9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
Herod was momentarily stunned. Even in his revels he retained that respect for John that led him to fear him and listen to him with pleasure. He would have refused, but that he had pledged his word in the presence of his courtiers. There was no escape, according to the code of honour recognised by them.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 5
11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
From a certain point of view, it is saddening to think of such a man in the hands of such creatures as Herod and his paramour; and sadder to think that his life should be sacrificed to the feminine malice created by John's upright attitude as a teacher of righteousness. But the sadness is only for a moment.
It is the lot of divine things and divine men to be under the heel of wickedness in the day of sin's ascendancy. We can comfort ourselves with the thought that they do not come Under the heel by chance, or before the appointed time. It is part of the process by which they are prepared for, and ultimately introduced to "an eternal weight of glory."
And there is the further consolation that to the victims of the oppression, the triumph of the enemy is "but for a moment." Death is the best thing that can happen to them. Their trials and distresses are annihilated at a stroke: and in a moment, they are face to face with the glory for which their distresses prepare them, for ... there is... no conscious interval to the resurrection.
This reflection enables us to contemplate John's end with composure. It came quickly and without warning, which was a kindness to him.
...In the weariness of his imprisonment, the announcement would probably not be unwelcome to him. He surrendered himself to God and the executioner's hand, and knew nothing of the ghastly presentation presently made to the damsel in Herod's brilliant banqueting hall, of a bleeding head in a silver charger.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 5
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
Away from the fevered life and contentious rancour of the city, alone upon the mountain top, in the calmness of the night, withdrawn from the irritating contact of prosperous wickedness, he could forget "the contradiction of sinners," and "in prayer all night to God," draw deep comforts from the realisation that despite the unbelief and repudiation of men, God was really his strength, his shield, his glory, his defence, the lifter up of his head. This was the exercise of his faith. *
...in the days of his flesh the Lord, like ourselves, felt the cloud and the heaviness and the bitterness appertaining to this body of sin, and the circumstances to which it stands related in this present evil world.
..."The waters are come in unto my soul."
This shows the keenness with which his afflictions were felt: they went home -- they pierced his soul -- they overwhelmed him with sorrow. [Psa 69:1]
... He had his season of what we are now going through, and his "waiting" is here shown to have been of that dreary troublous, trying character that we find it to be.
If we picture him in the aspect of a continual ecstasy or even a continual calm we make a mistake. He was a "man of sorrows," and part of his sorrow was this "waiting for God." We are tasting the affliction of this attitude. Our whole life is an act of waiting for God, waiting for the time promised, looking for, desiring, and living for the appointed day of the baring of His holy arm.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
What is claimed for Christ is that as the power of God incarnate, he has control of Nature.
This control does not mean that he is outside Nature or above Nature, but rather that he is in Nature in the sense of being related to the inner force by which Nature subsists, and can, therefore, manipulate that force for the accomplishment of specific results.
It is we who are outside Nature in so far as we are shut up within ourselves, and cannot, except by mechanical contrivance, control Nature in the least. Nature is in God, according to the testimony of the Scriptures, "In Him we live, and move, and have our being"; and again,
" Of Him. and through Him, and to Him are all things."
Consequently, a man who could say as Christ said, " The Father is in me," was a man who could counterwork gravitation without arresting it, by a counteragent more potent than air-bags, cork, India-rubber, or any created substance, viz., the primordial force of all Nature-the Spirit of God which God gave to Jesus without measure (John iii. 34).
THE TRIAL' P59 - Bro Roberts
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
There was logic in this. Jesus takes him at his word. A single word: "Come." At once, Peter has his legs over the side of the boat.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
He stands on the water. He makes a step or two forward. He looks round.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
The darkness -- not quite total, the angry waves; the roaring wind, overwhelm him with the peril of his situation: his confidence deserts him, and he finds himself sinking. What can he do? He is too far from the boat to clutch at that.
There is nothing left but petition to the wonderful man who stands before him unsinking in the tumult of waters.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
The remark shows that faith has something to do with a man's ability to use the power God may place at his disposal. This is according to experience of natural power. A confident faith can always do better with the same power than the man who unbelievingly hesitates.
But we must exercise care in the application of the principle to matters that are beyond natural power. Otherwise, we shall fall into the mistakes of the "faith healers" and some other extremists, who only cover themselves with confusion by the unskilful application of a true principle.
It is not in natural power to walk on the water: and no amount of faith will develop a power not actually present. With Christ, the power was present, and he provisionally extended it to Peter in the invitation to "come." There was an invisible hand held out to him for the moment to support him in the water. There was a something for his faith to act on which is not present in the normal relations of sinful men. His faith acting on it could hold him up. In the absence of faith on his part, he lost his hold.
The case is parallel to that of a child crossing a brook by the help of its father. If a child's confidence fails, the father's outstretched hand is of little use to it. The child's faith will enable it to make the most of it, and enable it to cross with ease. But suppose there is no father there, or a father not offering his hand, no confidence on the part of the child will get it across the stream. This is the case of those who see one side of the case and imagine that faith will do all. They are mistaken. Faith may help them a little, but they will certainly fall into the water.
..We have no power given us to walk on the water. To try to do it by faith in the absence of this, would be trying to fasten our grapnel in the air. A right discrimination in these matters will save us from confusion and embarrassment, without leading us into the tremendous mistake of those who regard the faith-performances of the first century as myths.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 34
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
The son of Deity
There never was such a man before or since.
Look all through the ages, search every history, ransack every literature, and you will find no figure that can stand by the side of Christ a man of whom his enemies bore witness that" he spake as never man spake "- a man who combined such humility of deportment with such sublime self-assertion; such compassion for the erring with such intolerance of the wicked; such incorruptible fidelity to truth with such commiseration for human weakness; such zeal for God with such kindness for man; such abnegation of self-consequence with such proclamation of self-greatness; such adroit independence of speech to his enemies with such sweet and condescending simplicity of language to his disciples; such fire with such meekness; such austerity with sociality and kindness; such greatness with such lowliness; such dignity and power with such tenderness and benignity.
There never was his like before him, as he stands displayed in the consummate narrative of the" gospels"; and there has never been his like since. He stands apart from all men: great, holy, harmless, undefiled. How is this? If he be but the mere son of Man, as all men are, why was he such a man? Why have we not such a man now? Why a Christ I,800 years ago and no Christ now?
...There must be an explanation of the appearance of such a man which is not to be found in the case of any other; and there is. He is the Son of God. He was not the son of ]oseph, though the son of ]oseph's wife. The Holy Spirit overshadowing a virgin of the house of David has produced for us this likeness of God - this manifestation of the Father, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. This explains all and satisfies all our need in the case. It enables us to feel we are doing a wise and a good thing in breaking bread and drinking wine in celebration of his death" until he come."
Seasons 1. 103
47 And one of them [Peter - Jn 18: 26] that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? Matt 26: 52,53
Obedience Imperative in All Circumstances
"Would killing a man in self-defence be unlawful in every circumstance? If attacked by an assassin, from whom you could only escape by killing him, would you hesitate to kill him? or, if you saw another in danger from the same cause, would you consider it wrong to take the life of the would-be murderer? I ask this, because Colorado, where we are, is, comparatively, a new place, and the Indians are very troublesome. Not a week passes but we hear of scalped and mutilated bodies left on the plain; and it might come to our turn."-(E.C.)
Answer. The duty of non-resistance is, doubtless, specially trying in the circumstances depicted in the foregoing; but duty is not altered by an increase in the difficulty of doing it. Either it is duty to be passive in the cases alluded to in the question, or it is not our duty to be passive in any case. It is duty in all cases, or none, for the law of our probation, contained in the New Testament, makes no allowance for exception. What can be done in such trying circumstances but to
"commit our souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator."-(1 Pet. 4:19.)
God has not forsaken the earth, and will not suffer us to be tempted beyond an impracticable point. Our part is to obey Him, regardless of consequences.
Abraham faltered not in the killing of his own son, which was the greatest violence a parent could be called on to do to natural feeling. If Abraham had sheltered himself behind the impossibility of the thing, and excused himself on the ground that it was contrary to nature, and incompatible with God's own principles of action, would be have been accepted?
By no means. And how can we claim to be His children if we be not prepared to act as he did? Jesus makes this the test. He said to the Pharisees,
"If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of your father."-(John 8:39.)
Job was accepted, whose motto was:
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."
This must be our motto in relation to His commandments. They may seem hard sometimes but let us endure. The time is short; a glorious change is at the door, when, if we are now obedient, we shall no longer be commanded to be submissive to evil, but have the sword of judgment put into our hands for irresistible execution upon all the world-wild Indians and polished Europeans alike included.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1873