1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
He was among the first that reassembled for the exercises connected with the feast of tabernacles. Taking his seat on one of the open promenades in the temple enclosure, it was soon known among the assembling people that Jesus was returned; and they came to him in numbers. Sitting and standing around him in an informal way, he taught them in the style peculiar to himself.
While so engaged, the continuity of his discourse was interrupted by the arrival of a band of the scribes and Pharisees, for whom the people made way.Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
The Pharisees had with them a woman, to whom, when they had penetrated the crowd, they directed Christ's special attention. They were about to catch Jesus in his own trap, as they supposed. They had a vague impression that Jesus was antagonistic to Moses; and they thought if they could once make this manifest to the people who believed in Moses, his influence with them would be at an end, and they would have established a ground for successful accusation.
It was with this object and with no true zeal for the law, which they disobeyed in a hundred matters, that they brought the woman forward and "set her in the midst." "Master," said they, "this woman was taken in adultery -- in the very act. Now, Moses in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?" This raised the issue direct -- Moses versus Christ.
The people listened eagerly for Christ's response: but none at first came. Jesus stooped on the ground and wrote with his finger on the stones as if unconscious of their question. The Pharisees repeated it, doubtless glancing around with that leering appeal for support on which insincere partizanship seeks to strengthen itself to the present day. Jesus still remained in the stooping posture, and silent. His enemies thought he was nonplussed, and kept asking the question.
At last Jesus rises, and quietly says, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." He then resumes his stooping posture, and leaves his answer to work its own results. It was a master-stroke, by which he escaped with consummate dignity from the apparent dilemma of having to abjure the law of Moses, or do violence to the principles of mercy with which his name had come to be associated in the public mind.
Not only so, but he turned the case against his accusers. He honoured the law, magnified mercy, and at the same time impaled his adversaries upon the spikes of self-conviction. His quiet challenge entered their turbid minds and rankled like an arrow. What could they say to it? They stood for a moment looking down on the stooping form of this new teacher who perturbed them so much.
The nonplus was now all on their side. The more they thought of Christ's remark (uttered in the hearing of the on-looking people), the less they felt able to deal with it. At last with a contemptuous snort, in which baffled caste sought to preserve a dignity which it felt to be fatally wounded, the eldest of the priestly company made straight away from the spot, followed by the other members of it in the order of their age.
The woman they left standing before Jesus, in the midst of the crowd. Such a case of moral discomfiture belongs only to divine operation. By a single brief remark, Jesus escapes a dilemma without quibble or compromise, and at the same time overwhelms his adversaries with defeat and confusion. There are those who would omit this narrative from John, as an interpolation. It is self-evidently part of the divine context. ..
...The Pharisees having confessed defeat by retirement, Jesus, lifting himself from his stooping position, sees the woman standing in the position in which they had left her. "Woman," said he, "where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?" She said, "No man, Lord," and Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more."
The Pharisees had power to condemn the woman; Jesus had none, in the same sense, but he had power in a higher sense, a sense soaring beyond all present and transient penalties. And this higher jurisdiction he boldly accepts, and acquits the woman -- of having committed the offence? No, but of guilt in respect to it. Why this, seeing she was guilty? Because the ministry of Christ was a ministry of reconciliation through forgiveness, where sin was confessed and repented of in the scriptural sense -- that is by repudiation and amendment. "Go and sin no more;" this is the universal condition of forgiveness, as proclaimed in the Scriptures.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Our kindness and compassion must balance our purity and zeal, or we are but "holy" monsters.
Christ was the purest and most zealous of all men. He was also the most compassionate and loving and understanding toward the weak and the sinner.
12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
This also in a figure represents that light which is intellectual, moral, and spiritual, emanating from the Word of God: and dispelling the darkness of the natural mind.
Yahweh Elohim Ch 1.
His declaration, therefore, that he was the light of the world, coming as it did from a mouth distinguished by originality, independence, and truth, and purity, as no public teacher had ever been before, possessed a weightiness of character which they could not make sport of, and which to this day impresses the attentive and discerning listener.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
Most uncongenial to the natural and unenlightened mind
So long as men have a secret sentiment that salvation is an affair of natural quality, such as being kindly, honest, harmless, etc., they naturally rebel against what necessarily seems to them strait-laced views of salvation and duty. They take pleasure in the thought that it does not matter what you believe, and that all that a man need care for is such a degree of moral excellence as will pass creditable muster with his neighbour.
As for the questions of doctrine they scout them as interminable and immaterial, and they are best held in utter abeyance.
Well, such a view of matters would be more convenient and pleasing to all men naturally. If it is a true view, no one could wish to do otherwise than act upon it. But is it a true view? That is the question.
The answer of God alone can determine this; and in the Bible alone in our age can we have it. The answer is without uncertainty or reserve. It is that condemnation hath passed upon all men (Rom. 5:18), that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), that in His sight no man living can be justified (Psa. 143:2), that in our natural position we have no hope and are without God (Eph. 2:12). Let this truth be once for all truly recognised, and the nature of our position in the world and our relation to futurity is greatly simplified.
The way is then clear for the question: What must we do to be saved? And the answer to the question is as clear as the question itself. Our attention is fixed on Christ:
'There is none other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved'. 'Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins'. 'No man can come unto the Father but by me'. 'Except ye believe on me, ye shall die in your sins'. 'I am the way, the truth and the life'.'He that eateth me, even he shall live by me'. He that believeth on me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life'.
If these things be true, why should we not insist on them? It is the great offence of the Truth to do so. We are called uncharitable and narrow-minded because we re-echo the declarations of a Teacher whom we believe and whom mankind around us profess to regard as a teacher come from God. It is not a question of charity at all. It is a question of truth. It is charitable to declare the truth surely. It is highly uncharitable to withhold it.
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
The only thing they could do was to quibble. They laid hold of the legal maxim that no man could bear testimony in his own case. "Thou bearest record of thyself: thy testimony is not true." Jesus had to admit the self-testimony, but could not admit the untruth; because, though it might not be receivable unsupported in the practice of the law, a thing known to only one man would not be less true on account of there being no second man who could testify to it. Jesus knew the truth of what he was saying, and no one else did or could, except as a matter discerned from his testimony, confirmed by the many works of super-human power.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
That is, not knowing anything of Christ beyond what they could see or hear of him as of any other man, they judged him by the rule applicable in the ordinary experience of flesh and blood, and made a great mistake in consequence; for though, to all appearance, Christ was an ordinary man and came as an ordinary man, in reality he came from above, in being directly generated by the Spirit of God, and he was God in their midst, in the full indwelling presence of that Spirit which is one with the boundless Father-Spirit, filling immensity.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
Two witnesses - Father and Son
'...on their own showing, they ought to have believed. But men who have no concern for the discernment or the issues of truth, easily evade the result of their own admissions. They run off to a side issue.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
He knew his real paternity was not of Joseph: he never went to school; yet was he wiser than those who assumed to be his teachers, being filled with wisdom, the grace of God being upon him; and was the beloved of all who knew him (Matt. 1:23; Luke 2:40, 46-52; Mark 6:3; John 8: 15; Psalm 119:97-104).
He was clearly in an intellectual and moral condition parallel with Adam's before he transgressed. The "grace of God" was upon Adam, and imparted to him much wisdom and knowledge; but still left him free to obey the impulses of his flesh if he preferred it, rather than the Divine Law.
This was the case also with Jesus, who, in his discourses, always maintained the distinction between what he called "mine own self" and "the Father Himself" who dwelt in him by His effluence. "The Son," said he, "can do nothing of himself"; and this he repeated in the same discourse, saying, "I can of mine own self do nothing."? He refers all the doctrine taught, and all the miracles performed to the Father, whose effluence rested upon and filled him. If this be remembered, it will make the "hard sayings" of his teaching easy to be understood.
Phanerosis - The Anointed Cherub.
19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
Here, then, are two personages. The Father by Himself, being Ail, or POWER, but when associated with the Son of Man, who, when so associated, was powerful "anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power" -- He was Ail Eloahh, the Power mediately manifested; the power being one, and the medium of manifestation another Eloahh.
Phanerosis - Hebrew titles of Deity.
Ye neither know me, nor my Father
This is the predicament of all classes of misbelievers. They think they know and highly compliment Jesus of Nazareth when they speak of him as a great moral reformer, or "the highest teacher of morality the world has ever seen." In reality, they are just where these temple Pharisees were. They were able to recognise the good there was in Christ according to the superficial estimate of the natural mind. They could say when occasion served: "Master, we know that thou art true and carest not for the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth."
Yet Christ repudiated their view of him altogether. "Ye neither know me nor my Father," and in these words he condemns all modern views of him that come short of the truth -- that he is God manifest in the flesh.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
Who art thou?
This was what they did not know, though he had asserted his character and identity often enough. Here was an opportunity of telling them plainly: but there are people with whom you can never take such an opportunity. They have no capacity to appreciate a rational explanation: they do not want to know the truth of a matter. They are in a chronic attitude of scorn. If you tell them the truth, they laugh. They furnish occasion for the advice of Solomon:
"Speak not in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of thy words."
Such were the Pharisees who in the crowd were badgering Christ: so Christ did not answer them plainly. He put them off with a reference to what he had said before: "Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
The Word made flesh.
He had nothing in common with men beyond the infirmity of a mortal nature derived through his mother, from a common stock. His tastes lay where the human mind has no affinity.
His intellectual interest -- his mental affection -- intensely centred on God, from whom man is naturally alien (Rom. viii. 7). Even at twelve years of age, he showed this powerful bias which distinguished him from all men:
"Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business" (Luke ii. 49); and "always" it is his own testimony concerning himself, "he did those things that were pleasing to the Father" (Jno. viii. 29).
His case, with reference to his own age, is only fitly classified in his own language; "Ye are from beneath: I am from above; ye are of this world: I am not of this world" (Jno. viii. 23).
Nazareth Revisited Ch 2
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
It is impossible to realise the reward promised. The terms which express it-"eternal life," "the life to come," etc.- are familiar enough, but their very familiarity tends to lessen the wonderful blessings they imply. No joys that we have ever experienced will compare with the joys which everlasting life will bring. The most vivid realisation of the reward may perhaps be obtained by contrasting it with our present sinful condition.
Everlasting life will bring an end of everything which is disagreeable. We have all felt more or less the ills of the present vile body-sleepless nights, flagging energies, head-ache, heart-ache, etc., etc. Most have suffered from the curse of death-the loss of the cherished little one, the wife and mother, or the husband and father.
We know, too, the incessant turmoil of life-the perpetual struggle with Diabolos, both within and without. Immortality, thanks be to God, will mean the end of all this-the unloosing of every burden. The bestowal of the blessed gift will mean the birth of a glorious, mighty, wise, God-like company-a company that will not only itself be free, but able to free others from the dreadful evils which now make all creation groan.
Shall we not eagerly look and pray for this reward?
The Christadelphian, Sept 1887
These words must have been uttered with an earnest and plaintive emphasis; for they made a deep impression on many of the listeners who became disposed to think he must be the Messiah. He turned to this class with encouraging words, but did not have an encouraging reception.
33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
The way they received what he said showed how superficial was their apprehension, and how carnal their estimate of things.
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
Ah, there was a deeper bondage than they knew anything of -- the one great bondage from which Christ came to give deliverance -- a bondage holding rich and poor, bond and free alike; a bondage more real than that in which any man can hold another, but the existence of which is not felt or perceived by those who restrict their view to the mortal relations of man to man; but which will at last be seen in its terrible reality by every one whose responsibility may permit him to see its awful issues in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
The liberty he grants is the freedom with which the truth makes free (John viii. 32,36); a perfect law of liberty, into which whoso looketh narrowly and continueth therein, not being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, shall be blessed in his deed (James i. 25). This is the only true liberty, to which none have any right save those who repudiate the worships of the Court, and become the adopted freemen of the Holy City.
39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
Hired servants are not permanent: the son of the householder, on the contrary, remains while ten sets of servants may come and go. If the son of the householder, having abiding rights, confer those rights on one of the servants, that servant is no longer in his original position. Jesus, as the Son, proposes this benefit.
The commission of sin had degraded even the descendants of Abraham to the position of mere servants, having no rights, and only a momentary tenure of the Father's long suffering favour, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Christ, by the truth, offering the forgiveness of sins, offered freedom to the bond slaves of Abraham's race, few of whom realised the depth of the bondage in which they lived.
They resented what seemed to them the patronising and insulting proposal. They considered that, as Abraham's seed, they were already free, and in no need of deliverance. They were willing to accept Jesus as the Messiah, but not as a Saviour to whom they were to be personally indebted in any sense, except as opening to them the higher privileges of their race. In this they evinced that total misconception of the relation of things which unfitted them for a freedom whose first condition of attainment was the frank recognition of their helpless position apart from it.
Jesus admitted their Abrahamic extraction but not their Abrahamic rights, which depended upon an Abrahamic character, "I know," said he, "that ye are Abraham's seed," but he denied they were Abraham's children.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
Unless we are Abraham's children, we are mere creatures of the flesh, doomed to a death from which there will be no redemption. Abraham's children are distinguishable by their actions-
...This test is simple. Abraham was content to abide God's time - to wander for a 100 years as a stranger in the promised land. He could have settled - he possessed a force of armed servants (Gen. xiv). He could have returned to his native country-the opportunity was given him (Heb xi. 15).
But his appreciation of the covenant permitted him to do neither. Abraham's children are like him. They dearly prize the favour and promises of God. They forget the things behind, and press forward. They walk not the narrow way, casting wistful eyes upon the past. They are willing to wait-to patiently endure-even though death, as in Abraham's case, intervene between the promises and their realisation.
The Christadelphian, May 1887.
40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
Jesus was divine, and expressed the thoughts of God in the various situations that arose. Those thoughts are as often thoughts of severity as of gentleness. The whole Scriptures and the whole history of Israel and of man before Abraham's call attest this. "Our God is a consuming fire," in certain relations. He is severe towards all disobedience and rebellion, as illustrated by Adam's expulsion from Eden, the destruction of Noah's generation by water, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, the judgment on the Egyptians, the terrible retributions against God's own nation (concerning whom he says in Deut. xxxii. 22, "A fire is kindled in mine anger and shall burn unto the lowest hell.")
Because, therefore, Jesus spoke the words of God, he spoke with a superhuman vehemence against all that was displeasing to God, as occasion arose; and at the same time discoursed with an equally superhuman sweetness and gentleness when dealing with the humble class, to whom God himself said he would stoop -- viz., such as were broken and contrite in heart and trembled at His word. There is no greater proof of the divinity of the Bible than this peculiarity, which extends through all its pages -- its unsparing impartiality and stern truthfulness and disparagement of man, combined with a purity and sweetness of precept and promise that characterise no other work whatever.
The Jewish nation condemned and killed all the prophets, and last of all the Lord Jesus, for this very reason, that these found fault with their ways instead of flattering them with smooth speeches. In all other nations, the public men please by complimentary speeches and rule by the self-complacence they produce. In God's nation only do we see the spectacle of the best of men uttering the bitterest of speeches and paying the penalty of their faithfulness with their lives in a long series of generations.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
What Jesus meant by saying they were of their father the devil, was not, perhaps, quite clear to them. There is no indication of what their ideas of the subject of the devil were. They believed in Beelzebub, a mythical deity of the Philistines, and entertained various other traditions that made void the word; that they held the notion of the personal supernatural devil of orthodox religion is inconsistent with all accessible information as to their opinions. It matters not...
...He refers to a "beginning," and to the birth or introduction of sin into the world,...the serpent became the father of liars in the sense in which Jubal is said (Gen. iv. 21) to be "the father of all such as handle the harp and the organ," and Jabal, "the father of all such as dwell in tents and have cattle." Thus the serpent is used as the symbol of the present evil world in its political constitution (Rev. xii. 3-9; xvii. 9-14), and is declared to be "the devil and satan" (Rev. xx. 2), from which we may understand how the constituted authorities, antagonising the truth in the first century, were said to be the devil (Rev. ii. 10), and the same in their antagonism to Paul, Satan (1 Thess. ii. 18).
Literally construed, Christ's words amounted to an allegation that the Jews who were opposing him belonged to the sinful stock of the world -- mere flesh which passeth away -- instead of having any real kinship to Abraham, in whom they made their boast. Their father was the serpent, the original enemy of God, and not God, whom they claimed, for if they had been God's children, they would have loved and submitted to the "first-born among many brethren."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
Jesus could only deny the suggestion, and maintained that what they took for madness was his desire to honour the Father, with whom they had no sympathy. Nothing so readily appears madness to those who have no faith in God as a strong disposition to take God into account in every word and action.
Jesus admitted that if his declaration rested on his unsupported word, their incredulity was excusable. A man saying such things of himself without an exhibition of extraneous evidence of the truth of the things spoken would only give evidence of that lunacy which they imputed to him: but supported as he constantly was, by "works which none other man did," and which he himself disclaimed the power of performing, his statement was entitled to belief. The honour he appeared to claim was not self-imposed. "If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me, of whom ye say that he is your God."
There was no confuting this argument. To this day it remains unanswerable. The powers exhibited by Christ have to be accounted for. They cannot be denied. They could not be his own, for when he was killed, they were still exerted on his behalf: he rose from the dead. Whose were they? Whose could they be but those of God, who had similarly interposed in Israel's midst many a time since the day he brought them out of Egypt by unexampled power? But Israel had shown they did not know God.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
To reasonable men, the only satisfactory explanation lay in the statement, "We know that thou art a teacher from God, for no man could do those miracles that thou doest except God be with him."
Men of this stamp reason upon the Bible in a similar way, and as a result are forced to confess its divinity. Among Christ's contemporaries were certain who charged him with being "beside himself"-"thou hast a devil." These worldly wise find their counterparts in those who attribute foolishness and error to parts of the Sacred Word-hesitating not to criticise and condemn the work of God.
Others with whom Christ was brought in contact were characterised by unmitigated brutality and ignorance. These mocked and reviled and finally murdered him. Their fellows are not now wanting among the adversaries of the Bible. Such tell us that the Inspired Volume "contradicts science, outrages reason, and our moral sense." They say, in effect, "Away with him, Crucify him!" Thank God, the days of the enemies of Christ and the Bible are numbered!
The Christadelphian, Mar 1887. p105
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
This was a perversion of Christ's words. He did not say he had seen Abraham. He said Abraham had been gladdened by the prospect of his (Christ's) day.
Nevertheless, Jesus feared not even to accept the imputed claim of contemporaneity with Abraham; for the Father was with him to speak directly when occasion required.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 40
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
There were two "I's" involved in the person of Christ. They are thus defined by himself: (1) The Father is in (2) me.
The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works."-(Jno. 14:10.)
They are thus defined by Paul:
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself."-(2 Cor. 5:19.)
Now as to "the man Christ Jesus," who was born of Mary, the Son of God, and the Father's manifestation, he says,
"Of mine own self I can do nothing."-(Jno. 5:60.) "I am not come of myself."-(Jno. 7:28.) "My Father is greater than I."-(Jno. 14:28.) "The Father hath put the times and seasons in His own power."-(Acts 1:7.) "No man knoweth the hour . . . neither the Son, but the Father."-(Mark 13:32.)
Now which of the two "I's" involved in these statements was before Abraham? To this there is but one answer. The Father was before all.
The manifestation of the Father revealed to the world as Jesus Christ, dates from the days of Tiberius; but the Eternal Father himself, who, by Jesus of Nazareth, did miracles and signs and wonders in the midst of Israel (Acts 2:22), and by whom He spoke to them (Heb. 1:2), was before all things.
Hence, when Jesus said "Before Abraham was I am," he was the Father's voice-the medium of the Father's thoughts and words. The unity subsisting between Jesus and the Father makes it difficult in brief definitions to separate between what is true respectively of the Father and the Son.
When we remember that it was "through the Eternal Spirit" (Heb. 9:14) that Jesus did all he did, we are the better enabled to recognise what is true of him as the implement of the power in whose shadow his person was hid, (Isaiah 49:2) as distinct from his individuality and powerlessness as the Son of David.
The Christadelphian, Oct 1870
When our first parents fell, Eve was told that her seed should bruise the head of the serpent. In this declaration, a promise of Christ lay hid, which shewed that Jesus then existed in the mind of the Deity, (who foreordained him from the foundation of the world.-1 Peter, i. 8.)-Jesus, consequently, ante-dated Abraham, who in fact was only raised up as the channel in which Jesus should be generated.
Bro JJ Butler
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Aug 1868
The I who thus puts himself higher than Moses is the God (in flesh-manifestation) who spoke to Moses, and who could therefore say,
"I came down from heaven." "Before Abraham was, I am," "the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person."
A recognition of this fact helps us to take our part in that bowing of the knee and confessing of the tongue which God requires of all flesh towards His Son Jesus Christ.
Bro Roberts - The Greatness of Christ