus' lodging, hastened

brother.

away to tell and each went to his own The latter circumstance is surely a touching
;

HIS FIRST MEETING


and
instructive trait.

WITH CHRIST.

35

The
is

instinct to bear
;

testimony
it

to religious experience

a natural one

but
it

does not

always lead those who are inspired with

to their

own

homes.

Indeed, the very last persons to


ol

whom some

would think

speaking on religious topics are their


It is easier to

own

relatives.

speak

in public, for stran-

gers do not

know how
;

far

our conduct

may be
this
it

in
is

agreement with our words.


accurately

To

our relatives
is

known

but just on this account

safe

and wholesome
nature;

to begin with

them

it is

a far stronger
the dictate of

pledge to consistency.
if

Besides,

it

is

we have any
first

blessed

discovery to reveal,
it

surely those

deserve the benefit of

who

are our

own

flesh

and blood.

Andrew and John had a blessed discovery to make The word with which they broke in upon their astonished brothers was, We have found." The
known.
*'

same word was used by Philip to Nathanael; and Archbishop Trench has called this the Eureka chapter. What had they found? ** We have found Him of whom Moses, in the law, and the prophets did write " they had found the fulfilment of the law and of the prophets of the law, whose unfulfilled commandments had been searching their awakened consciences of the prophets, whose unfulfilled predictions had inflamed
:

their patriotic hopes.


in the

So they expressed
in

the discovery

language of their time and


experience.
is

accordance with
in

their

own

But

it

can be expressed
all

many
;

forms.

There

something which
all
;

men need
it.

and

consciously or unconsciously

are seeking

Many

know

they have not found

it

many more

are

unhappy

2,6

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


know
not why, but this
it,

they

is

the reason.

Some
it
;

think they have found


to be a deception.

but the discovery turns out


toil

Men

and moil

for

they
contiis

hasten over seas

they search continent

after

nent
it ?

they tear out the bowels of the earth.


is it

What

What

that can

make

life

a success, that can

fill

the heart, that can afford to desire at once both satisfaction

and

stimulation, that

can supply

life

with an

aim, that can guarantee unending


fill

progress, that can


?

the immeasurable spaces of eternity

Is there

any

object which can

do

all

this for

man?

Andrew and

John came out from We have found ;"


**

their interview with Jesus crying,

close of a great

St. John wrote this down at the and happy life in token that he still

believed

it;

and since then millions upon millions


it is

have

set to their seal that

true.

ST.

JOHN AT HOME.

37

ST.

JOHN AT HOME.
IX.

St. John's

first

meeting with Jesus took place on

the banks of the Jordan, where he

was

in

attendance

on the services of a rehgious revival and spending days


of leisure

among

a multitude of strangers

his

second
in the

decisive meeting with

him took place


first

at

home,

midst of his friends and when he was engaged in his


ordinary work.

On

the

occasion he sought Jesus


to seek him.

on the second Jesus came

This

is

in

accordance with the law and practice of Christ's king-

dom
and
ness

if,

on sacred days and

in

sacred places, where the

multitude convene for religious purposes,


find him, he
is

we seek

Jesus

quite certain to find us out, subselife

quently, in our

week-day in the home and at busiand demand recognition and service the presin

ence of our ordinary acquaintances.

The home
charming place
for
it

of St. John was on the Sea of Galilee


in

which to be born and brought up

was the

loveliest spot of a lovely country.

On

account of the great depth of the basin of the lake, 680


feet

below the

level of the sea


it

and much more below the


;

tableland of Galilee,
hills,

enjoyed a tropical cHmate


to the water's edge,
;

the

which sloped down

were covwere

ered with the choicest crops

and

at their feet

bowers of olive and oleander, or meadows gay with a

38

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


In the midst of this wealth of foUage

thousand flowers.

lay the heart-shaped expanse of water like a sapphire


set in

from the

an emerald, except when storms, sweeping down gullies of the neighboring hills, churned it
of wind on the lake modified the
life

into foam.

The frequency
easy;
and,

heat of the climate and rendered an active


therefore,

more

although a scene

of tropical

beauty, the district was the very reverse of a scene of


idleness.

The

fish in

the lake were so extraordinarily

numerous

that they not only supplied food to the neigh-

borhood, but were sent in large quantities to satisfy the hunger of the multitudes who assembled in Jerusalem
at the

annual feasts and were even

seaports of the Mediterranean.


the most frequented

known in distant As more than one of

highways of the ancient world

passed through the basin of the lake, there was also an


extensive transport trade, as

many

as four thousand

boats plying for this purpose on

its

limited surface,
eight.

which measured only

fifteen

miles

by

Subserv-

ing these chief industries, others, like boat-building

and

cooperage, occupied a vast population.

Nine towns,

with fifteen thousand inhabitants apiece, according to a

contemporary witness, surrounded the shore, which at the more populous points must have presented the appearance of a continuous
city.

Here, then, amid sights and sounds of beauty to


fascinate the heart
St.

and occupations
;

to

employ the mind,


in

John had grown up

and

there

had been nothing

youth to suggest that his destiny was to be different from that of the other sons of obscurity and toil who,
his

ST.
in that

JOHN AT HOME.

39

corner of the world, had rejoiced, sorrowed and

died from generation to generation.


ble to predict

But

it is

impossi-

what

may

be the history of any son of


the spot where he
infinite
is

Adam.
born

However humble may be


its possibilities

in time, his spirit

comes out of the


to a nation
far

azure

of eternity, and
sides, St.

are incalculable.

Be-

John belonged

no child of which
its

was

safe
its

from thoughts soaring

beyond

birthplace

and
fact,

own

generation, because he was heir to a splenstill

more splendid future. In point of whose margin St. John was born was destined to be lifted up out of its obscurity into everlasting visibility and renown, and in this splendid destiny he was to participate. But it was the coming of
the lake on

did past and a

Jesus which

made

all

the difterence.

40

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

X.

The
was born

exact spot in the lake region where St. John

But he informs is not known with certainty. us himself that " Philip was of Bethsaida, the city oi

Andrew and
in business

Peter

;"

and, as

we

learn from the other

evangelists that he

and

his brother

James were partners


is

with Andrew and

Peter, the probability

that they

belonged to the same place.

Bethsaida has
is

been long ago blotted out of existence, and there

some

difficulty in

identifying

its

site;

many, indeed,
this

have believed that there existed two towns of

name,

one on each side of the Jordan where


but
this is

it

enters the lake,

improbable.

There

is

no doubt, however,

that Bethsaida stood in the opener, busier and more


beautiful part of the region.
If
it

be the case that John and James, as well as


Peter,

Phihp,
fact

Andrew and

belonged to Bethsaida, the

emerges, that from

this

one

sm.all

town Jesus ob-

tained five out of his twelve apostles

a circumstance
fact,

only paralleled in

its

singularity

by the opposite

that of the twelve not

one belonged to Jerusalem.

All

five had also apparently been disciples of the Baptist What can have before becoming disciples of Jesus.

been the explanation of a combination so remarkable ?

Was
tion
?

there a rabbi in the

synagogue of Bethsaida who


in piety

had trained the youth of the place


not bad men.

and

aspira-

All the teachers even of that soulless age

were

Or was

it

to the prayers of their parents

ST.
that
this

JOHN AT HOME.
earnestness was

4I

galaxy of youthful

due?

From

the fact that Zebedee offered no opposition to

his sons

when they
wife,

left

their business to follow Jesus

we may
side.
tic

infer that his

sympathies were on the right

His

supporter of the good cause.

Salome, appears later as an enthusiasIn Bethsaida there


a circle of godly souls whose united

may have been

joined the religious

when their sons simultaneously movements of the Baptist and Jesus. Or was it one of the young men them.selves by whose magnetism the rest were drawn into the paths of peace ?
prayers were answered
If so,

was

this

leader John, or Peter, or one of those

less

known?
for a

One

likes to speculate

on the

possible

causes of such a phenomenon, even though

hope

decided answer.

we cannot Five young men of the

same town could not, all together, have taken such a course without some powerful influence being at work in secret. Every visible pillar in the temple of God rests upon an invisible one sunk beneath the surface of history. Honor to the unknown workers, who have no name or fame on earth but without whose labor and
patience the edifice could not have been erected

Besides John, his father, his brother and his partners,

we
;

see in the boats on this occasion " hired ser-

vants "

and

this

circumstance has been combined with

other slight indications in the Gospels to support the


inference that St.

John belonged

to a condition in hfe

considerably removed from poverty, with the possibility


of connections even with the
ety.

more select classes of sociHowever this may be, he certainly was a young man well known in the neighborhood to which he be-

42
longed

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


;

and the names and


easily enable

figures

mentioned

in the

narrative

us to

summon up

before the

mind's eye a larger circle of relatives and acquaintan-

by whom he was surrounded, when the crisis of his life arrived and he had to make the decisive choice. Their eyes were upon him their tongues, he could not but be aware, would criticise his action. But Christ, who had obtained his worship before at a distance and among strangers, had now come to summon him to take up the cross of confession and follow him in the
ces,
;

place of his abode

and

in the

presence of his neighbors.

ST.

JOHN AT HOME.

43

XI.

John was

at

work when Jesus approached him.


fol-

In the neighboring fields the great Teacher was

lowed by a vast multitude, to


preaching.
trated to the boat

whom

he had been

Perhaps the sound of his voice had pene-

where John was.

But the fisherman

could not join the congregation, because he was occupied with unavoidable duty.

Indeed, he had been at

work

all

night, as

fishermen

on the Sea of Galilee

and he could not leave in disorder the nets which they had been using. So there he was
often were;
at

work, mending
toil

the nets, with

marks of

his pro-

longed

visible

on

his

person and his clothes, when

Jesus came. Jesus did not


in the
tell

him

that

he ought to have been

congregation, listening to the

Word

instead of
to

fishing.
fish.

On

the contrary, he sent

him back again

He

even entered into partnership with him,

tell-

ing him the exact spot of the lake to which to go and


the side of the ship from which to cast out the net.

Thus

St.

John learned

that Christ

knew more about


it all

the

sea than he, though he had lived on

his days, in the

and

he found out
of
is
it

how

successful
is

work

is

when
Jesus

doing
that
it

the advice of Jesus

followed.

We think
is

only with our spiritual

affairs that

concerned,
it

but he knows about our occupation, whatever


be, better than
it

may

we do

ourselves.

Many

are afraid that,

they listened to the voice of Jesus when they are at

44
their

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


work, they could not get on
;

but the experience

of

St.

John proves the very opposite. Perhaps this experience was intended
his associates that in
in
all

to convince

St.

John and

their successes
at

on the water

the past a higher

Hand had been


"
it

work than they had always


and every perfect
gift is

realized.

Every good

from above," whether

come

by the
ways.

direct

path of miracle or in more circuitous

But the great lesson of the occasion bore upon


Jesus was about to
call

the future.
his

away

St.

John and

partner

from

their

boats and

nets;
their
;

they were

practical

men, accustomed to earn

bread and
they could

look sharply after their hardly- earned gains


provision was to be
hind.

not but ask on what they were to depend, and what

made

for those

whom

they

left

be-

The

miracle of the draught of fishes was the an-

swer to these unexpressed inquiries. Could they doubt


the ability to provide of

resources of nature at his

One who so command ?

evidently

had the
which

Yet even

this

was not the profoundest


spirits.

effect

Jesus produced on their


"

St. Peter, grovelling in

the bottom of the boat at the feet of Jesus and crying,

Depart from me,

for I

am

a sinful man,

Lord," gave
hearts,

expession to the sentiment which was in

all their

and

especially,

of St. John.

In

we may be sure, in the sensitive modern arguments about miracles


if

heart
these

occurrences are generally spoken of as

they had
in-

been
tellect.

irresistible

demonstrations addressed to the

This, however, does not appear to have been


in

the

way

which they acted.

Their

effect

was moral

they told upon the emotional nature.

miracle hap-

ST.

JOHN AT HOME.

45

pening beside anyone conveyed an overwhelming impression that

God was

near

into himself as a

weak and
?

guilty being.

and the spectator shrank Must not the


sphere always

most convincing proof


be of this nature
tion

in the religious

As

the sun requires no demonstralight

when we

are standing in the

and warmth
his presence

of his beams, so the best proof of

God

is

and

his working.

Life does not lack experience of

which every unsophisticated mind spontaneously says


" This also
is

cometh

forth

from the Lord of hosts, who

wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." Nor

are these experiences far to seek.

As

the boat of St.

John was transformed into a theatre for the manifestation of Christ's power, so is the pathway of the humblest
strewn with experiences which announce the living

God

and the

Spirit of

God strives

with every

human

soul.

46

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XII.
Christ had subdued the minds of St. John companions with an overpowering sense of his authority, he uttered the call for which he had been

When
his

and

preparing them.
terms,
will
still

But he couched

it

in the simplest
life
:

keeping to the

level of their actual

" I

make

you," he said, " fishers of men."


calling

He was
they were

them away from the employment


their

by which they had hitherto earned


still

bread

but

to continue to be fishers.

Between

their

past and their future Hfe there was to be no violent


break.

The

skill

and experience which they had acstill

quired by faithfulness in the lower sphere were

to

be available

in the

new sphere

to

which he was calling

them

up.

" All things are

double one against another,"


;

says the sage of the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus

the spiritual and the temporal worlds correspond each


to each
;

calling conscientiously without learning

and a human being cannot exercise any honest from it lessons


loftier

about things on a
a higher service.

plane and being prepared for

When

they afterwards reflected, as they must have


times,

done a thousand fishers of men, no

on what

it

signified

to

be

commentary could possibly have been found than Christ's own method on this occasion in dealing with themselves. He was the supreme He apFisher, and this day he was fishing for them. proached them cautiously they saw the crowd in their
better
:

ST.
vicinity,

JOHN AT HOME.

47

and

this

aroused their curiosity before he


the loan of their boat, to

came

near.

Then he asked
;

serve for a pulpit

and

thus, to a certain extent, they

were made partners


success.

in his

work and

interested in

its

Then he showed his interest in their work and astonished them by his knowledge of where the fishes were to be found. Step by step he led them on, till at last the glory of his superiority flashed upon
them and they were
at his feet,
is

ready to do whatever

he might say.

This

dually, cautiously,

way to fish for men delicately. Weighty above


the

graall
is

the law enunciated


trated
that

on

this
is

by St. Paul, and supremely as on every occasion by Christ


which
is

illus-

first

which

natural, afterwards that

spiritual.

The
the

fisher for

men must

find people

where they are


life
;

he must understand human nature and human

more he knows about common occupations


he must be able
to

the
re-

better:

sympathize with men's

verses and successes, with the subtle

manly feeling, he must believe


and that
ol
it is

movements of woand even with the dreams of childhood


that

God

is

leading

human

beings to

himself along the pathway of their daily experience,

only as he co-operates with this intention

Providence that he can do them good.

Minor lessons about the

art to

which they were

being called were also to be learned by looking back.

They had
is

toiled all night


lot

and caught nothing; so

it

sometimes the

of the fisher of

men

to labor in

vain and expend his strength for naught.

Again,

both the hour and the place in which the Lord told

them

to fish appeared unpropitious

because the best

48

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


and
generally most plentiful them forth into the deep. So the most unlikely spots and the
fish are

time for fishing was by night, whereas he sent them


to
it

in

daylight

inshore, while he sent


in spiritual fishing,

most unpromising seasons sometimes yield the best


results.

And,

at

all

events,

Lord's

command

to launch

whenever we have the them forth, there ought to


his

be no hesitation to go and, at
nets for a draught.
St.

word,

let

down

the

John and
in

St. Peter

must often
they

have wondered when

the

spiritual

waters

would see anything corresponding


their nets could not contain

to the take of that

morning, when the sea seemed alive with fishes and

them

all.

But

this

hope
in the

was gloriously

fulfilled

when, at Pentecost and

times of refreshing which followed, they saw

men by
net"^

the thousand being brought, through the preaching of the cross and the outpouring of the Spirit, into the
of the

Kingdom.

ST.

JOHN AT HOME.

49

XIII.
Jesus had given the call it was impressive and had gone home but it remained to be seen whether those to whom it had been addressed would respond.
;

it

To obey
had
said, "

involved a serious practical step.

Jesus

Follow me, and

men."

they were to be
to

They were not to made so by


this is the

make you be fishers of men


I will

fishers of

at

once

degrees, and the art was

be acquired by following him.


;

This
;

is

the rule

always

only way
not

to

learn

none can be

fishers of

men who have


for

first

followed Jesus.

But

them

this

implied the forsaking of their

homes and
might
went.

the business they

Hterally

accompany

had learned, that they him whithersoever he


St.

This could not be an easy thing.


St.

Peter

was already married, and though


in

John probably
in a business

was not thus bound he was a partner


which
skill.

his father,

growing

old, required his strength


it is

and

Life

is

a complicated thing, and

never

easy to wrench one's self out of the position in which

one has been fixed by time and custom.


there were neighbors
let

Doubtless

who would consider it an unwise go a business which might be prosperous in order to go after a wandering rabbi, whose aims and But on the spot they pretensions were problematical.
thing to
left

all

boats,
they

nets,

relatives even

the miraculous

draught of
secure
;

fishes,

apparently, they did not stay to


rose up,

left all,

and followed him.

50

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


For the most of us,
to follow Jesus does not involve

the quitting of

home

or the throwing up of business

we
Yet
fice.

are called to follow


it

him

at

home and

in business.

does in every case involve self-denial and sacri-

He

calls

us

away from excessive and exclusive


it

devotion to any earthly thing, whether


or

be pleasure

home

or business.

Many

are starving their spiritual

life,

and declining every

invitation to usefulness, be-

cause they

cannot drag themselves

away from

the

making of money or the engagements of society. Even the hours of the day of rest are denied to God
of course they have no time for worship during the

week them
left

and

the needs of a perishing world appeal to

in vain.

all,

Does it not shame us to read, " They What have rose up, and followed him "?

we

left?

What

are

we

sacrificing?

"They were
Such
their

stoned,

they were sawn asunder, were slain with the


afflicted,

sword, being destitute,


things have

tormented."

men been
:

able to do

and

to bear for the

sake of religion
lives for Christ.

they have gladly laid

down

How much

are

we
?

able to

do and

to suffer for the

same sacred cause

ST.

JOHN THE APOSTLE.

ST.

JOHN THE APOSTLE.


XIV.

There
with Christ.

were three stages

in

St

John's connection
to

The

first

was when he was introduced


that

Him by
Messiah.

the Baptist and, in a private interview on the

bank of the Jordan, became convinced


This

He

was the

may

be called the stage of the Believer.

Thereafter John returned to his ordinary calling as a


fisherman,
till,

on the strand of the Sea of GaHlee, he

was sought out by Jesus and summoned to become his constant follower and he left all, rose up, and followed
;

him.

This

may be

called the stage of the Disciple.

How
sion,

long

this stage lasted


still

we cannot

tell

with preci-

but there was

an attainment to be reached.

Jesus was in the height of his popularity, and great

numbers of disciples were attaching themselves to him, and following him wherever he went. When from

among

these he selected twelve, that their connection

with him might be

more

special, the third stage of St.

John's progress was reached

the stage of the Apostle.


may
who
is

With

these stages of St. John's experience

be compared the history of anyone


the public ministry of the gospel.
is

called to

First, his

experience
for

an entirely private one

meeting with Jesus


he

his

own

salvation

and

at this stage

may have no

52

THE DISCIPLE

WHOM
life

JESUS LOVED.

thought of devoting his


the gospel
;

exclusively to the service of

he

is

merely a believer.

By-and-by, how-

ever, the impulse to

be a preacher overpowers him,

and he may have to give up some other calling in order


to devote himself to the
last for years,

work

of preparation.
is

This

may

during which he

a learner or disciple.
is

At
he

last,
is

when

his course of preparation


set apart to the

completed,

work of the ministry in a speaks and acts in the name he where definite sphere, of Christ, and his service should be apostolic.
solemnly
In the experience of private Christians the analogy

may

not be so perfect.
all,

Yet the broad principle apare connected with Christ, our

plies to

that, if

we

connection
closer,

with him should constantly be growing


line of

and the

progress

is

indicated by these

three words
valents

Faith,

Believer, Disciple, Apostle, or their equi-

Knowledge, Service.
this third stage

How
ress of St.

important

was

in the

prog-

John and the


is

rest

who were

elevated to the

honor of apostleship

Jesus prepared them, and

shown by the way in which still more by the way in which

he prepared himself for the occasion.

One

of the Evangelists introduces his account of

the election of the


to pass in those

Twelve with these words


all

" It

came
and,

days that he went out into a mountain


night in prayer to

to pray,

and continued

God

when
tles."

it

was day, he

called unto

him

his disciples,

and

of them he chose twelve,

whom

he also named aposthis

act

Thus we learn that he prepared himself for by a night of prayer. His habit of retiring to

sol-

ST.

JOHN THE APOSTLE.


well

53
for

itude for prayer

is

known

he would go away

an hour or two
rise

up

for this

day was over, or purpose a great while before day but


after the labor of the
;

this is

perhaps the only occasion when we read that he


It

spent a whole night in prayer.

shows
the

his sense of
;

the gravity of the step which he was about to take

and what a lesson

it

is

to us as to

manner
in

in

which we should approach important decisions

our

own

lives

Another of the Evangelists introduces the scene


differently.

He

tells

how
till

in

those days the crowds

attending upon the ministry of Christ as preacher and


healer

had multiplied

" they fainted,

and were

scat-

tered abroad, as sheep

having no shepherd."

Evi-

dently the numbers had outgrown the physical capability of

one to reach them


harvest truly

all.

Jesus directed the atten-

tion of his disciples to the situation

and said

to them,

"

The
;

is

plenteous, but the laborers are

few

pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that


send forth laborers into his harvest."
to

he

will

There

is

no reason

doubt that

at

least the

more

earnest of

Christ's followers

obeyed

this injunction.
till,

They took
their Master,

the situation into their

minds

like

they were
multitude
;

filled

with compassion for the needs of the

then they earnestly prayed to

God

to fur-

nish laborers for his


at least of the

own work.

Perhaps during some

hours of the night, while Jesus was pray-

ing on this subject on the mountain-top, St. John was

awake praying about it at the foot of the mountain. In the morning the answer came but in what form ?
;

54
St.

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


;

John was told to answer his own prayer for he was called to be one of the laborers whom he had asked God to send. It was as if, in a period of destitution, a rich man, overcome with compassion for his poor and
suffering fellow-creatures, should pray to

God

to suc-

cor them, and

it

should thereupon be flashed into his

mind

that he could himself relieve

them by giving away

a portion of his wealth.


joined.
If

Thus

are prayer and effort

people have compassion on the multitude

because they are scattered abroad, in our slums at

home

or in heathen lands, like sheep v,^ithout a shepherd,

and

if

they are earnestly praying the Lord of the

harvest to send forth laborers, there will be no lack of


either

men

or means for the Lord's service.

ST.

JOHN THE APOSTLE.

55

XV.
The
dignity of this
is

new

position to v/hich St.

John
or-

was raised

clearly defined

by

St.

Mark
to

"

He

dained twelve, that they should be with him, and that

he might send them forth to preach, and


to heal sicknesses

have power

and

to cast out devils."

Here are three things which the apostles were to first, to be with him secondly, to preach and thirdly, to heal sicknesses and cast out devils.
do
:

The

first,

" that

they should be
all

v/ith

him,"

is

the

privilege for which

generations since have envied


with

the Twelve.

They went about


his

him continually
all

they saw
courses
consult
:

all

miracles; they heard

his

dis-

they daily listened to his table-talk, and could him about anything in his public utterances which they had not understood, or about which they wished to make further inquiry they saw his life at close quarters, and felt the influence of his character.
;

The

followers of a Socrates, the catechumens of an

Ambrose, the students of a Tholuck, the pupils of an


Arnold, have informed the world of the magnetism with
their teachers held them but no man ever spake and no teacher ever charmed like this One.

which

This privilege was not, indeed, new to St. John

when he became an

apostle

he had enjoyed

it

on the
at

lower stage of discipleship.

But

it

is

emphasized

56
this

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


Stage to remind us that, in advancing to be an

apostle,
liar to

he did not leave behind the experiences pecu-

the two previous stages.

He was

first

believer,

then disciple, then apostle; but


apostle he
believer

required to be far
disciple.
is

when he became an more than ever both

and

To

be a public representative

mockery and hypocrisy unless it is accompanied with growing faith in Jesus and fellowship with him. Those who teach must not only have learned, but they must go on learning. The power of public testimony depends on intimacy with Jesus in secret.
of Christianity

Then, secondly,

St.

John and

his fellow-apostles

were to preach.

This was rendered necessary by the


:

extent of the interest in Jesus


all

his voice could not reach


visit all

who thronged around

him, nor could he


;

the

places which desired his presence

he had, therefore, to

multiply himself by sending forth those


in his stead
this
;

who could speak and the name he gave them showed that
for

was the chief object


the

which they were ordained;

for

word
it

*'

apostles "

means

"

ambassadors."

In

one respect
" unlearned

might have been thought that they were


because they were
;"

unfit for this part of their vocation,

and ignorant men

they had not attended

the colleges where the arts of the speaker are taught.

For the
simple.

present, however, their teaching

was

to

be very

They were not

to

be setded for a length of

time anywhere, but to itinerate swifdy from place to


place.

What

they required, therefore, was not a system


;

of doctrine, but a brief, fervent message

and
:

this

they

had acquired from

their contact with Jesus

their souls

ST.

JOHN THE APOSTLE.


discovery,

57

were on

fire

with a joyful
it

and

it

was a
lay be-

pleasure to

make

known.

At a

later stage

much more

difficult

work

fore the apostles, requiring resources of

many

kinds

but Jesus could trust to the educative power of their


intercourse with himself

Nor was

his confidence misfit

placed

for,

when

the time came, they were

to be the

teachers of the world.

Whether or not Jesus would have chosen learned if they had been available, we cannot say the case of St. Paul, who had sat at the feet of GamaHel,
men,
;

seems to suggest that he would.


not forthcoming
:

But such men were men Hke Nicodemus and Joseph of


;

Arimathea hesitated
despised him.

and the
to

scribes

opposed and
satisfied with

So he had

make

use of such instru-

ments as were procurable.


them.

But he was

These honest and good

hearts, these

unwarped
is

and unbiassed minds, transmitted the message without


coloring
for the
it

with additions of their

own

and

it

easier

world

in their case to see that the excellency


his.

of the power was not theirs but

The third design of the apostolate was that its members should heal sicknesses and cast out devils. In some respects this was the most peculiar work of the
apostles,

though

it

was subordinate

to their preaching

and

it

revealed

in

the most remarkable

way

the glory

of their Master.

In the gospels, Christ's powers of

healing are attributed to the Spirit of

God

dwelling in
that

him; but the Spirit dwelt


the influence overflowed

in

him so abundantly
in

upon those who were

sym-

58

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


him
;

pathetic contact with

and, thus qualified, they

were

able, too, to cure

both the body and the mind.

A great modern
Edward
Church
It

teacher, the devoted but romantic

Irving, cherished

and propagated the notion


be
at the disposal of the

that these
if

powers would

still

her members lived close enough to Christ.


or-

was a mistake, though perhaps better than the


little

thodoxy of
his belief;

minds.

Experience has not


is

justified

and the reason, no doubt,


this direction

that such mirac-

ulous powers are no longer

necessary.

The

spirit,
is

however, of

of Jesus to his apostles


it

ap-

plicable to all times,

and

is

that the healing of the

accompany the saving of the soul. Not only may benefits conferred in the name of Christ in the
body
is

to

sphere of the natural

life

open the door

for spiritual

work, but the interest

in

humanity taught by Christ

extends to man's whole being and cannot help seeking


to bless
cal

him

at

every point.

When we

send out medi-

along with preaching missionaries, when nurses are

trained to be servants of the Church, v/hen hospitals are

opened by Christian
the poor,
sions

liberality,

when alms

are given to

when

in connection with
is

churches and mis-

wholesome recreation
and
in

provided for mind and

body, we are following this indication of the mind of


Christ
;

our day the Church

is

awaking

to a

more

large-hearted conception of her duty in this respect.

In choosing the Twelve Jesus was determining not

only their Hfe but also his own.

If

they were to be

with him, he was to be with them.

He

was not

to

have

his time to himself,

or even for the public; at

ST.

JOHN THE APOSTLE.


it

59

least a larg-e share of

Nothing
the

in his entire history


in

was covenanted to the apostles. is more wonderful than

way

which, while overwhelmed with external

work, he reserved himself for the instruction of the

The results have abundantly justified his and they supply an example, though one which has been rarely followed. Few even of the most earnest workers for the many have at the same time been
Twelve.

wisdom

able to think of the few.

It

requires rare gifts

yet a

few followers highly trained, and acquainted with the

deep things of God,

may be

a far

more valuable

leg-

acy to the Church and the world than multitudes converted to a superficial or ordinary Christianity.

<"

^0

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XVI.

The

supreme privilege
;

ot the apostleship
:

was

to

be with Jesus

but this involved another

it

was also

a privilege for each apostle to be associated with the


other

members of the apostolic circle. Anyone who has been at college and entered
spirit

thorto

oughly into the


his student

of

it

must always look back


his
life
;

days as a golden period of


is

and the

chief reason

that there he has associated with picked

men.

By

a process of natural selection a large pro-

portion of the most gifted and aspiring youth of the

country gather in college;


find friends
;

it

is

and never again, perhaps,

man be
true
is

close to so
it

many

choice

among them to in life may a spirits. Much more


easy

that the college of the apostles consisted of

picked men.

They had been

selected

by the

insight

of Christ himself, after a night of prayer and, no doubt,

days of reflection.

They were chosen from among


as the

his

numerous followers
and the most
aglow with the joy

most devoted

to his person

suitable for his work.

Their hearts were

of spiritual discovery

and the enfa-

thusiasm of a noble cause.

Could there be more

vorable conditions for the formation and the ripening


of friendship
?

United, however, as the


circle

members of the

apostolic

were

in their

fundamental experiences and aspiin other

rations, they

were nevertheless widely diverse

ST.
respects.
ters
St.
is,

JOHN THE APOSTLE.

6l

It would be difficult to conceive two characby nature more unlike than St. Peter and St. John Matthew, before his call, had been a publican that

a tax-gatherer for the

Roman

rulers
is,

while one of
St.

the

Simons had been a Zealot

that

a radical oppo-

nent of the government, and especially the taxation, of


the

Romans

in

martyr and

St.

the company of Jesus Thomas the doubter met


all

James the
;

together

and

the less-known apostles in


similar diversities.
It

probability represented
to

seems

have been the design

of Jesus to unite in his service the most diverse talents

and

dispositions,

and

in this there
;

was a

special bless-

ing for each of the Twelve


tanceships and

because those acquain-

friendships are the best which, along

with unity in essentials, combine the utmost variety in


details.

One

great intention of Christianity

is

to

be a cen-

tre of union.

Multitudes would be utterly lonely in


it

the world were

not for their connection with the

church

and many more, though enjoying other ophave


church their best friends and formed their
ties.
:

portunities of union with their fellow-creatures,

found

in the

most cherished

Christian

work

especially affords

such opportunities

and nowhere
is

else are the acquain-

tanceships formed hkely to be so valuable, for attraction to the

work

of Christ
best.

a selective process which

winnows out the

62

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XVII.

On
called
der.

a special

John received from the Lord mark of recognition he and his brother were by a new name Boanerges, the sons of thunthis occasion St.
:

This

is

mentioned only by

St.

Mark and
is

only in
us an

this place,

and unfortunately the name


explained
life.

to

enigma.

Some have
of their spiritual
tist

it

as an allusion to the origin


disciples of the
;

They were

Bap-

before

becoming

disciples of Christ

the Baptist's

teaching was the seed from which their


veloped.
sons,

new

destiny de-

Now

his

preaching might, for obvious rea:

be compared to thunder it consisted chiefly of It has denunciations of sin and calls to repentance.

further been suggested that St.

John and

St.

James may

have been
sion
that Jesus

in the

company
;

of the Baptist on the occa-

when he received

the sign

was the Christ

by which he was assured and one element of this was

a voice from heaven, uttered, no doubt, in thunder.

As

this could not but affect the minds of the brothers they

might be said

to

be born of the thunder.

The more common notion, however, has been that In the name referred to some personal peculiarity. cbmmon parlance the name Boanerges is applied to
a speaker with a very loud voice
ly
;

and

this

has actual-

been supposed to have been the reason

why

the

ST.

JOHN THE APOSTLE.


originally.

63

name was given


voice
is,

conspicuously loud

however, about the


St.

last attribute

which should

be associated with

John, and

we cannot suppose
trifling cir-

Jesus to have laid any emphasis on such a

cumstance.

There has been much stronger support given to


the notion that a mental peculiarity of the brothers was

touched upon.
wished to

There are several instances

in their

subsequent history
call

notably
fire

the occasion

when they

down

from heaven on a town which

refused to receive

their

Master

which

indicate that

in the earlier stages of

development they were specially

characterized

by a

fiery

and excessive

zeal.

It

is,

in-

deed, difficult to reconcile with this image of St.


the charity
fact
is

John

and lovableness of
be undeniable.

his later years

but the

seems

to

The Book

of Revelation
;

the transfigured form of this disposition


full

and

it

is

a book
heaven.

of thunders, lightnings
character which
is

and voices from


and most
its

The

gentlest

tolerant in maturity

may

have, hidden at

core, a

temper once hot but long subdued by grace.


idea, then,
is

The

that Jesus

was alluding
it

to this imperfec-

tion of the

two brothers, marking

with a name, that

they might watch against


their failing.

temptation and overcome


it,

They

did overcome

and

this

accounts
else; the
it

for the fact that the

name occurs nowhere


it

pecuharity at which

pointed having disappeared

ceased to be applicable, and was forgotten.

the

The objection to this view is that, were name must have been a reproof, almost

it

true,

a nick-

64

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


at similar crises

name, but the names bestowed


out the Bible were
all

through-

intended as marks of honor.

So

it was when Abram was changed to Abraham, Jacob It is not agreeto Israel, Simon to Peter, and so on.

able to

own

that

we
is

are baffled, but the circle of con;

jecture in this case yields nothing decisive


best

and the

we can say

that the

to St.

favor or

John and St. some hint for

name probably conveyed James some secret of the divine


their

subsequent progress which

we

are not

now

in a position to define.

ST.

JOHN ONE OF THREE.

65

ST.

JOHN ONE OF THREE.


XVIII.

St.
Christ.

John

was,

first

of

all,

merely a believer

in

Then he was drawn

into the narrower circle

of Christ's disciples
their occupations,

that

is,

of those
to follow

and
to

left all,

who gave up him whithersocloser

ever he

went.

Finally,

he was elected one of the


in a
still

Twelve who were


and
this point his circle of the lection,

be with Christ

way
at

to act as his

heralds and ambassadors.


:

But

progress did not stop

even within the

Twelve there was formed, by divine sethree of the Twelve a still narrower circle
:

became,

in a special sense, Christ's confidential friends,

and
tian

St.

John was one of the Three. Are there not such distinctions still ? The Chrisname is a very wide word, and includes vast mulits

titudes within

circumference.
all

But Christians are

not

all
;

alike

they are not


all

equally near to the Sa-

viour

they are not

equally identified with his cause

and

his

work.

Some

hearts in which the Gospel strikes

root bear only thirty-fold, while others bear sixty-fold,

and some bear a hundred

there

is

what

may

be called

minimum
and there

Christianity,
is

and there

is

average Christianity,

a Christianity which

may be

called

max-

imum.
a

A man may
Christian

begin at the outer


;

circle

by being

minimum

but he
still

may

pass inwards through

one

circle after another,

following the attraction of

66
Christ,
is

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


till

he gets as near

to

him and

as like

him

as

it

possible in this world to be.

We

ought not

to

be

content with m.erely being able to claim the Christian

name:

if

Christ

is

our Lord and Master, and

if

we

have chosen him as our ideal and pattern, the true path
of
life

must consist

in

being more and more absolutely

identified with him.

The image
will

of this close friendship, as

we

see

it

in

the experience of the Three, of

whom
:

St.

John was one,

answer such inquiries as these

Into what situations

does such a friendship take


ing-places
?

men

By what

experiences are
?

Where are its trystmen proved to


Three asso-

be specially His friends

The
Jairus.

first

scene in which
is

we

find the

ciated with Jesus

at

the raising of the daughter of

The

other apostles were in the street with

their Master, but,

when he

arrived

at

the house, he

permitted none to enter but Peter, James and John.

Thus
vous.

the house of

mourning was the


there.

first

rendez-

And none
to

will ever

be very near to Jesus who

do not go
Christian

meet him

Many who
in

bear the

name never

go.

Although

so

many

of

made the visiting of the sick and widow and the orphan, of the poor and needy, a conspicuous mark of his religion, yet the number of professing Christians is small who go upon
his sayings Jesus has

dying, of the

such errands.

Multitudes

who would be

indignant

if

their Christianity

were called

in question never,

from

January to December, enter the house of a poor person.

They
found

are not even aware where such persons are to be


;

they would not

know how

to

approach them

ST.

JOHN ONE OF THREE.

67

they would be shocked at the sight of suffering and


death
nita.
;

the world of misery

To some

Christians,
it.

them a terra incoghowever, it is well known.


is

to

They

are always in

One
fast

case leads on to another.

If only

you are known


will

as a friend

and

visitor of the
It

poor appeals
yet those
fascinate.
is

come
to

enough.

may appear
features to

an undesirable world

know
in

this

world of misery

who go about
is

it

find

many
else are

Undoubtedly the most


there.

attractive,

however,

that Christ

Nowhere

you more

certain of finding

him or of being found by him.

of a

The signt of so stupendous a miracle as the raising human being from the dead was a rare privilege,

which the Three enjoyed by being with Jesus in the house of mourning. But perhaps it was for something
else that
this

he took them there


feeling

his

own behavior on

occasion was a wonderful illustration of gentleness

and delicacy of

and

action.

When

he arrived

at the

house death had already

taken place, and the

usual Jewish paraphernalia of

mourning were

in possession.

The
;

Oriental gives viin

olent expression to his


his garments, casts

emotions

grief he rends

dust upon

his

head and clothes


ex-

himself in sackcloth.

And when

the extreme sorrow of

bereavement comes he even


press his

calls in outsiders to

woe: professional mourners make

doleful

music and hired


all

women

utter piercing wails.

going on when Jesus arrived.

But

odious, as was everything unreal.


professional
;

This was him it was He knew that this


to

woe meant nothing those who were weep;

ing could as easily laugh

indeed, they did laugh the

68

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

next minute, when he said that the maid was not dead.
So, assuming the form of authority which he could wear

so irresistibly
forth,

when occasion

required, he put

them

all

ing,

and thus produced the silence which, to was the proper accompaniment of death.

his feel-

Then, when peace reigned, he approached the room where death had pitched his tent. He bade the Then he it was their right. father and mother enter
;

admitted the Three


sense of congruity.

twelve would have disturbed his

Then he took her cold hand, that, when she awoke, she might be steadied, instead of being terrified, and might look up in his face and be
comforted.
After the miracle was over he ordered the
eat, that

parents to give her something to


sions of

the expres;

wonder might not continue too long


their occupation
retired.

and,

under cover of

with this duty, he,

along with the Three,

By

his reverence for death, for

maidenhood,

for

fatherhood

and motherhood, and by his dislike of noise, unreality and rumor, Jesus was teaching the It is not enough to do Three a part of his secret. good deeds to be Uke Christ, these must be done in
:

the right
cence.

with delicacy, refinement and retimanner There are those who wish to do good, but
it,

they are so boisterous with

or they talk so
is

much
grace.

about

it,

that

what they do

robbed of

all

There are those who display a keen

interest in the

eternal welfare of their neighbors, but they

approach

them with so litde respect that they offend instead of winning. Such have only learned the one half of the
secret of Jesus,

St.

JOHN ONE OF THREE.

69

XIX.
The next
scene in which the Three figure
In the
is

the

Transfiguration.

evening Jesus took

Peter,

James and John up to a mountain apart, while the rest of the apostles were left below on the plain. For what purpose were they thus taken into soli-

Knowing their Master's habits they could have ? no doubt, as they drew near the top and the shades of night were falling: they were going to pray; and
tude

he

at least

was

still

praying

at the

moment when
and are
like

the

scenes of the Transfiguration commenced.

Those v/ho
Christians pray

live close to Jesus


in the

him
All

must often be with him


;

school of prayer.

yet there are great differences.


are brief and formal
;

The
from

prayers of

many

they are a duty

rather than a privilege; they are

recollections

the past rather than

the spontaneous

outflowings of
is vital

present emotion. But to

some

Christians prayer

breath

they talk with

God
It

as children with a father

they forget the flight of time, because they are ab-

sorbed and delighted.

was

to

spend a whole night

on the height that Jesus invited the Three. In hours of this kind wonderful things occur.
Jesus himself the Transfiguration

been a reward

for the night of

To may be said to have From the state prayer.

of exaltation to which prayer had already raised him

he passed, without a break, into the condition of transfiguration.

He had

reached a

crisis

of his

life.

For

70

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


its

a long time at
ilee

commencement

his ministry in Gal-

had been extraordinarily

successful
;

his

miracles

excited

unbounded enthusiasm countless multitudes it seemed


;

his

preaching drew
if

as

the unanimous

voice of the nation were to carry him to the throne of


his fathers.

But of

late a

change had taken place


;

the
He
retir-

popular feeling had cooled


different quarters
;

opposition had risen in

Jesus had been compelled to withzeal of the


at the

draw himself from the impure


saw
clearly in front the

mob.

narrow way

end of which

stood the cross.


ing into himself.

More and more he had been

He was

in

need of support and en-

couragement.

Often had he sought these in

commuhis

nion with the great spirits of the past, by

whom

destiny of suffering had been foreseen and foretold.

At

length
ses

communion with them became


Elias, the representatives of

so close that

Mo-

and

law and prophec)^


invisible,

were drawn across the confines of the world

and they conversed with him, no doubt


he was to accomplish
Christ's
interest
at

to his

great

strengthening and comfort, about the decease which

Jerusalem

the one

event in

earthly history

of

all

on which is concentrated the the redeemed of mankind, and of all


greater honor and comfort

heaven

itself
still,

Then ensued

when

the bright cloud, the symbol of the divine presence,

enveloped the mountain-top, and out of


voice of

it

issued the

God

himself,
I

saying,

"This
;

is

my

beloved
It

Son, in

whom

am

well pleased

hear ye him."

was a testimony which must have made his heart glad, that his mode of doing the work of his Father had, up

ST.
to this point,

JOHN ONE OF THREE.

J\

been perfect and acceptable, and a pledge


to

that the

same grace would continue


the Three
it

sustain

him

during the portion of his obedience yet to come.

To
Master
it

was a great privilege

to see their

in this

hour of exaltation.

Two

of them refer to
their expe-

in their writings as a
St.

crowning mercy of

rience.

He received from God the Father honor and glory .... when we were with him in the holy mount." And St. John is probably referring
Peter says, "

to the

same incident when he says


for

*'
:

We

beheld his

glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father."


It

was a preparation
which
their faith
their

them, too, in view of the


to

trials

to

was

be exposed

in the

months

when
men.

Master was to be despised and rejected of


their Messianic

When

hopes were disappointed,

and the career of Jesus took a course totally different from that which they had anticipated, there was put on but by what they had their faith a tremendous strain
;

seen and heard on the

Mount they were enabled


the nucleus of loyalty

to

stand

it,

and

to

form

round

which the
All

rest of the apostles gathered.


v/ith

who meet

Christ on the heights

will,

in

some

decree, share the

same

privileges.

They

will

possess evidence of the glory of Christ not to be ob-

Faith is in some minds a tradition handed down from the past which they have never doubted; in others it is a conviction laboriously hamtained elsewhere.

mered out by argument. But there is a faith which is more quick and powerful than these it is the faith of experience and it can hardly be missed by those who
:

are

much on

the Mount,

In such circumstances they

72

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


and
his

receive evidence of God's existence, his glory


love,

which becomes part and parcel of

their

own

be-

ing

and

in

such intercourse with the Saviour there

cannot but occur


tion

now and

then experiences of exalta-

and revelation which are registered among the most precious memories of the past, and can only be taken away by some catastrophe which blots out the
records of experience altogether.

ST.

JOHN ONE OF THREE.

73

XX.
The next
to

occasion on which the Three were alone


If
it is

with Jesus was in Gethsemane.

natural to wish
it is still

have dear friends near

in

an hour of triumph,
wish this

more an

instinct of the heart to

in the

season

of sorrow.

Jesus invited the Three to the mountain;

top that they might behold his glory


into the depths of the

he invited them

garden that they might support

him

in his

hour of agony.

The

soul of the Saviour was exceeding sorrowful,

even unto death.


erably bitter.

The hour

to
;

which he had long been


it

looking forward had arrived

but

proved

to be intol-

Grief has a double instinct

it

seeks soHtude

and

Jesus removed himself a stone's cast even from the

Three
time,
itself
it

into the depths of the

grove

yet, at the
it

same
pour

seeks sympathy;
;

it

is

a relief to

to

out into willing ears


to

and, therefore, Jesus wished

them

be near, that he might go to them when the

state of his

overcharged heart would allow him.


besides, to pray

The

disciples

had need,
They,
too,

on their own acin

count.
tunes,

had reached a
to

crisis

their for-

where they might

suffer shipwreck,

and again
lest

and again he urged them


It

watch and pray,

they

should enter into temptation.

was a golden opportunity

for the Three,

when

they could have obtained insight into the heart of their


Master, and might have rendered him service which

74

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

would have been divinely recompensed, besides preparing themselves for playing the man in the scenes which
were about
to ensue.

But

it

was a

lost opportunity.
;

They were

near him in Gethsemane

yet they were

not with him.

Jesus had invited them to a degree of

confidence and intimacy beyond what they had ever


yet enjoyed
secret.
;

but they could not enter so

far into his

We

wonder
should
to

especially at St. John.

He

at

least might have kept awake, although the other two

had

slept.

He

have

filled

the

place of the
to

angel,

who had

come from heaven


not a

strengthen
to

the Saviour because there was


St.

man

do

it.

John's loving and sensitive heart you would have


all alive

expected to be
state into

which

his

beloved Master had

and awake, when he saw the But fallen.

even he succumbed to the drowsiness of grief; and


Jesus came, seeking sympathy and comfort, and found none.
*'

Sleep on now," he said,


;

The opportunity was passed


recall
it.

and take your rest." and nothing could ever

"

Christ

still

invites

us into Gethsemane.
?

When
against

may he
to

be said to do so
desperation
;

When

his

cause appears
is

be

in

when

the world

all

him, and his truth requires to be

maintained against

the organs of public opinion and the dead weight of

conventionalism

when

to confess

him associates us
to enjoy

with the poor and despised, while those whose

opinion
us.

we have been accustomed

good wonder at

In circumstances of this description a rare opporis

tunity

offered of getting near to Christ.


well,

Never do we

understand him so

never does his love shine so

ST.
full

JOHN ONE OF THREE.

75

upon

US, as

when we

are sacrificing honor, comfort,


is

pleasure for his sake.


lost.

But too often the opportunity

Self-indulgence in
:

some form comes

in.

It

may

not be a gross form

the sleep of the disciples in Geth-

semane was very pardonable, and our self-indulgence

may be something
it

equally innocent.
to

It

may be

the
;

reading of a book when we ought

be saving a soul

may

be

sitting

in

the comfort of

home when we
;

ought to be on the track of the homeless


spectable set to which

it

may

be

acquiescence in the opinions and practices of the re-

we belong when we ought

to

come

out from them and, at the risk of being thought

odd, or even mad, offer our protest.


entirely innocent

thing in

itself

may

act as a soporific
call

to dull

the
that

sense of duty, and smother the

of Christ

so

the opportunity of being brought close to him through


the fellowship of his sufferings
is lost for

ever.

76

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XXI.
There
is

one more scene

in

which the Three


this

appear along with Jesus, though on

occasion there

was associated with them a fourth brother of St. Peter the same who
;

St.

Andrew, the
in

in the Hsts of the

apostles

is

always associated with the Three

form-

ing the

first

group of four.
earthly
Hfe

On
we

a day in the last

week

of our Lord's

find these four seated

with
ple

Him

on the Mount of Olives over against the Temis,

that

they were looking across the holy

city,

and they were thinking of the doom by which, Jesus had told them, it was to be when they asked him, " Tell us, when overtaken
which lay
at their feet,

shall

these
all

things be?

and what

when

these things shall be fulfilled

shall "
?

be the sign

In thus asking they


often used

were exercising a privilege


to seek for an explanation of

by the Twelve,

anything in their Master's doctrine which they had not


understood, or the solution of any problem suggested
to their

ably this privilege had

minds by remarks which he had made. Probbeen specially exercised on


It

other occasions by the Three.


privilege,

was a very precious


full

and on

this

occasion Jesus gave a very

and impressive answer. It is a sign of advancement


an interest
in

in the divine life to feel

the mysteries of religion;

and

in

this

region Jesus meets those


day, indeed, the desire
is

who have

his

mind.

In our

often expressed for a Ghris-

ST.
tianity free

JOHN ONE OF THREE.


:

7/

from mysteries would not the Sermon on with a simple outline of the facts conalong Mount, the be enough ? can we not get quit gospels, the tained in
altogether of
fair

dogmas and

doctrines
to

Well,

it is

a very

question how much ought The foundation for Christian union and cooperation. minimum. a to quantum ought perhaps to be reduced

be demanded as a

any man acknowledges Christ as his Lord and Saviour we need not ask much more about his creed beBut, while fore welcoming him as a Christian brother. a man entitle to enough be may belief of a minimum advanced an be cannot man a to be called a Christian,
If

or matured Christian without the necessity asserting


itself

within

him

for a

more comprehensive
progresses, raises

creed.

The

Christian

life,

as

it

questions the
;

answers to which are the doctrines of the gospel and the deeper the life is the deeper will be the doctrines
required to express
It
is
it.

is an intellectualism which substitutes the reasonings and separates dogma from There is of the head for the experiences of the heart. is born which also a prying into religious mysteries

true that there


life

only of morbid curiosity.

There

is,

for

example,

habit of speculating about the future which sometimes

approaches the brink of insanity.


of a thing
this
is

But the caricature


itself

no condemnation of the thing


tell

On
by

occasion Christ did not

the inquiring spirits

whom he was surrounded that such questions as they had put were of no moment. He gave a solemn and
satisfying answer.

There are doctrines which are simply the

intellec-

78

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


and where the

tual equivalents for spiritual experiences,

experiences exist the truths which explain them will be

understood and relished

while,

on the other hand,


is

contempt or impatience of these doctrines


cation of the absence of the experiences.
interest in the progress of the

an

indi-

So a
of

living

kingdom
future.

an interest
break up a

in the

mystery of the

God gives You cannot


in
it

human
is

nature into compartments and say

that religion
others.

to reside in
religion
is

some
real

of

them and not

Where

end progressive
it

quickens the whole man.


the intelligence.

And

not least does

affect

The

intellect is

a noble faculty, and


it

when, under the excitement of experience,


penetrate the mystery of
life,

seeks to

He who

is

our wisdom,

no

less

than our righteousness and sanctification, de-

lights to

answer

its

interrogations.

ST.

JOHN

BESETTING

SIN.

79

ST.

JOHN'S BESETTING
XXII.

SIN.

The
From

destiny of St. John was to be near to Christ.


first

the outside world he entered


disciples.

within

the

circle of Christ's

From

there

he moved
Still

inwards, within

the circle

of the Twelve.

he

pressed nearer, being admitted into the circle of the

Three.
It

And,

finally,

he was the

One whom

Jesus loved.

was a glorious destiny.


he has known.

Many

man would
has been the

say that the greatest distinction of his


set of friends

life

with a specially gifted

man
life.

or

Even a single friendship, woman, may be the most

golden

memory

of a

But no friendship the world

has ever seen can be compared with that enjoyed by


St.

John.

To

lie

on the breast of the Son of man, to

share his inmost thoughts, to be formed by daily and

hourly contact with his personality


alleled privilege.

this

was an unpar-

Like
ties.

all

great privileges, however,

it

had

its

penaldisci-

And

one of these was the exposure of the

ple's

weaknesses.

None could come

near to Christ

without being dwarfed by his stature and darkened in


his light.
life,

We see,
this

especially in the final scenes of his


to his enemies.

how

happened

One

after an-

other approached him

and the

rest

only to

Judas, Caiaphas,

Herod, Pilate

have every spot and wrinkle of

8o
his

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


own
character

made

everlastingly visible.

But the

same happened, in a different way, to his friends. No doubt Jesus drew forth all that was good in them
rapidly developed

whatever seeds of promise their natures contained were

by the influence of his companionship. But the evil in them was brought to light too. Sometimes, when a block of freestone is brought from the quarry and dressed in the sculptor's yard, it looks
beautiful, but after
it

has been fitted into

its

place in the
effect.

building the action of the weather has a strange

The

stone begins to bleed, as the phrase

is

its

surface

becomes covered with discoloring exudations. These proceed from iron or sulphur hidden in its interior
;

and the disfiguration may be so great that the stone The has to be removed from its place altogether.
fellowship

and work of Christ have a

similar effect

on

his followers,

bringing to the surface their concealed

vices

and unconscious weaknesses.

tested

Weaknesses like those of St. John are especially by Christ's work. In human nature there are
sin,

two opposite poles of


forms of
is

within which

all

the other

evil find their places.

Where
is

the constitution

soft

and

loose, the temptation


;

self-indulgence in

its

various forms
finer

but where, on the contrary, the elelies in

ments are

and more compact, the danger


all
its

self-conceit,

with

developments of arrogance,
St.

ambition and intolerance.

John's was a refined and


sin.

reserved nature, and pride was his besetting


this the
it

On

work of

Christ has an exciting

effect,

because

separates a

superior position.

man from his fellows and places him in a He possesses a secret which others

ST.

JOHN

BESETTING

SIN.

do not share
of his

he

criticises their
;

conduct from the height

own

ideal

he approaches them as a reprover


Unless he has learned from some

and a

revealer.

other quarter the secret of humihty, his position may-

make him
There
it

scornful
is

and overbearing.
St.

a legend of

John's later Hfe which,

if

were

true,

would prove

that this failing clung to

him

to the
it is

last.

MeeUng
fled

the heretic Cerinthus in the bath,


his rea-

said,

he
it

from the building, alleging as


safe to

son that

was not

be under the same roof with

such an enemy of God, because the judgment of

might
tained

God moment at any destroy the building which conhim. But we will hope that the education imin his

parted in the school of Christ had long before the


arrival of old age made St. Jolm more charitable judgments and more watchful of his words.

82

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XXIII.

The
dency

most conspicuous occasion on which the ten-

to pride
his

showed

itself in St.

John's conduct was

when, with

brother and his mother, he came to

Jesus to petition
It is

him

for a certain thing.

not clear whether the ambitious notion orig-

inated in the minds of the sons or in that of the


ther.

mo-

In one of the gospels the mother appears to


initiative,

take the

bringing her sons to Jesus and pros-

trating herself before him, to ask

on
but

their behalf that

they should
other on his

sit,

the
in his

one on

his right
;

hand and the


possible that

left,

kingdom
If so,

it is

she was only the catspaw through


their

whom

they sought

ambitious

ends.
is

their design

was well
than

planned. a man.

A woman
Even

more

effective petitioner

the excess of pride in her sons which she

may

display has an amiable appearance and

moves

sympathy rather than antipathy. She no doubt approached Christ with a smile, and what in them might
have looked offensive seemed admirable
sides,

in her.

Bein all

she had claims.

She was the aunt of Jesus,

She had been one of those women who in GaHlee had followed him, ministering to him of their Above all, she had given him her two sons, substance.
probabihty.

who had been among


Salome was
elements

the very best of his followers.

herself a true lover

and

disciple of Jesus.
selfish

But her devotion to the cause was mixed with


;

and, because her ambition was on behalf of

ST.

JOHN'S BESETTING SIN.

83
indulged
to
all
it

her sons rather than herself, she


with the less
fear.

may have
how

She had not yet learned


feel

know
such
his

her Teacher well enough, or to


selfish desires
fate.

small

were to be made by the tragedy of

There can be no doubt, however, that her sons,


though they kept
of ambition.
in the

back-ground, were quite as

full

Indeed, in one of the gospels they are

represented as presenting the petition on their


behalf;

own
was

and

this lets out the secret

the design

more

theirs than

hers.

Some have
It
;

discerned

good

elements in their ambition.

sprang, they think,


it

from their desire


their faith in
his

to

be near Christ
dignity
is

showed
claims.
it

at least

royal

and

"The

juice of the ripe apple

the same,"

has been re-

marked, " that

it

was

in the

green

fruit,

plus sunlight
is

and sunheat." And it is true that what in youth self-conceit and intolerance may, through maturing
into the dignity
acter.

ol

experience and the influence of sanctification, grow

and

stability of a self-respecting char-

The

self-suppression of St. John's later writings


in a ripened

may
and

be only the self-assertion of his youth


sanctified

form

and the intolerance of

his

youth

may

in his old

age have mellowed into the firmness of


tireless

principle

and the perseverance of

love.

But

certainly at this early stage his ambition


earth, earthy
;

was of the

and

its

manifestation was both unlovely

and

hurtful.

One

of

its

evil results

was

to inflame the rest of

the apostles.

When

they heard the petition of James


It

and John they were indignant.

seemed

to

them

that

84

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


And
was too
Yet

the brothers v/ere trying- to take a

them.

this

true.

mean advantage of their own anger


also

sprang from the same root.


of thrones and dignities.

They From

were dreaming

other incidents

we

learn that the whole apostolic circle

was

at this

time

inwardly convulsed by such desires and disputes.

day by day Jesus was, at that he was to suffer and


said to them,

this die.

very time,

telling

Yet them

Self was reigning in

them, and so their eyes were blinded.

He

might have

"My

thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your

ways

my

ways."

ST.

JOHN'S BESETTING SIN.

85

XXIV.

He

did speak to them on this occasion, and in


set before

words of great dignity and profundity


been displaying and the true
anger but
sorrow, for he

them

the contrast between the selfish spirit which they had


spirit

of his kingdom

but he spoke with kindness and consideration, not in


in

knew how

difficult

was

their situation
in the truth:

and how

little

they were yet able to take

nothing but events could disabuse their


in

minds of the prejudices

which they were held.

"Ye know
thers.

not what ye ask," he said to the bro-

Their petition was that they might be on his

right

hand and on

his left

but his prophetic eye, look-

ing forward to the


tion

crisis v/hich

now

arrested his atten-

whenever he thought
his left

of the future,

hand and on
with a victim

what?
it.

On
be

saw on his right each hand a cross,


two

upon

To

in the place of the

thieves, crucified with him, ing, if they

was what they were ask-

had only known.


on
his right

The
and on

favorites of a king, seated


left,

hand

his

may have

the privilege of drinking out

of the royal cup and dipping their fingers or napkins


in the vessel in

which he washes
this

his

hands

and James
But

and John had had

honor

in their thoughts.

the thoughts of Jesus flew forward to a cup of which he was to drink, and a laver in which he was to bathe
;

but the cup was his agony, and the laver the bath of
his

own

blood.

With deep emotion

he,

therefore.

86

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


Are ye
able to drink
?" " Yes,"

asked, "

my

cup and be baptized


"

with

my

baptism

they repHed,
said.

we

are

able," not

knowing what they


drink
of my

And

again, as his

prophetic eye glanced into the future, he added, "


shall, indeed,

Ye

cup and be baptized with


St.

my

James was to fall a martyr under the sword of Herod, and he knew by what manner of death St. John was to glorify God. " But," he added, " to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but it shall be given unto
baptism
for

;"

he foresaw that

them

for

whom

it

is

prepared of

my

Father."

These

words sound hke a

limitation of the
if this

knowledge and

authority of Jesus; as

were one of those myste-

rious things which, he declared

on another occasion,
But probably

the Father the

had kept
is

in his

own hand.
his

meaning

simple.

Salome and her sons had

asked Jesus to bestow the honors of


answer to
of Oriental
ites

kingdom

in

their petition.

Such was

the

bad practice
to favor-

monarchs
to

they gave places

away

capriciously, without regard to services or merits.


is

Jesus says there


itism or giving

be

in his

kingdom no such
:

favor-

away of

positions

every post will be

given to the
to the

man for whom it has been prepared, or man who has been prepared for it. The man on whom God has conferred the necessary gifts and graces,
and who, employing well
his talents in a

few things, has

qualified himself for being entrusted with


to

many

things

him

will the

place of honor be given.

In addressing the Twelve Jesus


trast still

more

clear
is

and emphatic.

ly

monarchies

that birth gives

made this conThe way of earthposition, and he who

ST.

JOHN'S BESETTING
it

SIN.

87

has the position uses

for his
is

own

pleasure and ag-

grandizement

his station

measured by the numbers


In the
is

who

are ready to

bow
is

to

him and serve him.

kingdom of God
reverse.

the ruHng principle

exactly the

Greatness

measured not by the number of

those

who

serve you, but by the

number of those whom

you

serve,

and by the value of the services you render


high position
is

them.
it

to

be coveted, not because


it

confers ease or

fame, but because

supplies the

opportunity of doing more extensive good.


Never, surely, did Christ utter a more revolution-

ary word or characterize more clearly the difference

between the world and Christianity.

For what are

the

men and women of the world toiling, moiHng and striving ? To see who shall be uppermost who shall command and control others who shall be flattered and
; ;

feared.

But

that, says Jesus, is

not greatness

he

is

wholesome and sunny by the sacrifice of his own happiness, if necessary, makes others rejoice. Who is king of men and queen of women ? He and she who make the greatest number good and glad.
great
the world a

who makes

place for others, and who,

How

slowly the world learns this lesson


it
!

How
chil-

slowly the Church learns


Hfe of Christ.

Yet

it is

the lesson of the

Why is

he the greatest

dren of
into the

men

Because he took the


his beneficence,

among the whole human

race

embrace of

and because the

blessing which he conferred

of

all

the

gift

of salvation.
to give

on them was the greatest " The Son of man came


life

to minister,

and

His

a ransom for many."

88

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XXV.
There was another occasion on which St. John It came out showed the same infirmity of temper.
during a scene of indescribable beauty in the hfe of Among the disciples there had been a dispute Christ.

which of them should be the greatest


ter,

and

their

Mas-

knowing
;

their thoughts, took a child and


in his

set

him

in the

midst then, clasping him ceeded to speak to them of the childHke spirit which they ought to cultivate, and of the danger of doing

arms, he pro-

any

offense to

one of

his little ones.

As
its

the discourse proceeded in this strain,

some of
lis-

words struck upon the conscience of one of the


It

teners.

was

St.

John,

who remembered an

incident

of the recent past which seemed to be


light

new by what the Master was saying. Perhaps even at the time he had been doubtful about it but now he was convinced that he had done wrong; so he made
placed in a
;

his confession.

And

it

is

to his

honor that he was so

prompt both

to feel the prick of conscience

and

to

make

a public acknowledgment of his mistake.

The
in with

story was that, on a certain occasion

when they
fallen

were separate from their Master, the apostles had


one who was casting out devils
in his

name;

and they had forbidden him, because he followed not


with them
It
is
:

he did not belong to the company of Jesus.

interesting to learn that faith in Christ

had thus

spread sporadically,

outside the

circle

round about

ST.
himself,

JOHN'S BESETTING SIN.


it

89
to cast out

and

that

was strong enough even


In a similar

devils in his

name.

way we

find the teach-

ing of the Baptist taking root far from the scene of his
labors and apart from the regular succession of his disciples.
St. John and his companions had forbidden humble and imperfect believer. It was a good work in which he was engaged, for surely the more

But

this

victims could be delivered from the

the better, but they discovered

power of the some irregularity

devils
in his

method of procedure
Spirit

though he had the pov/er of the


Therefore,
it

he lacked the proper legitimation.


to them, he

seemed

was poaching on

their preserves,

and with the pride of authority they silenced him.


It is pitiable to think,

with this standing in the gos-

pels,

how

often the

same mistake has been repeated


have silenced
tes-

how

often the officials of the church

timony or stamped out good work inspired by the


Spirit of

God, because

it

has seemed to them to be in

some way out


this or that

of order or destitute of authority;

how
itself

branch of the church has considered

the only legitimate one; and


tion

good of one secof the church has been evil spoken of by the rest. On the other hand, it would be vain to deny that
the
is

how

toleration
It is

one of the most

difficult virtues to exercise.

not easy to find the golden

mean between Sadbe censuring the

ducean laxity on the one hand and Pharisaic censoriousness on the other.

We

may

disciples at the safe distance of the centuries

and doing

the

same thing
Yet Jesus

ourselves.
laid

down on

this

occasion a broad rule

90

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


that
is

"He

not against

us

is

for us."
:

occasion he said precisely the reverse


for us
is

"

On another He that is not

against us."

How
is

shall

we

reconcile these

opposite

maxims?

It

not difficult: obviously the

one

is

a rule for judging others, the other a rule for

judging ourselves.

When we

are criticising our

own
this

conduct we should be stern and searching and


:

word should sound in our souls " He that is not with me is against me;" but when we are criticising the conduct of others we ought to be lenient and charitaHe that is not against us ble, remembering this word We know the motives of our own actions is for us." and the feelings which follow them but we do not
**
:

know

the motives
"

and feehngs of

others.

One point must still be greatly dark: The reason why they do it And just as lamely can we mark

How
Then

We
What

We

perhaps they rue it. balance let 's be mute, never can adjust it 's done we partly may compute. know not what 's resisted."
far
at the

'

ST.

JOHN'S BESETTING

SIN.

9I

XXVL
The
third case in which St. John's arrogance

and

heat of temper

came out was during

the last journey to

Jerusalem.

Jesus was passing from town to town, as he jour-

neyed towards the


claiming the

capital, healing the sick


;

and proadvance,

kingdom of God

and
his

it

seems to have
in

been

his

practice to send

on messengers

to place after place, to

announce

coming and per-

haps also to make some provision for the entertainment


of himself

and

his

company.

Two

of these messengers
;

were sent to a Samaritan village

for

his

road lay

through Samaria; but they were met by an outburst of


fanatical

ill-feehng: the

Samaritans would not receive

them because they were on their way to Jerusalem.

The Jews had no deahngs

with the Samaritans;

the Samaritans worshipped "in this mountain," but the

Jews considered that Jerusalem was the place where men ought to worship. The rivalry was ancient and
bitter,

and

at

any moment

it

was

liable to

break out.

The
itself

hatred of the Samaritans not infrequently vented

on the Jewish pilgrims going


;

to the feasts

at

Jerusalem

and

it

was

in this character that Jesus

and

the apostles appeared


this occasion.

to the

Samaritan villagers on

But the apostles were furious

this

was an

insult to

them and an insult to their Master, whose greatness


these rude fanatics wholly ignored.

James and John

92

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


by
their zeal
;

especially distinguished themselves

and
on
It
J-

they asked their Master, "Shall we

call

down

fire

them from heaven,


miraculous power

as did

the prophet
in
it

Elijah?"

was a strange question.


:

There was

the pride of

they were

confident that they could

have produced the lightning.


ly they
felt

Yet almost unconscious-

that their proposal


it,

was unchristlike

for
call

they did not ask him to do

but said, " Shall

we

down
jah.

fire ?"

Very

significant

was

their appeal to Elifire

This prophet had once brought down


in

from

heaven
their

Samaria

and

their

thought was justified to

own minds by appealing to so great an example. Yet it was the old man in them that was speaking.
in the refusal of the

It

was, indeed, the same provincial and fanatical spirit

as

had spoken
them.

Samaritans to enter-

tain

The

old race hatred between Jews and

Samaritans had blazed up in their hearts, attempting


to wield the

weapons of Christ and

to

wear the mantle

of Scripture.

How

often

have such passions


for

between

Guelph and Ghibelline,


man-catholic and

example, or between Ro-

Orangeman

made the same attempt,


mistaken their

speaking the pious language of religion and quoting


the sanction of Scripture.

Men have

own

evil passions

for the

inspiration of the Spirit of

God, and have believed themselves to be doing


service when they have
let

God

loose the

demons

of perse-

cution, harrying innocent countries with fire

and sword,

and driving

to

the gallows and the stake

men and
fire,
*'

women

often a thousand times better than themselves.


at

But Jesus

once put

his foot

on

this

strange

with which his apostles sought to honor

him.

Ye

ST.

JOHN

BESETTING

SIN.
spirit

93
ye are

know
of.''

not," he said, "

what manner of

This

may mean,
it is it

"

Ye know
;

not what spirit has at

present possession of you


rehgion, but
clothes."

the spirit of

you think it is the spirit of evil, masquerading in its


that they

Or

may mean

were yet imperto Elijah,

fecdy acquainted with the

spirit

which, as his followers,

they ought to cultivate.

They had appealed

one of the foremost representatives of the old covenant but they ought to be aware that they were now
;

under a better covenant.


sation
love.
lives,

The
;

spirit of the old dispen-

was
**

legal

and stern
of

the spirit of the

new was

The Son
is

man came
rule

not to destroy men's

but to save them."


the

This

supreme

and example
anyone was

although

they had not yet seen the supreme


ter's
feel

effort of their

Masto

forgiving love.

If ever

entitled
it

resentment against his fellow-creatures,


;

was the

Son of God justly might he have cursed and blighted But instead of doing so he gave his the human race.
life

for the world.

We

may

ourselves, like these surly

Samaritans,

have refused

to entertain

him,

keeping he

him out of our heart and refusing


over us.

to

have him to reign


;

Yet he has not ceased


to

to love us

is

sdll

waiUng
ognized
that

be gracious.

And

it

is

when we have
is

recto us

how magnanimous and


mercy we

forgiving he

we
It is

learn the lesson of forgiveness.

Having ob-

tained so great

learn to be merciful.

strange to think that St. John was ever a prey

to

such passions as ambidon, intolerance, and perse-

cuting zeal
for love.

he
But

whose very name


an encouraging

is

now
:

synonym

it is

fact

it

shows what

94

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


Intercourse with Christ transall,

changes grace can work.


figured St. John.

Above
:

he was altered by the

passion of his Lord


the sake of enemies
of
;

the sight of that self-sacrifice for

made

all

resentful feelings die out

him in the cross he saw that love alone is great, and he could not hate his brother man any more.

The

cross of Christ

is

the school of charity.

THE DISCIPLE WHO LOVED

JESUS.

95

THE DISCIPLE AVHO LOVED JESUS.


XXVII.
St.

John was

the disciple

whom

Jesus loved, but


All

he was also the disciple

who
;

loved Jesus.

the

disciples, with the exception of

Judas, loved the Lord,

just as

He

loved them

all

but, as

he bore to

a peculiar love, so the love of this apostle for


peculiarly deep

St. John him was

and

faithful.
is

Of
St.

this,

indeed, there

in the earlier
;

passages of

John's history Httle evidence

some passages even


temper.

appear to betray an unusually


affection for his
itself in

selfish

But

his

Master must have been organizing


it

the depths of his nature, and at length


into flower.

broke
is

somewhat suddenly
been confessed,
it

Sometimes love
It

thus brought suddenly to a head.

may

never have

may

not even have


itself
till

sciousness in the heart

of circumstances supplies
at

the

come to consome unexpected turn opportunity, when all

once

it

overflows the heart in a passion of desire,

and
act.

at the

same time makes

itself

known by word
is

or

Among
usual one.

such occasions misfortune

not an un-

To

see the person beloved in a position of


;

dire need calls forth chivalrous devotion


forgotten,

reticence

is

and personal considerations are thrown


;

to

the winds

the lover stands forth, avowing his passion

96

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


and ready
to bear or to

before the world

do anythingf

which the
require.

interests of the object of his affection

may
St.

Such
was

were the circumstances in which


full

John's love for Jesus came to


festation
;

maturity and mani-

it

in the

four-and-twenty hours before

the death on the cross that he

showed how much he

loved the Saviour.

The first scene of the kind took place in the upper room during the evening of the Last Supper, before the Lord fell into the hands of his enemJes. The feet-washing had taken place, and, the dispute which had given occasion to it having been composed, the Twelve were at
last

arranged round the table


reclined on couches,
feet outstretched

to begin the evening meal.

They

each resting on his

left

elbow with his

towards the back of the couch, so that the back of the

head of

his

next neighbor was at each one's breast.

St. John had the place immediately in front of Jesus, on whose breast he therefore leaned. It was a place apparendy conceded instinctively to him by the rest, It perhaps expressly appointed by Christ himself

afforded opportunity, at

all

events, for closer fellowship

than was conceded to the others.


Jesus had produced peace

among

the

Twelve

but

he was not at peace within himself, and his conversation


could not flow as
it

did later in the evening.

As

the

dove shivers when the hawk appears in the sky, or the horse stops and is bathed in perspiration when a snake
lies

across

its

path, so the spirit of Jesus

was troubled,
entirely

because

in this scene

about to be dedicated to friendship

and

religious exaltation there

was an element

THE DISCIPLE WHO LOVED


foreign and hostile.

JESUS.

97

With
let

the false heart of Judas in


;

the
last
I

room

the spirits of Jesus could not rise

and

at

he was forced to

out the secret

" Verily, verily,

say unto you that one of you shall betray me."

The word
and
instantly

fell

like a

bombshell among the guests,


Judas must have
dissimu-

every one looked into the eyes of his


guilt.

neighbor to see the signs of

had a mind thoroughly schooled


lation to

in the art of

be able to remain unmoved beneath these


;

searching glances

but he did not betray himself with


lip.

the faintest blush or the least quiver of a

It

speaks

well for the honest hearts of the rest that

they had

never suspected him


evil
self;

they were not forward to think


rather doubted himis it I

of a brother.

Even now each


St. Peter,

and they began

to ask in turn, " Lord,

?"

At
placed

last,

however,

who happened

to

be

down

the table at a distance from Jesus, signified


to St.

by a gesture
the

John

to ask the

Master who was to


act.
It

be the betrayer.

This was a significant


St.

was

acknowledgment by

Peter of St. John's primacy


Christ.
It

in the love

and confidence of

was a

tribute

from the man of action to the

man

of contemplation.

Those who are most prominent


the

in the outer

work

of

conspicuous disciples,

Church must sometimes be indebted who lie in the bosom of the


its

to the less

truth

and brood on
St.

hidden mysteries.
in a whisper.

John asked the question

Jesus
the last

might have kept the


give a sop,
it

secret, sparing "

Judas
it is

till

moment, but he whispered back,


shall

He

to

whom

when

have dipped

it;"

and he

gave

to Judas.

Two now knew


7

the terrible secret.

98

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


its

Jesus had relieved his heart of

burden by making

John partaker of it.


it

is

Judas knew that John knew and this may be why said that, after the sop, Satan entered into him.
;

He had

long been aware that Christ knew what was


in

going on

his

mind, but he could keep his coun-

tenance as long as his treachery was concealed from

Now, however, when Jesus had and he was frantic. He told John, he was unmasked hated Jesus fortelHng; he hated John for knowing; and
his fellow-disciples.
;

when, immediately afterwards, he received the opportunity from a

word of Christ he rushed out


was night," says the

to carry

into execution his diabolical design.


"

And

it

historian, with tragic

brevity.

The son

of darkness had entered his

own

element and was reeling blindly


while within the chamber,
all

down

to his

doom,

now

relieved of his presence,

darkness

vanished away, and during


sitting
this

the hours
light

which ensued the disciples were


eternal.

in the

Of

St.

John especially may

be
?

said.

Are

not he and Judas the extreme opposites

The same
and
af-

l-^

incident which drove forth Judas to his fate installed

John more firmly than ever


fection of his Master.

in the confidence

THE DISCIPLE WHO LOVED

JESUS.

99

XXVIIT

The
Lord.

second scene

in

which the love of

St.

John

was displayed was immediately

after the arrest of the

At

the gate of Gethsemane,

when Jesus
all

fell

into

the hands of the soldiers sent to take him,


ciples forsook

the dis-

him and

fled.

This
;

may be
in

a general

statement, admitting of exceptions

just as the fourth

Gospel says,

in reference to the

words

which Christ

gave Judas
for

his dismissal, "

No man

at the table

knew
it

what

intent

he spoke
St.

this

unto him," although


In the same

is

manifest that
disciple

John knew.
fled.

way

this
all
.

may be an

exception to the statement that

forsook their Master and


fled, his desertion

At

all

events,

if St.

John

must have been

of the briefest pos-

sible duration
St. Peter

because immediately afterwards he, with


is

accompanying him,

seen following the pro;

cession to the palace of the high-priest

and he was

in

time to pass into the house, in the rear of the procession, before the gate

was

shut.

He had

an advantage over his fellow-disciples


in

which served him

good stead upon

this occasion

he was known to the high-priest.


acquaintance had been formed

In what

way

this

we

have no information;
fill

conjecture has, however, been busy to

up the blank.
stadon
in life

Some have found

here an indication that the apostle


his

had higher family connections than

would naturally suggest, while others have thought

100
that

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


he

may have been known


his business.

to

the

high-priest

through

lem

for

There was a market in Jerusathe harvest of the Sea of GaUlee and there is
;

no

difficulty in

beHeving that the family of Zebedee, or

the firm to

which they belonged,


sale of their

may have had


in

an

agency

for the

property

the capital.

We
ever,

really

know nothing whatever on

the subject, be-

yond

the fact stated in the Gospel.

Apparently, how-

John knew not only the high-priest but his servants, and he was acquainted with the palace and his
;

familiarity in the place served as a passport, admitting

him
his

to the close

neighborhood of
he,

wished to be.

Had

where he timid more about indeed, been


Christ,

own

safety than anxious to be near his Master, the

fact that

he was known to the highrpriest might have

operated in precisely the opposite direction.

He

might

have been afraid of being recognized as a follower of and his very hesitation might have led to the Jesus
;

consequences which he dreaded.


situation
is

Boldness in a

critical

half the battle

and love

made John
first his

bold.

In St. Peter
state of

we

see the working of the opposite

mind.

Perhaps from the

heart was
;

rather with those

constrained him.
cated

who fled than with St. John but John Some hesitation at all events is indithat he

by the
St.

fact

was shut out of the palace

when
ciple

John was shut in. But the more loving diswas eager to keep Peter up to the mark and so
;

he returned to the gate and secured Thereby, however, he unwittingly did


injury.

his admission.
his friend

an

He was

forcing on

him an

effort of

testimony

for

which he was not prepared; he was introducing

THE DISCIPLE WHO LOVED


him
to a temptation

JESUS.
for his

lOI.

which was too strong


manifest

powers

of resistance; and the result was disastrous.

Then was made


ahead of
St.

how

far

St.

John was
trial

Peter.

He

probably attended the

throughout, and his silent presence was a support and

comfort to Jesus, while Peter was showing what extraordinary elements existed in him under the covering
of his Christian discipleship profanity, falsehood
selfish fear.

and

What made
ot

so great a difference

Of two

friends

Alexander the Great the historian Plutarch


is,

calls

one

Philo-Basileus, that

the friend of the king, and the


is,

other Philo-Alexandros, that


der.

the friend of Alexan-

Similarly

some one has

said St. Peter was PhiloSt.

Christos, the friend of the Christ, but

John was

Philo-Jesus, the friend of Jesus.

This

touches the

quick: Peter was attached to the person


the office
this
is

who

filled

of Messiah, John to the Person himself

And
of

a distinction which marks different types


all

Christian piety in
official

ages.

The

Christ of some

is

more

tianity,

the Head of the Church, the Founder of Chrismore personal and the like that of others
is

but

it is

the personal

bond which holds


spirits

the heart.

The

most profoundly Christian


iour, not for his benefits,

have loved the Sav-

but for himself alone.

102

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XXIX.
It
all
is

probable that

St.

John attended Christ through


trial

the weary stages of his double

before the

ec-

clesiastical

and the

civil

authorities and that, after a

night thus spent, he accompanied the procession in the

forenoon to the place of execution and witnessed every-

At all events in the afternoon by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene ;" and with these holy women, one of whom
thing that followed.
" there stood

was

in all probability his

own mother, stood


hour of
peril,

St.

John.
the

Striking

it is

that, in this

when

men

of Christ's following were conspicuous only

by
;

their absence, the

women were

so loyal and fearless

and the only man who stood with them was the most womanly spirit in the apostolic company. But there is
an
infinite

"1

difference

between the feminine and the


in

effeminate.

Woman may
is

some

respects be weaker
;

than man, but she

stronger in love

and

it

was

in

the strength of his love that John was like a

woman,
he

while in mind and character he was a thorough man.

The women may have been


doubt

protected by their sex


there.

had no such protection, and yet he was


in the service of Christ all

No

kinds of power are

necessary, and
their
fice

the masculine virtues


;

have a part of

own

to play

but for the supreme efforts of sacri-

and devotion which Christianity requires it must always ultimately depend on the strength of love.

THE DISCIPLE WHO LOVED


Amid
his cross

JESUS.

I03

the howling sea of evil passions with which

was encompassed the dying eyes of the Savlittle

iour rested with a sense of profound relief on this

group of loyal and loving


told that
his

hearts.

But

it is

specially

glances rested on his mother and his

favorite disciple.

These were the two dearest souls


his eyes lingered

to

him on
not,

earth,

and

on them.

It

was

however, with unmixed satisfaction that he looked


This was for her an hour of unspeak-

on

his mother.
It

able pain.

was not only

that she
in

was losing a son,


subjected

and such a son, but her


to a terrible strain.
birth of

faith

God was
life

The event
the angel
;

of her

had been the


would
sit

him who,
this

had

told her,

on

the throne of his father David


ing,

but here he was expirfulfilled


!

and
?

promise had not been

Was

it

a He

The

universe was

sword of which the


ing her soul.

swimming round her, and the aged Simeon had spoken was pierchumbler anxieties about her
been her support
;

Besides,

troubled her son.

He had
find a

but

where would she now


believers.

cheer and comfort her?

home ? Her other

Who

would now
still

sons were

un-

At
to

last

he spoke.

Indicating St. John with his

eye, because he could not

do

it

with his finger, he said


;"

Mary,

"

Woman,
same way

behold thy son


to her,

and, indicating

him

in the

he

said, "

Behold thy mo-

ther."

Thus he gave them


band and
person

to

one another, as mother and

son, with the solemnity with

which

in

marriage

hus-

wife are given to each other, or as a dying

may sometimes

indicate to two, standing beside

104

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVEDmany


They were become one. and especially they

the bed, that they ought to

kindred

spirits

in

respects,

were one

in their love to

him.

To none

could

Mary
as

speak so
ple
;

freely

about her son


else

as to this loving disci-

from no one

could John learn


to

so

much

from her about


hfe eternal.

Him whom

know

is,

as

he declares,
assured to

her

To Mary this was a splendid gift. a home for the rest of her days
home
St.

It

in

which she
air as

would breathe the same peaceful and hallowed


Jesus had breathed into the
at Nazareth,

and

it

gave her the protection of a Greatheart


tween her and the world.
less precious.

to stand be-

To

John
but,

it

was a

gift

no

Mary, on her own account, would have


;

been an adornment to any home been thrice


vine Friend.
ther "

even

if

her pres-

ence had involved inconvenience, she would

still

have

welcome
;"

to
?

him

as the

mother of

his di-

Friend

Je.sus

had
this

called his to adopt


:

own mohim
as a

thy mother
?

was not

brother
ble

This was a supreme honor


it

and

all

the trou-.

which

might involve was


his.

light to a

heart which

loved with such fervor as

THE DISCIPLE WHO LOVED

JESUS.

I05

XXX.
It is generally supposed that at once St. John genremoved Mary from the scene of suffering and took her to his house in the city, which was thenceforth to be her home and there, it is said, he cherished her
tly
;

for twelve years, refusing to leave Jerusalem,

even for

the purpose of preaching the gospel,


after

till

she died.

But
in his
all

he had safely deposited

his precious

charge
this

home he
was over.
the

hurried back to Calvary.

By
were

time

The

execution was finished and the crowd

had dispersed.
bodies.

Only a few
St.

soldiers

left,

watching
his

John again, however, resumed

station at the foot of the cross of his beloved Master.

His

fidelity

was rewarded with a sight which prohim, and which he has recorded
After narrating the incident
it

foundly impressed

with unusual solemnity.

he adds,
record
is

"And
true
;

he that saw

bare record, and his


saith true, that

and he knoweth that he


there

ye might believe."
In

Deuteronomy

is

a law to this effect: "If

man have committed


remain
all

a sin worthy of death, and he

shall not

tree, his body upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accursed of God) that thy land be not defiled which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inherit-

be put to death, and thou hang him on a


night

ance."

Perhaps

this rule

was not always observed,


it

and the Jews might be

careless about

when execu-

I06

THE DISCIPLE WHOM


by the Romans.
at

JP^SUS

LOVED.

tions in their country

were carried out not by themBut the death of Jesus


particularly
defile, especialIt

selves but

happened
ly in the

a season

when they were

scrupulous about anything which might

neighborhood of the Holy City.

was the
Before

Passover, and they besought the governor to have the

bodies taken
this

down and
;

buried before sunset.


it

could be done, however,

was necessary that they


of

should be dead
quickly.

and

crucified persons did not die so

The Jews

asked,

therefore, that the

life

the three crucified

men should be
;

extinguished

by
the

breaking their legs with clubs


sented
that this

and the governor con-

should be done.

When, however,

soldiers

came
of

to Jesus they perceived that

he was dead
But,

already;

so that they did not break his legs.

by way
soldiers

making assurance doubly


his

sure,

one of the

plunged

spear into

his side,

whereupon

there flowed out blood and water.

Such was the sight which so impressed the aposBut what was it which made it appear tolic onlooker.
to

him remarkable ?

He
said,
"
it

recalled a

word of the Old Testament which

bone of

Him

shall not

be broken."
;

Origi-

nally

referred to the paschal

lamb

and

to St.

John

the dead Saviour was thus pointed out as the true

Paschal Lamb, whose sacrifice should inagurate a new


dispensation of grace and truth, as the original paschal

lamb inaugurated the dispensation of the Law. Also he recalled another Old Testament word, which said,

upon Him whom they have pierced ;" and there seemed to him to be a divine purpose guid"

They

shall look

THE DISCIPLE WHO LOVED


ing even the

JESUS.

10/

without his

hand of the rude soldier, when, totally will and knowledge, he brought the death into line with Old Testament Christ's of mode

own

prophecy.

But the mystery did not stop here. John was aware that from a dead body,
there
is,

Probably
if it is

St.

pierced,

as a rule,

no outflow

but in

this case there


;

It flowed out blood and water. in it there seemed to be a symbol of

was a mystery

but

much

that Christ

had taught about himself. The cleansing of the world from sin had been the purpose of his hfe and he had spoken of the cleansing power of water and the cleansThe two sacraments which he ing power of blood.
;

instituted referred respectively to these

two elements.
be a double

The dead body


fountain, out of

of

Christ appeared

to

which was issuing what was required

for the purification of the world.

in the

Modern medicine, however, believes that it sees phenomenon which St. John has reported a
Great
of blood
authorities

significance which even he did not perceive.

medical

allege that

the stream

and water shows that the heart of Christ had ruptured at his death and the blood poured into an enclosing
sac,

where

it

one red
that
it

like

would naturally resolve into its elements blood and the other white like water and

which the spear emptied. So that The the Saviour literally died of a broken heart. pressure of grief, the pressure of the burden of sin

was

this sac

which he was bearing, so overcharged


it

his heart that


it

could no longer contain; and, when

broke, he

died.

I08

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


However
this

may

be, St.

warded
be

for his vigil

of love.

John was amply reLove kept him near


be near Christ
are reminded
is

Christ living

and dying; and


to St.

to

to

in the place of discovery.

We

how

much we owe as we sing,


"

John

for his^ faithful love as often

Let the water and the blood thy riven side which flowed Be of sill the double cure: Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

From

!-

ST.

JOHN AND THE RESURRECTION.

IO9

ST.

JOHN AND THE RESURRECTION.


XXX.
It
is

difficult for

us to realize the dismay with


his follow-

which the death and burial of Jesus affected


ers.

When we
;

see

him breathing
is

his last,

and the
are not

stone rolled to the door of his sepulchre,


afraid
for

we

we know what
is

going to happen

that on
how-

the third
ever,

day he

to rise again.

At the

time,

none knew

this.

His enemies had, indeed, heard of

his prophecies

to this effect, but ot course they did not believe

them

and when they saw the spear thrust


thought that

into his side they


:

he all was over with him and his cause would never trouble them any more. His whole career
appeared to them ridiculous.

He had

been a candi-

date for the grand office of the Messiah,


tion

whom

the na-

was expecting.

There had, however, been other

candidates before him, whose attempts had

come

to

nothing; and his pretensions were perhaps the least


considerable of
for
all.

The Messiah whom they looked


in one,

was

to
all

be a prophet, a priest and a king


a king
;

but

most of
lift

to Hberate
into

up the country

them from bondage and everlasting power and renown.


birth,

Jesus of Nazareth had, in their eyes, utterly failed to


fulfil this ideal.

He

was of lowly

and

his follow-

ers

were few and humble

like himself;

he made a repu-

no

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

had aroused coming into collision with the authorities of the nation, he had gone down without a single blow being struck on his behalf. His name was only one more added to the list of
tation for a time in the provinces, but never
;

the enthusiasm of Jerusalem

at last,

fictitious

messiahs.
only,

Not
It

however, did his enemies judge thus

the faith even of his friends


is

was completely shattered.


rise again.

true,

he had told them repeatedly beforehand that

he was to die and the third day


statements had

But these

made no impression on
all,

their

minds and
arrived:
if

were no comfort to them when the


they noticed them at
ter

crisis

they thought that their Mas-

was speaking

in

parables, and they understood his

words

in a figurative sense.

To
;

the very last they be-

lieved that he

was

to be a great king, reigning over

the house of Jacob for ever

and when
was
in

his death ren-

dered

this
it

impossible their faith was killed outright.

If

survived at

all,

it

the form of love.

They

sdll

loved him.

They might,

indeed, have

felt

that they

had been deceived, and this feeling might have made them turn with resentment upon the memory of their buried Master
;

but, with the exception of

Judas, they had been

too completely captivated, and

their hearts could not quickly cool

they had so
In

towards One whom many reasons for loving. Mary Magdalene we see this triumph of love
In tradiUon
this

over the disenchantment of events.

woman
Mary

is

identified not only with the

woman who was


;

a sinner and anointed the feet of Jesus, but also with the sister of Martha and Lazarus

so that the

ST.
traditional
ing.

JOHN AND THE RESURRECTION.


image of her
is
;

Ill
affect-

is

exceedingly rich and

In reality she

identical neither with the

one of
is

these nor the other


limited.

and what we know of her


went out of her
at the

but

Seven
;

devils

command

of Jesus

so that she had ample ground for deathless

gratitude to him.
erty
;

Apparently she was a lady of piop-

for she,

along with other honorable women, min-

istered of her substance to Jesus.

The position

assigned

her

among

these

women

perhaps suggests that the

place which she held in his affection and confidence was

and this is still more forcibly suggested by the interview accorded to her alone by the risen Saviour. At all events we may infer the fervor of her
distinguished
;

love from the fact that, after the Sabbath was past, she
set out for the

tomb before

the break of day.


to the

But

for

what was she going

sepulchre

Not to see if he had fulfilled his prophecy that he would rise again, but to help to anoint his corpse for
its

long sleep.

When
rolled

she arrived at the sepulchre she


;

saw the stone


to her
?

away
was
;

but what did this suggest


;

Not

that he

risen

of this she

had not the


loved him

most distant surmise


"

but that a horrible outrage had


all

been perpetrated on the feelings of

who

as she expressed it, They have taken away the Lord, and we know not where they have laid him." That her state of mind was that of all the rest of the followers of Jesus an absolute blank, as far as any

thought or hope of his rising was concerned


proved.

is

amply

When
to

the holy

women

to

whom

the risen

One had shown


words seemed

himself returned to their fellows, " their

them

as idle tales,

and they believed

112

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


not."

them

The report of the two to whom he apway to Emmaus met with a similar reception; and what could more significantly indicate the general state of mind than the pathetic words of those two themselves before he was made known to them " We trusted that it had been he who should
peared on the
:

have redeemed
believe
to
is

Israel."

well

known

and even of the


in

Thomas' determination not to five hundred


Galilee "

whom

the

Lord showed himself

some

doubted."
lowers,

In short, the universal behef

among

his fol-

when he was

lying in Joseph's tomb, was, that


his enterprise at

his career

was over and

an end.

ST.

JOHN AND THE RESURRECTION.

XXXI.
There
are few things which

move human

beings

more than the suspicion

that there has taken place

any

tampering with the remains of their dead.

An

entire

community can be convulsed with indignation at the mere rumor that a grave has been disturbed. Mary Magdalene was under the impression that the tomb of and it was in a her beloved Lord had been rifled tumult of grief and indignation that she ran to bring
;

word to the disciples. and She directed her steps to Peter and John soon she had them in earnest consultation on the subWhether Peter's denial of his Lord was known ject. but there to Mary Magdalene or not, we cannot tell can be little doubt that it was known to John, who was
;

in the palace of the

high-priest at the time

when

it

took place.

from meeting
Peter, after

knowledge did not prevent John comrade on the old terms. Possibly weeping bitterly by himself, had sobbed
But
this

his

out his contrition on the


Jesus loved
;

bosom of

the disciple

whom
to

and John's forgiveness may have been

him a confirmation of the forgiveness of the Lord. Mary Magdalene's communication awoke in the
two apostles a tumult of emotion as great as her own
they thought that the enemies of their Master, not content with the

shame and

injustice

wreaked on him duranger that he should

ing his

trial

and

crucifixion, had, in

have been

laid

by loving hands

in

an honorable grave,

114

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


some new
indignity
;

perpetrated on his corpse

and

they immediately set out to the spot to ascertain what

had taken place. As they went, so hot were their hearts within them that they began to run and soon they There are moments in life were running at full speed. when decorum is thrown to the winds, and everything
;

is

cast aside

which stands
It

in the

way

of an overmastergrief of the

ing purpose.

shows how wild was the

apostles, that they thus flew to their object.

In this
the

crisis,

when nature had her way with them,


differences

characteristic

between

the

two men

showed themselves. Peter and came first


It

The

**

other disciple did outrun

to the sepulchre."
it

Why

was

this ?

has been conjectured that


:

was because Peter was


fleetness of youth.

older

John had the lightness and

Or

it

has been thought that Peter was delayed by his

penitence, the
like a

memory

of his

denial clogging his feet

weight of lead.

This motive would only have


his

acted, however,
to a

had he thought that he was on


is

way

meeting with Jesus, and there

not the slightest


expectation had
disciple
for love

reason for thinking that any such


crossed his mind.
It

was because John was the


first

of love that he arrived


lends wings, and
its

at the sepulchre

John the advantage. At the sepulchre, however, Peter's temperament gave him the advantage. John, though he arrived first,
remained outside.
arrested

tension gave

The

stone was rolled away, but


;

awe

him

at the threshold

and

all

he ventured to

do was, with hand over eyes, to gaze into the obscurity and from this standpoint he could not see all that
;

required to be seen in order to learn the true state of

ST.

JOHN AND THE RESURRECTION.


Like Mary Magdalene, he saw
in the

II5

the case.

rocky

opening the sign of a deed of darkness, instead of the


passage through which hope was about to break.
Peter,

But
of the

when he

arrived, at once

went

in

and encouraged
spirit

John to follow. This was like the practical man, who was not impeded with the finer
of his comrade; and on this occasion, at

sensibilities
least,

such

boldness was what was required.


In the spiritual
life,

as in the natural, ghosts are fre-

quently laid by boldly advancing on them.

Only enter

what looks

like the

yawning mouth of calamity, and


is

you may
covery.

find yourself in the sunshine of glorious dis-

Many

a one, for example,

trembling before
if

the spectre of religious doubt who,

he would only

go forward, determined
is

to find out exactly


fears,

how much
that

in the objections

which he

would discover

they melt away when closely examined, and in the very place haunted by them he would find the strongest
confirmation of
lifetime
faith.

Is

not death to

many

all their

Hke a gloomy opening into the unknown, beYet if they would fore which they fear and quake ? boldly examine the reasons why they fear, and the reasons which a Christian has for despising death, or even

glorying in

from their it, they might be emancipated bondage and enabled to serve the Lord with gladness
heart.
in the swiftness

and singleness of

Let us take John for our instructor

of love, and Peter for our teacher in courage.

Il6

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XXXII,
So
the two apostles

stood inside the sepulchre.

tomb was a spacious place, in which it was possible to stand erect and to move about and, when their eyes had become accustomed to the obscurity, or they had placed themselves in a position to obtain the
ancient
;

An

help of the light streaming in through the open door-

way, they saw v/hat astonished them.

The body,

indeed, was not there

but objects pre-

sented themselves to view which at once exploded the

hypothesis to account for

its

absence which

Mary MagThe

dalene had suggested, and with which their minds had

been preoccupied as they ran to the sepulchre.


grave-clothes were lying where the

Why

should these have been


?

left

body had been. behind if the body


his

had been stolen


stripped

If in

wanton rage

enemies had

them

off there

would have been evidence of


But

violence in their torn and disarrayed condition.


the reverse was the state of the case.

The

clothes were

lying in perfect order, as


leisurely

if

they had been put off in a

and orderly way by him who had worn them. was particularly arrested by a
fact

And
cant
:

their attention
in itself,

trivial

but in the circumstances most

signifi-

they espied the napkin with which the head of

the dead was wont to be of the grave-clothes, but

bound not lying with the rest wrapped together in a place

by

itself.

In what garments the risen humanity of our

Lofd

ST.

JOHN AND THE RESURRECTION.

WJ
we

was invested when he appeared from time


ing the forty days
inquire
;

to time dur-

we

are not informed, nor need


it

but obviously
that he should

v/ould have been most unbe-

coming

have continued to wear the vestAccordingly, before he


left

ments of a dead man.

the

And is there not tomb he divested himself of these. something which we feel to be worthy of him, though we can hardly tell why, in this little touch that he folded up the napkin, in which his face had been enveloped by loving hands, and laid it carefully aside ?
:

In this and in the other features of the scene St.

John, with the quick discernment of love, recognized


the handwriting of his Master
truth flashed through

him

" he

and there and then the saw and believed."

This statement appears to assign him again a priority


over his companion,

whom

perhaps he had to instruct

in the significance of the

phenomena

at

which they
of their

were looking.
This was the most revolutionary
lives,

moment

though both of them experienced other moments,


after,

both before and

of vast

importance.

There,

standing alone in the tomb in the morning

light,

they

saw the glory of their Master as they had not seen it even on the Mount of Transfiguration and they saw, in
;

a flash, the course of their

own
of

future

history.

The
were
:

disappointment and despair

Christ's

death

transmuted, in a moment, into unspeakable joy

for

they saw that their Master had not deceived them


his death

that

was not

defeat, but a step in

his

triumph

and

that his cause

was not at an end, but only begin-

ning.

They

recalled his sayings about his rising again

n8

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


wondered how they could have
for-

the third day and

gotten or misinterpreted them

perhaps also they be-

gan

to recall

some words
to
till

of the

Old Testament
for St.

scrip-

tures which they were afterwards to quote, with telling


effect, in

reference

his

resurrection

John

expressly says that

this revolutionary

moment they

knew
dead.

not the Scripture, that he should rise from the

In great crises of experience the


rally active

mind

is

preternatuof

and

into minutes can

crowd the thinking

years.
far

Of

course afterwards these thoughts were to be

more

fully cleared

and developed

the apostles were

also to receive far

Lord's resurrection
yet
it

more convincing evidence of the than the aspect of his empty tomb
to say that, before they passed
it,

is

not too

much

out of that rocky door, which, as they approached

had struck
terror,

into their

hearts

such cold and deadly

they were changed into new men, and had reall

ceived into their souls the seeds of

which they sub-

sequently achieved.

ST.

JOHN AND THE RESURRECTION.

II9

XXXIII.
Such was
hearts

the

power of the resurrection over the


apostles.

and minds of the

And

it still

has the

same power, when it is. properly realized. There is perhaps no other point in the whole circle of Christian
truth to which in times of intellectual darkness inquir-

ing spirits

may

so hopefully turn.

If Christ rose

from the dead, then there can be no


is

doubt that the scheme of Christianity as a whole

true.

What

confirmation, for example, does the resurrection

lend to the miracles of Christ!


miracle
;

This

is

the greatest

and,

if it

happened, any of the


a reality
life
it

rest

may have

happened.
invisible,

What

imparts, too, to the world


!

and

to the

to

come

If Christ rose, to

begin a new stage of existence in another region of the


universe, then heaven
is

not a dream, or a land

of

shadows, but actual as this earth on which

we

tread,

and

all

that the Bible says about immortality receives

the strongest confirmation.

The

resurrection of Christ

is,

it

is

true, a

stupen-

dous event, only to be credited on the most stringent evidence. But in both quantity and quality the proof
is

overwhelming.

First, there is the testimony of those by whom he was seen alive after his passion. It is thus summarized by St. Paul " He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures and he was seen of Cephas then of the Twelve after that he was seen of above five hun:

120

THE DISCIPLE

WHOM
whom

JESUS LOVED.
the greater part remain
;

dred brethren at once, of


unto
this present,

but some are fallen asleep


;

after that
;

he was seen of James


of
all,

then of

all

the apostles

and, last

he was seen of

me

also, as of

one born out of due


still

time."

The

detailed records of the Evangelists are


;

more

im.pressive

and the character of the witnesses

is

for truthfulness

above suspicion.
is

What
that

who
their

disbelieve their testimony

by those they were in an


is

said

excited state of mind, and anxious to believe, and that

hopes created the appearances which they thought


Nothing, however,
is

they saw.

more remarkable
Is
it

in all

the accounts than the evidence that they had no expectation whatever that

he was to

rise.

not manifest

that

Mary Magdalene,
?

Peter and John had their minds

preoccupied with a theory totally opposed to resurrection

Others, even after they were informed that


risen,

he had

were thoroughly skeptical.

Instead of

being ready to be imposed upon by any suggestion of


the fancy, they were in a state of
evidence, however
ful

mind

to resist

any

strong.

Besides, what kind of fanci-

appearance could have simultaneously imposed upon

so

many

different persons in so

many

different places

and circumstances? In their desperation to account for the facts some of the more devout believers in the literal truth of the resurrection have actually resorted
to the notion that

God

allowed a kind of ghostly image

of Jesus to appear to the different persons concerned but surely this is more difficult to believe than the resurrection
itself.

The mere testimony of

those
proof.

One

is

not,

however,

all

the

who saw the risen When, immedi-

ST.

JOHN AND THE RESURRECTION.


began

121
its

ateiy after the ascension, Christianity

to run

victorious course amidst the influences of Pentecost, the

theme of apostolic testimony was the resurrecand the scene of the earliest preaching was JeruWhat Peter and his companions told the Jerusalem.
central
tion
;

salemites was, that he

whom

they had condemned as


tree

a blasphemer and hanged on a

had been raised up

by God, who, by so exalting him, had placed on his


claims the seal of heaven.

This testimony brought the


heresy which so disrisen,

apostles into collision with the ecclesiastical authorities,

who were concerned


credited themselves.
it

to repel the If Jesus

had not
was

how

easy

would have been


in

to

confute the
laid

preachers.
at

The

grave

which he had been

hand

had the

Jewish authorities been able to open the sepulchre, and

show

the

body lying
do so?

there, the apostles

would have
did the
said that

been silenced effectually and forever.


authorities not
It will

Why

not

now be

the disciples had stolen the body.

The
is, it

strongest proof of

all,

however, has yet to be

mentioned. Convincing as the testimony of the apostles

their conduct.

compared with the evidence of that, when the Master expired and was put beneath the ground, the minds of his followers were in the lowest depths
is

nothing at

all

There cannot be a doubt

of depression and despair.


pointed,
if

They had been


;

disap-

not deceived

the cause to which they

had
re-

attached themselves had failed

and now
;

all

was over.

They were without


mained
for

a head or a plan

and nothing

them but

to return to their lowly occupations

disillusioned

and discredited men.

Yet, a few

weeks

122

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


were before the pubHc,
full

thereafter, they

of convic-

tion

and enthusiasm, declaring


It

that Christianity

was not
this

ended, but only beginning.

What had wrought


they were

change?

may

be

said,

committed to

Christianity,

and could not forego the ambitions so long


it

cherished in connection with


citing pursuits.

or return to their unex-

The remarkable thing, however, is, they not now pursuing earthly ambitions that were they knew they were not to gain the world, but suffer
its

enmity and opposition

and

in point

of fact they

went cheerfully to prison and to death.


transfigured

They were

men

but wise, spiritual


this

no longer ignorant and vacillating, and determined. What had wrought


that
it

change ?
;

They say themselves


else
is

was the
it?

res-

urrection

and what

could have done


a miracle in

This
re-

resurrection of Christianity

some

spects

more remarkable than even the resurrection oi Christ; and nothing but Christ's resurrection can account for
it.

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN.

123

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN,


XXXIV.

St.

John

shared with the other apostles the priv-

ilege of seeing several of the appearances of the risen

Lord during the


Sea of
Galilee,

forty

days

but in one of them he

played a conspicuous part.

This took place at the


is

and the scene

described with great


gospel.
air

fulness in the last chapter of his

own

There hangs over


Indeed,

this story

an

of mystery.
sight, the

some of
is

the

details
if

have, at

first

appearance of irrelevance,
however,

not mystification.
in this gospel.
is

This,

no rare occurrence

the peculiarities of St. John as a writer

that

One of now and


or at
all

then he puts down, with an air of simplicity, sentences

which appear to have nothing


reader, after repeated trials,
is

in

them

at

all,

events nothing relevant to the occasion.

But, as the
in disap-

turning

away

pointment and, perhaps, a kind of resentment, suddenly, from a sharp angle of vision, something flashes out

on him and, turning back, he discovers it to be a clue by which he is guided into spacious treasuries of truth, where the difficulty is not that there is no meaning,
but that the meaning
is

too manifold.
lie

In the present case the key seems to

in

the

word "showed,"

v/hich occurs twice in the opening

124
verse

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

"After these things Jesus


disciples at the

showed himself again


this
is

to the

Sea of Tiberias; and on


In Greek this

wise showed he himself"

a striking

word, and apparently conveys more than that he


himself visible
tion
:

made

or in

means that he made a fresh revelaof himself to them, showing himself in a new light They saw on this occasion in a new character.
it

their risen

Lord

traits

which were pecuHarly fascinating

and impressive.

One
The

of these was a trait of tender humanity

his

attachment to the scenes of his earthly experiences.


disciples

had themselves returned to Galilee


minds Jerusalem

from the south with a delightful sense of coming home.

Probably to their provincial


always been formidable.
Its

had
its

pride repelled them,

Sadducean coldness

and Pharisaic formalism

chilled

them to the bone. During their last visit this repulsion had reached a climax, for their feelings had been put under an excessive strain, and their days and nights had passed in excitement and horror. At last, indeed,
a great light had
surrection of their

burst forth
;

upon them
as yet
it it

in the re-

Lord but even more than dazzled which


craved
for

was a
;

light

cheered

and

their

hearts

solitude, that

they might
drift

collect

themselves and consider what was the


strange experiences.

of their

Now

they were back in Galilee


lake, the

and standing on the shore of the


their

scene of

accustomed adventures

in

former days.
;

There

were the mountains and the blue waters there were the boats and nets of their relatives, which had once
been
their

own

the old feelings suddenly

awoke

in

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN.


who
felt

12$

them, and when Peter,

these most keenly, said,

"I go a-fishing," they were


also
sails

all

ready to chime
afloat,

in, "

We

go

with thee."

Soon they were

with the

throbbing above their heads, the water rushing beneath the keel, and the fresh breeze blowing all doubts

away out of

their brains.

But Jesus had pi-eceded them


angel told the holy

to Galilee.

So

the

women

at the sepulchre

'*

Go

your way,
before

tell

his disciples

and

Peter that he goeth

you

into Galilee."

This no doubt was pardy due

to the fact that a majority of his adherents belonged


to the northern province
self to

and he intended

to

show him-

them

alive, as

he subsequently did on the mounrespects the risen Christ

tain

where he had appointed them.


In

other reason.
altered
his
;

some

But there was anwas


the

the form of his humanity and

mode

of

movements

from place to place are enveloped in


trait

mystery.

But one exceedingly human


:

appears to

be unmistakable
for the spots
activity.

he displayed a marked which had been the scenes of his former To him Jerusalem had been intensely dear,
predilection

whatever

it

was

to the disciples,

and he lingered

in

it,

instructing the aposdes at the very last to begin the

evangelization

of the

world there.
lived,

Bethany, where
to

Mary, Martha and Lazarus earthly home, and he led out


as far as Bethany,

had been

him

r.n

his disciples at the last

and there he took his parting look But Galilee seems to have been the chief of the world. scene of his forty days' sojourn. It was the country of his childhood and youth and in it had been achieved The Sea of Galilee especially his earthly successes.
;

126

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


his ministry.

had been the centre of


called his disciples
its
;

There he had

he had preached out of the boat on

shore

he had moved backwards and forwards from


to another

one side

on

his

journeys

on

its

surface he
;

had walked to the rescue of


in sight of
it

his disciples

by night

with-

he had been followed by enthusiastic and

thankful multitudes.

Long
;

it

had been the focus of


it

his

thoughts and feelings

and now

draws him back.


in his resur-

This shows
rected state
;

how human he was even


it

and
is

brings him near to us.

This cling-

ing to the past

characteristic of

human

nature; how-

ever far

we may wander, our

hearts turn fondly to the

scenes of former experiences

to the home of our childloved, triumphed

hood, to the spots where


suffered.
if

we have

and
;

Few

sentiments are more sacred than these

we completely

yielded to them they might bring us

to Jesus.

May we
an

not, besides, justly interpret his return to


still

these scenes as a proof that the departed


interest in the

retain
?

world to which they have belonged


not blot out of the

Even
be
far

the beatific vision will

ory the charities of this earth.

memHeaven and earth may

more

alike than

is

supposed.

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN.

12/

XXXV.
Another
to the disciples
light in

which Jesus revealed himself


occasion was as the Providence

on

this

of their lives.

In spite of the eagerness with which they

had

es-

sayed the fisherman's


caught nothing.
their cunning.
It

life

again, yet that night they


if

looked as
this

their

hands had

lost

But
It

disappointment gave Jesus his


their
out.

opportunity.

was against the background of


shone
a

failure that the divineness of his foresight

So

it is

often.

Many

man

has been prepared for the


his

visit

of Christ

by the ruin of
If
it

schemes and the

break- down of his hopes.


with us,
if

had always gone well

the world had been entirely to our liking,

and we had got everything our own way, we might never have felt any need of him. But when v/e had
toiled all night

and taken nothing, and were returning


in the

worn out and weary


better to lose
all

empty
to

boat, there he

was
it is

on the shore with assistance ready.

And
be so

surely

and win him than

satisfied with

our own

success as to forget the heavenly inheritance.


as Jesus took the oversight of their operacast out the net
all

As soon
tions,

and they

where he indicated,
they secured a
;

their labor,

which had

night been so bootless, im:

mediately became brilliantly profitable


take of a hundred and
and, for
all
fifty

and three, all large fishes there were so many, yet was not the net
nigh
in the crisis of disappoint-

broken.

If

God comes

128

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


is

ment, surely also he


It is

present in the hour of success.


is

through his blessing that any labor of ours


It

prof-

itable.

would be a shame

if it

were only through


if

privation

we could be

affected,

and

we had no
life.

per-

ception of the divine

hand

in the gifts

of

Jesus did not, however, merely give them abun-

dance of
with

fish

and then leave them to enjoy what they

had taken.
fish laid

When

they came ashore they found a

fire

and bread. Commentators have puzzled over the question where these came from. Did angels bring them ? or did Jesus create them ? or did
thereon,

he buy them or beg them from friends on shore

What

does

it

matter

It is

enough

that he provided

them, as the fisherman's wife has a

fire

ready to

warm
retoil.

her husband, along with


quires,

the

other comforts
his cold
!

he

when he

returns from

night's

What
those

a practical, everyday Christ

He
good

does not allow


thing.

who

look to him to lack any

He

is

the Saviour of the

body no
to

less

than of the soul.

Godas well

Hness has the promise of the


as of that

life

which now

is,

which

is

come.
to bring of the fish

He

invited

them

which they

had caught,
all sit

to furnish

the

meal more sumptuously.


distributed

Then, assuming the place of entertainer, he made them

down and

with his

own hands

among

them the
It is

blessings provided.

very probable that these proceedings had a

special bearing
at

on the circumstances of the


before
this,

disciples

the time.
first

Long
be his

when he was

calling

them

and they were naturally troubled about where support for themselves and their
to
disciples,

ST.
families

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN.


come
from, he taught them

29

by a similar miracle how confidently they might depend on him while engaged in his service. But at this crisis the
was
to

lesson required to be taught over again.

Hitherto he

had himself been with them, and his popularity had insured them against want for those who had received
;

his miraculous aid ministered to

him of

their substance,

and the bag which Judas carried, if seldom overflowing, Now, however, when he was away, was never empty.

Very soon and they needed the assurance that their daily bread would So Jesus had once more to show them that not fail.
would not the stream of supplies run dry
?

they were to be sent forth to preach the gospel

all

the resources of the world belonged to him.

While, however, he had

this

special

end

in

view,

we

can, besides, say in general that the role thoroughly

suited him.

He
often

delighted,

when
It is

in the midst of his

own, to be the Entertainer.


to note

astonishing in his
at feasting,

life

how

he was present

and how

frequently in his teaching he

" The Son of life. rowed from this section man came eating and drinking." He appreciated the uniting and sweetening power of hospitality; and he thereby left to his followers an example which they

made of human

use of images bor-

have been slow


virtue,

to learn.

Hospitality

is

a Christian

and

it

is

one of the most

effective

modes of

good of others are more fitted to be effective than when Christian men and women of standing invite to their tables the young and the humble, who see there the culture and the
evangelization.
efforts for the

Few

charm of a Christian home.


9

130

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


But there was more
in his love of the entertainer's

place.
its

It

was the expression of a nature conscious of

ability to distribute.

He

felt

himself

full

of what
It is

was needed

to satisfy

and enrich the world.

not

for nothing that in the chief

sacrament of his church he


In

shows himself
the Lord's

to all

the ages in this character.


is

Supper he

the entertainer.

And whom

does he invite?

He

follows his

own maxim: "When


call

thou makest a dinner or a supper,

not thy friends,

nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich


neighbors, lest they also bid thee again, and a recom-

pense be

made

thee

but when thou makest a


;

feast, call

the poor, the maimed, the lame, the Wind and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee."

Such are

his guests.

"

This

Man

receiveth sinners

and

eateth with them."

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN.

13I

XXXVI.
Before looking
at the other

ways

in

which Jesus
to

revealed himself on this occasion

we may pause

mark what impression he was making on the disciples. The effectiveness of a revelation depends on the apprehension of
dressed,
it

in the

minds of those to
its

whom

it

is

ad-

no
first

less

than on

intrinsic

importance.
all

At

the disciples did not recognize at

with

whom

they had to

do "Jesus
that
it

stood on the shore, but


It

the disciples

knew not

was Jesus."
;

was

in the

grey of the morning that he appeared and the imperfect light may have had something to do with this.

But no doubt, also, their work absorbed them. Had they been assembled for prayer in an upper room, or had it been the Sabbath, they might have recognized him at once but they did not expect him to visit them
;

when they were engaged


Christ
Christ.
is

in business.

The week-day

On

not so easily recognized as the Sabbath-day the sacred day we go to his house for the

purpose of meeting him, and we put on our Sabbath clothes for the interview but, if he meets us when we
;

are in

our work-a-day

dress,
if

if

he

is

standing by while
into

we

drive our bargains, or

he comes

our homes
all

in the

hours of social

mirth and he does


let

these

things we are probably unprepared, and


unnoticed.

him pass

In the kind question, "Children,

have ye any

meat?" or

at least in the

order to cast the net on the

132

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


of the ship, they might surely have recognized
I

rig^ht side

him.

But

have been told by a friend well acquainted


it is

with the sea that

sometimes possible

for

one stand-

ing on the shore to detect by a pecuHar ripple on the


surface of the water the presence of fish at a spot where

those on the water see no indication.

This

may have

prevented them from suspecting anything more than


the hint of a shrewd observer.
It

was only when the miraculous haul

filled

the net,
that the

recalling an early experience of the


truth flashed through the

same kind,
John
It
;

mind of

St.

and, after

casting a single

reassuring look landwards, he whisis

pered to

St.

Peter, " It

the Lord."
;

only required

a glance to satisfy Peter

and, hastily drawing on an

upper garment, that he might not appear before the

Lord in unbecoming guise, he sprang into the water and swam ashore, leaving boat, fish, comrades every-

thing

behind.
entire scene
is

The

eminently characteristic.

It

was St. John, the


discerned Christ

man
first;

of affection and insight,


it

was

St.

Peter, the
first.

who man of
the

passion and energy,

who reached him

Each was

before the other in one respect, and both were


leaders of the rest.
It is

a picture of the Church's

life

in all times.

Be-

lievers are not all alike gifted, but all

belong to the one

body and are intended to serve it with their different powers. There are outstanding men needed to be leaders, and these possess diverse qualifications. Some Others are the eyes of the body these are the Johns. The are its hands and feet these are the Peters.

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN.


is

33

highest function
to
in

that of the

Johns

they are the


to follow.

seers,

apprehend new

revelations, to point out the divine

common
is

Hfe,

to discern the

new path along which


Church
But

Christ

moving and
and
action,

calling the

only second in importance are the Peters


enterprise

the men of

and show the way.


pendent on them

who advance in They lean on the

front of the ship

Johns, being in-

debted to them for eyes, but the Johns are also de;

as the national poet,

who

has struck

out the note of liberty and

made

it

vibrate in every

heart, has to wait for the practical statesman or general

who
is

will arise to

the

embody church when there


;

his

dreams

in deeds.

Happy

are vouchsafed to her leaders

of both sorts

she

is

happiest

when she

possesses them

together, united in friendship as were


then, or as at

John and Peter the Reformation were Melancthon and


boat followed, dragging the

Luther.

The
full

rest of those in the

net to the shore, where they shared the privileges


"

of the leaders. him.

And none
?

of the disciples durst ask


that
it

Who

art

thou

knowing

was the Lord."


appearance

Apparently there was a difference

in his

which might have


his presence

justified

such a question, but the

evidence of the scene as a whole and the impression of

were too strong to leave room

for

any

objections.

Even Thomas,

the doubter,

who was one


sight, the

of the group of seven, was convinced.

To
doubt

us,

who walk by

faith

and not by
but
is

evidence of religion can never be such


absolutely impossible,
to
it

as to
often

make
strong

enough

exclude reasonable doubt.

There must be

134
few

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


who cannot remember some
incidents in their

own

experience which produced an overwhelming impression of

God

such as a marvellous escape from danger,


fatal

or the recovery of a relative from the jaws of death, or

a deliverance from what seemed a


culty,

business

diffi-

or the unexpected opening up of a path to use-

fulness

and honor.

There are many such incidents

v/hich inevitably produce

on a healthy mind the imOthers

pression of a presiding Providence.

may
:

de-

bate whether the thing cannot be explained


causes, but the
carries
care,
it

by

natural

man whose
life

secret

it

is

cannot ask

he

through

as a token of the divine love


it

and
the

and as

often as he recalls
still,

he says, "It
is

is

Lord."

Far stronger

however,

the conviction

springing out of a lifelong walk with Christ.

Outsiders

may

venture to explain this away, attributing to the

man's own fineness of natural disposition the holiness

by which he
he
is

is

distinguished

but he

who knows what


for him,
it

in himself,
is

and what grace has done


of his

is

as

certain as he

own

existence that "

is

the

Lord."

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN.

135

XXXVII.

THIRD

peculiarity of Christ

revealed on this

occasion was

the absoluteness of his claim


his followers.

on the love

and loyalty of

This of course came out most conspicuously in Peter, " Lovest the noted scene when he thrice asked by. But thou me?" which, however, we must here pass came out also in a subsequent scene in which St.
it

John was direcdy involved.

After restoring St. Peter

him, " Follow to his apostoHc mission, Jesus said unto rest of the the from away moved me," and apparendy

group.

In obedience to this

command
command,

St. Peter folSt.

lowed, and, without receiving a


the same.
St.

John did

Peter, hearing St John's step behind him,

turned and said to Jesus,

"And what shall this man ?" do?" or, more simply, " And what of this man The motive of this question has been much disSome have ascribed it to irritadon, as if St. cussed.
being Peter objected to his tUe-a-tUe with the Saviour Others party. third a of disturbed by the intrusion the very opposite motive that it was out

have assumed

that he spoke. of brotherly regard for St. John's welfare the veil of a under Jesus had just inUmated to himself,
figure of speech,

and, vaguely at

by what death he should glorify God warning. least, he had understood the
of

Now

he asks.

What
?

my

friend

is

he, too, to die the

martyr's death

to St. That there was in the question an allusion

136

THE DISCIPLE WHOM


is

JEISUS

LOVED.
Yet the

John's future

manifest from the answer.

motive was a more subtle one. The close dealing with Lovest thou me ?" his conscience, when Christ asked, had been painful in the extreme to St. Peter. Yet Jesus was now walking him away by himself; and for what purpose ? Was it to press him with still more home-coming question, too sacred for the rest to hear? St. Peter was afraid of it; and this turning
*'

round

to St. John, to put the question to

about his future,


;

was an attempt

draw him

into the colloquy

for a

third in a conversation acts as screen to

keep

off too
idle

searching and personal topics.

So he asked an

question, apparently in anxiety about the fortunes of


his friend, but really for the

purpose of escaping too

close contact with Jesus.

Thus almost unawares does the mind often try to avoid Christ, when he is coming near the conscience. At the well of Sychar, when our Lord was probing the conscience of the Samaritan woman, she attempted to divert the drift of the conversation by raising an eccle" Our fathers worshipped in this siastical discussion
:

mountain, and ye say that Jerusalem


m.en ought to worship."
logic

is

the place where

This was a subject on which


forever,

might have been chopped


sight.

and during the

operation

what directly concerned her would have

dropped out of
tion

And

similarly,

when conversareligion,

threatens to approach personal

people

will, if

they are allowed,

drift off to

questions of the idly

curious kind.

Even

in their

own minds men

put up

such themes to shield themselves from the pressure of


the claims of Christ.

There are always

afloat in the

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN.

37

atmosphere of public discussion problems which can


be used
Criticism,
for this

purpose.

Darwinism, the Higher

Future Punishments, or the like


he
using his

a man
is

will

puzzle about one of these and imagine he


religion,

studying

when

in reality

is

difficulties as

an excuse

for refusing to

come

to close quarters with


It is

Christ and obey the voice of the Holiest.


to

possible
religion,

have a great deal

to

do with the outside of

and
with

to enjoy religious service in

which we form part


avoid meeting
full light

of the multitude, while

we

carefully

God

in

secret

and would dread the

of

omniscience turned upon our conduct.


In spite of
St. Peter's

headlong rush through the


far

water to get to Jesus, he was


dential with

from being as confi-

him

as St.

John

for the close

intercourse which he was shirking


St.

and lonely would have been to

John the height of enjoyment.

138

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XXXVIII.

On
his

this occasion Jesus manifested

his authority-

over his disciples, assigning to each his

own work and

own

destiny.

He met
sharp rebuke

the idle question of the disciple with a


"

What is

that to thee? follow thou me."

He
him

was offended at Peter's levity.


in

The

questions put

to the backslider about his love ought to have driven

but, instead of being thus absorbed,

upon himself and made him sober and silent he was starting curious inquiries about things with which he had noth"

ing to do.

There are two great


student
of

vanities

in

man," says a
respect
to

deep

human

nature,

"with

knowledge

the one

a neglect

duty to know, and the other a it does not belong to us to know."


sphere
is

to know what it is our curiosity to know what

^
^

And

this so

true as in religion.

in no other At those solemn

step which
is

moments when Christ is distincdy caUing and a decisive would change the whole course of the life
possible,

how common

it is,

instead of replying sim'*

ply and honestly, to turn round and ask,


others doing? what would

What
is

are

my

neighbors

say ?"

When
in-

opportunities of usefulness arise, and Providence


viting us to seize them,

what do we say

Is

it,

"

Here

am

I,

send me," or

is

it,

"What

are others going to


for the

do ?" In

giving, for example, to

schemes

spread

of the gospel, or for the amelioration of the world,

how

ST.

JOHN AT HOME AGAIN. What


?

39

rare

it

is

to ask simply, "

can

give?

how much

would God wish


with as

me
I

to give

what ought one blessed

much

as

have been to give?" but how com"

mon

to look

round and ask,

What are
ourselves,

others giving ?"

Thus measuring ourselves by


ourselves

and comparing

among

ourselves,
is

we
by
"

are not wise.


this habit of

Our

whole experience
follow thou me."

stunted

asking

what others are going to do.

What

is

that to thee?

The
that

reference to St. John's future in the words,

" If I will that

he tarry

till I

come,"

may

contain a hint
to

the apostle

whom

Jesus loved

was

be long
St.

spared and to escape the martyrdom destined for


Peter, but the only thing

which the words expressly

imply

is

that St. John's destiny

was not the

affair

of

St. Peter,

but was taken by Jesus into his

own hand.

This saying has been quoted as a proof that Jesus

expected his second coming to take place soon, as his


early followers expected
it is
it

in their

own

lifetime

and

added
is

that events disappointed his

expectation, as

theirs

usually reckoned a weakness.


elsewhere.

But the weakof the


apostolic

ness

lies

The

attitude

Church was the


come.

right one

the
at

attitude of a servant

on the watch, not knowing

The

date of Christ's

what hour his lord may coming depends on the

and success of the Church. are informed, he might have come even
faithfulness

So

far as

we

in the lifetime

of his

first disciples,

had the

faithfulness of the

Church

been

perfect.
It is

another illustration of
is

curiosity

to the

how much easier idle human mind than either accurate

140

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


this
die.

knowledge or plain duty that in consequence of saying the rumor spread that St. John should not

but lasted long. It was It not only did so at the time, was not dead, but only he buried, though said that,
asleep
;

and

St.

Augustine mendons persons

in his

day

who
the

alleged

that

they had seen the earth moving

above

his grave.

Indeed,

down almost

to

our own time,

same supersdtion has reappeared every now and

then in one grotesque form after another.

But the evangeUst expressly emphasizes the fact " If I that Jesus did not say he was not to die, but, ?" thee to that is will that he tarry till I come, what

ST.

JOHN IN THE PENTECOSTAL AGE.

I41

ST.

JOHN IN THE PENTECOSTAL AGE


XXXIX.
St. John's

name
Book

holds a prominent place in the

list

of the followers of Jesus who, as

we

are told in the

first

chapter of the

of Acts, were assembled in

an

upper room
sion.

in

Jerusalem immediately after the Ascen-

What were
They had been
their
this

they doing- there


told

They were
Lord

waiting.

by

their departing

that they

were to be endued with power from on high, and then

work

as his witnesses

promise meant they did not know

would begin. What exactly but they were


;

waiting to see.

Already they were

in possession of all
testi-

the facts which were to form the theme of their

mony: they had been assured by many infallible proofs that Jesus was alive they had seen him ascend to sit at the right hand of God; they knew that it was to be the task of their life to make these facts
;

known.

Still

they lacked something.

Their Master

had forbidden them to appear as his witnesses till the Holy Spirit should come upon them. So they waited. They had time to think, and to arrange in their minds
the remarkable experiences through which they

had
of

been passing.
ers

They had time

to pray,

and

their pray-

deepened

their sense of need.

The magnitude

their task

expanded before

their imagination,

as they

142

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


it;

contemplated

mysterious influence

and they wondered the more what the was to be by which they should
it.

be qualified

for

executing

At length the hour of Providence


promise of the exalted Saviour was
the

struck,

and the

fulfilled,

when, on

Day

of Pentecost, in rushing mighty wind and


fire,

tongues of

the Spirit descended on them.

Not only

was the conversion of three thousand, which immediately followed, due to this divine gift, but the whole

drama of the Book of Acts

the miracles, the sermons,


book records

the extension of Christianity, the creation of institutions,


the emergence of remarkable personalities, the triumph

over opposition, which

this

all

are the

results of the fulfilment of the

promise of Christ to send

the

Holy

Spirit

As man
''

after

man comes

to the front

apostle or

deacon, evangelist
described as
full

or prophet

one
;"

after

another
this is

is

of the

Holy Ghost
performed.

and
That

the secret of the wonders

Pentecostal age was

a glorious

epoch of

originality,

gladness and formative influence; but the inward energy

by which
St.

the

movement
in

in all its

developments was

sustained and carried forward was the

Holy

Spirit.

John was

the very midst of these events.


full

He,
the

if

anyone, was, in those Pentecostal days,

of

Holy Ghost.
all

The

divine

power poured through


he was a prominent
;

him; gladness
actor in
plete

filled

his heart;

that

was taking place and he was

in

comHis

sympathy with what others were doing.


not, indeed,
is
is

name does

occur often, nor are there any


the principal figure; but the

incidents in which he

occasions on which he

mentioned are enough to give

ST.

JOHN IN THE PENTECOSTAL AGE.

I43

a notion of the experiences of a great time and to


that

show

he played

in

it

an important

part.

One
St.

of the

first

scenes in which he

is

mentioned

is

the miraculous cure of a lame man.

John and St. Peter used daily to go up to the temple at the hour of prayer and one day, as they did so, they passed a lame man, laid at the Gate The cripple was about forty Beautiful to beg for alm.s. years of age and had long been wont to beg there,
;

the ugliness of his deformity contrasting with the beauty

of the pillar against which he rested, and his helplessness appealing to the charity of the passers by in those

moments of devotion when they were remembering their own mercies. He begged an alms of Peter and
John.

They happened
full

at the time to
;

be without money,

but they were


within

of exultant joy
v/ere

life

was overflowing
brother-man
they were

them

and they

overmastered by the imhelpless

pulse to communicate

to

this

something of the
blessed.

strength

with

which

In

the

name

of Jesus
;

Christ they

com-

manded him
fulfilled their

to rise

and walk

and immediately God


;

benevolent wishes

for,

the feet

and ankle

bones of the cripple receiving strength, he leaped up

and rushed forward, holding Peter with one hand and John with the other; and he entered the temple,
" walking,
It

and leaping, and prai.sing God." must have been with a strange mingling of awe

and exultation that the apostles thus saw the motions


of their will taking effect in the bodies of others.

They
that

knew

quite well, indeed,

and confessed

at once,

144

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


own power or But they were the channels through which
;

they had not done the deed by their


hoHness.
the divine

power passed it was the Holy Spirit which both inspired them with the instinct of helpfulness and
caused their philanthropic desires to take
effect in this

remarkable manner.

The age
in the

of such miracles

is

long since past.

Were

we, in imitation of Peter and John, to order a cripple,

name

of Christ, to rise
follow.

up and walk, the physical


to help
is

heahng would not


still

But the impulse

the

mark

of a follower

of Christ; and a sacred

enthusiasm to communicate freshness


life

and

fulness of
filled

is

one of the most natural results of being

with the Spirit of God.

Nor

are
skill

we without

resources.

We

can

call to

our aid the

of the medical man,

the deftness of the nurse, the legislation of the states-

man, the authority of the municipality, and the manyWe have other resources of science and civilization.
to take a

somewhat roundabout road, but the length


;

of the road matters litde

if

only the impulse to help

be passionate enough

it

can

make long

roads short.

Indeed, by the use of preventive measures, by which


disease and distress are cut off at their sources, Christian

philanthropy
;

is

finding shorter roads than even

that of miracles

being

fulfilled:

"The works

and so the Lord's wonderful word is that I do shall ye do also;


shall

and greater works than these

ye do."

ST.

JOHN IN THE PENTECOSTAL AGE.

145

XL.

When

the cripple

who had been cured went

leap-

ing and shouting into the temple, he naturally attracted a crowd, to whom St. Peter and St. John seized the

opportunity of communicating the secret of the resurBat the temple poHce and some of the aurection.
thorities,

who chanced

to

be present,

coming upon

them, broke up the gathering and carried off the two apostles to jail as disturbers of the peace. This was the
first

time Peter and John had seen the inside of a prison, and it gave them a foretaste of the consequences which the new mission on v/hich they were embarked

might involve.

asm with which


adventure.

But the heat and glow of the enthusithe Holy Spirit was inspiring them
to

were too intense

allow them to

feel

such a mis-

When,

the next day, they were brought

up before the Sanhedrin they not only answered the questions put to them with intrepidity, but seized the
occasion to urge
ties

home on

the consciences of the authori-

the crime of which they had been guilty, in crucify-

ing

One

of

whom God had shown


The

his

approval by

raising

him from the dead.


it is

force of conviction so

loosed their tongues and raised them


their accusers that,

morally above

said, the authorities, perceiving

them

them;

be unlearned and ignorant men, marvelled at and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. There are certain states of mind in which the distance put by conventional distinctions
to

10

146

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


man and man disappears, and he who has the manhood, or who has truth and justice on his
who
is

between
larger
side,

towers over his opponents,


little

are

made

to feel

how
and

the mere authority of office can avail

them

this victorious

consciousness

imparted by the

Holy

Spirit,

when

it is

received in purity and fulness.

Shortly after
apparently
all

this

not Peter and John only, but

the apostles, were, in similar circum-

stances, brought into collision with the Jewish authorities.

The

Christian doctrine was spreading

more and

more; men were being converted by the thousand;

and the
ered,

authorities,

taking alarm, cast the apostles

again into prison.

But they were miraculously delivat their post in the

and again appeared

temple

had them brought again before their judgment-seat, but to the question why they had broken through the interdict
as witnesses of the resurrection.
authorities

The

the apostles replied that they must, in such a case, obey

God

rather than man.

On

this

occasion the entire

apostolic college were on the point of losing their lives,

the feeling against


ities

them being so
But
this

bitter that the author-

thought of stamping out the heresy by the death


preachers.

of

all its

murderous
with

zeal

was
feel-

checked by the intervention of Gamaliel, and the


ing of the authorities was
apostles
lightly
satisfied

beating the
it

and dismissing them.

This, though

is

so

had

to

told, probably means that St. John and the rest endure forty stripes save one a punishment

which, in ordinary circumstances, would have formed


in the
life

of a

But

in the state of

Jew an indignity never to be mind in which they were

forgotten.
it

hardly

ST.

JOHN IN THE PENTECOSTAL AGE.


their

I47

made

mark on
it,

memories, and, so

far

from being
rejoic-

broken by

" they departed

from the council

ing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame


for
if

His name

"
;

and they went on with

their

work

as

nothing had happened.

A far
when
Herod.

severer

his brother

Of this not know how James should have become a man marked that the hand of authority struck at him
preference to any of the other apostles.
it

trial befell St. John some time later, James was cut off by the sword of incident no details are given. We do

so
in

But no doubt

was by the boldness of


this distinction
;

his testimony for Christ that

he won

and, although the loss must


of his sensitive

have entered

like iron into the soul

brother, yet the grief of St.

John would be tempered by the sense that the martyr had sacrificed his life for a great cause and had gone to inherit a great reward.

A
life

life filled

with the Holy Ghost

is

likely to

be a

of

trial

and

suffering, because the impetuosity of


it

its

forward movement brings

into collision with con;

ventional authorities and vested interests

but the glow and warmth of its own feeling will lift it lightly over difficulties, and convert experiences which in ordinary
circumstances would produce feelings of bitter shame

and despair

into reasons for joy

and triumph.

148

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XLI.

The
The

Pentecostal epoch
it

was an era of marvels.

historian of

has, in every other paragraph, to.

remark how excitement and wonder were caused by what was happening. Not only were those astonished

who saw

or heard what was taking place, but the chief


carried forward in a kind of

actors themselves were

dream of wonder, as, following the indications of Providence, they advanced from one scene of novelty
to

another,

by a path which

it

would never have


the

entered into their

own

hearts to tread.

Especially astonishing to them was

way
life

in

which the fences within which


one new territory
dential
after

their religious

had

been confined broke down, and they were carried into


another as preachers of Christ
the oddest circumstances sometimes giving the provi-

impulse to fresh
it

developments.

Not

infre-

quently
driven

was by persecution that the new

faith

was

out of one place into another, where, but for


it

this reason,

might never have been heard


embers
far

of; so that
fire
;

the opposition which threatened to extinguish the

of the Gospel only scattered

its

and wide

and wherever they

Of course
the

the
to

new fire was kindled. supreme surprise was the admission


fell

of the Gentiles

an equal share with the Jews

in

privileges of the gospel.

This was one of the

greatest revolutions of thought

and practice

in the his-

tory of humanity

but

its

beginnings belong rather to

ST.

JOHN IN THE PENTECOSTAL AGE.


and
its

49

the

life

of St. Peter

consummation
St.

to the Hfe

of St. Paul than to the history of

John.

Before,

however, the decisive step was taken by the baptism of


Cornelius at the hands of St. Peter, there were frag-

mentary and tentative movements


tion
;

in the

same

direc-

and with one of these

St.

John had an

interesting

connection.

Those who were scattered abroad from Jerusalem by the persecution which ensued on the martyrdom of St. Stephen went everywhere preaching the Word and
;

Philip,

one of the seven deacons, drifted


to

to
;

Samaria,

where he began

make

Christ

known

because in

those days none of Christ's followers

could keep to

themselves the secret which was burning in their bones.

So

striking were the effects of Philip's preaching that

the news

came
St.

to the

church

at

Jerusalem, and St.


to

John and spect and

Peter were sent

down

Samaria to

in-

direct the

movement.
neither Jews

The Samaritans were

nor Gentiles,
;

but stood on the border line between the two

and, in

ordinary circumstances, Peter and John, as

strict

Jews,

would undoubtedly have


intercourse with them.

felt

scruples

about holding
this oc-

But what they saw on


;

casion

made them

forget their prejudices

they threw

themselves into the good work which was going on

they were the means of communicating to the converts


the gifts of the Spirit
;

and, before returning to Jerusa-

lem, they " preached the gospel in

many

villages of the

Samaritans."
In St. John this was the

more remarkable

bewill

cause of an incident of his earlier history which

I50

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


Being
at the

be remembered.
village

entrance of a Samaritan

which refused
call

to receive his Master,

he asked to

down on it fire from heaven. Such man in St. John; such was the natural natural was the But, when filled prejudice of Jew against Samaritan. with the Holy Spirit, John was full of love, and he saw
be allowed to
objects
to

admire or to pity where formerly he had

only seen objects to hate and to destroy.


are
filled

When men

with the

fellow- creatures

Holy Ghost they will look on their with new eyes they will see in the
;

worst of them

precious souls

to

be loved and
to

re-

deemed.

Nothing so transmutes
to

our feeling the


effort

most objectionable of our fellow-men as an honest on our part

do them good.

Only get near enough

any child of Adam, and there can never fail to be found in him something to which the heart can attach
itseE

ST.

JOHN

IN

THE PENTECOSTAL AGE.

XLII.

One
tecostal
ing.

of the most remarkable features of the Pen-

The
it

epoch was the development of brotherly feelreligious sentiment is a centripetal one and,
;

when

becomes

intense,

it

draws men
of Acts,

irresistibly to-

gether.

Thus, in the

Book

we read conone
together;

tinually of the earliest Christians being " all with

accord in one place."

They almost
if

lived

and
to
this

for a time

it

looked as
table

they were permanently


In

have a

common

and a common purse.


it

close brotherly intercourse,

is

easy to believe,

the affectionate heart of St. John would take cordial


part.

The

love of

many

must,

however, have also

concentrated

itself in special friendships,

and

this

was
St.

the case with St. John.

In

those days he and

Peter became
rable.

so

closely associated as to be insepais

In every scene in which St. John


is

mentioned

in

the Acts St. Peter

mentioned along with him.


upper room waiting

They

were together
of the Spirit
;

in the

for the gift

they were together when the lame

man

was healed
drin,

they appeared together before the Sanhe;

and were imprisoned together


of this
friendship

and they went


was,
indeed,
far

down together to The origin


earlier.

evangelize Samaria.

town.

John and Peter were natives of the same As boys they learned the same trade, and in
partners in business.

manhood they were

They,

in

152
all

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


went together to Jerusalem to the
in the feasts

r
the

probability,

and they both were involved


Baptist.

movement of
Christ on the

day.

They were introduced to Not only were both among


life

same

the twelve apostles,

but both belonged to the chosen Three.


a scene of the

In

many
drawn

of Christ they were especially

together at the close; they exhibited their mutual un-

derstanding at the Last Supper


in

they were side by side

Gethsemane
;

they were

in

the high priest's palace


to the Lord's

together

and they ran together


it

empty

tomb.

But

was

after the

Ascension that their friendperfect form.


felt

ship took

its final

and most

The Master

whom

both loved being away, each


In the
fire

more than ever


and

the need of the other.

of the Pentecostal
;

enthusiasm their hearts were riveted to each other

thus there was formed one of the most memorable


friendships of the world, like that of
in the

David and Jonathan

Old Testament, or of Luther and Melancthon in modern times. The two men were very unlike but
;

this is

no obstacle to friendship, but rather the reverse

for

different peculiarities

complement each
in

other,
;

if

only there be a fundamental identity of sentiment


this Peter

and

and John had

their

common

devotion to

Christ.

What

a source of happiness their friendship


to them, as they talked over the in-

must have been

cidents of their extraordinary career, helping one an-

other to recall the


traits

words of
as

their

Master and the

of his character, and

they faced danger or

labored in the Gospel, or discussed together the plans


of the great enterprise
in

which they were engaged

Surely friendship never can be so sweet and helpful

ST.
as

JOHN IN THE PENTECOSTAL AGE.


it

53

when

is

founded on
in his

common
work.

love to

Christ and

common

enthusiasm

In this friendship St. Peter was, to outward appearance, the predominant partner.
of the

In the
;

first

half
St.

Book

of Acts he

is

always the leader

and

John

retires

behind his more prominent figure, playing

an altogether subordinate part.


finest peculiarities

But

it

is

one of the
all

of a time hke

Pentecost that

engaged

in the

too concerned with the

work of God work


it

forget themselves, being


itself to

have time to

spare for estimating the magnitude of their


in
it

or contrasting

with that of others ; and


St.

own share we may


Be-

be certain that the heart of

John would have been


all

the last to envy the honor vouchsafed to another.


sides, St. Peter
this

must have known

the time that in

friendship

he was getting more than he could


gifts

give.

There are

which qualify

for leadership

and

publicity;

but those

who occupy

the second place,

or

who

are hidden altogether from the eyes of the

world,
graces.

may have the deeper nature and the finer Some gifts are intended for immediate effect;

come slowly to maturity, but their influence is more lasting. St. Peter had the gifts necessary to break ground for Christianity, to champion it in the face of opposition and to direct its first conquests; but St. John, sunk out of sight, was far nearer the
others
far

heart of Christianity.

In his Gospel there

is

a view
is

of the

Holy

Spirit widely different

from that which


Spirit
is

found

in Acts.

In Acts the
is

Holy

the

power

by which

Christianity

extended

the

very power

which rested supremely on

St. Peter;

but in the fourth

154

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


is

Gospel the Holy Spirit


Church,

the

substitute

for

Jesus,

the Intermediary between the invisible Christ and the


visible

who
us.

takes of the things of Christ and In the Spirit's influence, as


it

shows them unto

is

represented in Acts,

St John had

his share

but he

especially shared in the other

mode

of the Spirit's in-

fluence described in his

own

Gospel.

The

things of

Christ were

shown
this

to him, the character of Christ


spirit

was

put upon him, the


him.

of Christ was breathed into

And

gave

to his fellowship a priceless value;

for all other

advantages which friendship can confer


in

grov/

small

comparison with the charm and the

influence of the beauty of holiness.

ST.

JOHN

IN PATMOS.

5$

ST.

JOHN

TN PATMOS.

XLIII.
St.

John
;

slips, in characteristic silence,

out of the

Book
his

of Acts

and the information which we obtain of


life is

subsequent

scanty in the extreme.


is

In one of St. Paul's epistles he

mentioned

and

we

are

happy from
calls

this notice to learn that the

two

great teachers of Christianity met at least once face to


face.

Paul

John one of the

pillars of the

church,

the others at that time being St. Peter and St. James.

This was when the headquarters of Christianity were


still

at Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem
till

St.

John

is

beHeved to have remained

the death of the Virgin Mary, loyally and lovingly the charge which the Saviour had imposed on
his

fulfilling

him with

dying breath.

When

released from this


like the
di-

duty by her decease, he no doubt went forth


other apostles to evangelize the world
rection he turned his steps
;

but

in

what

we have no

information.
his

For a considerable number of years our record of


life is

an absolute blank.
is,

There
ans
but

in

one of the writings of

St.

Augustine,

some shadow
;

of a statement that he

went to the Parthi-

it

appears to be founded only on the mistrans-

lation

of a word in one of St. John's


is

There

also a tradition of his

own writings. being in Rome; and

156

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


this

two well-known traditions are connected with

sup-

posed residence
of boihng

in the eternal city.

It is told

that dur-

ing one of the persecutions he was cast into a caldron


oil,

but came out unharmed

and

it is

also

affirmed that he was given to drink a poisoned cup, but

when he drank
son had taken

it

no

ill

effect

ensued, because the poi-

itself

away

in the
is

shape of a serpent.

In

mediaeval art this scene

frequently represented, St.

John appearing

as a beautiful youth with a


is

cup

in his

hand, out of which a serpent

escaping.

But legends

of this sort carry on their face their

Putting such traditions aside,

own refutation. we have satisfactory


This
is

information that he appeared in Asia Minor.


the statement of Irenaeus,
fact

who must have known


was a

the

perfectly well, because he

disciple of Poly-

carp, the

martyr bishop of Hierapolis, and Polycarp


latter part of St.

was a
region

disciple of John.

The
;

John's

life

was spent

in this

and the

city with

which the unanimous

tradi-

tion of early times associates

him

is

Ephesus.
coast,

This city was situated on the

^gean

and

it

was one of the great centres of human life in that age for Christianity, at its inception, had a predilection for
;

large

cities,

whence

its

influence might radiate into the

regions with which

they were connected.

Ephesus
in-

contained a great population and was a place of enor-

mous wealth and

activity.
its

St.

John may have been


streets

spired by the aspect of

busy quays and

when

he thus described the


"

traffic

of the mystic Babylon:


silver,

The merchandise
and of

of gold,

and

and precious

stones,

pearls,

and

fine linen,

and purple, and

ST.
silk,

JOHN IN PATMOS.

15/

and

scarlet,

sels of ivory,

and

and thyine wood and all manner vesall manner vessels of most precious

wood, and of brass and iron and marble, and cinnamon, and odors, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine,

and

oil,

and

fine flour

and wheat, and

beasts,

and sheep,

and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men." The last awful words suggest what was the fact that

it

was an extremely wicked

city.

Shakespeare's account
the

of an imaginary

Ephesus,
is

in

beginning of the

Comedy of Errors,
ancient Ephesus
"

too true a description of the real

They say this town is full of cozenage, As nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind,
Soul-killing witches that deform the body,

Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks,

And many such

like liberties of sin."

Being connected by both land and sea with Syria and


the countries beyond,
it

swarmed with those

professors

of black arts
titudes

whom

the East in that age poured in mulcities

into the

great

of the West; and these

preyed on the strangers from every shore who entered


the harbor.

The

centre, however, of degradation

was

the temple of Diana.

This was reckoned one of the


It
;

seven wonders of the world.

was larger than any had one hundred and


gift

known
king
;

structure of the kind


pillars,

it

twenty-seven
it

each

of

which was the

of a

contained masterpieces in both sculpture and


greatest artists of antiquity, such as
;

painting of the

Phidias and Appelles

its

worship was maintained by


;

innumerable priests and priestesses

and

its

votaries

158

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

could boast that Asia and the whole world worshipped


its

divinity.

Obviously

this

was a place where the Gospel was


before
it

urgently needed; and

was

visited

by

St.

John the

work

of
It

its

evangelization had been vigorchief centre of the third

ously begun.

had been the

missionary journey of the apostle Paul,

voted to

it

three whole years.


;

he was violently driven forth

who had deAt the end of that time but his work remained,

and
left

St.

John, when he arrived, entered on the heritage


to believe that St. Paul

by his predecessor. There is good reason


in the regions

had

not only established Christianity in Ephesus, but plant-

ed churches

round about. Behind Ephesuch as

sus, in the valleys of the

Hermus, Cayster, and Maeancities,

der, there lay

number of important

Smyrna, Pergamos and Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea and to these the Christian movement, if
;

active in Ephesus, could hardly

fail

to penetrate.
St.

It

had penetrated

to

them

and when

John reached

Ephesus he not only found the foundations laid in that city on which he might build, but a sphere of influence open to him in the surrounding places. This he would no doubt extend and develop, and we
find him, in the

opening chapters of the Book of Revelation, exercising


a pastoral oversight not only over Ephesus, but also

over the neighboring towns, evidently with a minute

and sympathetic knowledge of the circumstances of


every one of them.

ST.

JOHN

IN PATMOS.

159

XLIV.
There
John's
life
is

only one incident of the

latter half of St.


;

of which

we have

a complete account

and

we owe

the vivid picture to his


call to

own hand.

It is

an ac-

count of his

be a Christian writer.
;

A speaker for

Christ he had long been

but his writing was far to ex-

ceed in importance his speaking; and he received a


special call to
it.

The circumstances
are worthy of attention.

are very fully given, and they

He
island at

was

*'

in the isle called

Patmos."

This

is

an

no great distance from Ephesus, one of the


this part

group, called the Sporades, scattered at


coast over the surface of the

of the

^gean.

It is

only a few

miles in length, and


tion
;

is

rocky and rugged

in configuraits

but travellers speak with enthusiasm of


it is

beauty,

>j,

when
is

seen in a favorable light where


It

it

sleeps

upon
it

the lovely sea.

has a few hundred inhabitants, but

a lonely spot.
St.

John says that he was on this island " for the God and the testimony of Jesus Christ ;" which may only mean that he was providentially led there to receive by inspiration the Word of God and

Word

of

the testimony of Jesus Christ

but more probably the


is

generally accepted interpretation

correct, that

he was

banished to

this place for


;

preaching God's
in the

Word and
in tribu-

for his loyalty to Christ

because

same breath he

declares himself to be brother and

companion

l6o
lation

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


to those

who

are persecuted.

Lonely islands

were in that age favorite places of banishment;

and

Patmos may well have been used


the authorities of Ephesus.
ever,
for
evil

for this

purpose by

What

they intended, how-

turned

out,

through the overruling


infinite

providence of God, to be for


in

good.

Possibly

John had been working so hard that he had little time to think and no time to write but, when banished to this solitude, he found ample leisure. So it was when Milton's public hfe was violently ended by
Ephesus
St.
;

the death of Cromwell, and his outward activity limited

by

his blindness, that he


;

mused

the greatest epic of the

world

and

it

is

indirectly to those
jail

for twelve

years in Bedford

that

who kept Bunyan we owe the Pil-

grim's Progress.

Prison literature has greatly enriched


all

mankind, and at the head of


place the

such products we must


came.

Book

of Revelation.
call

Such was the place where the


time was the " Lord's day."
in

The

This

is

the only passage


;

but,

now well-known name occurs when we compare it with such a phrase as the Lord's Supper," and when we read how the Christians came together for worship on the first day of the week, or on the same day laid by in store their gifts for poor saints, there can be no mistake to what it refers. The day of the week on which the Lord rose from the dead was already esteemed a sacred day by Christians, and in the mind of Christian Jev/s, like St. John, the sacredScripture where this
*'

ness of the Sabbath had in


ferred to
it.

all

probability been trans-

How

St.

John was employed on such a day we

ST.

JOHN IN PATMOS.
guess.

l6l

can without
doubt.

difficulty

He

might be reading the


a

He was praying, no Word of God. We


at

may even make


tion
is

shrewd guess
spirit

the portion of

Scripture he was studying; for the

Book
also

of Revela-

steeped in the

and imagery of the Book


traces

of Daniel.

It exhibits

many
also

of another

book, not

in the

canon of Scripture the apocryphal


this

Book of Enoch

and

the apostle

may have

had on the island with him. He was thinking with love and intense concern of the churches under his
charge, from access to which he was for the time de-

barred; as other exiles

Knox

for

example, when in

Geneva, or Rutherford, when banished from Anwoth

have passionately longed

for their congregations.

He
ban-

was thinking,
of
all this

too, of " the

heavy and the weary weight


;"

unintelligible

world
is

for,

whether

his

ishment took place, as


reign of
time,

differently reported, in the

Nero or

in that of

Domitian,

it

was an

evil

when
let

the ravening

wolves of persecution had


little

been
flock.

loose and threatened to annihilate Christ's

Such was
on the lonely
deepened
he was

St.

John's situation on the Lord's day


of Patmos,

isle

when

his

absorpdon
it,

into the prophetic trance, or, as he puts

" in the Spirit ;"

and then he was made

ac-

quainted with his divine vocation.

II

l62

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XLV.
The
First,

divine call

was addressed

first

to the ear

and

then to the eye.

he heard behind him "a great voice, as


This expressed the desire of

of a trumpet."

Him

from

whom
apostle
like

the voice
:

came

to

speak through means of the


This was further
:

he had a message which he wished to ring

a trumpet round the world.

by what the voice proceeded to say " 1 am Alpha and Omega." These are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet; therefore they are the beginning and ending of all that can be written in the
indicated

And so is Christ himself the sum Greek language. and substance of all which his messengers have to deliver to the world with him they have to begin, and
:

with him they have to end.

But there could be no

mistake

in

the interpretation of the symbol, because

the voice proceeded to instruct St John that he was to


write a book, the contents ol which

would be divinely

communicated
to

and he was ordered to send it the churches of the province of Asia, which were
to him,
his superintendence.

under

So far but a much

the revelation addressed itself to the ear

greater impression was produced through

the avenue of the inner eye, to which there

was pre-

sented nothing less than a vision of the glorified

Head

of the church.

Turning round

to see, as

he expresses

it,

the voice

which talked with him, he saw

One

like

unto the Son

ST.

JOHN IN PATMOS.

163

of

man

in

the

midst of seven golden candlesticks,

These candlesticks were exof the seven churches of symbols plained to symbolism was approthe and the province of Asia
or rather lampstands.

him

as

priate, for

were not these churches

lights shining in

dark places by
truth?

holding forth the illumination of divine


order to serve this purpose they re;

But

in

quired to be trimmed and supphed with oil and this was why He whom John saw was standing or walking
in the

midst of them.

He

was watching and passtheir light did not

ing from one to another to see that

go

out.

Such was

his

work

but

St.

John proceeds

in

sub-

Ume

terms to describe his aspect.

He was

**

clothed

with a garment

down

to the

golden girdle." feet, and girt about the breast with a The word employed for garment " is the name for a
'*

priestly robe, so that

that this

it was in the character of superhuman Figure presented himself

priest

Per-

haps

it

is

to the priestly character also that the next

two

traits

apply.

*'

His head and

his hairs

were white

like wool, as white as snow."

This has been supis

posed to indicate venerable age, but it that it is a symbol of priestly purity.

more

likely

And

the other

trait" His eyes were as a flame of fire "denotes the keenness with which he seeks for purity in others.

Two

other traits appear to bring out rather his


that
that "
'*

kingly character the one,


fine brass,"

His

feet

were

like

He had in his right and the other, hand seven stars." Feet of brass should be symbols of solid and irresistible strength, whether used for bearing

164

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


down opThere no burden which the friends of
is

weight imposed from above or for treading


position.
is

Christ can lay


tain
;

upon him which he

not able to sus-

and, on the other hand, there

is

no force which
is

his

enemies can bring against him which he

not able

to trample
feels

under

foot.

Woe

to

the
feet

opponent who

on
!

his

neck the weight of the

which are of fine

brass
right

In what form the seven stars appeared in the

hand of this Figure we can only conjecture. Some have supposed them to have been set like precious stones in a ring worn on his finger or in a bracelet These on his wrist, but this is perhaps too precise.
seven
churches,

stars are afterwards described as the angels of the

by which we are

to understand the authori-

ties

presiding over them..

These
as

*'

angels " had the

churches in their hands, but they themselves were held


in

the right

hand of

Christ,
if

the authorities of

all

churches must ever be


success.

they are to have any true

The two

traits that

have

still

to be

mentioned may,
'*

perhaps, be said to set forth the prophetic character of

Him who

is

here described.
waters."

His voice was


is

as the

sound of many and subduing


this voice

As

there

no sound so mystic

as the manifold voice of ocean,

and as

murmurs upon every shore and envelops the is the prophetic word of Christ intended to reach all men, and when it comes with the power " Out of his mouth of the Spirit it is irresistible. went a sharp two-edged sword" this is the other
world, so

prophetic

trait.

Perhaps

it

ought rather
is

to

be regarded

as kingly, for the sword intended

that of the Judge,

ST.

JOHN IN PATMOS.
at the last

165

who
the

will

separate

men

and recompense them


also inevitably recalls

according to their deeds.

But
is

it

Word

of God, which

"

quick and powerful, and

sharper than any two-edged sword."

The two meanthat


I

ings are not far apart, for Christ said himself in regard
to

everyone

who heard him

"

The word
last
is,

have

spoken, the same shall judge him at the

day."

The
it

final trait

of the description

"

His counte-

nance was as the sun shineth

in his strength."
It

Perhaps

ought rather

to

be " His aspect."

was not the


whole perin

face alone of this wonderful Figure, but his

son, that emitted a dazzling light

he stood

a circle

of glory

and

this

was as intense as the midday sun.

l66

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

XLVI.
In some features of
this description

two-edged sword proceeding out of the mouth


recognize the peculiarity of the

especially the we
imagination, to

Hebrew
was

which the harmony of one part of a picture with another was not a necessity, as
it

to the

mind of the
description

Greek.

Thoroughly

to enjoy St. John's

we should have

to translate

some

portions of his im-

agery into their Greek equivalents, so as to render the

whole harmonious as a single visual perception.


there
is

But

sive visions

no doubt which the


St.

that this

is

one of the most impresof

Word
is

God

contains.
it

What

surprises us

the discrepancy between

and the Christ of


expected that
if in

John's memory.

One would have


his

the vision he

saw

beloved Master

again the form would have been a glorified reproduction of the figure with which he had been so familiar in the

days of Christ's

flesh.

We
;

dare not, however, regard

what he saw
from
his

in

own imagination

Patmos merely as an image projected on the contrary, it was a


;

figure cast

on the internal mirror from the outside and

the reason

John's

why it was so different from the Jesus of St. memory may have been because the apostle
new conception
of his Master, an-

required an entirely

swering to the distance to which


the state of glory into which

He had removed and He had entered. This


St.

may have been necessary, to impress the mind of John with the proper sense of His greatness.

ST.

JOHN IN PATMOS.
As
when
the

16^7

At

all

events, the impression which the vision did


St. Paul,

Lord DamasJesus appeared to struck bUnd for a cus, fell to the ground and was flashed upon him vision season, so St, John when this
produce was profound.

him

in glory

on the way

to

fell

like a dead man. But the divine Figure at whose feet he had bending over him, touched him with his hand.

down

fallen,

This

it could was the hand that held the seven stars, yet for, glorious and touch comforting and give a light that gentle Jesus terrible as is the exalted One, yet is he
;

who

He

of sinners. blessed the children and was the Friend comwith servant prostrate proceeded to rally his

fortable

words

and then he instructed him that

this

of the vision was a divine preparation for the disclosure book the mystery which was still hidden, but which
to

be penned by him was


In

to reveal to the world.

many

respects this experience of St.

John bears

which the a striking resemblance to the visions by Isaiah, hke prophets, Testament Old prophetic career of pecuThe inaugurated. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, was that is noted, already liarity in this case, as has been
the scene did not take place at the
his career as a

commencement
it,

of
at
ot

man

of God, but in the middle of


to enter

the time
a writer.

when he was about

upon the

work

This casts an interesting hght on the writings


St.

of

John.

As

far as

we

are informed, the literary activi-

ty of

no other New Testament writer was inaugurated many of with any such ceremony and solemnity indeed, impresthe produce the New Testament writings rather
;

l68

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

sion that their authors were unconscious of the extraor-

dinary place to which the productions of their pens

were destined.

But

consciousness, and he
that

he was doing a

John this came to complete knew when he put pen to paper momentous work for both God and
in St.

man.

There

is,

however, a more general lesson

and

it is

one specially adapted to our own times.


lence of writing
age,
is

The preva-

one of the characteristics of the present


is

and the printed page

every day becoming a

greater influence in shaping the thoughts and the con-

duct of mankind.

Through

it

the voice of Christ can


or,

be made to sound like a trumpet,

Hke the voice of


Writing,

many
done
the

waters, to

murmur round
and
it

the globe.

therefore,

no

less

than preaching,

may be
the

a service

to Christ,

ought to be carried on with

same purity of motive and


writing.

same devotion.
no influence

Nor ought
to religious

the sense of responsibility to be confined

For good or

evil,

goes deeper than that of written words, whether they appear in letter, journal, book, or any other form; and,
as in every activity of
life
it is

the duty of a Christian


in this

man

to

aim

at the glory of

God, so

one also

ought Jesus Christ to be the Alpha and the

Omega.

THE WRITINGS OF

ST.

JOHN.

69

THE WRITINGS OF
XLVII.
There
who
is

ST.

JOHN.

no kind of influence more penetrative and


is

enduring than that which


writes a

vouchsafed to the author


will not let die

book which the world


life

"for books are not absolutely dead


contain a progeny of
soul was
in

things,

but do

them

to
;

be as active as that
nay, they do pre-

whose progeny they are


them

serve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of


that living intellect that bred

A good
life."

the precious life-blood of a master-spirit,

book is embalmed and

treasured up on purpose to a

life

beyond

how obscure was the corner in which St. John was born and how humble the calling to which he was bred, we cannot but wonder that it
consider

When we

should have been given to him to write books which

have already lasted

for nearly

two thousand years and

yet appear to have only


usefulness.

That

St.

commenced their career of Paul, when he became a new

man, should have served the cause of Christianity with


his

pen cannot cause any surprise, because he was an


:

man but St. John had never learned. It reminds us of the confession of John Bunyan in the " For my descent, it beginning of his autobiography
educated
:

was, as

is

well-known by many, of a low and incon;

siderable generation

my

father's

house being of that

170

THE DISCIPLE
is

WHOM
Yet

JESUS LOVED.
all

rank which

meanest

and most despised of

the

families in the land."

and

strange

it

is

to think

of
in

it

among

all

the thousands

who have been educated

our universities from century to century none have,

in'the

charm of

their style or the value of their matter,


;

surpassed the tinker's son


of Coleridge has written
Bible excepted, which
:

of

whom

a critic of the rank

" I

know

of no book, the

I,

according to

my

judgment

and experience, could so safely recommend, as teaching and enforcing the whole saving truth according to the

mind
what

that

was

in

Christ Jesus, as the Pilgrim's Pro-

gress."

The

literature of
:

Germany

has a marvel someall his life

similar to exhibit

Jacob Boehme was

nothing better

than a working shoemaker, yet three


after his

hundred years
philosophy."
" a

death he can be spoken of as

" the greatest of the mystics

and the

father of

German
him
to

Philosophers like Schelling and Hegel


his genius, the latter calling

have paid tribute to

man

of a mighty

mind

;"

and a
:

living

countryman
in

of our

own

says of his writings

" I

wade
sink

and

in,

the utmost of

my

ability,

and

still there rise

up above

me and me vast

stretch out

around

me and

down beneath

reaches of revelation and speculation, attainment and experience, before which I can only wonder and worship .... Boehme, almost more than any other man whatsoever, is carried up till he moves like a holy

angel or a glorified saint


eternal.

among

things unseen and

He

is

of the race of the seers, and he stands

out a very prince


all

among them.

He

is full

of eyes, and

his eyes are full of Hght."

Examples

like these

remind us that there

is

no

THE WRITINGS OF
rank of
life

ST.

JOHN.

/I

so lowly or corner of the world so obscure mystery as to be inaccessible to the light of the glorious
of existence.
place,
if

No mind and no

lot

need be common-

only the heart be opened to the beauty and Among the with which it is surrounded. truth the is due generally it all, at comes awakening poor, if this
to the touch of religion.

And, as regards

St.

John,

it

was obviously by the exigencies sibilities were quickened, and it was by engaged, that was he of the work of Christ, in which
his

the influence of Christ that his sen-

slumbering powers were called into exercise.

In his writings there are manifest traces of the unlearned man. More than once he betrays his impatience
" in the use of

paper and ink," Hke one unaccustomed

to composition.

The Greek
;

of his earliest

book

is

decidedly peculiar
idence
in

and, although his prolonged reshis language,

Ephesus improved
latest writings all

he avoids

even in his
style,

the complexities of literary

having formed for himself a dialect of extreme

simplicity.

Yet through the imperfections of his language the originality and majesty of his thoughts do him not fail to find a way. The ancient Church called
the eagle,

meaning that among the


one who

writers of the Bible


is

he

is

the

soars highest and


truth.

able to gaze

most steadily upon the sun of


also Epistethius, the

They called him Recumbent One meaning that,


;

the not only once or twice, but always he was lying on His of beating of Jesus and listening to the

bosom
heart.

John Jesus Christ was the Truth, eternal and absolute, issuing from the Father to be the Light and in this sunlight John lived continof the world

To

St.

172
ually.
finite

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


But
at the

same time Christ was the Love,


in contact with

in-

and absolute,
filled

which the apostle's

heart was

with satisfaction and ever fresh desire.


in one.

And, as Truth and Love


eternal.
It

He was
St.

to

him the

Life

was by

this

unwearied intuition of Christ

and by absorbing love to him that


a writer
;

John was made

for in writing, as elsewhere,


"

It is

the heart,

and not the brain,


doth attain
;

That

to the highest

___

And he who

followeth love's behest


all

Far exceedeth

the rest."

THE WRITINGS OF

ST.

JOHN.

73

XLVIII.

The
one
is

writings of St.

John belong
is

to three species

an Apocalypse, one

a Gospel, and three are

Letters.

the Bible
ings.

Although the Book of Revelation stands last in it is undoubtedly the first of St. John's writThis
is

indicated in the

book

itself,

in the begincall to

ning of which he gives an account of his


;

the

work of authorship and there are many other indications of the same thing. The book exhibits the apostle's mind at an early stage of development, when it was
furnished with materials of which
to a large extent displenished.
it

was subsequently
is

Indeed, so vast

the

contrast between the storm and stress with which this

book

is filled
it

and the serenity

of St. John's later writ-

ings that

has been doubted by

many whether

they

can have proceeded from the same mind.

But the

providential experiences through which St. John lived

were of a very revolutionary order, and

his

was a nature

capable of passing from extreme excitement to supreme


tranquillity.

The mind
is

of the writer of the

Book

of Revelation

dominated by two events of the most agitating im-

port

the
The

Neronian Persecution and the Fall of Jeruheathen persecution of Christianity took


at the

salem.
first

place at
it

Rome

was of a

terrible description.

hands of the Emperor Nero, and The Christians were

174

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


fire

accused of setting

to the city

and thus causing a


let

calamity which had inspired the inhabitants with bewildering terror.

Popular feeling was thus

loose

against the obscure foreign sect, and the wildest excesses of cruelty were perpetrated.

Many were thrown

to wild beasts in the amphitheatre, and others were enclosed in sacks full of pitch and, being stuck on poles,

were burned

to illuminate the gardens

opened by the

Emperor
pose that

to

appease his excited subjects.

Some
and

supwitit

St.

John was
;

in

Rome

at the time

nessed these atrocities


is

but,

whether he was or not,

easy to understand what an effect they must have


his

produced on

sensitive

heart

and the mental ex-

citement into which he was thrown deeply colored his


writing in Revelation.

The

other influence under which he wrote was the


fall

emotion caused by the approaching

of Jerusalem.

The Jews had attempted to throw off the yoke of their Roman masters, who thereupon advanced against them
with irresistible force, for the purpose of crushing the

Jewish state out

of existence.

From

province

to
till

province and town to town the destruction swept,

Jerusalem was girdled round with the besieging army; and the city fell after months of suffering, during which
scenes of horror and carnage had been enacted such as

This humanity has hardly ever witnessed elsewhere. book and D., St. year A. John's took place in the 70

was probably writen a year or two It is in form an Apocalypse


that time greatly cultivated

earlier.

literary

form at

among

the Jews.

One

book of the Old Testament

the prophecy of Daniel

THE WRITINGS OF
is

ST.

JOHN.

1/5

written in

it

but

in

the period between the

Old
of

Testament and the


Enoch, which

New many books


As
the

of this species

appeared, the most notable of them being the


still

Book

survives.

name

implies,

an

Apocalypse
God.
In the

is

a disclosure ol the secret purposes of

fifth

chapter of Revelation a book

is

seen

in heaven sealed with seven seals, which none in heav-

en or earth can open

but the Lion of the Tribe of


to loose the seals

Judah
dence

prevails to

open the book and


the

thereof.
;

This

is

Book

of

fate,
is

or rather of Provi-

and, as seal after seal

broken, the secrets of


After the

Providence are successively

made known.

seven seals ensues the blowing of seven trumpets, with a similar import, and this is succeeded by the pouring
out of seven
vials, in

the

same

sense.

The

disclosures

made by
whole
is

the

seven

seals,

the seven trumpets

and

the seven vials

form the body of the book.


is

The

extremely obscure, and, as

well-known, no

portion of Scripture has given rise to such diversity of


interpretation,

some

interpreting

it

as referring to the

events then happening in St. John's

own

experience,

others as descriptive of the entire course of


history from that date onwards, and
still

human

others as giv-

ing information of what will happen at the end of the


world.
It is

possible that the author

was compelled to be
his ideas in plain

obscure

because,

if

he had expressed

language, he would have exposed both himself and his


fellow-Christians to the persecuting rage of the

Roman

government, which extended also to Ephesus, where he


was.
If,

for instance, the

Beast to which he refers as

176

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

the supreme

enemy of the Church be, as many suppose, the Emperor Nero, it is obvious that he could only have referred to him in terms carefully veiled.
Bewilderingly obscure, however, as

many

chapters
fully
is

of the Revelation are, no

book has ever more


is

served

its

purpose.

This

to prove that there

Providence in

human

affairs

which

is

on the side of
secure the

righteousness, and, in spite of the opposition of the infernal


final

and

bestial

elements in the world,

will

triumh of Christianity.
;

This great lesson can be

read on every page

in periods of persecution the

book
it

has always been a consolation to the Church, and


will

always have an

office to

fulfil.

Of course
to

there are

other passages, such

as

the

Epistles
is

the

Seven
;

Churches, the teaching of which


to this

perfectly plain

and

book the world


in

is

largely

indebted for the

imagery

which

it

conceives the Christian heaven.

THE WRITINGS OF

ST.

JOHN

7/

XLIX.
Of
certain

St. John's later writings

we do

not

know

for

which was
his

v/hole generation

book and
changed.
ferent

but probably it was his Gospel. had intervened between his first second, and in the interval he had greatlyfirst,

The atmosphere

of the Gospel

is

quite dif-

from that of the Revelation.

The

Fall of Jeruthis

salem had happened in the meantime, and

had
It

created a revolution in the minds of Christians.

proclaimed with the

irresistible
its

voice of destiny that the

old dispensation, with

temple, rites and limitations,

had passed away, and


the world.
It

that a

new

era

had dawned upon


free

cut Jewish Christians loose from a thou-

sand prepossessions and caused them to realize how

and universal a thing Christianity was

to be.
in

In the

Book

of Revelation St.

John

is still

entangled

Jewish
in

imagery, hopes, claims, and modes of thought, but


the Gospel he has

moved out

into the

wide and sunny

ocean of humanity.
It
is

said that in the old age of the aposde the

presbyters of Ephesus begged him to

commit

to writ-

ing his recollections


treasures of his
ited,

of his

Master,

lest

the precious

memory, by which they had often profNothing could be more probable should be lost.
this,

than

but tradition has added, in


at once, in

its

exaggerative

way, that he thereupon

an access of inspiradon,
his

began

to recite the

opening verses of
12

Gospel " In

178

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


Word, and
1

the beginning was the

the

God, and the


a picture of

Word
St.

was God."
in

This reminds

Word was with me of


represented as

John

have seen, from the pencil of

one of the old masters,


lays

which he

is

having just written these words, when he pauses and

down

the pen, gazing awestruck at the characters

v/hich express a

meaning

far

beyond

his

own power

of

comprehension.

The Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke were, of course, by this tim.e in existence, and probably they were well known both to the apostle and
his fellow presbyters
;

but his reminiscences covered


theirs.

different
for

grounds from

This was one reason


their information.

which he wrote
passes over

to

supplement

He

many

things narrated by them, though

he takes them

for granted, and, indeed, his narrative


It is

but seldom runs parallel with theirs.

from him
for-

we

learn that the public ministry of Christ lasted

three years, whereas from the Synoptists

we should
is

have inferred that

it

lasted but one.

The reason
the
last,

that

they confine themselves,

except

at

to

the

Lord's movements in Galilee, whereas


rates in great detail

His

visits

to

John narJerusalem, which they


St.
life

have omitted.

They

describe his

in

public,

his

miracles, his parables to the multitude; he


rates
tists

his

interviews

with individuals.

commemoThe SynopJohn the

supply the exterior Hfe of Christ,

St.

interior.

There must,

in the nature of things,

Christ different from the one seen

and

St.

John,

by the make of

his

have been a by the multitude, mind and the course

THE WRITINGS OF
of his experience, was the
Christ.

ST.

JOHN.

I/g

man

to delineate this

hidden

He had
;

been with him oftener than any other


his

he had caught shades of


missed
ings.

meaning which others had

he treasured his rarest and most private say-

In St. John Jesus not only draws


circle of ideas

upon a

larger

than in the Synoptists, but speaks with


;

a different accent

and the question has often been


not

asked whether
nine accent.

He

is

made to speak

with the Johan-

Here and

there, after reporting a

speech

of his Master, the evangelist goes on to write


reflections of his

down

own, without indicating where Christ's


his

words cease and


that
tical

he knows

his

own begin. Is this an indication own ideas to be so completely idenof distinguishing


exactly between

with Christ's, and due to Christ, that he did not


the necessity

feel

what

he
?

remembered

and what

he

himself

had

thought

The

picture of Socrates presented in the Dialogues

of Plato differs from the biography of him given by

Xenophon

in a

manner not
in
St.

unlike
differ

the

way

in

which the discourses


of the Synoptists.

John

from those
be-

Plato idealized
his

his master,

ing conscious

that

own thoughts were

a legitPer-

imate

development from those of Socrates.

haps, to

some

extent, the
;

same may have been the


so, the

case with St. John

but,

if

freedom with which

he acted was due


tion.

to the certainty of his

own

inspira-

In his lifetime Jesus had said

" I

have yet many

things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear

them now

l8o

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


when
he, the Spirit of truth,
all
is

howbeit,

come, he

will

guide you into


that this

truth."

And

St.

John was so

satisfied

had been
give

fulfilled in his

experience that he

could

freely

the sense
its

of his

Master without

painful scrupulosity about

form.

THE WRITINGS OF

ST.

JOHN.

l8l

There was
we owe

probably also another reason for the


It is well

writing of St. John's Gospel.

known

that

the most of the writings of St. Paul indirectly

to the false teachers with

whom

he had
forth

to contend

because they provoked him by their opposition and


false

accusations,

and he blazed

against

them

with fiery and irresistible statements of the truth.


the time the necessity was grievous to

At

him, but the

work has reaped from


left

it

unspeakable advantage. The

discussions and the heresies of St. Paul's day had been

behind by the time

St.

John wrote

his Gospel,

but

others had arisen in their stead.


learn that his righteous soul, too,
teachers,

From

his epistles

we

was vexed with

false

who endeavored
truth.

to entice his converts

away

from the

These are generally understood to

have been the precursors of those who were known


later as Gnostics
;

and the

drifts

of their speculations

was to obscure either the true divinity or the true

humanity of
If St.

Christ, while in practice they

warped the

plain rules of righteousness

and

purity.

John wrote

his

Gospel with such opponents


for

before his eyes, there


first
is

may have been

him and

his

readers in

many

a verse a peculiar emphasis which

now

lost to us.

This
"

may

especially have been the

case with the great verse in which he explains the pur-

pose of his writings


believe that Jesus

These are

written, that

ye might
;

was the

Christ, the

Son of God

and

82

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


ye might have hfe through
first,

that, believing,

his

name."

His purpose was to prove,


Christ

that Jesus

was the
Fulfiller
this

that

is,

that he

was the Heir and the

of the Old Testament.

Although

St.

John was by

time liberated from the Jewish prepossessions, the Old

Testament was

still

for

him a divine

revelation

and the
But, in

ancient history a preparation for the Messiah.

order to sustain the

office of

Messiah, Jesus had to be far

more than those supposed who had on their lips the name of the Messiah they were expecting to sustain the mighty load of human salvation only one Being in the
:

universe v/as sufficient; and therefore

God* 'gave
is

his

only begotten Son."

The second

thing which St. John

wrote his Gospel to prove was that Jesus

the

Son

of
it

God.
first

This truth

is

not peculiar to him, nor was


his

made known

in

Gospel.

It is

the

common
It

faith of all

the writers of the

New

Testament.
;

un-

derlies the testimony of the Synoptists


in
it it
;

St.

Paul glories

the author of the Episde to the

expHcitly.

But

St.

John was able


witness to
;

to bear
it

phatic and authoritative


figure of the apostoHc
in his Gospel. "

Hebrews states more emthan any other

age

and

this

he does especially

We

beheld his glory," he says in the


;"

prologue, " the glory of the

Only Begotten of the Faand the whole book is ther, full of grace and an endeavor to let others see v/hat he had seen. It is a succession of unveilings of the glory of the Only
truth

Begotten.

He

does not

make

use of

all his

materials.

For example, he only gives seven miracles; but these The whole book are chosen as typical and conclusive. is a cumulative proof that Jesus was the Son of God.

THE WRITINGS OF
Yet
is

ST.

JOHN.
:

83

St.

John's aim
object,

an ulterior

is not merely theoretical there expressed in the words, " and that, life

believing,

ye might have

through

his

name."

He

meant

his readers

not only to assent to the

demon-

stration of Christ's claims, but to receive


life.

And
who

the whole story

is

so told as to

him as their show how


did not re-*

those

received him for what he claimed to be were


life,

blessed with eternal


ceive
until

while those

who

him were more and more hardened in their sin, their guilt culminated in the murder of the Prince

of Life.

84

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.

LI.

Of
Two

the epistolary species of writing

we

possess

three specimens from the pen of St. John.

of these, his second and third Epistles, are


letters,

simply short private

which have fortunately

been rescued from oblivion to give a vivid glimpse


into the
life

of that distant age as

it

was being formed


" the

by

Christianity.

One
elect

of them

is

addressed to a person styled

lady," or, as it may be Electa " or " the elect Kyria." St. John had met

translated, " the lady

some

of her children at the house of a sister of hers, and,


finding

them

to

be decided Christians, he writes to the

mother a few warm words of congratulation, taking advantage of the opportunity at the same time to warn
her against the abuse of her Christian hospitality by

wandering teachers who were not genuine servants of


Christ.

One
it

of the features of early Christianity was


of refined and

the

number
in

high-toned

women who
with the

found
It is

satisfaction for the aspirations of the heart.

easy to understand

how an aged

'saint

qualities of St.

John should have been a friend and

homes over which such women presided. young people is extremely noticeable and characteristic for he speaks with warmth not only
confidant in

His

interest in the

of the children of the lady to


of the children of her
sister,

with

whom he writes, whom he was

but also
staying.

THE WRITINGS OF
The
and
its

ST.

JOHN.

8$
;

other

little
is

note

is

addressed to a gentleman

purpose

to

commend

to his attention certain

evangelists

who were about


It
;

to visit
St.

the town in which


Paul's brief Epistle

he resided.
to

reminds us of
it,

Philemon

and, like

suppUes a specimen of aposof the

tolic

courtesy, as well as a glimpse

changes

which Christianity was introducing into the social relationships.

The remaining
quite a different

letter, St.

John's
It
is

first

Episde,

is

ol

character.

not long, but

it is

more a short
ties,

treatise than a letter in the


It

common

ac-

ceptation of the term.

has not, like

St. Paul's epis

a superscription designating the writer and the


It

recipients.

has been suggested that

it

was written

at the same time as the Gospel and intended to accompany it as an envoi, and this notion has a great deal to

For instance, the opening words, it. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled of the

recommend
"

Word

of

life,"

are far Hker a description of the Gospel

than of the contents of the Episde which follows.

The
and

whole composiuon would serve admirably as a companion-piece to the Gospel, to explain


enforce the practical objects for which
It
it

its

drift

was

written.
clearly,

exhibits the aposde's leading ideas


;

more
it

perhaps, than even the Gospel

at least

does so in

a space so narrow that they cannot be overlooked.


St.

John has

not,

hke

St. Paul,

long arguments and

doctrinal statements, but he has watchwords which he


is

constantly repeating.

Truth,

light,

life,

love

these

86

THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED.


him the priceless possessions. They are all in Here v/e find again and again the statement,
is

are to

God.
*'

God

love," the greatest sentence

which man ever

uttered.

All

these

possessions,

however, and

God

himself, are

brought nigh to

abiding in him that


ness St.

men in Christ, and it is bywe enjoy them. In this blessedand the purpose

John had

lived for a lifetime,

of his writings was that others might have fellowship


in the

same

blessedness.

Perhaps, however, the chief purpose of the Epistle


is

to

be found

in the

many

earnest exhortations

it

con-

tains in reference to the behavior of those

who

profess

to belong to Christ

not

to sin, but to

keep

his

comand

mandments; not
world or to fear
good.
*'

to yield to
its

the

enticements of the

hatred

to love the brethren

take advantage of every opportunity of doing them

He

that saith

he abideth

in

Him

ought him-

self so to

walk even as

He

walked."

ST.

JOHN THE

BAPTIST.

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


CHAPTER
Luke
1
:

I.

BIRTH AND UPBRINGING.


5-80

The

birth of the Baptist

is

of Jesus into one exquisite story, in which


his father,

woven along with that we learn how


was
in-

when

offering incense in the temple,

formed, through an apparition of the angel Gabriel, of


the approaching event,
unbelief;

but was struck

dumb

for his

how

the virgin Mary, after being informed by


destiny, paid a length-

the

same angel of her impending


visit

ened

to her cousin Elizabeth

on the eve of the

and the two holy women affectionately greeted each other; and how, at the circumcising of the child, the tongue of the father was loosed, so that he was able to tell the name which his son was to bear, and
Baptist's birth, at the

same time

to

break forth into a

hymn

of praise for

the honor conferred on his family.

Great

difficulties

have been

felt

by Christian scholembodies.

ars about this story, but these are considerably reheved

when we The
destined
It

perceive the truths which


first
life.

it

of these

is

that the Baptist's

was a preelement of

was

to

emphasize

this fact that the

190

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

miracle was allowed to enter so largely into the circumstances of his birth.

When

events take place in the orare apt to overlook their

dinary course of nature


significance;

we
it

and hence

has seemed meet to the


cir-

Creator som.etimes to accompany his v/orking with

cumstances so unusual as to arouse attention and make


the truth so plain as to be unmistakable.

The

parents were old and had ceased to have the


In similar circumstances, the "father

hope of children.

of the faithful," in times remote, received the

promise of

a son; and the special favor of God, thus indicated,

heightened his sense of gratitude and strained his anticipations to the


his son's
life.

utmost as to the issues bound up

in

Zacharias and Elizabeth, in like manner,


that their child

must have
gift

felt

was

in a

pecuHar way a

of God, and that a special importance was to attach


life.

to his

When

anything has been long desired, but


it

hope of ever obtaining


yet, after
all, it is

has died out of the heart, and

given, the gift appears infinitely greater


if

than

it

would have done

received at the time

when

it

was expected. The real reason, however, why in this case the gift was withheld so long was that the hour of
Providence had not come.

The

fulness of time

the Messiah should appear, and therefore forerunner should


the divine plan

when when his


settled in

come

into the world,

was

and could not be altered by an hour.

Therefore had Zacharias and his wife to wait.

As

a rule, the naming of children takes place in

haphazard fashion, the child receiving a certain name


simply because some relative has borne
it

before

him or

because the sound has pleased the fancy of father or

BIRTH AND UPBRINGING.


mother, or for some similar reason.
sion the
this v/as

I9I
tliis

But on

occa;

name was

divinely decided beforehand

and

another indication that this child was created

for a

special purpose.
is

Lord
cles

favorable, or,

The name John signifies The put more briefly, The Gift of God.
but also to far wider
cir-

He was

gift to his parents,

to his country and to mankind.


Not only was
this child to

be a

gift,
:

but he was to
"

be gifted

so the father was informed

He

shall

be
is

great in the sight of the Lord."


the ambition of every child of
of having as a son one
tion

To be
;

a great

man

Adam

and the thought

who

is

a great

man
is

is

a suggesis,

which

thrills

every parent's heart.

Greatness
great
?

indeed, an ambiguous word.


notorious, to be

Who

To

be

much

in the

mouths of men,

to

have a

name which
cial

is

a household word

that

is

the superfi-

conception of greatness.
;

But such greatness

may

be very paltry

to as

much

greatness as this multitudes

of the meanest and most worthless of


tained.

Lord."

mankind have atBut John was to be great " in the sight of the This is a different matter it implies not only
:

genuine
ends.

gifts,

but

gifts

employed
was

for other

than selfish

Not
this

only, however,

it

indicated in general that


;

child

was

to

be a great

man

but the special task


to

was

specified in

which

his gifts
''
:

were

be employed.
with the

He

was

to

be a prophet

He

shall

be

filled

Holy Ghost from

his mother's

children of Israel will he turn

womb, and many of the to the Lord their God."


this

To be

a prophet had in that country long been the

height of

human

ambition.

Yet even

was not the

192

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

summit of the honor intended for the son of Zacharias. An honor far above what any prophet of the Old Testament even an Elijah or Isaiah had attained was to

be vouchsafed to hirn
fore the

to be the forerunner
his

going benot

Messiah to prepare

way.

If this

was

really the destiny of


it

John

it

will

appear very surprising that


lesson which

should have been mi-

raculously revealed beforehand.

Yet perhaps the chief


from the miracle
is

we have

to learn

not

that the birth of John

was exceptional, but rather that

more wonderful than we are apt to supGod saw fit to accompany his working in some pose. cases with miracle, making his meaning unmistakable, in order that we might learn to take his meaning Every life is predestinated. It is not by always. chance that anyone is born at a particular time and
every birth
is

in

a particular place.

In the period which his

life

cov-

ers

and

in the place

where

his lot is cast

everyone has
fill

an appointed work to do and a place to


vine plan
;

in the di-

and

his gifts are

measured out by the divine


his destiny.

hand

to enable

him

to

fulfill

" In

my

cra-

dle," said a great poet of our

map
life."

of

my

line of

own century, " lay the march, marked out for my whole
what becomes of human freedom ? this objection has actually been
If,
it

But,
it

if this

be

so,

may be

asked.

And

urged against

this

story.

is

said,

God knew
this diffi-

beforehand what John's course

in the

world was to be

John could not have been a culty will not dismay us.

free agent.
It
is

But

only by means of
life

human

cooperation that the divine purpose in any

BIRTH AND UPBRINGING.


can be
fulfilled.

I93

Anyone

also

may
is

frustrate the grace

seldom the most them a light that leads astray their talents are misspent, and become a curse instead of a blessing: and they will appear before the judgment-seat with the work undone for which
of God.

Multitudes do so
light

and not
to

gifted.

The

of genius

they were created.


John's which brings
of this danger.

It

is

just

such a great
full

life

as

home to the mind the What if he had failed?

extent
if,

What

yielding to the passions of youth or the temptations

of the world, he had quenched the Spirit and, instead

of being a prophet, to lead his fellowmen up to God,

had been a ringleader


Is

in evil,

using the force and

fasciI

nation of his genius to lead


it

men down

the broad road


?

conceivable that he was never tempted

that
?

he
Is

never stood trembling at the parting of the ways


it

credible

that

the

preacher of repentance did not


?

know
crisis

the fascination of sin

No man

attains to a

life

of honor and usefulness without passing through the of decision and fighting

world, the flesh, and the devil.

many a battle with the It may not matter so


life

much

to the

world whether or not our


to ourselves, for
it

fails

but

it

matters as

much

is

the loss of the


loss.

one chance of

living,

and

it is

an eternal

Another lesson which


this story is

is

charmingly taught by
in the

that there are

good people

worst

of times.
It
is

in the cycle of stories with


is

which the birth


with

of Christ

surrounded

and
1

along

them we

reckon the incidents connected with the birth of the


The
Disciple, etc

194
Baptist

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


far the

that we obtain by

most vivid ghmpses


die
for the consolation

of the best section of Jewish society in that age


Stille7i

im Lande, who were waiting

of Israel.

Indeed, without this portion of the evangelic


clear information

records

we should have hardly any

about these hidden ones and their state of mind.

Yet

they were essential to the rise and spread of Christianity; and, now that we have the records, we can see
that they describe

them exacdy

as they

must have

been.
It

was an

evil time.

The people

of

God had sunk


It

very low both

in

character and in fortune.

was

the darkest hour, which occurs just before the dawning.

The nation was enslaved and its own princes, of dubious


see

to the
origin,

Roman power
were the exact

reverse of the ideals of the nation's prime.

The

Phari-

and the Sadducee occupied the high places of the one as scribe, ruling in the synagogue, Life on the the other as priest, ruling in the temple. outside was thickly plastered over with pious rules and
religion

practices, but

on the inside

it

was

full

of dead men's

bones.

The

publican, the sinner and the harlot flaunted

their vices in the eyes of all;

and the
the

bitter critics of

these abandoned classes practised


their hearts.

same

sins

in

Even

as

impression one receives

one reads the body of the Gospels, the is that, till Christ came and
But
this

converted a few, piety was extinct.


sion
is

impres-

corrected by these stories of the childhood of

Jesus.
et

As

in the

days of Elijah, when the great prophleft

complained that he was

alone in the land, his

BIRTH AND UPBRINGING..


countrymen having
in a

I95

God was
thousand

able to inform
in

Israel

body gone over to idolatry, him that there were seven who had not bowed the knee to
saints

Baal, so in this
in

dark age there were scattered

every part of the land

Elizabeths,
Even
to to
in

Josephs, Marys,
fire

Simeons, Annas
religion

who

were keeping the


the

of true

unextinguished.

temple

the
order

focus of evil

man was
fulfil

be found like Zacharias,


Jerusalem
in the

who when he had come up


of his course to

the order of his priesthood,


lot to

and

when he was chosen by


at the

burn incense

the sign
heaven

that the prayers of Israel were ascending to

hour of prayer

did

not merely perform the

ceremony, but accompanied the mechanical act with


such fervent intercessions that an archangel was
tracted from heaven
to assure
at-

him

that his prayers

were heard.
In the

and

in the

hymn of Mary, when she greeted EHzabeth, hymn of Zacharias, when his tongue was
all

loosed on the occasion of his child's circumcision,


are enabled to see into the very hearts of

we who were

of their

way

of thinking and to recover the contents of

their minds.

ism.

The most prominent feature was an intense patriotThey dwelt on the memories of their country's
very souls had entered
iron

glorious past, and into their

the
their

of

its

dishonor:

but,

above

all,

they fed

hopes on the promises given to Abraham and


still

to

David which

awaited their fulfilment.


for

ComHoly

bined with this


Scriptures.

was an intense love

the

In them they were brought into contact

196

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


communion

with the godly figures of the past ages, in


with

whom

they found the companionship which the

degenerate generation by which they were surrounded


did not afford.

The hymns

of

Mary and

Zacharias

are saturated with the spirit and the language of the


lyrics of the

Old Testament.
Scriptures,

And, along with devoAssured that

tion to the

another prominent feature of

the piety of these people was prayer.

God's promise could not


for the

fail

they ardently pleaded

dawn

of a better day, and especially for the

advent of the Messiah.

When

Gabriel announced to
it

Zacharias that his prayer was heard,

is

generally

supposed he meant
such a
gift

his

prayer for a son.

But

for

was
ing;

for the

and

Zacharies had long ceased to plead: it coming of the Messiah he had been prayof all like-minded this was the prayer

people.

Thinly scattered throughout the population


of hope and devotion in one
for the

they yet knew one another, and, as occasion allowed,

blew into flame the


another's hearts.

fire

They were
;

most part poor

and obscure, like Joseph the carpenter or the shepherds of Bethlehem


but they looked for changes

which would reverse the judgments of the world by which they were condemned
to neglect

and contempt.
the mighty

Thus did Mary


from their

sing, "

He

hath put

down

seats,

and exalted them of low degree;

He
rich

hath

filled

the

hungry with good

things,

and the

he hath sent empty away."

times, but to them,

Not only are there good people in the worst of however few and humble they may
Principalities

be, the future belongs.

and powers may

BIRTH AND UPBRINGING.


lord
it

I97

over them
;

wickedness

in

high places

contemptuous

the notorieties of the hour

may be may dazzle


is

them down

but those in whose hearts and in whose

homes
come.

the altar-fire of truth, righteousness

and piety
hour

kept burning are the true kings, and their

will

Some day
Son
is

there will pass through their ranks


cry, "

from mouth to mouth the


to us a

To

us a Child
shall

is

born,

given,

and the government

be upon

His shoulder."
Jesus

In these stories of the childhood of

we

see how, in a

who were clinging to dom of God can be

principle

moment, the sadness of those and waiting for the kingpraise.

turned into joy, and their silence

and sighing become hymns of


the inspiration

From Mary
closed
lips

to

Zacharias, from the shepherds to

Simeon and Anna,


were
this

passed

and

their

opened
is

to hail the

good time

that

had come.
all

And

a prophecy of that which will happen to


the

who Hve

in

same

attitude

for " light

is

sown

for the right-

eous and gladness for the upright

in heart."

A
It

third lesson

which

is

taught by the story of the


is

Baptist's birth

and upbringing

the influence of parents.

has been already said that the Baptist might

himself have frustrated the purpose of

God

in his

life.

In order that the divine plan might be

fulfilled it

was

necessary that his

own mind and

will

should

rise into

harmony and co-operation with it. But it was pendent on the sympathy and the efforts of his

also de-

parents.
in their

Had
son's

they not appreciated the design of


life,

God

and brought him up with


lost.

this

in view, all

might have been

198

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


is

The

character of Zacharias and EHzabeth


:

de-

scribed in attractive terms


before God, walking in

dinances of the
priest,

They were both righteous commandments and orLord blameless." The father was a
all

"

the

and so there was an atmosphere of religion


But
this

in

the
tage.

home.

may
is

not always be an advana man's


;

Where

religion

occupation there

must be the form of godliness


the contrast the

but this

may

only

more glaring between profession make and practice. The eyes of the young are quick to deand perhaps the most dantect such inconsistencies gerous position in which a young and observant boy can grow up is a home where religion is a trade, but not a life. That incident in the temple, however, already referred to, proves that Zacharias' religion had an inWhen he was offering inside as well as an outside. cense, he was at the same time offering what the incense
;

symbolized
father
that both

fervent prayer.
faithful

Besides, the
to

hymn

of the

and the greeting of the mother

Mary show
religion.
;

were acquainted with the poetry of


duty

Their religion was a

discharge of duty

but

it

was not
well.

all

it

was a passion and an enthusiasm as


that they were filled with

It is

said of

them both

Holy Ghost. This is the kind of religion that wins young hearts where they see that it is not a yoke, but
the

the secret of blessedness.


that in this
to

It

was of special significance

The mother weep because the boy's father was thwarting her teaching by his example, nor the father to sigh that the mother's unsanctified nature was hardening his son. Then, there would be the more distant influence of rela-

home both

parents were godly.

had not

BIRTH AND UPBRINGING.


tives

I99

and acquaintances of
;

like spirit with the father

and

mother

for

we may be
is

certain that the friends of this

family would be the excellent of the earth.

Happy
mother, and

he or she who has such a father and

whose childhood is nurtured in such a home. Out of such homes have come the men who have been the reformative and regenerative forces of
the world.

The
;

influence of the
all

mother

is

especially

noteworthy
ously

men who have been conspicugreat and good have owed much to their mothers.
nearly
is

In this narrative the mother


father
spirit
;

less

prominent than the


of

but enough

is

told to

show what manner


roof.

she

was

of.

One

hkes to think of the three

months spent by Mary under her


paid by Elizabeth to her on

The homage
been bestowed

whom had

the greater honor of being the mother of the

Lord was
said,

an anticipation of the humility of her son, when he


"

He

must
Their

increase, but

must decrease."
a city of
to read " the city

home

is

said to have been " in

Judah," which some have proposed

of Juttah," a priesdy town to the south of Jerusalem.

Others have thought of Hebron, another priestly town


in the

same

region.

But

it

is

useless to attempt

any

determination of the exact place.

Whatever the town was, here " he grew and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel." He v/as not an educated man in the technical sense. He did not go to Jerusalem and sit at the feet of Gamaliel. He was self-taught, as the
saying
is
;

perhaps
It is

in this

case
to

God-taught.

curious

we ought rather note how many

to say

of the

200

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


to schools

world's greatest
colleges.

men have owed nothing


primordial mass
?

and
^_
^

Universities can polish the intellect, but can


its

they add to
intellect
is

When
the

the mass of
C\

great,

sometimes

it is all

more impressive

v /

$^

>'

and

effective for not

being polished too much.

The

Baptist's

discourses
;

the world

show that he was not ignorant of so that we must not understand too literally
But,
if

the statement that he was in the deserts.


visited

he

towns and there observed hum.an

life,

and

if

he

visited Jerusalem
ligion,

and there scrutinized the


long.

state of re-

he retired to the deserts to brood over what he

had
his

seen.

He brooded
thirty years

It

does not appear that


;

ministry began

much

before that of Jesus

and, as

when He went forth to preach, John must have been about the same age when he was shown unto Israel. All this time his thoughts had been accumulating; deeper and deeper, as he wandered brooding among the solitudes, grew his convictions, " as streams their channels deeper wear." At last he came forth, clothed with a force like that of the
Jesus was
old

bare elements of nature, and speaking with the impressiveness of the thunder
ning.

and the vividness

of the light-

On

the

title

page of

this

volume a sentence

is

quoted, from one of Mrs. Jameson's books on Sacred


Art, to the effect that " in devotional pictures

we

often

John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist standing together, one on each side of Christ." To what link of association is this conjunction due? The
see St.
identity of

name may have something

to

do with

it.

BIRTH AND UPBRINGING.


Besides, the

201
connected by
is

two were
;

at

least distantly

the

tie

of nature

for the Baptist's


in

mother

called " the

cousin"

a vague word
as the

Greek of Mary,

the mother
all

of Jesus, and,

Evangelist's mother was in


it is

probability Mary's sister,

likely that the Evangelist

was related
But the
tian
tie

to the Baptist in the

same way

as Jesus was.
in the Chris-

which binds the two together


is

mind

rather that indicated

on each side of Christ."

by the words, " One The two St. Johns form the
testimony.
to point
first

extreme links of the chain of evangelic

The

Baptist had the privilege of being the


;

out the Messiah

the Evangehst bore the last and most


to the glory of the

consummate witness

Son of God.

202

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

CHAPTER
Matthew
3
:

II.

THE PROPHET.
1-12;

Mark

:i-8;

Luke

1-18.

Some

preachers derive a certain amount of influ-

ence from the impression


appearance.

made by

their

personal

When,

as in the case of Chalmers,

on

the broad and ample forehead there rests the air of

philosophic thought, and in the liquid eye there shines


the

sympathy of a benevolent
is

nature, the goodwill of

the congregation
Still

conciliated before a
is

word

is

uttered.

more

fascinating

the impression when, as in the

case of

Newman,

the stern and emaciated figure sug-

gests the secret fasts

and midnight

vigils of

one who

dwells in a hidden world, out of which he comes with

a divine message to his followers.


In the highest degree this advantage attached to
the preaching of the Baptist, whose appearance must

have been very

striking.

His hair was long and un-

kempt
by

and

his features

were tanned with the sun and


food was of the simplest

the air of the desert.


austerity
;

Probably they were thinned too

for his habitual

order, consisting only of locusts


custs, dried

and wild honey.


still,

Lothe

and preserved, form


in

at the present

day, an article of food in the East, but only

among

very poor: people

the least degree luxurious or


it.

scrupulous would not look at

Wild honey, formed


rocks or
in rifted

by hives of bees

in the crevices of

THE PROPHET.
trees,

203

abounds

in the

desert- places of Palestine,

and

may be

gathered by anyone

who wanders

there.

The

raiment of the Baptist corresponded with his food, consisting of a


cloth,
is

garment of the very coarsest and cheapest


of camel's hair.

made
article

The

girdle of the Oriental

an

of clothing on which a great deal of taste


is

and expense
rial

laid out,

being frequendy of fine mate-

and gay coloring, with the added adornment of


;

elaborate needlework

but the girdle with which John's

garment was confined was no more than a rough band


of leather.

Everything, in short, about his external

appearance denoted one


the

who had reduced


life

the claims of

body

to the lowest possible terms, that

he might

devote himself entirely to the

of the

spirit.

John was a Nazarite.


have been of very ancient
isted earlier

The

Nazarite

vow seems

to

origin,

perhaps having ex-

than the beginning of the history of the

Hebrew
porary.
to

people.
It

But

it

was adopted
;

into the

Mosaic

legislation.

was voluntary

and

it

was usually temmight resolve

For

ascetic purposes

an

Israelite

be

for a certain

term of months or years a Nazarite,


this

and

at the

end of

period he could, by the perform-

ance of certain ceremonies, lay the ascetic habit aside

and return to ordinary


like

life.

The
life.

Baptist, however,
race,

was

some other great men of his


for

such as Samuel
consisted in

and Samson, a Nazarite


letting the hair
fruit

The vow

grow uncut and

in abstinence

from the
object

of the vine in every shape and form.

The

of

it

was

to

subdue the bodily appetites and


life

to cultivate

an unworldly

in fellowship with

God.

Among

the learned there has been

much

discussion

204

^T.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

was and by Josephus an Essene. The Essenes are named other ancient writers along with the Pharisees and Sadas to whether the Baptist, besides being a Nazarite,

ducees as a third school of religious thought

among

the Jews, but they are never mentioned in the

New
same
his

Testament.

They were

ascetics,

who
his

fled

from the

world and lived as a separate community


desert of Judah in which

in the

John spent

days before

appearance to

Israel.

It

has even been disputed whether

Jesus did not belong to them and


his doctrines.

owe
is

to

them some of
pays to the
is

But Christianity
in

fundamentally opit

posed to Essenism
body, and

the high regard

in its doctrine that the religious life


it.

to

be

lived not out of the world but in


too,
is

John's teaching,
unworldliness of

widely separated from the

false

the Essenes, though in

some

respects his

manner of life
was
re-

resembled

theirs.

The most

curious point of agree-

ment

is

that the highest object of Essene aspiration

to attain to the spirit of Elijah.

spects strikingly

Now, John in some resembled Elijah. Not only did


i

his
is

external appearance recall that ancient prophet,

who

expressly described, in 2 Kings

8,

as

"a

hairy man,

and

girt

with a girdle of leather about his loins," but the


foretold his birth stated that he

angel

who

would be

clothed with the spirit and power of Elijah.


tist's

The Bapclosely par;

relations to

Herod and Herodias were

allel to

those of Elijah to

Ahab and
his

Jezebel

and the
the

suddenness with which he burst into view out of the


desert in which he

had spent

youth recalled
cell

great prophet who, from his

solitary

on Mount
in his

Carmel, used to descend to beard the monarch

THE PROPHET.

205

to choose the assembled nation palace or to challenge taught h.mself Our Lord Baal.

between Jehovah and

rouse and Elijah had returned to that in the Baptist warn the people of God.

The audiences of different Some size. ingly. They vary in

preachers vary exceedpreachers, even


:

preach to a handful they are appreciated, preachers They vary in quality. Some the million.
it may appeal only to a single class, " caviare to the general being their words

when others draw

be

to the cultivated,

or.tmay

be to the John

people, their preachers draw all classes^ greatest fastidious; but the Jerusalem and all did so emphatically.

common

manner offendmg the

No sooner did his vo.ce Jud^a went out to him. electric thnll seemed to lound in the desert than an arose a rumor and a there country;
The Pharisee, ever him phenomenon appearing in the
;

pass through the streamed out en masse to hear fame, and the population
intent

on

exammmg

any new

religious world, was there

whose but so was the Sadducee, as a matter of course excitereligious inaccessible to cold soul was usually doctrine to hear what new ment The scribe was there, Scriptures, would produce from the the famous preacher publihis own study but the which were the subject of
;

can and the harlot were

also there,

nothing for Scriptures or auditors, though whether mentioned as among John's


these were

who in general cared Even soW.ers are doctrines.

The
multitude

or Jewish is uncertain. this motley the ministry to which of scene the Jordan. Differflocked was the valley of

Roman

206
ent points

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


by
different

of the valley are mentioned

Evangelists, from the desert of Judah on the south to


the ford of Bethabara, just below the Sea of Galilee, on

the north.

These differences
;

as to locality

have been

treated as discrepancies

but surely without reason.

preacher would naturally

move from

place to place, and

be sometimes on one side of the river and sometimes

on the other. The


in the

slight indications

which are supplied

Gospels seem to show that John moved, on the


the north, near the

whole, from south to north, beginning in the south, near


his

home, and ending

in

abode of

Herod, by
**

whom
" to

his career

was stopped.

It is especially

worthy of note that the population

went out

John.

He

did not go to them


their temple.
is

to their
idea of

cities, their

synagogues or

The

our modern

Home

Mission movement

to carry the

Gospel to the people


city, to

to

the lanes and courts of the


resort, to

the miner's hut

and the fisherman's

the

man on

the street and the

woman
it
;

in the

house

so
fer-

that they cannot get

away from
is

and we speak
But
it

vently of our methods as aggressive.

should not
attract-

be forgotten that there


ive.

another method

the

Speak the right word, and you The press men to come and hear it.
of

will

not need to

spiritual instincts

human

nature

may be

dormant, but they are not

dead.

Let the right music sound outside, and the hidwill rise

den man of the heart

and come

to the

window

No obstacles can keep people to look out and listen. away when a voice sufficiently charged with the Holy Ghost is heard. John had only to Hft up his voice, and
the entire country hastened to hear hirn.

THE PROPHET.
The message
simple.
It

20/

of this preacher was exceedingly

contained only two watchwords, the one

being "Repent," the other,


is

"The kingdom

of heaven

at

hand."

Repentance
the a
first

is

perhaps not the best rendering of

note of John's message; conversion would be


literal translation.
It

more

was

for

an entire change

in the habits of

thought and conduct that John called


sin

and

this

change included not only the forsaking of


Still,

but the seeking of God.

the forsaking of sin


;

was

very prominent

in

John's demands

for

we

are told

how

pointedly he referred to the favorite sins of differ-

ent classes.

When
his
is

the publicans asked, "

What

shall

we do ?" he had
than that which

answer ready, " Exact no more


;"

appointed you

unjust

and vexa-

tious exactions being notoriously the sin of this class.

So,

when

the soldiers

demanded,

''

What shall we do ?"


besetting sins,

he pointed

his finger straight at their

when he
any

said, "

Do

violence to no man, neither accuse

falsely,

and be content with your wages."


is

The
men-

boldness of such preaching


tioned

manifest
"

the last

word,

for

instance,

Be content with your


it

wages," was probably no more popular then than

would be
But,
if

if

preached to the poor

at the present day.

John preached fearlessly to the poor, he had a no less practical message to the rich for to them he said, " He that hath two coats, let him impart to him
;

that hath

none

and he

that hath meat, let

him do

like-

wise."
tion

It is

extraordinary

how

evil habit, can,

genera-

after

generation,

override the

most elementary

instincts of justice

and humanity.

The average

con-

208

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


is

duct of both the masses and the classes


ent

at the presit

day

in

many
how

respects just as distorted as

was
is

in

the days of the Baptist.

But the true prophet

he

who can

see

far the

Hne of custom diverges from

the hne of righteousness and can


science of every

summon forth
it

the con-

man

to

acknowledge

too.

The

other note of John's preaching was the king-

dom

of God.

This was not a novel watchward.

The

ideal of the

Saul, their

Jews had always been a theocracy. When first king, was appointed, the prophet
act of the people as a lapse

Samuel condemned the


when,
in

they ought to have wished no king but God.

And

subsequent ages, the kings of the land with

rare exceptions turned out miserable failures, the better

and deeper

spirits

always sighed for a reign

of

God, which would ensure national prosperity.


deeper the nation sank the more passionate grew
aspiration
;

The
this

thought

of, it

and when the good time coming was was always in the form of a kingdom of
indeed, a point which has been
far

God.
ately
itself

It

is,

much

discussed,

how

such hopes were prevalent immedi-

before

the

Advent.

But the

New

Testament

proves incontestably that the expectation of the

Messianic
the deep

king was one of the principal features of


land, while Messianic

and hidden piety of the

hopes of a

totally different order,

crude and earthly,

were widely diffused among the people.


in

At

all

events,

the Jewish

mind

there was latent a whole system

of Messianic ideas, which only a hint was required to

awaken
It

into activity.

was

to this that

John appealed when he

cried.

THE PROPHET.
**

209

effective

The king-dom of God is at hand." But his most word was the hint that not only the kingdom but the King was coming. His favorite way of
characterizing himself was " as the voice of one crying
*

in the wilderness,

Prepare ye the way of the Lord.'

"

In the

East,

when a king was making a progress


his

through any part of

dominions, a herald preceded

him, to announce his approach and to clear the way.


If

filled

no road existed one had to be made, valleys being up and even mountains and hills levelled for
purpose.

the

Every

obstacle,

in

short,

had

to
for

be
the

removed, and the hearts of


king's reception.

men prepared

claimed to

fill

in

the

Such was the office which John programme of the Messianic

King.

The two portions of John's message repentance and the kingdom of God were closely connected he called on men to repent that they might be ready Indeed, here was the very for the King when he came.

point of the Baptist's preaching.

He

was profoundly
not prepared,
of

convinced that his

countrymen were

and that no kingdom of God could be formed out

them
this

as they were.
;

They, indeed, had no idea of


simply because they
in a

themselves

but this ignorance was the supreme


that,

obstacle.

They imagined
kingdom
of
;

were children of Abraham, they could go


into the

body

but he cried

"

Begin not to say


to

within yourselves,

We

have Abraham
rather,

our father."

Children

Abraham!

of the old serpent are ye

should say, children


generation of vipers."
as

'*

The King, when he came, would not admit them,

210

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


kingdom
:

a matter of course, into his


trary,
sit

on the conthe
evil.

the very

first

thing he would do would be to


separate the

as a judge,
is

to

good from
will

"

His fan
floor,

in his
will

hand, and he

throughly purge

his

and

gather the wheat into his garner,


fire."

but

will

burn up the chaff with unquenchable


to

This

"wrath

come" must be

the

first

act of the

Messiah's activity.
at

John, therefore, called upon

men

once to be converted, that they might be con-

sidered meet to enter into the

kingdom when Messiah

came.
"

Words and
fruits
it

professions would be of no avail

Bring forth
Is

meet

for repentance."
is

not obvious that this

a message for

all

time?

In one sense the Baptist's ministry was an evanescent

one: when Christ came, there was no place for him

any more.
needed.

But
Christ

in another sense the Baptist is

always

comes

to
feel
is

many; but he
lost,

receives

no

welcome because they


a

no need of him.
the

Unless

man knows

that he

announcement of a

Saviour has no attraction for his mind.

The deeper
In

the sense of sin, the firmer the grasp of salvation. the

kingdom of God

the

hungry are

filled

with

good

things, but the rich are sent

empty away.
were poets as well as
their

The prophets
preachers
poetical
;

of Israel
in

and one way

which they displa)^ed

endowment was by
in

the invention of physical

symbols
pressed

to represent the truths

which they also exbe

words.

Thus,

it

will

remembered,

Jeremiah
a

at

one period went about Jerusalem wearing


order to impress on his

yoke on

his shoulders, in

THE PROPHET.
fellow-citizens the certainty that they

211

subject to the Babylonian power;

were to become and similar sym-

bolical actions of other prophets will occur to every

Bible reader.

In the Baptist, ancient prophecy, after

centuries of silence,

had come

to

life

again

and he
like

demonstrated that he was the true heir of


Isaiah

men

and Jeremiah by the exercise also of this poetical gift. He embodied his teaching not only in
words, but in an expressive symbol.

And

never was

symbol more
Perhaps
water

felicitously

chosen; for baptism exactly


of this symbol John w^as
truth
is,

>>^.:

jexpressed the main Srift of his teadimg.


in the invention

not altogether original.


is

The
it

washing with

so natural and beautiful a symbol of spiritual

cleansing and renewal that

has been used by


all

relig-

ious teachers as an initiatory rite in


all

ages and in

parts of the world.

It

is

said to have been in use

in

the

Holy Land

before the age of the Baptist as

part of the ceremonial

by which a heathen was made


faith.

a proselyte of the Jewish

If this

be correct,

the fact lends to John's adoption of the rite peculiar


significance.

His countrymen were already familiar

with the notion that a heathen, in order to be admitted to a place

among

the people of God,

had

to

undergo a

change

which

baptism symbolized:
;

he

had

to

wash away
life,

his old sins

he had,

in fact, to die

become a new creature. But to them that they themselves, the seed of Abraham, required any such transformation before entering the kingdom of the Messiah. When, therefore, John called upon them to submit
to his old
it

and

to

had never before occurred

212
to baptism

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

he was teaching the same lesson as our Lord taught Nicodemus when he said, " Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of

God."
the ministry of John was that
to decision,

Another important end which baptism served in it brought his hearers

and was a means by which they made

confession.

pressions are often

Under the preaching of made by which the

the

Word
is

im-

heart

melted
;

and the whole being thrown into a state of aspiration but, because nothing is done to bring the mind to a
point,

emotion cools down, ordinary motives resume

their sway,
is

well

known how

and nothing comes of the impressions. It missions and revival preachers try

to

by inquiry meetings, testimony though such methods may be abused, they have their value. The most august method of the kind is participation in the This sacrament is, Hke the baptism Lord's Supper. of John, a symbol of truth but it is also a means of
obviate this risk

meetings, and the like; and,

bringing those

who have been impressed


And,

with the
if

truth to the point of confessing Christ.


call

John's
his

impressed the honest and good hearts

among

auditors

when he urged them


all,

to

come

forward, in the

eyes of

and submit themselves


of Jesus
**

to the rite of bap-

tism, surely the voice

Christ should
this in

move

us far

more when he

says,

Do

remembrance

of me."

THE BAPTISM OF

JESUS.

21

CHAPTER
THE BAPTISM OF
Matthew
4: 13-17;

III.

JESUS.
Luke
3:21, 22.

Mark

1:9-11;

The

multitudes were baptized of John in Jordan,

" confessing their sins."

His preaching of the terrors


to

of the law revealed the secrets of men's hearts


themselves, and they were glad,
fession, to

by the word of conexorcise what they felt to be condemning


a confession he heard from Hps which
to confess before
;

them.

Many

had never been opened


and bad
life

and the sad


In
the
sur-

secrets
in the

were made known to him of many a


eyes of the world looked spotless.

which

such a situation he must have learned to

know

weaknesses of the human heart


prise

and

it

would not
in

him

to hear

that there were

guilty

memories
which the

gnawing and tormenting many a breast


world would never have expected them.

But one day there appeared among the applicants


for the baptismal rite

One who,

at the first glance,

he

was so and

certain

had no

sin to confess that

he drew back

said, " I

have need to be baptized of Thee, and


In other cases John

comest Thou to me?"


not deep enough

may have

refused to administer the rite because repentance was


;

in

this

case he refused because

The task of John was to home to the consciences of men but here was One who brought it home to his own conscience.
repentance was unnecessary.
bring sin
;

214

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


felt

As he looked on
needed
to

Jesus, the baptizer


;

that he himself

be baptized

as, in

comparison with dazgrey.


priest,

zling whiteness, even

some kinds of white look


:

John was the boldest of men


soldier

Pharisee or

or king could not

quailed before this


of his office.
If

make him quail: but he Applicant who sought, the benefit


this
is

John knew Jesus before


till

there

is

nothing
of

surprising in the scene.

But John

made by one

the Evangelists to state that

this

day he had not

known Jesus. It has been argued, indeed, that this may only mean that he did not, before he saw the signs vouchsafed on this occasion, know him as he really was as the Messiah. He must have known

him,

it is

held, as a
;

man, because

their families

were

closely related

and, although the one family lived in


in Judsea, they

Galilee

and the other

had opportunities

of seeing one another at the feasts in Jerusalem, which

both families were sure to attend.

These seem cogent


reasons, to

arguments

but there
for their

may have been many

us unknown,

never having seen one another

before this day; and the unsocial habits of John, reach-

ing back

we know not how

far into his early Hfe,

sug-

gest a reason which

may have been

sufficient to

keep

them

apart.

If

made on
ter is

John never saw Jesus before, the impression his mind and conscience by this first encounfaces

a striking revelation of the character of Jesus.

There are rare

which

in

some degree make

the

same impression. There sits on them an air of purity and peace, which, without words, tell its story the

THE BAPTISM OF
Story of a hidden
life

JESUS.

21

spent in walking with

many
more

people would confess that they have been

God and made

sensible of the coarseness of the fibre of their

own

nature and the raggedness of their

own conduct

by being brought casually face to face with such a breathing image of goodness than by the exposure of the most subtle moral analysis or the denunciations of In the life of Christ there are a hundred sermons. numerous instances of the overwhelming effect which the mere aspect of his personahty in some of its moods was able to produce. It will be remembered how in the boat St. Peter fell down before him and, grovelling, cried, " Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord ;" how on the last journey to Jerusalem he went on in front of the Twelve and " they were amazed, and as they followed, they were afraid ;" and how in Gethsemane the soldiers sent to apprehend him, when they beheld him, started back and fell on their faces to the There can be no doubt that when Jesus came earth.
to the baptism of
exaltation, for

John he was
this rapt

in

a state of unusual

he was on the eve of entering upon his


state of

public work, and

mind may have

communicated
siveness
;

to his appearance an unusual impres-

so that, even before ascertaining

who he

was,

John recoiled with a


of a superior being.

religious dread, as in the presence

As

in

his mother's

womb

the

babe leaped when the Lord drew near, so now an overpowering instinct impelled him to draw back from
assuming towards him a position which seemed
that of a superior.
to

be

The

first

meeting of these two

is

a unique scene.

2l6

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


same age
;

They were

of nearly the
;

they were related

according to the flesh

they were both

men

of pro-

phetic endowment, sent to produce in their native country a religious reformation.

Yet, in spite of these and

other points of

resemblance, there could not

have
Jesus

been two characters

more
in

absolutely contrasted.
the broadest
Baptist
;

marked the

contrast

way when he
came
say,

subsequently said, "John the


eating bread nor drinking wine

neither

and ye

He

hath

a devil

the
say,

Son of man

is

come
and

eating and drinking,

and ye

Behold a gluttonous man and a winesinners."

bibber, a friend of publicans

John was

the child of the desert, courting solitude and avoiding

human

society;

Jesus followed a homely trade, apfeasts,

peared at marriages and

was a

friend of

women

and children, and was as much at home in the busy John called the multicity as on the mountain top.
tude out to the desert to hear him and did not con-

descend to

visit

the haunts of

men

Jesus went to sinit

ners where he could find them, considering


to seek as well as to save that which

his

duty

was

lost.

John
hold-

has a seared look


gles,

he

is

man who,

after severe strugis

has obtained the mastery of himself and

ing

down

a coarse nature by main force; Jesus, on the


is

contrary,

always innocent and spontaneous, genial


John, in short,
the
is the Old Testament perembodiment of the New and in
;

and serene.

sonified, Jesus

John's shrinking from


the

baptizing

Jesus the spirit of

Old Testament the spirit of law, wrath and auswas doing homage to the spirit of the New terity Testament the spirit of freedom and of love.

THE BAPTISM OF
The
John
for
;

JESUS.

217

application

by Jesus
it

for

baptism perplexed
It is not,

and we must confess

perplexes us.
life

indeed, entirely without parallel in the


his circumcision,

of Christ

which took place when he was

eight days old, raises the


culty
is,

same

difficulty.

The
in

diffi-

that he should

have participated

an ordi-

nance which symbolized the removal of


this case
it is

sin.

But

in

more urgent, because he made the

appli-

cation himself

the

Did this betray a consciousness of sin ? Such was meaning of the application when made by others;
this

and certainly

would be the natural construction


if it

to

put on the conduct of Jesus,


with everything else
lessness of Jesus
is

were not
to

at variance

we know about him.


one of the truths
clearest

The
it

sin-

which the
has

Scripture bears

the

testimony; and

been beheved

in

by many who have not accepted the

testimony of Scripture about him in some other respects.

He

claimed himself to be without sin; and

in the accounts

which have come down to us of


justly

his

prayers there does not occur a single syllable of confession.

This

is

accounted one of the most


life.

remarkable features of his


acters

Other religious char-

have confessed

their

founder their holiness the

own sins; and the promore frequent and piercing


But Jesus, confessedly

have been
in

their professions.

the most profoundly religious figure that has appeared

human

history,

made no such acknowledgements.


?

Why?

Was

this a defect in his religious character,

or was the reason, that he had no sin to confess


the Scriptures say.

So

Not only

is

the image of Jesus

2l8

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


many

which they present one which breathes out purity from


every feature, but they expressly assert,
ent forms of statement, that he
in
differ-

was holy and harmless

Even on and undefiled and separate from sinners. made on John which he impression this occasion the away sin baptism take to was that he had no need of " and his own statement, Thus it becometh us to fulfil
;

all

righteousness," seems to imply that


fulfilling

up

to this point

he was conscious of perfectly

the divine law.

Therefore, his application cannot be explained as evi-

dence that he was conscious of sin.

What, then, is the explanation? who had no sin seek to participate


It is

Why
in

did one

an ordinance

which was expressly called the baptism of repentance ?

by no means easy
It

to answer.
is

has often been asserted that the explanation


it

given in the reply of Jesus to John, " Suffer

to

be so

now;
ness."
to

for thus

it

becometh us
in

to

fulfil

all

righteousfelt
it

But these words only inform us that he


duty to take part
the ordinance
it
;

be his
tell

they do

not

us

why he

considered

obligatory.

Some have dismissed the difficulty by saying that was a marvellous instance of the Saviour's humihty, that he, the sinless One, should submit to an ordinance intended for sinners. And they have added poetic reit

flections

to the effect that, while the water cleansed

others,

he cleansed the water, and so on.


Neither
it

But

this is

no explanation.
baptism,

is

the suggestion satisfactory,

that he took part in


it

to encourage others.
religious

John's

is

said,

was a great

movement;
keep out

and

Jesus, as a religious character, could not

THE BAPTISM OF
of
it.

JESUS.

2T9
and was

He

countenanced

all

religious services,

so strict

in his attention to those of

the synagogue

and the temple as


the saying, "

to recall to the

minds of onlookers

The

zeal of thine

house hath eaten

me

Now, it is true that Christ did give an evermemorable example of conscientiousness in attendance upon religious services and this habit m.ay be inup."
;

cluded

in

the "

all

righteousness " which


fulfil.

it

had ever

been
for,

his desire to

But

this

would not account


might account

or even justify, his participation in an ordinance


for himself
It

which had no meaning

for his baptizing, but not for his being baptized.

Only two explanations seem


quick.

really to touch the

The one

is

that John's baptism


It

had a positive
was a

as well as a negative side.

was not only the bapIt

tism of repentance, but a rite of dedication.

renewal of the national covenant, the inauguration of


a

new

era, the

gateway of the kingdom of God.


in the sin

Now,

although Jesus had no part

from which bap:

tism cleansed, he had part in this positive enthusiasm

he was the very person to lead the way into the new
era.

The

other explanation, which


this one, is that

may

very easily be

combined with

he received baptism as

a representative person. Although sinless himself, he was a member of a sinful nation, of whose sin he was keenly conscious more so than any other whom John

baptized

and

he went along with the


confession.

rest of

the

nation in

making

In short, he was in this

act rehearsing beforehand the great act of his death,

when he bore
the world.

in his

own body on

the tree the sins of

220

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

wished to be baptized
with which he
rite,

John may not as yet have understood why Jesus but, with the same reverence
;

had shrunk from administering the


his request.

he yielded when Jesus repeated

The manner
received the
rite

in

which

this

mysterious candidate

must

still

further have heightened

John's respect and awe.


Jesus

St.

Luke informs
praying.

us that
is

came up from

the water

This

solemn hint as

to the spirit in

which

all

divine ordito the

nances ought to be received.


font seeking baptism

When we come

either for ourselves

or others,

when we sit at the Lord's Table, when we are on our way to church, when we open God's holy word as we take part in every such ordinance we may learn from Jesus how to conduct ourselves: the best

state of

mind

is,

to

be engaged in prayer.

What may we suppose


we remember

he was praying

for ?

If

the nature of the ordinance in


his

which
devel-

he was participating and the stage of

own

opment which he had reached, can we doubt that he was praying for the coming of the kingdom of

God and

for
?

strength

to

play his

own

part in

its

inauguration

The answer
impressively.

to

his

prayer came suddenly and

While he was yet speaking his Father first, in heaven heard, and three wonders happened the heavens were opened; secondly, the Holy Spirit, and, thirdly, in the form of a dove, descended on him "This is my besaying, heaven, a voice came from
: ;

loved Son, in

whom

am

well pleased."

THE BAPTISM OF

JESUS.

221

is

At this point many questions arise. First, what meant by the heavens opening? The language
in the

used

Evangehsts

is

very graphic, suggesting

that the appearance occurred of a rent being

made

in

the blue vault,


lie

by which the

invisible things
this

which

within were disclosed.

But what does


visible

mean
is

to us,

who are well aware that the


it

heaven
the

not what

was thought to be by the

infant

mind
ocif

of the race

the

floor of a celestial palace,

cupants and furnishings of which

might be seen

an opening were made

in the ceiling of

our earthly

abode?
Then, what was the dove which descended on
Jesus?
his

Was

there a real dove, which, attracted

by

gentleness,

alighted on

him, as such creatures,

when domesticated, will sometimes do on persons to whom they are drawn by kindness and amiability ? Or
was the dove a form of light which ghded, with dove-

Hke motion, down on

his head, to point

him

out, as

at Saul's conversion a light

above the brightness of

the sun shone round about

him

An

ancient legend

says that the whole valley of the Jordan was illuminated.

And what was


in

the voice?

Was

it

thunder,

which

Scripture

is

frequently called
in the

the voice of
life

God ?
when
benefit,

There were other scenes


divine voices from

of Christ
for his

heaven were heard

and on

at least

one of these occasions the by-

standers heard thunder and nothing more, whilst in


the ears of those

shaped

itself into

an articulate divine message

more direcdy concerned the sound and it


;

seems a reasonable inference that the other divine

222
voices

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


among them

the

present one

were

of the

same

description.

This raises the question whether the multitude, on


this occasion,

or only Jesus and John, heard the diinterpreters

vine voice.
all

Some devout

have held that


world of the

three signs took place in the consciousness of Jesus


alone,

and John
senses.

and had no place

in the

But judgments on such a point are largely

subjective,

and

it

is

not for one Christian to impose

his opinions

on another.

At

all

events, the signs

were of divine origin

and

both to Jesus and John they were of the utmost value.

For Jesus
ity,

this

was a transfiguring moment


from the
teacher.

one

of the cardinal points in the development of his

human-

marking
was

his transition

life

of a private

man
that
his

to the career of a
it

pubHc

Some suppose
conscious of
in all its

at this point

he became

fully

unique relationship to

God and grasped

There more unanimity in the belief that it was now he was endowed with the miraculous powers of which he
majesty the plan of his subsequent career.
is

was
not
in

to

make

use in his ministry.

In the gospels his

miracles are ascribed to the

mean

that his

Holy Spirit. This does own divine power was not at work

them, but that his

human

nature required to be

potentiated
to be a
fit

by

special gifts of the

Holy

Spirit, in

order
act.

organ through which


it

his

divinity might

And

perhaps

was

at this time

that these gifts were

conferred.
to the
life

of Christ

Such questions belong, however, rather and at present we are concerned


;

with the

life

of the Baptist.

THE BAPTISM OF
To John
Before
at
this,

JESUS.

223

this

was a moment big with destiny.


intercourse with
in

in

his secret

God

but
this

what exact date and


not

what exact manner we


premonition to

know
effect:

he

had received a

"Upon whom

thou shalt see the Spirit de-

same is he which Holy Ghost." This, then, v/as the sign for which he had been waiting this was the day for which he had been born. The appearance of the
baptizeth with the
;

scending, and remaining on him, the

sign was the assurance that


desert experience and
to utter in the
all

all

the revelations of his

the words he had ventured

name
the

of

God

were

true.

The new

era

which he had announced was no mirage which would


disappear,
as

visions

of enthusiasts

have often
very

done.

Here, under his very eyes and in his

hands, was the King, to

whom

it

belonged to set up

and

to establish the

kingdom of God.

224

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

CHAPTER

IV.

HIS TESTIMONY TO CHRIST.


John 1:19-37; 3:25-36.

The

culmination of the Baptist's personal experiin the

ence was reached when, standing

water of Jor-

dan, he saw and heard the signs with which the baptism

of Jesus was accompanied.

But

still

he had a great

work
first

to

do

in

bearing testimony to the Messiah.

There
:

are three recorded occasions on which he did so

the

when

a deputation was sent to


;

him from Jerusalem

by the
and the
ciples

ecclesiastical authorities

the second

when he
Messiah

pointed Jesus out to his


third

own

disciples as the

when he rebuked the attempt of his disup rivalry between Jesus and himself. And on each of these occasions John not only bore conscious witness to Christ, but at the same time unconsciously revealed his own character. There are three names applied by John to Christ, in
to stir

which
the

his

testimony

is

summed
of his

up, and which


life

may be
of God,

taken as clews to

this part

the

Son

Lamb
It

of

God, the Bridegroom.

ities

was entirely proper that the ecclesiastical authorat Jerusalem should send a deputation to ask the

Baptist

who he

was.

They asked

first
if

if

he was the

Messiah, then
prophet,"

if

he was Elijah, then


this

he was "that

meaning probably by

term the great

HIS TESTIMONY TO CHRIST.


prophet whose coming was predicted by Moses

22$
in the

famous words of Deut. i8


raise

15:

"The Lord God

shall

up unto thee a prophet, from the midst of thy brethren, like unto me unto him ye shall heark;

en."
It

may surprise

us that to the question whether he

were EHjah he answered No, when on the Holy Mount


our Lord identified him with that prophet
unto you that Elias
is
:

"

But

say

come

already,
listed."

and they have


But John and
Besides,

done unto him whatsoever they


Jesus used the

name

in different senses.
it.

John

might be Elijah without knowing

His distinguishgreat he
;"

ing grace was humility; he did not

know how
in

was

'

he wist not that

his face

shone

he did not

dare to identify himself with one held


estimation as Elijah.

such supreme

he would only say,


to nothing.
effects,
if
it

"

When asked to say what he was, " I am a voice the nearest thing
at the

voice may, indeed, produce


right

sounds
;

momentous moment; and John


air

hoped

to

do so

but as a voice dies on the

and

is

forgotten, so he expected to pass out of sight

and out

of mind.

Observing

his lowly estimate of himself,

we

are

rather surprised to notice the credit given

claiming to be the Messiah

" He

him

for not

confessed," says St.


I

John,

"and denied

not,

but confessed,

am

not the

Christ "

as

if

he might have done otherwise, or had


to

been tempted

do

so.

Was

he ever thus tempted ?

There seems
tation

to

be no doubt that there existed in the

masses of the people plenty of latent Messianic expec;

and one who had made an impression so pro15

226

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


set

found could easily have


material.

on

fire this

combustible

Some

of John's adherents
so.

that he

would do

Perhaps also

may have hoped there may have

been a time when he had not yet become conscious of


the limits of his
ically

own commission
to

before he was specifBut


in his
if ever any mind or been

informed of the part he was to play as the fore-

runner of

Him who was

come.

such ambitious ideas had harbored


pressed upon him
b)^ others,

he was able

at the

proper

moment
"
I

to divest himself of
feet.

them

and

at last

he tram-

pled them beneath his

am

not the

Christ," he

said with decision

"but," he added, "there standeth

One among you


to a figure

whom

ye know not

;"

and then he reverted

of speech often employed in his earlier ministry, and

touchingly expressive of the lowly estimate he had

formed of
said,

his relation to the Messiah.

His shoes, he

he was unable to bear, and


to unloose.

his shoe-latchet

he was

unworthy
offices

To

bear the shoes of a person

or unloose his shoe-latchet was

among

the humblest

performed by slaves

that he
siah.

was not worthy

to

and thus John protested be even the slave of the Mes;

On some
superiority,

parison to designate his

when he made use of this comown insignificance and Christ's he added words which showed how well he
occasions,

knew wherein
the

the difference between

them lay
felt
it

" I,"

he said, "baptize with water, but he

will baptize

with

He Holy Ghost and with fire." work was superficial, external, cold
:

that his

own

was only bap-

tism with water.

But there are defilements which can-

HIS

TESTIMONY TO CHRIST.
The
ore, for

22/
example, in
furfire

not be removed with water.

which metals are embedded has to be cast into the nace that the dross and dirt may be removed with

and the
It is

silver or
is

gold come forth pure.

searching

the purification required

And equallyby human souls.

sins, as John be kindled must there do comm.anded enthusiasm of huand the in the heart the love of God manity. John's work was negative but it required as to create in the its completement a positive work

not enough to break off notorious


his hearers to
;

heart from which sin had been expelled the passion for

goodness.
ter,

In short, in addition to the baptism of v/afire

John knew there was needed the baptism of and he was well aware he had not this to give.
This
gift

beyond

his

own work,

which John possessed, of seeing over and is one of the most remarkable,

and can only be found where there exist a rare selfknowledge and a rare humility. To the worker his

own work

is

usually ultimate

it

reaches as far as the


this is all the
is

horizon and up to the zenith


likely to be the case the

and

more

earnest

evangelist, for example, thinks that

more The the great work of


the man.
little

the

Church

is

conversion, and he has

conception

of the

importance of the slow formation of character

the pastor, on the other hand, the

who

has watched over


instilled into their

young of

his

congregation and

minds the principles of the gospel, may


realize that they
still

find

it

hard to

require a complete change of heart.

But John not only acknowledged that his own work was merely a commencement, but saw with perfect
clearness

what was needed

to

make

it

complete.

228

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

This invested with special significance the sign by

which Jesus was marked out


sign was the descent on

in his

baptism

for the

him of the Holy Ghost. " God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him," With this divine said John on a subsequent occasion. fire he was not only filled, but it overflowed for the
baptism of the world.

On
Spirit

one occasion, referring to


Christ,
this is the

this
I

descent of the

on

ord that
great
it

John Son of God."


Saviour
;

said, "

And

saw, and bare rec-

This

is

John's

first

name

for the

but what he intended by


It is

has been the subject of frequent discussion.


in different parts

name which
meanings.
to kings

of Scripture has different


it is

In the Old Testament, where

and

to the nation of Israel as a whole,

it

appUed means
it

the favorite of

God

probably

in Christ's

time
;

had

come
all,

to be a popular

name
it

for the

Messiah

and

in the

documents of Christianity

has the highest meaning of

designating the unique relationship of Jesus to God.


this idea the
It is

At which precise stage of the history of


Baptist grasped
it is

fair

subject for discussion.

not to be forgotten that John borrowed the

name from

the voice from heaven which sounded at the baptism of


Jesus.

Probably

it

meant

for

him

all

that he himself

had hot but Jesus had all that was required to finish the work which he had begun but was not able to com-,
plete.

It

may have been

while Jesus was

away in

the wil-

derness, into which he plunged immediately after his

baptism, to endure the forty days' temptation, that the

THE TESTIMONY TO CHRIST.


deputation from Jerusalem
;

229

been supposed that


turned

it

came to John and it has was immediately after Jesus refin-

from the wilderness, the temptation being

ished, that

John pointed him out


It
is

to his

own

followers

as the Messiah.

easy to conceive

that, after

so

unique and prolonged


passed through
in his

an experience as Jesus had

in the wilderness, there

may have been


where the

aspect something unusually

impressive; and,

when he came suddenly again


Baptist

into the circle

was standing, the


finger

first

look at him sent through

the forerunner's

soul a revealing shock; whereupon,

with
"

outstretched

pointed to him,

he

cried,

Behold the

Lamb

of God, that taketh

away

the sin of

the world."

What was
drew

the nature of the impression which

had

been made on John's mind by the aspect of Jesus and


forth this exclamation has

been a question much


it

discussed.

Some suppose

that

was by the meekness


;

and gentleness of Jesus he was impressed and that there flashed through his mind the pictures of the
twenty-third Psalm, in which the happiness of a soul at

peace with
or lamb in

God
its

is

set forth

under the image of a sheep

relations with the shepherd.


to

Many have

supposed "the reference


the

be to the suffering servant of "led as a lamb to

Lord

in the fifty-third of Isaiah,

the slaughter."

The

tense
life,

look of Christ, possessed

with the purpose of his

had

instantly suggested to

John how much he was


pealed in vain.

likely to suffer in conflict with

the "generation of vipers," to v^hich he had himself ap-

Many have supposed

the reference to
sacrifice.

be to the paschal lamb or other lambs of

By

230

ST.

JOHN THE

BAPTIST..
it is

a sudden inspiration John was enabled,


to anticipate Christ's sacrificial death.
is

supposed,

In favor of this

recalled the fact that he

was of
if

priestly descent,

and
ex-

famihar, through his father,


perience, with
all

not through his

own

kinds of sacrifice.

Possibly in the impression flashed into John's

mind

by the aspect of Jesus there was something of all these thoughts of Christ's lamb-like innocence and faith, of

his

high-strung devotion likely to come into painful

collision with a coarse v/orld,

and of

his

death for the

world's sin.
tize

with

fire

John had predicted that Jesus would bapthat is, that he would fill his adherents
But how was he to
baptize them with the
is

with holy passion and enthusiasm.

do

this ?

He would

Holy Ghost.
then,

But the Holy Ghost


the
ideas

not a physical influence: he

works through ideas and emotions.

Where,
from?
from.

were

and emotions

to com.e

We

know

where, historically, they have

come
It

They have

come from
sight

the cross of Christ.

has been by the

of Christ

giving himself for them that

human

hearts have been inspired with hatred of sin, with the

passion for holiness, with self-sacrifice and missionary


zeal.

This

is

the

Lamb

of

God
;

that

has, in fact,

taken away the sin of the world


is

and the likehhood


that John,

that

it

was

this

Lamb

of

God

though

perhaps through a glass, darkly, foresaw.

On
his

this

occasion also John's

testimony to Jesus

was accompanied with an unconscious revelation of

own

character.

After one

day saying,

*'

Behold

the
it

Lamb

of God," to his followers in general, he said

another day to two of them in pnrticular,

who

inter-

THE TESTIMONY TO CHRIST.


preted
it

23

as a direction to

and follow a new one.

them to leave their master So John intended it. He freely

gave away these two disciples


others followed.

two of the
;

best, for

one

of them was St. John, afterwards the Evangelist


It

and

was a hardship
but
into operation

to part

from such

dear

friends

and

companions

he deliberately
which, he knew,
;

brought the

magnet

would draw with an


hearts

irresistible attraction

for the best

about him were, through the influence of his

ministry, pining for the baptism of fire


to impart.

which Christ was

The

third occasion

when John bore conspicuous


" there

testimony to Christ was when

arose a question

between some of John's disciples and the Jews about


purifying."

In the

revised
:

version

this

incident

is

given more correctly

" there arose a question

on the
are not

part of John's disciples with a

Jew about
his motive,

purifying."

Who

this

Jew was and what was

we

informed.

The

"purifying," however, about which he


to

and they disputed would appear


else

have been nothing

than baptism.

Jesus,

it

seems, had followed the


for a time, "

example of John by baptizing

though
the
old, the

Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples."

And

new
fickle

attraction

proved more potent than the


to the

crowd leaving John and flocking


If,

baptism

of his successor.

as

is

likely,

Jesus had begun to

preach as well as baptize,


his voice, with
its

it is

easy to understand

how

gracious words, dulled the impression


Possibly the

even of John's eloquence.

Jew was one

who had been

baptized by Jesus, and the disciples of

232

ST.
fell

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


him
as to

John

into dispute with

whether the bap-

tism of Christ was superior to their master's.

Or

per-

haps he was a mischief-maker, who thought he could


set

the two parties

by the ears

and he commenced

with

casting

up

to John's disciples that their master

was being deserted, because the crowd was flocking


elsewhere.
If this
ful.

was
is

his intention,

he was only too successirritation in the

There
in

an unmistakable tone of
is

words

which John

addressed by his disciples

" Rabbi,

he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to

whom
and
and

thou barest witness, behold, the


all

same

baptizeth,

men come

to

him."

The suggestion was


expense of his

that Jesus
risen,

had kicked away the ladder by which he had


that his success
It

was

at the

friend.

was such a speech as would have played havoc


little

Never are when they are whispered in the ear by the flattering lips of sympaWhen thoughts of envy arise within our own thizers.
with a

mind and an unprincipled

soul.

the suggestions of self-love so dangerous as

breasts
ter
;

we can

m.ore easily recognize their true charac-

but when they are suggested by friends they have

a deceptive air of impartiality, and


trust the estimates of outsiders.
titute

we
a

think

we can
not desfilled

Many

man

of either greatness or goodness has been

with

peevishness

and

self-pity,

and even with furious


his disci-

jealousy and resentment, by just such suggestions from


his friends or family as
ples.

were made to John by

The

situation, was, indeed, a trying

one.

There

are few experiences

more dangerous

to the vanity of

HIS TESTIMONY TO CHRIST.

233

human
with
success
will

nature than such a position as John had attained,

its
;

fame and rumor,


But,

its

crowds,

its

excitement,

its

there are few heads which such an experience


if

not turn.
it

the tide of popularity ebbs as

suddenly as

has risen, or goes away to another candiis still

date for public attention, the situation


ing;

more

test-

in

such circumstances the heart of

many

a public

favorite has broken.

When

for a lifetime a

man

has
is

stood on the pinnacle of influence, but at

last his
it is

day

over and another appears to take his place,


cle of

a mira-

grace

if

he

is

able to look on his successor with

friendliness

But
of his

in

and genuine good-will. John this miracle was wrought

Not

for

an instant did he yield to the querulous suggestions


followers;

but with the utmost lucidity and

serenity he set before


"
it

them the

logic of the situation.


"

man

can receive nothing," he told them,

except

be given him from heaven."


his

That

is

to say,
;

every

one has
be
first,

own

gift

and

his
;

own
there

place
is

and som.e second

some must nothing more

disastrous or ridiculous than for the second, instead

of

filling his

own

place

and doing
star
said,

his

own work,

to

be pining for the place and the work of the

first.

He

had been but as the


"Christ,"

which heralds the lamp


''must increase, but
I

of day.

he

must decrease"

surely
far

the most beautiful expression

of humility ever uttered.

But John rose

above even
set
"

this

in the

glowing

image

in

which he

forth

the

relation

between
is

Christ and himself:

He

that hath the bride

the

bridegroom

but the friend of the bridegroom, who

234

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because


of the bridegroom's voice;
fulfilled."

this

my

joy therefore
friend

is

In

Eastern

countries
to

the

of

the

bridegroom corresponded
his duties

our

groomsman; but

were much more comprehensive: not only


arrangem.ents of the mar-

had he
wooing.

to superintend the

he had even to act as intermediary in the John had been wooing the Jewish people, not for himself, but for Another but, as the friend of the bridegroom, if he is a true man, rejoices when the
riage, but
;

bridegroom comes upon the scene and he can


into the
at the success of Christ, but greatly rejoiced in

retire

background, so he not merely did not murmur


it,

rec-

ognizing in

it

the very object for which he

had been

working
It

all

the time.
said,
it

was nobly
difficult

and
after

it

was said from the heart


from,

but

how
is

was to say we knov/


it

the

difficulty of

saying

him.

"

He

that hath the

bride

the bridegroom "

the
it
is,

luck}^

man, the

elect

of Providence, wins the prize of fortune or fame, genius

or beauty
the prize

but

how hard

is

not to be ours, to
in

when we discover rejoice in his good


gifts

that
for-

tune

Even

God's work
but

it

requires great grace to

be glad that others have obtained greater


better success
it
;

and

it is

a plain duty, and in fulfiUing

John

will

be our teacher.

In this section of John's


closely united
disposition.

life

we

see two things

testimony
is

to

Christ
is

The

conjunction

and humility of a natural and a hapChrist must

py

one.

He who

to bear witness to

HIS TESTIMONY TO CHRIST.


master his
self-love.

235

We

cannot work lor Christ's

honor and
exhibit

for

our

Christ

him.

On

the

own at the same time. Those who to men must hide themselves behind other hand, nothing tends so much to
self as to
fill

produce lowly estimates of


timate of Christ.

have a high

esti-

Let him

the eye and the heart,

and we

shall forget

ourselves.

What many
is

of us
to

need to silence our vanity and boastfulness


our mouth
filled

have

with the praise of the

Son

of God.

236

ST.

JOHN THE

JBAPIIST.

CHAPTER
Matthew

V.

THE ECLIPSE OF HIS FAITH.


11
:

2-6;

Luke

19-23.

The
we come

circumstances attending the incarceration of

more appropriately considered when In the meantime let it suffice to recall the fact that his work of reformation was suddenly and prematurely stopped by his being shut up in prison and that there he had probably languished for months before we hear of him
the Baptist will be
to the tragedy of his death.
;

again.

Imprisonment was

not,

indeed,
it

in

the

ancient
us.

world exactly the same thing as

is

among

prisoner frequently enjoyed a great deal of freedom,

and he could generally be visited by his friends, as is indicated in the parable which says, " I was in prison
and ye came unto me." Hence the Baptist received information of what was taking place outside, and he was
able to send messages to

whomsoever he
?

desired.

One

day he sent by two of

his disciples to

Jesus to ask, 'Art


for

thou he that should come

or look

we

another ?"
at this nar-

Learned men have taken strange offence


rative, as if
It is
it

contradicted other parts of the Gospel.

held to be totally irreconcilable with the testimony

said to have been borne to Christ

by the

Baptist

be-

cause one

who had

received such divine tokens as were

vouchsafed to John at the baptism of Jesus and had

THE ECLIPSE OF HIS FAITH.

237

pointed out the Messiah so distinctly could never after-

wards have asked such a question as


to him.

is

here attributed
in

But

this is

one of the instances

which learn-

ing overshoots
Christian
is

itself,

and the plain man or the simple

wiser than his teachers.

Those who are


one time
is

taught by experience are well aware that the soul has


its fainting-fits,

and that one whose

faith at

so great as to remove mountains

may

at another time
is

be weak and unbelieving.

In the Gospel the Baptist


Elijah
;

frequently compared with the prophet ever there was a man who was a giant
Elijah
;

and,
it

if

in faith,

was

yet Elijah had his hour of weakness too.

He

who on Mount Carmel was


flinching
in

able to stand up without

the face of the prophets of Baal

and the

thousands of Israel was found on another occasion, in a


pessimistic

mood,

far

from the confines of the Holy


his

Land, a fugitive from

work, and wishing only for

himself that he might die.


his

Even our Lord himself had


" Father, if
it

Gethsemane, when he prayed,

be pos-

sible, let this

cup pass from me."

In the hope of averting from John the reproach of

being a doubter, some have supposed that


for his

it

was not

own- sake but for the sake of his disciples that he

sent the message.

He

never doubted,

it is

thought, but

his disciples did; they

clung too tenaciously to their


all

own master and


sent

raised

kinds of objections to the

Messiahship of Jesus.

In order to convince them

John

them

to Jesus himself,

being confident that in his

immediate neighborhood they would see things which

would convince them and receive from the


Christ an answer which would be irresistible.

lips

of

But the

238

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

reply of Jesus seems too directly addressed to John to

admit of such an explanation.


Others have seen in John's question an utterance
not of scepticism
but of impatience.
Jesus was too
slow, John thought, and needed to be told what was

expected of him.
if

Hence, he sent him a broad hint

that,

he was to make any impression on the popular mind, he must change his method and act in a way more
characteristic

of the

Messiah.

If

this

was John's

thought he was not the only one of the friends of


Jesus

who took upon

himself to administer such hints.

Others also were disappointed with his slowness and attempted to hurry him. But Jesus always rejected

such advice with indignation, and to

offer

it

implied the

most serious scepticism


of

for, if

Jesus really was the

Messiah, was he not far more capable than any adviser

knowing the times and the seasons


It is

not

difficult to

understand the causes which

led to the obscuration of the Baptist's faith.


child of the desert, accustomed to
free

He was

movement

in the

open

air,

and

in a prison

he was like a caged eagle.


in

His reformatory work had been abruptly interrupted


full tide
;

and the impulses of enthusiasm and


his heart.

activity

were rolled back cold upon

Besides, Jesus
antici-

was a Messiah very


pated
;

different

from the one he had

John expected him to take Might it not, power and reign.


been taken
allow his
for

to himself his great


for

example, have

granted that the Messiah could not


?

own

forerunner to languish in prison

If

he

were king, the Herods as well as the Romans would

have to resign

their power,

and the victims of

their

THE ECLIPSE OF HIS FAITH.


But month
it

239

jealousy and injustice would march out of confinement.


after

month passed and Jesus made no


was
real,

sign

looked as if he had forgotten his friend.

The
est
;

Baptist's scepticism

but
to

it

was hon-

and we may learn from him how


doubts.

manage our

own

Observe three things.


First,

he put his doubts into words.


it

Doubt
it

is

most dangerous when


definite questions

is

vague; condense

into

and immediately the

light begins to

break.

Put

it,

for

example, into John's questions: "Art

thou he that should come, or do

we look for another?' "He that should come" how much faith is in that! When once the heart is persuaded that there is some one who should come some one who must come

because he

is

indispensable, to loose the bands

of sin

and

to unite to

God

it is

not far from faith in Christ.

For, put the other question, "


if

Look we

for

another ?"

Jesus of Nazareth be not the


to look for

Man

of men, where are

we

him

Secondly, John sent direcdy to Christ.


;

He

did not

go on devouring his own heart in his cell nor did he do what would have been worse, grumble to his disciScepticism would be short-lived if we brought ples. He was a wise man who, our doubts at once to God.
in

religious darkness,

cried out, "

Save me,

God,

if

there be a

God."

Thirdly, John never thought of withdrawing his condemnation of the conduct of Herod and Herodias.

Some have spoken


is

of his doubt as treachery


It

but this

quite an exaggeration.

would have been treachery

240
if,

ST.

JOHN THE

BAPTIST.

believing
this

himself deceived and neglected, he had

made

an excuse for renouncing his testimony and

so obtaining release from prison.

Never

is

rehgious
for

doubt so dangerous as when


giving the reins to the
flesh.

it

is

made an excuse

He

who, though perultimately


safely out

plexed

in faith,

remains pure

in deeds, will

fight his

way through doubt and come

on the

other side.

Jesus did not go far for an answer to John's question.

Apparently the Baptist's messengers came upon


in

him

one of those moments of holy excitement when

he was surrounded by a crowd of the diseased,

whom

he was healing, and by a

still

larger multitude of the

common

people,

to

whom

he was preaching; and,

pointing to the double crowd, the Saviour said,

"Go

your way and

and heard
to the

John what things ye have seen how that the blind see, the lame walk, the
tell

lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the

dead are
he had

raised,

poor the gospel


in

is

preached."
this

Apparently,

shaping
:

reply,

in his

mind
shall

the words of Isaiah

"

Then

the eyes of the


shall

bhnd

be opened, and the ears of the deaf


:

be un-

stopped

then shall the lame

man

leap as an hart and


the evangeli;

the tongue of the


cal

dumb

sing."

Thus had

prophet described the Messianic age


is

and

here,

Jesus hints,

the prophecy fulfilled to the

letter.

This reply shows the importance attached by Jesus


to his

own

miracles.

In our day there

is

a tendency to
frequently

slight the evidential value of miracles.

It is

said

we beheve

in the miracles

because we believe in

Christ,

not in Christ because of his miracles.

The

THE ECLIPSE OF HIS FAITH.


theological seminary

24I
to

warning was recently given by a person of eminence


the students of a
that, if

they

wished to win the present generation and attract

culti-

vated minds, they must emphasize the ethical elements


of Christianity, but keep the miraculous in the back-

ground.

Now,
as,

there

is

way
is

of stopping the

mouth

of

inquiry with miracle that

certain to repel though^ul

minds
to

for instance,

when

the Bible
is

is first

proved

be inspired and then the demand


it

made

that every-

thing contained in
to

be accepted without any attempt from

comprehend

it.

If the Bible is

contains must be reasonable, because

God then all it God is the Sureason should

preme Reason

and, therefore, the


all its

human
to the

be invited to apply

powers

comprehension

of the statements of the Bible.

In the miracles attrib-

uted to the Saviour there

is

a divine reasonableness,

and, therefore, they ought never to be presented to faith


as

character and the

mere wonders, but in their fine congruity with the work of Christ. But to suppress the
is

miraculous element in the gospel

way to win The image of Christ which has cast a spell over the human mind, and more and more is drawing all men to him, is
not the
the world or to form a powerful Christianity.

one into which miracle


ent,

enters.

Some, indeed,
to

at pres-

even

in the Christian

camp, are trying

persuade

us that

we may
But
this

safely

drop from our conception of

Christ both his supernatural birth and his bodily resurrection.

impaired and mutilated conception of


not " he that

Christ has been often weighed in the balance of experi-

ence and always found wanting.

This

is

should come."

The world
16

requires a divine Saviour

242

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


is

and

that Jesus Christ

he

is

proved partly

at least

by

his miracles,

and especially by the miracle of his resurin passing that

rection.
It

may

be remarked

one of the most


is

striking evidences in favor of the miracles of Jesus

found

in the

statement of one of the Gospels that

"John
belief

did

no miracle."
to this

Every theory of the miraage in which Christialmost

cles of Christ

invented in the present century by un-

amounts
arose

that the

anity

was a superstitious one, which

unconsciously wove round remarkable personages a


Religious minds were especially inby the desire to place the leading figures of the Christian movement on a level with the foremost personages of the Old Testament; and, as miracles had been attributed to Moses and other prophets, so
halo of miracle.
the

fluenced

feeding of thousands with a few loaves and the

resurrection

of dead

persons appear as facts in the


theory, however, breaks
If this

Christian records.

The whole
it

down

in the case of the Baptist.

myth-making
to

tendency was

so natural

is difficult

see

why

it

should not have applied to him.

Indeed, this would

have been

inevitable,

because the idea pervades the


;

Gospels that John was a new Elijah


the Old Testament
is

and the Elijah of

a conspicuous miracle-worker.

Why
type
?

did not Christian tradition invent for John a cycle

of wonders to bring him

up

to the level of his protoin the

The very
which
it

last

reason for any statement

Gospels

occurs to scholarship of a certain


that the event recorded actually took

type to think of
place.

is

Yet the Gospel, which records the miracles of

THE ECLIPSE OF HIS FAITH.

243

Jesus, says with simple veracity of his forerunner, **John

did no miracle."

The proof which Jesus submitted


was an appeal
to

of his

own

claims

what he was doing.


can do.

And

this will
it is

always be the best evidence of Christianity


able to point to what
it

when
it

Christianity does not,


deafness,

indeed,
leprosy,

now

miraculously
like
;

heal

blindness,

and the

but, as Jesus promised,

does

greater things
spirit

than these.

By

the diffusion of the

of philanthropy and by the use of scientific skill


it

in the service of charity

not only heals


better

all

manner of
scale.
It

diseases, but

what

is far

it

is

learning to pre-

vent disease and to lengthen


is

life

on the large
:

making men and women new creatures

it is

making
It
is

the brutal wife-beater a tender husband, the drunkard a

sober man, the harlot pure,

the thief honest.

transforming savage countries, which have

been the

abodes of horrid cruelty, into abodes of

civilization,

and

changing the dregs of society into

good

citizens

and

members of churches.
is

The

scepticism of last century

usually supposed to have received its quietus through the pubhcation of Paley's " Evidences " and Butler's

"Analogy

"

but

it

may
I

be doubted

if this

be the correct

reading of history.

should attribute the restoration

of belief in at least an equal degree to the practical


labors of

Wesley and Whiteheld.


political life is the

The church which


is

saves most souls and does most to sweeten and purify

L^pmestic and
most
Christianity
is

church which

doing

to counterwork scepticism.

The

best evidence of

a converted man.
Baptist, laid spe-

Jesus

himself, in reply to the

244
cial

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


fact that

emphasis on the
the poor,

he preached the Gospel

to
his

bringing in this after the mention of


if
it

miracles, as

were the climax of the whole


Christianity

demonstration.

And
To

can never offer a


than
is

more impressive evidence of


is

divinity

when

it

able to say, "

the poor the Gospel

preached."

Over
"

the entrance to the school of one of the greatest

philosophers

of Greece

the

legend was

inscribed:

Let none

ignorant

of

mathematics
in

enter

here."
lies

This was proof enough that not


the salvation
will

philosophy

of mankind, for

the mass of our race

always

be ignorant

of

mathematics.

But by
it

preaching to the poor Christianity shows that

is

adapted to
they are

all,

approaching

men

at that level

where
most

all

alike
;

and where are found


it

their

cardinal wants
it

and

proves at the same time that


spirit

is

animated with the


all

of

Him who
to dwell

has

made
face

of one blood

nations of

men

on the

of

all

the earth, and

who

regards the humblest of his

creatures with a Father's love.

what

To his message may be called

to

the Baptist our


;

Lord added
the post-

a postscript

and, as

script of a letter

sometimes contains the most imwhole communication, so Jesus

portant part of the


sent
to

uttered,

John one of the weightiest words he ever when he added, " And blessed is he whosoit

ever shall not be offended in me."


It

was a solemn warning, yet the wording of


skill.

was

managed with consummate


said, "

Jesus might have

And

cursed

is

he whosoever shall be offended

THE ECLIPSE OF HIS FAITH.


in

245
in-

me ;"

but that

way

of putting

it

might have

flamed a hot
perfect tact, put

spirit
it

Hke John's; so

Jesus, with his

the other way, yet in words fitted

to excite in John's

mind a

fear of that

which he had

not expressed.

John was
given

in a

dangerous

state of

mind.

If

he had
to

way
Zion

to

his pessimistic

mood he might have


His doubt

stumbled over the stone which he had been sent


lay
in

as

the

chief

corner-stone.
;

might have ripened into denial

and he might have


was not the Messiah.
that

come

to the conclusion that Jesus


this,

To

prevent

Jesus warned him not to give


think: to think,

feeling,

but to
fulfilled

he

way to who had

already

so large a portion of the Messianic


Isaiah,
it

programme, sketched by
fulfil

might be trusted to

the rest; to tliink, that

was not

for

him

to

prescribe the path of

One whom he had acknowledged


it

to be far greater than himself, but to leave

to his

superior wisdom.

There was another danger


exposed.
disciples,

He
and

to which John was was a leader of men; he had many


his

word

carried

weight with multi;

tudes in every part of the country

if

he had gone

wrong, and declared against the claims of Christ, he

would have led others astray besides


declaration
Christ's cause.

himself,

and

his

could not but have been prejudicial to

The
will

question

is

sometimes

raised,

whether

are responsible for their opinions, and whether

men God

punish

men

for their unbelief in Christ.

if

they have honesdy


is

been unable to believe

This

much more

246
difficult

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIFT.


many
is

question than

think.

It is

easy to take
in reality
it

for

granted that doubt


not be
so.
It

honest.

But

may

may be

a vague mist of opinion, in


itself to

which the mind has allowed


because
it

become enveloped
its

has never had the courage to think

doubts

through.
is

There may be vanity

in

it

for skepticism

sometimes worn as a feather

in the cap.

of Christ are so great and have so

The claims much prima facie


mind can
reject

authority that no one in a right state of

them without long labor and much pain. The responsibility of communicating doubt to others, that they

still

may be withdrawn from the faith of Christ, is greater and those who feel that their duty lies that way may well beforehand ponder this word, " Blessed is he
;

whosoever

shall not

be offended

in

me."

To
this

a vast multitude in Christian lands, however,

word of Christ conveys a different message. They may have no intellectual doubts about Christ, believing him to be the Son of God and the Saviour of the world but they are offended in him in another way. They are offended by his cross they are afraid to conTheir convicfess him and to take the consequences. tions about Christ are going one way and their conduct Far oftener Christ addressed himself to this the other. state of mind, and about it he expressed himself more " Whosoever shall confess me before men, plainly
;
;

him

will I confess also before


;

my

Father which

is

in

heaven

but whosoever shall deny

me

before men,
is

him

will I also

deny before

my

Father which

in heaven."

HIS EULOGY.

247

CHAPTER

VI.

HIS EULOGY.
Matthew 11:7-19; Luke
7:24-35.

It was as the messengers of the Baptist departed


that "Jesus

began

to

speak unto the multitudes conpeople have departed, the lantheir

cerning John."

When

guage which breaks out behind


them and
ble order.
their friends
is

backs

about

too frequently of a questionatill

Gossip only waits

the door

is

shut bein

hind a visitor before canvassing every defect

his

appearance and ripping up the seams of his character.

Those who have been


son present
the
will dissect

all

smiles and flattery to a per-

with the most venomous relish

same person

absent.

But how

different

was Jesus,

and what an example he has


ticulars
!

left in this

as in other par-

was

silent

While John's messengers were present he indeed, he spoke rather in a in his praise
;

tone of reproof.

But no sooner were they out of earadmiration had been pent up, and
it

shot than he broke out in language of the warmest


eulogy, as
if

his

rushed forth as soon as

could find an outlet.


in

There are few things


John's
trial

biography more beautiful

than the relations to one another of John and Jesus.

took place when the multitude forsook him


to Jesus.

and went away


his heart;

Others envied for his sake


its

but not a thought of the kind could find

v.ay into
I

he

only said, "

He must

increase, but

must

248
decrease."

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


of Jesus, on the
his

arrived

The trial when John sent


But

other hand,

messengers to ask a depredid not resent


it.

ciatory question.

He

His lanis in it

guage about John


place in his heart

is full

of generosity.

There

even a poetic intensity, which shows from what a


it

warm

came.
in Christ's

Four things about John are embraced


panegyric
:

his personal character, his prophetic great-

ness, his success,

and

his failure.

The opening words


wilderness
to

"

What went ye
?

out into the


the wind?

see?

reed shaken with

But what went ye out for to see


soft

A man

clothed in

raiment

Behold, they that wear soft clothing are

in

kings' houses "

appear

intended to protect John

from the unfavorable impressions which

made by

his

own message.
in

may have been The question, " Art Thou


for

He

that should come, or

do we look

another?"
fickleness
testi-

might have suggested

John a

certain

when contrasted with

the emphasis of his earlier

mony

and

it

suggested an impatience which might be

attributed to dissatisfaction with the hardships which he

was enduring.

Was

John, then, a changeable mortal,


?

sighing for release and comfort


ture Jesus lifted the

From such

a carica-

minds of the

listeners to the

image

of the real John as he appeared in the days of his

prime.

Was

he,

whom

they went out into the wilder-

ness to see, a reed shaken with the wind

one whom
way
or that,

the wind of popular favor could sway this


as
it

listed,

or the stormy wind of persecution bend and

break?

Was

he

not,

on the contrary, an Elijah-like

HIS EULOGY.
figure

249
face

one

fit

to stand

up against any odds and


?

the frowns of a hostile world


in soft raiment
terrified

Was

he a man clothed
ease and shrank

who loved his from suffering ? They could


of the desert.

one

not but

remem-

ber the emaciated figure and the coarse and scanty garb
of the

man

He

had, indeed, had an op-

portunity of being a courtier, because

Herod had

cast

on him a favoring eye and listened


with delight
;

to his preaching

but

it

made
and
as to

of this opportunity

was well known what use he had not in such a way as to be

included

among

those

who

are gorgeously apparelled

live delicately in kings' courts,

but

in

such a way

doom

himself to a dungeon.

Such was John

the uncompromising witness, able


and a brazen wall against
truth, the self-denysuffer-

to stand like an iron pillar

whosoever ventured
ing ascetic
ings tame

to

oppose the

whom

no threats could intimidate or

and Jesus
God
:

loved to paint him in the glory

of his prime.

always sees the best of his servants

and places

their character

and

their services in the

most

favorable light

not his the petty spirit which criticises


is

everything that
low, or judges a
his best.
It

high for the purpose of bringing

it

man

by his worst hour rather than by

has been said that every


to pass

man

of prophetic endow-

ment has

through the stages of criticism against


First,

which John was defended by Jesus.


begins to attract attention, he
is

when he

said to be a reed sha-

ken with the wind

he

is

waiting for the popular breeze


is

and

will

bend any way, as influence

brought to bear

upon him.

By and

by,

when he has conquered popu-

2 50
larity,

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


second accusation
;

he
a

is

assailed with the

that

man clothed in soft raiment he is making his among the rich and powerful, and is intent on feathering his own nest. Only after running the gaunthe
is

friends

let

of such criticism does he at last wring from the


his

minds of
he
is

contemporaries the acknowledgment that

a prophet.
;

Perhaps
but there

this is true,
is

and

it is

a lesson

for the critics

a solemn lesson for the

man

himself

Any one endowed

with the prophetic

gift will

be tempted
first

at precisely these points.

He
cast

will

be tempted

to use the gift of speech for the gratifi-

cation of his

own

vanity, being puffed

up or

down

according as the multitude follow him and the organs of


public opinion praise him or not.
tion
is

Then,

after his posi-

won and

his

fame established, he

will

be tempted

to use his gifts to


in society.

shape for himself a comfortable place


only after he has surmounted both
will

And

forms of temptation

he approve himself a true

prophet of the Lord.

The
wind or
this is

Baptist, then,

was no reed shaken with the


but
a true prophet.
;

softly clothed courtier,

" Yea," the

Lord added,

**

and more than a prophet


I

for

he of

whom it
I

is

written, Behold,

send

my

mesbe-

senger before thy


fore thee.

face,

which

shall

prepare thy

way

Verily

say unto you,

among them
is

that are

born of women there hath not risen a greater than John


the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that
least

in

the

kingdom of heaven is greater than he." This is high and almost, one would think, excessive praise. Among those born of women, before the

HIS EULOGY.
birth of Christ,

251

very greatest

man

must we regard John the Baptist as the Was he greater than Moses, ?
;

Ehjah, David, Isaiah

or

to glance beyond
Plato,
this in

the elect

people

greater

than

Homer and
his

Sakya-muni
to a

and Confucius?

Probably

was not what Jesus

meant

and the difference

meaning points

profound difference between the human and the divine

way

of estimating

greatness.

We

measure greatness
call
;

by the
it

size of the brain

by

what we

briUiance,

talent, genius.

This

flatters

human

vanity

and out

of

arise

the

extravagances of hero-worship and the

madnesses of ambition.
greatness
is

But God's way of estimating


be sought
in faithgifts of

different: greatness is to

fulness to duty, in the humility with


;

which the

God are received and utilized above all, in nearness to God himself. John was greater than all who had
gone before him, not because the
excelled that of Isaiah
force of his

manhood
because

surpassed that of Moses, or because his prophetic style

for they did not

but

he was nearer to the divine Light which was coming into


the world,

and

to

him was vouchsafed the unique


it

privi-

lege of introducing

to

mankind.
remarkable statement
least in the
:

This explains the


withstanding, he that
is
is

"

Not-

kingdom of heaven
is

greater than he."

The comparison
In a

not in refer-

ence to character or performance, but in reference to


position

and

privilege.

somewhat
is

similar

way we
me-

might say
nicus

that a student of to-day

greater in

chanics than Archimedes or in astronomy than Coper;

not in the sense that he has greater mechanical

or astronomical genius, but in the sense that his position

252
in time
lifts

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.

him over the heads of those men of the past. John is regarded as still belonging- to the Old Testament era, although so near the New Testament
era as to be able to touch
it
it
;

and, therefore, greater than

those

more remote from


era,

but those in the

New

Tes-

tament

even the
;"

least of

them, are greater than he.


is

The New Testament

era

here called " the king-

dom

of heaven

and

this

suggests a comparison.

We
it

are accustomed to divide nature into three


the mineral, the vegetable

kingdoms
can
is

and the animal. Now,

be said that what

is

least in the vegetable


is

kingdom

greater than that which

greatest in the mineral king-

dom, and
kingdom.

that

what

is

least in the
is

animal kingdom

is

greater than that which

greatest in the vegetable

So he that is least in the kingdom of God, it up in the world, is greater than he that was greatest in the imperfect dispensation of the Old
as Christ set

Testament, just as he that was least there was greater


than the greatest in the world which lay outside the
sphere of revelation.

Such is the tenor of the whole New Testament. It be remembered how St. Paul contrasts the ministration of condemnation, as he calls the Old Testament,
will

with the ministration of the Spirit, as he

calls the

New
even

Testament.
in

The Old

Testament was, indeed, glorious


" but in this re-

comparison with the surrounding world;

that

which was made glorious had no glory

spect

by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away is glorious, much more that which
remaineth
is

glorious."
well inquire wherein this glory or great-

We

may

HIS EULOGY.
ress consists
;

253
it

for, if
is

we

are Ciiristians,

belongs to us.

Everyone who

in Christ is greater

than was Abra-

ham

or Moses, Isaiah or John the Baptist.

This

is

not,

inde ed, a greatness of character, but of position and


privilege
;

yet
is

it is

meant

to react

upon

character.

In:

deed, this
it

the very spring of New Testament morahty

is

the worldly

maxim, Noblesse

oblige,

raised to a

heavenly intensity.
rise

Ye

are risen with Christ, therefore


life
;

with him to newness of

ye are seated with him

in the

heavenly places, wherefore set your affections on


above.
:

things

This

is

the strain of the whole

New
lifted

Testam.ent

it is

from the sense of being ideally

up

into a region

of holiness and blessedness through

our connection with Christ that we are supplied with


the motive and the power for the real conflict with
evil.

"Ye

are a chosen

generation, a royal priesthood, a

holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show


forth the praises of

him who hath

called

you out of

darkness into his marvelous light."

From
official

the

Baptist's

personal character and


to

his

greatness

the

Lord goes on

speak of the

success of his work: "


tist until

From

the days of John the Bap-

now

the

and the
difficult;

violent take

kingdom of heaven suffereth violence it by force." These words are


fall

but not a few misinterpretations, which need

not be mentioned,
is still

away v/hen we observe


words of

that Jesus

being carried forward on the tide of eulogy, and


praise, not of

that these words, therefore, are

blame.

What John had done was

to set the

kingdom

of

254
heaven
in the

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


where
it

midst,

attracted

the thoughts,

the desires and the conversation of men.

eyes his hearers saw the

Through his kingdom of heaven as a city


were ready to do and

of which they must get possession, and, like resolute


besiegers, not to be baulked, they

to sacrifice everything in order to obtain this object of

desire: " the violent take

it

by

force."

The words,
violence,"

"

The kingdom

of heaven suffereth
is
it

would not mean anything more than

ex-

pressed by the second clause, "


force."

The

violent take

by

But perhaps a better translation would be,


in with violence;"

"cometh

and

this

would naturally
it

refer to the

earnestness with which

was preached,

whereas the other clause refers to the earnestness of the


hearers.
"

With The kingdom

this

agrees the version of St.


is

Luke

of heaven

preached, and every one

presseth into

it."

John had not only been an earnest


and these earnest preachers made
words, "
is

preacher himself, but he had raised up a race of preachers like-minded


;

earnest hearers.

Whether
force,"

in the

The

violent take

it

by

any reference
is

made

to the character of John's


rate, his

converts

not certain.

At any

converts were
the respect-

the violent rather than the respectable.


able Jesus said

To

on a subsequent occasion, "John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not but the pubhcans and harlots believed him." There was an element of violence in John's preaching
;

it

was

full

of wrath and menace

it

was not the pure or


;

the

full

gospel.

His hearers also were yery imperfect

their previous lives

had been violent and

their appre-

HIS EULOGY.
hension of the kingdom of
his

255
very defective
;

God was

yet

was a genuine work, and it caused a genuine reviSometimes the preaching of the gospel may not val.
be very refined
;

there

may

be too

much

terror in

it,

and

it

may

lack the sweetness and light of mature


Yet,
it

Christianity.

if it

comes with pov/er from the heart


infinitely

of the preacher,
perfect
ness.

may do

more good than a

form of sound words preached without earnestHearers awakened


in

open-air meetings or mis-

sion halls to flee from the wrath to


into the

come may

press

kingdom, while many who have heard the gos-

pel for a Hfetime in fashionable churches are dismissed


into outer darkness.

Up

to this point Jesus has


;

proceeded

in the strain

of panegyric

here, however,
I

comes a "but"
?

"But
unto

whereunto

shall

liken this generation

It is like

children sitting in the markets and calling unto their


fellows,

We
;

have piped unto you and ye have not

danced

we have mourned unto you and ye have not


a " but " after a panegyric
is

lamented."

Now

suspicious.

In
of

talking of others

we sometimes say

a certain

amount

good, then suddenly, with a


takes a turn, and the

" but,"

the conversation

good already spoken is undone by the envious and malignant sequel. The transition in the discourse of Jesus was not of this kind. He went
on, indeed, to speak of John's failure to influence his

generation as a v/hole

but his aim was not to depreci-

ate John, but to attack those

who had

rejected him.
is

And

the final proof of the purity of his motive

that at

256
this point

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


:

he associates himself with John


in

the failure

of the Baptist was also his own.

The language
striking.

which Jesus here speaks


;

is

very

It is figurative

and

this is like
is

him, for he

loved to use similitudes.

The imagery

taken from
this also
all
is

common

hfe

the

life

of the street

and

characteristic.

It is

most characteristic of
;

that he
in

borrows from the children's world


all its

for of that

world

phases he was lovingly observant.

Jesus had seen the children in the markets

as we
mourn-

may
er,

see

them

in

our

own
child

streets

playing at funerals
chief
;

and marriages.
would play the

One

would play the

and the others would follow lamenting


pipe,

one child

or something which could be

feigned to be a pipe, and the rest would dance like the

guests at a wedding.

But soon the children

tired,

or
left

something

else attracted

them, and the leader was

lamenting or piping

in vain.

John and the Son of John came neither eating nor drinking he was mournful, ascetic, funereal and for a time it looked as
[there, said Jesus, are

And

man.

if

the whole country was to repent and

mourn

with

him.

But

this seriousness

did not

last

the penitence

of the people had not gone deep, and their impressions

passed away.
preacher.
said
;

They threw

the blame, however, on the


the mind," they the

"

He

is

little

"

he hath a

devil."
;

wrong in Then came

Son of man,

eating and drinking

and

for a time his flute-like note

of joy attracted

more than had ever followed the


But neither were the

mournful lead of the Baptist.


impressions permanent which

He made

the enthusi-

HIS EULOGY.

257
its

asm cooled down,

life

returned to

ordinary chan"

nels, and they cast the blame on him.

gluttonous

man," they exclaimed, '*and a winebibber, a friend of


publicans and sinners."

really
left

These objections cancelled one another. Had it been because John was too mournful that they
;

had

him they would have clung to Jesus, the joyful it really been because Jesus was too convivial that
left

they

him they would have been

satisfied with

John.
real

But their objections were merely excuses.

The
*'

reason was that they feared both John's ghttering axe,

"Repent," and the winnowing fan of Jesus,

If

any

man will come after me, let him deny himself." There One day it is too hot, are always excuses in plenty.
another too cold
full
; ;

one church
is

is

too empty, another too

one preacher
;

too learned, another not learned


is

enough

one congregation

too genteel, another too


is still

common.
up

But the

real

reason

the old one

it is

dislike to rehgion
their sins, as

itself.

Sinners do not wish to give


;

John demanded

they do not wish to

be brought nigh to God, as Jesus offered.

Such was our Lord's condemnation of his own generation; but it does not contradict what he had already said about John's success or deny entirely Though they had both success to his own ministry. failed with the generation as a whole, their mission was
not wholly a failure
;

and
:

this is

what

is

expressed
is

in

our Lord's closing words


her children."

"

But

Wisdom

justified of

Those who slighted and

rejected

John

and Jesus practically condemned the divine Wisdom but there were those which had sent these prophets
;

17

258

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


this

who condemned
dom.
lost

condemnation and

justified

Wis-

These were Wisdom's own children.

In the

preaching of John they recognized the accents of their


mother, and they recognized them
still

more

in the

preaching of Jesus.
the two

But most of

all

did they discern

the presence of divine


;

wisdom

in the

combination
need, and

ol

because John's preaching of repentance awa-

kened

in

them the sense of


the

spiritual

in

Christ's preaching

awakened

soul obtained

comto

plete satisfaction.

In religion
his

much depends on

the preacher,

and

work

is

attached a heavy responsibihty.

But more
nothing.

depends on the hearer.


were
the preachers

Even when John and Jesus


hearers
profited

many

The preaching

of repentance can do no good

when
;

sinners are determined not to give

up

their sins

and

the unsearchable riches of the gospel are spread out in

vain before those

who

are not hungering and thirsting

after righteousness.

HIS

MARTYRDOM.

259

CHAPTER
HIS

VII.

MARTYRDOM.
3:19, 20;

Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke

9:7-9.

We
Baptist
call
it,

do not know

for certain

in

what way the

was got into the den of Herod.

Den we may
**

because Jesus himself called Herod

that fox."

Josephus says that the Baptist was imprisoned because


the tetrarch feared that the crowds
attracted

by

his

oreaching might be used for revolutionary purposes.

Most

likely,

however,

this

was only a

pretext,

and the

gospels admit us to the real reason.

Probably John
in the

first

obtained access to the palace

way
if

of his calling as a prophet.


people, and he

He was

reach-

ing

all

classes of the

might well be

gratified

anything opened the way to the highest


;

circle of society

for a great

preacher has a word for

the highest as well as the lowest.


for

Herod had

a taste

preaching and probably invited the popular prophet


the

As was commanded
to visit him.
desert, dressed
floors in

modern phrase would

run,

John

to preach before

the Court.

And

piquant must have been the contrast, as the son of the


his ascetic garb, in the

trode the marble

and appeared

presence of those

who were

clothed in purple and fine linen.

palace offers a pulpit which a preacher might

envy.

But

it

is

perilous place;

it

has chilled the has not con-

message on many a preacher's

lips, if it

26o

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


There
our own English annals,

verted him into a flatterer and a sycophant.

have been shameful periods,

in

when

the preachers of the Court have not only spared

the sins of the great but profited

by them, even

bish-

ops fawning for promotion at the heels of royal mistresses.

On

the other hand,


their

when Court preachers


ears,

have been true to

heavenly Master and dared to


they have not inlife

speak the truth even to royal

frequently had to risk not only position but

itself;

and the Baptist

is

not the only one, by any means,

who

has thus lost his head.

Herod
divided

the Great

of the babes of Bethlehem

he who
;

ordered the massacre


his

left

dominions to be

among

four of his sons, each of

whom

was

accordingly called a tetrarch


of the Baptist's
Peraea.
life

and Antipas

the Herod

thus became ruler of Galilee and


had been a man of the most unin this

The

father

bridled passions, as well as of ability and magnificence,

and

his character

was reproduced
curtailed,

son

though

the scope was


ture of the

much

he being a mere crea-

Roman

masters of the country, by whose


in his place.
It

favor he was maintained


tice

was the pracfrequent


the

of petty rulers

in

his position to

make

visits to

Rome, where they danced attendance on


their

Court, waiting for any crumbs of imperial patronage

which might come


such
visit

way

and

it

was during one

to the

Eternal City that

intrigue with
brothers.
It

Herodias, the wife

Herod formed an of one of his own

may be

mentioned, as an indication of

the disgusting state of morals which prevailed in the

Herodian family, that both the husband

whom

this

HIS

MARTYRDOM.
paramour

261

princess was quitting- and the

whom

she was

following were her

own

uncles.

Herod's intention was


to

to divorce his lawful wife,

when he reached home, and

marry Herodias
of
the

but, being informed beforehand of


his wife fled, before the

what was impending,


guilty pair,

approach

to

her

father,

Aretas,

King

of

Arabia.

The

relation of
;

Herod and Herodias

was, thus, of

the grossest kind

and an honest preacher could not

obtain access to the royal ear without stigmatizing so


great a
scandal.

John did not go about the bush.


to hear the silken accents of oratory
:

Herod expected

but what he heard was a voice like the sound of a


trumpet, saying without circumlocution, "
for thee to
It is

not lawful

have her."
it

This v/as a sound unspeakably

disconcerting, which
inside

would never have done

to allow

the palace,

and so John was

cast into prison

the reason which Josephus gives being perhaps assigned


as a
pretext,

because the real reason could not be

avowed.

he was
St.

Although the tetrarch had shut John up in prison not, it would appear, incensed against him for
;

Mark's statement, that he

"

heard him gladly," ap-

pears to refer to the period of imprisonment.

As

the

prisoner St. Paul had the privilege of preaching to Felix

and Festus, Agrippa and Bernice,


that again
his abiHty,
little

so,

it

would seem,

John, though a prisoner, appeared before the Court and

and again.

Herod was a clever man but being cramped in a position where he had
;

real

power, ran to seed in a passion for novelty

262

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


The
Baptist was an original
; ;

and excitement.
a

he was

man

of mind, whose ideas were fresh

his appear-

ance was striking and his deHvery forcible;


tetrarch derived from intercourse with
intellectual
this

and the him a welcome


in

stimulation.

Religion
it is

can be enjoyed

way
it

it

contains ideas,

replete with mystery,

and

can be preached with eloquence.

A man may
preacher's
it

hear the word gladly, for the sake of the intellectual


pleasure
it

affords

and the

interest

of the

personality,

who

has no thought of yielding to

his

mind in Herod when glad to see stage, he was later at a exhibited was work miracle. But him to a Jesus because he expected
heart and his
will.

The same

state of

by that time the star of his destiny was near its setting and Jesus treated him with lofty disdain. At this early stage, however, there was more in
;

Herod than
ure.

the insatiable curiosity of a

man

of pleas-

knowing that he There was still a con'1'^was a just man and a holy." By one nod to a myrmidon to cut him science in him. down, when he uttered his uncourtly charge, he might have silenced the prophet but he let him speak on perhaps he even liked his faithfulness. Ungodly people sometimes admire a minister the more because he is
feared John,

He

we

are told,

**

not afraid of their faces and does not spare their sins.

They know
if

it is

his
it

duty

and they would despise him


Policy
it

he neglected

through fear of them.


faithful,

is

not

likely to

make
is

a minister

yet

is

true that

faithfulness
is

the best policy.


it

And when

faithfulness

backed up by character

all

who

are not utterly corrupt.

commands the homage of As Herod listened he

HIS
felt

MARTYRDOM.
is,

263
consented

how

awful goodness
it

and

his conscience

to the law that

was good.
to

But conscience requires

be not only heard but


lost himself,

obeyed

and

this

was where Herod

as

multitudes do.

He

went further, indeed, than some.


another says, more sig-

One

version, apparently the better authenticated, says

that he

was much perplexed


he did
;

nificantly, that

many

things.

Perhaps he prayed;
this sin

perhaps he wept

perhaps he gave up

and

that

perhaps he did
osity.

this

and

that act of

clemency or generit

But one thing he would not do, and


the centre of his

was the

one thing needful.


this great thing in

All the time he was walking round


life

and the many


its

things were only

meant

to

make up
;

for

omission.

This

is

not an unusual position.

There
they

is

one thing
multiply

which people know must be done


other things, they can do
will
all

will

other things, but this they

not and they cannot do.


;

They hear God's thunder


;

roUing overhead

they weep and pray

but

still

the

one thing needful remains undone.

ought

Meantime the conscience sadly suffers. Conscience to be obeyed instantly, and it is only by prompt
its

obedience that

tone

is

maintained.
is

But,

if

the con-

demning voice of the law


sented
to,

heard continually and asthe character

but not obeyed, conscience becomes a mere


;

pulp, in which nothing can take hold

is

demoralized

and the indulgence of

religious

feeling

and the multiplication of


worse.

religious acts only

make

it

We

can trace the history of the degeneration

of Herod's conscience.
Baptist's

When, some time

after the
ears,

murder, the fame of Jesus reached his

he

264
was
is
still

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


It

capable of an access of bewildering^ terror. "


" risen

John the Baptist," he exclaimed,


But, later,

from the

when the Baptist's Friend was sent by Pilate, he had lost all dread and all shame he behaved at first with the most cynical frivolty, and when the silence of Jesus dislodged him from
dead."
to

him

for trial

this attitude

he only made the transition

to insane ar-

rogance and mockery.


seared.

His conscience had become

And

this is the natural history of this faculty.


it is

Loyally followed,
nobility
it

the surest guide to the heights of

and serenity, but tampered with, or neglected, becomes the brand of moral degradation, while at the
it

same time
torment.

hides within

itself

the secret of retributive

had no cause to apprehend immediate Herod; but behind the tetrarch there danger from stood another figure, whose attitude was ominous. This was Herodias. What Jezebel was to Elijah in the Old Testament Herodias was to the Elijah of She was worse. Elijah escaped the New Testament. from the deadly hate of Jezebel and, as he had prophesied, her bones were devoured by the dogs of

The

Baptist

Jezreel; but
his

John did not escape the vengeance of

enemy.
It

has often been said that

women

are like the

figs of

Jeremiah

when good, they

are very good, but,

when

bad, they are very bad.


"

For men at most differ as heaven and earth, But women, worst and best, as heaven and hell."
of the evil age in which the Messiah

No symptom

HIS

MARTYRDOM.

265

came

to this
its

world was more noteworthy than the char-

acter of

women.

The Agrippinas and

Messalinas of

Roman

history, with their colossal passions,

were the

worst index of the ancient world's decay.

And

no-

where did

this

corruption assume worse forms than in

Oriental courts, under

Roman

influence.

In Cleopatra,

the paramour of Antony, Shakespeare has depicted the

type

in all its features of

mingled attractiveness and


of this character.
;

abandonment.
Herodias was a

woman

very good reasons for hating John

because,

if

She had Herod


?

put her away, as John advised, where was she to go

For her the enjoyment and glory of life were over ever. A woman's hatred is different from a man's.
sees
its

for
It
is

purpose straight before


its

it,

and no scruple

allowed to stand in

way.

Herod, bad

man

as

he

was, feared John and reverenced him.


as
;

Not so Herodi-

for her there

was no halo round the prophet's head.

Either he must die or she be banished from the sunshine, a disgraced hesitate a

and ruined woman

and she did not


in

moment between

the alternatives.

Josephus says that the Baptist was imprisoned


Machaerus.

This was a castle or palace in the neighthat


is,

borhood of the Dead Sea,


the country
;

far in the

south of

but Herod's regular abode was Tiberias,


Galilee.
It is just

on the Sea of
sent

possible that

Herod

John

to distant

Machaerus to be out of harm's way


pre-

for St.

Mark

says that " Herodias had a quarrel against


.
.

him, and would have killed him, but Herod served him " says
;
;

not " observed," as the

common

version
safe."

the revised version

renders, " kept

him

266

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


protection from the

Even a prison may be a welcome wrath of an angry woman.


at last her opportunity

But Herodias' implacable hatred never slept, and came. Herod was fond of all
;

occasions which afforded an excuse for excitement

and

he had borrowed from


of celebrating his

his

Western masters the practice


with elaborate
festivities.

own birthday
" the lords,

Machaerus was the palace chosen on


there he assembled
estates of Galilee."

this occasion,

and

high captains, and chief

Herodias, too, was there.


all

Herod,

perhaps, had forgotten

about John, but she was

thinking of nothing

else.

The
daughter.

bait of

which she made use was her own

Few

things in this world are

and

beautiful than the training of a daughter

more touching by a good


that
is

mother, whose cares and prayers fashion the virgin


heart of her child into a sanctuary of
all

pure,

modest and holy.

But a wicked mother, transfusing into her daughter's heart the hellish passion and malignity of her own nature, is an awful spectacle.
selves,

Dancing which

is

one of those things, innocent


easy to get

in

them-

often

serve the tempter as an inclined


it

plane

down which

is
it

human

beings to

some scenes of the worst degradation of man and woman. In the corrupt age to which Herod belonged it was much sought after by men like him, and nowhere was Both men it more relished than in Oriental courts. and women practised it in public for a livelihood and
descend.
Historically

has been associated with

those

who

distinguished themselves were frequently represents.

warded by extravagant

Many

of the dances

HIS
were lewd
passions of
in the

MARTYRDOM.

267

extreme and appealed to the worst


nature.
for

human

No

doubt the favorable moment was watched

by Herodias, when the tetrarch and his boon companions had reached the stage at which evil passions can be most easily blown into flame. Then the girl was introduced, in her youth and beauty, and executed
with bewildering grace the part for which she had been
trained.

The
to

sight of one so nearly related to himself

appearing
tress

in the position of a dancing-girl or play-ac-

ought
;

have

filled

Herod with shame and


carried

indig-

nation

but the daredevil sauciness and the abandon-

ment of a princess completely


intoxicated men,

away the

half-

who looked on spellbound and broke


;

out into wild applause

and the

tetrarch, entirely losing

control of himself, roared out a promise to give her

any

present she might ask, even to the half of his kingdom.

One

Evangelist says that the girl was instructed

beforehand what to ask, while another says that she

went to consult her mother.


that,

No

wonder, however,

even

if

she had been instructed beforehand, she


offer.

went to ask when she received such an


a

Half of

kingdom

What might

she not have obtained

palaces, jewels,

gorgeous apparel

all

that a girl's heart

could

desire!
fear,

But that stony

face,

congealed with
**

hatred and
fool,

met her
v/hat

hesitation

unmoved.

Little

you know not

you ask

what would

all

these

you and me, unqueened and outcast, as we may be any day if John the Baptist lives?" So she came back into the hall and said, " Give
things be to

me

here immediately the head of John the Baptist

in

268
charger."
care
;

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


still

She was
it is

playing the saucy devil-may-

and

easy to imagine the roar of laughter and

admiration with

which the pretty wickedness of

this

request would be greeted by the tipsy revellers.

But Herod did not laugh.


trembled
a
;

He grew

pale and

he knew that he had been entrapped.


the fate of John and that of Herodias

moment
Herod
;

For hung

in the balance. in

prevail

Would the manhood and Would he say, " No ?


shall

the kinghood
;

have been

betrayed

no hand
I

touch a hair of the head of the


?

man whom
site half

am

protecting "

Alas,

it

was the oppo-

of Herod's self which


side.

came

forth

the weak,

cowardly

He

was swept away by the drunken


;

shouts of his courtiers


felt

he affected to believe that he


Perhaps the strongest

scrupulous about his oath.


all

motive of

was dread of the blood-thirsty Fury by


like daughter.

whom

the whole scene had been contrived.

Like mother,
her part well.
to receive

Salome had played


for the girl

But what a burden was that


in the

and carry away

charger

Doubtless

she kept up her gay and frivolous


eyes of others were
quailed
;

mood

as long as the

upon her but surely her heart when she was out of the lighted hall and alone The eyes of that other face, with the ghastly object.
however, did not
hell,

quail,

but flashed with


features.

the

fire

of

as they

devoured the hated

When

the

head of Cicero was brought to Fulvia, the widow of


Clodius and the wife of Antony, she drove her hair-pin
again and again into the tongue which had denounced
the iniquities of both her husbands
;

and Herodias was

capable of doing as

much

at least.

HIS

MARTYRDOM.
evil

269

She remained Herod's


death of the Baptist
horror
to
;

genius to the end.

The

filled

the tetrarch's subjects with

and King Aretas led an army into the country avenge the dishonor done to his daughter, inflicting

on Herod a severe defeat which the people attributed


to the wrath of heaven.
;

Herod appealed to the Romans for help but in the nick of time the emperor died on whose favor he depended. Urged on by the ambition of Herodias he went to Rome, to pay homage to the new emperor and to beg for himself the title of But the new emperor, being prejudiced against king. only refused his request but deprived him of not him, Herod was banished to his government altogether. Lyons, in the south of France, where he and Herodias
died miserably.

Nothing

is

told of the tragedy inside the prison.

When
little

the

apparition

of death
it ?

confronted John so

suddenly,

how

did he receive
;

He was

still

young,

more than thirty the pulses of life were strong he had been arrested in the midst of a great in him much, he must have felt, as every true and work,
;

worker

for

God and man

feels,

was yet

to be done.

Had

he

still

a great doubt, which he was yearning to


?

have solved before leaving the world

There are few scenes more pathetic than the

little

company of his disciples gathering at the prison door to take up the poor, mutilated and dishonored trunk.

Where
in

did they bury

it ?

It

the sand of the

desert

fit

must surely have been resting-place for one

who had

so loved solitude and to

whom

society

had

2/0

ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST.


Into his grave they dropped
;

proved so unkind.
a tear of affection
glorious

many

and many a golden hope and


their master.
if

dream they buried with


prevented
it

Were

they thinking that surely Jesus,

he were the Christ,


they thinking

might
like

have

this?

Were
world a

of the enigma, that

should be possible for a

man
good

Herod

to put out of the

man

so

and so beneficent

as

John

As they turned round from

the grave, the heavens

looked very blank and the earth very vacant.


a true instinct told them where to go

" They
!

But

went

told Jesus." Ah, blessed road, whereon thousands upon thousands have followed them since It is the

and

right road, whatever be the trouble

but most of

all

when

the waves and billows of doubt are breaking

over the mind

when

it

looks as
if

if

Providence had

let

go the rudder, and


heart of the universe.
to

as

there were no love at the

When
his

the

Son

of

God

appears
to

have abandoned

own

cause,

and even

have

given occasion to doubt his very existence, then carry


the trouble to no one else, but
"

go and

tell

Jesus.

God is his own interpreter And he will make it plain."

made plain the martyrdom of John has accomplished far more by dying than he could ever have done by living. He
since has he
;

Long

the Baptist

for

lives
it

on

in the

world with an influence ever extending

is

even he who keeps alive the memory of Herod,

Herodias and Salome, who murdered him.

Whenever

truth has to be defended or difficult testimony has to

be borne, there his image sheds a welcome inspiration;

HIS

MARTYRDOM.
his
life

27

and because he gave up


mise with
still

rather than compro-

sin,

therefore his voice, crying,

"Repent!"
is

echoes

in the

hearts of men, and

his finger

visible across the centuries, outstretched

towards " the


sin

Lamb
world."

of God,

which

taketh

away the

of the

Date Due