3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
It is no great exercise of imagination, in the light of this piece of local knowledge, to picture Jesus, between 12 and 30, mixing in a busy family circle, and, as the eldest brother of the family, taking a prominent part in various domestic matters common to them all, yet differing from them in the intensity of his character, and the gravity and earnestness of his demeanour.
This difference would not be apparent to them. A stranger would have distinguished him from the rest by his reserve and seriousness, amounting to sadness: but we know that daily contact familiarises the mind with even the extremest peculiarities. And, therefore, as a member of the Nazareth community, Christ would simply be known as the quiet pensive son of Joseph, without challenging recognition as "the greater than Solomon." The time was coming for his manifestation: but till 30, he was simply one of the inhabitants of Nazareth.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 10.
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.
Thus, in John 6:38, Jesus? says: "l came down from heaven": "I am the bread that came down from heaven the bread of life; if any man shall eat of this bread, he shall live in the Aion, and the bread that I will give is my flesh." These sayings caused the Jews who heard them to inquire: How can this man have come down from heaven whose father and mother we know? And, how can he give us his flesh to eat?
These inquiries were prompted by their rule of interpretation, which has been the rule of their posterity through all ages to this day. They interpreted the discourses of Jesus by the principles of the flesh. "Ye cannot tell whence I come," said Jesus, "and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh." They only conceived of the flesh born of Mary coming down from heaven, and of their eating that flesh as they would eat meat.
They did not recognize the voice of the Father in the words that came from the mouth of Jesus. If they had, they would have understood that it was the Spirit that had come down, and was to "ascend where he was before"; that the Spirit claimed the Cherub born of Mary as "His flesh," because it was prepared for Him (Psalm 40:6; Heb. 10:5); and that he gave this flesh, which he calls "my flesh," for the life of the world; which flesh Paul says, "through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without fault to God."
Judging according to the principles of flesh-thinking, they did not understand that it was an intellectual eating and drinking of the Spirit-and-life words, or teaching, that came down from heaven concerning the Christ and him crucified. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them," says Jeremiah (Ch. 15:16); but the contemporaries of Jesus had almost as little taste for such eating as ours. When a man marks, reads, and inwardly digests the subject-matter of the Father's doctrine, he eats and drinks it, and is "taught of God," (John 6:45), as all must be who would be saved.
That doctrine sets forth the things of the kingdom of God, and the things concerning Jesus Anointed, among which is the sanctifying of those who believe the promises covenanted, through the offering of the body of Jesus once. They who understand the doctrine of the Father and believe it unto obedience, eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man; for, saith he, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him" (John 6:56). This in-dwelling is by faith of the words which are spirit and life, as appears from Paul's exhortation to us, saying: "Let Christ dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph. 3:17).
When the words or doctrine, of the Eternal Spirit concerning the kingdom and name are the subject matter of our faith, we dwell in Christ and Christ dwells in us. The Jews did not see into this, because they judged after the flesh, which, in this great matter of God and salvation, is altogether ignored as unprofitable. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak unto you are spirit and life" (John 6:63); therefore, if these words dwell in us, "Spirit and life" dwell in us, otherwise not.
We must judge then, after the Spirit, for "the deep things of God," which are "the things of the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned."
Phanerosis - The Anointed Cherub
6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
Even he, who knew all men, and knew what was in man-he marvelled because of the unyielding hardness of their unbelief. The evidence which was forced upon them only infuriated them, and the only solution they could think of to relieve themselves of the problem he presented was to destroy him.
He marvelled that hearts could be so bitter and obstinate in the very presence of the power and goodness of God-that the flesh could be so unreasonable, and so blind to itself. But such is the material with which we each have to work in ourselves. The Spirit through Solomon declared-
"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool." (Prov. 28:26).
-and we must admit that once a man has been enlightened to the destructive deceptiveness of the desires of the flesh, this verdict is so true.
How easy it is to be blind to ourselves! How necessary is a constant, prayerful searching of the Word, and unsparing self-examination in the light of it! How natural to be obsessed with the faults of others!
Bro Growcott - If I may but touch him
8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:
"..whatsoever city ... inquire who in it is worthy."
...If the people of the place did not receive them favourably, it was to be reckoned a crime entailing severe results afterwards.
...All this was natural to the circumstances. The apostles were being sent forth as the trustees of the most honourable responsibility ever entrusted to man; and it was reasonable so far as they were concerned that a trial of faith should be linked with it in the command to go forth absolutely unprovided.
On the other hand, the places visited by them were actually approached in their persons by the authority and power and majesty of God in Christ.
It was, therefore, reasonable that they should be held under a paramount obligation to render the homage of attention and accommodation.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 23
19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:
It would have been better for John had Herodias had her way at the start: for he would then have been spared a lingering imprisonment which was very trying to him. It was probably needful for himself that he should have this trial. He had been honoured as no man had been honoured before him, in being the herald of the Son of God.
For a considerable time, he had been a power with the whole Jewish nation, and a centre of righteous and purifying influence which even the rulers could not resist. His whole work had been gloriously crowned by the actual manifestation of the Messiah at his hands.
And it was now probably needful for himself that he should have a taste of that affliction which prepares all the Sons of God for the due appreciation of the goodness in store for them. And so, he was "put in prison," for doing his duty. How long he languished here cannot be determined with certainity -- probably about a year. But it was long enough to exercise him very painfully.
He "heard in prison the works of Christ," but apparently these works were not of the class he had expected. It is possible and probable that John the Baptist shared the expectation common to the disciples, that "the kingdom of God should immediately appear" (Luke xix. II).
He might suppose that the Messiah would proceed to his kingly work as soon as he was manifested in the world. If so, knowing that the Messiah had in very deed been manifested, he would anticipate his early assumption of royal power, and his deposition of Herod, and his liberation of John himself from the durance vile in which he was languishing.
Instead of that, he only heard of his going about preaching and healing the sick, and of his avoiding the people when "they wanted to take him by force and make him a king" (Jno. vi. 15).
It was a great trial to John's faith in the position in which he was placed. It appears to have caused him a degree of faltering. He called two of his disciples, to whom he would have access by Herod's goodwill, and sent them to Christ with this inquiry:
"Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?"
Nazareth Revisited Ch 5
28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.
29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
We must get GOD'S viewpoint, and we must get a true view of the purpose of this present life as simply a brief preparation for an eternal reality. It was not suitable that John should continue, once Christ had been introduced to the nation, and begun his ministry.
John's work was done.
John's whole purpose was to prepare the way for Christ. He was the last of the prophets of the old dispensation. If he had lingered on when his work was finished, it would have detracted from the power and success of that work, and hindered the transition from the Old to the New.
The sword of Herod, rather than a calamity, was a wise and merciful provision of God to clear the way for the new, and to give His beloved rest. And, as the forerunner, he must precede his Master in this also.
"Even so shall the Son of Man also suffer of them."
The picture at the beginning is joy, and at the end it is sorrow, but it is not the sorrow of those who have no hope.
Rather it is through the sorrow that the promise of the joy is fulfilled, and we meet now in rejoicing to commemorate an event that at its occurrence plunged all God's people into sorrow and despair.
Looking back, now it is all past, we see the sorrow as a passing and necessary factor in the wisdom of God's love to produce the final Joy. And so -- in the end -- all sorrow will be seen to be.
Bro Growcott - He Must Increase: I Must Decrease
34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
The Godly Man
For peace of mind, and for the singleminded and effectual accomplishment of the work to which he is Divinely appointed, the godly man does well to remember that he has been SET APART. But still, he is not a cold, unfeeling spectator, hardly regarding the mankind's troubles, and impatient - like Jonah for its destruction.
A moment's consideration of THE Godly Man will dispel that idea. Repeatedly we are told that Jesus was moved with compassion for the vast droves of shepherdless sheep, and was never far from tears when he contemplated the benighted misery of the world.
48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.
49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
The lord Jesus had been mistaken for a terrifying pneuma, or unsubstantial shade of evil, before. He appeared to his disciples in their ship, in the fourth watch of the night, walking on the sea. This is related by Mark in ch. 6:49, and by Matthew ch. 14:26. In narrating the incident they both testify that they cried out in consternation, exclaiming that what they saw was aphantasma. They mistook him for the same thing, on the sea before, and in Jerusalem after, his resurrection; and with the same terrifying accompaniments: I conclude, therefore, that Luke's pneuma, and Matthew and Mark's phantasma, are the same sort of aphantom) and that the reading of phantasnia for pneuma in Luke 24:37, adopted by Griesbach (a German Hebrew and Greek scholar who specialized in the text of Scripture) is correct. The thing signified is the same, so that any dispute is a mere strife of words.
The sense of pneuma in verse 37, fixes its signification in verse 39, because the pneuma in the fortieth verse, is the subject of criticism in the latter. Speaking of such a pneunia, the Lord Jesus said, "a pneuma bath not flesh and bones, as ye see me having". He had ascended to the Father, or they would not then be invited to handle him; nevertheless, he was not a phantasmial pneuma, but still substantial flesh and bones, only incorruptible and deathless - incorruptible and undying flesh and bones which is "spirit", pneuma hagiosunes, in contrast with flesh, blood and bones, which is "flesh", and therefore corruptible and mortal. what Jesus was on that evening of the third day, he is now.
He is "the Lord the Spirit," substantial, incorruptible, deathless and omnipotent flesh and bones, which now "flourish as an herb," and which say, "O Yahweh, who is like unto thee, who delivereth the poor from him that was too strong for him?" It is "of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones," the faithful are the "members;" for what he is now in respect to body, flesh, and bones, they hope to be when he shall appear to make manifest the hosts of the heaven in the scenes of this chapter.
52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
Miracles are merely a higher form of the work we see performed every day before our eyes in Nature.
Bro Roberts, The Trial P60
56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.
It was these wonderful works of power that kept him before the public, and made him a subject of anxiety with the leaders of the people -- the Scribes and Pharisees. "The people rejoiced for all the glorious things done by him," and the leaders could not resist the popular feeling.
They followed in its wake and tried to neutralise it by criticism and objection whenever they could find occasion. They watched him with this view, during his progress in the neighbourhood of Capernaum.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 35