Jesus the Christ

By James E. Talmage

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Title: Jesus the Christ
       A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to Holy
       Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern

Author: James Edward Talmage

Release Date: September 8, 2007 [EBook #22542]
Last updated: January 21, 2009

Language: English


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David King, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


A Study of the Messiah and His Mission
according to Holy Scriptures both
Ancient and Modern



One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints




Salt Lake City, Utah

Deseret Book Company



September 1915, December 1915, April 1916
and November 1916



Trustee-in-Trust for the
Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints

Copyright, October, 1922



Trustee-in-Trust for the
Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints

Printed in the United States of America


The scope of the subject presented in this work is expressed on the
title page. It will be readily seen that the author has departed from
the course usually followed by writers on the Life of Jesus Christ,
which course, as a rule, begins with the birth of Mary's Babe and ends
with the ascension of the slain and risen Lord from Olivet. The
treatment embodied in these pages, in addition to the narrative of the
Lord's life in the flesh comprizes the antemortal existence and
activities of the world's Redeemer, the revelations and personal
manifestations of the glorified and exalted Son of God during the
apostolic period of old and in modern times, the assured nearness of the
Lord's second advent, and predicted events beyond--all so far as the
Holy Scriptures make plain.

It is particularly congruous and appropriate that the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints--the only Church that affirms authority
based on specific revelation and commission to use the Lord's Holy Name
as a distinctive designation--should set forth her doctrines concerning
the Messiah and His mission.

The author of this volume entered upon his welcome service under request
and appointment from the presiding authorities of the Church; and the
completed work has been read to and is approved by the First Presidency
and the Council of the Twelve. It presents, however, the writer's
personal belief and profoundest conviction as to the truth of what he
has written. The book is published by the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints.

A characteristic feature of the work is the guidance afforded by modern
scriptures and the explication of the Holy Writ of olden times in the
light of present day revelation, which, as a powerful and well directed
beam, illumines many dark passages of ancient construction.

The spirit of the sacredness inherent in the subject has been a constant
companion of the writer throughout his pleasing labor, and he reverently
invokes the same as a minister to the readers of the volume.


Salt Lake City, Utah,
September, 1915.


The second edition of this work appeared in December, 1915, and the
third in March, 1916. The third edition presented several minor
alterations in wording and contained additional notes and references.
Succeeding issues, including the fifth which was printed on India paper,
and the present edition are practically uniform with the third.


Salt Lake City, Utah,
October, 1922.


Chapter 1.


Historicity of Jesus the Christ.--Scope and purpose of the present

Chapter 2.


Antemortal existence of spirits.--Primeval council in heaven.--Rebellion
of Lucifer.--His defeat and expulsion.--Free agency of man insured.--The
Beloved Son chosen to be the Savior and Redeemer of mankind

Chapter 3.


Spirits of diverse capacities.--Entrance of sin into the world
foreseen.--God's foreknowledge not a determining cause.--Creation of man
in the flesh.--Fall of man.--Atonement necessary.--Jesus Christ the only
Being eligible as Redeemer and Savior.--Universal resurrection provided

Chapter 4.


The Godhead.--Jesus Christ the Word of power.--Jesus Christ the
Creator.--Jehovah.--The Eternal I AM.--Proclamations of Jesus Christ by
the Father

Chapter 5.


Biblical prophecies.--Revelation to Enoch.--The Prophet predicted by
Moses.--Sacrifices as prototypes.--Book of Mormon predictions

Chapter 6.


Significance of the designation.--Epitome of Israel's history.--Jews in
vassalage to Rome.--Scribes and rabbis.--Pharisees and Sadducees.--Other
sects and parties

Chapter 7.


Angelic visitation to Zacharias.--Birth of John the
forerunner.--Annunciation to Mary the Virgin.--Mary and Joseph.--Their
genealogies.--Jesus Christ heir to the throne of David

Chapter 8.


Birth of Jesus Christ.--His presentation in the temple.--Visit of the
magi.--Herod's evil designs.--The Child taken into Egypt.--Birth of
Christ made known to Nephites.--Time of the birth

Chapter 9.


Jesus to be called a Nazarene.--At the temple when twelve years of
age.--Jesus and the doctors of the law.--Jesus of Nazareth

Chapter 10.


John the Baptist.--The voice in the wilderness.--Baptism of Jesus.--The
Father's proclamation.--Descent of the Holy Ghost.--Sign of the
dove.--Temptations of Christ

Chapter 11.


John Baptist's testimony of Christ.--First disciples.--The Son of Man,
significance of title.--Miracle of transmuting water into
wine.--Miracles in general

Chapter 12.


First clearing of the temple.--Jesus and Nicodemus.--John Baptist's
disciples in disputation.--John's tribute to and repeated testimony of
the Christ

Chapter 13.


Jesus and the Samaritan woman.--Among the Samaritans.--While at Cana
Christ heals a nobleman's son in Capernaum.--At Nazareth Christ preaches
in synagog.--Nazarenes attempt to kill him.--Demons subdued in
Capernaum.--Demoniacal possession

Chapter 14.


A leper healed.--Leprosy.--Palsied man healed and forgiven.--Imputation
of blasphemy.--Publicans and sinners.--Old cloth, old bottles, and the
new.--Preliminary call of disciples.--Fishers of men

Chapter 15.


Sabbath distinctively sacred to Israel.--Cripple healed on Sabbath
day.--Accusations by the Jews and the Lord's reply thereto.--Disciples
charged with Sabbath-breaking.--Man with a withered hand healed on
Sabbath day

Chapter 16.


Their call and ordination.--The Twelve considered individually.--Their
characteristics in general.--Disciples and apostles

Chapter 17.


The Beatitudes.--Dignity and responsibility in the ministry.--The Mosaic
law superseded by the gospel of Christ.--Sincerity of purpose. The
Lord's Prayer.--True wealth.--Promise and re-assurance.--Hearing and

Chapter 18.


Healing of centurion's servant.--Young man of Nain raised from the
dead.--John Baptist's message to Jesus.--The Lord's commentary
thereon.--Death of John Baptist.--Jesus in house of Simon the
Pharisee.--Penitent woman forgiven.--Christ's authority ascribed to
Beelzebub.--The sin against the Holy Ghost.--Sign-seekers

Chapter 19.


The Sower.--Wheat and Tares.--Seed growing secretly.--Mustard
Seed.--Leaven.--Hidden Treasure.--Pearl of Great Price.--Gospel
Net.--The Lord's purpose in parabolic teaching.--Parables in general

Chapter 20.


Candidates for discipleship.--Stilling the storm.--Quieting the demons
in region of Gadara.--Raising of daughter of Jairus.--Restoration to
life and resurrection.--A woman healed amidst the throng.--Blind see and
dumb speak

Chapter 21.


Jesus again in Nazareth.--The Twelve charged and sent out.--Their
return.--Five thousand people miraculously fed.--Miracle of walking upon
the water.--People seek Christ for more loaves and fishes.--Christ the
bread of life.--Many disciples turn away

Chapter 22.


Ceremonial washings.--Pharisees rebuked.--Jesus in borders of Tyre and
Sidon.--Daughter of Syro-Phoenician woman healed.--Miracles wrought in
coasts of Decapolis.--Four thousand people miraculously fed.--More
seekers after signs.--Leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and
Herodians.--Peter's great confession, "Thou art the Christ"

Chapter 23.


Visitation of Moses and Elijah.--The Father again proclaims the
Son.--The apostles temporarily restrained from testifying concerning the
transfiguration.--Elias and Elijah.--The Lesser and the Higher

Chapter 24.


Youthful demoniac healed.--Further prediction of Christ's death and
resurrection.--The tribute money; supplied by a miracle.--Humility
illustrated by a little child.--Parable of the Lost Sheep.--In Christ's
name.--My brother and I.--Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Chapter 25.


Departure from Galilee.--At the Feast of Tabernacles.--Another charge of
Sabbath desecration.--Living water for the spiritually thirsty.--Plans
to arrest Jesus.--Nicodemus protests.--Woman taken in adultery.--Christ
the light of the world.--The truth shall make men free.--Christ's
seniority over Abraham.--Sight restored on Sabbath day.--Physical and
spiritual blindness.--Shepherd and sheep-herder.--Christ the Good
Shepherd.--His inherent power over life and death.--Sheep of another

Chapter 26.


Jesus rejected in Samaria.--James and John reproved for revengeful
desire.--The Seventy charged and sent.--Their return.--A lawyer's
question.--Parable of Good Samaritan.--Martha and Mary.--Ask and
receive.--Parable of Friend at Midnight.--Criticism on Pharisees and
lawyers.--Parable of Foolish Rich Man.--The unrepentant to
perish.--Parable of Barren Fig Tree.--A woman healed on the
Sabbath.--Many or few to be saved?--Jesus warned of Herod's design

Chapter 27.


In the house of one of the chief Pharisees.--Parable of the Great
Supper.--Counting the cost.--Salvation even for publicans and
sinners.--Parable of the Lost Sheep repeated.--Of the Lost Coin.--Of the
Prodigal Son.--Of the Unrighteous Steward.--Of the Rich Man and
Lazarus.--Of the Unprofitable Servants.--Ten lepers healed.--Parable of
the Pharisee and Publican.--On marriage and divorce.--Jesus and the
little ones.--The rich young ruler.--First may be last and last
first.--Parable of the Laborers

Chapter 28.


At the Feast of Dedication.--Sheep know the Shepherd's Voice.--The
Lord's retirement in Perea.--Lazarus raised from the dead.--Jewish
hierarchy agitated over the miracle.--Prophecy by Caiaphas, the high
priest.--Jesus in retirement at Ephraim

Chapter 29.


Jesus again foretells His death and resurrection.--Aspiring request of
James and John.--Sight restored near Jericho.--Zaccheus the chief
publican.--Parable of the Pounds.--The supper in the house of Simon the
leper.--Mary's tribute in anointing Jesus.--Iscariot's protest.--
Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.--Certain Greeks seek
interview with Jesus.--The Voice from heaven

Chapter 30.


A leafy but fruitless fig tree cursed.--Second clearing of the
temple.--Children shout Hosanna.--Christ's authority challenged by the
rulers.--Parable of the two sons. Of the Wicked Husbandmen.--The
rejected Stone to be head of the corner.--Parable of the Royal Marriage
Feast.--The wedding garment lacking

Chapter 31.


Pharisees and Herodians in conspiracy.--Cæsar to have his due.--The
image on the coin.--Sadducees and the resurrection.--Levirate
marriages.--The great commandment.--Jesus turns questioner.--Scathing
denunciation of scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!--Lamentation over
Jerusalem.--The widow's mites.--Christ's final withdrawal from
temple.--Destruction of temple predicted

Chapter 32.


Prophecies relating to destruction of Jerusalem and the Lord's future
advent.--Watch!--Parable of Ten Virgins.--Of the Entrusted Talents.--The
inevitable judgment.--Another and specific prediction of the Lord's
impending death

Chapter 33.


Judas Iscariot in conspiracy with the Jews.--Preparations for the Lord's
last Passover.--The last supper of Jesus with the Twelve.--The traitor
designated.--Ordinance of washing of feet.--Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper.--The betrayer goes out into the night.--Discourse following the
supper.--The High-Priestly Prayer.--The Lord's agony in Gethsemane.--The
betrayal and the arrest

Chapter 34.


The Jewish trial.--Christ before Annas and Caiaphas.--The illegal night
court.--The morning session.--False witnesses and unrighteous
conviction.--Peter's denial of his Lord.--Christ's first arraignment
before Pilate.--Before Herod.--Second appearance before
Pilate.--Pilate's surrender to Jewish clamor.--The sentence of
crucifixion.--Suicide of Judas Iscariot

Chapter 35.


On the way to Calvary.--The Lord's address to the daughters of
Jerusalem.--The crucifixion.--Occurrences between the Lord's death and
burial.--The burial.--The sepulchre guarded

Chapter 36.


Actuality of the Lord's death.--Condition of spirits between death and
resurrection.--The Savior among the dead.--The gospel preached to the
spirits in prison

Chapter 37.


Christ is risen.--The women at the sepulchre.--Angelic
communications.--The risen Lord seen by Mary Magdalene.--And by other
women.--A priestly conspiracy of falsehood.--The Lord and two disciples
on the Emmaus road.--He appears to disciples in Jerusalem and eats in
their presence.--Doubting Thomas.--The Lord appears to the apostles at
the sea of Tiberias.--Other manifestations in Galilee.--Final commission
to the apostles.--The ascension

Chapter 38.


Matthias ordained to the apostleship.--Bestowal of the Holy Ghost at
Pentecost.--The apostles' preaching.--Imprisoned and delivered.--
Gamaliel's advice to the council.--Stephen the martyr.--Saul of Tarsus,
his conversion.--Becomes Paul the apostle.--The record by John the
Revelator.--Close of the apostolic ministry

Chapter 39.


The Lord's death signalized by great calamities on western
continent.--The Voice of the Lord Jesus Christ heard.--His visitations
to the Nephites.--The Nephite Twelve.--Baptism among Nephites.--The
Mosaic law fulfilled.--Address to Nephites compared with Sermon on the
Mount.--Sacrament of bread and wine instituted among Nephites.--Name of
Christ's Church.--The Three Nephites.--Growth of the Church.--Final
apostasy of Nephite nation

Chapter 40.


The great falling away as predicted.--Individual apostasy from the
Church.--Apostasy of the Church.--Constantine makes Christianity the
religion of state.--Papal claims to secular authority.--Churchly
tyranny.--The Dark Ages.--The inevitable revolt.--The Reformation.--Rise
of Church of England.--Catholicism and Protestantism.--The apostasy
affirmed.--Mission of Columbus and the Pilgrim Fathers predicted in
ancient scripture.--Fulfilment of the prophecies.--Establishment of
American nation provided for

Chapter 41.


A new dispensation.--Joseph Smith's perplexity over sectarian
strife.--The Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ appear to and
personally instruct Joseph Smith.--Visitation of Moroni.--The Book of
Mormon.--Aaronic Priesthood restored by John the Baptist.--Melchizedek
Priesthood restored by Peter, James, and John.--The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints.--Divine manifestations in Kirtland
Temple.--The Lord Jesus Christ appears.--Specific authority of olden
dispensations conferred by Moses, Elias, and Elijah.--The Holy
Priesthood now operative on earth

Chapter 42.


Ancient predictions of the Lord's second advent.--Modern revelation
affirms the same.--Today and tomorrow.--The great and dreadful day near
at hand.--Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven.--The Millennium.--The
celestial consummation




It is a matter of history that, at or near the beginning of what has
since come to be known as the Christian era, the Man Jesus, surnamed the
Christ, was born in Bethlehem of Judea.[1] The principal data as to His
birth, life, and death are so well attested as to be reasonably
indisputable; they are facts of record, and are accepted as essentially
authentic by the civilized world at large. True, there are diversities
of deduction based on alleged discrepancies in the records of the past
as to circumstantial details; but such differences are of strictly minor
importance, for none of them nor all taken together cast a shadow of
rational doubt upon the historicity of the earthly existence of the Man
known in literature as Jesus of Nazareth.

As to who and what He was there are dissensions of grave moment dividing
the opinions of men; and this divergence of conception and belief is
most pronounced upon those matters to which the greatest importance
attaches. The solemn testimonies of millions dead and of millions living
unite in proclaiming Him as divine, the Son of the Living God, the
Redeemer and Savior of the human race, the Eternal Judge of the souls of
men, the Chosen and Anointed of the Father--in short, the Christ. Others
there are who deny His Godhood while extolling the transcendent
qualities of His unparalleled and unapproachable Manhood.

To the student of history this Man among men stands first, foremost, and
alone, as a directing personality in the world's progression. Mankind
has never produced a leader to rank with Him. Regarded solely as a
historic personage He is unique. Judged by the standard of human
estimation, Jesus of Nazareth is supreme among men by reason of the
excellence of His personal character, the simplicity, beauty, and
genuine worth of His precepts, and the influence of His example and
doctrines in the advancement of the race. To these distinguishing
characteristics of surpassing greatness the devout Christian soul adds
an attribute that far exceeds the sum of all the others--the divinity of
Christ's origin and the eternal reality of His status as Lord and God.

Christian and unbeliever alike acknowledge His supremacy as a Man, and
respect the epoch-making significance of His birth. Christ was born in
the meridian of time;[2] and His life on earth marked at once the
culmination of the past and the inauguration of an era distinctive in
human hope, endeavor, and achievement. His advent determined a new order
in the reckoning of the years; and by common consent the centuries
antedating His birth have been counted backward from the pivotal event
and are designated accordingly. The rise and fall of dynasties, the
birth and dissolution of nations, all the cycles of history as to war
and peace, as to prosperity and adversity, as to health and pestilence,
seasons of plenty and of famine, the awful happenings of earthquake and
storm, the triumphs of invention and discovery, the epochs of man's
development in godliness and the long periods of his dwindling in
unbelief--all the occurrences that make history--are chronicled
throughout Christendom by reference to the year before or after the
birth of Jesus Christ.

His earthly life covered a period of thirty-three years; and of these
but three were spent by Him as an acknowledged Teacher openly engaged in
the activities of public ministry. He was brought to a violent death
before He had attained what we now regard as the age of manhood's prime.
As an individual He was personally known to but few; and His fame as a
world character became general only after His death.

Brief account of some of His words and works has been preserved to us;
and this record, fragmentary and incomplete though it be, is rightly
esteemed as the world's greatest treasure. The earliest and most
extended history of His mortal existence is embodied within the
compilation of scriptures known as the New Testament; indeed but little
is said of Him by secular historians of His time. Few and short as are
the allusions to Him made by non-scriptural writers in the period
immediately following that of His ministry, enough is found to
corroborate the sacred record as to the actuality and period of Christ's
earthly existence.

No adequate biography of Jesus as Boy and Man has been or can be
written, for the sufficing reason that a fulness of data is lacking.
Nevertheless, man never lived of whom more has been said and sung, none
to whom is devoted a greater proportion of the world's literature. He is
extolled by Christian, Mohammedan and Jew, by skeptic and infidel, by
the world's greatest poets, philosophers, statesmen, scientists, and
historian. Even the profane sinner in the foul, sacrilege of his oath
acclaims the divine supremacy of Him whose name he desecrates.

The purpose of the present treatise is that of considering the life and
mission of Jesus _as_ the Christ. In this undertaking we are to be
guided by the light of both ancient and modern scriptures; and, thus
led, we shall discover, even in the early stages of our course, that the
word of God as revealed in latter days is effective in illuming and
making plain the Holy Writ of ancient times, and this, in many matters
of the profoundest imports.[3]

Instead of beginning our study with the earthly birth of the Holy Babe
of Bethlehem, we shall consider the part taken by the Firstborn Son of
God in the primeval councils of heaven, at the time when He was chosen
and ordained to be the Savior of the unborn race of mortals, the
Redeemer of a world then in its formative stages of development. We are
to study Him as the Creator of the world, as the Word of Power, through
whom the purposes of the Eternal Father were realized in the preparation
of the earth for the abode of His myriad spirit-children during the
appointed period of their mortal probation. Jesus Christ was and is
Jehovah, the God of Adam and of Noah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, the God of Israel, the God at whose instance the prophets of the
ages have spoken, the God of all nations, and He who shall yet reign on
earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.

His wondrous yet natural birth, His immaculate life in the flesh, and
His voluntary death as a consecrated sacrifice for the sins of mankind,
shall claim our reverent attention; as shall also His redeeming service
in the world of disembodied spirits; His literal resurrection from
bodily death to immortality; His several appearings to men and His
continued ministry as the Resurrected Lord on both continents; the
reestablishment of His Church through His personal presence and that of
the Eternal Father in the latter days; and His coming to His temple in
the current dispensation. All these developments in the ministration of
the Christ are already of the past. Our proposed course of investigation
will lead yet onward, into the future concerning which the word of
divine revelation is of record. We shall consider the conditions
incident to the Lord's return in power and glory to inaugurate the
dominion of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and to usher in the
predicted Millennium of peace and righteousness. And yet beyond we shall
follow Him, through the post-Millennial conflict between the powers of
heaven and the forces of hell, to the completion of His victory over
Satan, sin, and death, when He shall present the glorified earth and its
sanctified hosts, spotless and celestialized, unto the Father.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms her possession
of divine authority for the use of the sacred name, Jesus Christ, as the
essential part of her distinctive designation. In view of this exalted
claim, it is pertinent to inquire as to what special or particular
message the Church has to give to the world concerning the Redeemer and
Savior of the race, and as to what she has to say in justification of
her solemn affirmation, or in vindication of her exclusive name and
title. As we proceed with our study, we shall find that among the
specific teachings of the Church respecting the Christ are these:

(1) The unity and continuity of His mission in all ages--this of
necessity involving the verity of His preexistence and foreordination.
(2) The fact of His antemortal Godship. (3) The actuality of His birth
in the flesh as the natural issue of divine and mortal parentage. (4)
The reality of His death and physical resurrection, as a result of which
the power of death shall be eventually overcome. (5) The literalness of
the atonement wrought by Him, including the absolute requirement of
individual compliance with the laws and ordinances of His gospel as the
means by which salvation may be attained. (6) The restoration of His
Priesthood and the reestablishment of His Church in the current age,
which is verily the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. (7) The
certainty of His return to earth in the near future, with power and
great glory, to reign in Person and bodily presence as Lord and King.


[1] As to the year of Christ's birth, see chapter 8.

[2] See chapter 6.

[3] The Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and
the Pearl of Great Price constitute the standard works of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These will be cited alike as
Scriptures in the following pages, for such they are.



We affirm, on the authority of Holy Scripture, that the Being who is
known among men as Jesus of Nazareth, and by all who acknowledge His
Godhood as Jesus the Christ, existed with the Father prior to birth in
the flesh; and that in the preexistent state He was chosen and ordained
to be the one and only Savior and Redeemer of the human race.
Foreordination implies and comprizes preexistence as an essential
condition; therefore scriptures bearing upon the one are germane to the
other; and consequently in this presentation no segregation of evidence
as applying specifically to the preexistence of Christ or to His
foreordination will be attempted.

John the Revelator beheld in vision some of the scenes that had been
enacted in the spirit-world before the beginning of human history. He
witnessed strife and contention between loyalty and rebellion, with the
hosts defending the former led by Michael the archangel, and the
rebellious forces captained by Satan, who is also called the devil, the
serpent, and the dragon. We read: "And there was war in heaven; Michael
and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his

In this struggle between unembodied hosts the forces were unequally
divided; Satan drew to his standard only a third part of the children of
God, who are symbolized as the "stars of heaven";[5] the majority either
fought with Michael, or at least refrained from active opposition, thus
accomplishing the purpose of their "first estate"; while the angels who
arrayed themselves on the side of Satan "kept not their first
estate",[6] and therefore rendered themselves ineligible for the
glorious possibilities of an advanced condition or "second estate".[7]
The victory was with Michael and his angels; and Satan or Lucifer,
theretofore a "son of the morning", was cast out of heaven, yea "he was
cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him".[8] The
prophet Isaiah, to whom these momentous occurrences had been revealed
about eight centuries prior to the time of John's writings, laments with
inspired pathos the fall of so great a one; and specifies selfish
ambition as the occasion: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,
son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst
weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascent
into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit
also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I
will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most
High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the

Justification for citing these scriptures in connection with our present
consideration will be found in the cause of the great contention--the
conditions that led to this war in heaven. It is plain from the words of
Isaiah that Lucifer, already of exalted rank, sought to aggrandize
himself without regard to the rights and agency of others. The matter is
set forth, in words that none may misapprehend, in a revelation given to
Moses and repeated through the first prophet of the present
dispensation: "And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That
Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is
the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me,
saying--Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem
all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it;
wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved son, which was my
Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me--Father, thy will be
done, and the glory be thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan
rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I,
the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine
own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should
be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of
all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his
will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice."[10]

Thus it is shown that prior to the placing of man upon the earth, how
long before we do not know, Christ and Satan, together with the hosts of
the spirit-children of God, existed as intelligent individuals,[11]
possessing power and opportunity to choose the course they would pursue
and the leaders whom they would follow and obey.[12] In that great
concourse of spirit-intelligences, the Father's plan, whereby His
children would be advanced to their second estate, was submitted and
doubtless discussed. The opportunity so placed within the reach of the
spirits who were to be privileged to take bodies upon the earth was so
transcendently glorious that those heavenly multitudes burst forth into
song and shouted for joy.[13]

Satan's plan of compulsion, whereby all would be safely conducted
through the career of mortality, bereft of freedom to act and agency to
choose, so circumscribed that they would be compelled to do right--that
one soul would not be lost--was rejected; and the humble offer of Jesus
the First-born--to assume mortality and live among men as their Exemplar
and Teacher, observing the sanctity of man's agency but teaching men to
use aright that divine heritage--was accepted. The decision brought war,
which resulted in the vanquishment of Satan and his angels, who were
cast out and deprived of the boundless privileges incident to the mortal
or second estate.

In that august council of the angels and the Gods, the Being who later
was born in flesh as Mary's Son, Jesus, took prominent part, and there
was He ordained of the Father to be the Savior of mankind. As to time,
the term being used in the sense of all duration past, this is our
earliest record of the Firstborn among the sons of God; to us who read,
it marks the beginning of the written history of Jesus the Christ.[14]

Old Testament scriptures, while abounding in promises relating to the
actuality of Christ's advent in the flesh, are less specific in
information concerning His antemortal existence. By the children of
Israel, while living under the law and still unprepared to receive the
gospel, the Messiah was looked for as one to be born in the lineage of
Abraham and David, empowered to deliver them from personal and national
burdens, and to vanquish their enemies. The actuality of the Messiah's
status as the chosen Son of God, who was with the Father from the
beginning, a Being of preexistent power and glory, was but dimly
perceived, if conceived at all, by the people in general; and although
to prophets specially commissioned in the authorities and privileges of
the Holy Priesthood, revelation of the great truth was given,[15] they
transmitted it to the people rather in the language of imagery and
parable than in words of direct plainness. Nevertheless the testimony of
the evangelists and the apostles, the attestation of the Christ Himself
while in the flesh, and the revelations given in the present
dispensation leave us without dearth of scriptural proof.

In the opening lines of the Gospel book written by John the apostle, we
read: "In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the
word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were
made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.... And
the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and

The passage is simple, precise and unambiguous. We may reasonably give
to the phrase "In the beginning" the same meaning as attaches thereto in
the first line of Genesis; and such signification must indicate a time
antecedent to the earliest stages of human existence upon the earth.
That the Word is Jesus Christ, who was with the Father in that beginning
and who was Himself invested with the powers and rank of Godship, and
that He came into the world and dwelt among men, are definitely
affirmed. These statements are corroborated through a revelation given
to Moses, in which he was permitted to see many of the creations of God,
and to hear the voice of the Father with respect to the things that had
been made: "And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is
mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth."[17]

John the apostle repeatedly affirms the preexistence of the Christ and
the fact of His authority and power in the antemortal state.[18] To the
same effect is the testimony of Paul[19] and of Peter. Instructing the
saints concerning the basis of their faith, the last-named apostle
impressed upon them that their redemption was not to be secured through
corruptible things nor by the outward observance of traditional
requirements, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb
without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the
foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for

Even more impressive and yet more truly conclusive are the personal
testimonies of the Savior as to His own pre-existent life and the
mission among men to which He had been appointed. No one who accepts
Jesus as the Messiah can consistently reject these evidences of His
eternal nature. When, on a certain occasion, the Jews in the synagogue
disputed among themselves and murmured because of their failure to
understand aright His doctrine concerning Himself, especially as
touching His relationship with the Father, Jesus said unto them: "For I
came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that
sent me." And then, continuing the lesson based upon the contrast
between the manna with which their fathers had been fed in the
wilderness and the bread of life which He had to offer, He added: "I am
the living bread which came down from heaven," and again declared "the
living Father hath sent me." Not a few of the disciples failed to
comprehend His teachings; and their complaints drew from Him these
words: "Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man
ascend up where he was before?"[21]

To certain wicked Jews, wrapped in the mantle of racial pride, boastful
of their descent through the lineage of Abraham, and seeking to excuse
their sins through an unwarranted use of the great patriarch's name, our
Lord thus proclaimed His own preeminence: "Verily, verily, I say unto
you, Before Abraham was, I am."[22] The fuller significance of this
remark will be treated later; suffice it in the present connection to
consider this scripture as a plain avowal of our Lord's seniority and
supremacy over Abraham. But as Abraham's birth had preceded that of
Christ by more than nineteen centuries, such seniority must have
reference to a state of existence antedating that of mortality.

When the hour of His betrayal was near, in the last interview with the
apostles prior to His agonizing experience in Gethsemane, Jesus
comforted them saying: "For the Father himself loveth you, because ye
have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth
from the Father, and am come into the world again, I leave the world,
and go to the Father."[23] Furthermore, in the course of upwelling
prayer for those who had been true to their testimony of His
Messiahship, He addressed the Father with this solemn invocation: "And
this is the life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the
earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O
Father glorify thou with thine own self with the glory which I had with
thee before the world was."[24]

Book of Mormon scriptures are likewise explicit in proof of the
preexistence of the Christ and of His foreappointed mission. One only of
the many evidences therein found will be cited here. An ancient prophet,
designated in the record as the brother of Jared,[25] once pleaded with
the Lord in special supplication: "And the Lord said unto him, Believest
thou the words which I shall speak? And he answered, Yea, Lord, I know
that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not
lie. And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord shewed himself
unto him, and said, Because thou knowest these things, ye are redeemed
from the fall: therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore
I shew myself unto you. Behold, I am he who was prepared from the
foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ.
I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have light, and
that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall
become my sons and my daughters. And never have I shewed myself unto man
whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast.
Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men
were created in the beginning, after mine own image. Behold, this body,
which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created
after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the
spirit, will I appear unto my people in the flesh."[26] The main facts
attested by this scripture as having a direct bearing upon our present
subject are those of the Christ manifesting Himself while yet in His
antemortal state, and of His declaration that He had been chosen from
the foundation of the world as the Redeemer.

Revelation given through the prophets of God in the present dispensation
is replete with evidence of Christ's appointment and ordination in the
primeval world; and the whole tenor of the scriptures contained in the
Doctrine and Covenants may be called in witness. The following instances
are particularly in point. In a communication to Joseph Smith the
prophet, in May, 1833, the Lord declared Himself as the One who had
previously come into the world from the Father, and of whom John had
borne testimony as the Word; and the solemn truth is reiterated that He,
Jesus Christ, "was in the beginning, before the world was", and further,
that He was the Redeemer who "came into the world, because the world was
made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men."
Again, He is referred to as "the Only Begotten of the Father, full of
grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the
flesh." In the course of the same revelation the Lord said: "And now,
verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father and am the
firstborn."[27] On an earlier occasion, as the modern prophet testifies,
he and an associate in the priesthood were enlightened by the Spirit so
that they were able to see and understand the things of God--"Even those
things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were
ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the
bosom of the Father, even from the beginning, of whom we bear record,
and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus
Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the
heavenly vision."[28]

The testimony of scriptures written on both hemispheres, that of records
both ancient and modern, the inspired utterances of prophets and
apostles, and the words of the Lord Himself, are of one voice in
proclaiming the preexistence of the Christ and His ordination as the
chosen Savior and Redeemer of mankind--in the beginning, yea, even
before the foundation of the world.


1. Graded Intelligences in the Antemortal State.--That the spirits of
men existed as individual intelligences, of varying degrees of ability
and power, prior to the inauguration of the mortal state upon this earth
and even prior to the creation of the world as a suitable abode for
human beings, is shown in great plainness through a divine revelation to
Abraham: "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences
that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were
many of the noble and great ones; and God saw these souls that they were
good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make
my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that
they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou
wast chosen before thou wast born." (P. of G.P., Abraham 3:22, 23.)

That both Christ and Satan were among those exalted intelligences, and
that Christ was chosen while Satan was rejected as the future Savior of
mankind, are shown by the portions of the revelation immediately
following that above quoted: "And there stood one among them that was
like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go
down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and
we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them
herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their
God shall command them; and they who keep their first estate shall be
added upon, and they who keep not their first estate shall not have
glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and
they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their
heads forever and ever. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one
answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another
answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send
the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and,
at that day, many followed after him" (verses 24-28).

2. The Primeval Council in the Heavens.--"It is definitely stated in the
Book of Genesis that God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness;' and again, after Adam had taken of the forbidden fruit the
Lord said, 'Behold, the man has become as one of us;' and the inference
is direct that in all that related to the work of the creation of the
world there was a consultation; and though God spake as it is recorded
in the Bible, yet it is evident He counseled with others. The scriptures
tell us there are 'Gods many and Lords many. But to us there is but one
God, the Father' (1 Cor. 8:5). And for this reason, though there were
others engaged in the creation of the worlds, it is given to us in the
Bible in the shape that it is; for the fulness of these truths is only
revealed to highly favored persons for certain reasons known to God; as
we are told in the scriptures: 'The secret of the Lord is with them that
fear him; and he will show them his covenant.'--Psalms 25:14.

"It is consistent to believe that at this Council in the heavens the
plan that should be adopted in relation to the sons of God who were then
spirits, and had not yet obtained tabernacles, was duly considered. For,
in view of the creation of the world and the placing of men upon it,
whereby it would be possible for them to obtain tabernacles, and in
those tabernacles obey laws of life, and with them again be exalted
among the Gods, we are told that at that time, 'the morning stars sang
together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.' The question then
arose, how, and upon what principle, should the salvation, exaltation
and eternal glory of God's sons be brought about? It is evident that at
that Council certain plans had been proposed and discussed, and that
after a full discussion of those principles, and the declaration of the
Father's will pertaining to His design, Lucifer came before the Father
with a plan of his own, saying, 'Behold [here am] I; send me, I will be
thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost,
and surely I will do it; wherefore, give me thine honor.' But Jesus, on
hearing this statement made by Lucifer, said, 'Father, thy will be done,
and the glory be thine forever.' From these remarks made by the well
beloved Son, we should naturally infer that in the discussion of this
subject the Father had made known His will and developed His plan and
design pertaining to these matters, and all that His well beloved Son
wanted to do was to carry out the will of His Father, as it would appear
had been before expressed. He also wished the glory to be given to His
Father, who, as God the Father, and the originator and designer of the
plan, had a right to all the honor and glory. But Lucifer wanted to
introduce a plan contrary to the will of his Father, and then wanted His
honor, and said: 'I will save every soul of man, wherefore give me thine
honor.' He wanted to go contrary to the will of his Father, and
presumptuously sought to deprive man of his free agency, thus making him
a serf, and placing him in a position in which it was impossible for him
to obtain that exaltation which God designed should be man's, through
obedience to the law which He had suggested; and again, Lucifer wanted
the honor and power of his Father, to enable him to carry out principles
which were contrary to the Father's wish."--John Taylor--_Mediation and
Atonement_, pp. 93, 94.

3. The Jaredites.--"Of the two nations whose histories constitute the
Book of Mormon, the first in order of time consisted of the people of
Jared, who followed their leader from the Tower of Babel at the time of
the confusion of tongues. Their history was written on twenty-four
plates of gold by Ether, the last of their prophets, who, foreseeing the
destruction of his people because of their wickedness, hid away the
historical plates. They were afterward found, B.C. 123, by an expedition
sent out by King Limhi, a Nephite ruler. The record engraved on these
plates was subsequently abridged by Moroni, and the condensed account
was attached by him to the Book of Mormon record; it appears in the
modern translation under the name of the Book of Ether.

"The first and chief prophet of the Jaredites is not mentioned by name
in the record as we have it; he is known only as the brother of Jared.
Of the people, we learn that, amid the confusion of Babel, Jared and his
brother importuned the Lord that He would spare them and their
associates from the impending disruption. Their prayer was heard, and
the Lord led them with a considerable company, who, like themselves,
were free from the taint of idolatry, away from their homes, promising
to conduct them to a land choice above all other lands. Their course of
travel is not given with exactness; we learn only that they reached the
ocean, and there constructed eight vessels, called barges, in which they
set out upon the waters. These vessels were small and dark within; but
the Lord made luminous certain stones, which gave light to the
imprisoned voyagers. After a passage of three hundred and forty-four
days, the colony landed on the western shore of North America, probably
at a place south of the Gulf of California, and north of the Isthmus of

"Here they became a flourishing nation; but, giving way in time to
internal dissensions, they divided into factions, which warred with one
another until the people were totally destroyed. This destruction, which
occurred near the hill Ramah, afterward known among the Nephites as
Cumorah, probably took place at about the time of Lehi's landing in
South America--590 B.C."--The author, _Articles of Faith_, xiv:10-12.


[4] Rev. 12:7; see also verses 8 and 9.

[5] Rev. 12:4; see also Doc. and Cov. 29:36-38; and 76:25-27.

[6] Jude 6.

[7] P. of G.P., Abraham 3:26.

[8] Rev. 12:9.

[9] Isa. 14:12-15; compare Doc. and Cov. 29:36-38; and 76:23-27.

[10] P. of G.P., Moses 4:1-4; see also Abraham 3:27, 28.

[11] For a further treatment of the preexistence of spirits see the
author's "Articles of Faith" x:21-30.

[12] Note 1, end of chapter.

[13] Job 38:7.

[14] Note 2, end of chapter.

[15] Psalm 25:14; Amos 3:7.

[16] John 1:1-3, 14; see also 1 John 1:1; 5: 7; Rev. 19:13; compare Doc.
and Cov. 93:1-17, 21.

[17] P. of C.P., Moses 1:32, 33; see also 2:5.

[18] 1 John 1:1-3; 2:13, 14; 4:9; Rev. 3:14.

[19] 2 Tim. 1:9, 10; Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:4; 3:9, 11; Titus 1:2. See
especially Rom. 3:25; and note the marginal rendering--"foreordained"--
making the passage read: "Whom God hath foreordained to be a

[20] 1 Peter 1:19, 20.

[21] John 6:38, 51, 57, 61, 62.

[22] John 8:58; see also 17:5, 24; and compare Exo. 3:14. Page 37.

[23] John 16:27, 28; see also 13:3.

[24] John 17:3-5; see also verses 24, 25.

[25] Note 3, end of chapter.

[26] B. of M., Ether 3:11-16. See also 1 Nephi 17:30; 19:7; 2 Nephi 9:5;
11:7; 25:12; 26:12; Mosiah 3:5; 4:2; 7:27; 13:34; 15:1; Alma 11:40;
Hela. 14:12; 3 Nephi 9:15.

[27] Doc. and Cov. 93:1-17, 21.

[28] Doc. and Cov. 76:13, 14.



We have heretofore shown that the entire human race existed as
spirit-beings in the primeval world, and that for the purpose of making
possible to them the experiences of mortality this earth was created.
They were endowed with the powers of agency or choice while yet but
spirits; and the divine plan provided that they be free-born in the
flesh, heirs to the inalienable birthright of liberty to choose and to
act for themselves in mortality. It is undeniably essential to the
eternal progression of God's children that they be subjected to the
influences of both good and evil, that they be tried and tested and
proved withal, "to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord
their God shall command them."[29] Free agency is an indispensable
element of such a test.

The Eternal Father well understood the diverse natures and varied
capacities of His spirit-offspring; and His infinite foreknowledge made
plain to Him, even in the beginning, that in the school of life some of
His children would succeed and others would fail; some would be
faithful, others false; some would choose the good, others the evil;
some would seek the way of life while others would elect to follow the
road to destruction. He further foresaw that death would enter the
world, and that the possession of bodies by His children would be of but
brief individual duration. He saw that His commandments would be
disobeyed and His law violated; and that men, shut out from His presence
and left to themselves, would sink rather than rise, would retrograde
rather than advance, and would be lost to the heavens. It was necessary
that a means of redemption be provided, whereby erring man might make
amends, and by compliance with established law achieve salvation and
eventual exaltation in the eternal worlds. The power of death was to be
overcome, so that, though men would of necessity die, they would live
anew, their spirits clothed with immortalized bodies over which death
could not again prevail.

Let not ignorance and thoughtlessness lead us into the error of assuming
that the Father's foreknowledge as to what _would be_, under given
conditions, determined that such _must be_. It was not His design that
the souls of mankind be lost; on the contrary it was and is His work and
glory, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."[30]
Nevertheless He saw the evil into which His children would assuredly
fall; and with infinite love and mercy did He ordain means of averting
the dire effect, provided the transgressor would elect to avail himself
thereof.[31] The offer of the firstborn Son to establish through His own
ministry among men the gospel of salvation, and to sacrifice Himself,
through labor, humiliation and suffering even unto death, was accepted
and made the foreordained plan of man's redemption from death, of his
eventual salvation from the effects of sin, and of his possible
exaltation through righteous achievement.

In accordance with the plan adopted in the council of the Gods, man was
created as an embodied spirit; his tabernacle of flesh was composed of
the elements of earth.[32] He was given commandment and law, and was
free to obey or disobey--with the just and inevitable condition that he
should enjoy or suffer the natural results of his choice.[33] Adam, the
first man[34] placed upon the earth in pursuance of the established
plan, and Eve who was given unto him as companion and associate,
indispensable to him in the appointed mission of peopling the earth,
disobeyed the express commandment of God and so brought about the "fall
of man", whereby the mortal state, of which death is an essential
element, was inaugurated.[35] It is not proposed to consider here at
length the doctrine of the fall; for the present argument it is
sufficient to establish the fact of the momentous occurrence and its
portentous consequences.[36] The woman was deceived, and in direct
violation of counsel and commandment partook of the food that had been
forbidden, as a result of which act her body became degenerate and
subject to death. Adam realized the disparity that had been brought
between him and his companion, and with some measure of understanding
followed her course, thus becoming her partner in bodily degeneracy.
Note in this matter the words of Paul the apostle: "Adam was not
deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."[37]

The man and the woman had now become mortal; through indulgence in food
unsuited to their nature and condition and against which they had been
specifically warned, and as the inevitable result of their disobeying
the divine law and commandment, they became liable to the physical
ailments and bodily frailties to which mankind has since been the
natural heir.[38] Those bodies, which before the fall had been perfect
in form and function, were now subjects for eventual dissolution or
death. The arch-tempter through whose sophistries, half-truths and
infamous falsehoods, Eve had been beguiled, was none other than Satan,
or Lucifer, that rebellious and fallen "son of the morning", whose
proposal involving the destruction of man's liberty had been rejected in
the council of the heavens, and who had been "cast out into the earth",
he and all his angels as unbodied spirits, never to be tabernacled in
bodies of their own.[39] As an act of diabolic reprisal following his
rejection in the council, his defeat by Michael and the heavenly hosts,
and his ignominious expulsion from heaven, Satan planned to destroy the
bodies in which the faithful spirits--those who had kept their first
estate--would be born; and his beguilement of Eve was but an early stage
of that infernal scheme.

Death has come to be the universal heritage; it may claim its victim in
infancy or youth, in the period of life's prime, or its summons may be
deferred until the snows of age have gathered upon the hoary head; it
may befall as the result of accident or disease, by violence, or as we
say, through natural causes; but come it must, as Satan well knows; and
in this knowledge is his present though but temporary triumph. But the
purposes of God, as they ever have been and ever shall be, are
infinitely superior to the deepest designs of men or devils; and the
Satanic machinations to make death inevitable, perpetual and supreme
were provided against even before the first man had been created in the
flesh. The atonement to be wrought by Jesus the Christ was ordained to
overcome death and to provide a means of ransom from the power of Satan.

As the penalty incident to the fall came upon the race through an
individual act, it would be manifestly unjust, and therefore impossible
as part of the divine purpose, to make all men suffer the results
thereof without provision for deliverance.[40] Moreover, since by the
transgression of one man sin came into the world and death was entailed
upon all, it is consistent with reason that the atonement thus made
necessary should be wrought by one.[41] "Wherefore, as by one man sin
entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all
men, for that all have sinned ... Therefore as by the offence of one
judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness
of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."[42]
So taught the apostle Paul; and, further: "For since by man came death,
by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ shall all be made alive."[43]

The atonement was plainly to be a vicarious sacrifice, voluntary and
love-inspired on the Savior's part, universal in its application to
mankind so far as men shall accept the means of deliverance thus placed
within their reach. For such a mission only one who was without sin
could be eligible. Even the altar victims of ancient Israel offered as a
provisional propitiation for the offenses of the people under the Mosaic
law had to be clean and devoid of spot or blemish; otherwise they were
unacceptable and the attempt to offer them was sacrilege.[44] Jesus
Christ was the only Being suited to the requirements of the great

1--As the one and only sinless Man;

2--As the Only Begotten of the Father and therefore the only Being born
to earth possessing in their fulness the attributes of both Godhood and

3--As the One who had been chosen in the heavens and foreordained to
this service.

What other man has been without sin, and therefore wholly exempt from
the dominion of Satan, and to whom death, the wage of sin, is not
naturally due? Had Jesus Christ met death as other men have done--the
result of the power that Satan has gained over them through their
sins--His death would have been but an individual experience, expiatory
in no degree of any faults or offenses but His own. Christ's absolute
sinlessness made Him eligible, His humility and willingness rendered Him
acceptable to the Father, as the atoning sacrifice whereby propitiation
could be made for the sins of all men.

What other man has lived with power to withstand death, over whom death
could not prevail except through his own submission? Yet Jesus Christ
could not be slain until His "hour had come", and that, the hour in
which He voluntarily surrendered His life, and permitted His own decease
through an act of will. Born of a mortal mother He inherited the
capacity to die; begotten by an immortal Sire He possessed as a heritage
the power to withstand death indefinitely. He literally gave up His
life; to this effect is His own affirmation: "Therefore doth my Father
love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man
taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it
down, and I have power to take it again."[45] And further: "For as the
Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in
himself."[46] Only such a One could conquer death; in none but Jesus the
Christ was realized this requisite condition of a Redeemer of the world.

What other man has come to earth with such appointment, clothed with the
authority of such foreordination? The atoning mission of Jesus Christ
was no self-assumption. True, He had offered Himself when the call was
made in the heavens; true, He had been accepted, and in due time came to
earth to carry into effect the terms of that acceptance; but He was
chosen by One greater than Himself. The burden of His confession of
authority was ever to the effect that He operated under the direction of
the Father, as witness these words: "I came down from heaven, not to do
mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."[47] "My meat is to do
the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."[48] "I can of
mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just;
because I seek not mine own will but the will of the Father which hath
sent me."[49]

Through the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ--a redeeming service,
vicariously rendered in behalf of mankind, all of whom have become
estranged from God by the effects of sin both inherited and individually
incurred--the way is opened for a reconciliation whereby man may come
again into communion with God, and be made fit to dwell anew and forever
in the presence of his Eternal Father. This basal thought is admirably
implied in our English word, "atonement," which, as its syllables
attest, is _at-one-ment_, "denoting reconciliation, or the bringing into
agreement of those who have been estranged."[50] The effect of the
atonement may be conveniently considered as twofold:

1--The universal redemption of the human race from death invoked by the
fall of our first parents; and,

2--Salvation, whereby means of relief from the results of individual sin
are provided.

The victory over death was made manifest in the resurrection of the
crucified Christ; He was the first to pass from death to immortality and
so is justly known as "the first fruits of them that slept."[51] That
the resurrection of the dead so inaugurated is to be extended to every
one who has or shall have lived is proved by an abundance of scriptural
evidence. Following our Lord's resurrection, others who had slept in the
tomb arose and were seen of many, not as spirit-apparitions but as
resurrected beings possessing immortalized bodies: "And the graves were
opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of
the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and
appeared unto many."[52]

Those who thus early came forth are spoken of as "the saints"; and other
scriptures confirm the fact that only the righteous shall be brought
forth in the earlier stages of the resurrection yet to be consummated;
but that all the dead shall in turn resume bodies of flesh and bones is
placed beyond doubt by the revealed word. The Savior's direct
affirmation ought to be conclusive: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The
hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the
Son of God: and they that hear shall live.... Marvel not at this: for
the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear
his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the
resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the
resurrection of damnation."[53] The doctrine of a universal resurrection
was taught by the apostles of old,[54] as also by the Nephite
prophets;[55] and the same is confirmed by revelation incident to the
present dispensation.[56] Even the heathen who have not known God shall
be brought forth from their graves; and, inasmuch as they have lived and
died in ignorance of the saving law, a means of making the plan of
salvation known unto them is provided. "And then shall the heathen
nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the
first resurrection."[57]

Jacob, a Nephite prophet, taught the universality of the resurrection,
and set forth the absolute need of a Redeemer, without whom the purposes
of God in the creation of man would be rendered futile. His words
constitute a concise and forceful summary of revealed truth directly
bearing upon our present subject:

"For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of
the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the
resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the
fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen,
they were cut off from the presence of the Lord; wherefore it must needs
be an infinite atonement; save it should be an infinite atonement, this
corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment
which came upon man, must needs have remained to an endless duration.
And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its
mother earth, to rise no more. O the wisdom of God! his mercy and grace!
For behold, if the flesh should rise no more, our spirits must become
subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the eternal
God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have
become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be
shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of
lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our
first parents; who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and
stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder, and
all manner of secret works of darkness. O how great the goodness of our
God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful
monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of
the body, and also the death of the spirit. And because of the way of
deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I
have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which
death is the grave. And this death of which I have spoken, which is the
spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is
hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell
must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its
captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored
one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy
One of Israel. O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand,
the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and
the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the
body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and
immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like
unto us in the flesh; save it be that our knowledge shall be

The application of the atonement to individual transgression, whereby
the sinner may obtain absolution through compliance with the laws and
ordinances embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ, is conclusively
attested by scripture. Since forgiveness of sins can be secured in none
other way, there being either in heaven or earth no name save that of
Jesus Christ whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men,[59]
every soul stands in need of the Savior's mediation, since all are
sinners. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God", said
Paul of old,[60] and John the apostle added his testimony in these
words: "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us."[61]

Who shall question the justice of God, which denies salvation to all who
will not comply with the prescribed conditions on which alone it is
declared obtainable? Christ is "the author of eternal salvation unto all
them that obey him",[62] and God "will render to every man according to
his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for
glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are
contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,
indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man
that doeth evil."[63]

Such then is the need of a Redeemer, for without Him mankind would
forever remain in a fallen state, and as to hope of eternal progression
would be inevitably lost.[64] The mortal probation is provided as an
opportunity for advancement; but so great are the difficulties and the
dangers, so strong is the influence of evil in the world, and so weak is
man in resistance thereto, that without the aid of a power above that of
humanity no soul would find its way back to God from whom it came. The
need of a Redeemer lies in the inability of man to raise himself from
the temporal to the spiritual plane, from the lower kingdom to the
higher. In this conception we are not without analogies in the natural
world. We recognize a fundamental distinction between inanimate and
living matter, between the inorganic and the organic, between the
lifeless mineral on the one hand and the living plant or animal on the
other. Within the limitations of its order the dead mineral grows by
accretion of substance, and may attain a relatively perfect condition of
structure and form as is seen in the crystal. But mineral matter, though
acted upon favorably by the forces of nature--light, heat, electric
energy and others--can never become a living organism; nor can the dead
elements, through any process of chemical combination dissociated from
life, enter into the tissues of the plant as essential parts thereof.
But the plant, which is of a higher order, sends its rootlets into the
earth, spreads its leaves in the atmosphere, and through these organs
absorbs the solutions of the soil, inspires the gases of the air, and
from such lifeless materials weaves the tissue of its wondrous
structure. No mineral particle, no dead chemical substance has ever been
made a constituent of organic tissue except through the agency of life.
We may, perhaps with profit, carry the analogy a step farther. The plant
is unable to advance its own tissue to the animal plane. Though it be
the recognized order of nature that the "animal kingdom" is dependent
upon the "vegetable kingdom" for its sustenance, the substance of the
plant may become part of the animal organism only as the latter reaches
down from its higher plane and by its own vital action incorporates the
vegetable compounds with itself. In turn, animal matter can never
become, even transitorily, part of a human body, except as the living
man assimilates it, and by the vital processes of his own existence
lifts, for the time being, the substance of the animal that supplied him
food to the higher plane of his own existence. The comparison herein
employed is admittedly defective if carried beyond reasonable limits of
application; for the raising of mineral matter to the plane of the
plant, vegetable tissue to the level of the animal, and the elevation of
either to the human plane, is but a temporary change; with the
dissolution of the higher tissues the material thereof falls again to
the level of the inanimate and the dead. But, as a means of illustration
the analogy may not be wholly without value.

So, for the advancement of man from his present fallen and relatively
degenerate state to the higher condition of spiritual life, a power
above his own must cooperate. Through the operation of the laws
obtaining in the higher kingdom man may be reached and lifted; himself
he cannot save by his own unaided effort.[65] A Redeemer and Savior of
mankind is beyond all question essential to the realization of the plan
of the Eternal Father, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal
life of man";[66] and that Redeemer and Savior is Jesus the Christ,
beside whom there is and can be none other.


1. God's Foreknowledge Not a Determining Cause.--"Respecting the
foreknowledge of God, let it not be said that divine omniscience is of
itself a determining cause whereby events are inevitably brought to
pass. A mortal father, who knows the weaknesses and frailties of his
son, may by reason of that knowledge sorrowfully predict the calamities
and sufferings awaiting his wayward boy. He may foresee in that son's
future a forfeiture of blessings that could have been won, loss of
position, self-respect, reputation and honor; even the dark shadows of a
felon's cell and the night of a drunkard's grave may appear in the
saddening visions of that fond father's soul; yet, convinced by
experience of the impossibility of bringing about that son's reform, he
foresees the dread developments of the future, and he finds but sorrow
and anguish in his knowledge. Can it be said that the father's
foreknowledge is a cause of the son's sinful life? The son, perchance,
has reached his maturity; he is the master of his own destiny; a free
agent unto himself. The father is powerless to control by force or to
direct by arbitrary command; and, while he would gladly make any effort
or sacrifice to save his son from the fate impending, he fears for what
seems to be an awful certainty. But surely that thoughtful, prayerful,
loving parent does not, because of his knowledge, contribute to the
son's waywardness. To reason otherwise would be to say that a neglectful
father, who takes not the trouble to study the nature and character of
his son, who shuts his eyes to sinful tendencies, and rests in careless
indifference as to the probable future, will by his very heartlessness
be benefitting his child, because his lack of forethought cannot operate
as a contributory cause to dereliction.

"Our Heavenly Father has a full knowledge of the nature and disposition
of each of His children, a knowledge gained by long observation and
experience in the past eternity of our primeval childhood; a knowledge
compared with which that gained by earthly parents through mortal
experience with their children is infinitesimally small. By reason of
that surpassing knowledge, God reads the future of child and children,
of men individually and of men collectively as communities and nations;
He knows what each will do under given conditions, and sees the end from
the beginning. His foreknowledge is based on intelligence and reason. He
foresees the future as a state which naturally and surely will be; not
as one which must be because He has arbitrarily willed that it shall
be."--From the author's _Great Apostasy_, pp. 19, 20.

2. Man Free to Choose for Himself.--"The Father of souls has endowed His
children with the divine birthright of free agency; He does not and will
not control them by arbitrary force; He impels no man toward sin; He
compels none to righteousness. Unto man has been given freedom to act
for himself; and, associated with this independence, is the fact of
strict responsibility and the assurance of individual accountability. In
the judgment with which we shall be judged, all the conditions and
circumstances of our lives shall be considered. The inborn tendencies
due to heredity, the effect of environment whether conducive to good or
evil, the wholesome teachings of youth, or the absence of good
instruction--these and all other contributory elements must be taken
into account in the rendering of a just verdict as to the soul's guilt
or innocence. Nevertheless, the divine wisdom makes plain what will be
the result with given conditions operating on known natures and
dispositions of men, while every individual is free to choose good or
evil within the limits of the many conditions existing and
operative."--_Great Apostasy_, p. 21; see also _Articles of Faith_,
iii:1, 2.

3. The Fall a Process of Physical Degeneracy.--A modern revelation given
to the Church in 1833 (Doc. and Cov. Sec. 89), prescribes rules for
right living, particularly as regards the uses of stimulants, narcotics,
and foods unsuited to the body. Concerning the physical causes by which
the fall was brought about, and the close relation between those causes
and current violations of the Word of Wisdom embodied in the revelation
referred to above, the following is in point. "This, [the Word of
Wisdom] like other revelations that have come in the present
dispensation, is not wholly new. It is as old as the human race. The
principle of the Word of Wisdom was revealed unto Adam. All the
essentials of the Word of Wisdom were made known unto him in his
immortal state, before he had taken into his body those things that made
of it a thing of earth. He was warned against that very practise. He was
not told to treat his body as something to be tortured. He was not told
to look upon it as the fakir of India has come to look upon his body, or
professes to look upon it, as a thing to be utterly contemned; but he
was told that he must not take into that body certain things which were
there at hand. He was warned that, if he did, his body would lose the
power which it then held of living for ever, and that he would become
subject to death. It was pointed out to him, as it has been pointed out
to you, that there are many good fruits to be plucked, to be eaten, to
be enjoyed. We believe in enjoying good food. We think that these good
things are given us of God. We believe in getting all the enjoyment out
of eating that we can; and, therefore, we should avoid gluttony, and we
should avoid extremes in all our habits of eating; and as was told unto
Adam, so is it told unto us: Touch not these things; for in the day that
thou doest it thy life shall be shortened and thou shalt die.

"Here let me say that therein consisted the fall--the eating of things
unfit, the taking into the body of the things that made of that body a
thing of earth: and I take this occasion to raise my voice against the
false interpretation of scripture, which has been adopted by certain
people, and is current in their minds, and is referred to in a hushed
and half-secret way, that the fall of man consisted in some offense
against the laws of chastity and of virtue. Such a doctrine is an
abomination. What right have we to turn the scriptures from their proper
sense and meaning? What right have we to declare that God meant not what
He said? The fall was a natural process, resulting through the
incorporation into the bodies of our first parents of the things that
came from food unfit, through the violation of the command of God
regarding what they should eat. Don't go around whispering that the fall
consisted in the mother of the race losing her chastity and her virtue.
It is not true; the human race is not born of fornication. These bodies
that are given unto us are given in the way that God has provided. Let
it not be said that the patriarch of the race, who stood with the gods
before he came here upon the earth, and his equally royal consort, were
guilty of any such foul offense. The adoption of that belief has led
many to excuse departures from the path of chastity and the path of
virtue, by saying that it is the sin of the race, that it is as old as
Adam. It was not introduced by Adam. It was not committed by Eve. It was
the introduction of the devil and came in order that he might sow the
seeds of early death in the bodies of men and women, that the race
should degenerate as it has degenerated whenever the laws of virtue and
of chastity have been transgressed.

"Our first parents were pure and noble, and when we pass behind the veil
we shall perhaps learn something of their high estate, more than we know
now. But be it known that they were pure; they were noble. It is true
that they disobeyed the law of God, in eating things they were told not
to eat; but who amongst you can rise up and condemn?"--From an address
by the author at the Eighty-fourth Semiannual Conference of the Church,
Oct. 6, 1913; published in the Proceedings of the Conference, pp. 118,

4. Christ Wrought Redemption from the Fall.--"The Savior thus becomes
master of the situation--the debt is paid, the redemption made, the
covenant fulfilled, justice satisfied, the will of God done, and all
power is now given into the hands of the Son of God--the power of the
resurrection, the power of the redemption, the power of salvation, the
power to enact laws for the carrying out and accomplishment of this
design. Hence life and immortality are brought to light, the gospel is
introduced, and He becomes the author of eternal life and exaltation. He
is the Redeemer, the Resurrector, the Savior of man and the world; and
He has appointed the law of the gospel as the medium which must be
complied with in this world or the next, as He complied with His
Father's law; hence 'he that believeth shall be saved, and he that
believeth not shall be damned.' The plan, the arrangement, the
agreement, the covenant was made, entered into and accepted before the
foundation of the world; it was prefigured by sacrifices, and was
carried out and consummated on the cross. Hence being the mediator
between God and man, He becomes by right the dictator and director on
earth and in heaven for the living and for the dead, for the past, the
present and the future, pertaining to man as associated with this earth
or the heavens, in time or eternity, the Captain of our salvation, the
Apostle and High-Priest of our profession, the Lord and Giver of
life."--John Taylor, _Mediation and Atonement_, p. 171.

5. Redemption from the Effect of the Fall.--"'Mormonism' accepts the
doctrine of the fall, and the account of the transgression in Eden, as
set forth in Genesis; but it affirms that none but Adam is or shall be
answerable for Adam's disobedience; that mankind in general are
absolutely absolved from responsibility for that 'original sin,' and
that each shall account for his own transgressions alone; that the fall
was foreknown of God, that it was turned to good effect by which the
necessary condition of mortality should be inaugurated; and that a
Redeemer was provided before the world was; that general salvation, in
the sense of redemption from the effects of the fall, comes to all
without their seeking it; but that individual salvation or rescue from
the effects of personal sins is to be acquired by each for himself by
faith and good works through the redemption wrought by Jesus
Christ."--From the author's _Story and Philosophy of 'Mormonism,'_ p.


[29] P. of G.P., Abraham 3:25. For a fuller treatment of man's Free
Agency, see the author's "Articles of Faith," iii:1-10, and the numerous
references there given.

[30] P. of G.P., Moses 1:39; compare 6:59. Note 1, end of chapter.

[31] Note 2, end of chapter.

[32] Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:7; compare P. of G.P., Moses 2:26, 27; 3:7;
Abraham 4:26-28; 5:7.

[33] Gen. 1:28-31; 2:16, 17; compare P. of G.P., Moses 2:28-31; 3:16,
17; Abraham 4:28-31; 5:12, 13.

[34] Gen. 2:8; compare statement in verse 5--that prior to that time
there was "not a man to till the ground"; see also P. of G.P., Moses
3:7; Abraham 1:3; and B. of M., 1 Nephi 5:11.

[35] Gen. chap. 3; compare P. of G.P., Moses chap. 4.

[36] See "Articles of Faith," iii:21-32.

[37] 1 Tim. 2:14; see also 2 Cor. 11:3.

[38] Note 3, end of chapter.

[39] See page 7.

[40] Note 4, end of chapter.

[41] Note 5, end of chapter.

[42] Rom. 5:12, 18.

[43] 1 Cor. 15:21, 22.

[44] Lev. 22:20; Deut. 15:21; 17:1; Mal. 1:8, 14; compare Heb. 9:14; 1
Peter 1:19.

[45] John 10:17-18

[46] John 5:26

[47] John 6:38

[48] John 4:34

[49] John 5:30; see also verse 19; also Matt. 26:42; compare Doc. and
Cov. 19:2; 20:24.

[50] New Standard Dictionary under "propitiation."

[51] 1 Cor. 15:20; see also Acts 26:23; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5.

[52] Matt. 27:52, 53.

[53] John 5:25, 28, 29. A modern scripture attesting the same truth
reads: "They who have done good in the resurrection of the just; and
they who have done evil in the resurrection of the unjust."--Doc. and
Cov. 76:17.

[54] For instances see Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:12, 13.

[55] For instances see B. of M., 2 Nephi 9:6, 12, 13, 21, 22; Helaman
14:15-17; Mosiah 15:20-24; Alma 40:2-16; Mormon 9:13, 14.

[56] For instances see Doc. and Cov. 18:11, 12; 45:44, 45; 88:95-98.

[57] Doc. and Cov. 45:54.

[58] B. of M., 2 Nephi 9:6-13; read the entire chapter.

[59] P. of G.P., Moses 6:52; compare B. of M., 2 Nephi 25:20; Mosiah
3:17; 5:8; Doc. and Cov. 76:1.

[60] Rom. 3:23; see also verse 9; Gal. 3:22.

[61] 1 John 1:8.

[62] Heb. 5:9.

[63] Rom. 2:6-9.

[64] No special treatment relating to the Fall, the Atonement, or the
Resurrection has been either attempted or intended in this chapter. For
such the student is referred to doctrinal works dealing with these
subjects. See the author's "Articles of Faith," lectures iii, iv, and

[65] A comparison related to that given in the text is treated at length
by Henry Drummond in his essay, "Biogenesis," which the reader may study
with profit.

[66] P. of G.P., Moses 1:39.



It now becomes our purpose to inquire as to the position and status of
Jesus the Christ in the antemortal world, from the period of the solemn
council in heaven, in which He was chosen to be the future Savior and
Redeemer of mankind, to the time at which He was born in the flesh.

We claim scriptural authority for the assertion that Jesus Christ was
and is God the Creator, the God who revealed Himself to Adam, Enoch, and
all the antediluvial patriarchs and prophets down to Noah; the God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God of Israel as a united people, and the
God of Ephraim and Judah after the disruption of the Hebrew nation; the
God who made Himself known to the prophets from Moses to Malachi; the
God of the Old Testament record; and the God of the Nephites. We affirm
that Jesus Christ was and is Jehovah, the Eternal One.

The scriptures specify three personages in the Godhead; (1) God the
Eternal Father, (2) His Son Jesus Christ, and (3) the Holy Ghost. These
constitute the Holy Trinity, comprizing three physically separate and
distinct individuals, who together constitute the presiding council of
the heavens.[67] At least two of these appear as directing participants
in the work of creation; this fact is instanced by the plurality
expressed in Genesis: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after
our likeness"; and later, in the course of consultation concerning
Adam's act of transgression, "the Lord God said, Behold, the man is
become as one of us."[68] From the words of Moses, as revealed anew in
the present dispensation, we learn more fully of the Gods who were
actively engaged in the creation of this earth: "And I, God, said unto
mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make
man in our image, after our likeness." Then, further, with regard to the
condition of Adam after the fall: "I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only
Begotten: Behold, the man is become as one of us."[69] In the account of
the creation recorded by Abraham, "the Gods" are repeatedly

As heretofore shown in another connection, the Father operated in the
work of creation through the Son, who thus became the executive through
whom the will, commandment, or word of the Father was put into effect.
It is with incisive appropriateness therefore, that the Son, Jesus
Christ, is designated by the apostle John as the Word; or as declared by
the Father "the word of my power".[71] The part taken by Jesus Christ in
the creation, a part so prominent as to justify our calling Him the
Creator, is set forth in many scriptures. The author of the Epistle to
the Hebrews refers in this wise distinctively to the Father and the Son
as separate though associated Beings: "God, who at sundry times and in
divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath
in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed
heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."[72] Paul is even
more explicit in his letter to the Colossians, wherein, speaking of
Jesus the Son, he says: "For by him were all things created, that are in
heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be
thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were
created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all
things consist."[73] And here let be repeated the testimony of John,
that by the Word, "who was with God, and who was God even in the
beginning, all things were made; and without him was not anything made
that was made."[74]

That the Christ who was to come was in reality God the Creator was
revealed in plainness to the prophets on the western hemisphere. Samuel,
the converted Lamanite, in preaching to the unbelieving Nephites
justified his testimony as follows: "And also that ye might know of the
coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of
earth, the Creator of all things, from the beginning; and that ye might
know of the signs of his coming, to the intent that ye might believe on
his name."[75]

To these citations of ancient scripture may most properly be added the
personal testimony of the Lord Jesus after He had become a resurrected
Being. In His visitation to the Nephites He thus proclaimed Himself:
"Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the
earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the
beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the
Father glorified his name."[76] To the Nephites, who failed to
comprehend the relation between the gospel declared unto them by the
Resurrected Lord, and the Mosaic law which they held traditionally to be
in force, and who marveled at His saying that old things had passed
away, He explained in this wise: "Behold I say unto you, that the law is
fulfilled that was given unto Moses. Behold, I am he that gave the law,
and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel: therefore, the law in
me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an

Through revelation in the present or last dispensation the voice of
Jesus Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth, has been heard anew:
"Hearken, O ye people of my church to whom the kingdom has been
given--hearken ye and give ear to him who laid the foundation of the
earth, who made the heavens and all the hosts thereof, and by whom all
things were made which live, and move, and have a being."[78] And again,
"Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, who created the
heavens and the earth; a light which cannot be hid in darkness."[79]

The divinity of Jesus Christ is indicated by the specific names and
titles authoritatively applied to Him. According to man's judgment there
may be but little importance attached to names; but in the nomenclature
of the Gods every name is a title of power or station. God is
righteously zealous of the sanctity of His own name[80] and of names
given by His appointment. In the case of children of promise names have
been prescribed before birth; this is true of our Lord Jesus and of the
Baptist, John, who was sent to prepare the way for the Christ. Names of
persons have been changed by divine direction, when not sufficiently
definite as titles denoting the particular service to which the bearers
were called, or the special blessings conferred upon them.[81]

_Jesus_ is the individual name of the Savior, and as thus spelled is of
Greek derivation; its Hebrew equivalent was _Yehoshua_ or _Yeshua_, or,
as we render it in English, _Joshua_. In the original the name was well
understood as meaning "Help of Jehovah", or "Savior". Though as common
an appellation as John or Henry or Charles today, the name was
nevertheless divinely prescribed, as already stated. Thus, unto Joseph,
the espoused husband of the Virgin, the angel said, "And thou shalt call
his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."[82]

_Christ_ is a sacred title, and not an ordinary appellation or common
name; it is of Greek derivation, and in meaning is identical with its
Hebrew equivalent _Messiah_ or _Messias_, signifying the _Anointed
One_.[83] Other titles, each possessing a definitive meaning, such as
_Emmanuel_, _Savior_, _Redeemer_, _Only Begotten Son_, _Lord_, _Son of
God_, _Son of Man_, and many more, are of scriptural occurrence; the
fact of main present importance to us is that these several titles are
expressive of our Lord's divine origin and Godship. As seen, the
essential names or titles of Jesus the Christ were made known before His
birth, and were revealed to prophets who preceded Him in the mortal

_Jehovah_ is the Anglicized rendering of the Hebrew, _Yahveh_ or
_Jahveh_, signifying the _Self-existent One_, or _The Eternal_. This
name is generally rendered in our English version of the Old Testament
as LORD, printed in capitals.[85] The Hebrew, _Ehyeh_, signifying _I
Am_, is related in meaning and through derivation with the term _Yahveh_
or _Jehovah_; and herein lies the significance of this name by which the
Lord revealed Himself to Moses when the latter received the commission
to go into Egypt and deliver the children of Israel from bondage: "Moses
said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and
shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and
they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And
God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say
unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."[86] In the
succeeding verse the Lord declares Himself to be "the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." While Moses was in Egypt, the
Lord further revealed Himself, saying "I am the LORD: and I appeared
unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty,
but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them."[87] The central fact
connoted by this name, _I Am_, or _Jehovah_, the two having essentially
the same meaning, is that of existence or duration that shall have no
end, and which, judged by all human standards of reckoning, could have
had no beginning; the name is related to such other titles as _Alpha and
Omega_, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.[88]

Jesus, when once assailed with question and criticism from certain Jews
who regarded their Abrahamic lineage as an assurance of divine
preferment, met their abusive words with the declaration: "Verily,
verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am".[89] The true
significance of this saying would be more plainly expressed were the
sentence punctuated and pointed as follows: "Verily, verily, I say unto
you, Before Abraham, was I AM;" which means the same as had He
said--Before Abraham, was I, Jehovah. The captious Jews were so offended
at hearing Him use a name which, through an erroneous rendering of an
earlier scripture,[90] they held was not to be uttered on pain of death,
that they immediately took up stones with the intent of killing Him. The
Jews regarded _Jehovah_ as an ineffable name, not to be spoken; they
substituted for it the sacred, though to them the not-forbidden name,
_Adonai_, signifying _the Lord_. The original of the terms _Lord_ and
_God_ as they appear in the Old Testament, was either _Yahveh_ or
_Adonai_; and the divine Being designated by these sacred names was, as
shown by the scriptures cited, Jesus the Christ. John, evangelist and
apostle, positively identifies Jesus Christ with Adonai, or the Lord who
spoke through the voice of Isaiah,[91] and with Jehovah who spoke
through Zechariah.[92]

The name _Elohim_ is of frequent occurrence in the Hebrew texts of the
Old Testament, though it is not found in our English versions. In form
the word is a Hebrew plural noun;[93] but it connotes the plurality of
excellence or intensity, rather than distinctively of number. It is
expressive of supreme or absolute exaltation and power. _Elohim_, as
understood and used in the restored Church of Jesus Christ, is the
name-title of God the Eternal Father, whose firstborn Son in the spirit
is _Jehovah_--the Only Begotten in the flesh, Jesus Christ.

Jesus of Nazareth, who in solemn testimony to the Jews declared Himself
the _I Am_ or _Jehovah_, who was God before Abraham lived on earth, was
the same Being who is repeatedly proclaimed as the God who made covenant
with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God who led Israel from the bondage
of Egypt to the freedom of the promised land, the one and only God known
by direct and personal revelation to the Hebrew prophets in general.

The identity of Jesus Christ with the Jehovah of the Israelites was well
understood by the Nephite prophets, and the truth of their teachings was
confirmed by the risen Lord who manifested Himself unto them shortly
after His ascension from the midst of the apostles at Jerusalem. This is
the record: "And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying,
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my
side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and
in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of
the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world."[94]

It would appear unnecessary to cite at greater length in substantiating
our affirmation that Jesus Christ was God even before He assumed a body
of flesh. During that antemortal period there was essential difference
between the Father and the Son, in that the former had already passed
through the experiences of mortal life, including death and
resurrection, and was therefore a Being possessed of a perfect,
immortalized body of flesh and bones, while the Son was yet unembodied.
Through His death and subsequent resurrection Jesus the Christ is today
a Being like unto the Father in all essential characteristics.

A general consideration of scriptural evidence leads to the conclusion
that God the Eternal Father has manifested Himself to earthly prophets
or revelators on very few occasions, and then principally to attest the
divine authority of His Son, Jesus Christ. As before shown, the Son was
the active executive in the work of creation; throughout the creative
scenes the Father appears mostly in a directing or consulting capacity.
Unto Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses the Father revealed Himself,
attesting the Godship of the Christ, and the fact that the Son was the
chosen Savior of mankind.[95] On the occasion of the baptism of Jesus,
the Father's voice was heard, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I
am well pleased";[96] and at the transfiguration a similar testimony was
given by the Father.[97] On an occasion yet later, while Jesus prayed in
anguish of soul, submitting Himself that the Father's purposes be
fulfilled and the Father's name glorified, "Then came there a voice from
heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it
again."[98] The resurrected and glorified Christ was announced by the
Father to the Nephites on the western hemisphere, in these words:
"Behold my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have
glorified my name: hear ye him."[99] From the time of the occurrence
last noted, the voice of the Father was not heard again among men, so
far as the scriptures aver, until the spring of 1820, when both the
Father and the Son ministered unto the prophet Joseph Smith, the Father
saying, "This is my beloved Son, hear him!"[100] These are the instances
of record in which the Eternal Father has been manifest in personal
utterance or other revelation to man apart from the Son. God the
Creator, the Jehovah of Israel, the Savior and Redeemer of all nations,
kindreds and tongues, are the same, and He is Jesus the Christ.


1. Names Given of God.--The significance of names when given of God
finds illustration in many scriptural instances. The following are
examples: "Jesus" meaning _Savior_ (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31); "John,"
signifying _Jehovah's gift_, specifically applied to the Baptist, who
was sent to earth to prepare the way for Jehovah's coming in the flesh
(Luke 1:13); "Ishmael," signifying _God shall hear him_ (Gen. 16:11);
"Isaac," meaning _laughter_ (Gen. 17:19, compare 18:10-15). As instances
of names changed by divine authority to express added blessings, or
special callings, consider the following: "Abram," which connoted
_nobility_ or _exaltation_ and as usually rendered, _father of
elevation_, was changed to "Abraham," _father of a multitude_ which
expressed the reason for the change as given at the time thereof, "for a
father of many nations have I made thee" (Gen. 17:5). "Sarai," the name
of Abraham's wife, and of uncertain distinctive meaning, was substituted
by "Sarah" which signified _the princess_ (Gen 17:15). "Jacob," a name
given to the son of Isaac with reference to a circumstance attending his
birth, and signifying _a supplanter_, was superseded by "Israel" meaning
_a soldier of God, a prince of God_; as expressed in the words effecting
the change, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel, for as
a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
(Gen. 32:28; compare 35:9, 10.) "Simon," meaning _a hearer_, the name of
the man who became the chief apostle of Jesus Christ, was changed by the
Lord to "Cephas" (Aramaic) or "Peter" (Greek) meaning _a rock_ (John
1:42; Matt 16:18; Luke 6:14). On James and John the sons of Zebedee, the
Lord conferred the name or title "Boanerges" meaning _sons of thunder_
(Mark 3:17).

The following is an instructive excerpt: "_Name_ in the scriptures not
only = that by which a person is designated, but frequently = all that
is known to belong to the person having this designation, and the person
himself. Thus 'the name of God' or 'of Jehovah,' etc., indicates His
authority (Deut. 18:20; Matt. 21:9, etc.), His dignity and glory (Isa.
48:9, etc.), His protection and favor (Prov. 18:10, etc.), His character
(Exo. 34:5, 14, compare 6, 7, etc.), His divine attributes in general
(Matt. 6:9, etc.), etc. The Lord is said to set or put His name where
the revelation or manifestation of His perfections is made (Deut. 12:5,
14:24, etc.). To believe in or on the name of Christ is to receive and
treat Him in accordance with the revelation which the scriptures make of
Him (John 1:12; 2:23), etc."--Smith's _Comprehensive Dictionary of the
Bible_, article "Name."

2. Jesus Christ, the God of Israel.--"That Jesus Christ was the same
Being who called Abraham from his native country, who led Israel out of
the land of Egypt with mighty miracles and wonders, who made known to
them His law amid the thunderings of Sinai, who delivered them from
their enemies, who chastened them for their disobedience, who inspired
their prophets, and whose glory filled Solomon's temple, is evident from
all the inspired writings, and in none more so than in the Bible.

"His lamentation over Jerusalem evidences that, in His humanity, He had
not forgotten His former exalted position: 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou
that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee,
how often would I have gathered thy children together ... and ye would
not!' (Matt. 23:37). It was this Creator of the world, this mighty
Ruler, this Controller of the destinies of the human family, who, in His
last moments, cried out in the agony of His soul, 'My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me?'" (Mark 15:34.)--From _Compendium of the
Doctrines of the Gospel_, by Franklin D. Richards and James A. Little.

3. "Jehovah" a Name Not Uttered by the Jews.--Long prior to the time of
Christ, certain schools among the Jews, ever intent on the observance of
the letter of the law, though not without disregard of its spirit, had
taught that the mere utterance of the name of God was blasphemous, and
that the sin of so doing constituted a capital offense. This extreme
conception arose from the accepted though uninspired interpretation of
Lev. 24:16, "And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall
surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone
him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he
blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death." We take the
following from Smith's _Comprehensive Dictionary of the Bible_, article
"Jehovah": "The true pronunciation of this name, [Yehovah] by which God
was known to the Hebrews, has been entirely lost, the Jews themselves
scrupulously avoiding every mention of it, and substituting in its stead
one or other of the words with whose proper vowel-points it may happen
to be written [_Adonai_, Lord, or _Elohim_, God].... According to Jewish
tradition it was pronounced but once a year by the high priest on the
day of atonement when he entered the Holy of Holies; but on this point
there is some doubt."


[67] See "God and the Godhead," in the author's "Articles of Faith,"
lecture ii.

[68] Gen. 1:26; and 3:22.

[69] P. of G.P., Moses 2:26; and 4:28.

[70] P. of G.P., Abraham, chaps. 4 and 5.

[71] See page 10; John 1:1; and P. of G.P., Moses 1:32.

[72] Heb. 1:1, 2; see also 1 Cor. 8:6.

[73] Colos. 1:16, 17.

[74] John 1:1-3.

[75] B. of M., Helaman 14:12; see also Mosiah 3:8; 4:2: Alma 11:39.

[76] B. of M., 3 Nephi 9:15.

[77] B. of M., 3 Nephi 15:4, 5.

[78] Doc. and Cov. 45:1.

[79] Doc. and Cov. 14:9; see also 29:1, 31; 76:24.

[80] Exo. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; Deut. 5:11.

[81] Note 1, end of chapter.

[82] Matt. 1:21; see also verses 23, 25; Luke 1:31.

[83] John 1:41; 4:25.

[84] Luke 1:31; 2:21; Matt. 1:21, 25; see also verse 23 and compare Isa.
7:14; Luke 2:11. See further P. of G.P., Moses 6:51, 57; 7:20; 8:24. B.
of M., 1 Nephi 10:4; 2 Nephi 10:3; Mosiah 3:8.

[85] The name appears thus in Gen. 2:5; see also Exo. 6:2-4; and read
for comparison Gen. 17:1; 35:11.

[86] Exo. 3:13, 14; compare with respect to the fact of eternal duration
expressed in this name, Isa. 44:6; John 8:58; Colos. 1:17; Heb. 13:8;
Rev. 1:4; see also P. of G.P., Moses 1:3 and the references there given.

[87] Exo. 6:2, 3. Note 2, end of chapter.

[88] Rev. 1:11, 17; 2:8; 22:13; compare Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12.

[89] John 8:58.

[90] Lev. 24:16. Note 3, end of chapter.

[91] Isa. 6:8-11; and compare John 12:40, 41.

[92] Zech. 12:10; compare John 19:37.

[93] The singular, "Eloah," appears only in poetic usage.

[94] B. of M., 3 Nephi 11:13, 14; also 1 Nephi 17:40 and observe from
verse 30 that the Redeemer is here spoken of as the God who delivered
Israel. See further Mosiah 7:19. Chapter 39 herein.

[95] P. of G.P., Moses 1:6, 31-33; 2:1; 4:2, 3; 6:57; compare 7:35, 39,
47, 53-59; 8:16, 19, 23, 24; Abraham 3:22-28. See chapter 5 herein.

[96] Matt. 3:17; also Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22.

[97] Matt. 17:5; Luke 9:35.

[98] John 12:28.

[99] B. of M., 3 Nephi 11:7.

[100] P. of G.P. Joseph Smith 2:17.



The coming of Christ to earth to tabernacle in the flesh was no
unexpected or unheralded event. For centuries prior to the great
occurrence the Jews had professed to be looking for the advent of their
King; and, in the appointed ceremonials of worship as in private
devotions, the coming of the promised Messiah was prominent as a matter
of the supplication of Israel to Jehovah. True, there was much diversity
in lay opinion and in rabbinical exposition as to the time and manner of
His appearing; but the certainty thereof was fundamentally established
in the beliefs and hopes of the Hebrew nation.

The records known to us as the books of the Old Testament, together with
other inspired writings once regarded as authentic but excluded from
later compilations as not strictly canonical, were current among the
Hebrews at and long before the time of Christ's birth. These scriptures
had their beginning in the proclamation of the law through Moses,[101]
who wrote the same, and delivered the writing into the official custody
of the priests with an express command that it be read in the assemblies
of the people at stated times. To these earlier writings were added the
utterances of divinely commissioned prophets, the records of appointed
historians, and the songs of inspired poets, as the centuries passed; so
that at the time of our Lord's ministry the Jews possessed a great
accumulation of writings accepted and revered by them as
authoritative.[102] These records are rich in prediction and promise
respecting the earthly advent of the Messiah, as are other scriptures to
which the Israel of old had not access.

Adam, the patriarch of the race, rejoiced in the assurance of the
Savior's appointed ministry, through the acceptance of which, he, the
transgressor, might gain redemption. Brief mention of the plan of
salvation, the author of which is Jesus Christ, appears in the promise
given of God following the fall--that though the devil, represented by
the serpent in Eden, should have power to bruise the heel of Adam's
posterity, through the seed of the woman should come the power to bruise
the adversary's head.[103] It is significant that this assurance of
eventual victory over sin and its inevitable effect, death, both of
which were introduced to earth through Satan the arch-enemy of mankind,
was to be realized through the offspring of woman; the promise was not
made specifically to the man, nor to the pair. The only instance of
offspring from woman dissociated from mortal fatherhood is the birth of
Jesus the Christ, who was the earthly Son of a mortal mother, begotten
by an immortal Father. He is the Only Begotten of the Eternal Father in
the flesh, and was born of woman.

Through scriptures other than those embodied in the Old Testament we
learn with greater fulness of the revelations of God to Adam respecting
the coming of the Redeemer. As a natural and inevitable result of his
disobedience, Adam had forfeited the high privilege he once
enjoyed--that of holding direct and personal association with his God;
nevertheless in his fallen state he was visited by an angel of the Lord,
who revealed unto him the plan of redemption: "And after many days an
angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer
sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the
Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a
similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is
full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in
the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name
of the Son for evermore. And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam,
which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only
Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and for ever, that
as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as
many as will."[104]

The Lord's revelation to Adam making known the ordained plan whereby the
Son of God was to take upon Himself flesh in the meridian of time, and
become the Redeemer of the world, was attested by Enoch, son of Jared
and father of Methuselah. From the words of Enoch we learn that to him
as to his great progenitor, Adam, the very name by which the Savior
would be known among men was revealed--"which is Jesus Christ, the only
name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come
unto the children of men."[105] The recorded covenant of God with
Abraham, and the reiteration and confirmation thereof with Isaac and in
turn with Jacob--that through their posterity should all nations of the
earth be blessed--presaged the birth of the Redeemer through that chosen
lineage.[106] Its fulfilment is the blessed heritage of the ages.

In pronouncing his patriarchal blessing upon the head of Judah, Jacob
prophesied: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver
from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the
gathering of the people be."[107] That by Shiloh is meant the Christ is
evidenced by the fulfilment of the conditions set forth in the
prediction, in the state of the Jewish nation at the time of our Lord's

Moses proclaimed the coming of a great Prophet in Israel, whose ministry
was to be of such importance that all men who would not accept Him would
be under condemnation; and that this prediction had sole reference to
Jesus Christ is conclusively shown by later scriptures. Thus spake the
Lord unto Moses: "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their
brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he
shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to
pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak
in my name, I will require it of him."[109] The system of sacrifice
expressly enjoined in the Mosaic code was essentially a prototype of the
sacrificial death to be accomplished by the Savior on Calvary. The blood
of countless altar victims, slain by Israel's priests in the course of
prescribed ritual, ran throughout the centuries from Moses to Christ as
a prophetic flood in similitude of the blood of the Son of God appointed
to be shed as an expiatory sacrifice for the redemption of the race.
But, as already shown, the institution of bloody sacrifice as a type of
the future death of Jesus Christ dates from the beginning of human
history; since the offering of animal sacrifices through the shedding of
blood was required of Adam, to whom the significance of the ordinance,
as "a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father",
was expressly defined.[110]

The paschal lamb, slain for every Israelitish household at the annually
recurring feast of the Passover, was a particular type of the Lamb of
God who in due time would be slain for the sins of the world. The
crucifixion of Christ was effected at the Passover season; and the
consummation of the supreme Sacrifice, of which the paschal lambs had
been but lesser prototypes, led Paul the apostle to affirm in later
times: "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."[111]

Job in the day of dire affliction rejoiced in his testimony of the
coming Messiah, and declared with prophetic conviction: "I know that my
redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the
earth."[112] The songs of David the psalmist abound in oft-recurring
allusion to the earthly life of Christ, many circumstances of which are
described in detail, and, as to these, corroboration of the utterances
is found in New Testament scriptures.[113]

Isaiah, whose prophetic office was honored by the personal testimony of
Christ and the apostles, manifested in numerous passages the burden of
his conviction relating to the great event of the Savior's advent and
ministry on earth. With the forcefulness of direct revelation he told of
the Virgin's divine maternity, whereof Immanuel should be born, and his
prediction was reiterated by the angel of the Lord, over seven centuries
later.[114] Looking down through the ages the prophet saw the
accomplishment of the divine purposes as if already achieved, and sang
in triumph: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and
the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince
of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no
end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to
establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even

Immediately prior to its fulfilment, the blessed promise was repeated by
Gabriel, sent from the presence of God to the chosen Virgin of
Nazareth.[116] As made known to the prophet and by him proclaimed, the
coming Lord was the living Branch that should spring from the undying
root typified in the family of Jesse;[117] the foundation Stone insuring
the stability of Zion;[118] the Shepherd of the house of Israel;[119]
the Light of the world,[120] to Gentile as well as Jew; the Leader and
Commander of His people.[121] The same inspired voice predicted the
forerunner who should cry in the wilderness: "Prepare ye the way of the
Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."[122]

Isaiah was permitted to read the scroll of futurity as to many
distinguishing conditions to attend the Messiah's lowly life and atoning
death. In Him the prophet saw One who would be despized and rejected of
men, a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, One to be wounded and
bruised for the transgressions of the race, on whom would be laid the
iniquity of us all--a patient and willing Sacrifice, silent under
affliction, as a lamb brought to the slaughter. The Lord's dying with
sinners, and His burial in the tomb of the wealthy were likewise
declared with prophetic certainty.[123]

Unto Jeremiah came the word of the Lord in terms of plainness, declaring
the sure advent of the King by whom the safety of both Judah and Israel
should be assured;[124] the Prince of the House of David, through whom
the divine promise to the son of Jesse should be realized.[125] Under
the same spirit prophesied Ezekiel,[126] Hosea,[127] and Micah.[128]
Zechariah broke off in the midst of fateful prediction to voice the glad
song of thanksgiving and praise as he beheld in vision the simple
pageantry of the King's triumphal entry into the city of David.[129]
Then the prophet bewailed the grief of the conscience-smitten nation, by
whom, as was foreseen, the Savior of humankind would be pierced, even
unto death;[130] and showed that, when subdued by contrition His own
people would ask, "What are these wounds in thy hands?", the Lord would
answer: "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my
friends."[131] The very price to be paid for the betrayal of the Christ
to His death was foretold as in parable.[132]

The fact, that these predictions of the Old Testament prophets had
reference to Jesus Christ and to Him only, is put beyond question by the
attestation of the resurrected Lord. To the assembled apostles He said:
"These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you,
that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of
Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then
opened he their understanding, that they might understand the
scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved
Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day."[133]

John the Baptist, whose ministry immediately preceded that of the
Christ, proclaimed the coming of One mightier than himself, One who
should baptize with the Holy Ghost, and specifically identified Jesus of
Nazareth as that One, the Son of God, the Lamb who should assume the
burden of the world's sins.[134]

The predictions thus far cited as relating to the life, ministry, and
death of the Lord Jesus, are the utterances of prophets who, excepting
Adam and Enoch, lived and died on the eastern hemisphere. All save John
the Baptist are of Old Testament record, and he, a contemporary of the
Christ in mortality, figures in the early chapters of the Gospels. It is
important to know that the scriptures of the western hemisphere are
likewise explicit in the declaration of the great truth that the Son of
God would be born in the flesh. The Book of Mormon contains a history of
a colony of Israelites, of the tribe of Joseph, who left Jerusalem 600
B.C., during the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, on the eve of the
subjugation of Judea by Nebuchadnezzar and the inauguration of the
Babylonian captivity. This colony was led by divine guidance to the
American continent, whereon they developed into a numerous and mighty
people; though, divided by dissension, they formed two opposing nations
known respectively as Nephites and Lamanites. The former cultivated the
arts of industry and refinement, and preserved a record embodying both
history and scripture, while the latter became degenerate and debased.
The Nephites suffered extinction about 400 A.D., but the Lamanites lived
on in their degraded course, and are today extant upon the land as the
American Indians.[135]

The Nephite annals from the beginning thereof down to the time of our
Lord's birth abound in prediction and promise of the Christ; and this
chronicle is followed by a record of the actual visitation of the
resurrected Savior to the Nephites, and the establishment of His Church
among them. Unto Lehi, the leader of the colony, the Lord revealed the
time, place, and manner of Christ's then future advent, together with
many important facts of His ministry, and the preparatory work of John
the forerunner. This revelation was given while the company was
journeying in the wilderness of Arabia, prior to their crossing the
great waters. The prophecy is thus written by Nephi, a son of Lehi and
his successor in the prophetic calling: "Yea, even six hundred years
from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord
God raise up among the Jews; even a Messiah; or, in other words, a
Savior of the world. And he also spake concerning the prophets, how
great a number had testified of these things concerning this Messiah, of
whom he had spoken, or this Redeemer of the world. Wherefore all mankind
were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be, save they
should rely on this Redeemer. And he spake also concerning a prophet who
should come before the Messiah, to prepare the way of the Lord; yea,
even he should go forth and cry in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of
the Lord, and make his paths straight; for there standeth one among you
whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe's latchet I am
not worthy to unloose. And much spake my father concerning this thing.
And my father said he should baptize in Bethabara, beyond Jordan; and he
also said he should baptize with water; even that he should baptize the
Messiah with water. And after he had baptized the Messiah with water, he
should behold and bear record, that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who
should take away the sins of the world. And it came to pass after my
father had spoken these words, he spake unto my brethren concerning the
gospel which should be preached among the Jews; and also concerning the
dwindling of the Jews in unbelief. And after they had slain the Messiah,
who should come, and after he had been slain, he should rise from the
dead, and should make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the

At a later time Nephi writes, not as his father's scribe, but as a
prophet and revelator voicing the word of God as made known to himself.
He was permitted to behold in vision and to declare to his people the
circumstances of the Messiah's birth, His baptism by John and the
ministration of the Holy Ghost with its accompanying sign of the dove;
he beheld our Lord moving as a Teacher of righteousness among the
people, healing the afflicted and rebuking spirits of evil; he saw and
bore record of the dread scenes of Calvary; he beheld and predicted the
calling of the chosen Twelve, the apostles of the Lamb, for so these
were designated by Him who vouchsafed the vision. Moreover he told of
the iniquity of the Jews, who were seen in contention with the apostles;
and thus concludes the portentous prophecy: "And the angel of the Lord
spake unto me again, saying, Thus shall be the destruction of all
nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the
twelve apostles of the Lamb."[137] Soon after the defection whereby the
distinction between Nephites and Lamanites was established, Jacob, a
brother of Nephi, continued in prophecy of the assured coming of the
Messiah, specifically declaring that He would minister at Jerusalem and
affirming the necessity of His atoning death as the ordained means of
human redemption.[138] The prophet Abinadi, in his fearless denunciation
of sin to the wicked king Noah, preached the Christ who was to
come;[139] and righteous Benjamin, who was at once prophet and king,
proclaimed the same great truth to his people about 125 B.C. So taught
Alma[140] in his inspired admonition to his wayward son, Corianton; and
so also Amulek[141] in his contention with Zeezrom. So proclaimed the
Lamanite prophet, Samuel, only five years prior to the actual
occurrence; furthermore he specified the signs by which the birth of
Jesus in Judea would be made known to the people of the western world.
Said he: "Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh,
and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall
believe on his name. And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at
the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in
heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no
darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day,
therefore there shall be one day and a night, and a day, as if it were
one day, and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign;
for ye shall know of the rising of the sun, and also of its setting;
therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a
night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the
night before he is born. And behold there shall a new star arise, such
an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.
And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in

Thus the scriptures of both hemispheres and in all ages of ante-meridian
time bore solemn testimony to the certainty of Messiah's advent; thus
the holy prophets of old voiced the word of revelation predicting the
coming of the world's King and Lord, through whom alone is salvation
provided, and redemption from death made sure. It is a characteristic of
prophets sent of God that they possess and proclaim a personal assurance
of the Christ, "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of
prophecy."[143] Not a word of inspired prophecy relating to the great
event has been found void. The literal fulfilment of the predictions is
ample attestation of their origin in divine revelation, and proof
conclusive of the divinity of Him whose coming was so abundantly


1. The Antiquity of Sacrifice as a Prototype of Christ's Atoning
Death.--While the Biblical record expressly attests the offering of
sacrifices long prior to Israel's exodus from Egypt--e.g. by Abel and by
Cain (Gen. 4:3, 4); by Noah after the deluge (Gen. 8:20); by Abraham
(Gen. 22:2, 13); by Jacob (Gen. 31:54; 46:1)--it is silent concerning
the divine origin of sacrifice as a propitiatory requirement prefiguring
the atoning death of Jesus Christ. The difficulty of determining time
and circumstance, under which the offering of symbolical sacrifices
originated amongst mankind, is recognized by all investigators save
those who admit the validity of modern revelation. The necessity of
assuming early instruction from God to man on the subject has been
asserted by many Bible scholars. Thus, the writer of the article
"Sacrifice" in the Cassell _Bible Dictionary_ says: "The idea of
sacrifice is prominent throughout the scriptures, and one of the most
ancient and widely recognized in the rites of religion throughout the
world. There is also a remarkable similarity in the developments and
applications of the idea. On these and other accounts it has been
judiciously inferred that sacrifice formed an element in the primeval
worship of man; and that its universality is not merely an indirect
argument for the unity of the human race, but an illustration and
confirmation of the first inspired pages of the world's history. The
notion of sacrifice can hardly be viewed as a product of unassisted
human nature, and must therefore be traced to a higher source and viewed
as a divine revelation to primitive man."

Smith's _Dic. of the Bible_ presents the following: "In tracing the
history of sacrifice from its first beginning to its perfect development
in the Mosaic ritual, we are at once met by the long-disputed question
as to the origin of sacrifice, whether it arose from a natural instinct
of man, sanctioned and guided by God, or was the subject of some
distinct primeval revelation. There can be no doubt that sacrifice was
sanctioned by God's Law, with a special, typical reference to the
Atonement of Christ; its universal prevalence, independent of, and often
opposed to, man's natural reasonings on his relation to God, shows it to
have been primeval, and deeply rooted in the instincts of humanity.
Whether it was first enjoined by an external command, or was based on
that sense of sin and lost communion with God, which is stamped by His
hand on the heart of man--is an historical question, perhaps insoluble."

The difficulty vanishes, and the "historical question" as to the origin
of sacrifice is definitely solved by the revelations of God in the
current dispensation, whereby parts of the record of Moses--not
contained in the Bible--have been restored to human knowledge. The
scripture quoted in the text (pp. 43, 44) makes clear the fact that the
offering of sacrifices was required of Adam after his transgression, and
that the significance of the divinely established requirement was
explained in fulness to the patriarch of the race. The shedding of the
blood of animals in sacrifice to God, as a prototype "of the sacrifice
of the Only Begotten of the Father," dates from the time immediately
following the fall. Its origin is based on a specific revelation to
Adam. See P. of G.P., Moses 5:5-8.

2. Jacob's Prophecy Concerning "Shiloh."--The prediction of the
patriarch Jacob--that the sceptre should not depart from Judah before
the coming of Shiloh--has given rise to much disputation among Bible
students. Some insist that "Shiloh" is the name of a place and not that
of a person. That there was a place known by that name is beyond
question (see Josh. 18:1; 19:51; 21:2; 22:9; 1 Sam. 1:3; Jer. 7:12); but
the name occurring in Gen. 49:10 is plainly that of a person. It should
be known that the use of the word in the King James or authorized
version of the Bible is held to be correct by many eminent authorities.
Thus, in Dummelow's _Commentary on the Holy Bible_, we read: "This verse
has always been regarded by both Jews and Christians as a remarkable
prophecy of the coming of the Messiah.... On the rendering given above,
the whole verse foretells that Judah would retain authority until the
advent of the rightful ruler, the Messiah, to whom all peoples would
gather. And, broadly speaking, it may be said that the last traces of
Jewish legislative power (as vested in the Sanhedrin) did not disappear
until the coming of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem, from which
time His kingdom was set up among men."

Adam Clarke, in his exhaustive Bible Commentary, briefly analyzes the
objections urged against the admissibility of this passage as applying
to the Messiah's advent, and dismisses them all as unfounded. His
conclusion as to the meaning of the passage is thus worded: "Judah shall
continue a distinct tribe until the Messiah shall come; and it did so;
and after His coming it was confounded with the others, so that all
distinction has been ever since lost."

Prof. Douglas, as cited in Smith's Dictionary, "claims that something of
Judah's sceptre still remained, a total eclipse being no proof that the
day is at an end--that the proper fulfilment of the prophecy did not
begin till David's time, and is consummated in Christ according to Luke
1:32, 33."

The accepted meaning of the word by derivation is "Peaceable," and this
is applicable to the attributes of the Christ, who in Isa. 9:6, is
designated the Prince of Peace.

Eusebius, who lived between 260 and 339 A.D., and is known in
ecclesiastical history as Bishop of Cæsarea, wrote: "At the time that
Herod was king, who was the first foreigner that reigned over the Jewish
people, the prophecy recorded by Moses received its fulfilment, viz.
'That a prince should not fail of Judah, nor a ruler from his loins,
until He should come for whom it is reserved, the expectation of
nations.'" (The quoted passage is founded on the Septuagint rendering of
Genesis 49:10).

Some critics have held that in Jacob's use of the word "Shiloh" he did
not intend it as a name or proper noun at all. The writer of the article
"Shiloh" in Cassell's _Bible Dictionary_ says: "The preponderance of
evidence is in favor of the Messianic interpretation, but opinions are
very divided respecting the retention of the word 'Shiloh' as a proper
name.... Notwithstanding all the objections that are urged against it
being so regarded, we are of the opinion that it is rightly considered
to be a proper name, and that the English version represents the true
sense of the passage. We recommend those who wish to enter more fully
into a question which cannot well be discussed without Hebrew criticism,
to the excellent notes upon Gen. 49:10 in the 'Commentary on the
Pentateuch' by Keil and Delitzsch. Here the text is thus rendered: 'The
sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between
his feet, till Shiloh come, and the willing obedience of the nations be
to him.'

"Notwithstanding the slight put upon the Messianic interpretation by
some writers, even those from whom we should scarcely expect it, we see
this explanation confirmed and not weakened in the events of history.
The text is not taken to mean that Judah should at no time be without a
royal ruler of his own, but that the regal power should not finally
cease from Judah until Shiloh had come. The objections founded on the
Babylonian captivity, and similar intermissions, are of no force,
because it is the complete and final termination which is pointed out,
and that only happened after the time of Christ." See further _The Book
of Prophecy_, by G. Smith, LL.D., p. 320. See also _Compendium of the
Doctrines of the Gospel_, by Franklin D. Richards and James A. Little,
article "Christ's First Coming."

3. Nephites and Lamanites.--The progenitors of the Nephite nation were
led from Jerusalem, 600 B.C., by Lehi, a Jewish prophet of the tribe of
Manasseh. His immediate family, at the time of their departure from
Jerusalem, comprized his wife Sariah, and their sons, Laman, Lemuel,
Sam, and Nephi; at a later stage of the history, daughters are
mentioned, but whether any of these were born before the family exodus
we are not told. Beside his own family, the colony of Lehi included
Zoram, and Ishmael, the latter an Israelite of the tribe of Ephraim.
Ishmael, with his family, joined Lehi in the wilderness; and his
descendants were numbered with the nation of whom we are speaking. The
company journeyed somewhat east of south, keeping near the borders of
the Red Sea; then, changing their course to the eastward, crossed the
peninsula of Arabia; and there, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, built
and provisioned a vessel in which they committed themselves to divine
care upon the waters. Their voyage carried them eastward across the
Indian Ocean, then over the south Pacific Ocean to the western coast of
South America, whereon they landed (590 B.C.).... The people established
themselves on what to them was the land of promise; many children were
born, and in the course of a few generations a numerous posterity held
possession of the land. After the death of Lehi, a division occurred,
some of the people accepting as their leader, Nephi, who had been duly
appointed to the prophetic office; while the rest proclaimed Laman, the
eldest of Lehi's sons, as their chief. Henceforth the divided people
were known as Nephites and Lamanites respectively. At times they
observed toward each other fairly friendly relations; but generally they
were opposed, the Lamanites manifesting implacable hatred and hostility
toward their Nephite kindred. The Nephites advanced in the arts of
civilization, built large cities and established prosperous
commonwealths; yet they often fell into transgression; and the Lord
chastened them by allowing their foes to become victorious. They spread
northward, occupying the northern part of South America; then, crossing
the Isthmus, they extended their domain over the southern, central and
eastern portions of what is now the United States of America. The
Lamanites, while increasing in numbers, fell under the curse of
darkness; they became dark in skin and benighted in spirit, forgot the
God of their fathers, lived a wild nomadic life, and degenerated into
the fallen state in which the American Indians--their lineal
descendants--were found by those who rediscovered the western continent
in later times. See the author's _Articles of Faith_ xiv:7, 8.

4. The First Gospel Dispensation.--The gospel of Jesus Christ was
revealed to Adam. Faith in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son the
Savior of Adam and all his posterity, repentance of sin, water baptism
by immersion, and the reception of the Holy Ghost as a divine bestowal
were proclaimed in the beginning of human history as the essentials to
salvation. The following scriptures attest this fact. "And thus the
Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy
angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice and by
the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Moses 5:58). The prophet Enoch thus
testified: "But God hath made known unto our fathers that all men must
repent. And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I
am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh. And he
also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my
voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be
baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is
full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which
shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the
children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all
things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you"
(Moses 6:50-52; read also 53-61). "And now, behold, I say unto you: This
is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only
Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time" (62). "And it came to
pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried
unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was
carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was
brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit
of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit and became
quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying:
Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record
of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and for ever" (64-66).
Compare Doc. and Cov 29:42.


[101] Deut. 31:9, 24-26; compare 17:18-20.

[102] "Articles of Faith," xiii:7-10.

[103] Gen. 3:15; compare Heb. 2:14; Rev, 12:9; 20:3.

[104] P. of G.P., Moses 5:6-9. Note 1, end of chapter.

[105] P. of G.P., Moses 6:52; study paragraphs 50-56; see also Gen.
5:18, 21-24; Jude 14. Note 4, end of chapter.

[106] Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; compare Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8.

[107] Gen. 49:10.

[108] Note 2, end of chapter.

[109] Deut. 18:15-19; compare John 1:45; Acts 3:22; 7:37; see also a
specific confirmation by our Lord after His resurrection, 3 Nephi 20:23.

[110] Note 1, end of chapter.

[111] 1 Cor. 5:7. For references to Christ as the Lamb of God, see John
1:29, 36; 1 Peter 1:19; Rev. chaps. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21,
22; also B. of M., 1 Nephi 10:10, and chaps. 11, 12, 13, 14; 2 Nephi
31:4, 5, 6; 33:14; Alma 7:14; Mormon 9:2, 3; Doc. and Cov. 58:11;

[112] Job 19:25; see also verses 26-27.

[113] Instances: Psalm 2:7; compare Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5. Psa.
16:10; compare Acts 13:34-37. Psa. 22:18; compare Matt. 27:35; Mark
15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24. Psa. 41:9; compare John 13:18. Psa. 69:9
and 21; compare Matt. 27:34, 48; Mark 15:23; John 19:29; and John 2:17.
Psa. 110:1 and 4; compare Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44; and
Heb. 5:6. Psa. 118:22, 23; compare Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17;
Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20; 1 Peter 2:4, 7. The following are known
specifically as Messianic Psalms: 2, 21, 22, 45, 67, 69, 89, 96, 110,
132; in them the psalmist extols in poetic measure the excellencies of
the Messiah, and the certainty of His coming.

[114] Isa. 7:14; compare Matt. 1:21-23.

[115] Isa. 9:6,7.

[116] Luke 1:26-33.

[117] Isa. 11:1 and 10; compare Rom. 15:12; Rev. 5:5; 22:16; see also
Jer. 23:5, 6.

[118] Isa. 28:16; compare Psa. 118:22; Matt. 21:42; Acts 4:11; Rom.
9:33; 10:11; Eph. 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8.

[119] Isa. 40:9-11; compare John 10:11, 14; Heb. 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25;
5:4; see also Ezek. 34:23.

[120] Isa. 42-1; see also 9:2; 49:6; 60:3; compare Matt. 4:14-16; Luke
2:32; Acts 13:47; 26:18; Eph. 5:8, 14.

[121] Isa. 55:4; compare John 18:37.

[122] Isa. 40:3; compare Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23.

[123] Isa. 53; study the entire chapter; compare Acts 8:32-35.

[124] Jer. 23:5, 6; see also 33:14-16.

[125] Jer. 30:9.

[126] Ezek. 34:23; 37:24, 25.

[127] Hos. 11:11; compare Matt. 2:15.

[128] Mic. 5:2; compare Matt 2:6; John 7:42.

[129] Zech. 9:9; compare Matt. 21:4-9.

[130] Zech. 12:10; compare John 19:37.

[131] Zech. 13:6.

[132] Zech. 11:12, 13; compare Matt. 26:15; 27:3-10.

[133] Luke 24:44, 46; see also verses 25-27.

[134] Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:15, 26, 27, 29-36; see
also Acts 1:5, 8; 11:16; 19:4.

[135] Note 3, end of chapter.

[136] B. of M., 1 Nephi 10:4-11.

[137] B. of M., 1 Nephi chapters 11 and 12; see also 19:10.

[138] B. of M., 2 Nephi 9:5, 6; 10:3. See also Nephi's prophecy
25:12-14; and chap. 26.

[139] B. of M., Mosiah 13:33-35; 15:1-13.

[140] B. of M., Alma 39:15; 40:1-3.

[141] B. of M., Alma 11:31-44.

[142] B. of M., Helaman 14:1-6; compare 3 Nephi 1:4-21.

[143] Rev. 19:10.



Unto Moses, with whom the Lord spake "face to face, as a man speaketh
unto his friend,"[144] the course of the human race, both as then past
and future, was made known; and the coming of the Redeemer was
recognized by him as the event of greatest import in all the happenings
to which the earth and its inhabitants would be witness. The curse of
God had aforetime fallen upon the wicked, and upon the earth because of
them, "For they would not hearken unto his voice, nor believe on his
Only Begotten Son, even him whom he declared should come in the meridian
of time, who was prepared from before the foundation of the world."[145]
In this scripture appears the earliest mention of the expressive and
profoundly significant designation of the period in which the Christ
should appear--the meridian of time. If the expression be regarded as
figurative, be it remembered the figure is the Lord's.

The term "meridian", as commonly used, conveys the thought of a
principal division of time or space[146] thus we speak of the hours
before the daily noon as ante-meridian (a.m.) and those after noon as
post-meridian (p.m.). So the years and the centuries of human history
are divided by the great event of the birth of Jesus Christ. The years
preceding that epoch-making occurrence are now designated as time
_Before Christ_ (B.C.); while subsequent years are each specified as a
certain _Year of our Lord_, or, as in the Latin tongue, _Anno Domini_
(A.D.). Thus the world's chronology has been adjusted and systematized
with reference to the time of the Savior's birth; and this method of
reckoning is in use among all Christian nations. It is instructive to
note that a similar system was adopted by the isolated branch of the
house of Israel that had been brought from the land of Palestine to the
western continent; for from the appearance of the promised sign among
the people betokening the birth of Him who had been so abundantly
predicted by their prophets, the Nephite reckoning of the years,
starting with the departure of Lehi and his colony from Jerusalem, was
superseded by the annals of the new era.[147]

The occasion of the Savior's advent was preappointed; and the time
thereof was specifically revealed through authorized prophets on each of
the hemispheres. The long history of the Israelitish nation had unfolded
a succession of events that found a relative culmination in the earthly
mission of the Messiah. That we may the better comprehend the true
significance of the Lord's life and ministry while in the flesh, some
consideration should be given to the political, social, and religious
condition of the people amongst whom He appeared and with whom He lived
and died. Such consideration involves at least a brief review of the
antecedent history of the Hebrew nation. The posterity of Abraham
through Isaac and Jacob had early come to be known by the title in which
they took undying pride and found inspiring promise, Israelites, or the
children of Israel.[148] Collectively they were so designated throughout
the dark days of their bondage in Egypt;[149] so during the four decades
of the exodus and the return to the land of promise,[150] and on through
the period of their prosperity as a mighty people under the
administration of the judges, and as a united monarchy during the
successive reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon.[151]

Immediately following the death of Solomon, about 975 B.C. according to
the most generally accepted chronology, the nation was disrupted by
revolt. The tribe of Judah, part of the tribe of Benjamin, and small
remnants of a few other tribes remained true to the royal succession,
and accepted Rehoboam, son of Solomon, as their king; while the rest,
usually spoken of as the Ten Tribes, broke their allegiance to the house
of David, and made Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, their king. The Ten Tribes
retained the title Kingdom of Israel though also known as Ephraim.[152]
Rehoboam and his adherents were distinctively called the Kingdom of
Judah. For about two hundred and fifty years the two kingdoms maintained
their separate autonomy; then, about 722 or 721 B.C., the independent
status of the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed, and the captive people
were transported to Assyria by Shalmanezer and others. Subsequently they
disappeared so completely as to be called the Lost Tribes. The Kingdom
of Judah was recognized as a nation for about one hundred and thirty
years longer; then, about 588 B.C., it was brought into subjection by
Nebuchadnezzar, through whom the Babylonian captivity was inaugurated.
For three score years and ten Judah was kept in exile and virtual
bondage, in consequence of their transgression as had been predicted
through Jeremiah.[153] Then the Lord softened the hearts of their
captors, and their restoration was begun under the decree of Cyrus the
Persian, who had subdued the Babylonian kingdom. The Hebrew people were
permitted to return to Judea, and to enter upon the work of rebuilding
the temple at Jerusalem.[154]

A great company of the exiled Hebrews availed themselves of this
opportunity to return to the lands of their fathers, though many elected
to remain in the country of their captivity, preferring Babylon to
Israel. The "whole congregation" of the Jews who returned from the
Babylonian exile were but "forty and two thousand three hundred and
three score, beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were
seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven." The relatively small
size of the migrating nation is further shown by the register of their
beasts of burden.[155] While those who did return strove valiantly to
reestablish themselves as the house of David, and to regain some measure
of their former prestige and glory, the Jews were never again a truly
independent people. In turn they were preyed upon by Greece, Egypt, and
Syria; but about 164-163 B.C., the people threw off, in part at least,
the alien yoke, as a result of the patriotic revolt led by the
Maccabees, the most prominent of whom was Judas Maccabeus. The temple
service, which had been practically abolished through the proscription
of victorious foes, was reestablished.[156] In the year 163 B.C., the
sacred structure was rededicated, and the joyful occasion was thereafter
celebrated in annual festival as the Feast of Dedication.[157] During
the reign of the Maccabees, however, the temple fell into an almost
ruinous condition, more as a result of the inability of the reduced and
impoverished people to maintain it than through any further decline of
religious zeal. In the hope of insuring a greater measure of national
protection, the Jews entered into an unequal alliance with the Romans
and eventually became tributary to them, in which condition the Jewish
nation continued throughout the period of our Lord's ministry. In the
meridian of time Rome was virtually mistress of the world. When Christ
was born Augustus Cæsar[158] was emperor of Rome, and the Idumean,
Herod,[159] surnamed the Great, was the vassal king of Judea.

Some semblance of national autonomy was maintained by the Jews under
Roman dominion, and their religious ceremonials were not seriously
interfered with. The established orders in the priesthood were
recognized, and the official acts of the national council, or
Sanhedrin,[160] were held to be binding by Roman law; though the
judicial powers of this body did not extend to the infliction of capital
punishment without the sanction of the imperial executive. It was the
established policy of Rome to allow to her tributary and vassal peoples
freedom in worship so long as the mythological deities, dear to the
Romans, were not maligned nor their altars desecrated.[161]

Needless to say, the Jews took not kindly to alien domination, though
for many generations they had been trained in that experience, their
reduced status having ranged from nominal vassalage to servile bondage.
They were already largely a dispersed people. All the Jews in Palestine
at the time of Christ's birth constituted but a small remnant of the
great Davidic nation. The Ten Tribes, distinctively the aforetime
kingdom of Israel, had then long been lost to history, and the people of
Judah had been widely scattered among the nations.

In their relations with other peoples the Jews generally endeavored to
maintain a haughty exclusiveness, which brought upon them Gentile
ridicule. Under Mosaic law Israel had been required to keep apart from
other nations; they attached supreme importance to their Abrahamic
lineage as children of the covenant, "an holy people unto the Lord,"
whom He had chosen "to be a special people unto himself, above all
people that are upon the face of the earth".[162] Judah had experienced
the woful effects of dalliance with pagan nations, and, at the time we
are now considering, a Jew who permitted himself unnecessary association
with a Gentile became an unclean being requiring ceremonial cleansing to
free him from defilement. Only in strict isolation did the leaders find
hope of insuring the perpetuity of the nation.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Jews hated all other peoples and
were reciprocally despized and contemned by all others. They manifested
especial dislike for the Samaritans, perhaps because this people
persisted in their efforts to establish some claim of racial
relationship. These Samaritans were a mixed people, and were looked upon
by the Jews as a mongrel lot, unworthy of decent respect. When the Ten
Tribes were led into captivity by the king of Assyria, foreigners were
sent to populate Samaria.[163] These intermarried with such Israelites
as had escaped the captivity; and some modification of the religion of
Israel, embodying at least the profession of Jehovah worship, survived
in Samaria. The Samaritan rituals were regarded by the Jews as
unorthodox, and the people as reprobate. At the time of Christ the
enmity between Jew and Samaritan was so intense that travelers between
Judea and Galilee would make long detours rather than pass through the
province of Samaria which lay between. The Jews would have no dealings
with the Samaritans.[164]

The proud feeling of self-sufficiency, the obsession for exclusiveness
and separation--so distinctively a Jewish trait at that time--was
inculcated at the maternal knee and emphasized in synagog and school.
The Talmud,[165] which in codified form post-dates the time of Christ's
ministry, enjoined all Jews against reading the books of alien nations,
declaring that none who so offended could consistently hope for
Jehovah's favor.[166] Josephus gives his endorsement to similar
injunction, and records that wisdom among the Jews meant only
familiarity with the law and ability to discourse thereon.[167] A
thorough acquaintanceship with the law was demanded as strongly as other
studies were discountenanced. Thus the lines between learned and
unlearned came to be rigidly drawn; and, as an inevitable consequence
those who were accounted learned, or so considered themselves, looked
down upon their unscholarly fellows as a class distinct and

Long before the birth of Christ, the Jews had ceased to be a united
people even in matters of the law, though the law was their chief
reliance as a means of maintaining national solidarity. As early as four
score years after the return from the Babylonian exile, and we know not
with accuracy how much earlier, there had come to be recognized, as men
having authority, certain scholars afterward known as scribes, and
honored as rabbis[169] or teachers. In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah
these specialists in the law constituted a titled class, to whom
deference and honor were paid. Ezra is designated "the priest, the
scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and
of his statutes to Israel".[170] The scribes of those days did valuable
service under Ezra, and later under Nehemiah, in compiling the sacred
writings then extant; and in Jewish usage those appointed as guardians
and expounders of the law came to be known as members of the Great
Synagog, or Great Assembly, concerning which we have little information
through canonical channels. According to Talmudic record, the
organization consisted of one hundred and twenty eminent scholars. The
scope of their labors, according to the admonition traditionally
perpetuated by themselves, is thus expressed: _Be careful in judgment;
set up many scholars, and make a hedge about the law_. They followed
this behest by much study and careful consideration of all traditional
details in administration; by multiplying scribes and rabbis unto
themselves; and, as some of them interpreted the requirement of setting
up many scholars, by writing many books and tractates; moreover, they
made a fence or hedge about the law by adding numerous rules, which
prescribed with great exactness the officially established proprieties
for every occasion.

Scribes and rabbis were exalted to the highest rank in the estimation of
the people, higher than that of the Levitical or priestly orders; and
rabbinical sayings were given precedence over the utterances of the
prophets, since the latter were regarded as but messengers or spokesmen,
whereas the living scholars were of themselves sources of wisdom and
authority. Such secular powers as Roman suzerainty permitted the Jews to
retain were vested in the hierarchy, whose members were able thus to
gather unto themselves practically all official and professional honors.
As a natural result of this condition, there was practically no
distinction between Jewish civil and ecclesiastical law, either as to
the code or its administration. Rabbinism comprized as an essential
element the doctrine of the equal authority of oral rabbinical tradition
with the written word of the law. The aggrandizement implied in the
application of the title "Rabbi" and the self-pride manifest in
welcoming such adulation were especially forbidden by the Lord, who
proclaimed Himself the one Master; and, as touching the interpretation
of the title held by some as "father", Jesus proclaimed but one Father
and He in heaven: "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master,
even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon
the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye
called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ."[171]

The scribes, whether so named or designated by the more distinguishing
appellation, rabbis, were repeatedly denounced by Jesus, because of the
dead literalism of their teachings, and the absence of the spirit of
righteousness and virile morality therefrom; and in such denunciations
the Pharisees are often coupled with the scribes. The judgment of the
Christ upon them is sufficiently expressed by His withering imprecation:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"[172]

The origin of the Pharisees is not fixed by undisputed authority as to
either time or circumstance; though it is probable that the sect or
party had a beginning in connection with the return of the Jews from the
Babylonian captivity. New ideas and added conceptions of the meaning of
the law were promulgated by Jews who had imbibed of the spirit of
Babylon; and the resulting innovations were accepted by some and
rejected by others. The name "Pharisee" does not occur in the Old
Testament, nor in the Apocrypha, though it is probable that the
Assideans mentioned in the books of the Maccabees[173] were the original
Pharisees. By derivation the name expresses the thought of separatism;
the Pharisee, in the estimation of his class, was distinctively set
apart from the common people, to whom he considered himself as truly
superior as the Jews regarded themselves in contrast with other nations.
Pharisees and scribes were one in all essentials of profession, and
rabbinism was specifically their doctrine.

In the New Testament the Pharisees are often mentioned as in opposition
to the Sadducees; and such were the relations of the two parties that it
becomes a simpler matter to contrast one with the other than to consider
each separately. The Sadducees came into existence as a reactionary
organization during the second century B.C., in connection with an
insurgent movement against the Maccabean party. Their platform was that
of opposition to the ever-increasing mass of traditional lore, with
which the law was not merely being fenced or hedged about for safety,
but under which it was being buried. The Sadducees stood for the
sanctity of the law as written and preserved, while they rejected the
whole mass of rabbinical precept both as orally transmitted and as
collated and codified in the records of the scribes. The Pharisees
formed the more popular party; the Sadducees figured as the aristocratic
minority. At the time of Christ's birth the Pharisees existed as an
organized body numbering over six thousand men, with Jewish women very
generally on their side in sympathy and effort;[174] while the Sadducees
were so small a faction and of such limited power that, when they were
placed in official positions, they generally followed the policy of the
Pharisees as a matter of incumbent expediency. The Pharisees were the
Puritans of the time, unflinching in their demand for compliance with
the traditional rules as well as the original law of Moses. In this
connection note Paul's confession of faith and practise when arraigned
before Agrippa--"That after the most straitest sect of our religion I
lived a Pharisee."[175] The Sadducees prided themselves on strict
compliance with the law, as they construed it, irrespective of all
scribes or rabbis. The Sadducees stood for the temple and its prescribed
ordinances, the Pharisees for the synagog and its rabbinical teachings.
It is difficult to decide which were the more technical if we judge each
party by the standard of its own profession. By way of illustration: the
Sadducees held to the literal and full exaction of the Mosaic
penalty--an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth[176]--while the
Pharisees contended on the authority of rabbinical dictum, that the
wording was figurative, and that therefore the penalty could be met by a
fine in money or goods.

Pharisees and Sadducees differed on many important if not fundamental
matters of belief and practise, including the preexistence of spirits,
the reality of a future state involving reward and punishment, the
necessity for individual self-denial, the immortality of the soul, and
the resurrection from the dead; in each of which the Pharisees stood for
the affirmative while the Sadducees denied.[177] Josephus avers--the
doctrine of the Sadducees is that the soul and body perish together; the
law is all that they are concerned to observe.[178] They were "a
skeptical school of aristocratic traditionalists; adhering only to the
Mosaic law."[179]

Among the many other sects and parties established on the ground of
religious or political differences, or both, are the Essenes, the
Nazarites, the Herodians and the Galileans. The Essenes were
characterized by professions of ultra-piety; they considered even the
strictness of Pharisaic profession as weak and insufficient; they
guarded membership in their order by severe exactions extending through
a first and a second novitiate; they were forbidden even to touch food
prepared by strangers; they practised strict temperance and rigid
self-denial, indulged in hard labor--preferably that of agriculture, and
were forbidden to trade as merchants, to take part in war, or to own or
employ slaves.[180] Nazarites are not named in the New Testament, though
of specific record in the earlier scriptures;[181] and from sources
other than scriptural we learn of their existence at and after the time
of Christ. The Nazarite was one of either sex who was bound to
abstinence and sacrifice by a voluntary vow for special service to God;
the period of the vow might be limited or for life. While the Essenes
cultivated an ascetic brotherhood, the Nazarites were devoted to
solitary discipline.

The Herodians constituted a politico-religious party who favored the
plans of the Herods under the professed belief that through that dynasty
alone could the status of the Jewish people be maintained and a
reestablishment of the nation be secured. We find mention of the
Herodians laying aside their partisan antipathies and acting in concert
with the Pharisees in the effort to convict the Lord Jesus and bring Him
to death.[182] The Galileans or people of Galilee were distinguished
from their fellow Israelites of Judea by greater simplicity and less
ostentatious devotion in matters pertaining to the law. They were
opposed to innovations, yet were generally more liberal or less bigoted
than some of the professedly devout Judeans. They were prominent as able
defenders in the wars of the people, and won for themselves a reputation
for bravery and patriotism. They are mentioned in connection with
certain tragical occurrences during our Lord's lifetime.[183]

The authority of the priesthood was outwardly acknowledged by the Jews
at the time of Christ; and the appointed order of service for priest and
Levite was duly observed. During the reign of David, the descendants of
Aaron, who were the hereditary priests in Israel, had been divided into
twenty-four courses,[184] and to each course the labors of the sanctuary
were alloted in turn. Representatives of but four of these courses
returned from the captivity, but from these the orders were
reconstructed on the original plan. In the days of Herod the Great the
temple ceremonies were conducted with great display and outward
elaborateness, as an essential matter of consistency with the splendor
of the structure, which surpassed in magnificence all earlier
sanctuaries.[185] Priests and Levites, therefore, were in demand for
continuous service, though the individuals were changed at short
intervals according to the established system. In the regard of the
people the priests were inferior to the rabbis, and the scholarly
attainments of a scribe transcended in honor that pertaining to
ordination in the priesthood. The religion of the time was a matter of
ceremony and formality, of ritual and performance; it had lost the very
spirit of worship, and the true conception of the relationship between
Israel and Israel's God was but a dream of the past.

Such in brief were the principal features of the world's condition, and
particularly as concerns the Jewish people, when Jesus the Christ was
born in the meridian of time.


1. The Sanhedrin.--This, the chief court or high council of the Jews,
derives its name from the Greek _sunedrion_, signifying "a council." In
English it is sometimes though inaccurately, written "Sanhedrim." The
Talmud traces the origin of this body to the calling of the seventy
elders whom Moses associated with himself, making seventy-one in all, to
administer as judges in Israel (Numb. 11:16, 17). The Sanhedrin in the
time of Christ, as also long before, comprized seventy-one members,
including the high-priest who presided in the assembly. It appears to
have been known in its earlier period as the Senate, and was
occasionally so designated even after Christ's death (Josephus,
Antiquities xii, 3:3; compare Acts 5:21); the name "Sanhedrin" came into
general use during the reign of Herod the Great; but the term is not of
Biblical usage; its equivalent in the New Testament is "council" (Matt.
5:22; 10:17; 26:59) though it must be remembered that the same term is
applied to courts of lesser jurisdiction than that of the Sanhedrin, and
to local tribunals. (Matt 5:22; 10:17; 26:59; Mark 13:9; see also Acts

The following, from the _Standard Bible Dictionary_, is instructive:
"Those qualified to be members were in general of the priestly house and
especially of the Sadducean nobility. But from the days of Queen
Alexandra (69-68 B.C.) onward, there were with these chief priests also
many Pharisees in it under the name of scribes and elders. These three
classes are found combined in Matt. 27:41; Mark 11:27; 14:43, 53; 15:1.
How such members were appointed is not entirely clear. The aristocratic
character of the body and the history of its origin forbid the belief
that it was by election. Its nucleus probably consisted of the members
of certain ancient families, to which, however, from time to time others
were added by the secular rulers. The presiding officer was the high
priest, who at first exercized in it more than the authority of a
member, claiming a voice equal to that of the rest of the body. But
after the reduction of the high priesthood from a hereditary office to
one bestowed by the political ruler according to his pleasure, and the
frequent changes in the office introduced by the new system, the high
priest naturally lost his prestige. Instead of holding in his hands the
'government of the nation,' he came to be but one of many to share this
power; those who had served as high priests being still in esteem among
their nation, and having lost their office not for any reason that could
be considered valid by the religious sense of the community, exerted a
large influence over the decisions of the assembly. In the New Testament
they are regarded as the rulers (Matt. 26:59; 27:41; Acts 4:5, 8; Luke
23:13, 35; John 7:26), and Josephus' testimony supports this view. The
functions of the Sanhedrin were religious and moral, and also political.
In the latter capacity they further exercized administrative as well as
judicial functions. As a religious tribunal, the Sanhedrin wielded a
potent influence over the whole of the Jewish world (Acts 9:2); but as a
court of justice, after the division of the country upon the death of
Herod, its jurisdiction was limited to Judea. Here, however, its power
was absolute even to the passing of sentence of death (Josephus, Ant.
xiv, 9:3, 4; Matt. 26:3; Acts 4:5; 6:12; 22:30), although it had no
authority to carry the sentence into execution except as approved and
ordered by the representative of the Roman government. The law by which
the Sanhedrin governed was naturally the Jewish, and in the execution of
it this tribunal had a police of its own, and made arrests at its
discretion (Matt 26:47).... While the general authority of the Sanhedrin
extended over the whole of Judea, the towns in the country had local
councils of their own (Matt. 5:22; 10:17; Mark 13:9; Josephus, B. J. ii,
14:1), for the administration of local affairs. These were constituted
of elders (Luke 7:3), at least seven in number, (Josephus, Ant. iv,
8:14; B. J. ii, 20:5), and in some of the largest towns as many as
twenty-three. What the relation of these to the central council in
Jerusalem was does not appear clearly.... Some sort of mutual
recognition existed among them; for whenever the judges of the local
court could not agree it seems that they were in the habit of referring
their cases to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. (Josephus, Ant. iv, 8:14;
Mishna, Sanh. 11:2)."

2. Talmud.--"The body of Jewish civil and religious law (and discussion
directly or remotely relating thereto) not comprized in the Pentateuch,
commonly including the _Mishna_ and the _Gemara_, but sometimes limited
to the latter; written in Aramaic. It exists in two great collections,
the _Palestinian Talmud_, or _Talmud of the Land of Israel_, or _Talmud
of the West_, or, more popularly, _Jerusalem Talmud_, embodying the
discussions on the Mishna of the Palestinian doctors from the 2d to the
middle of the 5th century; and the _Babylonian_, embodying those of the
Jewish doctors in Babylonia, from about 190 to the 7th century."--_New
Standard Dict._ The Mishna comprizes the earlier portions of the Talmud;
the Gemara is made up of later writings and is largely an exposition of
the Mishna. An edition of the Babylonian Talmud alone (issued at Vienna
in 1682) comprized twenty-four tomes. (Geikie.)

3. Rabbis.--The title Rabbi is equivalent to our distinctive
appellations Doctor, Master, or Teacher. By derivation it means Master
or my Master, thus connoting dignity and rank associated with politeness
of address. A definite explanation of the term is given by John (1:38),
and the same meaning attaches by implication to its use as recorded by
Matthew (23:8). It was applied as a title of respect to Jesus on several
occasions (Matt. 23:7, 8; 26:25, 49; Mark 9:5; 11:21; 14:45; John 1:38,
49; 3:2, 26; 4:31; 6:25; 9:2; 11:8). The title was of comparatively
recent usage in the time of Christ, as it appears to have first come
into general use during the reign of Herod the Great, though the earlier
teachers, of the class without the name of Rabbis, were generally
reverenced, and the title was carried back to them by later usage. Rab
was an inferior title and Rabban a superior one to Rabbi. Rabboni was
expressive of most profound respect, love and honor (see John 20:16). At
the time of our Lord's ministry the Rabbis were held in high esteem, and
rejoiced in the afflations of precedence and honor among men. They were
almost exclusively of the powerful Pharisaic party.

The following is from Geikie's _Life and Words of Christ_, vol. I, chap.
6: "If the most important figures in the society of Christ's day were
the Pharisees, it was because they were the Rabbis or teachers of the
Law. As such they received superstitious honor, which was, indeed, the
great motive, with many, to court the title or join the party. The
Rabbis were classed with Moses, the patriarchs, and the prophets, and
claimed equal reverence. Jacob and Joseph were both said to have been
Rabbis. The Targum of Jonathan substitutes Rabbis, or Scribes, for the
word 'prophets' where it occurs. Josephus speaks of the prophets of
Saul's day as Rabbis. In the Jerusalem Targum all the patriarchs are
learned Rabbis.... They were to be dearer to Israel than father or
mother--because parents avail only in this world [as was then taught]
but the Rabbi forever. They were set above kings, for is it not written
'Through me kings reign'? Their entrance into a house brought a
blessing; to live or to eat with them was the highest good fortune....
The Rabbis went even further than this in exalting their order. The
Mishna declares that it is a greater crime to speak anything to their
discredit, than to speak against the words of the Law.... Yet in form,
the Law received boundless honor. Every saying of the Rabbis had to be
based on some words of it, which were, however, explained in their own
way. The spirit of the times, the wild fanaticism of the people, and
their own bias, tended alike to make them set value only on ceremonies
and worthless externalisms, to the utter neglect of the spirit of the
sacred writings. Still it was held that the Law needed no confirmation,
while the words of the Rabbis did. So far as the Roman authority under
which they lived left them free, the Jews willingly put all power in the
hands of the Rabbis. They or their nominees filled every office, from
the highest in the priesthood to the lowest in the community. They were
the casuists, the teachers, the priests, the judges, the magistrates,
and the physicians of the nation.... The central and dominant
characteristic of the teaching of the Rabbis was the certain advent of a
great national Deliverer--the Messiah or Anointed of God or in the Greek
translation of the title, the Christ. In no other nation than the Jews
has such a conception ever taken such root or shown such vitality.... It
was agreed among the Rabbis that His birthplace must be Bethlehem, and
that He must rise from the tribe of Judah."

Individual rabbis gathered disciples about them, and, inevitably,
rivalry became manifest. Rabbinical schools and academies were
established, each depending for its popularity on the greatness of some
rabbi. The most famous of these institutions in the time of Herod I.
were the school of Hillel and that of his rival Shammai. Later,
tradition invested these with the title "the fathers of old." It appears
from the trifling matters over which the followers of these two
disagreed, that only by opposition could either maintain a
distinguishing status. Hillel is reputed as the grandfather of Gamaliel,
the rabbi and doctor of the law at whose feet Saul of Tarsus, afterward
Paul the apostle, received his early instruction (Acts 22:3). So far as
we have historic record of the views, principles or beliefs advocated by
the rival schools of Hillel and Shammai, it appears that the former
stood for a greater degree of liberality and tolerance, while the later
emphasized a strict and possibly narrow interpretation of the law and
its associated traditions. The dependence of the rabbinical schools on
the authority of tradition is illustrated by an incident of record to
the effect that even the prestige of the great Hillel did not insure him
against uproar when once he spoke without citing precedent; only when he
added that so had his masters Abtalion and Shemajah spoken did the
tumult subside.

4. Sadducean Denial of the Resurrection.--As set forth in the text, the
Sadducees formed an association numerically small as compared with the
more popular and influential Pharisees. In the Gospels the Pharisees are
of frequent mention, and very commonly in connection with the scribes,
while the Sadducees are less frequently named. In the Acts of the
Apostles, the Sadducees appear frequently as opponents of the Church.
This condition was doubtless due to the prominence given the
resurrection from the dead among the themes of the apostolic preaching,
the Twelve continually bearing testimony to the actual resurrection of
Christ. Sadducean doctrine denied the actuality and possibility of a
bodily resurrection, the contention resting mainly on the ground that
Moses, who was regarded as the supreme mortal lawgiver in Israel, and
the chief mouthpiece of Jehovah, had written nothing concerning life
after death. The following is taken from Smith's _Dictionary of the
Bible_, article "Sadducees," as touching this matter: "The denial of
man's resurrection after death followed in the conception of the
Sadducees as a logical conclusion from their denial that Moses had
revealed to the Israelites the Oral Law. For on a point so momentous as
a second life beyond the grave, no religious party among the Jews would
have deemed themselves bound to accept any doctrine as an article of
faith, unless it had been proclaimed by Moses, their great legislator;
and it is certain that in the written Law of the Pentateuch there is a
total absence of any assertion by Moses of the resurrection of the dead.
This fact is presented to Christians in a striking manner by the
well-known words of the Pentateuch which are quoted by Christ in
argument with the Sadducees on this subject (Exo. 3:6, 16; Mark 12:26,
27; Matt. 22:31, 32; Luke 20:37). It cannot be doubted that in such a
case Christ would quote to His powerful adversaries the most cogent text
in the Law; and yet the text actually quoted does not do more than
suggest an inference on this great doctrine. It is true that passages in
other parts of the Old Testament express a belief in the resurrection
(Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2; Job 19:26; and in some of the Psalms); and it
may at first sight be a subject of surprize that the Sadducees were not
convinced by the authority of those passages. But although the Sadducees
regarded the books which contained these passages as sacred, it is more
than doubtful whether any of the Jews regarded them as sacred in
precisely the same sense as the written Law. To the Jews Moses was and
is a colossal form, preeminent in authority above all subsequent

5. The Temple of Herod.--"Herod's purpose in the great undertaking [that
of restoring the temple, and of enlarging it on a plan of unprecedented
magnificence] was that of aggrandizing himself and the nation, rather
than the rendering of homage to Jehovah. His proposition to rebuild or
restore the temple on a scale of increased magnificence was regarded
with suspicion and received with disfavor by the Jews, who feared that
were the ancient edifice demolished, the arbitrary monarch might abandon
his plan and the people would be left without a temple. To allay these
fears the king proceeded to reconstruct and restore the old edifice,
part by part, directing the work so that at no time was the temple
service seriously interrupted. So little of the ancient structure was
allowed to stand, however, that the temple of Herod must be regarded as
a new creation. The work was begun about sixteen years before the birth
of Christ; and while the Holy House itself was practically completed
within a year and a half, this part of the labor having been performed
by a body of one thousand priests specially trained for the purpose, the
temple area was a scene of uninterrupted building operations down to the
year 63 A.D. We read that in the time of Christ's ministry the temple
had been forty-six years in building; and at that time it was

"The Biblical record gives us little information regarding this the last
and the greatest of ancient temples; for what we know concerning it we
are indebted, mainly to Josephus, with some corroborative testimony
found in the Talmud. In all essentials the Holy House, or Temple proper,
was similar to the two earlier houses of sanctuary, though externally
far more elaborate and imposing than either; but in the matter of
surrounding courts and associated buildings, the Temple of Herod
preeminently excelled.... Yet its beauty and grandeur lay in
architectural excellence rather than in the sanctity of its worship or
in the manifestation of the Divine Presence within its walls. Its ritual
and service were largely man-prescribed; for while the letter of the
Mosaic Law was professedly observed, the law had been supplemented and
in many features supplanted by rule and priestly prescription. The Jews
professed to consider it holy, and by them it was proclaimed as the
House of the Lord. Devoid though it was of the divine accompaniments of
earlier shrines accepted of God, and defiled as it was by priestly
arrogance and usurpation, as also by the selfish interest of traffic and
trade, it was nevertheless recognized even by our Lord the Christ as His
Father's House. (Matt. 21:12; compare Mark 11:15; Luke 19:45.).... For
thirty or more years after the death of Christ, the Jews continued the
work of adding to and embellishing the temple buildings. The elaborate
design conceived and projected by Herod had been practically completed;
the temple was well-nigh finished, and, as soon afterward appeared, was
ready for destruction. Its fate had been definitely foretold by the
Savior Himself."--From the author's _House of the Lord_, pp. 54-61.

6. State of the World at the Time of the Savior's Birth.--At the
beginning of the Christian era, the Jews, in common with most other
nations, were subjects of the Roman empire. They were allowed a
considerable degree of liberty in maintaining their religious
observances and national customs generally, but their status was far
from that of a free and independent people. The period was one of
comparative peace--a time marked by fewer wars and less dissension than
the empire had known for many years. These conditions were favorable for
the mission of the Christ, and for the founding of His Church on earth.
The religious systems extant at the time of Christ's earthly ministry
may be classified in a general way as Jewish and Pagan, with a minor
system--the Samaritan--which was essentially a mixture of the other two.
The children of Israel alone proclaimed the existence of the true and
living God; they alone looked forward to the advent of the Messiah, whom
mistakenly they awaited as a prospective conqueror coming to crush the
enemies of their nation. All other nations, tongues, and peoples, bowed
to pagan deities, and their worship comprized nought but the sensual
rites of heathen idolatry. Paganism was a religion of form and ceremony,
based on polytheism--a belief in the existence of a multitude of gods,
which deities were subject to all the vices and passions of humanity,
while distinguished by immunity from death. Morality and virtue were
unknown as elements of heathen service; and the dominant idea in pagan
worship was that of propitiating the gods, in the hope of averting their
anger and purchasing their favor.--See the author's _The Great
Apostasy_, 1:2-4, and notes following the chapter cited.


[144] Exo. 33:11; see also Numb. 12:8; Deut. 34:10; compare P. of G.P.,
Moses 1:2, 11, 31.

[145] P. of G.P., Moses 5:57; for later mention of the "meridian of
time," see 6:56-62; and 7:46; and compare Doc. and Cov. 20:26; 39:3.

[146] "Meridian: ... figuratively, the highest point or
culminating-point of anything; the zenith; as the meridian of
life."--"New Stand. Dict."

[147] B. of M., 3 Nephi 2:8; compare 4 Nephi 1:1, 21; Mormon 8:6; Moroni

[148] Gen. 32:28; 35:10.

[149] Exo. 1:1, 7; 9:6, 7; 12:3, etc.

[150] Exo. 12:35, 40; 13:19; 15:1; Numb. 20:1, 19, 24, etc.

[151] See mention throughout the books of Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and
2 Kings, and references therein.

[152] Isa. 11:13; 17:3; Ezek, 37:16-22; Hos. 4:17.

[153] Jer. 25:11, 12; see also 29:10.

[154] Ezra 1:1-4; the author, "House of the Lord," pp. 47-53; also
"Articles of Faith" xvii:1-22.

[155] Ezra 2:64-67.

[156] "House of the Lord," pp. 51-53.

[157] Josephus, Ant. xii:6 and 7; 2 Maccabees 2:19; 10:1-8; also John

[158] Luke 2:1.

[159] Matt. 2:1. Page 106.

[160] Note 1, end of chapter.

[161] Deut. 7:6; see also 10:15; Exo. 19:5, 6; Psa. 135:4; Isa. 41:8;
45:4; compare 1 Peter 2:9.

[162] Note 6, end of chapter.

[163] 2 Kings 17:24.

[164] John 4:9; Luke 9:51-53. Pages 172, 183 herein.

[165] Note 2, end of chapter.

[166] Bab. Talmud, Sanhedrin, 90.

[167] Josephus, Ant. xx, 11:2.

[168] Note the emphasis given to this distinction in John 7:45-49; see
also 9:34.

[169] Note 3, end of chapter.

[170] Ezra 7:11; see also verses 6, 10, 12.

[171] Matt. 23:8-10; see also John 1:38; 3:2.

[172] Matt. 23:13, 14, 15, 23. etc., read the entire chapter; compare
Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:46; see also as instances of special denunciation
of the Pharisees Luke 11:37-44. Note also that the lawyers, who were
professionally associated with the scribes, are included in the sweeping
criticism: verses 45-54. See pages 552-560 herein.

[173] 1 Maccabees 2:42; 7:13-17; 2 Maccabees 14:6.

[174] Josephus, Antiquities, xvii, 2:4.

[175] Acts 26:5; see also 23:6; Philip. 3:5.

[176] Exo. 21:23-35; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21; contrast Matt 5:38-44.

[177] Note 4, end of chapter.

[178] Josephus, Antiquities xviii, 1:4.

[179] "New Stand. Dict.," under "Sadducees."

[180] Josephus, Antiquities xviii, 1:5.

[181] Numb. 6:2-21; Judges 13:5, 7; 16:17; Amos. 2:11, 12. Page 87.

[182] Matt. 22:15, 16; Mark 12:13.

[183] Luke 13:1, 2; see also John 4:45; Mark 14:70; Acts 2:7.

[184] 1 Chron. 24:1-18.

[185] Note 5, end of chapter.




Associated with the prophecies of the birth of Christ are predictions
concerning one who should precede Him, going before to prepare the way.
It is not surprizing that the annunciation of the immediate advent of
the forerunner was speedily followed by that of the Messiah; nor that
the proclamations were made by the same heavenly embassador--Gabriel,
sent from the presence of God.[186]

About fifteen months prior to the Savior's birth, Zacharias, a priest of
the Aaronic order, was officiating in the functions of his office in the
temple at Jerusalem. His wife, Elisabeth, was also of a priestly family,
being numbered among the descendants of Aaron. The couple had never been
blessed with children; and at the time of which we speak they were both
well stricken in years and had sorrowfully given up hope of posterity.
Zacharias belonged to the course of priests named after Abijah, and
known in later time as the course of Abia. This was the eighth in the
order of the twenty-four courses established by David the king, each
course being appointed to serve in turn a week at the sanctuary.[187] It
will be remembered that on the return of the people from Babylon only
four of the courses were represented; but of these four each averaged
over fourteen hundred men.[188]

During his week of service each priest was required to maintain
scrupulously a state of ceremonial cleanliness of person; he had to
abstain from wine, and from food except that specifically prescribed; he
had to bathe frequently; he lived within the temple precincts and thus
was cut off from family association; he was not allowed to come near the
dead, nor to mourn in the formal manner if death should rob him of even
his nearest and dearest of kin. We learn that the daily selection of the
priest who should enter the Holy Place, and there burn incense on the
golden altar, was determined by lot;[189] and furthermore we gather,
from non-scriptural history, that because of the great number of priests
the honor of so officiating seldom fell twice to the same person.

On this day the lot had fallen to Zacharias. It was a very solemn
occasion in the life of the humble Judean priest--this one day in his
life on which the special and particularly sacred service was required
of him. Within the Holy Place he was separated by the veil of the temple
only from the Oracle or Holy of Holies--the inner sanctuary into which
none but the high priest might enter, and he only on the Day of
Atonement, after long ceremonial preparation.[190] The place and the
time were conducive to the highest and most reverential feelings. As
Zacharias ministered within the Holy Place, the people without bowed
themselves in prayer, watching for the clouds of incense smoke to appear
above the great partition which formed the barrier between the place of
general assembly and the Holy Place, and awaiting the reappearance of
the priest and his pronouncement of the benediction.

Before the astonished gaze of Zacharias, at this supreme moment of his
priestly service, there appeared, standing on the right of the golden
altar of incense, an angel of the Lord. Many generations had passed in
Jewry since any visible presence other than mortal had been manifest
within the temple, either in the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies; the
people regarded personal visitations of heavenly beings as occurrences
of the past; they had come almost to believe that there were no longer
prophets in Israel. Nevertheless, there was always a feeling of anxiety,
akin to that of troubled expectancy, whenever a priest approached the
inner sanctuary, which was regarded as the particular abode of Jehovah
should He ever again condescend to visit His people. In view of these
conditions we read without surprize that this angelic presence troubled
Zacharias and caused fear to fall upon him. The words of the heavenly
visitant, however, were comforting though of startling import, embodying
as they did the unqualified assurance that the man's prayers had been
heard, and that his wife should bear him a son, who must be named
John.[191] The promise went even further, specifying that the child to
be born of Elisabeth would be a blessing to the people; many would
rejoice at his birth; he would be great in the sight of the Lord, and
must be guarded against wine and strong drink;[192] he would be filled
with the Holy Ghost, would be the means of turning many souls to God,
and would go before to make ready a people prepared to receive the

Doubtless Zacharias recognised in the predicted future of the yet unborn
child the great forerunner, of whom the prophets had told and the
psalmist had sung; but that such a one should be offspring of himself
and his aged wife seemed impossible despite the angel's promise. The man
doubted, and asked whereby he should know that what his visitant had
spoken was true: "And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel,
that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and
to show thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and
not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed,
because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their
season."[193] When the highly blessed though sorely smitten priest at
length came from within and appeared before the expectant congregation,
already made anxious by his delayed return, he could but mutely dismiss
the assembly and by signs indicate that he had seen a vision. The
penalty for doubt was already operative; Zacharias was dumb.

In due time the child was born, there in the hill country of Judea[194]
where Zacharias and Elisabeth had their home; and, on the eighth day
following the birth the family assembled in accordance with custom and
Mosaic requirement, to name the babe in connection with the rite of
circumcision.[195] All suggestions that he be called after his father
were overruled by Zacharias, who wrote with decisive finality: "His name
is John." Thereupon the dumb[196] priest's tongue was loosed, and being
filled with the Holy Ghost he burst forth in prophecy, praise and song;
his inspired utterances have been set to music and are sung in worship
by many Christian congregations as the Benedictus:

    "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and
    redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for
    us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth
    of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
    that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of
    all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
    and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to
    our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being
    delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without
    fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of
    our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the
    Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to
    prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people
    by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our
    God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give
    light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace."[197]

The last words Zacharias had uttered prior to the infliction of dumbness
were words of doubt and unbelief, words in which he had called for a
sign as proof of authority of one who came from the presence of the
Almighty; the words with which he broke his long silence were words of
praise unto God in whom he had all assurance, words that were as a sign
to all who heard, and the fame whereof spread throughout the region.

The unusual circumstances attending the birth of John, notably the
months of dumbness passed by the father and his sudden recovery of
speech on the bestowal of the fore-appointed name, caused many to marvel
and some to fear, as they asked: "What manner of child shall this be?"
When, a man grown, John raised his voice in the wilderness, again in
fulfillment of prophecy, the people questioned as to whether he was not
the Messiah.[198] Of his life between infancy and the beginning of his
public ministry, a period of approximately thirty years, we have of
record but a single sentence: "And the child grew, and waxed strong in
spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto


Six months after the visitation of Gabriel to Zacharias, and three
months prior to the birth of John, the same heavenly messenger was sent
to a young woman named Mary, who lived at Nazareth, a town in Galilee.
She was of the lineage of David; and though unmarried was betrothed or
espoused to a man named Joseph, who also was of royal descent through
the Davidic line. The angel's salutation, while full of honor and
blessing, caused Mary to wonder and to feel troubled. "Hail, thou that
art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among
women";[200] thus did Gabriel greet the virgin.

In common with other daughters of Israel, specifically those of the
tribe of Judah and of known descent from David, Mary had doubtless
contemplated, with holy joy and ecstasy, the coming of the Messiah
through the royal line; she knew that some Jewish maiden was yet to
become the mother of the Christ. Was it possible that the angel's words
to her had reference to this supreme expectation and hope of the nation?
She had little time to turn these things in her mind, for the angel
continued: "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And,
behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and
shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the
Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of
his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there shall be no end."[201]

Even yet she comprehended but in part the import of this momentous
visitation. Not in the spirit of doubt such as had prompted Zacharias to
ask for a sign, but through an earnest desire for information and
explanation, Mary, conscious of her unmarried status and sure of her
virgin condition, asked: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?"
The answer to her natural and simple inquiry was the announcement of a
miracle such as the world had never known--not a miracle in the sense of
a happening contrary to nature's law, nevertheless a miracle through the
operation of higher law, such as the human mind ordinarily fails to
comprehend or regard as possible. Mary was informed that she would
conceive and in time bring forth a Son, of whom no mortal man would be
the father:--"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost
shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow
thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall
be called the Son of God."[202]

Then the angel told her of the blessed condition of her cousin
Elisabeth, who had been barren; and by way of sufficient and final
explanation added: "For with God nothing shall be impossible." With
gentle submissiveness and humble acceptance, the pure young virgin
replied: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to
thy word."

His message delivered, Gabriel departed, leaving the chosen Virgin of
Nazareth to ponder over her wondrous experience. Mary's promised Son was
to be "The Only Begotten" of the Father in the flesh; so it had been
both positively and abundantly predicted. True, the event was
unprecedented; true also it has never been paralleled; but that the
virgin birth would be unique was as truly essential to the fulfilment of
prophecy as that it should occur at all. That Child to be born of Mary
was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural
law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and, the
offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship,
and pure though mortal maternity, was of right to be called the "Son of
the Highest." In His nature would be combined the powers of Godhood with
the capacity and possibilities of mortality; and this through the
ordinary operation of the fundamental law of heredity, declared of God,
demonstrated by science, and admitted by philosophy, that living beings
shall propagate--after their kind. The Child Jesus was to inherit the
physical, mental, and spiritual traits, tendencies, and powers that
characterized His parents--one immortal and glorified--God, the other

Jesus Christ was to be born of mortal woman, but was not directly the
offspring of mortal man, except so far as His mother was the daughter of
both man and woman. In our Lord alone has been fulfilled the word of God
spoken in relation to the fall of Adam, that the _seed of the woman_
should have power to overcome Satan by bruising the serpent's head.[203]

In respect to place, condition, and general environment, Gabriel's
annunciation to Zacharias offers strong contrast to the delivery of his
message to Mary. The prospective forerunner of the Lord was announced to
his father within the magnificent temple, and in a place the most
exclusively sacred save one other in the Holy House, under the light
shed from the golden candlestick, and further illumined by the glow of
living coals on the altar of gold; the Messiah was announced to His
mother in a small town far from the capital and the temple, most
probably within the walls of a simple Galilean cottage.


It was natural that Mary, left now to herself with a secret in her soul,
holier, greater, and more thrilling than any ever borne before or since,
should seek companionship, and that of some one of her own sex, in whom
she could confide, from whom she might hope to derive comfort and
support, and to whom it would be not wrong to tell what at that time was
probably known to no mortal save herself. Her heavenly visitant had
indeed suggested all this in his mention of Elisabeth, Mary's cousin,
herself a subject of unusual blessing, and a woman through whom another
miracle of God had been wrought. Mary set out with haste from Nazareth
for the hill country of Judea, on a journey of about a hundred miles if
the traditional account be true that the little town of Juttah was the
home of Zacharias. There was mutual joy in the meeting between Mary the
youthful virgin, and Elisabeth, already well advanced in life. From what
of Gabriel's words her husband had communicated, Elisabeth must have
known that the approaching birth of her son would soon be followed by
that of the Messiah, and that therefore the day for which Israel had
waited and prayed through the long dark centuries was about to dawn.
When Mary's salutation fell upon her ears, the Holy Ghost bore witness
that the chosen mother of the Lord stood before her in the person of her
cousin; and as she experienced the physical thrill incident to the
quickening spirit of her own blessed conception, she returned the
greeting of her visitor with reverence: "Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the
mother of my Lord should come to me?"[204] Mary responded with that
glorious hymn of praise, since adopted in the musical ritual of churches
as the Magnificat:

    "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in
    God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his
    handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall
    call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great
    things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear
    him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with
    his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their
    hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and
    exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good
    things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his
    servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our
    fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever."[205]


The visit lasted about three months, after which time Mary returned to
Nazareth. The real embarrassment of her position she had now to meet. At
the home of her cousin she had been understood; her condition had served
to confirm the testimony of Zacharias and Elisabeth; but how would her
word be received at her own home? And especially, how would she be
regarded by her espoused husband?[206] Betrothal, or espousal, in that
time was in some respects as binding as the marriage vow, and could only
be set aside by a ceremonial separation akin to divorce; yet an espousal
was but an engagement to marry, not a marriage. When Joseph greeted his
promised bride after her three months' absence, he was greatly
distressed over the indications of her prospective maternity. Now the
Jewish law provided for the annulment of a betrothal in either of two
ways--by public trial and judgment, or by private agreement attested by
a written document signed in the presence of witnesses. Joseph was a
just man, a strict observer of the law, yet no harsh extremist; moreover
he loved Mary and would save her all unnecessary humiliation, whatever
might be his own sorrow and suffering. For Mary's sake he dreaded the
thought of publicity; and therefore determined to have the espousal
annulled with such privacy the law allowed. He was troubled and thought
much of his duty in the matter, when, "behold, the angel of the Lord
appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear
not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her
is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt
call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."[207]

Great was Joseph's relief of mind; and great his joy in the realization
that the long predicted coming of the Messiah was at hand; the words of
the prophets would be fulfilled; a virgin, and she the one in the world
most dear to him, had conceived, and in due time would bring forth that
blessed Son, Emmanuel, which name by interpretation means "God with
us."[208] The angel's salutation was significant; "Joseph, thou son of
David," was the form of address; and the use of that royal title must
have meant to Joseph that, though he was of kingly lineage, marriage
with Mary would cast no shadow upon his family status. Joseph waited
not; to insure Mary all possible protection and establish his full legal
right as her lawful guardian he hastened the solemnization of the
marriage, and "did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took
unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her
firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS."[209]

The national hope of a Messiah based on promise and prophecy had become
confused in the Jewish mind, through the influence of rabbinism with its
many vagaries, and its "private interpretation"[210] made to appear
authoritative by the artificially sustained prestige of the expositors;
yet certain conditions had been emphasized as essential, even by the
rabbis, and by these essentials would be judged the claim of any Jew who
might declare himself to be the long expected One. It was beyond
question that the Messiah was to be born within the tribe of Judah and
through the line of descent from David, and, being of David He must of
necessity be of the lineage of Abraham, through whose posterity,
according to the covenant, all nations of the earth were to be

Two genealogical records, purporting to give the lineage of Jesus are
found in the New Testament, one in the first chapter of Matthew, the
other in the third chapter of Luke. These records present several
apparent discrepancies, but such have been satisfactorily reconciled by
the research of specialists in Jewish genealogy. No detailed analysis of
the matter will be attempted here; but it should be borne in mind that
the consensus of judgment on the part of investigators is that Matthew's
account is that of the royal lineage, establishing the order of sequence
among the legal successors to the throne of David, while the account
given by Luke is a personal pedigree, demonstrating descent from David
without adherence to the line of legal succession to the throne through
primogeniture or nearness of kin.[212] Luke's record is regarded by
many, however, as the pedigree of Mary, while Matthew's is accepted as
that of Joseph. The all important fact to be remembered is that the
Child promised by Gabriel to Mary, the virginal bride of Joseph, would
be born in the royal line. A personal genealogy of Joseph was
essentially that of Mary also, for they were cousins. Joseph is named as
son of Jacob by Matthew, and as son of Heli by Luke; but Jacob and Heli
were brothers, and it appears that one of the two was the father of
Joseph and the other the father of Mary and therefore father-in-law to
Joseph. That Mary was of Davidic descent is plainly set forth in many
scriptures; for since Jesus was to be born of Mary, yet was not begotten
by Joseph, who was the reputed, and, according to the law of the Jews,
the legal, father, the blood of David's posterity was given to the body
of Jesus through Mary alone. Our Lord, though repeatedly addressed as
Son of David, never repudiated the title but accepted it as rightly
applied to Himself.[213] Apostolic testimony stands in positive
assertion of the royal heirship of Christ through earthly lineage, as
witness the affirmation of Paul, the scholarly Pharisee: "Concerning his
Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according
to the flesh;" and again: "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of
David was raised from the dead."[214]

In all the persecutions waged by His implacable haters, in all the false
accusations brought against Him, in the specific charges of sacrilege
and blasphemy based on His acknowledgment of the Messiahship as His own,
no mention is found of even an insinuation that He could not be the
Christ through any ineligibility based on lineage. Genealogy was
assiduously cared for by the Jews before, during, and after the time of
Christ; indeed their national history was largely genealogical record;
and any possibility of denying the Christ because of unattested descent
would have been used to the fullest extent by insistent Pharisee,
learned scribe, haughty rabbi, and aristocratic Sadducee.

At the time of the Savior's birth, Israel was ruled by alien monarchs.
The rights of the royal Davidic family were unrecognized; and the ruler
of the Jews was an appointee of Rome. Had Judah been a free and
independent nation, ruled by her rightful sovereign, Joseph the
carpenter would have been her crowned king; and his lawful successor to
the throne would have been Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

Gabriel's annunciation to Mary was that of the Son of David, on whose
coming the hope of Israel rested as on a sure foundation. The One, thus
announced, was Emmanuel, even God who was to dwell in flesh with His
people,[215] the Redeemer of the world, Jesus the Christ.


1. John the Baptist Regarded as a Nazarite.--The instruction of the
angel Gabriel to Zacharias, that the promised son, John, was to "drink
neither wine nor strong drink," and the adult life of John as a dweller
in the desert, together with his habit of wearing rough garb, have led
commentators and Biblical specialists to assume that he was a "Nazarite
for life." It is to be remembered, however, that nowhere in scripture
extant is John the Baptist definitely called a Nazarite. A Nazarite, the
name signifying _consecrated_ or _separated_, was one, who by personal
vow or by that made for him by his parents, was set apart to some
special labor or course of life involving self denial. (See page 67).
Smith's _Comp. Dict, of the Bible_ says: "There is no notice in the
Pentateuch of Nazarites for life; but the regulations for the vow of a
Nazarite of days are given (Numb. 6:1-2). The Nazarite, during the term
of his consecration, was bound to abstain from wine, grapes, and every
production of the vine, and from every kind of intoxicating drink. He
was forbidden to cut the hair of his head, or to approach any dead body,
even that of his nearest relation." The sole instance of a Nazarite for
life named in the scriptures is that of Samson, whose mother was
required to put herself under Nazarite observances prior to his birth,
and the child was to be a Nazarite to God from his birth (Judges 13:3-7,
14). In the strictness of his life, John the Baptist is to be credited
with all the personal discipline required of Nazarites whether he was
under voluntary or parental vows or was not so bound.

2. Circumcision, while not exclusively a Hebrew or an Israelitish
practise, was made a definite requirement through the revelations of God
to Abraham, as the sign of the covenant between Jehovah and the
patriarch. (Gen. 17:9-14.) This covenant was made to include the
establishment of Abraham's posterity as a great nation, and provided
that through his descendants should all nations of the earth be blessed
(Gen. 22:18)--a promise which has been proved to mean that through that
lineage should the Messiah be born. Circumcision was a binding
condition; and its practise therefore became a national characteristic.
Every male was to be circumcized eight days after birth (Gen. 17:12;
Lev. 12:3). This requirement as to age came to be so rigidly enforced,
that even if the eighth day fell on a Sabbath the rite had to be
performed on that day (John 7:22, 23). All male slaves had to be
circumcized (Gen. 17:12, 13) and even strangers who sojourned with the
Hebrews and desired to partake of the Passover with them had to submit
to the requirement (Exo. 12:48). From the _Standard Bible Dictionary_ we
take the following: "The ceremony indicated the casting off of
uncleanness as a preparation for entrance into the privileges of
membership in Israel. In the New Testament, with its transfer of
emphasis from the external and formal to the inner and spiritual side of
things, it was first declared unnecessary for Gentile converts to the
gospel to be circumcized (Acts 15:28), and afterward the rite was set
aside even by Jewish Christians." It became customary to name a child at
the time it was circumcized, as is instanced in the case of John, son of
Zacharias (Luke 1:59).

3. Zacharias' Affliction.--The sign for which Zacharias asked was thus
given by the angel: "Behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak,
until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou
believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season." (Luke
1:20.) From the account of the circumcision and naming of the boy, John,
it is held by some that the afflicted father was also deaf, as the
company "made signs" to him as to how he would have his son named (verse

4. Jewish Betrothal.--The vow of espousal, or betrothal, has always been
regarded as sacred and binding in Jewish law. In a manner it was as
binding as a marriage ceremony, though it carried none of the particular
rights of marriage. The following succinct statements are taken from
Geikie's _Life and Words of Christ_, vol. I. p. 99: "Among the Jews of
Mary's day it was even more of an actual engagement [than it later came
to be]. The betrothal was formally made with rejoicings in the house of
the bride under a tent or slight canopy raised for the purpose. It was
called the 'making sacred' as the bride thenceforth was sacred to her
husband in the strictest sense. To make it legal, the bridegroom gave
his betrothed a piece of money, or the worth of it, before witnesses,
with the words, 'Lo, thou art betrothed unto me,' or by a formal writing
in which similar words and the maiden's name were given, and this in the
same way was handed to her before witnesses."

5. Genealogies of Joseph and Mary.--"It is now almost certain that the
genealogies in both Gospels are genealogies of Joseph, which if we may
rely on early traditions of their consanguinity involve genealogies of
Mary also. The Davidic descent of Mary is implied in Acts 2:30; 13:23;
Rom. 1:3; Luke 1:32, etc. St. Matthew gives the legal descent of Joseph
through the elder and regal line, as heir to the throne of David; St.
Luke gives the natural descent. Thus, the real father of Salathiel was
heir of the house of Nathan, but the childless Jeconiah (Jer. 22:30) was
the last lineal representative of the elder kingly line. The omission of
some obscure names and the symmetrical arrangement, into tesseradecads
were common Jewish customs. It is not too much to say that after the
labors of Mill (_On the Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels_, pp.
147-217) and Lord A. C. Hervey (_On the Genealogies of Our Lord_, 1853)
scarcely a single difficulty remains in reconciling the apparent
divergencies. And thus in this as in so many other instances, the very
discrepancies which appear to be most irreconcilable, and most fatal to
the historic accuracy of the four evangelists, turn out, on closer and
more patient investigation, to be fresh proofs that they are not only
entirely independent, but also entirely trustworthy."--Farrar, _Life of
Christ_, p. 27, note.

The writer of the article "Genealogy of Jesus Christ" in Smith's _Bible
Dict_, says: "The New Testament gives us the genealogy of but one
person, our Savior (Matt. 1; Luke 3).... The following propositions will
explain the true construction of these genealogies (so Lord A. C.
Hervey): 1. They are both the genealogies of Joseph, i.e. of Jesus
Christ, as the reputed and legal son of Joseph and Mary. 2. The
genealogy of Matthew is, as Grotius asserted, Joseph's genealogy as
legal successor to the throne of David. That of Luke is Joseph's private
genealogy, exhibiting his real birth, as David's son, and thus showing
why he was heir to Solomon's crown. The simple principle that one
evangelist exhibits that genealogy which contained the successive heirs
to David's and Solomon's throne, while the other exhibits the paternal
stem of him who was the heir, explains all the anomalies of the two
pedigrees, their agreements as well as their discrepancies, and the
circumstance of there being two at all. 3. Mary, the mother of Jesus,
was probably the daughter of Jacob, and first cousin to Joseph her

A valuable contribution to the literature of this subject appears in the
_Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical
Society of Great Britain_, 1912, vol. 44, pp. 9-36, as an article, "The
Genealogies of our Lord," by Mrs. A. S. Lewis, and discussion thereof by
many scholars of acknowledged ability. The author, Mrs. Lewis, is an
authority on Syriac manuscripts, and is one of the two women who, in
1892, discovered in the library of St. Catherine's monastery on Mount
Sinai, the Syriac palimpsest MS. of the four Gospels. The gifted author
holds that Matthew's account attests the royal pedigree of Joseph, and
that Luke's genealogical table proves the equally royal descent of Mary.
Mrs. Lewis says: "The Sinai Palimpsest also tells us that Joseph and
Mary went to Bethlehem, to be enrolled there, because they were both of
the house and lineage of David."

Canon Girdlestone, in discussing the article, says in pertinent emphasis
of Mary's status as a princess of royal blood through descent from
David: "When the angel was foretelling to Mary the birth of the Holy
Child, he said, 'The Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father
David.' Now if Joseph, her betrothed, had alone been descended from
David, Mary would have answered, 'I am not yet married to Joseph,'
whereas she did answer simply, 'I am an unmarried woman,' which plainly
implies--if I were married, since I am descended from David, I could
infuse my royal blood into a son, but how can I have a royal son while I
am a virgin?'"

After brief mention of the Jewish law relating to adoption, wherein it
is provided (according to Hammurabi's Code, section 188), that if a man
teach his adopted son a handicraft, the son is thereby confirmed in all
the rights of heirship, Canon Girdlestone adds: "If the crown of David
had been assigned to his successor in the days of Herod it would have
been placed on the head of Joseph. And who would have been the legal
successor to Joseph? Jesus of Nazareth would have been then the King of
the Jews, and the title on the cross spoke the truth. God had raised Him
up to the house of David."

6. The Inner Sanctuary of the Temple.--The Holy of Holies in the Temple
of Herod retained the form and dimensions of the Oracle in the Temple of
Solomon; it was therefore a cube, twenty cubits in each principal
measurement. Between this and the Holy Place hung a double veil, of
finest material, elaborately embroidered. The outer of the two veils was
open at the north end, the inner at the south; so that the high priest
who entered at the appointed time once a year could pass between the
veils without exposing the Holy of Holies. The sacred chamber was empty
save for a large stone upon which the high priest sprinkled the
sacrificial blood on the Day of Atonement; this stone occupied the place
of the Ark and its Mercy Seat. Outside the veil, in the Holy Place,
stood the altar of incense, the seven-branched candlestick, and the
table of shewbread.--_The House of the Lord_, p. 59.


[186] Luke 1:19, 26; see also Dan. 8:16; 9:21-23.

[187] Luke 1:5; compare 1 Chron. 24:10.

[188] Ezra 2:36-39.

[189] Luke 1:8, 9; read the entire chapter.

[190] Lev. chap. 16; Heb. 9:1-7; see also "House of the Lord," p. 59,
and compare pp. 24 and 39. Note 6, end of chapter.

[191] Page 45. For other instances of children promised in spite of
barrenness due to age or other causes, see Isaac (Gen. 17:16, 17 and
21:1-3); Samson, (Judges, chap. 13); Samuel (1 Sam. chap. 1); son of the
Shunammite (2 Kings 4:14-17).

[192] Note 1, end of chapter.

[193] Luke 1:19, 20.

[194] Luke 1:57; compare verse 39.

[195] Note 2, end of chapter.

[196] Note 3, end of chapter.

[197] Luke 1:68-79.

[198] Luke 1:65, 66; see also 3:15.

[199] Luke 1:80.

[200] Luke 1:28.

[201] Luke 1:30-33.

[202] Luke 1:35; see also preceding verses, 31-33.

[203] Page 43; and Gen. 3:15.

[204] Luke 1:42; read verses 39-56.

[205] Luke 1:46-55.

[206] Note 4, end of chapter.

[207] Matt. 1:20, 21; read 18-25.

[208] Matt. 1:22-23; compare Isa. 7:14; see also 9:6.

[209] Matt. 1:24, 25.

[210] 2 Peter 1:20.

[211] Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; compare Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8.

[212] Note 5, end of chapter.

[213] For instances see Matt. 9:27; 15:22; 21:9; 20:30, 31, with which
compare Luke 18:38, 39.

[214] Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8; see also Acts 2:30; 13:23; compare Psa.
132:11; see also Luke 1:32.

[215] Matt. 1:23.




Equally definite with the prophecies declaring that the Messiah would be
born in the lineage of David are the predictions that fix the place of
His birth at Bethlehem, a small town in Judea. There seems to have been
no difference of opinion among priests, scribes, or rabbis on the
matter, either before or since the great event. Bethlehem, though small
and of little importance in trade or commerce, was doubly endeared to
the Jewish heart as the birthplace of David and as that of the
prospective Messiah. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth of Galilee, far
removed from Bethlehem of Judea; and, at the time of which we speak, the
maternity of the Virgin was fast approaching.

At that time a decree went out from Rome ordering a taxing of the people
in all kingdoms and provinces tributary to the empire; the call was of
general scope, it provided "that all the world should be taxed."[216]
The taxing herein referred to may properly be understood as an
enrolment,[217] or a registration, whereby a census of Roman subjects
would be secured, upon which as a basis the taxation of the different
peoples would be determined. This particular census was the second of
three such general registrations recorded by historians as occurring at
intervals of about twenty years. Had the census been taken by the usual
Roman method, each person would have been enrolled at the town of his
residence; but the Jewish custom, for which the Roman law had respect,
necessitated registration at the cities or towns claimed by the
respective families as their ancestral homes. As to whether the
requirement was strictly mandatory that every family should thus
register at the city of its ancestors, we need not be specially
concerned; certain it is that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, the
city of David, to be inscribed under the imperial decree.[218]

The little town was crowded at the time, most likely by the multitude
that had come in obedience to the same summons; and, in consequence,
Joseph and Mary failed to find the most desirable accommodations and had
to be content with the conditions of an improvised camp, as travelers
unnumbered had done before, and as uncounted others have done since, in
that region and elsewhere. We cannot reasonably regard this circumstance
as evidence of extreme destitution; doubtless it entailed inconvenience,
but it gives us no assurance of great distress or suffering.[219] It was
while she was in this situation that Mary the Virgin gave birth to her
firstborn, the Son of the Highest, the Only Begotten of the Eternal
Father, Jesus the Christ.

But few details of attendant circumstances are furnished us. We are not
told how soon the birth occurred after the arrival of Mary and her
husband at Bethlehem. It may have been the purpose of the evangelist who
made the record to touch upon matters of purely human interest as
lightly as was consistent with the narration of fact, in order that the
central truth might neither be hidden nor overshadowed by unimportant
incident. We read in Holy Writ this only of the actual birth: "And so it
was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she
should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and
wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there
was no room for them at the inn."[220]

In vivid contrast with the simplicity and brevity of the scriptural
account and of its paucity of incidental details, is the mass of
circumstance supplied by the imagination of men, much of which is wholly
unsupported by authoritative record and in many respects is plainly
inconsistent and untrue. It is the part of prudence and wisdom to
segregate and keep distinctly separate the authenticated statements of
fact, in so momentous a matter, from the fanciful commentaries of
historians, theologians, and writers of fiction, as also from the
emotional rhapsodies of poets and artistic extravaganzas wrought by
chisel or brush.

From the period of its beginning, Bethlehem had been the home of people
engaged mostly in pastoral and agricultural pursuits. It is quite in
line with what is known of the town and its environs to find at the
season of Messiah's birth, which was in the springtime of the year, that
flocks were in the field both night and day under the watchful care of
their keepers. Unto certain of these humble shepherds came the first
proclamation that the Savior had been born. Thus runs the simple record:
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord
came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and
they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for,
behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all
people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall
find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And
suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men."[221]

Tidings of such import had never before been delivered by angel or
received by man--good tidings of great joy, given to but few and those
among the humblest of earth, but destined to spread to all people. There
is sublime grandeur in the scene, as there is divine authorship in the
message, and the climax is such as the mind of man could never have
conceived--the sudden appearance of a multitude of the heavenly host,
singing audibly to human ears the briefest, most consistent and most
truly complete of all the songs of peace ever attuned by mortal or
spirit choir. What a consummation to be wished--Peace on earth! But how
can such come except through the maintenance of good will toward men?
And through what means could glory to God in the highest be more
effectively rendered?

The trustful and unsophisticated keepers of sheep had not asked for sign
or confirmation; their faith was in unison with the heavenly
communication; nevertheless the angel had given them what he called a
sign, to guide them in their search. They waited not, but went in haste,
for in their hearts they believed, yea, more than believed, they knew,
and this was the tenor of their resolve: "Let us now go even unto
Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath
made known unto us."[222] They found the Babe in the manger, with the
mother and Joseph near by; and, having seen, they went out and testified
to the truth concerning the Child. They returned to their flocks,
glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.

There is meaning as deep as the pathos that all must feel in the
seemingly parenthetical remark by Luke. "But Mary kept all these things,
and pondered them in her heart."[223] It is apparent that the great
truth as to the personality and mission of her divine Son had not yet
unfolded itself in its fulness to her mind. The whole course of events,
from the salutation of Gabriel to the reverent testimony of the
shepherds concerning the announcing angel and the heavenly hosts, was
largely a mystery to that stainless mother and wife.


The Child was born a Jew; the mother was a Jewess, and the reputed and
legal father, Joseph, was a Jew. The true paternity of the Child was
known to but few, perhaps at that time to none save Mary, Joseph, and
possibly Elisabeth and Zacharias; as He grew He was regarded by the
people as Joseph's son.[224] The requirements of the law were carried
out with exactitude in all matters pertaining to the Child. When eight
days old He was circumcized, as was required of every male born in
Israel;[225] and at the same time He received as an earthly bestowal the
name that had been prescribed at the annunciation. He was called JESUS,
which, being interpreted is Savior; the name was rightfully His for He
came to save the people from their sins.[226]

Part of the law given through Moses to the Israelites in the wilderness
and continued in force down through the centuries, related to the
procedure prescribed for women after childbirth.[227] In compliance
therewith, Mary remained in retirement forty days following the birth of
her Son; then she and her husband brought the Boy for presentation
before the Lord as prescribed for the male firstborn of every family. It
is manifestly impossible that all such presentations could have taken
place in the temple, for many Jews lived at great distances from
Jerusalem; it was the rule, however, that parents should present their
children in the temple when possible. Jesus was born within five or six
miles from Jerusalem; He was accordingly taken to the temple for the
ceremonial of redemption from the requirement applying to the firstborn
of all Israelites except Levites. It will be remembered that the
children of Israel had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt with the
accompaniment of signs and wonders. Because of Pharaoh's repeated
refusals to let the people go, plagues had been brought upon the
Egyptians, one of which was the death of the firstborn throughout the
land, excepting only the people of Israel. In remembrance of this
manifestation of power, the Israelites were required to dedicate their
firstborn sons to the service of the sanctuary.[228] Subsequently the
Lord directed that all males belonging to the tribe of Levi should be
devoted to this special labor instead of the firstborn in every tribe;
nevertheless the eldest son was still claimed as particularly the Lord's
own, and had to be formally exempted from the earlier requirement of
service by the paying of a ransom.[229]

In connection with the ceremony of purification, every mother was
required to furnish a yearling lamb for a burnt offering, and a young
pigeon or dove for a sin offering; but in the case of any woman who was
unable to provide a lamb, a pair of doves or pigeons might be offered.
We learn of the humble circumstances of Joseph and Mary from the fact
that they brought the less costly offering, two doves or pigeons,
instead of one bird and a lamb.

Among the righteous and devout Israelites were some who, in spite of
traditionalism, rabbinism, and priestly corruption, still lived in
righteous expectation of inspired confidence, awaiting patiently the
consolation of Israel.[230] One of these was Simeon, then living in
Jerusalem. Through the power of the Holy Ghost he had gained the promise
that he should not see death until he had looked upon the Lord's Christ
in the flesh. Prompted by the Spirit he repaired to the temple on the
day of the presentation of Jesus, and recognized in the Babe the
promised Messiah. In the moment of realization that the hope of his life
had found glorious consummation, Simeon raised the Child reverently in
his arms, and, with the simple but undying eloquence that comes of God
uttered this splendid supplication, in which thanksgiving, resignation
and praise are so richly blended:

    "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according
    to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou
    hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten
    the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."[231]

Then under the spirit of prophecy, Simeon told of the greatness of the
Child's mission, and of the anguish that the mother would be called to
endure because of Him, which would be even like unto that of a sword
piercing her soul. The Spirit's witness to the divinity of Jesus was not
to be confined to a man. There was at that time in the temple a godly
woman of great age, Anna, a prophetess who devoted herself exclusively
to temple service; and she, being inspired of God, recognized her
Redeemer, and testified of Him to all about her. Both Joseph and Mary
marveled at the things that were spoken of the Child; seemingly they
were not yet able to comprehend the majesty of Him who had come to them
through so miraculous a conception and so marvelous a birth.


Some time after the presentation of Jesus in the temple, though how long
we are not told, possibly but a few days, possibly weeks or even months,
Herod, king of Judea, was greatly troubled, as were the people of
Jerusalem in general, over the report that a Child of Prophecy--one
destined to become King of the Jews--had been born. Herod was
professedly an adherent of the religion of Judah, though by birth an
Idumean, by descent an Edomite or one of the posterity of Esau, all of
whom the Jews hated; and of all Edomites not one was more bitterly
detested than was Herod the king. He was tyrannical and merciless,
sparing neither foe nor friend who came under suspicion of being a
possible hindrance to his ambitious designs. He had his wife and several
of his sons, as well as others of his blood kindred, cruelly murdered;
and he put to death nearly all of the great national council, the
Sanhedrin. His reign was one of revolting cruelty and unbridled
oppression. Only when in danger of inciting a national revolt or in fear
of incurring the displeasure of his imperial master, the Roman emperor,
did he stay his hand in any undertaking.[232]

Rumors of the birth of Jesus reached Herod's ears in this way. There
came to Jerusalem certain men from afar, wise men they were called, and
they asked, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen
his star in the east, and are come to worship him."[233] Herod summoned
"all the chief priests and scribes of the people," and demanded of them
where, according to the prophets, Christ should be born. They answered
him: "In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And
thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes
of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my
people Israel."[234]

Herod sent secretly for the wise men, and inquired of them as to the
source of their information, and particularly as to the time at which
the star, to which they attached such significance, had appeared. Then
he directed them to Bethlehem, saying: "Go and search diligently for the
young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may
come and worship him also." As the men set out from Jerusalem on the
last stage of their journey of inquiry and search, they rejoiced
exceedingly, for the new star they had seen in the east was again
visible. They found the house wherein Mary was living with her husband
and the Babe, and as they recognized the royal Child they "fell down,
and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they
presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."[235]
Having thus gloriously accomplished the purpose of their pilgrimage,
these devout and learned travelers prepared to return home, and would
have stopped at Jerusalem to report to the king as he had requested, but
"being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod,
they departed into their own country another way."[236]

Much has been written, beyond all possible warrant of scriptural
authority, concerning the visit of the magi, or wise men, who thus
sought and found the infant Christ. As a matter of fact, we are left
without information as to their country, nation, or tribal relationship;
we are not even told how many they were, though unauthenticated
tradition has designated them as "the three wise men," and has even
given them names; whereas they are left unnamed in the scriptures, the
only true record of them extant, and may have numbered but two or many.
Attempts have been made to identify the star whose appearance in their
eastern sky had assured the magi that the King was born; but astronomy
furnishes no satisfactory confirmation. The recorded appearance of the
star has been associated by both ancient and modern interpreters with
the prophecy of Balaam, who, though not an Israelite had blessed Israel,
and under divine inspiration had predicted: "there shall come a Star out
of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel."[237] Moreover, as
already shown, the appearance of a new star was a predicted sign
recognized and acknowledged among the people of the western world as
witness of Messiah's birth.[238]


Herod's perfidy in directing the magi to return and report to him where
the royal Infant was to be found, falsely professing that he wished to
worship Him also, while in his heart he purposed taking the Child's
life, was thwarted by the divine warning given to the wise men as
already noted. Following their departure, the angel of the Lord appeared
to Joseph, saying: "Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and
flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod
will seek the young child to destroy him."[239] In obedience to this
command, Joseph took Mary and her Child, and set out by night on the
journey to Egypt; and there the family remained until divinely directed
to return. When it was apparent to the king that the wise men had
ignored his instructions, he was exceedingly angry; and, estimating the
earliest time at which the birth could have occurred according to the
magis' statement of the star's appearing, he ruthlessly ordered the
slaughter of "all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the
coasts thereof, from two years old and under."[240] In this massacre of
the innocents, the evangelist found a fulfilment of Jeremiah's fateful
voicing of the word of the Lord, spoken six centuries earlier and
expressed in the forceful past tense as though then already
accomplished: "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and
weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would
not be comforted, because they are not."[241]


As heretofore shown, the prophets of the western hemisphere had foretold
in great plainness the earthly advent of the Lord, and had specifically
set forth the time, place, and circumstances of His birth.[242] As the
time drew near the people were divided by conflicting opinions
concerning the reliability of these prophecies; and intolerant
unbelievers cruelly persecuted those, who, like Zacharias, Simeon, Anna,
and other righteous ones in Palestine, had maintained in faith and trust
their unwavering expectation of the coming of the Lord. Samuel, a
righteous Lamanite, who, because of his faithfulness and sacrificing
devotion had been blessed with the spirit and power of prophecy,
fearlessly proclaimed the birth of Christ as near: "And behold, he said
unto them, Behold I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh,
and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall
believe on his name."[243] The prophet told of many signs and wonders,
which were to mark the great event. As the five years ran their course,
the believers grew more steadfast, the unbelievers more violent, until
the last day of the specified period dawned; and this was the "day set
apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those
traditions should be put to death, except the sign should come to pass
which had been given by Samuel the prophet."[244]

Nephi, a prophet of the time, cried unto the Lord in anguish of soul
because of the persecution of which his people were the victims; "and
behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying, Lift up your head
and be of good cheer, for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night
shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to
shew unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to
be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. Behold, I come unto my own,
to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men,
from the foundation of the world, and do the will, both of the Father,
and of the Son; of the Father, because of me, and of the Son, because of
my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign
be given."[245]

The words of the prophet were fulfilled that night; for though the sun
set in its usual course there was no darkness; and on the morrow the sun
rose on a land already illumined; a day and a night and another day had
been as one day; and this was but one of the signs. A new star appeared
in the firmament of the west, even as was seen by the magi in the east;
and there were many other marvelous manifestations as the prophets had
predicted. All these things occurred on what is now known as the
American continent, six hundred years after Lehi and his little company
had left Jerusalem to come hither.


The time of Messiah's birth is a subject upon which specialists in
theology and history, and those who are designated in literature "the
learned," fail to agree. Numerous lines of investigation have been
followed, only to reach divergent conclusions, both as to the year and
as to the month and day within the year at which the "Christian era" in
reality began. The establishment of the birth of Christ as an event
marking a time from which chronological data should be calculated, was
first effected about 532 A.D. by Dionysius Exiguus; and as a basis for
the reckoning of time this method has come to be known as the Dionysian
system, and takes for its fundamental datum A.U.C. 753, that is to say
753 years after the founding of Rome, as the year of our Lord's birth.
So far as there exists any consensus of opinion among later scholars who
have investigated the subject, it is to the effect that the Dionysian
calculation is wrong, in that it places the birth of Christ between
three and four years too late; and that therefore our Lord was born in
the third or fourth year before the beginning of what is designated by
the scholars of Oxford and Cambridge, "the Common Account called Anno

Without attempting to analyze the mass of calculation data relating to
this subject, we accept the Dionysian basis as correct with respect to
the year, which is to say that we believe Christ to have been born in
the year known to us as B.C. 1, and, as shall be shown, in an early
month of that year. In support of this belief we cite the inspired
record known as the "Revelation on Church Government, given through
Joseph the Prophet, in April, 1830," which opens with these words: "The
rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand
eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ in the flesh."[247]

Another evidence of the correctness of our commonly accepted chronology
is furnished by the Book of Mormon record. Therein we read that "in the
commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah,"
the word of the Lord came to Lehi at Jerusalem, directing him to take
his family and depart into the wilderness.[248] In the early stages of
their journey toward the sea, Lehi prophesied, as had been shown him of
the Lord, concerning the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the
captivity of the Jews. Furthermore, he predicted the eventual return of
the people of Judah from their exile in Babylon, and the birth of the
Messiah, which latter event he definitely declared would take place six
hundred years from the time he and his people had left Jerusalem.[249]
This specification of time was repeated by later prophecy;[250] and the
signs of the actual fulfilment are recorded as having been realized "six
hundred years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem."[251] These
scriptures fix the time of the beginning of Zedekiah's reign as six
hundred years before the birth of Christ. According to the commonly
accepted reckoning, Zedekiah was made king in the year 597 B.C.[252]
This shows a discrepancy of about three years between the commonly
accepted date of Zedekiah's inauguration as king and that given in the
Book of Mormon statement; and, as already seen, there is a difference of
between three and four years between the Dionysian reckoning and the
nearest approach to an agreement among scholars concerning the beginning
of the current era. Book of Mormon chronology therefore sustains in
general the correctness of the common or Dionysian system.

As to the season of the year in which Christ was born, there is among
the learned as great a diversity of opinion as that relating to the year
itself. It is claimed by many Biblical scholars that December 25th, the
day celebrated in Christendom as Christmas, cannot be the correct date.
We believe April 6th to be the birthday of Jesus Christ as indicated in
a revelation of the present dispensation already cited,[253] in which
that day is made without qualification the completion of the one
thousand eight hundred and thirtieth year since the coming of the Lord
in the flesh. This acceptance is admittedly based on faith in modern
revelation, and in no wise is set forth as the result of chronological
research or analysis. We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem
of Judea, April 6, B.C. 1.


1. The "Taxing."--Regarding the presence of Joseph and Mary in
Bethlehem, far from their Galilean home, and the imperial decree by
compliance with which they were led there, the following notes are
worthy of consideration. Farrar (_Life of Christ_, p. 24, note), says:
"It appears to be uncertain whether the journey of Mary with her husband
was obligatory or voluntary.... Women were liable to a capitation tax,
if this enrolment also involved taxation. But, apart from any legal
necessity, it may easily be imagined that at such a moment Mary would
desire not to be left alone. The cruel suspicion of which she had been
the subject, and which had almost led to the breaking off of her
betrothal (Matt. 1:19) would make her cling all the more to the
protection of her husband." The following excerpt is from Geikie's _Life
and Words of Christ_, vol. 1, chap. 9; p. 108: "The Jewish nation had
paid tribute to Rome through their rulers, since the days of Pompey; and
the methodical Augustus, who now reigned, and had to restore order and
soundness to the finances of the empire, after the confusion and
exhaustion of the civil wars, took good care that this obligation should
neither be forgotten nor evaded. He was accustomed to require a census
to be taken periodically in every province of his vast dominions, that
he might know the number of soldiers he could levy in each, and the
amount of taxes due to the treasury.... In an empire embracing the then
known world, such a census could hardly have been made simultaneously,
or in any short or fixed time; more probably it was the work of years,
in successive provinces or kingdoms. Sooner or later, however, even the
dominions of vassal kings like Herod had to furnish the statistics
demanded by their master. He had received his kingdom on the footing of
a subject, and grew more entirely dependent on Augustus as years passed,
asking his sanction at every turn for steps he proposed to take. He
would, thus, be only too ready to meet his wish, by obtaining the
statistics he sought, as may be judged from the fact that in one of the
last years of his life, just before Christ's birth, he made the whole
Jewish nation take a solemn oath of allegiance to the emperor as well as
to himself.

"It is quite probable that the mode of taking the required statistics
was left very much to Herod, at once to show respect to him before his
people, and from the known opposition of the Jews to anything like a
general numeration, even apart from the taxation to which it was
designed to lead. At the time to which the narrative refers, a simple
registration seems to have been made, on the old Hebrew plan of
enrolling by families in their ancestral districts, of course for future
use; and thus it passed over quietly.... The proclamation having been
made through the land, Joseph had no choice but to go to Bethlehem, the
city of David, the place in which his family descent, from the house and
lineage of David, required him to be inscribed."

2. Jesus Born Amidst Poor Surroundings.--Undoubtedly the accommodations
for physical comfort amidst which Jesus was born were few and poor. But
the environment, considered in the light of the customs of the country
and time, was far from the state of abject deprivation which modern and
western ways would make it appear. "Camping out" was no unusual exigency
among travelers in Palestine at the time of our Lord's birth; nor is it
considered such to-day. It is, however, beyond question that Jesus was
born into a comparatively poor family, amidst humble surroundings
associated with the inconveniences incident to travel. Cunningham
Geikie, _Life and Words of Christ_, chap. 9, pp. 112, 113, says: "It was
to Bethlehem that Joseph and Mary were coming, the town of Ruth and
Boaz, and the early home of their own great forefather David. As they
approached it from Jerusalem they would pass, at the last mile, a spot
sacred to Jewish memory, where the light of Jacob's life went out, when
his first love, Rachel, died, and was buried, as her tomb still shows,
'in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.' ... Traveling in the East
has always been very different from Western ideas. As in all
thinly-settled countries, private hospitality, in early times, supplied
the want of inns, but it was the peculiarity of the East that this
friendly custom continued through a long series of ages. On the great
roads through barren or uninhabited parts, the need of shelter led, very
early, to the erection of rude and simple buildings, of varying size,
known as khans, which offered the wayfarer the protection of walls and a
roof, and water, but little more. The smaller structures consisted of
sometimes only a single empty room, on the floor of which the traveler
might spread his carpet for sleep; the larger ones, always built in a
hollow square, enclosing a court for the beasts, with water in it for
them and their masters. From immemorial antiquity it has been a favorite
mode of benevolence to raise such places of shelter, as we see so far
back as the times of David, when Chimham built a great khan near
Bethlehem, on the caravan road to Egypt."

Canon Farrar (_Life of Christ_, chap, 1) accepts the traditional belief
that the shelter within which Jesus was born was that of one of the
numerous limestone caves which abound in the region, and which are still
used by travelers as resting places. He says: "In Palestine it not
infrequently happens that the entire khan, or at any rate the portion of
it in which the animals are housed, is one of those innumerable caves
which abound in the limestone rocks of its central hills. Such seems to
have been in the case at the little town of Bethlehem-Ephratah, in the
land of Judah. Justin Martyr, the Apologist, who, from his birth at
Shechem, was familiar with Palestine, and who lived less than a century
after the time of our Lord, places the scene of the nativity in a cave.
This is, indeed, the ancient and constant tradition both of the Eastern
and the Western Churches, and it is one of the few to which, though
unrecorded in the Gospel history, we may attach a reasonable

3. Herod the Great.--The history of Herod I, otherwise known as Herod
the Great, must be sought in special works, in which the subject is
treated at length. Some of the principal facts should be considered in
our present study, and for the assistance of the student a few extracts
from works regarded as reliable are presented herewith.

Condensed from part of article in the _Standard Bible Dictionary_,
edited by Jacobus, Nourse, and Zenos; published by Funk and Wagnalls
Co., 1909:--Herod I, the son of Antipater, was early given office by his
father, who had been made procurator of Judea. The first office which
Herod held was that of governor of Galilee. He was then a young man of
about twenty-five, energetic and athletic. Immediately he set about the
eradication of the robber bands that infested his district, and soon was
able to execute the robber chief Hezekiah and several of his followers.
For this he was summoned to Jerusalem by the Sanhedrin, tried and
condemned, but with the connivance of Hyrcanus II [the high priest and
ethnarch] he escaped by night.--He went to Rome where he was appointed
King of Judea by Antony and Octavius.--For the next two years he was
engaged in fighting the forces of Antigonus, whom he finally defeated,
and in 37 B.C. gained possession of Jerusalem.--As king, Herod
confronted serious difficulties. The Jews objected to him because of his
birth and reputation. The Asmonean family regarded him as a usurper,
notwithstanding the fact that he had married Mariamne. The Pharisees
were shocked at his Hellenistic sympathies, as well as at his severe
methods of government. On the other hand the Romans held him responsible
for the order of his kingdom, and the protection of the eastern frontier
of the Republic. Herod met these various difficulties with
characteristic energy and even cruelty, and generally with cold
sagacity. Although he taxed the people severely, in times of famine he
remitted their dues and even sold his plate to get means to buy them
food. While he never became actually friendly with the Pharisees, they
profited by his hostility to the party of the Asmoneans, which led at
the beginning of his reign to the execution of a number of Sadducees who
were members of the Sanhedrin.

From Smith's _Comprehensive Dictionary of the Bible_: The latter part
"of the reign of Herod was undisturbed by external troubles, but his
domestic life was embittered by an almost uninterrupted series of
injuries and cruel acts of vengeance. The terrible acts of bloodshed
which Herod perpetrated in his own family were accompanied by others
among his subjects equally terrible, from the number who fell victims to
them. According to the well-known story, he ordered the nobles whom he
had called to him in his last moments to be executed immediately after
his decease, that so at least his death might be attended by universal
mourning. It was at the time of his fatal illness that he must have
caused the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem" (Matt. 2:16-18).

The mortal end of the tyrant and multi-murderer is thus treated by
Farrar in his _Life of Christ_, pp. 54, 55:--"It must have been very
shortly after the murder of the innocents that Herod died. Only five
days before his death he had made a frantic attempt at suicide, and had
ordered the execution of his eldest son Antipater. His death-bed, which
once more reminds us of Henry VIII., was accompanied by circumstances of
peculiar horror; and it has been asserted that he died of a loathsome
disease, which is hardly mentioned in history, except in the case of men
who have been rendered infamous by an atrocity of persecuting zeal. On
his bed of intolerable anguish, in that splendid and luxurious palace
which he had built for himself, under the palms of Jericho, swollen with
disease and scorched by thirst, ulcerated externally and glowing
inwardly with a 'soft slow fire,' surrounded by plotting sons and
plundering slaves, detesting all and detested by all, longing for death
as a release from his tortures yet dreading it as the beginning of worse
terrors, stung by remorse yet still unslaked with murder, a horror to
all around him yet in his guilty conscience a worse terror to himself,
devoured by the premature corruption of an anticipated grave, eaten of
worms as though visibly smitten by the finger of God's wrath after
seventy years of successful villainy, the wretched old man, whom men had
called the Great, lay in savage frenzy awaiting his last hour. As he
knew that none would shed one tear for him, he determined that they
should shed many for themselves, and issued an order that, under pain of
death, the principal families of the kingdom and the chiefs of the
tribes should come to Jericho. They came, and then, shutting them in the
hippodrome, he secretly commanded his sister Salome that at the moment
of his death they should all be massacred. And so, choking as it were
with blood, devising massacres in its very delirium, the soul of Herod
passed forth into the night."

For mention of the Temple of Herod see Note 5, following Chapter 6.

4. Gifts from the Wise Men to the Child Jesus.--The scriptural account
of the visit of the wise men to Jesus and His mother states that they
"fell down and worshipped him," and furthermore that "when they had
opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and
frankincense, and myrrh." The offering of gifts to a superior in rank,
either as to worldly status or recognized spiritual endowment, was a
custom of early days and still prevails in many oriental lands. It is
worthy of note that we have no record of these men from the east
offering gifts to Herod in his palace; they did, however, impart of
their treasure to the lowly Infant, in whom they recognized the King
they had come to seek. The tendency to ascribe occult significance to
even trifling details mentioned in scripture, and particularly as
regards the life of Christ, has led to many fanciful suggestions
concerning the gold and frankincense and myrrh specified in this
incident. Some have supposed a half-hidden symbolism therein--gold a
tribute to His royal estate, frankincense an offering in recognition of
His priesthood, and myrrh for His burial. The sacred record offers no
basis for such conjecture. Myrrh and frankincense are aromatic resins
derived from plants indigenous to eastern lands, and they have been used
from very early times in medicine and in the preparation of perfumes and
incense mixtures. They were presumably among the natural productions of
the lands from which the magi came, though probably even there they were
costly and highly esteemed. Such, together with gold, which is of value
among all nations, were most appropriate as gifts for a king. Any
mystical significance one may choose to attach to the presents must be
remembered as his own supposition or fancy, and not as based on
scriptural warrant.

5. Testimonies from Shepherds and Magi.--The following instructive note
on the testimonies relating to Messiah's birth, is taken from the _Young
Men's Mutual Improvement Association Manual_ for 1897-8: "It will be
observed that the testimonies concerning the birth of the Messiah are
from two extremes, the lowly shepherds in the Judean field, and the
learned magi from the far east. We cannot think this is the result of
mere chance, but that in it may be discerned the purpose and wisdom of
God. All Israel was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, and in
the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, the hope of Israel--though unknown to
Israel--is fulfilled. Messiah, of whom the prophet spake, is born. But
there must be those who can testify of that truth, and hence to the
shepherds who watched their flocks by night an angel was sent to say:
'Fear not, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be
to all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a
Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord.' And for a sign of the truth of the
message, they were to find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying
in a manger in Bethlehem. And they went with haste and found Mary and
Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger; and when they had seen it, they
made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
God had raised up to Himself witnesses among the people to testify that
Messiah was born, that the hope of Israel was fulfilled. But there were
classes of people among the Jews whom these lowly shepherd witnesses
could not reach, and had they been able to reach them, the story of the
angel's visit, and the concourse of angels singing the magnificent song
of 'Peace on earth, good will to men,' would doubtless have been
accounted an idle tale of superstitious folk, deceived by their own
over-wrought imaginations or idle dreams. Hence God raised up another
class of witnesses--the 'wise men from the east'--witnesses that could
enter the royal palace of proud King Herod and boldly ask: 'Where is he
that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east,
and are come to worship him'; a testimony that startled Herod and
troubled all Jerusalem. So that indeed God raised up witnesses for
Himself to meet all classes and conditions of men--the testimony of
angels for the poor and the lowly; the testimony of wise men for the
haughty king and proud priests of Judea. So that of the things
concerning the birth of Messiah, no less than of the things of His death
and resurrection from the dead, His disciples could say, 'these things
were not done in a corner.'"

6. The Year of Christ's Birth.--In treating this topic Dr. Charles F.
Deems (_The Light of the Nations_, p. 28), after giving careful
consideration of the estimates, calculations, and assumptions of men who
have employed many means in their investigation and reach only
discordant results says: "It is annoying to see learned men use the same
apparatus of calculation and reach the most diverse results. It is
bewildering to attempt a reconciliation of these varying calculations."
In an appended note the same author states: "For example: the birth of
our Lord is placed in B.C. 1 by Pearson and Hug; B.C. 2 by Scalinger;
B.C. 3 by Baronius and Paulus; B.C. 4 by Bengel, Wieseler, and Greswell;
B.C. 5 by Usher and Petavius; B.C. 6 by Strong, Luvin, and Clark; B.C. 7
by Ideler and Sanclemente."


[216] Luke 2:1; see also verses 2-4. Note 1, end of chapter.

[217] Note marginal reading, Oxford and Bagster Bibles.

[218] Note 1, end of chapter.

[219] Note 2, end of chapter.

[220] Luke 2:6, 7.

[221] Luke 2:8-14.

[222] Luke 2:15.

[223] Luke 2:19.

[224] Luke 4:22; Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3.

[225] Gen. 17:12, 13; Lev. 12:3; compare John 7:22. Page 88.

[226] Luke 2:21; compare 1:31; Matt. 1:21, 25.

[227] Lev. chap. 12.

[228] Exo. 12:29; 13:2, 12; 22:29, 30.

[229] Numb. 8:15-18; 18:15, 16.

[230] Luke 2:25; see also verse 38; Mark 15:43; compare Psa. 40:1.

[231] Luke 2:29-32. These verses are known in Christian hymnology as the
Nunc Dimittis; the name has reference to the first two words of the
Latin version.

[232] Note 3, end of chapter.

[233] Matt. 2:2; read 1-10.

[234] Matt. 2:5, 6; compare Micah 5:2; John 7:42.

[235] Note 4, end of chapter.

[236] Note 5, end of chapter.

[237] Numb. 24:17.

[238] B. of M., Helaman 14:5; 3 Nephi 1:21. Pp. 52, 101 and 721 herein.

[239] Matt. 2:13.

[240] Matt. 2:16.

[241] Matt. 2:17, 18; compare Jer. 31:15.

[242] Page 49.

[243] B. of M., Helaman 14:2; read 1-9.

[244] B. of M., 3 Nephi 1:9; read verses 4-21.

[245] B. of M., 3 Nephi 1:12-21.

[246] Marginal reading, Oxford and Bagster Bibles, Matt. 2:1.

[247] Doc. and Cov. 20:1; compare 21:3. Note 6, end of chapter.

[248] B. of M., 1 Nephi 1:4; 2:2-4.

[249] B. of M., 1 Nephi 10:4.

[250] B. of M., 1 Nephi 19:8; 2 Nephi 25:19.

[251] B. of M., 3 Nephi 1:1.

[252] "Standard Bible Dictionary," edited by Jacobus, Nourse, and Zenos,
pub. by Funk & Wagnalls Co., New York and London, 1909, p. 915, article

[253] Doc. and Cov. 20:1; compare 21:2



Joseph, Mary, and her Son remained in Egypt until after the death of
Herod the Great, which event was made known by another angelic
visitation. Their stay in the foreign land was probably brief, for Herod
did not long survive the babes he had slain in Bethlehem. In the return
of the family from Egypt the evangelist finds a fulfilment of Hosea's
prophetic vision of what should be: "Out of Egypt have I called my

It appears to have been Joseph's intention to make a home for the family
in Judea, possibly at Bethlehem--the city of his ancestors and a place
now even more endeared to him as the birthplace of Mary's Child--but,
learning on the way that Herod's son Archelaus ruled in the place of his
wicked father, Joseph modified his purpose; and, "being warned of God in
a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and
dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was
spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."[255]

While Archelaus, who appears to have been a natural heir to his infamous
father's wickedness and cruelty, ruled in Judea,[256] for a short time
as king, then with the less exalted title of ethnarch, which had been
decreed to him by the emperor, his brother Antipas governed as tetrarch
in Galilee. Herod Antipas was well nigh as vicious and reprobate as
others of his unprincipled family, but he was less aggressive in
vindictiveness, and in that period of his reign was comparatively

Concerning the home life of Joseph and his family in Nazareth, the
scriptural record makes but brief mention. The silence with which the
early period of the life of Jesus is treated by the inspired historians
is impressive; while the fanciful accounts written in later years by
unauthorized hands are full of fictitious detail, much of which is
positively revolting in its puerile inconsistency. None but Joseph,
Mary, and the other members of the immediate family or close associates
of the household could have furnished the facts of daily life in the
humble home at Nazareth; and from these qualified informants Matthew and
Luke probably derived the knowledge of which they wrote. The record made
by those who knew is marked by impressive brevity. In this absence of
detail we may see evidence of the genuineness of the scriptural account.
Inventive writers would have supplied, as, later, such did supply, what
we seek in vain within the chapters of the Gospels. With hallowed
silence do the inspired scribes honor the boyhood of their Lord; he who
seeks to invent circumstances and to invest the life of Christ with
fictitious additions, dishonors Him. Read thoughtfully the attested
truth concerning the childhood of the Christ: "And the child grew, and
waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was
upon him."[258]

In such simplicity is the normal, natural development of the Boy Jesus
made clear. He came among men to experience all the natural conditions
of mortality; He was born as truly a dependent, helpless babe as is any
other child; His infancy was in all common features as the infancy of
others; His boyhood was actual boyhood, His development was as necessary
and as real as that of all children. Over His mind had fallen the veil
of forgetfulness common to all who are born to earth, by which the
remembrance of primeval existence is shut off. The Child grew, and with
growth there came to Him expansion of mind, development of faculties,
and progression in power and understanding. His advancement was from one
grace to another, not from gracelessness to grace; from good to greater
good, not from evil to good; from favor with God to greater favor, not
from estrangement because of sin to reconciliation through repentance
and propitiation.[259]

Our knowledge of Jewish life in that age justifies the inference that
the Boy was well taught in the law and the scriptures, for such was the
rule. He garnered knowledge by study, and gained wisdom by prayer,
thought, and effort. Beyond question He was trained to labor, for
idleness was abhorred then as it is now; and every Jewish boy, whether
carpenter's son, peasant's child, or rabbi's heir, was required to learn
and follow a practical and productive vocation. Jesus was all that a boy
should be, for His development was unretarded by the dragging weight of
sin; He loved and obeyed the truth and therefore was free.[260]

Joseph and Mary, devout and faithful in all observances of the law, went
up to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. This religious
festival, it should be remembered, was one of the most solemn and sacred
among the many ceremonial commemorations of the Jews; it had been
established at the time of the peoples' exodus from Egypt, in
remembrance of the outstretched arm of power by which God had delivered
Israel after the angel of destruction had slain the firstborn in every
Egyptian home and had mercifully passed over the houses of the children
of Jacob.[261] It was of such importance that its annual recurrence was
made the beginning of the new year. The law required all males to
present themselves before the Lord at the feast. The rule was that women
should likewise attend if not lawfully detained; and Mary appears to
have followed both the spirit of the law and the letter of the rule, for
she habitually accompanied her husband to the annual gathering at

When Jesus had attained the age of twelve years He was taken by His
mother and Joseph to the feast as the law required; whether the Boy had
ever before been present on such an occasion we are not told: At twelve
years of age a Jewish boy was recognized as a member of his home
community; he was required then to enter with definite purpose upon his
chosen vocation; he attained an advanced status as an individual in that
thereafter he could not be arbitrarily disposed of as a bond-servant by
his parents; he was appointed to higher studies in school and home; and,
when accepted by the priests, he became a "son of the law." It was the
common and very natural desire of parents to have their sons attend the
feast of the Passover and be present at the temple ceremonies as
recognized members of the congregation when of the prescribed age. Thus
came the Boy Jesus to the temple.

The feast proper lasted seven days, and in the time of Christ was
annually attended by great concourses of Jews; Josephus speaks of such a
Passover gathering as "an innumerable multitude."[262] The people came
from distant provinces in large companies and caravans, as a matter of
convenience and as a means of common protection against the marauding
bands which are known to have infested the country. As members of such a
company Joseph and his family traveled.

When, following the conclusion of the Passover, the Galilean company had
gone a day's journey toward home, Joseph and Mary discovered to their
surprize and deep concern that Jesus was not with their company. After a
fruitless search among their friends and acquaintances, they turned back
toward Jerusalem seeking the Boy. Their inquiries brought little comfort
or assistance until three days had passed; then "they, found him in the
temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and
asking them questions."[263] It was no unusual thing for a twelve year
old boy to be questioned by priests, scribes, or rabbis, nor to be
permitted to ask questions of these professional expounders of the law,
for such procedure was part of the educational training of Jewish
youths; nor was there anything surprizing in such a meeting of students
and teachers within the temple courts, for the rabbis of that time were
accustomed to give instruction there; and people, young and old,
gathered about them, sitting at their feet to learn; but there was much
that was extraordinary in this interview as the demeanor of the learned
doctors showed, for never before had such a student been found, inasmuch
as "all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and
answers." The incident furnishes evidence of a wellspent boyhood and
proof of unusual attainments.[264]

The amazement of Mary and her husband on finding the Boy in such
distinguished company, and so plainly the object of deference and
respect, and the joy of seeing again the beloved One who to them had
been lost, did not entirely banish the memory of the anguish His absence
had caused them. In words of gentle yet unmistakable reproof the mother
said: "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I
have sought thee sorrowing." The Boy's reply astonished them, in that it
revealed, to an extent they had not before realized, His rapidly
maturing powers of judgment and understanding. Said He: "How is it that
ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"

Let us not say that there was unkind rebuke or unfilial reproof in the
answer of this most dutiful of sons to His mother. His reply was to Mary
a reminder of what she seems to have forgotten for the moment--the facts
in the matter of her Son's paternity. She had used the words "thy father
and I;" and her Son's response had brought anew to her mind the truth
that Joseph was not the Boy's father. She appears to have been
astonished that One so young should so thoroughly understand His
position with respect to herself. He had made plain to her the
inadvertent inaccuracy of her words; His Father had not been seeking
Him; for was He not even at that moment in His Father's house, and
particularly engaged in His Father's business, the very work to which
His Father had appointed Him?

He had in no wise intimated a doubt as to Mary's maternal relationship
to Himself; though He had indisputably shown that He recognized as His
Father, not Joseph of Nazareth, but the God of Heaven. Both Mary and
Joseph failed to comprehend the full import of His words. Though He
understood the superior claim of duty based on His divine Sonship, and
had shown to Mary that her authority as earthly mother was subordinate
to that of His immortal and divine Father, nevertheless He obeyed her.
Interested as were the doctors in this remarkable Boy, much as He had
given them to ponder over through His searching questions and wise
answers, they could not detain Him, for the very law they professed to
uphold enjoined strict obedience to parental authority. "And he went
down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his
mother kept all these sayings in her heart."

What marvelous and sacred secrets were treasured in that mother's heart;
and what new surprizes and grave problems were added day after day in
the manifestations of unfolding wisdom displayed by her more than mortal
Son! Though she could never have wholly forgotten, at times she
seemingly lost sight of her Son's exalted personality. That such
conditions should exist was perhaps divinely appointed. There could
scarcely have been a full measure of truly human experience in the
relationship between Jesus and His mother, or between Him and Joseph,
had the fact of His divinity been always dominant or even prominently
apparent. Mary appears never to have fully understood her Son; at every
new evidence of His uniqueness she marveled and pondered anew. He was
hers, and yet in a very real sense not wholly hers. There was about
their relation to each other a mystery, awful yet sublime, a holy secret
which that chosen and blessed mother hesitated even to tell over to
herself. Fear must have contended with joy within her soul because of
Him. The memory of Gabriel's glorious promises, the testimony of the
rejoicing shepherds, and the adoration of the magi must have struggled
with that of Simeon's portentous prophecy, directed to herself in
person: "Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also."[265]

As to the events of the eighteen years following the return of Jesus
from Jerusalem to Nazareth, the scriptures are silent save for one rich
sentence of greatest import: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,
and in favor with God and man."[266] Plainly this Son of the Highest was
not endowed with a fulness of knowledge, nor with the complete
investiture of wisdom, from the cradle.[267] Slowly the assurance of His
appointed mission as the Messiah, of whose coming He read in the law,
the prophets, and the psalms, developed within His soul; and in devoted
preparation for the ministry that should find culmination on the cross
He passed the years of youth and early manhood. From the chronicles of
later years we learn that He was reputed without question to be the son
of Joseph and Mary, and was regarded as the brother of other and younger
children of the family. He was spoken of both as a carpenter and a
carpenter's son; and, until the beginning of His public ministry He
appears to have been of little prominence even in the small home

He lived the simple life, at peace with His fellows, in communion with
His Father, thus increasing in favor with God and men. As shown by His
public utterances after He had become a man, these years of seclusion
were spent in active effort, both physical and mental. Jesus was a close
observer of nature and men. He was able to draw illustrations with which
to point His teachings from the varied occupations, trades and
professions; the ways of the lawyer and the physician, the manners of
the scribe, the Pharisee and the rabbi, the habits of the poor, the
customs of the rich, the life of the shepherd, the farmer, the
vinedresser and the fisherman--were all known to Him. He considered the
lilies of the field, and the grass in meadow and upland, the birds which
sowed not nor gathered into barns but lived on the bounty of their
Maker, the foxes in their holes, the petted house dog and the vagrant
cur, the hen sheltering her brood beneath protecting wings--all these
had contributed to the wisdom in which He grew, as had also the moods of
the weather, the recurrence of the seasons, and all the phenomena of
natural change and order.

Nazareth was the abode of Jesus until He was about thirty years of age;
and, in accordance with the custom of designating individuals by the
names of their home towns as additions to their personal names,[269] our
Lord came to be generally known as Jesus of Nazareth.[270] He is also
referred to as a Nazarene, or a native of Nazareth, and this fact is
cited by Matthew as a fulfilment of earlier prediction, though our
current compilation of scriptures constituting the Old Testament
contains no record of such prophecy. It is practically certain that this
prediction was contained in some one of the many scriptures extant in
earlier days but since lost.[271] That Nazareth was an obscure village,
of little honor or renown, is evidenced by the almost contemptuous
question of Nathanael, who, on being informed that the Messiah had been
found in Jesus of Nazareth, asked: "Can there any good thing come out of
Nazareth?"[272] The incredulous query has passed into a proverb current
even today as expressive of any unpopular or unpromising source of good.
Nathanael lived in Cana, but a few miles from Nazareth, and his surprize
at the tidings brought by Philip concerning the Messiah incidentally
affords evidence of the seclusion in which Jesus had lived.

So passed the boyhood, youth, and early manhood of the Savior of


1. Archelaus Reigned in Herod's Stead.--"At his death Herod [the Great]
left a will according to which his kingdom was to be divided among his
three sons. Archelaus was to have Judea, Idumea, and Samaria, with the
title of king (Matt 2:22). Herod Antipas was to receive Galilee and
Perea, with the title of tetrarch; Philip was to come into possession of
the trans-Jordan territory with the title of tetrarch (Luke 3:1). This
will was ratified by Augustus with the exception of the title given to
Archelaus. Archelaus, after the ratification of Herod's will by
Augustus, succeeded to the rule of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea, having
the title of ethnarch, with the understanding that, if he ruled well, he
was to become king. He was, however, highly unpopular with the people,
and his reign was marked by disturbances and acts of oppression. The
situation became finally so intolerable that the Jews appealed to
Augustus, and Archelaus was removed and sent into exile. This accounts
for the statement in Matt. 2:22, and possibly also suggested the point
of the parable (Luke 19:12, etc.)."--_Standard Bible Dictionary_, Funk
and Wagnalls Co., article "Herod." Early in his reign he wreaked summary
vengeance on the people who ventured to protest against a continuation
of his father's violence, by slaughtering three thousand or more; and
the awful deed of carnage was perpetrated in part within the precincts
of the temple. (Josephus, Antiquities xvii, 9:1-3.)

2. Herod Antipas.--Son of Herod I (the Great) by a Samaritan woman, and
full brother to Archelaus. By the will of his father he became tetrarch
of Galilee and Perea (Matt. 14:1; Luke 3:19; 9:7; Acts 13:1; compare
Luke 3:1). He repudiated his wife, a daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia
Petrea, and entered into an unlawful union with Herodias, the wife of
his half-brother Herod Philip I (not the tetrarch Philip). John the
Baptist was imprisoned and finally put to death, through the anger of
Herodias over his denunciation of her union with Herod Antipas. Herodias
urged Antipas to go to Rome and petition Cæsar for the title of king
(compare Mark 6:14, etc.). Antipas is the Herod most frequently
mentioned in the New Testament (Mark 6:17; 8:15; Luke 3:1; 9:7; 13:31;
Acts 4:27; 13:1). He was the Herod to whom Pilate sent Jesus for
examination, taking advantage of Christ being known as a Galilean, and
of the coincident fact of Herod's presence in Jerusalem at the time in
attendance at the Passover (Luke 23:6, etc.). For further details see
Smith's, Cassell's, or the Standard Bible Dictionary.

3. Testimony of John the Apostle Concerning Christ's Development in
Knowledge and Grace.--In a modern revelation, Jesus the Christ has
confirmed the record of John the apostle, which record appears but in
part in our compilation of ancient scriptures. John thus attests the
actuality of natural development in the growth of Jesus from childhood
to maturity: "And I, John, saw that he received not of the fullness at
the first, but received grace for grace; and he received not of the
fullness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received
a fullness; and thus he was called the Son of God, because he received
not of the fullness at the first." (Doc. and Cov. 93:12-14).
Notwithstanding this graded course of growth and development after His
birth in the flesh, Jesus Christ had been associated with the Father
from the beginning, as is set forth in the revelation cited. We read
therein: "And he [John] bore record, saying, I saw his glory that he was
in the beginning before the world was; therefore in the beginning the
Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation, the
light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into
the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of
men and the light of men. The worlds were made by him: men were made by
him: all things were made by him, and through him, and of him. And I,
John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only
Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of
truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us" (verses

4. Missing Scripture.--Matthew's commentary on the abode of Joseph, Mary
and Jesus at Nazareth, "and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth:
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be
called a Nazarene" (2:23), with the fact that no such saying of the
prophets is found in any of the books contained in the Bible, suggests
the certainty of lost scripture. Those who oppose the doctrine of
continual revelation between God and His Church, on the ground that the
Bible is complete as a collection of sacred scriptures, and that alleged
revelation not found therein must therefore be spurious, may profitably
take note of the many books not included in the Bible, yet mentioned
therein, generally in such a way as to leave no doubt that they were
once regarded as authentic. Among these extra-Biblical scriptures, the
following may be named; some of them are in existence to-day, and are
classed with the Apocrypha; but the greater number are unknown. We read
of the Book of the Covenant (Exo. 24:7); Book of the Wars of the Lord
(Numb. 21:14); Book of Jasher (Josh. 10:13); Book of the Statutes (1
Sam. 10:25); Book of Enoch (Jude 14); Book of the Acts of Solomon (1
Kings 11:41); Book of Nathan the Prophet, and that of Gad the Seer (1
Chron. 29:29); Book of Ahijah the Shilonite, and visions of Iddo the
Seer (2 Chron. 9:29); Book of Shemaiah (2 Chron. 12:15); Story of the
Prophet Iddo (2 Chron. 13:22); Book of Jehu (2 Chron. 20:34); the Acts
of Uzziah, by Isaiah, the son of Amoz (2 Chron. 26:22); Sayings of the
Seers (2 Chron. 33:19); a missing epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (1
Cor. 5:9); a missing epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:3); missing
epistle to the Colossians, written from Laodicea (Col. 4:16); a missing
epistle of Jude (Jude 3).

5. Nazareth.--A town or "city" in Galilee, of which Biblical mention is
found in the New Testament only. Josephus says nothing concerning the
place. The name of the existing village, or the Nazareth of to-day, is
_En-Nazirah_. This occupies an upland site on the southerly ridge of
Lebanon, and "commands a splendid view of the Plain of Esdraelon and
Mount Carmel, and is very picturesque in general" (Zenos). The author of
the article "Nazareth" in Smith's _Bible Dict._ identifies the modern
En-Nazirah, with the Nazareth of old on the following grounds: "It is on
the lower declivities of a hill or mountain (Luke 4:29); it is within
the limits of the province of Galilee (Mark 1:9); it is near Cana (John
2:1, 2, 11); a precipice exists in the neighborhood (Luke 4:29); and a
series of testimonials reaching back to Eusebius represent the place as
having occupied the same position." The same writer adds: "Its
population is 3000 or 4000; a few are Mohammedans, the rest Latin and
Greek Christians. Most of the houses are well built of stone, and appear
neat and comfortable. The streets or lanes are narrow and crooked, and
after rain are so full of mud and mire as to be almost impassable." At
the time of Christ's life the town was not only regarded as unimportant
by the Judeans who professed but little respect for Galilee or the
Galileans, but as without honor by the Galileans themselves, as appears
from the fact that the seemingly contemptuous question, "Can there any
good thing come out of Nazareth?" was uttered by Nathanael (John 1:46),
who was a Galilean and a native of Cana, a neighboring town to Nazareth
(John 21:2). Nazareth owes its celebrity to its association with events
in the life of Jesus Christ (Matt. 2:23; 13:54; Mark 1:9; 6:1; Luke
1:26; 2:4; 4:23,34; John 1:45,46; 19:19; Acts 2:22).


[254] Matt. 2:15; compare Hos. 11:1.

[255] Matt. 2:19-23. Note 5, end of chapter.

[256] Note 1, end of chapter.

[257] Note 2, end of chapter.

[258] Luke 2:40.

[259] Note 3, end of chapter.

[260] Compare His teachings after He had reached manhood, e.g. John

[261] Deut. 16:1-6; compare Exo. 12:2.

[262] Josephus; Wars of the Jews, ii, 1:3.

[263] Luke 2:46; read 41-52.

[264] Compare Matt. 7:28, 29; 13:54; Mark 6:2; Luke 4:22.

[265] Luke 2:35.

[266] Luke 2:52.

[267] Note 3, end of chapter.

[268] Matt. 13:55, 56; Mark 6:3; Luke 4:22; compare Matt. 12:46, 47;
Gal. 1:19.

[269] For illustrative examples see Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43);
Mary Magdalene, so known from her native town of Magdala (Matt. 27:56);
Judas Iscariot, possibly named after his home in Kerioth (Matt. 10:4;
see page 225 herein.)

[270] Matt. 21:11; John 18:5; 19:19; Acts 2:22; 3:6; see also Luke 4:16.

[271] Note 4, end of chapter.

[272] John 1:45, 46.




At a time definitely stated as the fifteenth year of the reign of
Tiberius Cæsar, emperor of Rome, the people of Judea were greatly
aroused over the strange preaching of a man theretofore unknown. He was
of priestly descent, but untrained in the schools; and, without
authorization of the rabbis or license from the chief priests, he
proclaimed himself as one sent of God with a message to Israel. He
appeared not in the synagogs nor within the temple courts, where scribes
and doctors taught, but cried aloud in the wilderness. The people of
Jerusalem and of adjacent rural parts went out in great multitudes to
hear him. He disdained the soft garments and flowing robes of comfort,
and preached in his rough desert garb, consisting of a garment of
camel's hair held in place by a leathern girdle. The coarseness of his
attire was regarded as significant. Elijah the Tishbite, that fearless
prophet whose home had been the desert, was known in his day as "an
hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins;"[273] and
rough garments had come to be thought of as a distinguishing
characteristic of prophets.[274] Nor did this strange preacher eat the
food of luxury and ease, but fed on what the desert supplied, locusts
and wild honey.[275]

The man was John, son of Zacharias, soon to be known as the Baptist. He
had spent many years in the desert, apart from the abodes of men, years
of preparation for his particular mission. He had been a student under
the tutelage of divine teachers; and there in the wilderness of Judea
the word of the Lord reached him;[276] as in similar environment it had
reached Moses[277] and Elijah[278] of old. Then was heard "The voice of
one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his
paths straight."[279] It was the voice of the herald, the messenger who,
as the prophets had said, should go before the Lord to prepare His
way.[280] The burden of his message was "Repent ye, for the kingdom of
heaven is at hand." And to such as had faith in his words and professed
repentance, confessing their sins, he administered baptism by immersion
in water--proclaiming the while, "I indeed baptize you with water unto
repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes
I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and
with fire."[281]

Neither the man nor his message could be ignored; his preaching was
specific in promise to the repentant soul, and scathingly denunciatory
to the hypocrite and the hardened sinner. When Pharisees and Sadducees
came to his baptism, prating of the law, the spirit of which they ceased
not to transgress, and of the prophets, whom they dishonored, he
denounced them as a generation of vipers, and demanded of them: "Who
hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" He brushed aside their
oft-repeated boasts that they were the children of Abraham, saying,
"Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say
within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you,
that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto
Abraham."[282] The ignoring of their claims to preferment as the
children of Abraham was a strong rebuke, and a cause of sore affront
alike to aristocratic Sadducee and rule-bound Pharisee. Judaism held
that the posterity of Abraham had an assured place in the kingdom of the
expected Messiah, and that no proselyte from among the Gentiles could
possibly attain the rank and distinction of which the "children" were
sure. John's forceful assertion that God could raise up, from the stones
on the river bank, children to Abraham, meant to those who heard that
even the lowest of the human family might be preferred before themselves
unless they repented and reformed.[283] Their time of wordy profession
had passed; fruits were demanded, not barren though leafy profusion; the
ax was ready, aye, at the very root of the tree; and every tree that
produced not good fruit was to be hewn down and cast into the fire.

The people were astonished; and many, seeing themselves in their actual
condition of dereliction and sin, as John, with burning words laid bare
their faults, cried out: "What shall we do then?"[284] His reply was
directed against ceremonialism, which had caused spirituality to wither
almost to death in the hearts of the people. Unselfish charity was
demanded--"He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none;
and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." The publicans or
tax-farmers and collectors, under whose unjust and unlawful exactions
the people had suffered so long, came asking: "Master, what shall we do?
And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you."
To the soldiers who asked what to do he replied: "Do violence to no man,
neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."[285]

The spirit of his demands was that of a practical religion, the only
religion of any possible worth--the religion of right living. With all
his vigor, in spite of his brusqueness, notwithstanding his forceful
assaults on the degenerate customs of the times, this John was no
agitator against established institutions, no inciter of riot, no
advocate of revolt, no promoter of rebellion. He did not assail the tax
system but the extortions of the corrupt and avaricious publicans; he
did not denounce the army, but the iniquities of the soldiers, many of
whom had taken advantage of their position to bear false witness for the
sake of gain and to enrich themselves by forcible seizure. He preached,
what in the now current dispensation we call the first or fundamental
principles of the gospel--"the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
the Son of God,"[286] comprizing faith, which is vitalized belief, in
God; genuine repentance, which comprizes contrition for past offenses
and a resolute determination to turn from sin; baptism by immersion in
water at his hands as the hands of one having authority; and the higher
baptism by fire or the bestowal of the Holy Ghost by an authority
greater than that possessed by himself. His preaching was positive, and
in many respects opposed to the conventions of the times; he made no
appeal to the people through the medium of miraculous
manifestations;[287] and though many of his hearers attached themselves
to him as disciples,[288] he established no formal organization, nor did
he attempt to form a cult. His demand for repentance was an individual
call, as unto each acceptable applicant the rite of baptism was
individually administered.

To the Jews, who were living in a state of expectancy, waiting for the
long-predicted Messiah, the words of this strange prophet in the
wilderness were fraught with deep portent. Could it be that he was the
Christ? He spoke of One yet to come, mightier than himself, whose
shoe-latchet he was not worthy to loosen,[289] One who would separate
the people as the thresher, fan in hand, blew the chaff from the wheat;
and, he added, that mightier One "will gather the wheat into his garner;
but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable."[290]

In such wise did the predicted herald of the Lord deliver his message.
Himself he would not exalt; his office, however, was sacred to him, and
with its functions he brooked no interference from priest, Levite, or
rabbi. He was no respecter of persons; sin he denounced, sinners he
excoriated, whether in priestly vestments, peasant garb, or royal robes.
All the claims the Baptist had made for himself and his mission were
later confirmed and vindicated by the specific testimony of Christ.[291]
John was the harbinger not alone of the kingdom but of the King; and to
him the King in person came.


When Jesus "began to be about thirty years of age," He journeyed from
His home in Galilee "to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But
John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest
thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now;
for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered

John and Jesus were second cousins; as to whether there had existed any
close companionship between the two as boys or men we are not told. It
is certain, however, that when Jesus presented Himself for baptism, John
recognized in Him a sinless Man who stood in no need of repentance; and,
as the Baptist had been commissioned to baptize for the remission of
sins, he saw no necessity of administering the ordinance to Jesus. He
who had received the confessions of multitudes now reverently confessed
to One whom he knew was more righteous than himself. In the light of
later events it appears that at this time John did not know that Jesus
was the Christ, the Mightier One for whom he waited and whose forerunner
he knew himself to be. When John expressed his conviction that Jesus
needed no baptismal cleansing, our Lord, conscious of His own
sinlessness, did not deny the Baptist's imputation, but nevertheless
pressed His application for baptism with the significant explanation:
"Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." If John was able to
comprehend the deeper meaning of this utterance, he must have found
therein the truth that water baptism is not alone the means provided for
gaining remission of sins, but is also an indispensable ordinance
established in righteousness and required of all mankind as an essential
condition for membership in the kingdom of God.[293]

Jesus Christ thus humbly complied with the will of the Father, and was
baptized of John by immersion in water. That His baptism was accepted as
a pleasing and necessary act of submission was attested by what
immediately ensued: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up
straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon
him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom
I am well pleased."[294] Then John knew his Redeemer.

The four Gospel-writers record the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the
baptized Jesus as accompanied by a visible manifestation "like a dove;"
and this sign had been indicated to John as the foreappointed means by
which the Messiah should be made known to him; and to that sign, before
specified, was now added the supreme testimony of the Father as to the
literal Sonship of Jesus. Matthew records the Father's acknowledgment as
given in the third person, "This is my beloved Son;" while both Mark and
Luke give the more direct address, "Thou art my beloved Son." The
variation, slight and essentially unimportant as it is though bearing on
so momentous a subject, affords evidence of independent authorship and
discredits any insinuation of collusion among the writers.

The incidents attending the emergence of Jesus from the baptismal grave
demonstrate the distinct individuality of the three Personages of the
Godhead. On that solemn occasion Jesus the Son was present in the flesh;
the presence of the Holy Ghost was manifest through the accompanying
sign of the dove, and the voice of the Eternal Father was heard from
heaven. Had we no other evidence of the separate personality of each
member of the Holy Trinity, this instance should be conclusive; but
other scriptures confirm the great truth.[295]


Soon after His baptism, immediately thereafter as Mark asserts, Jesus
was constrained by the promptings of the Spirit to withdraw from men and
the distractions of community life, by retiring into the wilderness
where He would be free to commune with His God. So strong was the
influence of the impelling force that He was led thereby, or, as stated
by the evangelist, driven, into solitary seclusion, in which He remained
during forty days, "with the wild beasts" of the desert. This remarkable
episode in our Lord's life is described, though not with equal fulness,
in three of the Gospels;[296] John is silent thereon.

The circumstances attending this time of exile and test must have been
related by Jesus Himself, for of other human witnesses there were none.
The recorded narratives deal principally with events marking the close
of the forty-day period, but considered in their entirety they place
beyond doubt the fact that the season was one of fasting and prayer.
Christ's realization that He was the chosen and foreordained Messiah
came to Him gradually. As shown by His words to His mother on the
occasion of the memorable interview with the doctors in the temple
courts, He knew, when but a Boy of twelve years, that in a particular
and personal sense He was the Son of God; yet it is evident that a
comprehension of the full purport of His earthly mission developed
within Him only as He progressed step by step in wisdom. His
acknowledgment by the Father, and the continued companionship of the
Holy Ghost, opened His soul to the glorious fact of His divinity. He had
much to think about, much that demanded prayer and the communion with
God that prayer alone could insure. Throughout the period of retirement,
he ate not, but chose to fast, that His mortal body might the more
completely be subjected to His divine spirit.

Then, when He was hungry and physically weak, the tempter came with the
insidious suggestion that He use His extraordinary powers to provide
food. Satan had chosen the most propitious time for his evil purpose.
What will mortals not do, to what lengths have men not gone, to assuage
the pangs of hunger? Esau bartered his birthright for a meal. Men have
fought like brutes for food. Women have slain and eaten their own babes
rather than endure the gnawing pangs of starvation. All this Satan knew
when he came to the Christ in the hour of extreme physical need, and
said unto Him: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be
made bread." During the long weeks of seclusion, our Lord had been
sustained by the exaltation of spirit that would naturally attend such
all-absorbing concentration of mind as His protracted meditation and
communion with the heavens undoubtedly produced; in such profound
devotion of spirit, bodily appetites were subdued and superseded; but
the reaction of the flesh was inevitable.

Hungry as Jesus was, there was a temptation in Satan's words even
greater than that embodied in the suggestion that He provide food for
His famishing body--the temptation to put to proof the possible doubt
implied in the tempter's "If." The Eternal Father had proclaimed Jesus
as His Son; the devil tried to make the Son doubt that divine
relationship. Why not prove the Father's interest in His Son at this
moment of dire necessity? Was it proper that the Son of God should go
hungry? Had the Father so soon forgotten as to leave His Beloved Son
thus to suffer? Was it not reasonable that Jesus, faint from long
abstinence, should provide for Himself, and particularly so since He
could provide, and that by a word of command, _if_ the voice heard at
His baptism was that of the Eternal Father. _If_ thou be in reality the
Son of God, demonstrate thy power, and at the same time satisfy thy
hunger--such was the purport of the diabolical suggestion. To have
yielded would have been to manifest positive doubt of the Father's

Moreover, the superior power that Jesus possessed had not been given to
Him for personal gratification, but for service to others. He was to
experience all the trials of mortality; another man, as hungry as He,
could not provide for himself by a miracle; and though by miracle such a
one might be fed, the miraculous supply would have to be given, not
provided by himself. It was a necessary result of our Lord's dual
nature, comprizing the attributes of both God and man, that He should
endure and suffer as a mortal while possessing at all times the ability
to invoke the power of His own Godhood by which all bodily needs could
be supplied or overcome. His reply to the tempter was sublime and
positively final: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but
by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."[297] The word
that had proceeded from the mouth of God, upon which Satan would have
cast mistrust, was that Jesus was the Beloved Son with whom the Father
was well pleased. The devil was foiled; Christ was triumphant.

Realizing that he had utterly failed in his attempt to induce Jesus to
use His inherent power for personal service, and to trust in Himself
rather than rely upon the Father's providence, Satan went to the other
extreme and tempted Jesus to wantonly throw Himself upon the Father's
protection.[298] Jesus was standing upon one of the high parts of the
temple, a pinnacle or battlement, overlooking the spacious courts, when
the devil said unto Him: "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:
for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and
in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy
foot against a stone." Again appears the implication of doubt.[299] _If_
Jesus was in fact the Son of God, could He not trust His Father to save
Him, and particularly so as it was written[300] that angels would guard
Him and bear Him up? Christ's reply to the tempter in the wilderness had
embodied a scriptural citation, and this He had introduced with the
impressive formula common to expounders of sacred writ--"It is written."
In the second attempt, the devil tried to support his suggestion by
scripture, and employed a similar expression--"for it is written." Our
Lord met and answered the devil's quotation with another, saying: "It is
written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."[301]

Beside the provocation to sin by wantonly placing Himself in danger, so
that the Father's love might be manifested in a miraculous rescue, or by
refusing so to challenge the Father's interposition demonstrate that He
doubted His status as the Beloved Son, there lurked an appeal to the
human side of Christ's nature, in thought of the fame which an
astounding exploit, such as that of leaping from the dizzy height of the
temple turrets and alighting unhurt, would surely bring. We cannot
resist the thought, though we be not justified in saying that any such
had even momentary place in the Savior's mind, that to act upon Satan's
suggestion, provided of course the outcome proved to be such as he had
indicated, would have been to insure public recognition of Jesus as a
Being superior to mortals. It would have been a sign and a wonder
indeed, the fame of which would have spread as fire in the dry grass;
and all Jewry would have been aflame with excitement and interest in the

The glaring sophistry of Satan's citation of scripture was unworthy a
categorical reply; his doctrine deserved neither logic nor argument; his
misapplication of the written word was nullified by scripture that was
germane; the lines of the psalmist were met by the binding fiat of the
prophet of the exodus, in which he had commanded Israel that they should
not provoke nor tempt the Lord to work miracles among them. Satan
tempted Jesus to tempt the Father. It is as truly a blasphemous
interference with the prerogatives of Deity to set limitations or make
fixations of time or place at which the divine power shall be made
manifest as it is to attempt to usurp that power. God alone must decide
when and how His wonders shall be wrought. Once more the purposes of
Satan were thwarted and Christ again was victor.

In the third temptation the devil refrained from further appeal to Jesus
to put either His own power or that of the Father to the test. Twice
completely foiled, the tempter abandoned that plan of assault; and,
discarding all disguise of purpose, submitted a definite proposition.
From the top of a high mountain Jesus looked over the land with its
wealth of city and field, of vineyard and orchard, of flocks and of
herds; and in vision He saw the kingdoms of the world and contemplated
the wealth, the splendor, the earthly glory of them all. Then saith
Satan unto Him: "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall
down and worship me." So wrote Matthew; the more extended version by
Luke follows: "And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give
thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to
whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all
shall be thine." We need not concern ourselves with conjecture as to
whether Satan could have made good his promise in the event of Christ's
doing him homage; certain it is Christ could have reached out, and have
gathered to Himself the wealth and glory of the world had He willed so
to do, and thereby have failed in His Messianic mission. This fact Satan
knew full well. Many men have sold themselves to the devil for a kingdom
and for less, aye, even for a few paltry pence.

The effrontery of his offer was of itself diabolical. Christ, the
Creator of heaven and earth, tabernacled as He then was in mortal flesh,
may not have remembered His preexistent state, nor the part He had taken
in the great council of the Gods,[302] while Satan, an unembodied
spirit--he the disinherited, the rebellious and rejected son--seeking to
tempt the Being through whom the world was created by promising Him part
of what was wholly His, still may have had, as indeed he may yet have, a
remembrance of those primeval scenes. In that distant past, antedating
the creation of the earth, Satan, then Lucifer, a son of the morning,
had been rejected; and the Firstborn Son had been chosen. Now that the
Chosen One was subject to the trials incident to mortality, Satan
thought to thwart the divine purpose by making the Son of God subject to
himself. He who had been vanquished by Michael and his hosts and cast
down as a defeated rebel, asked the embodied Jehovah to worship him.
"Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan for it is written,
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then
the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto

It is not to be supposed that Christ's victorious emergence from the
dark clouds of the three specified temptations exempted Him from further
assaults by Satan, or insured Him against later trials of faith, trust,
and endurance. Luke closes his account of the temptations following the
forty-day fast as follows: "And when the devil had ended all the
temptation, he departed from him for a season."[304] This victory over
the devil and his wiles, this triumph over the cravings of the flesh,
the harassing doubts of the mind, the suggested reaching out for fame
and material wealth, were great but not final successes in the struggle
between Jesus, the embodied God, and Satan, the fallen angel of light.
That Christ was subject to temptation during the period of His
association with the apostles He expressly affirmed.[305] That His
temptations extended even to the agony in Gethsemane will appear as we
proceed with this study. It is not given to the rest of us, nor was it
given to Jesus, to meet the foe, to fight and overcome in a single
encounter, once for all time. The strife between the immortal spirit and
the flesh, between the offspring of God on the one hand, the world and
the devil on the other, is persistent through life.

Few events in the evangelical history of Jesus of Nazareth have given
rise to more discussion, fanciful theory, and barren speculation, than
have the temptations. All such surmizes we may with propriety ignore. To
any believer in the holy scriptures, the account of the temptations
therein given is sufficiently explicit to put beyond doubt or question
the essential facts; to the unbeliever neither the Christ nor His
triumph appeals. What shall it profit us to speculate as to whether
Satan appeared to Jesus in visible form, or was present only as an
unseen spirit; whether he spoke in audible voice, or aroused in the mind
of his intended victim the thoughts later expressed by the written
lines; whether the three temptations occurred in immediate sequence or
were experienced at longer intervals? With safety we may reject all
theories of myth or parable in the scriptural account, and accept the
record as it stands; and with equal assurance may we affirm that the
temptations were real, and that the trials to which our Lord was put
constituted an actual and crucial test. To believe otherwise, one must
regard the scriptures as but fiction.

A question deserving some attention in this connection is that of the
peccability or impeccability of Christ--the question as to whether He
was capable of sinning. Had there been no possibility of His yielding to
the lures of Satan, there would have been no real test in the
temptations, no genuine victory in the result. Our Lord was sinless yet
peccable; He had the capacity, the ability to sin had He willed so to
do. Had He been bereft of the faculty to sin, He would have been shorn
of His free agency; and it was to safeguard and insure the agency of man
that He had offered Himself, before the world was, as a redeeming
sacrifice. To say that He could not sin because He was the embodiment of
righteousness is no denial of His agency of choice between evil and
good. A thoroughly truthful man cannot culpably lie; nevertheless his
insurance against falsehood is not that of external compulsion, but of
internal restraint due to his cultivated companionship of the spirit of
truth. A really honest man will neither take nor covet his neighbor's
goods, indeed it may be said that he cannot steal; yet he is capable of
stealing should he so elect. His honesty is an armor against temptation;
but the coat of mail, the helmet, the breastplate, and the greaves, are
but an outward covering; the man within may be vulnerable if he can be

But why proceed with labored reasoning, which can lead to but one
conclusion, when our Lord's own words and other scriptures confirm the
fact? Shortly before His betrayal, when admonishing the Twelve to
humility, He said: "Ye are they which have continued with me in my
temptations."[306] While here we find no exclusive reference to the
temptations immediately following His baptism, the exposition is plain
that He had endured temptations, and by implication, these had continued
throughout the period of His ministry. The writer of the epistle to the
Hebrews expressly taught that Christ was peccable, in that He was
tempted "in all points" as are the rest of mankind. Consider the
unambiguous declaration: "Seeing then that we have a great high priest,
that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast
our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like
as we are, yet without sin."[307] And further: "Though he were a Son,
yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered."[308]


1. Raiment of Camel's Hair.--Through the prophet Zechariah (13:4) a time
was foretold in which professing prophets would no longer "wear a rough
garment to deceive." Of the raiment of camel's hair worn by John the
Baptist, the Oxford and other marginal readings render the expression "a
garment of hair" as more literal than the Bible text. Deems (_Light of
the Nations_, p. 74, note) says: "The garment of camel's hair was not
the camel's skin with the hair on, which would be too heavy to wear, but
raiment woven of camel's hair, such as Josephus speaks of (B. J. i,

2. Locusts and Wild Honey.--Insects of the locust or grasshopper kind
were specifically declared clean and suitable for food in the law given
to Israel in the wilderness. "Yet these may ye eat of every flying
creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their
feet, to leap withal upon the earth; even these of them ye may eat; the
locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the
beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind." (Lev. 11:21,
22.) At the present time locusts are used as food by many oriental
peoples, though usually by the poorer classes only. Of the passage
referring to locusts as part of the Baptist's food while he lived as a
recluse in the desert, Farrar (_Life of Christ_, p. 97, note,) says:
"The fancy that it means the pods of the so-called locust tree (carob)
is a mistake. Locusts are sold as articles of food in regular shops for
the purpose at Medina; they are plunged into salt boiling water, dried
in the sun, and eaten with butter, but only by the poorest beggars."
Geikie (_Life and Words of Christ_, vol. 1, pp. 354, 355) gives place to
the following as applied to the Baptist's life: "His only food was the
locusts which leaped or flew on the bare hills, and the honey of wild
bees which he found, here and there, in the clifts of the rocks, and his
only drink a draught of water from some rocky hollow. Locusts are still
the food of the poor in many parts of the East. 'All the Bedouins of
Arabia, and the inhabitants of towns in Nedj and Hedjaz, are accustomed
to eat them,' says Burckhardt. 'I have seen at Medina and Tayi, locust
shops, where they are sold by measure. In Egypt and Nubia they are eaten
only by the poorest beggars. The Arabs, in preparing them for eating,
throw them alive into boiling water, with which a good deal of salt has
been mixed, taking them out after a few minutes, and drying them in the
sun. The head, feet, and wings, are then torn off, the bodies cleansed
from the salt, and perfectly dried. They are sometimes eaten boiled in
butter, or spread on unleavened bread mixed with butter.' In Palestine,
they are eaten only by the Arabs on the extreme frontiers; elsewhere
they are looked on with disgust and loathing, and only the very poorest
use them. Tristram, however, speaks of them as 'very palatable.' 'I
found them very good,' says he, 'when eaten after the Arab fashion,
stewed with butter. They tasted somewhat like shrimps, but with less
flavour.' In the wilderness of Judea, various kinds abound at all
seasons, and spring up with a drumming sound, at every step, suddenly
spreading their bright hind wings, of scarlet, crimson, blue, yellow,
white, green, or brown, according to the species. They were 'clean,'
under the Mosaic Law, and hence could be eaten by John without offence."

Concerning the mention of wild honey as food used by John, the author
last quoted says in a continuation of the same paragraph: "The wild bees
in Palestine are far more numerous than those kept in hives, and the
greater part of the honey sold in the southern districts is obtained
from wild swarms. Few countries, indeed, are better adapted for bees.
The dry climate, and the stunted but varied flora, consisting largely of
aromatic thymes, mints, and other similar plants, with crocuses in the
spring, are very favourable to them, while the dry recesses of the
limestone rocks everywhere afford them shelter and protection for their
combs. In the wilderness of Judea, bees are far more numerous than in
any other part of Palestine, and it is, to this day, part of the homely
diet of the Bedouins, who squeeze it from the combs and store it in

3. John's Inferiority to the Mightier One He Proclaimed.--"One mightier
than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose"
(Luke 3:16), or "whose shoes I am not worthy to bear" (Matt. 3:11); this
was the way by which the Baptist declared his inferiority to the
Mightier One, who was to succeed and supersede him; and a more effective
illustration would be difficult to frame. To loosen the shoe latchet or
sandal thong, or to carry the shoes of another, "was a menial office
betokening great inferiority on the part of the person performing it."
(Smith's _Dict. of the Bible_.) A passage in the Talmud (_Tract.
Kidduschin xxii:2_) requires a disciple to do for his teacher whatever a
servant might be required to do for his master, except the loosing of
his sandal thong. Some teachers urged that a disciple should carry his
humility even to the extreme of carrying his master's shoes. The
humility of the Baptist, in view of the widespread interest his call
aroused, is impressive.

4. The Order in which the Temptations Were Presented.--But two of the
Gospel-writers specify the temptations to which Christ was subjected
immediately after His baptism; Mark merely mentions the fact that Jesus
was tempted. Matthew and Luke place first the temptation that Jesus
provide for Himself by miraculously creating bread; the sequence of the
later trials is not the same in the two records. The order followed in
the text is that of Matthew.

5. The Devil's "If."--Note the later taunting use of that diabolical
_if_ as the Christ hung upon the cross. The rulers of the Jews, mocking
the crucified Jesus in His agony said, "Let him save himself _if_ he be
the Christ." And the soldier, reading the inscription at the head of the
cross derided the dying God, saying: "_If_ thou be the king of the Jews,
save thyself." And yet again, the unrepentant malefactor by His side
cried but, "_If_ thou be Christ, save thyself and us." (Luke 23:35-39.)
How literally did those railers and mockers quote the very words of
their father the devil (see John 8:44). See further, page 658 herein.

6. Baptism Required of All.--Baptism is required of all persons who live
to the age of accountability in the flesh. None are exempt. Jesus
Christ, who lived as a Man without sin in the midst of a sinful world,
was baptized "to fulfil all righteousness." Six centuries before this
event, Nephi, prophesying to the people on the western continent,
foretold the baptism of the Savior, and thus drew therefrom the
necessity of baptism as a universal requirement: "And now, if the Lamb
of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to
fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being
unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water.... Know ye not that he was
holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he sheweth unto the children of
men, that according to the flesh, he humbleth himself before the Father,
and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in
keeping his commandments" (B. of M., 2 Nephi 31:5, 7). See _The Articles
of Faith_, vi:18-29.


[273] 2 Kings 1:8.

[274] Note 1, end of chapter.

[275] Matt. 3:1-5; compare Lev. 11:22; see also Mark 1:1-8. Note 2, end
of chapter.

[276] Luke 3:2.

[277] Exo. 3:1, 2.

[278] 1 Kings 17:2-7.

[279] Mark 1:3.

[280] Mark 1:2; compare Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1; Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:27.

[281] Matt. 3:11.

[282] Matt. 3:7-10; see also Luke 3:3-9.

[283] Compare a later instance, in which Christ similarly taught (John

[284] Luke 3:10; compare Acts 2:37.

[285] Luke 3:10-15.

[286] Mark 1:1.

[287] John 10:41.

[288] John 1:35, 37; Matt. 11:2; Luke 7:18.

[289] Note 3, end of chapter.

[290] Luke 3:17; see also Matt. 3:12; compare Mal. 3:2.

[291] Matt. 11:11-14; 17:12; Luke 7:24-30.

[292] Luke 3:23.

[293] For treatment of Baptism as a universal requirement, see the
author's "Articles of Faith" vi:18-29. Note 6, end of chapter.

[294] Matt. 3:16, 17; compare Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21, 22.

[295] Shortly before His death, the Savior promised the apostles that
the Father would send unto them the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost
(John 14:26, and 15:26). See the author's "Articles of Faith" ii:20-24.

[296] Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1-13.

[297] Matt. 4:4; compare Deut. 8:3.

[298] Note 4, end of chapter.

[299] Note 5, end of chapter. Page 658 herein.

[300] Matt. 4:6; Psalm 91:11, 12.

[301] Matt. 4:5-7; compare Deut. 6:16.

[302] Pages 6-9.

[303] Matt. 4:10, 11; compare Exo. 20:3; Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Josh. 24:14;
1 Sam. 7:3.

[304] Luke 4:13.

[305] Luke 22:28.

[306] Luke 22:28.

[307] Heb. 4:14, 15.

[308] Heb. 5:8.




During the period of our Lord's retirement in the wilderness the Baptist
continued his ministry, crying repentance to all who would pause to
hear, and administering baptism to such as came duly prepared and asking
with right intent. The people generally were greatly concerned over the
identity of John; and as the real import of the voice[309] dawned upon
them, their concern deepened into fear. The ever recurring question was,
Who is this new prophet? Then the Jews, by which expression we may
understand the rulers of the people, sent a delegation of priests and
Levites of the Pharisaic party to personally question him. He answered
without evasion, "I am not the Christ," and with equal decisiveness
denied that he was Elias, or more accurately, Elijah, the prophet who,
the rabbis said through a misinterpretation of Malachi's prediction, was
to return to earth as the immediate precursor of the Messiah.[310]
Furthermore, he declared that he was not "that prophet," by which was
meant the Prophet whose coming Moses had foretold,[311] and who was not
universally identified in the Jewish mind with the expected Messiah.
"Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to
them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice
of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as
said the prophet Esaias."[312] The Pharisaic envoys then demanded of him
his authority for baptizing; in reply he affirmed that the validity of
his baptisms would be attested by One who even then was amongst them,
though they knew Him not, and averred: "He it is, who coming after me is
preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to

John's testimony, that Jesus was the Redeemer of the world, was declared
as boldly as had been his message of the imminent coming of the Lord.
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," he
proclaimed; and, that none might fail to comprehend his identification
of the Christ, he added: "This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a
man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him
not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come
baptizing with water."[314] That the attestation of the ministering
presence of the Holy Ghost through the material appearance "like a dove"
was convincing to John is shown by his further testimony: "And John bare
record saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and
it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize
with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the spirit
descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with
the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of
God."[315] On the day following that of the utterance last quoted, John
repeated his testimony to two of his disciples, or followers, as, Jesus
passed, saying again: "Behold the Lamb of God."[316]


Two of the Baptist's followers, specifically called disciples, were with
him when for the second time he expressly designated Jesus as the Lamb
of God. These were Andrew and John; the latter came to be known in after
years as the author of the fourth Gospel. The first is mentioned by
name, while the narrator suppresses his own name as that of the second
disciple. Andrew and John were so impressed by the Baptist's testimony
that they immediately followed Jesus; and He, turning toward them asked:
"What seek ye?" Possibly somewhat embarrassed by the question, or with a
real desire to learn where He might be found later, they replied by
another inquiry: "Rabbi, where dwellest thou?" Their use of the title
Rabbi was a mark of honor and respect, to which Jesus did not demur. His
courteous reply to their question assured them that their presence was
no unwelcome intrusion. "Come and see," said He.[318] The two young men
accompanied Him, and remained with Him to learn more. Andrew, filled
with wonder and joy over the interview so graciously accorded, and
thrilled with the spirit of testimony that had been enkindled within his
soul, hastened to seek his brother Simon, to whom he said: "We have
found the Messias." He brought Simon to see and hear for himself; and
Jesus, looking upon Andrew's brother, called him by name and added an
appellation of distinction by which he was destined to be known
throughout all later history: "Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou
shalt be called Cephas." The new name thus bestowed is the Aramaic or
Syro-Chaldaic equivalent of the Greek "Petros," and of the present
English "Peter," meaning "a stone."[319]

On the following day Jesus set out for Galilee, possibly accompanied by
some or all of his newly-made disciples; and on the way He found a man
named Philip, in whom He recognized another choice son of Israel. Unto
Philip He said: "Follow me." It was customary with rabbis and other
teachers of that time to strive for popularity, that many might be drawn
to them to sit at their feet and be known as their disciples. Jesus,
however, selected His own immediate associates; and, as He found them
and discerned in them the spirits who, in their preexistent state had
been chosen for the earthly mission of the apostleship, He summoned
them. They were the servants; He was the Master.[320]

Philip soon found his friend Nathanael, to whom he testified that He of
whom Moses and the prophets had written had at last been found; and that
He was none other than Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael, as his later
history demonstrates, was a righteous man, earnest in his hope and
expectation of the Messiah, yet seemingly imbued with the belief common
throughout Jewry--that the Christ was to come in royal state as seemed
befitting the Son of David. The mention of such a One coming from
Nazareth, the reputed son of a humble carpenter, provoked wonder if not
incredulity in the guileless mind of Nathanael, and he exclaimed: "Can
there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip's answer was a
repetition of Christ's words to Andrew and John--"Come and see."
Nathanael left his seat under the fig tree,[321] where Philip had found
him, and went to see for himself. As he approached, Jesus said: "Behold
an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Nathanael saw that Jesus
could read his mind, and asked in surprize: "Whence knowest thou me?" In
reply Jesus showed even greater powers of penetration and perception
under conditions that made ordinary observation unlikely if not
impossible: "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the
fig tree, I saw thee." Nathanael replied with conviction: "Rabbi, thou
art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." Earnest as the man's
testimony was, it rested mainly on his recognition of what he took to be
a supernatural power in Jesus; our Lord assured him that he should see
yet greater things: "And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto
you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending
and descending upon the Son of man."


In the promise and prediction made by Christ to Nathanael, we find the
significant title--The Son of Man--appearing for the first time,
chronologically speaking, in the New Testament. It recurs, however,
about forty times, excluding repetitions in parallel accounts in the
several Gospels. In each of these passages it is used by the Savior
distinctively to designate Himself. In three other instances the title
appears in the New Testament, outside the Gospels; and in each case it
is applied to the Christ with specific reference to His exalted
attributes as Lord and God.[322]

In the Old Testament, the phrase "son of man" occurs in ordinary usage,
denoting any human son[323] and it appears over ninety times as an
appellation by which Jehovah addressed Ezekiel, though it is never
applied by the prophet to himself.[324] The context of the passages in
which Ezekiel is addressed as "son of man" indicates the divine
intention of emphasizing the human status of the prophet as contrasted
with the divinity of Jehovah.

The title is used in connection with the record of Daniel's vision,[325]
in which was revealed the consummation, yet future, when Adam--the
Ancient of Days--shall sit to judge his posterity;[326] on which great
occasion, the Son of Man is to appear and receive a dominion that shall
be everlasting, transcendently superior to that of the Ancient of Days,
and embracing every people and nation, all of whom shall serve the Lord,
Jesus Christ, the Son of Man.[327]

In applying the designation to Himself, the Lord invariably uses the
definite article. "_The_ Son of Man" was and is, specifically and
exclusively, Jesus Christ. While as a matter of solemn certainty He was
the only male human being from Adam down who was not the son of a mortal
man, He used the title in a way to conclusively demonstrate that it was
peculiarly and solely His own. It is plainly evident that the expression
is fraught with a meaning beyond that conveyed by the words in common
usage. The distinguishing appellation has been construed by many to
indicate our Lord's humble station as a mortal, and to connote that He
stood as the type of humanity, holding a particular and unique
relationship to the entire human family. There is, however, a more
profound significance attaching to the Lord's use of the title "The Son
of Man"; and this lies in the fact that He knew His Father to be the one
and only supremely exalted Man,[328] whose Son Jesus was both in spirit
and in body--the Firstborn among all the spirit-children of the Father,
the Only Begotten in the flesh--and therefore in sense applicable to
Himself alone, He was and is the Son of the "Man of Holiness,"
Elohim,[329] the Eternal Father. In His distinctive titles of Sonship,
Jesus expressed His spiritual and bodily descent from, and His filial
submission to, that exalted Father.

As revealed to Enoch the Seer, "Man of Holiness" is one of the names by
which God the Eternal Father is known; "and the name of his Only
Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ." We learn further that
the Father of Jesus Christ thus proclaimed Himself to Enoch: "Behold, I
am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and
Endless and Eternal is my name, also."[330] "The Son of Man" is in great
measure synonymous with "The Son of God," as a title denoting divinity,
glory, and exaltation; for the "Man of Holiness," whose Son Jesus Christ
reverently acknowledges Himself to be, is God the Eternal Father.


Soon after the arrival of Jesus in Galilee we find Him and His little
company of disciples at a marriage party in Cana, a neighboring town to
Nazareth. The mother of Jesus was at the feast; and for some reason not
explained in John's narrative,[331] she manifested concern and personal
responsibility in the matter of providing for the guests. Evidently her
position was different from that of one present by ordinary invitation.
Whether this circumstance indicates the marriage to have been that of
one of her own immediate family, or some more distant relative, we are
not informed.

It was customary to provide at wedding feasts a sufficiency of wine, the
pure though weak product of the local vineyards, which was the ordinary
table beverage of the time. On this occasion the supply of wine was
exhausted, and Mary told Jesus of the deficiency. Said He: "Woman, what
have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." The noun of address,
"Woman," as applied by a son to his mother may sound to our ears
somewhat harsh, if not disrespectful; but its use was really an
expression of opposite import.[332] To every son, the mother ought to be
preeminently the woman of women; she is the one woman in the world to
whom the son owes his earthly existence; and though the title "Mother"
belongs to every woman who has earned the honors of maternity, yet to no
child is there more than one woman whom by natural right he can address
by that title of respectful acknowledgment. When, in the last dread
scenes of His mortal experience, Christ hung in dying agony upon the
cross, He looked, down upon the weeping Mary, His mother, and commended
her to the care of the beloved apostle John, with the words: "Woman,
behold thy son!"[333] Can it be thought that in this supreme moment, our
Lord's concern for the mother from whom He was about to be separated by
death was associated with any emotion other than that of honor,
tenderness and love?[334]

Nevertheless, His words to Mary at the marriage feast may have conveyed
a gentle reminder of her position as the mother of a Being superior to
herself; even as on that earlier occasion when she had found her Boy,
Jesus, in the temple, He had brought home to her the fact that her
jurisdiction over Him was not supreme. The manner in which she told Him
of the insufficiency of wine probably suggested an intimation that He
use His more than human power, and by such means supply the need. It was
not her function to direct or even to suggest the exercize of the power
inherent in Him as the Son of God; such had not been inherited from her.
"What have I to do with thee?" He asked; and added: "Mine hour is not
yet come." Here we find no disclaimer of the ability to do what she
apparently wanted Him to do, but the plain implication that He would act
only when the time was right for the purpose, and that He, not she, must
decide when that time had come. She understood His meaning, in part at
least, and contented herself by instructing the servants to do
whatsoever He directed. Here again is evidence of her position of
responsibility and domestic authority at the social gathering.

The time for His intervention soon arrived. There stood within the place
six water pots;[335] these He directed the servants to fill with water.
Then, without audible command or formula of invocation, as best we know,
He caused to be effected a transmutation within the pots, and when the
servants drew therefrom, it was wine, not water that issued. At a Jewish
social gathering, such as was this wedding festival, some one, usually a
relative of the host or hostess, or some other one worthy of the honor,
was made governor of the feast, or, as we say in this day, chairman, or
master of ceremonies. To this functionary the new wine was first served;
and he, calling the bridegroom, who was the real host, asked him why he
had reserved his choice wine till the last, when the usual custom was to
serve the best at the beginning, and the more ordinary later. The
immediate result of this, the first recorded of our Lord's miracles, is
thus tersely stated by the inspired evangelist: "This beginning of
miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory;
and his disciples believed on him."[336]

The circumstances incident to the miraculous act are instructive to
contemplate. The presence of Jesus at the marriage, and His contribution
to the successful conduct of the feast, set the seal of His approval
upon the matrimonial relationship and upon the propriety of social
entertainment. He was neither a recluse nor an ascetic; He moved among
men, eating and drinking, as a natural, normal Being.[337] On the
occasion of the feast He recognized and heeded the demands of the
liberal hospitality of the times, and provided accordingly. He, who but
a few days before had revolted at the tempter's suggestion that He
provide bread for His impoverished body, now used His power to supply a
luxury for others. One effect of the miracle was to confirm the trust of
those whose belief in Him as the Messiah was yet young and untried. "His
disciples believed on him"; surely they had believed in some measure
before, otherwise they would not have followed Him; but their belief was
now strengthened and made to approach, if indeed it did not attain, the
condition of abiding faith in their Lord. The comparative privacy
attending the manifestation is impressive; the moral and spiritual
effect was for the few, the inauguration of the Lord's ministry was not
to be marked by public display.


The act of transmutation whereby water became wine was plainly a
miracle, a phenomenon not susceptible of explanation, far less of
demonstration, by what we consider the ordinary operation of natural
law. This was the beginning of His miracles, or as expressed in the
revized version of the New Testament, "his signs." In many scriptures
miracles are called signs, as also wonders, powers, works, wonderful
works, mighty works,[338] etc. The spiritual effect of miracles would be
unattained were the witnesses not caused to inwardly wonder, marvel,
ponder and inquire; mere surprize or amazement may be produced by
deception and artful trickery. Any miraculous manifestation of divine
power would be futile as a means of spiritual effect were it
unimpressive. Moreover, every miracle is a sign of God's power; and
signs in this sense have been demanded of prophets who professed to
speak by divine authority, though such signs have not been given in all
cases. The Baptist was credited with no miracle, though he was
pronounced by the Christ as more than a prophet;[339] and the chronicles
of some earlier prophets[340] are devoid of all mention of miracles. On
the other hand, Moses, when commissioned to deliver Israel from Egypt,
was made, to understand that the Egyptians would look for the testimony
of miracles, and he was abundantly empowered therefore.[341]

Miracles cannot be in contravention of natural law, but are wrought
through the operation of laws not universally or commonly recognized.
Gravitation is everywhere operative, but the local and special
application of other agencies may appear to nullify it--as by muscular
effort or mechanical impulse a stone is lifted from the ground, poised
aloft, or sent hurtling through space. At every stage of the process,
however, gravity is in full play, though its effect is modified by that
of other and locally superior energy. The human sense of the miraculous
wanes as comprehension of the operative process increases. Achievements
made possible by modern invention of telegraph and telephone with or
without wires, the transmutation of mechanical power into electricity
with its manifold present applications and yet future possibilities, the
development of the gasoline motor, the present accomplishments in aerial
navigation--these are no longer miracles in man's estimation, because
they are all in some degree understood, are controlled by human agency,
and, moreover, are continuous in their operation and not phenomenal. We
arbitrarily classify as miracles only such phenomena as are unusual,
special, transitory, and wrought by an agency beyond the power of man's

In a broader sense, all nature is miracle. Man has learned that by
planting the seed of the grape in suitable soil, and by due cultivation,
he may conduce to the growth of what shall be a mature and fruitful
vine; but is there no miracle, even in the sense of inscrutable
processes, in that development? Is there less of real miracle in the
so-called natural course of plant development--the growth of root, stem,
leaves, and fruit, with the final elaboration of the rich nectar of the
vine--than there was in what appears supernatural in the transmutation
of water into wine at Cana?

In the contemplation of the miracles wrought by Christ, we must of
necessity recognize the operation of a power transcending our present
human understanding. In this field, science has not yet advanced far
enough to analyze and explain. To deny the actuality of miracles on the
ground that, because we cannot comprehend the means, the reported
results are fictitious, is to arrogate to the human mind the attribute
of omniscience, by implying that what man cannot comprehend cannot be,
and that therefore he is able to comprehend all that is. The miracles of
record in the Gospels are as fully supported by evidence as are many of
the historical events which call forth neither protest nor demand for
further proof. To the believer in the divinity of Christ, the miracles
are sufficiently attested; to the unbeliever they appear but as myths
and fables.[342]

To comprehend the works of Christ, one must know Him as the Son of God;
to the man who has not yet learned to know, to the honest soul who would
inquire after the Lord, the invitation is ready; let him "Come and see."


1. Misunderstanding of Malachi's Prediction.--In the closing chapter of
the compilation of scriptures known to us as the Old Testament, the
prophet Malachi thus describes a condition incident to the last days,
immediately preceding the second coming of Christ: "For, behold, the day
cometh, that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that
do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them
up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor
branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness
arise with healing in his wings." The fateful prophecy concludes with
the following blessed and far-reaching promise: "Behold, I will send you
Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of
the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,
and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite
the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4:1, 2, 5, 6.) It has been held by
theologians and Bible commentators that this prediction had reference to
the birth and ministry of John the Baptist, (compare Matt. 11:14; 17:11;
Mark 9:11; Luke 1:17), upon whom rested the spirit and power of Elias
(Luke 1:17). However, we have no record of Elijah having ministered unto
the Baptist, and furthermore, the latter's ministry, glorious though it
was, justifies no conclusion that in him did the prophecy find its full
realization. In addition, it should be remembered, that the Lord's
declaration through Malachi, relative to the day of burning in which the
wicked would be destroyed as stubble, yet awaits fulfilment. It is
evident, therefore, that the commonly accepted interpretation is at
fault, and that we must look to a later date than the time of John for
the fulfilment of Malachi's prediction. The later occasion has come; it
belongs to the present dispensation, and marks the inauguration of a
work specially reserved for the Church in these latter days. In the
course of a glorious manifestation to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery,
in the temple at Kirtland, Ohio, April 3d, 1836, there appeared unto
them Elijah, the prophet of old, who had been taken from earth while
still in the body. He declared unto them: "Behold, the time has fully
come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi, testifying that he
(Elijah) should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord
come, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the
children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse.
Therefore the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands,
and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is
near, even at the doors." (Doc. and Cov. 110:13-16.) See also _The House
of the Lord_, pp. 82-83.

2. The Sign of the Dove.--"John the Baptist ... had the privilege of
beholding the Holy Ghost descend in the form of a dove, or rather in the
_sign_ of the dove, in witness of that administration. The sign of the
dove was instituted before the creation of the world, a witness for the
Holy Ghost, and the devil cannot come in the sign of a dove. The Holy
Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. It does not
confine itself to the _form_ of the dove, but in _sign_ of the dove. The
Holy Ghost cannot be transformed into a dove; but the sign of a dove was
given to John to signify the truth of the deed, as the dove is an emblem
or token of truth and innocence."--From Sermon by Joseph Smith, _History
of the Church_, vol. 5, pp. 260-261.

3. The Testimony of John the Baptist.--Observe that the Baptist's
testimony to the divinity of Christ's mission is recorded as having been
given after the period of our Lord's forty-day fast and temptations, and
therefore approximately six weeks subsequent to the baptism of Jesus. To
the deputation of priests and Levites of the Pharisaic party, who
visited him by direction of the rulers, probably by appointment from the
Sanhedrin, John, after disavowing that he was the Christ or any one of
the prophets specified in the inquiry, said: "There standeth one among
you whom ye know not; he it is who coming after me is preferred before
me." On the next day, and again on the day following that, he bore
public testimony to Jesus as the Lamb of God; and on the third day after
the visit of the priests and Levites to John, Jesus started on the
journey to Galilee (John 1:19-43).

John's use of the designation "Lamb of God" implied his conception of
the Messiah as One appointed for sacrifice, and his use of the term is
the earliest mention found in the Bible. For later Biblical
applications, direct or implied, see Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19; Rev. 5:6,
8, 12, 13; 6:1, 16; 7:9, 10, 17; etc.

4. "Come and See."--The spirit of our Lord's invitation to the young
truth seekers, Andrew and John, is manifest in a similar privilege
extended to all. The man who would know Christ must come to Him, to see
and hear, to feel and know. Missionaries may carry the good tidings, the
message of the gospel, but the response must be an individual one. Are
you in doubt as to what that message means to-day? Then come and see for
yourself. Would you know where Christ is to be found? Come and see.

5. The Eternal Father a Resurrected, Exalted Being.--"As the Father hath
power in himself, so hath the Son power in himself, to lay down his life
and take it again, so he has a body of his own. The Son doeth what he
hath seen the Father do: then the Father hath some day laid down his
life and taken it again; so he has a body of his own; each one will be
in his own body."--Joseph Smith; see _Hist, of the Church_, vol. 5, p.

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits
enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil was
rent to-day, and the Great God who holds this world in its orbit, and
who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself
visible,--I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a
man in form--like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as
a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image, and likeness of
God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed
with him, as one man talks and communes with another."--Joseph Smith;
see _Compendium_, p. 190.

6. Waterpots for Ceremonial Cleansing.--In the house at Cana there stood
in a place specially reserved, six waterpots of stone "after the manner
of the purifying of the Jews." Vessels of water were provided as a
matter of prescribed order in Jewish homes, to facilitate the ceremonial
washings enjoined by the law. From these pots or jars the water was
drawn off as required; they were reservoirs holding the supply, not
vessels used in the actual ablution.

7. "The Attitude of Science Towards Miracles" is the subject of a
valuable article by Prof. H. L. Orchard, published in _Journal of the
Transactions of the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of
Great Britain_, 1910, Vol. 42, pp. 81-122. This article was the Gunning
Prize Essay for 1909. After a lengthy analytical treatment of his
subject, the author presents the following summation, which was
concurred in by those who took part in the ensuing discussions: "We here
complete our scientific investigation of Bible Miracles. It has embraced
(1) the _nature_ of the phenomenon; (2) the _conditions_ under which it
is alleged to have occurred; (3) the character of the _testimony_ to its
occurrence. To the inquiry--Were the Bible miracles probable? science
answers in the affirmative. To the further inquiry--Did they actually
occur? the answer of science is again, and very emphatically, in the
affirmative. If we liken them to gold, she has made her assay and says
the gold is pure. Or the Bible miracles may be compared to a string of
pearls. If science seeks to know whether the pearls are genuine, she may
apply chemical and other tests to the examination of their _character_;
she may search into the _conditions and circumstances_ in which the
alleged pearls were found. Were they first found in an oyster, or in
some manufacturing laboratory? And she may investigate the _testimony_
of experts. Should the result of any one of these examinations affirm
the genuineness of the pearls, science will be slow to believe that they
are 'paste'; if all the results declare their genuineness, science will
not hesitate to say that they are true pearls. This, as we have seen, is
the case of the Bible miracles. Science, therefore, affirms _their
actual occurrence_."

8. The Testimony of Miracles.--The Savior's promise in a former day
(Mark 16:17-18), as in the present dispensation (Doc. and Cov.
84:65-73), is definite, to the effect that specified gifts of the Spirit
are to follow the believer as signs of divine favor. The possession and
exercize of such gifts may be taken therefore as essential features of
the Church of Christ. Nevertheless we are not justified in regarding the
evidence of miracles as infallible testimony of authority from heaven;
on the other hand, the scriptures furnish abundant proof that spiritual
powers of the baser sort have wrought miracles, and will continue so to
do, to the deceiving of many who lack discernment. If miracles be
accepted as infallible evidence of godly power, the magicians of Egypt,
through the wonders which they accomplished in opposition to the
ordained plan for Israel's deliverance, have as good a claim to our
respect as has Moses (Exo. 7:11). John the Revelator saw in vision a
wicked power working miracles, and thereby deceiving many; doing great
wonders, even bringing fire from heaven (Rev. 13:11-18). Again, he saw
three unclean spirits, whom he knew to be "the spirits of devils working
miracles" (Rev. 16:13-14). Consider, in connection with this, the
prediction made by the Savior:--There shall arise false Christs, and
false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that,
if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (Matt. 24:24).
The invalidity of miracles as a proof of righteousness is indicated in
an utterance of Jesus Christ regarding the events of the great
judgment:--"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy
name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I
never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:22-23).
The Jews, to whom these teachings were addressed, knew that wonders
could be wrought by evil powers; for they charged Christ with working
miracles by the authority of Beelzebub the prince of devils (Matt.
12:22-30; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15).--From the author's _The Articles of
Faith_, xii:25, 26.


[309] Luke 3:4.

[310] John 1:21; compare Mal. 4:5. Note 1, end of chapter.

[311] Deut. 18:15, 18; see page 45 herein.

[312] John 1:22, 23; compare Isa. 40:3.

[313] John 1:25-27.

[314] John 1:29-31.

[315] John 1:32, 34; also verses 35, 36. Note 2, end of chapter.

[316] Note 3, end of chapter.

[317] John 1:35-51.

[318] Note 4, end of chapter.

[319] The name thus given was afterward confirmed, with accompaniments
of promise; Matt. 16:18.

[320] To the apostles the Lord said on a subsequent occasion: "Ye have
not chosen me, but I have chosen you" (John 15:16; see also 6:70).

[321] A favorite situation for rest, meditation, and study; 1 Kings
4:25; Micah 4:4.

[322] Acts 7:56; Rev. 1:13; 14:14.

[323] Job 25:6; Psalms 144:3; 146:3; see also 8:4 and compare Heb.

[324] Ezek. 2:1, 3, 6, 8; 3:1, 3, 4; 4:1; etc.

[325] Dan. 7:13.

[326] Doc. and Cov. 27:11; 78:15, 16; 107:54-57; 116.

[327] Doc. and Cov. 49:6; 58:65; 65:5; 122:8. Observe that in modern
revelation the title is used only as applying to the Christ in His
resurrected and glorified state.

[328] Note 5, end of chapter.

[329] Page 38.

[330] P. of G.P., Moses 6:57; 7:35; see also 7:24, 47, 54, 56, 59, 65.
Observe that Satan addressed Moses as "son of man" in a blasphemous
attempt to coerce Moses into worshiping him by emphasizing the mortal
weakness and inferiority of the man in contrast with his own false
pretension of godship. (Moses 1:12.)

[331] John 2:1-11.

[332] "The address 'Woman' was so respectful that it might be and was,
addressed to the queenliest."--(Farrar, "The Life of Christ," p. 134.)

[333] John 19:26.

[334] On a few occasions Jesus used the address "Woman" in a general
way: Matt. 15:28; Luke 13:12; John 4:21; 8:10; etc.

[335] Note 6, end of chapter.

[336] John 2:11.

[337] The absence of all false austerity and outward show of abnormal
abstinence in His life furnished an imagined excuse for unfounded
charges of excess, through which He was said to be a glutton and a
winebibber. (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34.)

[338] Matt. 7:22; 11:20; 12:38; 16:1; 24:24; Mark 6:14; Luke 10:13; John
2:18; 7:21; 10:25; 14:11; Acts 6:8; 8:6; 14:3; 19:11; Rom. 15:19; Rev.
13:13; etc.

[339] John 10:41; Matt. 11:9.

[340] For example Zechariah and Malachi.

[341] Exo. 3:20; 4:1-9. Note 8, end of chapter.

[342] Note 7, end of chapter.




Soon after the marriage festivities in Cana, Jesus, accompanied by His
disciples, as also by His mother and other members of the family, went
to Capernaum, a town pleasantly situated near the northerly end of the
Sea of Galilee or Lake of Gennesaret[343] and the scene of many of our
Lord's miraculous works; indeed it came to be known as His own
city.[344] Because of the unbelief of its people it became a subject of
lamentation to Jesus when in sorrow He prefigured the judgment that
would befall the place.[345] The exact site of the city is at present
unknown. On this occasion Jesus tarried but a few days at Capernaum; for
the time of the annual Passover was near, and in compliance with Jewish
law and custom He went up to Jerusalem.

The synoptic Gospels,[346] which are primarily devoted to the labors of
Christ in Galilee, contain no mention of His attendance at the paschal
festival between His twelfth year and the time of His death; to John
alone are we indebted for the record of this visit at the beginning of
Christ's public ministry. It is not improbable that Jesus had been
present at other Passovers during the eighteen years over which the
evangelists pass in complete and reverent silence; but at any or all
such earlier visits, He, not being thirty years old, could not have
assumed the right or privilege of a teacher without contravening
established customs.[347] It is worth our attention to note that on
this, the first recorded appearance of Jesus in the temple subsequent to
His visit as a Boy, He should resume His "Father's business" where He
had before been engaged. It was in His Father's service that He had been
found in discussion with the doctors of the law,[348] and in His
Father's cause He was impelled to action on this later occasion.

The multitudinous and mixed attendance at the Passover celebration has
already received passing mention;[349] some of the unseemly customs that
prevailed are to be held in mind. The law of Moses had been supplemented
by a cumulative array of rules, and the rigidly enforced requirements as
to sacrifices and tribute had given rise to a system of sale and barter
within the sacred precincts of the House of the Lord. In the outer
courts were stalls of oxen, pens of sheep, cages of doves and pigeons;
and the ceremonial fitness of these sacrificial victims was cried aloud
by the sellers, and charged for in full measure. It was the custom also
to pay the yearly poll tribute of the sanctuary at this season--the
ransom offering required of every male in Israel, and amounting to half
a shekel[350] for each, irrespective of his relative poverty or wealth.
This was to be paid "after the shekel of the sanctuary," which
limitation, as rabbis had ruled, meant payment in temple coin. Ordinary
money, varieties of which bore effigies and inscriptions of heathen
import, was not acceptable, and as a result, money-changers plied a
thriving trade on the temple grounds.

Righteously indignant at what He beheld, zealous for the sanctity of His
Father's House, Jesus essayed to clear the place;[351] and, pausing not
for argument in words, He promptly applied physical force almost
approaching violence--the one form of figurative language that those
corrupt barterers for pelf could best understand. Hastily improvizing a
whip of small cords, He laid about Him on every side, liberating and
driving out sheep, oxen, and human traffickers, upsetting the tables of
the exchangers and pouring out their heterogeneous accumulations of
coin. With tender regard for the imprisoned and helpless birds He
refrained from assaulting their cages; but to their owners He said:
"Take these things hence;" and to all the greedy traders He thundered
forth a command that made them quail: "Make not my Father's house an
house of merchandise." His disciples saw in the incident a realization
of the psalmist's line: "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up."[352]

The Jews, by which term we mean the priestly officials and rulers of the
people, dared not protest this vigorous action on the ground of
unrighteousness; they, learned in the law, stood self-convicted of
corruption, avarice, and of personal responsibility for the temple's
defilement. That the sacred premises were in sore need of a cleansing
they all knew; the one point upon which they dared to question the
Cleanser was as to why He should thus take to Himself the doing of what
was their duty. They practically submitted to His sweeping intervention,
as that of one whose possible investiture of authority they might be yet
compelled to acknowledge. Their tentative submission was based on fear,
and that in turn upon their sin-convicted consciences. Christ prevailed
over those haggling Jews by virtue of the eternal principle that right
is mightier than wrong, and of the psychological fact that consciousness
of guilt robs the culprit of valor when the imminence of just
retribution is apparent to his soul.[353] Yet, fearful lest He should
prove to be a prophet with power, such as no living priest or rabbi even
professed to be, they timidly asked for credentials of His
authority--"What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these
things?" Curtly, and with scant respect for this demand, so common to
wicked and adulterous men,[354] Jesus replied: "Destroy this temple and
in three days I will raise it up."[355]

Blinded by their own craft, unwilling to acknowledge the Lord's
authority, yet fearful of the possibility that they were opposing one
who had the right to act, the perturbed officials found in the words of
Jesus reference to the imposing temple of masonry within whose walls
they stood. They took courage; this strange Galilean, who openly flouted
their authority, spoke irreverently of their temple, the visible
expression of the profession they so proudly flaunted in words--that
they were children of the covenant, worshipers of the true and living
God, and hence superior to all heathen and pagan peoples. With seeming
indignation they rejoined: "Forty and six years was this temple in
building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?"[356] Though
frustrated in their desire to arouse popular indignation against Jesus
at this time, the Jews refused to forget or forgive His words. When
afterward He stood an undefended prisoner, undergoing an illegal
pretense of trial before a sin-impeached court, the blackest perjury
uttered against Him was that of the false witnesses who testified: "We
heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and
within three days I will build another made without hands."[357] And
while He hung in mortal suffering, the scoffers who passed by the cross
wagged their heads and taunted the dying Christ with "Ah, thou that
destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself, and
come down from the cross."[358] Yet His words to the Jews who had
demanded the credentials of a sign had no reference to the colossal
Temple of Herod, but to the sanctuary of His own body, in which, more
literally than in the man-built Holy of Holies, dwelt the ever living
Spirit of the Eternal God. "The Father is in me" was His doctrine.[359]

"He spake of the temple of His body," the real tabernacle of the Most
High.[360] This reference to the destruction of the temple of His body,
and the renewal thereof after three days, is His first recorded
prediction relating to His appointed death and resurrection. Even the
disciples did not comprehend the profound meaning of His words until
after His resurrection from the dead; then they remembered and
understood. The priestly Jews were not as dense as they appeared to be,
for we find them coming to Pilate while the body of the crucified Christ
lay in the tomb, saying: "Sir, we remember that that deceiver said,
while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again."[361] Though
we have many records of Christ having said that He would die and on the
third day would rise again, the plainest of such declarations were made
to the apostles rather than openly to the public. The Jews who waited
upon Pilate almost certainly had in mind the utterance of Jesus when
they had stood, nonplussed before Him, at the clearing of the temple

Such an accomplishment as that of defying priestly usage and clearing
the temple purlieus by force could not fail to impress, with varied
effect, the people in attendance at the feast; and they, returning to
their homes in distant and widely separated provinces, would spread the
fame of the courageous Galilean Prophet. Many in Jerusalem believed on
Him at the time, mainly because they were attracted by the miracles He
wrought; but He refused to "commit himself unto them," realizing the
insecure foundation of their professions. Popular adulation was foreign
to His purpose; He wanted no motley following, but would gather around
Him such as received the testimony of His Messiahship from the Father.
"He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he
knew what was in man."[363]

The incident of Christ's forcible clearing of the temple is a
contradiction of the traditional conception of Him as of One so gentle
and unassertive in demeanor as to appear unmanly. Gentle He was, and
patient under affliction, merciful and long-suffering in dealing with
contrite sinners, yet stern and inflexible in the presence of hypocrisy,
and unsparing in His denunciation of persistent evil-doers. His mood was
adapted to the conditions to which He addressed Himself; tender words of
encouragement or burning expletives of righteous indignation issued with
equal fluency from His lips. His nature was no poetic conception of
cherubic sweetness ever present, but that of a Man, with the emotions
and passions essential to manhood and manliness. He, who often wept with
compassion, at other times evinced in word and action the righteous
anger of a God. But of all His passions, however gently they rippled or
strongly surged, He was ever master. Contrast the gentle Jesus moved to
hospitable service by the needs of a festal party in Cana, with the
indignant Christ plying His whip, and amidst commotion and turmoil of
His own making, driving cattle and men before Him as an unclean herd.


That the wonderful deeds wrought by Christ at and about the time of this
memorable Passover had led some of the learned, in addition to many of
the common people, to believe in Him, is evidenced by the fact that
Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee in profession and who occupied a high
place as one of the rulers of the Jews, came to Him on an errand of
inquiry. There is significance in the circumstance that this visit was
made at night. Apparently the man was impelled by a genuine desire to
learn more of the Galilean, whose works could not be ignored; though
pride of office and fear of possible suspicion that he had become
attached to the new Prophet led him to veil his undertaking with
privacy.[365] Addressing Jesus by the title he himself bore, and which
he regarded as one of honor and respect, he said: "Rabbi, we know that
thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that
thou doest, except God be with him."[366] Whether his use of the plural
pronoun "we" indicates that he was sent by the Sanhedrin, or by the
society of Pharisees--the members of which were accustomed to so speak,
as representatives of the order--or was employed in the rhetorical sense
as indicating himself alone, is of little importance. He acknowledged
Jesus as a "teacher come from God," and gave reasons for so regarding
Him. Whatever of feeble faith might have been stirring in the heart of
the man, such was founded on the evidence of miracles, supported mainly
by the psychological effect of signs and wonders. We must accord him
credit for sincerity and honesty of purpose.

Without waiting for specific questions, "Jesus answered and said unto
him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus appears to have been puzzled;
he asked how such a rejuvenation was possible. "How can a man be born
when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and
be born?" We do Nicodemus no injustice in assuming that he as a rabbi, a
man learned in the scriptures, ought to have known that there was other
meaning in the words of Jesus than that of a mortal, literal birth.
Moreover, were it possible that a man could be born a second time
literally and in the flesh, how could such a birth profit him in
spiritual growth? It would be but a reentrance on the stage of physical
existence, not an advancement. The man knew that the figure of a new
birth was common in the teachings of his day. Every proselyte to Judaism
was spoken of at the time of his conversion as one new-born.

The surprize manifested by Nicodemus was probably due, in part at least,
to the universality of the requirement as announced by Christ. Were the
children of Abraham included? The traditionalism of centuries was
opposed to any such view. Pagans had to be born again through a formal
acceptance of Judaism, if they would become even small sharers of the
blessings that belonged as a heritage to the house of Israel; but Jesus
seemed to treat all alike, Jews and Gentiles, heathen idolaters and the
people who with their lips at least called Jehovah, God.

Jesus repeated the declaration, and with precision, emphasizing by the
impressive "Verily, verily," the greatest lesson that had ever saluted
the ears of this ruler in Israel: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into
the kingdom of God." That the new birth thus declared to be absolutely
essential as a condition of entrance into the kingdom of God, applicable
to every man, without limitation or qualification, was a spiritual
regeneration, was next explained to the wondering rabbi: "That which is
born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." Still
the learned Jew pondered yet failed to comprehend. Possibly the sound of
the night breeze was heard at that moment; if so, Jesus was but
utilizing the incident as a skilful teacher would do to impress a lesson
when He continued: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest
the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it
goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Plainly stated,
Nicodemus was given to understand that his worldly learning and official
status availed him nothing in any effort to understand the things of
God; through the physical sense of hearing he knew that the wind blew;
by sight he could be informed of its passage: yet what did he know of
the ultimate cause of even this simple phenomenon? If Nicodemus would
really be instructed in spiritual matters, he had to divest himself of
the bias due to his professed knowledge of lesser things.

Rabbi and eminent Sanhedrist though he was, there at the humble lodging
of the Teacher from Galilee, he was in the presence of a Master. In the
bewilderment of ignorance he asked, "How can these things be?" The reply
must have been humbling if not humiliating to the man: "Art thou a
master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" Plainly a knowledge of
some of the fundamental principles of the gospel had been before
accessible; Nicodemus was held in reproach for his lack of knowledge,
particularly as he was a teacher of the people. Then our Lord graciously
expounded at greater length, testifying that He spoke from sure
knowledge, based upon what He had seen, while Nicodemus and his fellows
were unwilling to accept the witness of His words. Furthermore, Jesus
averred His mission to be that of the Messiah, and specifically foretold
His death and the manner thereof--that He, the Son of Man, must be
lifted up, even as Moses had lifted the serpent in the wilderness as a
prototype, whereby Israel might escape the fatal plague.[367]

The purpose of the foreappointed death of the Son of Man was: "That
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life";
for to this end, and out of His boundless love to man had the Father
devoted His Only Begotten Son. And further, while it was true that in
His mortal advent the Son had not come to sit as a judge, but to teach,
persuade and save, nevertheless condemnation would surely follow
rejection of that Savior, for light had come, and wicked men avoided the
light, hating it in their preference for the darkness in which they
hoped to hide their evil deeds. Here again, perhaps, Nicodemus
experienced a twinge of conscience, for had not he been afraid to come
in the light, and had he not chosen the dark hours for his visit? Our
Lord's concluding words combined both instruction and reproof: "But he
that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made
manifest, that they are wrought in God."

The narrative of this interview between Nicodemus and the Christ
constitutes one of our most instructive and precious scriptures relating
to the absolute necessity of unreserved compliance with the laws and
ordinances of the gospel, as the means indispensable to salvation. Faith
in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, through whom alone men may gain
eternal life; the forsaking of sin by resolute turning away from the
gross darkness of evil to the saving light of righteousness; the
unqualified requirement of a new birth through baptism in water, and
this of necessity by the mode of immersion, since otherwise the figure
of a birth would be meaningless; and the completion of the new birth
through baptism by the Spirit--all these principles are taught herein in
such simplicity and plainness as to make plausible no man's excuse for

If Jesus and Nicodemus were the only persons present at the interview,
John, the writer, must have been informed thereof by one of the two. As
John was one of the early disciples, afterward one of the apostles, and
as he was distinguished in the apostolic company by his close personal
companionship with the Lord, it is highly probable that he heard the
account from the lips of Jesus. It was evidently John's purpose to
record the great lesson of the occasion rather than to tell the
circumstantial story. The record begins and ends with equal abruptness;
unimportant incidents are omitted; every line is of significance; the
writer fully realized the deep import of his subject and treated it
accordingly. Later mention of Nicodemus tends to confirm the estimate of
the man as he appears in this meeting with Jesus--that of one who was
conscious of a belief in the Christ, but whose belief was never
developed into such genuine and virile faith as would impel to
acceptance and compliance irrespective of cost or consequence.[368]


Leaving Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples went into the rural parts of
Judea, and there tarried, doubtless preaching as opportunity was found
or made; and those who believed on Him were baptized.[369] The prominent
note of His early public utterances was that of His forerunner in the
wilderness: "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."[370] The
Baptist continued his labors; though doubtless, since his recognition of
the Greater One for whose coming he had been sent to prepare, he
considered the baptism he administered as of somewhat different
significance. He had at first baptized in preparation for One who was to
come; now he baptized repentant believers unto Him who had come.

Disputation had arisen between some of John's zealous adherents and one
or more Jews[371] concerning the doctrine of purifying. The context[372]
leaves little room for doubt that a question was involved as to the
relative merits of John's baptism and that administered by the disciples
of Jesus. With excusable ardor and well-intended zeal for their master,
the disciples of John, who had been embroiled in the dispute, came to
him saying: "Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou
bearest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him."
John's supporters were concerned at the success of One whom they
regarded in some measure as a rival to their beloved teacher. Had not
John given to Jesus His first attestation? "He to whom thou bearest
witness" said they, not deigning even to designate Jesus by name.
Following the example of Andrew, and of John the future apostle, the
people were leaving the Baptist and gathering about the Christ. John's
reply to his ardent followers constitutes a sublime instance of
self-abnegation. His answer was to this effect: A man receives only as
God gives unto him. It is not given to me to do the work of Christ. Ye
yourselves are witnesses that I disclaimed being the Christ, and that I
said I was one sent before Him. He is as the Bridegroom; I am only as
the friend of the bridegroom,[373] His servant; and I rejoice greatly in
being thus near Him; His voice gives me happiness; and thus my joy is
fulfilled. He of whom you speak stands at the beginning of His ministry;
I near the end of mine. He must increase but I must decrease. He came
from heaven and therefore is superior to all things of earth;
nevertheless men refuse to receive His testimony. To such a One, the
Spirit of God is not apportioned; it is His in full measure. The Father
loveth Him, the Son, and hath given all things into His hand, and: "He
that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth
not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on

In such a reply, under the existent conditions, is to be found the
spirit of true greatness, and of a humility that could rest only on a
conviction of divine assurance to the Baptist as to himself and the
Christ. In more than one sense was John great among all who are born of
women.[375] He had entered upon his work when sent of God so to do;[376]
he realized that his work had been in a measure superseded, and he
patiently awaited his release, in the meantime continuing in the
ministry, directing souls to his Master. The beginning of the end was
near. He was soon seized and thrown into a dungeon; where, as shall be
shown, he was beheaded to sate the vengeance of a corrupt woman whose
sins he had boldly denounced.[377]

The Pharisees observed with increasing apprehension the growing
popularity of Jesus, evidenced by the fact that even more followed after
Him and accepted baptism at the hands of His disciples than had
responded to the Baptist's call. Open opposition was threatened; and as
Jesus desired to avert the hindrance to His work which such persecution
at that time would entail, He withdrew from Judea and retired to
Galilee, journeying by way of Samaria. This return to the northern
province was effected after the Baptist had been cast into prison.[378]


1. Sea of Galilee.--This, the largest body of fresh water in Palestine,
is somewhat pear-shape in outline and measures approximately thirteen
miles in extreme length on a northerly-southerly line and between six
and seven miles in greatest width. The river Jordan enters it at the
northeast extremity and flows out at the south-west; the lake may be
regarded, therefore, as a great expansion of the river, though the
water-filled depression is about two hundred feet in depth. The
outflowing Jordan connects the sea of Galilee with the Dead Sea, the
latter a body of intensely saline water, which in its abundance of
dissolved salts and in the consequent density of its brine is comparable
to the Great Salt Lake in Utah, though the chemical composition of the
waters is materially different. The sea of Galilee is referred to by
Luke, in accordance with its more appropriate classification as a lake
(Luke 5:1, 2; 8:22, 23, 33). Adjoining the lake on the north-west is a
plain, which in earlier times was highly cultivated: this was known as
the land of Gennesaret (Matt. 14:34; Mark 6:53); and the water body came
to be known as the sea or lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). From the
prominence of one of the cities on its western shore, it was known also
as the sea of Tiberias (John 6:1,23; 21:1). In the Old Testament it is
called the sea of Chinnereth (Numb. 34:11) or Chinneroth (Josh. 12:3)
after the name of a contiguous city (Josh. 19:35). The surface of the
lake or sea is several hundred feet below normal sea-level, 681 feet
lower than the Mediterranean according to Zenos, or 700 feet as stated
by some others. This low-lying position gives to the region a
semi-tropical climate. Zenos, in the _Standard Bible Dictionary_, says:
"The waters of the lake are noted for abundant fish. The industry of
fishing was accordingly one of the most stable resources of the country
round about.... Another feature of the sea of Galilee is its
susceptibility to sudden storms. These are occasioned partly by its
lying so much lower than the surrounding tableland (a fact that creates
a difference of temperature and consequent disturbances in the
atmosphere), and partly by the rushing of gusts of wind down the Jordan
valley from the heights of Hermon. The event recorded in Matt. 8:24 is
no extraordinary case. Those who ply boats on the lake are obliged to
exercize great care to avoid peril from such storms. The shores of the
sea of Galilee as well as the lake itself were the scenes of many of the
most remarkable events recorded in the Gospels."

2. The Four Gospels.--All careful students of the New Testament must
have observed that the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, treat the
events of the Savior's sayings and doings in Galilee with greater
fulness than they accord to His work in Judea; the book or Gospel of
John, on the other hand, treats particularly the incidents of our Lord's
Judean ministry, without excluding, however, important events that
occurred in Galilee. In style of writing and method of treatment, the
authors of the first three Gospels (evangelists as they and John are
collectively styled in theologic literature) differ more markedly from
the author of the fourth Gospel than among themselves. The events
recorded by the first three can be more readily classified, collated, or
arranged, and in consequence the Gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and
Luke are now commonly known as the Synoptics, or Synoptic Gospels.

3. Thirty Years of Age.--According to Luke (3:23) Jesus was about thirty
years of age at the time of His baptism, and we find that soon
thereafter, He entered publicly upon the work of His ministry. The law
provided that at the age of thirty years the Levites were required to
enter upon their special service (Numb. 4:3). Clarke, _Bible
Commentary_, treating the passage in Luke 3:23, says: "This was the age
required by the law to which the priests must arrive before they could
be installed in their office." Jesus may possibly have had regard for
what had become a custom of the time, in waiting until He had attained
that age before entering publicly on the labors of a Teacher among the
people. Not being of Levitical descent He was not eligible to priestly
ordination in the Aaronic order, and therefore, certainly did not wait
for such before beginning His ministry. To have taught in public at an
earlier age would have been to arouse criticism, and objection, which
might have resulted in serious handicap or hindrance at the outset.

4. Throngs and Confusion at the Passover Festival.--While it is
admittedly impossible that even a reasonably large fraction of the
Jewish people could be present at the annual Passover gatherings at
Jerusalem, and in consequence provision was made for local observance of
the feast, the usual attendance at the temple celebration in the days of
Jesus was undoubtedly enormous. Josephus calls the Passover throngs "an
innumerable multitude" (Wars, ii, 1:3), and in another place (Wars, vi,
9:3) states that the attendance reached the enormous aggregate of three
millions of souls; such is the record, though many modern writers treat
the statement as an exaggeration. Josephus says that for the purpose of
giving the emperor Nero information as to the numerical strength of the
Jewish people, particularly in Palestine, the chief priests were asked
by Cestius to count the number of lambs slain at the feast, and the
number reported was 256,500, which on the basis of between ten and
eleven persons to each paschal table would indicate the presence, he
says, of at least 2,700,200, not including visitors other than Jews, and
such of the people of Israel as were debarred from participation in the
paschal meal because of ceremonial unfitness.

The scenes of confusion, inevitable under the conditions then
prevailing, are admirably summarized by Geikie (_Life and Words of
Christ_, chap. 30), who cites many earlier authorities for his
statements: "The streets were blocked by the crowds from all parts, who
had to make their way to the Temple, past flocks of sheep, and droves of
cattle, pressing on in the sunken middle part of each street reserved
for them, to prevent contact and defilement. Sellers of all possible
wares beset the pilgrims, for the great feasts were, as has been said,
the harvest time of all trades at Jerusalem, just as, at Mecca, even at
this day, the time of the great concourse of worshippers at the tomb of
the Prophet, is that of the busiest trade among the merchant pilgrims,
who form the caravans from all parts of the Mohammedan world.

"Inside the Temple space, the noise and pressure were, if possible,
worse. Directions were posted up to keep to the right or the left, as in
the densest thoroughfares of London. The outer court, which others than
Jews might enter, and which was, therefore, known as the Court of the
Heathen, was in part, covered with pens for sheep, goats, and cattle,
for the feast and the thank-offerings. Sellers shouted the merits of
their beasts, sheep bleated, and oxen lowed. It was, in fact, the great
yearly fair of Jerusalem, and the crowds added to the din and tumult,
till the services in the neighboring courts were sadly disturbed.
Sellers of doves, for poor women coming for purification from all parts
of the country, and for others, had a space set apart for them. Indeed,
the sale of doves was, in great measure, secretly, in the hands of the
priests themselves: Hannas, the high priest, especially, gaining great
profits from his dove cotes on Mount Olivet. The rents of the sheep and
cattle pens, and the profits on the doves, had led the priests to
sanction the incongruity of thus turning the Temple itself into a noisy
market. Nor was this all. Potters pressed on the pilgrims their clay
dishes and ovens for the Passover lamb; hundreds of traders recommended
their wares aloud; shops for wine, oil, salt, and all else needed for
sacrifices, invited customers; and, in addition, persons going across
the city, with all kinds of burdens, shortened their journey by crossing
the Temple grounds. The provision for paying the tribute, levied on all,
for the support of the Temple, added to the distraction. On both sides
of the east Temple gate, stalls had for generations been permitted for
changing foreign money. From the fifteenth of the preceding month
money-changers had been allowed to set up their tables in the city, and
from the twenty-first,--or twenty days before the Passover,--to ply
their trade in the Temple itself. Purchasers of materials for offerings
paid the amount at special stalls, to an officer of the Temple, and
received a leaden cheque for which they got what they had bought, from
the seller. Large sums, moreover, were changed, to be cast, as free
offerings, into one of the thirteen chests which formed the Temple
treasury. Every Jew, no matter how poor, was, in addition, required to
pay yearly a half-shekel--about eighteen pence--as atonement money for
his soul, and for the support of the Temple. As this would not be
received except in a native coin, called the Temple shekel, which was
not generally current, strangers had to change their Roman, Greek, or
Eastern money, at the stalls of the money-changers, to get the coin
required. The trade gave ready means for fraud, which was only too
common. Five per cent. exchange was charged, but this was indefinitely
increased by tricks and chicanery, for which the class had everywhere
earned so bad a name, that like the publicans, their witness would not
be taken before a court."

Touching the matter of the defilement to which the temple courts had
been subjected by traffickers acting under priestly license, Farrar,
(_Life of Christ_, p. 152), gives us the following: "And this was the
entrance-court to the Temple of the Most High! The court which was a
witness that that house should be a House of Prayer for all nations had
been degraded into a place which, for foulness, was more like shambles,
and for bustling commerce more like a densely-crowded bazaar; while the
lowing of oxen, the bleating of sheep, the Babel of many languages, the
huckstering and wrangling, and the clinking of money and of balances
(perhaps not always just), might be heard in the adjoining courts,
disturbing the chant of the Levites and the prayers of priests!"

5. The Servility of the Jews in the Presence of Jesus.--The record of
the achievement of Jesus, in ridding the temple courts of those who had
made the House of the Lord a market place, contains nothing to suggest
the inference that He exercized superhuman strength or more than manly
vigor. He employed a whip of His own making, and drove all before Him.
They fled helter-skelter. None are said to have voiced an objection
until the expulsion had been made complete. Why did not some among the
multitude object? The submission appears to have been abject and servile
in the extreme. Farrar, (_Life of Christ_, pp. 151, 152) raises the
question and answers it with excellent reasoning and in eloquent lines:
"Why did not this multitude of ignorant pilgrims resist? Why did these
greedy chafferers content themselves with dark scowls and muttered
maledictions, while they suffered their oxen and sheep to be chased into
the streets and themselves ejected, and their money flung rolling on the
floor, by one who was then young and unknown, and in the garb of
despised Galilee? Why, in the same way we might ask, did Saul suffer
Samuel to beard him in the very presence of his army? Why did David
abjectly obey the orders of Joab? Why did Ahab not dare to arrest Elijah
at the door of Naboth's vineyard? Because sin is weakness; because there
is in the world nothing so abject as a guilty conscience, nothing so
invincible as the sweeping tide of a Godlike indignation against all
that is base and wrong. How could these paltry sacrilegious buyers and
sellers, conscious of wrongdoing, oppose that scathing rebuke, or face
the lightnings of those eyes that were enkindled by an outraged
holiness? When Phinehas the priest was zealous for the Lord of Hosts,
and drove through the bodies of the prince of Simeon and the Midianitish
woman with one glorious thrust of his indignant spear, why did not
guilty Israel avenge that splendid murder? Why did not every man of the
tribe of Simeon become a Goel to the dauntless assassin? Because Vice
cannot stand for one moment before Virtue's uplifted arm. Base and
grovelling as they were, these money-mongering Jews felt, in all that
remnant of their souls which was not yet eaten away by infidelity and
avarice, that the Son of Man was right.

"Nay, even the Priests and Pharisees, and Scribes and Levites, devoured
as they were by pride and formalism, could not condemn an act which
might have been performed by a Nehemiah or a Judas Maccabaeus, and which
agreed with all that was purest and best in their traditions. But when
they had heard of this deed, or witnessed it, and had time to recover
from the breathless mixture of admiration, disgust, and astonishment
which it inspired, they came to Jesus, and though they did not dare to
condemn what He had done, yet half indignantly asked Him for some sign
that He had a right to act thus."

6. Jewish Regard for the Temple.--The Jews professed high regard for the
temple. "An utterance of the Savior, construed by the dark-minded as an
aspersion upon the temple, was used against Him as one of the chief
accusations on which His death was demanded. When the Jews clamored for
a sign of His authority He predicted His own death and subsequent
resurrection, saying, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will
raise it up,' (John 2:19-22; see also Matt. 26:61; 27:40; Mark 14:58;
15:29). They blindly regarded this remark as a disrespectful allusion to
their temple, a structure built by human hands, and they refused to
forget or forgive. That this veneration continued after the crucifixion
of our Lord is evident from accusations brought against Stephen, and
still later against Paul. In their murderous rage the people accused
Stephen of disrespect for the temple, and brought false witnesses who
uttered perjured testimony saying, 'This man ceaseth not to speak
blasphemous words against this holy place.' (Acts 6:13.) And Stephen was
numbered with the martyrs. When it was claimed that Paul had brought
with him into the temple precincts, a Gentile, the whole city was
aroused, and the infuriated mob dragged Paul from the place and sought
to kill him. (Acts 21:26-31.)"--The author; _House of the Lord_, pp. 60,

7. Some of the "Chief Rulers" Believed.--Nicodemus was not the only one
among the ruling classes who believed in Jesus; but of most of these we
learn nothing to indicate that they had sufficient courage to come even
by night to make independent and personal inquiry. They feared the
result in loss of popularity and standing. We read in John 12:42, 43:
"Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but
because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be
put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the
praise of God." Note also the instance of the scribe who proffered to
become a professed disciple, but, probably because of some degree of
insincerity or unfitness, was rather discouraged than approved by Jesus.
(Matt. 8:19, 20.)

8. Nicodemus.--The course followed by this man evidences at once that he
really believed in Jesus as one sent of God, and that his belief failed
of development into a condition of true faith, which, had it but been
realized, might have led to a life of devoted service in the Master's
cause. When at a later stage than that of his interview with Christ the
chief priests and Pharisees upbraided the officers whom they had sent to
take Jesus into custody and who returned to report their failure,
Nicodemus, one of the council, ventured to mildly expostulate against
the murderous determination of the rulers, by stating a general
proposition in interrogative form: "Doth our law judge any man before it
hear him and know what he doeth?" He was answered by his colleagues with
contempt, and appears to have abandoned his well-intended effort (John
7:50-53; read preceding verses 30-49). We next hear of him bringing a
costly contribution of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred-weight, to be
used in the burial of Christ's then crucified body; but even in this
deed of liberality and devotion, in which his sincerity of purpose
cannot well be questioned, he had been preceded by Joseph of Arimathea,
a man of rank, who had boldly asked for and secured the body for
reverent burial (John 19:38-42). Nevertheless Nicodemus did more than
did most of his believing associates among the noble and great ones; and
to him let all due credit be given; he will not fail of his reward.

9. "The Jews" or "A Jew."--We read that "there arose a question between
some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying" (John 3:25).
Bearing in mind that the expression "the Jews" is very commonly used by
the author of the fourth Gospel to designate the officials or rulers
among the people, the passage quoted may be understood to mean that the
Baptist's disciples were engaged in disputation with the priestly
rulers. It is held, however, by Biblical scholars generally, that "the
Jews" in this passage is a mistranslation, and that the true rendering
is "a Jew." The disputation concerning purifying appears to have arisen
between some of the Baptist's followers and a single opponent; and the
passage as it appears in the King James version of the Bible is an
instance of scripture not translated correctly.

10. Friend of the Bridegroom.--Judean marriage customs in the days of
Christ required the appointing of a chief grooms-man, who attended to
all the preliminaries and made arrangements for the marriage feast, in
behalf of the bridegroom. He was distinctively known as the friend of
the bridegroom. When the ceremonial requirements had been complied with,
and the bride had been legally and formally given unto her spouse, the
joy of the bridegroom's friend was fulfilled inasmuch as his appointed
duties had been successfully discharged. (John 3:29.) According to
Edersheim, (_Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah_, vol. 1, p. 148), by
the simpler customs prevalent in Galilee a "friend of the bridegroom"
was not often chosen; and (pp. 663-4) the expression "children of the
bridechamber" (Matt. 9:15; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34, in all of which
citations the expression is used by Jesus), was applied collectively to
all the invited guests at a wedding festival. He says: "As the
institution of 'friends of the bridegroom' prevailed in Judea, but not
in Galilee, this marked distinction of the 'friend of the bridegroom' in
the mouth of the Judean John, and 'sons (children) of the bridechamber'
in that of the Galilean Jesus, is itself evidential of historic

11. The Atonement Money.--In the course of the exodus, the Lord required
of every male in Israel who was twenty years old or older at the time of
a census the payment of a ransom, amounting to half a shekel (Exo.
30:12-16). See pages 383 and 396 herein. As to the use to which this
money was to be put, the Lord thus directed Moses: "And thou shalt take
the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for
the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a
memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an
atonement for your souls" (Exo. 30:16; see also 38:25-31). In time, the
tax of half a shekel, equivalent to a bekah (Exo. 38:26), was collected
annually, though for this exaction no scriptural authority is of record.
This tax must not be confused with the redemption money, amounting to
five shekels for every firstborn male, the payment of which exempted the
individual from service in the labors of the sanctuary. In place of the
firstborn sons in all the tribes, the Lord designated the Levites for
this special ministry; nevertheless He continued to hold the firstborn
males as peculiarly His own, and required the payment of a ransom as a
mark of their redemption from the duties of exclusive service. See Exo.
13:12, 13-15; Numb. 3:13, 40-51; 8:15-18; 18:15, 16; also pages 95, 96


[343] Note 1, end of chapter.

[344] John 2:12; compare Matt. 4:13; 9:1.

[345] Matt. 11:23; Luke 10:15.

[346] Note 2, end of chapter.

[347] Note 3, end of chapter.

[348] Page 114; Luke 2:46-49.

[349] Page 113. Note 4, end of chapter.

[350] Exo. 30:11-16. Note 11, end of chapter.

[351] John 2:14-17.

[352] Compare Psalm 69:9.

[353] Note 5, end of chapter.

[354] Matt. 12:38, 39; compare 16:1; Mark 8:11; John 6:30; 1 Cor. 1:22.

[355] John 2:19; read verses 18-22.

[356] Note 6, end of chapter.

[357] Mark 14:58. Page 624 herein.

[358] Mark 15:29, 30.

[359] John 10:38; 17:21.

[360] John 2:19-22; compare 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; see
further Col. 2:9; Heb. 8:2.

[361] Matt. 27:63. Page 665.

[362] As Canon Farrar has tersely written, "Unless the 'we remember' was
a distinct falsehood, they could have been referring to no other
occasion than this." ("Life of Christ," p. 155.)

[363] John 2:23-25.

[364] John 3:1-21.

[365] Note 7, end of chapter.

[366] John 3:2; read verses 1-21.

[367] Numb. 21:7-9.

[368] Note 8, end of chapter. See "Articles of Faith," v:1-5.

[369] John 3:22; compare 4:2.

[370] Matt. 4:17; compare Mark 1:15.

[371] Note 9, end of chapter.

[372] John 3:25-36.

[373] Note 10, end of chapter.

[374] John 3:27-36.

[375] Matt. 11:11.

[376] Luke 3:2,3.

[377] Matt. 14:3-12.

[378] Matt. 4:12.




The direct route from Judea to Galilee lay through Samaria; but many
Jews, particularly Galileans, chose to follow an indirect though longer
way rather than traverse the country of a people so despized by them as
were the Samaritans. The ill-feeling between Jews and Samaritans had
been growing for centuries, and at the time of our Lord's earthly
ministry had developed into most intense hatred.[379] The inhabitants of
Samaria were a mixed people, in whom the blood of Israel was mingled
with that of the Assyrians and other nations; and one cause of the
animosity existing between them and their neighbors both on the north
and the south was the Samaritans' claim for recognition as Israelites;
it was their boast that Jacob was their father; but this the Jews
denied. The Samaritans had a version of the Pentateuch, which they
revered as the law, but they rejected all the prophetical writings of
what is now the Old Testament, because they considered themselves
treated with insufficient respect therein.

To the orthodox Jew of the time a Samaritan was more unclean than a
Gentile of any other nationality. It is interesting to note the extreme
and even absurd restrictions then in force in the matter of regulating
unavoidable relations between the two peoples. The testimony of a
Samaritan could not be heard before a Jewish tribunal. For a Jew to eat
food prepared by a Samaritan was at one time regarded by rabbinical
authority as an offense as great as that of eating the flesh of swine.
While it was admitted that produce from a field in Samaria was not
unclean, inasmuch as it sprang directly from the soil, such produce
became unclean if subjected to any treatment at Samaritan hands. Thus,
grapes and grain might be purchased from Samaritans, but neither wine
nor flour manufactured therefrom by Samaritan labor. On one occasion the
epithet "Samaritan" was hurled at Christ as an intended insult. "Say we
not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?"[380] The
Samaritan conception of the mission of the expected Messiah was somewhat
better founded than was that of the Jews, for the Samaritans gave
greater prominence to the spiritual kingdom the Messiah would establish,
and were less exclusive in their views as to whom the Messianic
blessings would be extended.

In His journey to Galilee Jesus took the shorter course, through
Samaria; and doubtless His choice was guided by purpose, for we read
that "He must needs go" that way.[381] The road led through or by the
town called Sychar,[382] "near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave
to his son Joseph."[383] There was Jacob's well, which was held in high
esteem, not only for its intrinsic worth as an unfailing source of
water, but also because of its association with the great patriarch's
life. Jesus, travel-warn and weary, rested at the well, while His
disciples went to the town to buy food. A woman came to fill her
water-jar, and Jesus said to her: "Give me to drink." By the rules of
oriental hospitality then prevailing, a request for water was one that
should never be denied if possible to grant; yet the woman hesitated,
for she was amazed that a Jew should ask a favor of a Samaritan,
however, great the need. She expressed her surprize in the question "How
is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of
Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." Jesus,
seemingly forgetful of thirst in His desire to teach, answered her by
saving: "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to
thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would
have given thee living water." The woman reminded Him that He had no
bucket or cord with which to draw from the deep well, and inquired
further as to His meaning, adding: "Art thou greater than our father
Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his
children, and his cattle?"

Jesus found in the woman's words a spirit similar to that with which the
scholarly Nicodemus had received His teachings; each failed alike to
perceive the spiritual lesson He would impart. He explained to her that
water from the well would be of but temporary benefit; to one who drank
of it thirst would return. "But," he added, "whosoever drinketh of the
water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I
shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into
everlasting life." The woman's interest was keenly aroused, either from
curiosity or as an emotion of deeper concern, for she now became the
petitioner, and, addressing Him by a title of respect, said: "Sir, give
me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw." She
could see nothing beyond the material advantage attaching to water that
would once and for all quench thirst. The result of the draught she had
in mind would be to give her immunity from one bodily need, and save her
the labor of coming to draw from the well.

The subject of the conversation was abruptly changed by Jesus bidding
her to go, call her husband, and return. To her reply that she had no
husband Jesus revealed to her His superhuman powers of discernment, by
telling her she had spoken truthfully, inasmuch as she had had five
husbands, while the man with whom she was then living was not her
husband. Surely no ordinary being could have so read the unpleasing
story of her life; she impulsively confessed her conviction, saying:
"Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." She desired to turn the
conversation, and, pointing to Mount Gerizim, upon which the
sacrilegious priest Manasseh had erected a Samaritan temple, she
remarked with little pertinence to what had been said before: "Our
fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is
the place where men ought to worship." Jesus replied in yet deeper vein,
telling her that the time was near when neither that mountain nor
Jerusalem would be preeminently a place of worship; and He clearly
rebuked her presumption that the traditional belief of the Samaritans
was equally good with that of the Jews; for, said He: "Ye worship ye
know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews."
Changed and corrupted as the Jewish religion had become, it was better
than that of her people; for the Jews did accept the prophets, and
through Judah the Messiah had come. But, as Jesus expounded the matter
to her, the place of worship was of lesser importance than the spirit of
the worshiper. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship
him in spirit and in truth."

Unable or unwilling to understand Christ's meaning, the woman sought to
terminate the lesson by a remark that probably was to her but casual: "I
know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he
will tell us all things." Then, to her profound amazement, Jesus
rejoined with the awe-inspiring declaration: "I that speak unto thee am
he." The language was unequivocal, the assertion one that required no
elucidation. The woman must regard Him thereafter as either an imposter
or the Messiah. She left her pitcher at the well, and hastening to the
town told of her experience, saying: "Come, see a man, which told me all
things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?"

Near the conclusion of the interview between Jesus and the woman, the
returning disciples arrived with the provisions they had gone to
procure. They marveled at finding the Master in conversation with a
woman, and a Samaritan woman at that, yet none of them asked of Him an
explanation. His manner must have impressed them with the seriousness
and solemnity of the occasion. When they urged Him to eat He said: "I
have meat to eat that ye know not of." To them His words had no
significance beyond the literal sense, and they queried among themselves
as to whether some one had brought Him food during their absence; but He
enlightened them in this way: "My meat is to do the will of him that
sent me, and to finish his work."

A crowd of Samaritans appeared, coming from the city. Looking upon them
and upon the grain fields nearby, Jesus continued: "Say not ye, There
are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you,
Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to
harvest." The import of the saying seems to be that while months would
elapse before the wheat and the barley were ready for the sickle, the
harvest of souls, exemplified by the approaching crowd, was even then
ready; and that from what He had sown the disciples might reap, to their
inestimable advantage, since they would have wages for their hire and
would gather the fruits of other labor than their own.

Many of the Samaritans believed on Christ, at first on the strength of
the woman's testimony, then because of their own conviction; and they
said to the woman at whose behest they had at first gone to meet Him:
"Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him
ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the
world." Graciously He acceded to their request to remain, and tarried
with them two days. It is beyond question that Jesus did not share in
the national prejudice of the Jews against the people of Samaria; an
honest soul was acceptable to Him come whence he may. Probably the seed
sown during this brief stay of our Lord among the despized people of
Samaria was that from which so rich a harvest was reaped by the apostles
in after years.[384]


Following the two days' sojourn among the Samaritans, Jesus, accompanied
by the disciples who had traveled with Him from Judea, resumed the
journey northward into Galilee, from which province He had been absent
several months. Realizing that the people of Nazareth, the town in which
He had been brought up, would be probably loath to acknowledge Him as
other than the carpenter, or, as He stated, knowing that "a prophet hath
no honour in his own country,"[385] He went first to Cana. The people of
that section, and indeed the Galileans generally, received Him gladly;
for many of them had attended the last Passover and probably had been
personal witnesses of the wonders He had wrought in Judea. While at Cana
He was visited by a nobleman, most likely a high official of the
province, who entreated Him to proceed to Capernaum and heal his son,
who was then lying at the point of death. With the probable design of
showing the man the true condition of his mind, for we cannot doubt that
Jesus could read his thoughts, our Lord said to him: "Except ye see
signs and wonders, ye will not believe."[386] As observed in earlier
instances, notably in the refusal of Jesus to commit Himself to the
professing believers at Jerusalem, whose belief rested solely on their
wonder at the things He did,[387] our Lord would not regard miracles,
though wrought by Himself, as a sufficient and secure foundation for
faith. The entreating nobleman, in anguish over the precarious state of
his son, in no way resented the rebuke such as a captious mind may have
found in the Lord's reply; but with sincere humility, which showed his
belief that Jesus could heal the boy, he renewed and emphasized his
plea: "Sir, come down ere my child die."

Probably the man had never paused to reason as to the direct means or
process by which death might be averted and healing be insured through
the words of any being; but in his heart he believed in Christ's power,
and with pathetic earnestness besought our Lord to intervene in behalf
of his dying son. He seemed to consider it necessary that the Healer be
present, and his great fear was that the boy would not live until Jesus
could arrive. "Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the
man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his
way." The genuineness of the man's trust is shown by his grateful
acceptance of the Lord's assurance, and by the contentment that he
forthwith manifested. Capernaum, where his son lay, was about twenty
miles away; had he been still solicitous and doubtful he would probably
have tried to return home that day, for it was one o'clock in the
afternoon when Jesus spoke the words that had given to him such relief;
but he journeyed leisurely, for on the following day he was still on the
road, and was met by some of his servants who had been sent to cheer him
with the glad word of his son's recovery. He inquired when the boy had
begun to amend, and was told that at the seventh hour on the yesterday
the fever had left him. That was the time at which Christ had said, "Thy
son liveth." The man's belief ripened fast, and both he and his
household accepted the gospel.[388] This was the second miracle wrought
by Jesus when in Cana, though in this instance the subject of the
blessing was in Capernaum.

Our Lord's fame spread through all the region round about. During a
period not definitely stated, He taught in the synagogs of the towns and
was received with favor, being glorified of all.[389] He then returned
to Nazareth, His former home, and as was his custom, attended the
synagog on the Sabbath day. Many times as boy and man He had sat in that
house of worship, listening to the reading of the law and the prophets
and to the commentaries or Targums[390] relating thereto, as delivered
by appointed readers; but now, as a recognized teacher of legal age He
was eligible to take the reader's place. On this occasion He stood up to
read, when the service had reached the stage at which extracts from the
prophetical books were to be read to the congregation. The minister in
charge handed Him the roll, or book, of Isaiah; He turned to the part
known to us as the beginning of the sixty-first chapter, and read: "The
Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the
gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to
preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the
blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable
year of the Lord."[391] Handing the book to the minister, He sat down.
It was allowable for the reader in the service of the Jewish synagog to
make comments in explanation of what had been read; but to do so he must
sit. When Jesus took His seat the people knew that He was about to
expound the text, and "the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue
were fastened on him." The scripture He had quoted was one recognized by
all classes as specifically referring to the Messiah, for whose coming
the nation waited. The first sentence of our Lord's commentary was
startling; it involved no labored analysis, no scholastic
interpretation, but a direct and unambiguous application: "This day is
this scripture fulfilled in your ears." There was such graciousness in
His words that all wondered, and they said, "Is not this Joseph's

Jesus knew their thoughts even if He heard not their words, and,
forestalling their criticism, He said: "Ye will surely say unto me this
proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in
Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto
you, No prophet is accepted in his own country." In their hearts the
people were eager for a sign, a wonder, a miracle. They knew that Jesus
had wrought such in Cana, and a boy in Capernaum had been healed by His
word; at Jerusalem too He had astonished the people with mighty works.
Were they, His townsmen, to be slighted? Why would He not treat them to
some entertaining exhibition of His powers? He continued His address,
reminding them that in the days of Elijah, when for three years and a
half no rain had fallen, and famine had reigned, the prophet had been
sent to but one of the many widows, and she a woman of Sarepta in Sidon,
a Gentile, not a daughter of Israel. And again, though there had been
many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha, but one leper, and he a
Syrian, not an Israelite, had been cleansed through the prophet's
ministration, for Naaman alone had manifested the requisite faith.

Then great was their wrath. Did He dare to class them with Gentiles and
lepers? Were they to be likened unto despized unbelievers, and that too
by the son of the village carpenter, who had grown from childhood in
their community? Victims of diabolical rage, they seized the Lord and
took Him to the brow of the hill on the slopes of which the town was
built, determined to avenge their wounded feelings by hurling Him from
the rocky cliffs. Thus early in His ministry did the forces of
opposition attain murderous intensity. But our Lord's time to die had
not yet come. The infuriated mob was powerless to go one step farther
than their supposed victim would permit. "But he passing through the
midst of them went his way." Whether they were overawed by the grace of
His presence, silenced by the power of His words, or stayed by some more
appalling intervention, we are not informed. He departed from the
unbelieving Nazarenes, and thenceforth Nazareth was no longer His home.


Jesus wended His way to Capernaum,[393] which became to Him as nearly a
place of abode as any He had in Galilee. There He taught, particularly
on Sabbath days; and the people were astonished at His doctrine, for He
spoke with authority and power.[394] In the synagog, on one of these
occasions, was a man who was a victim of possession, and subject to the
ravages of an evil spirit, or, as the text so forcefully states, one who
"had a spirit of an unclean devil." It is significant that this wicked
spirit, which had gained such power over the man as to control his
actions and utterances, was terrified before our Lord and cried out with
a loud voice, though pleadingly: "Let us alone; what have we to do with
thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee
who thou art; the Holy One of God." Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit,
commanding him to be silent, and to leave the man; the demon obeyed the
Master, and after throwing the victim into violent though harmless
paroxysm, left him. Such a miracle caused the beholders to wonder the
more, and they exclaimed: "What a word is this! for with authority and
power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. And the fame
of him went out into every place of the country round about."[395]

In the evening of the same day, when the sun had set, and therefore
after the Sabbath had passed[396], the people flocked about Him,
bringing their afflicted friends and kindred; and these Jesus healed of
their divers maladies whether of body or of mind. Among those so
relieved were many who had been possessed of devils, and these cried
out, testifying perforce of the Master's divine authority: "Thou art
Christ the Son of God."[397]

On these as on other occasions, we find evil spirits voicing through the
mouths of their victims their knowledge that Jesus was the Christ; and
in all such instances the Lord silenced them with a word; for He wanted
no such testimony as theirs to attest the fact of His Godship. Those
spirits were of the devil's following, members of the rebellious and
defeated hosts that had been cast down through the power of the very
Being whose authority and power they now acknowledged in their demoniac
frenzy. Together with Satan himself, their vanquished chief, they
remained unembodied, for to all of them the privileges of the second or
mortal estate had been denied;[398] their remembrance of the scenes that
had culminated in their expulsion from heaven was quickened by the
presence of the Christ, though He stood in a body of flesh.

Many modern writers have attempted to explain the phenomenon of
demoniacal possession; and beside these there are not a few who deny the
possibility of actual domination of the victim by spirit personages. Yet
the scriptures are explicit in showing the contrary. Our Lord
distinguished between this form of affliction and that of simple bodily
disease in His instructions to the Twelve: "Heal the sick, cleanse the
lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils."[399] In the account of the
incidents under consideration, the evangelist Mark observes the same
distinction, thus: "They brought unto him all that were diseased, and
them that were possessed with devils." In several instances, Christ, in
rebuking demons, addressed them as individuals distinct from the human
being afflicted,[400] and in one such instance commanded the demon to
"come out of him, and enter no more into him."[401]

In this matter as in others the simplest explanation is the pertinent
truth; theory raised on other than scriptural foundation is unstable.
Christ unequivocally associated demons with Satan, specifically in His
comment on the report of the Seventy whom He authorized and sent forth,
and who testified with joy on their return that even the devils had been
subject unto them through His name; and to those faithful servants He
said: "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."[402] The demons
that take possession of men, overruling their agency and compelling them
to obey Satanic bidding, are the unembodied angels of the devil, whose
triumph it is to afflict mortals, and if possible to impel them to sin.
To gain for themselves the transitory gratification of tenanting a body
of flesh, these demons are eager to enter even into the bodies of

Possibly it was during the interval between the rebuking of the evil
spirit in the synagog and the miracles of healing and casting out devils
in the evening of that Sabbath, that Jesus went to the house of Simon,
whom He had before named Peter, and there found the mother-in-law of His
disciple lying ill of fever. Acceding to the request of faith He rebuked
the disease; the woman was healed forthwith, rose from her bed, and
ministered the hospitality of her home unto Jesus and those who were
with Him.[404]


1. Animosity Between Jews and Samaritans.--In any consideration of the
Samaritans, it must be kept in mind that a certain city and the district
or province in which it was situated were both known as Samaria. The
principal facts pertaining to the origin of the Samaritans and the
explanation of the mutual animosity existing between that people and the
Jews in the time of Christ, have been admirably summarized by Geikie
(_Life and Words of Christ_, vol. i, pp. 495-6). Omitting his citation
of authorities, we quote: "After the deportation of the Ten Tribes to
Assyria, Samaria had been repeopled by heathen colonists from various
provinces of the Assyrian empire, by fugitives from the authorities of
Judea, and by stragglers of one or other of the Ten Tribes, who found
their way home again. The first heathen settlers, terrified at the
increase of wild animals, especially lions, and attributing it to their
not knowing the proper worship of the God of the country, sent for one
of the exiled priests, and, under his instructions, added the worship of
Jehovah to that of their idols--an incident in their history from which
later Jewish hatred and derision taunted them as 'proselytes of the
lions,' as it branded them, from their Assyrian origin, with the name of
Cuthites. Ultimately, however, they became even more rigidly attached to
the Law of Moses than the Jews themselves. Anxious to be recognized as
Israelites, they set their hearts on joining the Two Tribes, on their
return from captivity, but the stern Puritanism of Ezra and Nehemiah
admitted no alliance between the pure blood of Jerusalem and the tainted
race of the north. Resentment at this affront was natural, and excited
resentment in return, till, in Christ's day, centuries of strife and
mutual injury, intensified by theological hatred on both sides, had made
them implacable enemies. The Samaritans had built a temple on Mount
Gerizim, to rival that of Jerusalem, but it had been destroyed by John
Hyrcanus, who had also levelled Samaria to the ground. They claimed for
their mountain a greater holiness than that of Moriah; accused the Jews
of adding to the word of God, by receiving the writings of the prophets,
and prided themselves on owning only the Pentateuch as inspired;
favoured Herod because the Jews hated him, and were loyal to him and the
equally hated Romans; had kindled false lights on the hills, to vitiate
the Jewish reckoning by the new moons, and thus throw their feasts into
confusion, and, in the early youth of Jesus, had even defiled the very
Temple itself, by strewing human bones in it, at the Passover.

"Nor had hatred slumbered on the side of the Jews. They knew the
Samaritans only as Cuthites, or heathens from Cuth. 'The race that I
hate is no race,' says the son of Sirach. It was held that a people who
once had worshipped five gods could have no part in Jehovah. The claim
of the Samaritans that Moses had buried the Tabernacle and its vessels
on the top of Gerizim, was laughed to scorn. It was said that they had
dedicated their temple, under Antiochus Epiphanes, to the Greek Jupiter.
Their keeping the commands of Moses even more strictly than the Jews,
that it might seem they were really of Israel, was not denied; but their
heathenism, it was said, had been proved by the discovery of a brazen
dove, which they worshipped, on the top of Gerizim. It would have been
enough that they boasted of Herod as their good king, who had married a
daughter of their people; that he had been free to follow, in their
country, his Roman tastes, so hated in Judea; that they had remained
quiet, after his death, when Judea and Galilee were in uproar, and that
for their peacefulness a fourth of their taxes had been remitted and
added to the burdens of Judea. Their friendliness to the Romans was an
additional provocation. While the Jews were kept quiet only by the
sternest severity, and strove to the utmost against the introduction of
anything foreign, the Samaritans rejoiced in the new importance which
their loyalty to the empire had given them. Shechem flourished: close
by, in Cæsarea, the procurator held his court: a division of cavalry, in
barracks at Sebaste--the old Samaria--had been raised in the territory.
The Roman strangers were more than welcome to while away the summer in
their umbrageous valleys.

"The illimitable hatred, rising from so many sources, found vent in the
tradition that a special curse had been uttered against the Samaritans,
by Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Joshua. It was said that these great ones
assembled the whole congregation of Israel in the Temple, and that three
hundred priests, with three hundred trumpets, and three hundred books of
the Law, and three hundred scholars of the Law, had been employed to
repeat, amidst the most solemn ceremonial, all the curses of the Law
against the Samaritans. They had been subjected to every form of
excommunication; by the incommunicable name of Jehovah; by the Tables of
the Law, and by the heavenly and earthly synagogues. The very name
became a reproach. 'We know that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a
devil,' said the Jews, to Jesus, in Jerusalem.... A Samaritan egg, as
the hen laid it, could not be unclean, but what of a boiled egg? Yet
interest and convenience strove, by subtle casuistry, to invent excuses
for what intercourse was unavoidable. The country of the Cuthites was
clean, so that a Jew might, without scruple, gather and eat its produce.
The waters of Samaria were clean, so that a Jew might drink them or wash
in them. Their dwellings were clean, so that he might enter them, and
eat or lodge in them. Their roads were clean, so that the dust of them
did not defile a Jew's feet. The Rabbis even went so far in their
contradictory utterances, as to say that the victuals of the Cuthites
were allowed, if none of their wine or vinegar were mixed with them, and
even their unleavened bread was to be reckoned fit for use at the
Passover. Opinions thus wavered, but, as a rule, harsher feeling

That the hostile sentiment has continued unto this day, at least on the
part of the Jews, is affirmed by Frankl and others. Thus, as quoted by
Farrar (p. 166 note): "'Are you a Jew?' asked Salameh Cohen, the
Samaritan high priest, of Dr. Frankl; 'and do you come to us, the
Samaritans, who are despised by the Jews?' (_Jews in the East_, ii,
329). He added that they would willingly live in friendship with the
Jews, but that the Jews avoided all intercourse with them. Soon after,
visiting Sepharedish Jews of Nablous, Dr. Frankl asked one of that sect,
'if he had any intercourse with the Samaritans?' The women retreated
with a cry of horror, and one of them said, 'Have you been among the
worshipers of the pigeons?' I said that I had. The women again fell back
with the same expression of repugnance and one of them said, 'Take a
purifying bath!'" (idem, p. 334). Canon Farrar adds, "I had the pleasure
of spending a day among the Samaritans encamped on Mount Gerizim, for
their annual passover, and neither in their habits nor apparent
character could I see any cause for all this horror and hatred."

2. Sychar.--The town where dwelt the Samaritan woman with whom Jesus
conversed at Jacob's well, is named Sychar in John 4:5; the name occurs
nowhere else in the Bible. Attempts have been made to identify the place
with Shechem, a city dear to the Jewish heart because of its prominence
in connection with the lives of the early patriarchs. It is now
generally admitted, however, that Sychar was a small village on the site
of the present Askar, which is, says Zenos, "a village with a spring and
some ancient rock-hewn tombs, about five eighths of a mile north of
Jacob's well."

3. The Nobleman of Capernaum.--The name of the nobleman whose son was
healed by the word of Jesus is not given. Attempts to identify him with
Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas, are based on unreliable tradition.
The family of the nobleman accepted the teachings of Christ. "Joanna the
wife of Chuza Herod's steward" (Luke 8:3) was among the grateful and
honorable women who had been recipients of our Lord's healing ministry,
and who contributed of their substance for the furtherance of His work.
Unconfirmed tradition should not be confounded with authentic history.

4. The Targums are ancient Jewish paraphrases on the scriptures, which
were delivered in the synagogs in the languages of the common people. In
the time of Christ the language spoken by the Jews was not Hebrew, but
an Aramaic dialect. Edersheim states that pure Hebrew was the language
of scholars and of the synagog, and that the public readings from the
scriptures had to be rendered by an interpreter. "In earliest times
indeed," says he, "it was forbidden to the Methurgeman [interpreter] to
read his translation, or to write down a Targum, lest the paraphrase
should be regarded as of equal authority with the original." The use of
written targums was "authoritatively sanctioned before the end of the
second century after Christ. This is the origin of our two oldest extant
Targumim--that of Onkelos (as it is called) on the Pentateuch; and that
on the Prophets, attributed to Jonathan the son of Uzziel. These names
do not indeed, accurately represent the authorship of the oldest
Targumim, which may more correctly be regarded as later and
authoritative recensions of what, in some form, had existed before. But
although these works had their origin in Palestine, it is noteworthy
that in the form in which at present we possess them, they are the
outcome of the schools of Babylon." (_Life and Times of Jesus the
Messiah_, vol. i, pp. 10, 11.)

5. Capernaum.--"The name Capernaum signifies, according to some
authorities, 'the Village of Nahum,' according to others, 'the Village
of Consolation.' As we follow the history of Jesus we shall discover
that many of His mighty works were wrought, and many of His most
impressive words were spoken in Capernaum. The infidelity of the
inhabitants, after all the discourses and wonderful works which He had
done among them, brought out the saying of Jesus, 'And thou, Capernaum,
which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be cast down to hell.' (Matt.
11:23.) So thoroughly has this prediction been fulfilled that no trace
of the city remains, and the very site which it occupied is now a matter
of conjecture, there being even no ecclesiastical tradition of the
locality. At the present day two spots have claims which are urged, each
with such arguments of probability as to make the whole question the
most difficult in sacred topography.... We shall probably never be able
to know the exact fact. Jesus damned it to oblivion, and there it lies.
We shall content ourselves with the New Testament notices as bearing on
the work of Jesus.

"We learn that it was somewhere on the borders of Zabulun and Nephtali,
on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, (compare Matt 4:13, with
John 6:24). It was near or in 'the land of Gennesaret' (compare Matt
14:34, with John 6:17, 21, 24), a plain about three miles long and one
mile wide, which we learn from Josephus was one of the most prosperous
and crowded districts of Palestine. It was probably on the great road
leading from Damascus to the south, 'by the way of the sea,' (Matt.
4:15.) There was great wisdom in selecting this as a place to open a
great public ministry. It was full of a busy population. The exceeding
richness of the wonderful plain of Gennesaret supported the mass of
inhabitants it attracted. Josephus (B. J., iii, 10:8) gives a glowing
description of this land."--Deems _Light of the Nations_, pp. 167, 168.

6. Knowledge Does Not Insure Salvation.--James of old chided his
brethren for certain empty professions (James 2:19). Said he in effect:
You take pride and satisfaction in declaring your belief in God; you
boast of being distinguished from the idolaters and the heathen because
you accept one God; you do well to so profess, and so believe; but,
remember, others do likewise; even the devils believe; and, we may add,
so firmly that they tremble at thought of the fate which that belief
makes sure. Those confessions of the devils, that Christ was the Son of
God, were founded on knowledge; yet their knowledge of the great truth
did not change their evil natures. How different was their
acknowledgment of the Savior from that of Peter, who, to the Master's
question "Whom say ye that I am?" replied in practically the words used
by the unclean spirits before cited, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of
the living God" (Matt. 16:15-16; see also Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20). Peter's
faith had already shown its vital power; it had caused him to forsake
much that had been dear, to follow his Lord through persecution and
suffering, and to put away worldliness with all its fascinations, for
the sacrificing godliness which his faith made so desirable. His
knowledge of God as the Father, and of the Son as the Redeemer, was
perhaps no greater than that of the unclean spirits; but while to them
that knowledge was but an added cause of condemnation, to him it was a
means of salvation.--Abridged from _The Articles of Faith_.


[379] Note 1, end of chapter.

[380] John 8:48.

[381] John 4:4; for incidents following see verses 5-43.

[382] Note 2, end of chapter.

[383] Gen. 33:19; and Josh. 24:32.

[384] Acts 8:5; 9:31; 15:3.

[385] John 4:44; compare Matt. 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24.

[386] John 4:48; read verses 46-54.

[387] John 2:23, 24.

[388] Note 3, end of chapter.

[389] Luke 4:14, 15; read verses 16-32.

[390] Note 4, end of chapter.

[391] Luke 4:18, 19; compare Isa. 61:1, 2.

[392] Luke 4:22; compare Matt. 13:55-57; Mark 6:3; John 6:42.

[393] Note 5, end of chapter.

[394] Luke 4:32; compare Matt. 7:28, 29; 13:54; Mark 1:22.

[395] Luke 4:33-37; and Mark 1:23-28. Note 6, end of chapter.

[396] The Jews' Sabbath began at sunset Friday and ended with the
setting of the sun on Saturday.

[397] Luke 4:41; compare Mark 1:34; 3:11, 12; 5:1-18; Matt. 8:28-34.

[398] Pages 6, 7.

[399] Matt. 10:8; see verse 1; compare 4:24; Mark 1:32; 16:17, 18; Luke

[400] Matt. 8:32; Mark 1:25; Luke 4:35.

[401] Mark 9:25.

[402] Luke 10:17, 18; compare Rev. 12:7-9.

[403] Matt. 8:29-33; Mark 5:11-14; Luke 8:32-34.

[404] Matt. 8:14, 15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38, 39.




Early in the morning following that eventful Sabbath in Capernaum, our
Lord arose "a great while before day" and went in quest of seclusion
beyond the town. In a solitary place He gave Himself to prayer, thus
demonstrating the fact that, Messiah though He was, He was profoundly
conscious of His dependence upon the Father, whose work He had come to
do. Simon Peter and other disciples found the place of His retirement,
and told Him of the eager crowds who sought Him. Soon the people
gathered about Him, and urged that He remain with them; but "he said
unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for
therefore am I sent."[405] And to the disciples He said: "Let us go into
the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I
forth."[406] Thence He departed, accompanied by the few whom He had
already closely associated with Himself, and ministered in many towns of
Galilee, preaching in the synagogs, healing the sick, and casting out

Among the afflicted seeking the aid that He alone could give came a
leper,[407] who knelt before Him, or bowed with his face to the ground,
and humbly professed his faith, saying: "If thou wilt, thou canst make
me clean." The petition implied in the words of this poor creature was
pathetic; the confidence he expressed is inspiring. The question in his
mind was not--Can Jesus heal me? but--Will He heal me? In compassionate
mercy Jesus laid His hand upon the sufferer, unclean though he was, both
ceremonially and physically, for leprosy is a loathsome affliction, and
we know that this man was far advanced in the disease since we are told
that he was "full of leprosy." Then the Lord said: "I will: be thou
clean." The leper was immediately healed. Jesus instructed him to show
himself to the priest, and make the offerings prescribed in the law of
Moses for such cases as his.[408]

In this instruction we see that Christ had not come to destroy the law,
but, as He affirmed at another time, to fulfil it;[409] and at this
stage of His work the fulfilment was incomplete. Moreover, had the legal
requirements been disregarded in as serious a matter as that of
restoring an outcast leper to the society of the community from which he
had been debarred, priestly opposition, already waxing strong and
threatening against Jesus, would have been augmented, and further
hindrance to the Lord's work might have resulted. There was to be no
delay in the man's compliance with the Master's instruction; Jesus
"straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away." Furthermore He
explicitly directed the man to tell nobody of the manner of his healing.
There was perhaps good reason for this injunction of silence, aside from
the very general course of our Lord in discountenancing undesirable
notoriety; for, had word of the miracle preceded the man's appearing
before the priest, obstacles might have been thrown in the way of his
Levitical recognition as one who was clean. The man, however, could not
keep the good word to himself, but went about "and began to publish it
much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more
openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they
came to him from every quarter."[410]


It must be borne in mind that no one of the evangelists attempts to give
a detailed history of all the doings of Jesus, nor do all follow the
same order in relating the incidents with which they associate the great
lessons of the Master's teachings. There is much uncertainty as to the
actual sequence of events.

"Some days" after the healing of the leper, Jesus was again in
Capernaum. The details of His employment during the interval are not
specified; but, we may be sure that His work continued, for His
characteristic occupation was that of going about doing good.[411] His
place of abode in Capernaum was well known, and word was soon noised
about that He was in the house.[412] A great throng gathered, so that
there was no room to receive them; even the doorway was crowded, and
later comers could not get near the Master. To all who were within
hearing Jesus preached the gospel. A little party of four approached the
house bearing a litter or pallet on which lay a man afflicted with
palsy, a species of paralysis which deprived the subject of the power of
voluntary motion and usually of speech; the man was helpless. His
friends, disappointed at finding themselves unable to reach Jesus
because of the press, resorted to an unusual expedient, which exhibited
in an unmistakable way their faith in the Lord as One who could rebuke
and stay disease, and their determination to seek the desired blessing
at His hands.

By some means they carried the afflicted man to the flat roof of the
house, probably by an outside stairway or by the use of a ladder,
possibly by entering an adjoining house, ascending the stairs to its
roof and crossing therefrom to the house within which Jesus was
teaching. They broke away part of the roof, making an opening, or
enlarging that of the trapdoor such as the houses of that place and time
were usually provided with; and, to the surprize of the assembled crowd,
they then let down through the tiling the portable couch upon which the
palsied sufferer lay. Jesus was deeply impressed by the faith and
works[413] of those who had thus labored to place a helpless paralytic
before Him; doubtless, too, He knew of the trusting faith in the heart
of the sufferer; and, looking compassionately upon the man, He said:
"Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."

Among the people there assembled were scribes, Pharisees, and doctors of
the law, not only representatives of the local synagog but some who had
come from distant towns in Galilee, and some from Judea, and even from
Jerusalem. The official class had opposed our Lord and His works on
earlier occasions, and their presence in the house at this time boded
further unfriendly criticism and possible obstruction. They heard the
words spoken to the paralytic, and were angered thereat. In their hearts
they accused Jesus of the awful offense of blasphemy, which consists
essentially in claiming for human or demon power the prerogatives of
God, or in dishonoring God by ascribing to Him attributes short of
perfection.[414] These unbelieving scholars, who incessantly wrote and
talked of the coming of the Messiah, yet rejected Him when He was there
present, murmured in silence, saying to themselves: "Who can forgive
sins but God only?" Jesus knew their inmost thoughts,[415] and made
reply thereto, saying: "Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be
forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?" And
then to emphasize, and to put beyond question His possession of divine
authority, He added: "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath
power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I
say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine
house." The man arose, fully restored; and, taking up the mattress upon
which he had been brought, walked out before them. The amazement of the
people was mingled with reverence, and many glorified God, of whose
power they were witnesses.

The incident demands our further study. According to one of the
accounts, the Lord's first words to the afflicted one were: "Son, be of
good cheer;" followed directly by the comforting and authoritative
assurance: "Thy sins be given thee."[416] The man was probably in a
state of fear; he may have known that his ailment was the result of
wicked indulgences; nevertheless, though he may have considered the
possibility of hearing only condemnation for his transgression, he had
faith to be brought. In this man's condition there was plainly a close
connection between his past sins and his present affliction; and in this
particular his case is not unique, for we read that Christ admonished
another, whom He healed, to sin no more lest a worse thing befall
him.[417] We are not warranted, however, in assuming that all bodily
ills are the result of culpable sin; and against such a conception
stands the Lord's combined instruction and rebuke to those who, in the
case of a man born blind, asked who had sinned, the man or his parents
to bring so grievous an affliction upon him, to which inquiry our Lord
replied that the man's blindness was due neither to his own sin nor to
that of his parents.[418]

In many instances, however, disease is the direct result of individual
sin. Whatever may have been the measure of past offense on the part of
the man suffering from palsy, Christ recognized his repentance together
with the faith that accompanied it, and it was the Lord's rightful
prerogative to decide upon the man's fitness to receive remission of his
sins and relief from his bodily affliction. The interrogative response
of Jesus to the muttered criticism of the scribes, Pharisees, and
doctors, has been interpreted in many ways. He inquired which was
easier, to say, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," or to say, "Arise, and take
up thy bed, and walk." Is it not a rational explanation that, when
spoken authoritatively by Him, the two expressions were of allied
meaning? The circumstance should have been a sufficient demonstration to
all who heard, that He, the Son of Man, claimed and possessed the right
and the power to remit both physical and spiritual penalties, to heal
the body of visible disease, and to purge the spirit of the no less real
malady of sin. In the presence of people of all classes Jesus thus
openly asserted His divinity, and affirmed the same by a miraculous
manifestation of power.

The charge of blasphemy, which the rabbinical critics formulated in
their minds against the Christ, was not to end as a mental conception of
theirs, nor to be nullified by our Lord's later remarks. It was through
perjured testimony that He finally received unrighteous condemnation and
was sent to His death.[419] Already, in that house at Capernaum, the
shadow of the cross had fallen athwart the course of His life.


From the house Jesus repaired to the seaside, whither the people
followed Him; there He taught them again. At the close of His discourse
He walked farther and saw a man named Levi, one of the publicans[420] or
official collectors of taxes, sitting at the custom-house where the
tariff levied under Roman law had to be paid. This man was known also as
Matthew, a name less distinctively Jewish than is Levi.[421] He
afterward became one of the Twelve and the author of the first of the
evangelical Gospels. To him Jesus said, "Follow me." Matthew left his
place and followed the Lord. Some time later the new disciple provided a
great feast at his house, in honor of the Master; and other disciples
were present. So obnoxious to the Jews was the power of Rome to which
they were subject, that they regarded with aversion all officials in
Roman employ. Particularly humiliating to them was the system of
compulsory taxation, by which they, the people of Israel, had to pay
tribute to an alien nation, which in their estimation was wholly pagan
and heathen.

Naturally, the collectors of these taxes were abhorred; and they, known
as publicans, probably resented the discourteous treatment by
inconsiderate enforcement of the tax requirements, and, as affirmed by
historians, often inflicted unlawful extortion upon the people. If
publicans in general were detested, we can readily understand how bitter
would be the contempt in which the Jews would hold one of their own
nation who had accepted appointment as such an official. In this
unenviable status was Matthew when Jesus called him. The publicans
formed a distinct social class, for from the community in general they
were practically ostracized. All who associated with them were made to
share in the popular odium, and "publicans and sinners" became a common
designation for the degraded caste. To Matthew's feast many of his
friends and some of his fellow officials were invited, so that the
gathering was largely made up of these despized "publicans and sinners."
And to such an assemblage went Jesus with His disciples.

The scribes and Pharisees could not let pass such an opportunity for
faultfinding and caustic criticism. They hesitated to address themselves
directly to Jesus, but of the disciples they asked in disdain: "Why
eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" The Master heard, and
replied with edifying incisiveness mingled with splendid irony. Citing
one of the common aphorisms of the day, He said: "They that be whole
need not a physician, but they that are sick." To this He added: "I am
not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The
hypercritical Pharisees were left to make their own application of the
rejoinder, which some may have understood to mean that their
self-righteousness was arraigned and their claims to superiority
derided. Aside from the veiled sarcasm in the Master's words, they ought
to have perceived the wisdom enshrined in His answer and to have
profited thereby. Is not the physician's place among the afflicted ones?
Would he be justified in keeping aloof from the sick and the suffering?
His profession is that of combating disease, preventing when possible,
curing when necessary, to the full extent of his ability. If the festive
assembly at Matthew's house really did comprize a number of sinners, was
not the occasion one of rare opportunity for the ministrations of the
Physician of Souls? The righteous need no call to repentance; but are
the sinners to be left in sin, because those who profess to be spiritual
teachers will not condescend to extend a helping hand?


Shortly after the entertainment provided by Matthew, the Pharisees were
ready with another criticism, and in this they were associated with some
of the Baptist's adherents. John was in prison; but many of those who
had been drawn to his baptism, and had professed discipleship to him,
still clung to his teachings, and failed to see that the Greater One of
whom he had testified was then ministering amongst them. The Baptist had
been a scrupulous observer of the law; his strict asceticism vied with
the rigor of Pharisaic profession. His non-progressive disciples, now
left without a leader, naturally fell in with the Pharisees. Some of
John's disciples came to Jesus, and questioned Him concerning His
seeming indifference in the matter of fasting. They propounded a plain
question: "Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but
thy disciples fast not?"[422] To the friends of the now imprisoned
Baptist our Lord's reply must have brought memories of their beloved
leader's words, when he had compared himself to the Bridegroom's friend,
and had plainly told them who was the real Bridegroom.[423] "Jesus said
unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the
bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them,
they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be
taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days."[424]

If the questioners were able to comprehend the true import of this
reply, they could not fail to find therein an implied abrogation of
purely ceremonial observances comprized in the code of rabbinical rules
and the numerous traditions associated with the law. But to make the
subject clearer to their biased minds, Jesus gave them illustrations,
which may be classed as parabolic. "No man also," said He, "seweth a
piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it
up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man
putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the
bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but
new wine must be put into new bottles."[425]

In such wise did our Lord proclaim the newness and completeness of His
gospel. It was in no sense a patching up of Judaism. He had not come to
mend old and torn garments; the cloth He provided was new, and to sew it
on the old would be but to tear afresh the threadbare fabric and leave a
more unsightly rent than at first. Or to change the figure, new wine
could not safely be entrusted to old bottles. The bottles here referred
to were really bags, made of the skins of animals, and of course they
deteriorated with age. Just as old leather splits or tears under even
slight strain, so the old bottle-skins would burst from the pressure of
fermenting juice, and the good wine would be lost. The gospel taught by
Christ was a new revelation, superseding the past, and marking the
fulfilment of the law; it was no mere addendum, nor was it a reenactment
of past requirements; it embodied a new and an everlasting covenant.
Attempts to patch the Judaistic robe of traditionalism with the new
fabric of the covenant could result in nothing more sightly than a
rending of the fabric. The new wine of the gospel could not be held in
the old time-worn containers of Mosaic libations. Judaism would be
belittled and Christianity perverted by any such incongruous


It is improbable that the disciples who followed Jesus in the early
months of His ministry had remained with Him continuously down to the
time now under consideration. We find that some of those who were later
called to the apostleship were following their vocation as fishermen
even while Jesus was actively engaged as a Teacher in their own
neighborhood. One day, as the Lord stood by the lake or sea of Galilee,
the people pressed about Him in great numbers, eager to hear more of the
wondrous words He was wont to speak.[427] Near the place were two
fishing boats drawn in upon the beach; the owners were close by, washing
and mending their nets. One of the boats belonged to Simon Peter, who
had already become identified with the Master's work; this boat Jesus
entered, and then asked Simon to thrust out a little from the land.
Seating Himself, as teachers of that time usually did in delivering
discourses, the Lord preached from this floating pulpit to the multitude
on shore. The subject of the address is not given us.

When the sermon was ended, Jesus directed Simon to launch out into deep
water and then let down the nets for a draught. Presumably Andrew was
with his brother and possibly other assistants were in the boat. Simon
replied to Jesus: "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken
nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net." It was soon
filled with fishes; so great was the haul that the net began to break,
and the busy fishermen signalled to those in the other boat to come to
their assistance. The catch filled both boats so that they appeared to
be in danger of sinking. Simon Peter was overcome with this new evidence
of the Master's power, and, falling at the feet of Jesus, he exclaimed:
"Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Jesus answered
graciously and with promise: "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch
men."[428] The occupants of the second boat were Zebedee and his two
sons James and John, the last named being he who with Andrew had left
the Baptist to follow Jesus at the Jordan.[429] Zebedee and his sons
were partners with Simon in the fishing business. When the two boats
were brought to land, the brothers Simon and Andrew, and Zebedee's two
sons James and John, left their boats and accompanied Jesus.

The foregoing treatment is based on Luke's record; the briefer and less
circumstantial accounts given by Matthew and Mark omit the incident of
the miraculous draught of fishes, and emphasize the calling of the
fishermen. To Simon and Andrew Jesus said: "Come ye after me, and I will
make you to become fishers of men." The contrast thus presented between
their former vocation and their new calling is strikingly forceful.
Theretofore they had caught fish, and the fate of the fish was death;
thereafter they were to draw men--to a life eternal. To James and John
the call was no less definite; and they too left their all to follow the


1. Leprosy.--In Biblical usage this name is applied to several diseases,
all, however having some symptoms in common, at least in the earlier
stages of the malady. The real leprosy is a scourge and a plague in many
oriental lands to-day. Zenos, in _Standard Bible Dict._, says: "True
leprosy, as known in modern times, is an affection characterized by the
appearance of nodules in the eye-brows, the cheeks, the nose, and the
lobes of the ears, also in the hands and feet, where the disease eats
into the joints, causing the falling off of fingers and toes. If nodules
do not appear, their place is taken by spots of blanched or discolored
skin (Mascular leprosy). Both forms are based upon a functional
degeneration of the nerves of the skin. Its cause was discovered by
Hansen in 1871 to be a specific bacillus. Defective diet, however, seems
to serve as a favorable condition for the culture of the bacillus.
Leprosy was one of the few abnormal conditions of the body which the
Levitical law declared unclean. Elaborate provision was therefore made
for testing its existence and for the purification of those who were
cured of it."

Deems, _Light of the Nations_, p. 185, summing up the conditions
incident to the advanced stages of the dread disease, writes: "The
symptoms and the effects of this disease are very loathsome. There comes
a white swelling or scab, with a change of the color of the hair on the
part from its natural hue to yellow; then the appearance of a taint
going deeper than the skin, or raw flesh appearing in the swelling. Then
it spreads and attacks the cartilaginous portions of the body. The nails
loosen and drop off, the gums are absorbed, and the teeth decay and fall
out; the breath is a stench, the nose decays; fingers, hands, feet, may
be lost, or the eyes eaten out. The human beauty has gone into
corruption, and the patient feels that he is being eaten as by a fiend,
who consumes him slowly in a long remorseless meal that will not end
until he be destroyed. He is shut out from his fellows. As they approach
he must cry, 'Unclean! unclean!' that all humanity may be warned from
his precincts. He must abandon wife and child. He must go to live with
other lepers, in disheartening view of miseries similar to his own. He
must dwell in dismantled houses or in the tombs. He is, as Trench says,
a dreadful parable of death. By the laws of Moses (Lev. 13:45; Numb.
6:9; Ezek. 24:17) he was compelled, as if he were mourning for his own
decease, to bear about him the emblems of death, the rent garments; he
was to keep his head bare and his lip covered, as was the custom with
those who were in communion with the dead. When the Crusaders brought
the leprosy from the East, it was usual to clothe the leper in a shroud,
and to say for him the masses for the dead.... In all ages this
indescribably horrible malady has been considered incurable. The Jews
believed that it was inflicted by Jehovah directly, as a punishment for
some extraordinary perversity or some transcendent act of sinfulness,
and that only God could heal it. When Naaman was cured, and his flesh
came back like that of a little child, he said, 'Now I know that there
is no God in all the earth but in Israel,' (2 Kings 5:14, 15.)"

The fact that leprosy is not ordinarily communicable by mere outward
contact is accentuated by Trench, _Notes on the Miracles_, pp. 165-168,
and the isolation of lepers required by the Mosaic law is regarded by
him as an intended object lesson and figure to illustrate spiritual
uncleanness. He says: "I refer to the mistaken assumption that leprosy
was catching from one person to another; and that the lepers were so
carefully secluded from their fellowmen lest they might communicate the
disease to others, as in like manner that the torn garment, the covered
lip, the cry, 'Unclean, unclean' (Lev. 13:45) were warnings to all that
they should keep aloof, lest unawares touching a leper, or drawing unto
too great a nearness, they should become partakers of this disease. So
far from any danger of the kind existing, nearly all who have looked
closest into the matter agree that the sickness was incommunicable by
ordinary contact from one person to another. A leper might transmit it
to his children, or the mother of a leper's children might take it from
him; but it was by no ordinary contact communicable from one person to
another. All the notices in the Old Testament, as well as in other
Jewish books, confirm the statement that we have here something very
much higher than a mere sanitary regulation. Thus, when the law of Moses
was not observed, no such exclusion necessarily found place; Naaman the
leper commanded the armies of Syria (2 Kings 5:1); Gehazi, with his
leprosy that never should be cleansed, (2 Kings 5:27) talked familiarly
with the king of apostate Israel (2 Kings 8:5).... How, moreover, should
the Levitical priests, had the disease been this creeping infection,
have ever themselves escaped it, obliged as they were by their very
office to submit the leper to actual handling and closest
examination?... Leprosy was nothing short of a living death, a
corrupting of all the humors, a poisoning of the very springs, of life;
a dissolution, little by little, of the whole body, so that one limb
after another actually decayed and fell away. Aaron exactly describes
the appearance which the leper presented to the eyes of the beholders,
when, pleading for Miriam, he says, 'Let her not be as one dead, of whom
the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.'
(Numb. 12:12.) The disease, moreover, was incurable by the art and skill
of man; not that the leper might not return to health; for, however
rare, such cases are contemplated in the Levitical law.... The leper,
thus fearfully bearing about the body the outward and visible tokens of
sin in the soul, was treated throughout as a sinner, as one in whom sin
had reached its climax, as one dead in trespasses and sins. He was
himself a dreadful parable of death. He bore about him the emblems of
death (Lev. 13:45); the rent garments, mourning for himself as one dead;
the head bare as they were wont to have it who were defiled by communion
with the dead (Numb. 6:9; Ezek. 24:27); and the lip covered (Ezek.
24:17).... But the leper was as one dead, and as such was shut out of
the camp (Lev. 13:46; Numb. 5:2-4). and the city (2 Kings 7:3), this law
being so strictly enforced that even the sister of Moses might not be
exempted from it (Numb. 12:14, 15); and kings themselves, as Uzziah (2
Chron. 26:21; 2 Kings 15:5) must submit to it; men being by this
exclusion taught that what here took place in a figure, should take
place in the reality with every one who was found in the death of sin."

For the elaborate ceremonies incident to the cleansing of a recovered
leper see Lev. chap. 14.

2. Blasphemy.--The essence of the deep sin of blasphemy lies not, as
many suppose, in profanity alone, but as Dr. Kelso, _Stand. Bible
Dict._, summarizes: "Every improper use of the divine name (Lev. 24:11),
speech derogatory to the Majesty of God (Matt. 26:65), and sins with a
high hand--i.e. premeditated transgressions of the basal principles of
the theocracy (Numb. 9:13; 15:30; Exo. 31:14)--were regarded as
blasphemy; the penalty was death by stoning (Lev. 24:16)." _Smith's
Bible Dict._ states: "Blasphemy, in its technical English sense,
signifies the speaking evil of God, and in this sense it is found in
Psalm 74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24, etc.... On this charge both our Lord
and Stephen were condemned to death by the Jews. When a person heard
blasphemy he laid his hand on the head of the offender, to symbolize his
sole responsibility for the guilt, and rising on his feet, tore his
robe, which might never again be mended." (See Matt. 26:65.)

3. Publican.--"A word originally meaning a contractor for public works
or supplies, or a farmer of public lands, but later applied to Romans
who bought from the government the right to collect taxes in a given
territory. These buyers, always knights (senators were excluded by their
rank), became capitalists and formed powerful stock companies, whose
members received a percentage on the capital invested. Provincial
capitalists could not buy taxes, which were sold in Rome to the highest
bidders, who to recoup themselves sublet their territory (at a great
advance on the price paid the government) to the native (local)
publicans, who in their turn had to make a profit on their purchase
money, and being assessors of property as well as collectors of taxes,
had abundant opportunities for oppressing the people, who hated them
both for that reason and also because the tax itself was the mark of
their subjection to foreigners."--J. R. Sterrett in _Stand. Bible Dict._

4. Fishers of Men.--"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,"
said Jesus to fishermen who afterward became His apostles (Matt. 4:19).
Mark's version is nearly the same (1:17), while that of Luke (5:10)
reads: "From henceforth thou shalt catch men." The correct translation
is, as commentators practically agree, "From henceforth thou shalt take
men alive." This reading emphasizes the contrast given in the text--that
between capturing fish to kill them and winning men to save them.
Consider in this connection the Lord's prediction through Jeremiah
(16:16), that in reaching scattered Israel, "Behold, I will send for
many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them;" etc.

5. "Thy Sins Be Forgiven Thee."--The following commentary by Edersheim
(_Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah_, vol. i, pp. 505, 506) on the
incident under consideration is instructive: "In this forgiveness of
sins He presented His person and authority as divine, and He proved it
such by the miracle of healing which immediately followed. Had the two
been inverted, [i.e. had Christ first healed the man and afterward told
him that his sins were forgiven] there would have been evidence, indeed,
of His power, but not of His divine personality, nor of His having
authority to forgive sins; and this, not the doing of miracles, was the
object of His teaching and mission, of which the miracles were only
secondary evidence. Thus the inward reasoning of the scribes, which was
open and known to Him who readeth all thoughts, issued in quite the
opposite of what they could have expected. Most unwarranted, indeed, was
the feeling of contempt which we trace in their unspoken words, whether
we read them: 'Why does this one thus speak blasphemies?' or, according
to a more correct transcript of them: 'Why does this one speak thus? He
blasphemeth!' Yet from their point of view they were right, for God
alone can forgive sins; nor has that power ever been given or delegated
to man. But was He a mere man, like even the most honored of God's
servants? Man, indeed; but 'the Son of Man.' ... It seemed easy to say:
'Thy sins have been forgiven.' But to Him, who had authority to do so on
earth, it was neither more easy nor more difficult than to say: 'Rise,
take up thy bed, and walk.' Yet this latter, assuredly, proved the
former, and gave it in the sight of all men unquestioned reality. And so
it was the thoughts of these scribes, which, as applied to Christ, were
'evil'--since they imputed to Him blasphemy--that gave occasion for
offering real evidence of what they would have impugned and denied. In
no other manner could the object alike of miracles and of this special
miracle have been so attained as by the 'evil thoughts' of these
scribes, when, miraculously brought to light, they spoke out the inmost
possible doubt, and pointed to the highest of all questions concerning
the Christ. And so it was once more the wrath of man which praised Him."


[405] Luke 4:42-44.

[406] Mark 1:38.

[407] Mark 1:40-45; Matt. 8:2-4; Luke 5:12-15.

[408] Lev. 14:2-10. Note 1, end of chapter.

[409] Matt. 5:17.

[410] Mark 1:45.

[411] Acts 10:38.

[412] Mark 2:1-12; compare Matt. 9:2-8; Luke 5:17-24.

[413] Compare James 2:14-18.

[414] Note 2, end of chapter.

[415] See another instance of our Lord reading unuttered thoughts. Luke

[416] Matt. 9:2. Note 5, end of chapter.

[417] John 5:14. Page 208.

[418] John 9:1-3.

[419] Compare John 10:33, and 5:18; Matt. 26:65, 66.

[420] Note 3, end of chapter.

[421] Matt. 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32.

[422] Mark 2:18-22; Matt. 9:14-17; Luke 5:33-39.

[423] Page 164.

[424] Mark 2:19, 20.

[425] Mark 2:21, 22.

[426] See "The Great Apostasy" 7:5.

[427] Luke 5:1-11; compare Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20.

[428] Note 4, end of chapter.

[429] Page 140.




The observance of the Sabbath as a holy day was prominent among the
Lord's requirements of His people, Israel, from a very early period in
their history as a nation. Indeed, the keeping of the Sabbath as a day
of surcease from ordinary toil was a national characteristic, by which
the Israelites were distinguished from pagan peoples, and rightly so,
for the holiness of the Sabbath was made a mark of the covenant between
the chosen people and their God. The sanctity of the Sabbath had been
prefigured in the account of the creation, antedating the placing of man
upon the earth, as shown by the fact that God rested after the six
periods or days of creative work, and blessed the seventh day and
hallowed it.[430] In the course of Israel's exodus, the seventh day was
set apart as one of rest, upon which it was not allowed to bake, seethe,
or otherwise cook food. A double supply of manna had to be gathered on
the sixth day, while on other days the laying-by of a surplus of this
daily bread sent from heaven was expressly forbidden. The Lord observed
the sacredness of the holy day by giving no manna thereon.[431]

The commandment to celebrate the Sabbath in strictness was made definite
and explicit in the decalog, written by the hand of God amidst the awful
glory of Sinai; and the injunction was kept before the people through
frequent proclamation.[432] It was unlawful to kindle a fire on that
day; and record is made of a man who was put to death for gathering
sticks on the seventh day.[433] Under the administration of later
prophets, the holiness of the Sabbath, the blessings promised to those
who sanctified the day unto themselves, and the sin of Sabbath
desecration were reiterated in words of inspired forcefulness.[434]
Nehemiah admonished and reproved in the matter, and attributed the
affliction of the nation to the forfeiture of Jehovah's favor through
Sabbath violation.[435] By the mouth of Ezekiel the Lord affirmed that
the institution of the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between
Himself and the people of Israel; and with stern severity He upbraided
those who heeded not the day.[436] To the separate branch of the
Israelitish nation that had been colonized on the western hemisphere,
regard for the sanctity of the Sabbath was no less an imperative

The observance demanded, however, was the very opposite of affliction
and burden; the Sabbath was consecrated to rest and righteous enjoyment,
and was to be a day of spiritual feasting before the Lord. It was not
established as a day of abstinence; all might eat, but both mistress and
maid were to be relieved from the work of preparing food; neither master
nor man was to plow, dig or otherwise toil; and the Weekly day of rest
was as much the boon of the cattle as of their owners.

In addition to the weekly Sabbath, the Lord in mercy prescribed also a
sabbatic year; in every seventh year the land was to rest, and thereby
its fertility was enhanced.[438] After seven times seven years had
passed, the fiftieth was to be celebrated throughout as a year of
jubilee, during which the people should live on the accumulated increase
of the preceding seasons of plenty, and rejoice in liberality by
granting to one another redemption from mortgage and bond, forgiveness
of debt, and general relief from burdens--all of which had to be done in
mercy and justice.[439] The Sabbaths established by the Lord, whether of
days, of years, or of weeks of years, were to be times of refreshing,
relief, blessing, bounty, and worship.

To the many who profess to regard the necessity of toil as a part of the
curse evoked through Adam's fall, the Sabbath should appeal as a day of
temporary reprieve, a time of exemption from labor, and as affording
blessed opportunity of closer approach to the Presence from which
mankind has been shut out through sin. And to those who take the higher
view of life, and find in work both happiness and material blessing, the
periodical relief brings refreshment and gives renewed zest for the days
that follow.

But long before the advent of Christ, the original purpose of the
Sabbath had come to be largely ignored in Israel; and the spirit of its
observance had been smothered under the weight of rabbinical injunction
and the formalism of restraint. In the time of the Lord's ministry, the
technicalities prescribed as rules appended to the law were almost
innumerable; and the burden thus forced upon the people had become well
nigh unbearable. Among the many wholesome requirements of the Mosaic
law, which the teachers and spiritual rulers of the Jews had made thus
burdensome, that of Sabbath observance was especially prominent. The
"hedge," which by unwarranted assumption they professedly set about the
law,[440] was particularly thorny in the sections devoted to the Jewish
Sabbath. Even trifling infractions of traditional rules were severely
punished, and the capital penalty was held before the eyes of the people
as a supreme threat for extreme desecration.[441]


In view of these conditions, we are not surprized to find our Lord
confronted with charges of Sabbath violation relatively early in the
course of His public work. An instance attended with many great
developments is recorded by John,[442] whose narrative covers the
incident of a very impressive miracle. Jesus was again in Jerusalem at
the time of one of the Jewish festivals.[443] There was a pool of water,
called Bethesda, near the sheep market in the city. From the recorded
description, we may understand this to have been a natural spring;
possibly the water was rich in dissolved solids or gases, or both,
making it such as we would call today a mineral spring; for we find that
the water was reputed to possess curative virtues, and many afflicted
folk came to bathe therein. The spring was of the pulsating variety; at
intervals its waters rose with bubbling disturbance, and then receded to
the normal level. Mineral springs of this kind are known today in many
parts of the world. Some believed that the periodical upwelling of the
Bethesda waters was the result of supernatural agency; and it was said
that "whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in
was made whole of whatsoever disease he had." The Bethesda pool was
wholly or partly enclosed; and five porches had been built for the
shelter of those who waited at the spring for the intermittent bubbling
up of the water.

On a certain Sabbath day, Jesus visited the pool and saw many afflicted
folk thus waiting. Among them lay a man who for thirty-eight years had
been grievously afflicted. From the man's statement of his helplessness
we may infer that his malady was paralysis, or possibly an extreme form
of rheumatism; whatever his affliction, it was so disabling as to give
him little chance of getting into the pool at the critical time, for
others less crippled crowded him away; and, according to the legends
regarding the curative properties of the spring, only the first to enter
the pool after the agitation of the water might expect to be healed.

Jesus recognized in the man a fit subject for blessing, and said to him:
"Wilt thou be made whole?" The question was so simple as almost to
appear superfluous. Of course the man wanted to be made well, and on the
small chance of being able to reach the water at the right moment was
patiently yet eagerly waiting. There was purpose, however, in these as
in all other words of the Master. The man's attention was drawn to Him,
fixed upon Him; the question aroused in the sufferer's heart renewed
yearning for the health and strength of which he had been bereft since
the days of his youth. His answer was pitiful, and revealed his almost
hopeless state of mind; he thought only of the rumored virtues of
Bethesda pool as he said: "Sir, I have no man, when the water is
troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another
steppeth down before me." Then spake Jesus: "Rise, take up thy bed, and
walk." Immediately strength returned to the man, who for nearly four
decades had been a helpless invalid; he obeyed the Master, and, taking
up the little mattress or pallet on which he had rested, walked away.

He had not gone far, before the Jews, that is to say, some of the
official class, for so the evangelist John employs the term, saw him
carrying his bed; and it was the Sabbath day. To their peremptory
reprimand he replied out of the gratitude and honest simplicity of his
heart, that He who had healed him had told him to take up his bed and
walk. The interest of the inquisitors was instantly turned from the man
toward Him who had wrought the miracle; but the erstwhile cripple could
not name his Benefactor, as he had lost sight of Jesus in the crowd
before he had found opportunity for question or thanks. The man who had
been healed went to the temple, possibly impelled by a desire to express
in prayer his gratitude and joy. There Jesus found him, and said unto
him: "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come
unto thee."[444] The man had probably brought about his affliction
through his own sinful habits. The Lord decided that he had suffered
enough in body, and terminated his physical suffering with the
subsequent admonition to sin no more.

The man went and told the rulers who it was that had healed him. This he
may have done with a desire to honor and glorify the Giver of his boon;
we are not justified in ascribing to him any unworthy purpose, though by
his act he was instrumental in augmenting the persecution of his Lord.
So intense was the hatred of the priestly faction that the rulers sought
a means of putting Jesus to death, under the specious pretense of His
being a Sabbath-breaker. We may well ask of what act they could possibly
have hoped to convict Him, even under the strictest application of their
rules. There was no proscription against speaking on the Sabbath; and
Jesus had but spoken to heal. He had not carried the man's bed, nor had
He attempted even the lightest physical labor. By their own
interpretation of the law they had no case against Him.


Nevertheless, the Jewish officials confronted Jesus with accusations.
Whether the interview took place within the temple walls, on the open
street, at the market place, or in the judgment hall, matters not. His
reply to their charges is not confined to the question of Sabbath
observance; it stands as the most comprehensive sermon in scripture on
the vital subject of the relationship between the Eternal Father and His
Son, Jesus Christ.

His first sentence added to the already intense anger of the Jews.
Referring to the work He had done on the holy day, He said: "My Father
worketh hitherto, and I work." This remark they construed to be a
blasphemy.[445] "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because
he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his
Father, making himself equal with God." To their spoken or unuttered
protest, Jesus replied, that He, the Son, was not acting independently,
and in fact could do nothing except what was in accordance with the
Father's will, and what He had seen the Father do; that the Father so
loved the Son as to show unto Him the Father's works.

Be it observed that Jesus in no way attempted to explain away their
construction of His words; on the contrary He confirmed their deductions
as correct. He did associate Himself with the Father, even in a closer
and more exalted relationship than they had conceived. The authority
given to Him by the Father was not limited to the healing of bodily
infirmities; He had power even to raise the dead--"For as the Father
raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth
whom he will." Moreover, the judgment of men had been committed unto
Him; and no one could honor the Father except by honoring the Son. Then
followed this incisive declaration: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He
that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath
everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed
from death unto life."

Christ's realm was not bounded by the grave; even the dead were wholly
dependent upon Him for their salvation; and to the terrified ears of His
dumbfounded accusers He proclaimed the solemn truth, that even then the
hour was near in which the dead should hear the voice of the Son of God.
Ponder His profound affirmation: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The
hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the
Son of God: and they that hear shall live." The murderous rage of the
Jews was rebuffed by the declaration that without His submission they
could not take His life: "For as the Father hath life in himself; so
hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." Another utterance was
equally portentous: "And hath given him authority to execute judgment
also, because he is the Son of man." He, the Son of the exalted and
glorified Man of Holiness and now Himself a mortal Man,[446] was to be
the judge of men.

No wonder they marveled; such doctrine they had never before heard nor
read; it was not of the scribes nor of the rabbis, of neither the
Pharisaic nor Sadducean schools. But He reproved their amazement,
saying: "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all
that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they
that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have
done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."[447]

This enunciation of the resurrection, so plainly made that the most
unlettered could understand, must have offended any Sadducees present,
for they emphatically denied the actuality of the resurrection. The
universality of a resurrection is here unquestionably affirmed; not only
the righteous but even those who merit condemnation are to come forth
from their graves in their bodies of flesh and bones.[448]

Then, renewing His solemn asseveration of the unity of His Father's will
and His own, Christ discussed the matter of witnesses to His work. He
admitted what was a recognized tenet of the time, that no man's
unsupported witness of himself was sufficient; but, He added: "There is
another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he
witnesseth of me is true." He cites John the Baptist, and reminds them
that they had sent a delegation to him, and that John had answered them
by bearing testimony of the Messiah; and John had been a burning and a
shining light, in whose illuminating ministry many had temporarily
rejoiced. The hostile Jews were left to see that the witness of John was
valid under their strictest construction of the rules of evidence;
"But," He continued, "I receive not testimony from man ... But I have
greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath
given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that
the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me,
hath borne witness of me."

Then in terms of unqualified condemnation, He told them they were devoid
of the Father's word, for they refused to accept Himself whom the Father
had sent. With humiliating directness He admonished these learned men of
the law, these interpreters of the prophets, these professional
expounders of sacred writ, to betake themselves to reading and study.
"Search the scriptures," said He, "for in them ye think ye have eternal
life: and they are they which testify of me." Convictingly He
continued--that they who admitted and taught that in the scriptures lay
the way to eternal life, refused to come to Him, of whom those same
scriptures testified, though by coming they might obtain eternal life.
"I receive not honour from men," He added, "But I know you, that ye have
not the love of God in you." They knew that they sought for honor among
men, received honors from one another, were made rabbis and doctors,
scribes and teachers, by the bestowal of titles and degrees--all of men;
but they rejected Him who came in the name of One infinitely greater
than all their schools or societies--He had come in the supreme name of
the Father. The cause of their spiritual ignorance was pointed out--they
relied upon the honors of men, and sought not the honor of real service
in the cause of God.

He had spoken of the authority of judgment that had been committed to
Himself; now He explained that they should not think He would accuse
them before the Father; a lesser one than He would accuse, even Moses,
another of His witnesses in whom they professed such trust--Moses whom
they all were said to believe--and, driving home the full effect of His
powerful arraignment, the Lord continued: "For had ye believed Moses, ye
would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his
writings, how shall ye believe my words?" Such was the illuminating
instruction combined with burning denunciation that these men had called
forth by their futile attempt to convict Jesus on the charge of Sabbath
desecration. This was but one of many evil machinations by which they so
determinedly plotted, and strove to attach the stigma and invoke the
penalty of Sabbath-breaking upon the very One who had ordained the
Sabbath and was in truth and verity the one and only Lord thereof.


We may profitably consider in this connection other instances of good
work done by our Lord on Sabbath days; and this we may do without undue
regard to the order of the events in time. We again find Jesus in
Galilee, whether prior to or after His visit to Jerusalem at the time of
the unidentified feast, on which occasion He wrought the miracle of
healing at the Bethesda pool, matters not. On a certain Sabbath, He and
the disciples walked through a field of grain,[449] and, being hungry,
the disciples began to pluck some of the ripening ears; rubbing out the
kernels between their hands, they ate. There was no element of theft in
what they did, for the Mosaic law provided that in passing through
another's vineyard or corn field one might pluck grapes or corn to
relieve hunger; but it was forbidden to use a sickle in the field, or to
carry away any of the grapes in a vessel.[450] The permission extended
only to the relief of present need. When the disciples of Jesus availed
themselves of this lawful privilege, there were Pharisees on the watch,
and these came at once to the Master, saying: "Behold, thy disciples do
that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day." The accusers
doubtless had in mind the rabbinical dictum that rubbing out an ear of
grain in the hands was a species of threshing; that blowing away the
chaff was winnowing; and that it was unlawful to thresh or winnow on the
Sabbath. Indeed, some learned rabbis had held it to be a sin to walk on
grass during the Sabbath, inasmuch as the grass might be in seed, and
the treading out of the seed would be as the threshing of grain.

Jesus defended the disciples by citing a precedent applicable to the
case, and of much greater import. The instance was that of David, who
with a small company of men had asked bread of the priest Ahimelech; for
they were hungry and in haste. The priest had none but consecrated
bread, the loaves of shewbread which were placed in the sanctuary at
intervals, and which none but the priests were allowed to eat. In view
of the condition of urgent need the priest had given the shewbread to
the hungry men.[451] Jesus also reminded the critical Pharisees that the
priests in the temple regularly did much work on the Sabbath in the
slaughtering of sacrificial victims and in altar service generally, yet
were held blameless because of the higher requirements of worship which
rendered such labor necessary; and added with solemn emphasis: "But I
say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple." He
cited the word of God spoken through Hosea, "I will have mercy, and not
sacrifice,"[452] and reproved at once their ignorance and their
unrighteous zeal by telling them that had they known what that scripture
meant they would not have condemned the guiltless. Be it remembered,
"The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath."[453]

His reproof was followed by the affirmation of His personal supremacy:
"_For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day!_" What can we
gather from that declaration but that He, Jesus, there present in the
flesh, was the Being through whom the Sabbath had been ordained, that it
was He who had given and written in stone the decalog, including
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy," and, "the seventh day is
the sabbath of the Lord thy God"?


Again on a Sabbath, Jesus went into a synagog, and saw in the
congregation a man whose right hand was withered.[454] There were
Pharisees present, and they watched to see whether Jesus would heal the
man, their purpose being to accuse Him if He did so. The Pharisees
asked: "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?" Our Lord countered
their poorly veiled purpose by asking: "Is it lawful to do good on the
sabbath days?" and extended the question, "or to do evil? to save life,
or to kill?" They held their peace, for the question was double-edged.
To reply in the affirmative would have been to justify the work of
healing; a negative answer would have stultified them. He put another
question: "What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep,
and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on
it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep?"

As the Pharisees could not or would not reply, He summed up the whole
matter thus: "Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days." He
called upon the man with the withered hand to stand forth before the
congregation. Grief and anger were mingled in His penetrating and
sweeping glance; but, turning with compassion toward the afflicted one,
He commanded him to stretch forth his hand; the man obeyed, and lo! the
hand "was restored whole, like as the other."

The discomfited Pharisees were furious, "filled with madness" Luke says;
and they went out to plot anew against the Lord. So bitter was their
hatred that they allied themselves with the Herodians, a political party
generally unpopular among the Jews.[455] The rulers of the people were
ready to enter into any intrigue or alliance to accomplish their avowed
purpose of bringing about the death of the Lord Jesus. Aware of the
wicked determination against Him, Jesus withdrew Himself from the
locality. Other accusations of Sabbath-breaking, brought against Christ
by Jewish casuists, will be considered later.[456]


1. Rabbinical Requirements Concerning Sabbath Observance.--"No feature
of the Jewish system was so marked as their extraordinary strictness in
the outward observance of the Sabbath, as a day of entire rest. The
Scribes had elaborated from the command of Moses, a vast array of
prohibitions and injunctions, covering the whole of social, individual,
and public life, and carried it to the extreme of ridiculous caricature.
Lengthened rules were prescribed as to the kinds of knots which might
legally be tied on the Sabbath. The camel-driver's knot and the sailor's
were unlawful, and it was equally illegal to tie or to loose them. A
knot which could be untied with one hand might be undone. A shoe or
sandal, a woman's cup, a wine or oil-skin, or a flesh-pot might be tied.
A pitcher at a spring might be tied to the body-sash, but not with a
cord.... To kindle or extinguish a fire on the Sabbath was a great
desecration of the day, nor was even sickness allowed to violate
Rabbinical rules. It was forbidden to give an emetic on the Sabbath--to
set a broken bone, or put back a dislocated joint, though some Rabbis,
more liberal, held that whatever endangered life made the Sabbath law
void, 'for the commands were given to Israel only that they might live
by them.' One who was buried under ruins on the Sabbath, might be dug
for and taken out, if alive, but, if dead, he was to be left where he
was, till the Sabbath was over."--Geikie, _Life and Words of Christ_,
chap. 38.

2. The Unnamed Feast.--There has been no little discussion as to the
particular festival referred to in John 5:1, at the time of which Jesus
healed the cripple at the pool of Bethesda. Many writers hold that it
was the Passover, others that it was the feast of Purim, or some other
Jewish celebration. The only semblance of importance attaching to the
question is the possibility of learning from the fact, if it could be
proved, something of the chronological order of events at this period of
our Lord's life. We are not told which feast this was, neither the year
nor the time of the year when it occurred. The miracle wrought on the
occasion, and the doctrinal discourse delivered as a result thereof,
depend for their value in no degree on the determination of date.

3. Shewbread.--The name means "bread of the presence," signifying that
it was placed in the presence of Jehovah. The bread so sanctified
consisted of twelve loaves, made without leaven. They were to be
deposited in the Holy Place in two columns of six loaves each. Zenos, in
_Stand. Bible Dict._ writes: "They were allowed to remain there for a
whole week, at the end of which period they were removed, and eaten by
the priest upon holy ground, i.e. within the precincts of the sanctuary.
For other persons than priests to eat of the loaves of the shewbread was
regarded as sacrilegious, for they were 'holy.'" See Exo. 25:30; Lev.
24:5-9; 1 Sam. 21:1-6.

4. The Sabbath Was Made for Man and Not Man for the Sabbath.--Edersheim
(vol. i, pp. 57, 58) says: "When on his flight from Saul, David had,
'when an hungered,' eaten of the shewbread and given it to his
followers, although, by the letter of the Levitical law, it was only to
be eaten by the priests. Jewish tradition vindicated his conduct on the
plea that 'danger to life superseded the Sabbath law,' and hence, all
laws connected with it.... In truth, the reason why David was blameless
in eating the shewbread was the same as that which made the Sabbath
labor of the priests lawful. The Sabbath law was not one merely of rest,
but of rest for worship. The service of the Lord was the object in view.
The priests worked on the Sabbath, because this service was the object
of the Sabbath; and David was allowed to eat of the shewbread, not
[solely] because there was danger to life from starvation, but because
he pleaded that he was on the service of the Lord, and needed this
provision. The disciples, when following the Lord, were similarly on the
service of the Lord; ministering to Him was more than ministering in the
temple, for He was greater than the temple. If the Pharisees had
believed this, they would not have questioned their conduct, nor in so
doing have themselves infringed that higher law which enjoined mercy,
not sacrifice."


[430] Gen. 2:3.

[431] Exo. 16:16-31.

[432] Exo. 20:8-11; 23:12; 31:13-15; 34:21; Lev. 19:3; 23:3; Deut.

[433] Exo. 35:3; Numb. 15:32-36.

[434] Isa. 56:2; 58:13; Jer. 17:21-24.

[435] Neh. 8:9-12; 13:15-22.

[436] Ezek. 20:12-24.

[437] B. of M., Jarom 1:5; Mosiah 13:16-19; 18:23.

[438] Lev. 25:1-8; compare 26:34, 35.

[439] Lev. 25:10-55.

[440] Page 64.

[441] Note 1, end of chapter.

[442] John, chapter 5.

[443] Note 2, end of chapter.

[444] See another instance, pages 190-192.

[445] Pages 191 and 201. For further justification of this act of
healing on the Sabbath, see John 7:21-24.

[446] Page 142.

[447] Compare Doc. and Cov. 76:16, 17. See page 24 herein.

[448] Page 25.

[449] Matt. 12:1-8; compare Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5.

[450] Deut. 23:24, 25.

[451] Note 3, end of chapter.

[452] Hos. 6:6; compare Micah 6:6-9.

[453] Mark 2:27. Note 4, end of chapter.

[454] Matt. 12:10-13; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-8.

[455] Page 68.

[456] For instances, see Luke 13:14-16; 14:3-6; John 9:14-16.




The night preceding the morn on which the Twelve Apostles were called
and ordained was spent by the Lord in solitary seclusion; He had
"continued all night in prayer to God."[458] Then, when day had come,
and while many people were gathering to hear more of the new and
wonderful gospel of the kingdom, He called to come closer some who had
theretofore been devotedly associated together as His disciples or
followers, and from among them He chose twelve, whom he ordained and
named apostles.[459] Prior to that time none of these had been
distinguished by any special delegation of authority or appointment;
they had been numbered with the disciples in general, though, as we have
seen, seven had received a preliminary call, and had promptly responded
thereto by abandoning wholly or in part their business affairs, and had
followed the Master. These were Andrew, John, Simon Peter, Philip,
Nathanael, James, and Levi Matthew. Prior to this eventful day, however,
none of the Twelve had been ordained or set apart to their sacred

The three Gospel-writers who make record of the organization of the
Twelve place Simon Peter first and Judas Iscariot last in the category;
they agree also in the relative position of some but not of all the
others. Following the order given by Mark, and this may be the most
convenient since he names as the first three those who later became most
prominent, we have the following list: Simon Peter, James (son of
Zebedee), John (brother of the last-named), Andrew (brother of Simon
Peter), Philip, Bartholomew (or Nathanael), Matthew, Thomas, James (son
of Alpheus), Judas (also known as Lebbeus or Thaddeus), Simon
(distinguished by his surname Zelotes, also known as the Canaanite), and
Judas Iscariot.


_Simon_, named as the first apostle, is more commonly known as
_Peter_--the appellation given him by the Lord on the occasion of their
first meeting, and afterward confirmed.[460] He was the son of Jona, or
Jonas, and by vocation was a fisherman. He and his brother Andrew were
partners with James and John, the sons of Zebedee; and apparently the
fishing business was a prosperous one with them, for they owned their
boats and gave employment to other men.[461] Peter's early home had been
at the little fishery town of Bethsaida,[462] on the west shore of the
Sea of Galilee; but about the time of his first association with Jesus,
or soon thereafter, he, with others of his family, removed to Capernaum,
where he appears to have become an independent householder.[463] Simon
Peter was a married man before his call to the ministry. He was well to
do in a material way; and when he once spoke of having left all to
follow Jesus, the Lord did not deny that Peter's sacrifice of temporal
possessions was as great as had been implied. We are not justified in
regarding him as unlettered or ignorant. True, both he and John were
designated by the council of rulers as "unlearned and ignorant
men,"[464] but this was spoken of them as indicating their lack of
training in the schools of the rabbis; and it is worthy of note, that
the members of that same council were amazed at the wisdom and power
manifested by the two apostles, whom they professed to despize.

In temperament Peter was impulsive and stern, and, until trained by
severe experience, was lacking in firmness. He had many human
weaknesses, yet in spite of them all he eventually overcame the
temptations of Satan and the frailties of the flesh, and served his Lord
as the appointed and acknowledged leader of the Twelve. Of the time and
place of his death the scriptures do not speak; but the manner thereof
was prefigured by the resurrected Lord,[465] and in part was foreseen by
Peter himself.[466] Tradition, originating in the writings of the early
Christian historians other than the apostles, states that Peter met
death by crucifixion as a martyr during the persecution incident to the
reign of Nero, probably between A.D. 64 and 68. Origen states that the
apostle was crucified with his head downward. Peter, with James and
John, his associates in the presidency of the Twelve, has ministered as
a resurrected being in the present dispensation, in restoring to earth
the Melchizedek Priesthood, including the Holy Apostleship, which had
been taken away because of the apostasy and unbelief of men.[467]

_James_ and _John_, brothers by birth, partners in business as
fishermen, brethren in the ministry, were associated together and with
Peter in the apostolic calling. The Lord bestowed upon the pair a title
in common--Boanerges, or Sons of Thunder[468]--possibly with reference
to the zeal they developed in His service, which, indeed, at times had
to be restrained, as when they would have had fire called from heaven to
destroy the Samaritan villagers who had refused hospitality to the
Master.[469] They and their mother aspired to the highest honors of the
kingdom, and asked that the two be given places, one on the right the
other on the left of Christ in His glory. This ambition was gently
reproved by the Lord, and the request gave offense to the other
apostles.[470] With Peter these two brothers were witnesses of many of
the most important incidents in the life of Jesus; thus, the three were
the only apostles admitted to witness the raising of the daughter of
Jairus from death to life;[471] they were the only members of the Twelve
present at the transfiguration of Christ;[472] they were nearest the
Lord during the period of His mortal agony in Gethsemane;[473] and, as
heretofore told, they have ministered in these modern days in the
restoration of the Holy Apostleship with all its ancient authority and
power of blessing.[474] James is commonly designated in theological
literature as James I, to distinguish him from the other apostle bearing
the same name. James, the son of Zebedee, was the first of the apostles
to meet a martyr's violent death; he was beheaded by order of the king,
Herod Agrippa.[475] John had been a disciple of the Baptist, and had
demonstrated his confidence in the latter's testimony of Jesus by
promptly turning from the forerunner and following the Lord.[476] He
became a devoted servant, and repeatedly refers to himself as the
disciple "whom Jesus loved."[477] At the last supper John sat next to
Jesus leaning his head upon the Master's breast;[478] and next day as he
stood beneath the cross he received from the dying Christ the special
charge to care for the Lord's mother;[479] and to this he promptly
responded by conducting the weeping Mary to his own house. He was the
first to recognize the risen Lord on the shores of Galilee, and received
from His immortal lips encouragement of his hope that his life would be
continued in the body, in order that he might minister among men until
the Christ shall come in His glory.[480] The realization of that hope
has been attested by revelation in modern days.[481]

_Andrew_, son of Jona and brother of Simon Peter, is mentioned less
frequently than the three already considered. He had been one of the
Baptist's followers, and with John, the son of Zebedee, left the Baptist
to learn from Jesus; and having learned he went in search of Peter,
solemnly averred to him that the Messiah had been found, and brought his
brother to the Savior's feet.[482] He shared with Peter in the honor of
the call of the Lord on the sea shore, and in the promise "I will make
you fishers of men."[483] In one instance we read of Andrew as present
with Peter, James and John, in a private interview with the Lord;[484]
and he is mentioned in connection with the miraculous feeding of the
five thousand,[485] and as associated with Philip in arranging an
interview between certain inquiring Greeks and Jesus.[486] He is named
with others in connection with our Lord's ascension.[487] Tradition is
rife with stories about this man, but of the extent of his ministry, the
duration of his life, and the circumstances of his death, we have no
authentic record.

_Philip_ may have been the first to receive the authoritative call
"Follow me" from the lips of Jesus, and we find him immediately
testifying that Jesus was the long expected Messiah. His home was in
Bethsaida, the town of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. It is said that
Jesus found him,[488] whereas the others concerned in that early
affiliation seem to have come of themselves severally to Christ.
We find brief mention of him at the time the five thousand were
fed, on which occasion Jesus asked him "Whence shall we buy bread, that
these may eat?" This was done to test and prove him, for Jesus knew what
would be done. Philip's reply was based on a statement of the small
amount of money at hand, and showed no expectation of miraculous
intervention.[489] It was to him the Greeks applied when they sought a
meeting with Jesus as noted in connection with Andrew. He was mildly
reproved for his misunderstanding when he asked Jesus to show to him and
the others the Father--"Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast
thou not known me, Philip?"[490] Aside from incidental mention of his
presence as one of the Eleven after the ascension, the scriptures tell
us nothing more concerning him.

_Bartholomew_ is mentioned in scripture by this name only in connection
with his ordination to the apostleship, and as one of the Eleven after
the ascension. The name means son of Tolmai. It is practically certain,
however, that he is the man called Nathanael in John's Gospel--the one
whom Christ designated as "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no
guile."[491] He is named again as among those who went fishing with
Peter after the resurrection of Christ.[492] His home was in Cana of
Galilee. The reasons for assuming that Bartholomew and Nathanael are the
same persons are these: Bartholomew is named in each of the three
synoptic Gospels as an apostle, but Nathanael is not mentioned.
Nathanael is named twice in John's Gospel, and Bartholomew not at all;
Bartholomew and Philip, or Nathanael and Philip, are mentioned together.

_Matthew_, or _Levi_, son of Alpheus, was one of the seven who received
a call to follow Christ before the ordination of the Twelve. He it was
who gave a feast, for attending which Jesus and the disciples were
severely criticized by the Pharisees,[493] on the charge that it was
unseemly for Him to eat with publicans and sinners. Matthew was a
publican; he so designates himself in the Gospel he wrote;[494] but the
other evangelists omit the mention when including him with the Twelve.
His Hebrew name, Levi, is understood by many as an indication of
priestly lineage. Of his ministry we have no detailed account; though he
is the author of the first Gospel, he refrains from special mention of
himself except in connection with his call and ordination. He is spoken
of by other than scriptural writers as one of the most active of the
apostles after Christ's death, and as operating in lands far from

_Thomas_, also known as Didymus, the Greek equivalent of his Hebrew
name, meaning "a twin," is mentioned as a witness of the raising of
Lazarus. His devotion to Jesus is shown by his desire to accompany the
Lord to Bethany, though persecution in that region was almost certain.
To his fellow apostles Thomas said: "Let us also go, that we may die
with him."[495] Even as late in his experience as the night before the
crucifixion, Thomas had failed to comprehend the impending necessity of
the Savior's sacrifice; and when Jesus referred to going away and
leaving the others to follow, Thomas asked how they could know the way.
For his lack of understanding he stood reproved.[496] He was absent when
the resurrected Christ appeared to the assembled disciples in the
evening of the day of His rising; and on being informed by the others
that they had seen the Lord, he forcefully expressed his doubt, and
declared he would not believe unless he could see and feel for himself
the wounds in the crucified body. Eight days later the Lord visited the
apostles again, when, as on the earlier occasion, they were within
closed doors; and to Thomas the Lord said: "Reach hither thy finger, and
behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side."
Then Thomas, no longer doubting but with love and reverence filling his
soul, exclaimed "My Lord and my God." The Lord said unto him: "Thomas,
because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that
have not seen, and yet have believed."[497] Of Thomas no further record
appears in the New Testament aside from that of his presence with his
fellows after the ascension.

_James_, son of Alpheus, is mentioned in the Gospels only in the matter
of his ordination to the apostleship; and but once elsewhere in the New
Testament by the appellation "son of Alpheus."[498] In writings other
than scriptural he is sometimes designated as James II to avoid
confusing him with James the son of Zebedee. There is acknowledged
uncertainty concerning the identity of James the son of Alpheus as the
James or one of the James's referred to in the Acts and the
Epistles;[499] and a plenitude of controversial literature on the
subject is extant.[500]

_Judas_ is called _Lebbeus Thaddeus_ by Matthew, _Thaddeus_ by Mark, and
_Judas the brother of James_ by Luke.[501] The only other specific
reference to this apostle is made by John, and is incident to the last
long interview between Jesus and the apostles, when this Judas, "not
Iscariot," asked how or why Jesus would manifest Himself to His chosen
servants and not to the world at large. The man's question shows that
the really distinguishing character of the apostleship was not fully
comprehended by him at that time.

_Simon Zelotes_, so designated in Acts,[502] and as _Simon called
Zelotes_ in Luke's Gospel, is distinguished by both Matthew and Mark as
the _Canaanite_. The last designation has no reference to the town of
Cana, nor to the land of Canaan, neither is it in any sense of
geographical signification; it is the Syro-Chaldaic equivalent of the
Greek word which is rendered in the English translation "Zelotes." The
two names, therefore, have the same fundamental meaning, and each refers
to the Zealots, a Jewish sect or faction, known for its zeal in
maintaining the Mosaic ritual. Doubtless Simon had learned moderation
and toleration from the teachings of Christ; otherwise he would scarcely
have been suited to the apostolic ministry. His zealous earnestness,
properly directed, may have developed into a most serviceable trait of
character. This apostle is nowhere in the scriptures named apart from
his colleagues.

_Judas Iscariot_ is the only Judean named among the Twelve; all the
others were Galileans. He is generally understood to have been a
resident of Kerioth, a small town in the southerly part of Judea, but a
few miles west from the Dead Sea, though for this tradition, as also for
the signification of his surname, we lack direct authority. So too we
are uninformed as to his lineage, except that his father's name was
Simon.[503] He served as treasurer or agent of the apostolic company,
receiving and disbursing such offerings as were made by disciples and
friends, and purchasing supplies as required.[504] That he was
unprincipled and dishonest in the discharge of this trust is attested by
John. His avaricious and complaining nature revealed itself in his
murmuring against what he called a waste of costly spikenard, in the
anointing of the Lord by Mary but a few days before the crucifixion; he
hypocritically suggested that the precious ointment could have been sold
and the proceeds given to the poor.[505] The crowning deed of perfidy in
the career of Iscariot was his deliberate betrayal of his Master to
death; and this the infamous creature did for a price, and accomplished
the foul deed with a kiss. He brought his guilty life to a close by a
revolting suicide and his spirit went to the awful fate reserved for the
sons of perdition.[506]


A survey of the general characteristics and qualifications of this body
of twelve men reveals some interesting facts. Before their selection as
apostles they had all become close disciples of the Lord; they believed
in Him; several of them, possibly all, had openly confessed that He was
the Son of God; and yet it is doubtful that any one of them fully
understood the real significance of the Savior's work. It is evident by
the later remarks of many of them, and by the instructions and rebuke
they called forth from the Master, that the common Jewish expectation of
a Messiah who would reign in splendor as an earthly sovereign after He
had subdued all other nations, had a place even in the hearts of these
chosen ones. After long experience, Peter's concern was: "Behold, we
have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have
therefore?"[507] They were as children to be trained and taught; but
they were mostly willing pupils, receptive of soul, and imbued with a
sincere eagerness to serve. To Jesus they were His little ones, His
children, His servants, and His friends, as they merited.[508] They were
all of the common people, not rabbis, scholars, nor priestly officials.
Their inner natures, not their outward accomplishments, were taken into
prime account in the Lord's choosing. The Master chose them; they did
not choose themselves; by Him they were ordained,[509] and they could in
consequence rely the more implicitly upon His guidance and support. To
them much was given; much of them was required. With the one black
exception they all became shining lights in the kingdom of God, and
vindicated the Master's selection. He recognized in each the
characteristics of fitness developed in the primeval world of


Discipleship is general; any follower of a man or devotee to a principle
may be called a disciple. The Holy Apostleship is an office and calling
belonging to the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, at once exalted and
specific, comprizing as a distinguishing function that of personal and
special witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ as the one and only
Redeemer and Savior of mankind.[511] The apostleship is an individual
bestowal, and as such is conferred only through ordination. That the
Twelve did constitute a council or "quorum" having authority in the
Church established by Jesus Christ, is shown by their ministrations
after the Lord's resurrection and ascension. Their first official act
was that of filling the vacancy in their organization occasioned by the
apostasy and death of Judas Iscariot; and in connection with this
procedure, the presiding apostle, Peter, set forth the essential
qualifications of the one who would be chosen and ordained, which
comprized such knowledge of Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection, as
would make the new apostle one with the Eleven as special witnesses of
the Lord's work.[512]

The ordination of the Twelve Apostles marked the inauguration of an
advanced epoch in the earthly ministry of Jesus, an epoch characterized
by the organization of a body of men invested with the authority of the
Holy Priesthood, upon whom would rest, more particularly after the
Lord's departure, the duty and responsibility of continuing the work He
had begun, and of building up the Church established by Him.

The word "apostle" is an Anglicized form derived from the Greek
_apostolos_, meaning literally "one who is sent," and connoting an envoy
or official messenger, who speaks and acts by the authority of one
superior to himself. In this sense Paul afterward applied the title to
Christ as one specially sent and commissioned of the Father.[513]

The Lord's purpose in choosing and ordaining the Twelve is thus
enunciated by Mark: "And he ordained twelve, that they should be with
him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to
heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils."[514] For a season following
their ordination the apostles remained with Jesus, being specially
trained and instructed by Him for the work then before them; afterward
they were specifically charged and sent forth to preach and to
administer in the authority of their priesthood, as shall be hereafter


1. Judas Lebbeus Thaddeus.--This Judas (not Iscariot) is designated in
the authorized version of Luke 6:16, and Acts 1:13, as "_the brother_ of
James." That the words "the brother" are an addition to the original
text is indicated by italics. The revised version of these passages
reads in each instance "_the son_ of James," with italics of
corresponding significance. The original reads "Judas of James." We are
uninformed as to which James is referred to, and as to whether the Judas
here mentioned was the son, the brother, or some other relative of the
unidentified James.

2. The Meaning of "Apostle."--"The title 'Apostle' is likewise one of
special significance and sanctity; it has been given of God, and belongs
only to those who have been called and ordained as 'special witnesses of
the name of Christ in all the world, thus differing from other officers
in the Church in the duties of their calling' (Doc. and Cov. 107:23). By
derivation the word 'apostle' is the English equivalent of the Greek
_apostolos_, indicating a messenger, an ambassador, or literally 'one
who is sent'. It signifies that he who is rightly so called, speaks and
acts not of himself, but as the representative of a higher power whence
his commission issued; and in this sense the title is that of a servant,
rather than that of a superior. Even the Christ, however, is called an
Apostle with reference to His ministry in the flesh (Hebrews 3:1), and
this appellation is justified by His repeated declaration that He came
to earth to do not His own will but that of the Father by whom _He was

"Though an apostle is thus seen to be essentially an envoy, or
ambassador, his authority is great, as is also the responsibility
associated therewith, for he speaks in the name of a power greater than
his own--the name of Him whose special witness he is. When one of the
Twelve is sent to minister in any stake, mission or other division of
the Church, or to labor in regions where no Church organization has been
effected, he acts as the representative of the First Presidency, and has
the right to use his authority in doing whatever is requisite for the
furtherance of the work of God. His duty is to preach the Gospel,
administer the ordinances thereof, and set in order the affairs of the
Church, wherever he is sent. So great is the sanctity of this special
calling, that the title 'Apostle' should not be used lightly as the
common or ordinary form of address applied to living men called to this
office. The quorum or council of the Twelve Apostles as existent in the
Church to-day may better be spoken of as the 'Quorum of the Twelve,' the
'Council of the Twelve,' or simply as the 'Twelve,' than as the 'Twelve
Apostles,' except as particular occasion may warrant the use of the more
sacred term. It is advized that the title 'Apostle' be not applied as a
prefix to the name of any member of the Council of the Twelve; but that
such a one be addressed or spoken of as 'Brother ----,' or 'Elder ----,'
and when necessary or desirable, as in announcing his presence in a
public assembly, an explanatory clause may be added, thus, 'Elder ----,
one of the Council of the Twelve,'"--From "The Honor and Dignity of
Priesthood," by the author, _Improvement Era_, Vol. 17, No. 5, pp.

3. "Of Alpheus;" or "Son of Alpheus."--In all Bible passages specifying
"James son of Alpheus" (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) the
word _son_ has been supplied by the translators, and therefore properly
appears in _Italics_. The phrase in the Greek reads "James of Alpheus."
This fact must not be given undue weight in support of the thought that
the James spoken of was not the son of Alpheus; for the word _son_ has
been similarly added in the translation of other passages, in all of
which _Italics_ are used to indicate the words supplied, e.g. "James
_the son_ of Zebedee" (Matt. 10:2; see also Mark 3:17). Read in this
connection Note 1 on the opposite page.


[457] Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16.

[458] Luke 6:12.

[459] Luke 3:13; compare John 15:16; see also Acts 1:22.

[460] John 1:42; compare Matt. 16:18.

[461] Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:10.

[462] John 1:44; 12:21.

[463] Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:29; Luke 4:38.

[464] Acts 4:13.

[465] John 21:18, 19.

[466] 2 Peter 1:14.

[467] Doc. and Cov. 27:12. Page 768 herein.

[468] Mark 3:17.

[469] Luke 9:54. See also Mark 9:38, for instance of John's impulsive

[470] Mark 10:35-41; compare Matt. 20:20-24.

[471] Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51.

[472] Matt. 17:1-2; Luke 9:28-29.

[473] Matt. 26:36, 37.

[474] Doc. and Cov. 27:12. Page 768 herein.

[475] Acts 12:1, 2.

[476] John 1:35-40; see page 140.

[477] John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2.

[478] John 13:23, 25.

[479] John 19:25-27.

[480] John 21:7, 21-23.

[481] Doc. and Cov. Sec. 7; compare B. of M., 3 Nephi 28:1-12.

[482] John 1:35-40.

[483] Matt. 4:18, 19.

[484] Mark 13:3.

[485] John 6:8.

[486] John 12:20-22.

[487] Acts 1:13.

[488] John 1:43-45.

[489] John 6:5-7.

[490] John 14:8, 9.

[491] John 1:45-51; see page 141.

[492] John 21:2, 3.

[493] Page 194.

[494] Matt. 10:3.

[495] John 11:16.

[496] John 14:1-7.

[497] John 20:24-29. Page 689 herein.

[498] Acts 1:13. Note 3, end of chapter.

[499] Acts 12:17; 15:13-21; 21:18; 1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19; 2:9, 12; and
the Epistle of James.

[500] Concerning the James's mentioned in the New Testament, the opinion
of Bible scholars is divided, the question being as to whether two or
three individuals are indicated. Those who hold that there were three
men of this name distinguish them as follows: (1) James the son of
Zebedee and brother of John the apostle; all scriptural references to
him are explicit; (2) James the son of Alpheus; and (3) James the
brother of the Lord (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal. 1:19). If we accept
this classification, the references given in the previous footnote on
this page apply to James the Lord's brother. Both the Oxford and Bagster
Bible "Helps" treat James the son of Alpheus and James the Lord's
brother as one person, the expression "son of" being understood in its
general sense only (see page 280). The Bagster designation is: "James
II, apostle, son of Alpheus, brother or cousin to Jesus." (See Note 3,
end of chapter.) The Nave "Student's Bible" states (page 1327) that the
question as to whether James the Lord's brother "is identical with James
the son of Alpheus is one of the most difficult questions in the
biographical history of the Gospels." Faussett (in his "Cyclopedia
Critical and Expository") supports the contention that but one James is
meant; and other acknowledged authorities treat the two as one. For
detailed consideration of the subject the reader is referred to special

[501] Note 1, end of chapter.

[502] Acts 1:13; compare Luke 6:15.

[503] John 6:71; 12:4; 13:26.

[504] John 12:6; 13:29.

[505] John 12:1-7; compare Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9.

[506] Matt. 27:5; compare Acts 1:18; see also John 17:12; Doc. and Cov.
76; 31-48; 132:27.

[507] Matt. 19:27.

[508] Matt. 10:42; John 21:5; 13:16. compare verse 13; 15:14, 15.

[509] John 15:16.

[510] Pages 8 and 17.

[511] Doc. and Cov. 18:27-33; 20:38-44; 107:1-9, 23, 24, 39.

[512] Acts 1:15-26.

[513] Heb. 3:1; see Note 2, end of chapter.

[514] Mark 3:14, 15.



At some time very near that of the ordination of the Twelve, Jesus
delivered a remarkable discourse, which, in reference to the place where
it was given, has come to be known as the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew
presents an extended account occupying three chapters of the first
Gospel; Luke gives a briefer synopsis.[515] Circumstantial variations
appearing in the two records are of minor importance;[516] it is the
sermon itself to which we may profitably devote attention. Luke
introduces in different parts of his writings many of the precious
precepts given as parts of the sermon recorded as a continuous discourse
in the Gospel written by Matthew. In our present study we shall be
guided principally by Matthew's account. Some portions of this
comprehensive address were expressly directed to the disciples, who had
been or would be called to the apostleship and in consequence be
required to renounce all their worldly interests for the labors of the
ministry; other parts were and are of general application. Jesus had
ascended the mountain side, probably to escape the crowds that thronged
Him in or near the towns.[517] The disciples gathered about Him, and
there He sat and taught them.[518]


The opening sentences are rich in blessing, and the first section of the
discourse is devoted to an explanation of what constitutes genuine
blessedness; the lesson, moreover, was made simple and unambiguous by
specific application, each of the blessed being assured of recompense
and reward in the enjoyment of conditions directly opposite to those
under which he had suffered. The blessings particularized by the Lord on
this occasion have been designated in literature of later time as the
Beatitudes. The poor in spirit are to be made rich as rightful heirs to
the kingdom of heaven; the mourner shall be comforted for he shall see
the divine purpose in his grief, and shall again associate with the
beloved ones of whom he has been bereft; the meek, who suffer spoliation
rather than jeopardize their souls in contention, shall inherit the
earth; those that hunger and thirst for the truth shall be fed in rich
abundance; they that show mercy shall be judged mercifully; the pure in
heart shall be admitted to the very presence of God; the peacemakers,
who try to save themselves and their fellows from strife, shall be
numbered among the children of God; they that suffer persecution for the
sake of righteousness shall inherit the riches of the eternal kingdom.
To the disciples the Lord spake directly, saying: "Blessed are ye, when
men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of
evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:
for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets
which were before you."[520]

It is evident that the specified blessings and the happiness comprized
therein are to be realized in their fulness only beyond the grave;
though the joy that comes from the consciousness of right living brings,
even in this world, a rich return. An important element in this splendid
elucidation of the truly blessed state is the implied distinction
between pleasure and happiness.[521] Mere pleasure is at best but
fleeting; happiness is abiding, for in the recollection thereof is joy
renewed. Supreme happiness is not an earthly attainment; the promised
"fulness of joy" lies beyond death and the resurrection.[522] While man
exists in this mortal state he needs some of the things of the world; he
must have food and clothing and provision for shelter; and beside these
bare necessities he may righteously desire the facilities of education,
the incidentals of advancing civilization, and the things that are
conducive to refinement and culture; yet all of these are but aids to
achievement, not the end to attain which man was made mortal.

The Beatitudes are directed to the duties of mortal life as a
preparation for a greater existence yet future. In the kingdom of
heaven, twice named in this part of the Lord's discourse, are true
riches and unfailing happiness to be found. The kingdom of heaven was
the all-comprizing text of this wonderful sermon; the means of reaching
the kingdom and the glories of eternal citizenship therein are the main
divisions of the treatise.


The Master next proceeded to instruct with particular directness those
upon whom would devolve the responsibility of the ministry as His
commissioned representatives. "Ye are the salt of the earth," said He.
Salt is the great preservative; as such it has had practical use since
very ancient times. Salt was prescribed as an essential addition to
every meat offering under the Mosaic law.[524] Long before the time of
Christ, the use of salt had been accorded a symbolism of fidelity,
hospitality, and covenant.[525] To be of use salt must be pure; to be of
any saving virtue as salt, it must be salt indeed, and not the product
of chemical alteration or of earthy admixture, whereby its saltiness or
"savor" would be lost;[526] and, as worthless stuff, it would be fit
only to be thrown away. Against such change of faith, against such
admixture with the sophistries, so-called philosophies, and heresies of
the times, the disciples were especially warned. Then, changing the
figure, Jesus likened them to the light of the world, and enjoined upon
them the duty of keeping their light before the people, as prominently
as stands a city built upon a hill, to be seen from all directions, a
city that cannot be hid. Of what service would a lighted candle be if
hidden under a tub or a box? "Let your light so shine before men," said
He, "that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is
in heaven."

That they should make no error as to the relationship of the ancient law
and the gospel of the kingdom which He was elucidating, Jesus assured
them that He had not come to destroy the law nor to nullify the
teachings and predictions of the prophets, but to fulfil such and to
establish that for which the developments of the centuries gone had been
but preparatory. The gospel may be said to have destroyed the Mosaic law
only as the seed is destroyed in the growth of the new plant, only as
the bud is destroyed by the bursting forth of the rich, full, and
fragrant flowers, only as infancy and youth pass forever as the maturity
of years develops. Not a jot or a tittle of the law was to be void. A
more effective analogy than the last could scarcely have been conceived;
the jot or yod, and the tittle, were small literary marks in the Hebrew
script; for present purposes we may regard them as equivalent to the dot
of an "i" or the cross of a "t"; with the first, the jot, our English
word "iota," signifying a trifle, is related. Not even the least
commandment could be violated without penalty; but the disciples were
admonished to take heed that their keeping of the commandments was not
after the manner of the scribes and Pharisees, whose observance was that
of ceremonial externalism, lacking the essentials of genuine devotion;
for they were assured that by such an insincere course they could "in no
case enter into the kingdom of heaven."


The next section of the sermon deals with the superiority of the gospel
of Christ over the law of Moses, and contrasts the requirements of the
two in particular instances. Whereas the law forbade murder, and
provided a just penalty for the crime, Christ taught that one's giving
way to anger, which might possibly lead to violence or even murder, was
of itself a sin. To maliciously use an offensive epithet such as "Raca"
laid one liable to punishment under the decree of the council, and to
call another a fool placed one "in danger of hell fire." These
objectionable designations were regarded at that time as especially
opprobrious and were therefore expressive of hateful intent. The
murderer's hand is impelled by the hatred in his heart. The law provided
penalty for the deed; the gospel rebuked the evil passion in its
incipiency. To emphasize this principle, the Master showed that hatred
was not to be atoned by a material sacrifice; and that if one came to
make an offering at the altar, and remembered that he was at enmity with
his brother, he should first go to that brother and be reconciled, even
though such a course involved the interruption of the ceremonial, which
was a particularly grievous incident according to the judgment of the
priests. Differences and contentions were to be adjusted without delay.

The law forbade the awful sin of adultery; Christ said that the sin
began in the lustful glance, the sensual thought; and He added that it
was better to become blind than to look with evil eye; better to lose a
hand than to work iniquity therewith. Touching the matter of
divorcement, in which great laxity prevailed in that day, Jesus declared
that except for the most serious offense of infidelity to marriage vows,
no man could divorce his wife without becoming himself an offender, in
that she, marrying again while still a wife not righteously divorced,
would be guilty of sin, and so would be the man to whom she was so

Of old it had been forbidden to swear or take oaths except in solemn
covenant before the Lord; but in the gospel dispensation the Lord
forbade that men swear at all; and the heinousness of wanton oaths was
expounded. Grievously sinful indeed it was and is to swear by heaven,
which is the abode of God; or by earth, which is His creation and by Him
called His footstool; or by Jerusalem, which was regarded by those who
swore as the city of the great King; or by one's own head, which is part
of the body God has created. Moderation in speech, decision and
simplicity were enjoined, to the exclusion of expletives, profanity and

Of old the principle of retaliation had been tolerated, by which one who
had suffered injury could exact or inflict a penalty of the same nature
as the offense. Thus an eye was demanded for the loss of an eye, a tooth
for a tooth, a life for a life.[528] In contrast, Christ taught that men
should rather suffer than do evil, even to the extent of submission
without resistance under certain implied conditions. His forceful
illustrations--that if one were smitten on one cheek he should turn the
other to the smiter; that if a man took another's coat by process of
law, the loser should allow his cloak to be taken also; that if one was
pressed into service to carry another's burden a mile, he should
willingly go two miles; that one should readily give or lend as
asked--are not to be construed as commanding abject subserviency to
unjust demands, nor as an abrogation of the principle of
self-protection. These instructions were directed primarily to the
apostles, who would be professedly devoted to the work of the kingdom to
the exclusion of all other interests. In their ministry it would be
better to suffer material loss or personal indignity and imposition at
the hands of wicked oppressors, than to bring about an impairment of
efficiency and a hindrance in work through resistance and contention. To
such as these the Beatitudes were particularly applicable--Blessed are
the meek, the peace-makers, and they that are persecuted for
righteousness' sake.

Of old it had been said: "Love thy neighbour, and hate thine
enemy";[529] but the Lord now taught: "Love your enemies, bless them
that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you." This was a new doctrine. Never
before had Israel been required to love their foes. Friendship for
enemies had found no place in the Mosaic code: indeed the people had
grown to look upon Israel's enemies as God's enemies; and now Jesus
required that tolerance, mercy, and even love be meted out to such! He
supplemented the requirement by an explanation--through the course
indicated by Him men may become children of God, like unto their
Heavenly Father to the extent of their obedience; for the Father is
kind, long-suffering and tolerant, causing His sun to shine on the evil
and on the good, and sending rain for the sustenance of both just and
unjust.[530] And further, what excellence has the man who gives only as
he receives, acknowledges only those who salute him with respect, loves
only as he is loved? Even the publicans[531] did that much. Of the
disciples of Christ much more was expected. The admonition closing this
division of the discourse is an effective and comprehensive summary of
all that had preceded: "_Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father
which is in heaven is perfect._"[532]


In the matter of alms-giving the Master warned against, and
inferentially denounced, ostentation and hypocritical display. To give
to the needy is praiseworthy; but to give for the purpose of winning the
praise of men is rank hypocrisy. The tossing of alms to a beggar, the
pouring of offerings into the temple treasure chests, to be seen of
men,[534] and similar displays of affected liberality, were fashionable
among certain classes in the time of Christ; and the same spirit is
manifest today. Some there be now who cause a trumpet to be sounded,
through the columns of the press perchance, or by other means of
publicity, to call attention to their giving, that they may have glory
of men--to win political favor, to increase their trade or influence, to
get what in their estimation is worth more than that from which they
part. With logical incisiveness the Master demonstrated that such givers
have their reward. They have received what they bid for; what more can
such men demand or consistently expect? _"But" said the Lord, "when thou
doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That
thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret
himself shall reward thee openly!"_

In the same spirit did the Preacher denounce hypocritical prayers--the
saying of prayers in place of praying. There were many who sought places
of public resort, in the synagogs, and even on the street-corners, that
they might be seen and heard of men when saying their prayers. They
secured the publicity they sought; what more could they ask? "Verily I
say unto you, They have their reward," He who would really pray--pray as
nearly as possible as Christ prayed, pray in actual communion with God
to whom the prayer is addressed--will seek privacy, seclusion,
isolation; if opportunity permits he will retire to his chamber, and
will shut the door, that none may intrude; there he may pray indeed, if
the spirit of prayer be in his heart; and this course was commended by
the Lord. Wordy supplications, made up largely of iterations and
repetitions such as the heathen use, thinking that their idol deities
will be pleased with their much speaking, were forbidden.

It is well to know that prayer is not compounded of words, words that
may fail to express what one desires to say, words that so often cloak
inconsistencies, words that may have no deeper source than the physical
organs of speech, words that may be spoken to impress mortal ears. The
dumb may pray, and that too with the eloquence that prevails in heaven.
Prayer is made up of heart throbs and the righteous yearnings of the
soul, of supplication based on the realization of need, of contrition
and pure desire. If there lives a man who has never really prayed, that
man is a being apart from the order of the divine in human nature, a
stranger in the family of God's children. Prayer is for the uplifting of
the suppliant. God without our prayers would be God; but we without
prayer cannot be admitted to the kingdom of God. So did Christ instruct:
"your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."

Then gave He unto those who sought wisdom at His feet, a model prayer,
saying: "After this manner therefore pray ye:

_"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name."_ In this we
acknowledge the relation we bear to our Heavenly Father, and while
reverencing His great and holy Name, we avail ourselves of the
inestimable privilege of approaching Him, less with the thought of His
infinite glory as the Creator of all that is, the Supreme Being above
all creation, than with the loving realization that He is Father, and
that we are His children. This is the earliest Biblical scripture giving
instruction, permission, or warrant, for addressing God directly as "Our
Father". Therein is expressed the reconciliation which the human family,
estranged through sin, may attain by the means provided through the well
beloved Son. This instruction is equally definite in demonstrating the
brotherhood between Christ and humanity. As He prayed so pray we to the
same Father, we as brethren and Christ as our Elder Brother.

_"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."_ The
kingdom of God is to be a kingdom of order, in which toleration and the
recognition of individual rights shall prevail. One who really prays
that this kingdom come will strive to hasten its coming by living
according to the law of God. His effort will be to keep himself in
harmony with the order of the kingdom, to subject the flesh to the
spirit, selfishness to altruism, and to learn to love the things that
God loves. To make the will of God supreme on earth as it is in heaven
is to be allied with God in the affairs of life. There are many who
profess belief that as God is omnipotent, all that is is according to
His will. Such a supposition is unscriptural, unreasonable, and
untrue.[535] Wickedness is not in harmony with His will; falsehood,
hypocrisy, vice and crime are not God's gifts to man. By His will these
monstrosities that have developed as hideous deformities in human nature
and life shall be abolished, and this blessed consummation shall be
reached when by choice, without surrender or abrogation of their free
agency, men shall do the will of God.

_"Give us this day our daily bread."_ Food is indispensable to life. As
we need it we should ask for it. True, the Father knows our need before
we ask, but by asking we acknowledge Him as the Giver, and are made
humble, grateful, contrite, and reliant by the request. Though the sun
shines and the rain falls alike upon the just and the unjust, the
righteous man is grateful for these blessings; the ungodly man receives
the benefits as a matter of course with a soul incapable of gratitude.
The capacity to be grateful is a blessing, for the possession of which
we should be further grateful. We are taught to pray day by day for the
food we need, not for a great store to be laid by for the distant
future. Israel in the desert received manna as a daily supply[536] and
were kept in mind of their reliance upon Him who gave. The man with much
finds it easier to forget his dependence than he who must ask with each
succeeding day of need.

_"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."_ He who can thus
pray with full intent and unmixed purpose merits forgiveness. In this
specification of personal supplication we are taught to expect only as
we deserve. The selfish and sinful would rejoice in exemption from their
lawful debts, but being selfish and sinful would exact the last farthing
from those who owe them.[537] Forgiveness is too precious a pearl to be
cast at the feet of the unforgiving;[538] and, without the sincerity
that springs from a contrite heart, no man may justly claim mercy. If
others owe us, either in actual money or goods as suggested by debts and
debtors, or through some infringement upon our rights included under the
broader designation as a trespass, our mode of dealing with them will be
taken into righteous account in the judgment of our own offenses.

_"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:"_ The first
part of this petition has occasioned comment and question. We are not to
understand that God would ever lead a man into temptation except,
perhaps, by way of wise permission, to test and prove him, thereby
affording him opportunity of overcoming and so of gaining spiritual
strength, which is the only true advancement in man's eternal course of
progress. The one purpose of providing bodies for the preexistent
spirits of the race, and of advancing them to the mortal state, was to
"prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the
Lord their God shall command them."[539] The plan of mortality involved
the certainty of temptation. The intent of the supplication appears to
be that we be preserved from temptation beyond our weak powers to
withstand; that we be not abandoned to temptation without the divine
support that shall be as full a measure of protection as our exercize of
choice will allow.

How inconsistent then to go, as many do, into the places where the
temptations to which we are most susceptible are strongest; for the man
beset with a passion for strong drink to so pray and then resort to the
dramshop; for the man whose desires are lustful to voice such a prayer
and then go where lust is kindled; for the dishonest man, though he say
the prayer, to then place himself where he knows the opportunity to
steal will be found! Can such souls as these be other than hypocrites in
asking God to deliver them from the evils they have sought? Temptation
will fall in our way without our seeking, and evil will present itself
even when we desire most to do right; for deliverance from such we may
pray with righteous expectation and assurance.

_"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Amen."_ Herein we acknowledge the supremacy of the Being whom we
addressed at the beginning as Father. He is the Almighty in whom and
through whose provision we live and move and have our existence.[540] To
assert independence of God is both sacrilege and blasphemy; to
acknowledge Him is a filial duty and a just confession of His majesty
and dominion. The Lord's Prayer is closed with a solemn "Amen," set as a
seal to the document of the supplication, attesting its genuineness as
the true expression of the suppliant's soul; gathering within the
compass of a word the meaning of all that has been uttered or thought.
_So let it be_ is the literal signification of _Amen_.

From the subject of prayer the Master turned to that of fasting, and
emphasized the important truth that to be of avail fasting must be a
matter between the man and his God, not between man and his kind. It was
a common thing in the Master's day to see men parading the fact of their
abstinence as an advertisement of their assumed piety.[541] That they
might appear haggard and faint, this class of hypocrites disfigured
their faces, went with unkempt hair, gazed about with sad countenances.
Of these also the Lord said, "Verily I say unto you, They have their
reward." Believers were admonished to fast secretly, with no outward
display, and to fast unto God, who could see in secret and would heed
their sacrifice and prayer.


The transitory character of worldly wealth was next contrasted with the
enduring riches of eternity. Many there were and many there are whose
principal effort in life has been that of amassing treasures of earth,
the mere possession of which entails responsibility, care, and
disturbing anxiety. Some kinds of wealth are endangered by the ravages
of moths, such as silks and velvets, satins and furs; some are destroyed
by corrosion and rust--silver and copper and steel; while these and
others are not infrequently made the booty of thieves. Infinitely more
precious are the treasures of a life well spent, the wealth of good
deeds, the account of which is kept in heaven, where the riches of
righteous achievement are safe from moth, rust, and robbers. Then
followed the trenchant lesson: _"For where your treasure is, there will
your heart be also."_

Spiritual light is shown to be greater than any product of physical
illuminants. What does the brightest light avail the man who is blind?
It is the bodily eye that discerns the light of the candle, the lamp, or
the sun; and the spiritual eye sees by spiritual light; if then man's
spiritual eye be single, that is, pure and undimmed by sin, he is filled
with the light that shall show him the way to God; whereas if his soul's
eye be evil, he will be as one full of darkness. Solemn caution is
expressed in the summary, "If therefore the light that is in thee be
darkness, how great is that darkness!" Those whom the Master was
addressing had received of the light of God; the degree of belief they
had already professed was proof of that. Should they turn from the great
emprise on which they had embarked, the light would be lost, and the
succeeding darkness would be denser than that from which they had been
relieved.[543] There was to be no indecision among the disciples. No one
of them could serve two masters; if he professed so to do he would be an
untrue servant to the one or the other. Then followed another profound
generalization: _"Ye cannot serve God and mammon."_[544]

They were told to trust the Father for what they needed, taking no
thought of food, drink, clothing, or even of life itself, for all these
were to be supplied by means above their power to control. With the
wisdom of a Teacher of teachers, the Master appealed to their hearts and
their understanding by citing the lessons of nature, in language of such
simple yet forceful eloquence that to amplify or condense it is but to

"Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they
reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are
ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one
cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider
the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they
spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not
arrayed like one of these."

The weakness of faith was reproved in the reminder that the Father who
cared even for the grass of the field, which one day flourishes and on
the next is gathered up to be burned, would not fail to remember His
own. Therefore the Master added: _"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and
his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."_


Men are prone to judge their fellows and to praise or censure without
due consideration of fact or circumstance. On prejudiced or unsupported
judgment the Master set His disapproval. "Judge not, that ye be not
judged," He admonished, for, according to one's own standard of judging
others, shall he himself be judged. The man who is always ready to
correct his brother's faults, to remove the mote from his neighbor's eye
so that that neighbor may see things as the interested and interfering
friend would have him see, was denounced as a hypocrite. What was the
speck in his neighbor's vision to the obscuring beam in his own eye?
Have the centuries between the days of Christ and our own time made us
less eager to cure the defective vision of those who cannot or will not
assume our point of view, and see things as we see them?

These disciples, some of whom were soon to minister in the authority of
the Holy Apostleship, were cautioned against the indiscreet and
indiscriminate scattering of the sacred truths and precepts committed to
them. Their duty would be to discern the spirits of those whom they
essayed to teach, and to impart unto them in wisdom. The words of the
Master were strong: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither
cast ye your pearls before, swine, lest they trample them under their
feet, and turn again and rend you."[546]


That their supplications would be heard and answered followed as a rich
promise. They were to ask and they would receive; they were to knock and
the door would be opened. Surely the Heavenly Father would not be less
considerate than a human parent; and what father would answer his son's
plea for bread by giving him a stone, or who would give a serpent when a
fish was desired? With greater certainty would God bestow good gifts
upon those who asked according to their need, in faith. "_Therefore all
things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them: for this is the law and the prophets."_

The straight and narrow way by which man may walk in Godliness was
compared with the broad highway leading to destruction. False prophets
were to be shunned, such as were then among the people, comparable in
their pretense to sheep, and in their reality to ravening wolves. These
were to be recognized by their works and the results thereof, even as a
tree to be judged as good or bad according to its fruit. A thorn bush
does not produce grapes, nor can thistles bear figs. Conversely, it is
as truly impossible for a good tree to produce evil fruit as for a
useless and corrupt tree to bring forth good fruit.

Religion is more than the confession and profession of the lips. Jesus
averred that in the day of judgment many would pretend allegiance to
Him, saying: "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy
name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye
that work iniquity." Only by doing the will of the Father is the saving
grace of the Son obtainable. To assume to speak and act in the name of
the Lord without the bestowal of authority, such as the Lord alone can
give, is to add sacrilege to hypocrisy. Even miracles wrought will be no
vindication of the claims of those who pretend to minister in the
ordinances of the gospel while devoid of the authority of the Holy


The Sermon on the Mount has stood through all the years since its
delivery without another to be compared with it. No mortal man has ever
since preached a discourse of its kind. The spirit of the address is
throughout that of sincerity and action, as opposed to empty profession
and neglect. In the closing sentences the Lord showed the uselessness of
hearing alone, as contrasted with the efficacy of doing. The man who
hears and acts is likened unto the wise builder who set the foundation
of his house upon a rock; and in spite of rain and hurricane and flood,
the house stood. He that hears and obeys not is likened unto the foolish
man who built his house upon the sand; and when rain fell, or winds
blew, or floods came, behold it fell, and great was the fall thereof.

Such doctrines as these astonished the people. For His distinctive
teachings the Preacher had cited no authority but His own. His address
was free from any array of rabbinical precedents; the law was superseded
by the gospel: _"For he taught them as one having authority, and not as
the scribes!"_


1. Time and Place of the Sermon on the Mount.--Matthew gives the address
early mention, placing it even before the record of his own call from
the seat of custom--which call certainly preceded the ordination of the
Twelve as a body--and before his account of many sayings and doings of
the Lord already considered in these pages. Luke's partial summary of
the sermon follows his record of the ordination of the apostles. Matthew
tells us that Jesus had gone up the mountain and that He sat while
speaking; Luke's account suggests the inference that Jesus and the
Twelve first descended from the mountain heights to a plain, where they
were met by the multitude, and that Jesus preached unto them, standing.
Critics who rejoice in trifles, often to the neglect of weightier
matters, have tried to make much of these seeming variations. Is it not
probable that Jesus spoke at length on the mountain-side to the
disciples then present, and from whom He had chosen the Twelve, and that
after finishing His discourse to them He descended with them to the
plain where a multitude had assembled, and that to these He repeated
parts of what He had before spoken? The relative fulness of Matthew's
report may be due to the fact that he, as one of the Twelve, was present
at the first and more extended delivery.

2. Pleasure Versus Happiness.--"The present is an age of
pleasure-seeking, and men are losing their sanity in the mad rush for
sensations that do but excite and disappoint. In this day of
counterfeits, adulterations, and base imitations, the devil is busier
than he has ever been in the course of human history, in the manufacture
of pleasures, both old and new; and these he offers for sale in most
attractive fashion, falsely labeled, _Happiness_. In this
soul-destroying craft he is without a peer; he has had centuries of
experience and practise, and by his skill he controls the market. He has
learned the tricks of the trade, and knows well how to catch the eye and
arouse the desire of his customers. He puts up the stuff in
bright-colored packages, tied with tinsel string and tassel; and crowds
flock to his bargain counters, hustling and crushing one another in
their frenzy to buy.

"Follow one of the purchasers as he goes off gloatingly with his gaudy
packet, and watch him as he opens it. What finds he inside the gilded
wrapping? He has expected fragrant happiness, but uncovers only an
inferior brand of pleasure, the stench of which is nauseating.

"Happiness includes all that is really desirable and of true worth in
pleasure, and much beside. Happiness is genuine gold, pleasure but
gilded brass, which corrodes in the hand, and is soon converted into
poisonous verdigris. Happiness is as the genuine diamond, which, rough
or polished, shines with its own inimitable luster; pleasure is as the
paste imitation that glows only when artificially embellished. Happiness
is as the ruby, red as the heart's blood, hard and enduring; pleasure,
as stained glass, soft, brittle, and of but transitory beauty.

"Happiness is true food, wholesome, nutritious and sweet; it builds up
the body and generates energy for action, physical, mental and
spiritual; pleasure is but a deceiving stimulant which, like spirituous
drink, makes one think he is strong when in reality enfeebled; makes him
fancy he is well when in fact stricken with deadly malady.

"Happiness leaves no bad after-taste, it is followed by no depressing
reaction; it calls for no repentance, brings no regret, entails no
remorse; pleasure too often makes necessary repentance, contrition, and
suffering; and, if indulged to the extreme, it brings degradation and

"True happiness is lived over and over again in memory, always with a
renewal of the original good; a moment of unholy pleasure may leave a
barbed sting, which, like a thorn in the flesh, is an ever-present
source of anguish.

"Happiness is not akin with levity, nor is it one with light-minded
mirth. It springs from the deeper fountains of the soul, and is not
infrequently accompanied by tears. Have you never been so happy that you
have had to weep? I have." From an article by the author, _Improvement
Era_, vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 172, 173.

3. Salt of the Earth.--Dummelow's _Commentary_, on Matt. 5:13, states:
"Salt in Palestine, being gathered in an impure state, often undergoes
chemical changes by which its flavor is destroyed while its appearance
remains." Perhaps a reasonable interpretation of the expression, "if the
salt have lost his savor," may be suggested by the fact that salt mixed
with insoluble impurities may be dissolved out by moisture, leaving the
insoluble residue but slightly salty. The lesson of the Lord's
illustration is that spoiled salt is of no use as a preservative. The
corresponding passage in the sermon delivered by Jesus to the Nephites
after His resurrection reads: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give
unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its
savor, wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be
thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden
under foot of men." (3 Nephi 12:13.)

4. Reference to Publicans.--Observe that Matthew, who had been a
publican, frankly records this reference (5:46, 47) to his despized
class. Luke writes "sinners" instead of "publicans" (6:32-34). Of
course, if the accounts of the two writers refer to separate addresses
(see Note 1, above), both may be accurate. But we find Matthew's
designation of himself as a publican in his list of the apostles (10:3)
and the considerate omission of the unenviable title by the other
evangelists (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15).

5. Relative Perfection.--Our Lord's admonition to men to become perfect,
even as the Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48) cannot rationally be
construed otherwise than as implying the possibility of such
achievement. Plainly, however, man cannot become perfect in mortality in
the sense in which God is perfect as a supremely glorified Being. It is
possible, though, for man to be perfect in his sphere in a sense
analogous to that in which superior intelligences are perfect in their
several spheres; yet the relative perfection of the lower is infinitely
inferior to that of the higher. A college student in his freshman or
sophomore year may be perfect as freshman or sophomore; his record may
possibly be a hundred per cent on the scale of efficiency and
achievement; yet the honors of the upper classman are beyond him, and
the attainment of graduation is to him remote, but of assured
possibility, if he do but continue faithful and devoted to the end.


[515] Matt. chaps. 5, 6, 7; Luke 6:20-49. See also the version of the
Sermon as delivered by Jesus Christ after His resurrection, to the
Nephites on the western continent; B. of M., 3 Nephi, chaps. 12, 13, 14.
See also chapter 39 herein.

[516] Note 1, end of chapter.

[517] Matt. 4:23-25; read these verses in connection with 5:1; see also
Luke 6:17-19.

[518] Note 1, end of chapter.

[519] Matt. 5:3-12; compare Luke 6:20-26; and B. of M., 3 Nephi 12:1-12.

[520] Matt. 5:11,12; compare Luke 6:26; B. of M., 3 Nephi 12:11,12.

[521] Note 2, end of chapter.

[522] Doc. and Cov. 93:33.

[523] Matt. 5:13-20; compare Luke 14:34-35; B. of M., 3 Nephi 12:13-20.

[524] Lev. 2:13; compare Ezra 6:9; Ezek. 43:24.

[525] Note the expression "covenant of salt," indicating the covenant
between Jehovah and Israel, Lev. 2:13; Numb. 18:19; compare 2 Chron.

[526] Note 3, end of chapter.

[527] Matt. 5:21-48; Luke 6:27-36; compare B. of M., 3 Nephi 12:21-48.

[528] Exo. 21:23-25; Lev. 24:17-22; Deut. 19:21.

[529] Compare Lev. 19:18; Deut. 23:6; and Psa. 41:10.

[530] Compare the lesson taught in the Parable of the Tares, Matt.

[531] Note 4, end of chapter; see also pages 193 and 201.

[532] Note 5, end of chapter.

[533] Matt. 6:1-18; compare Luke 11:2-4; B. of M., 3 Nephi 13:1-18.

[534] Consider the incident of the gifts of the rich and the widow's
mite, Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4.

[535] Page 18.

[536] Exo. 16:16-21.

[537] Note the lesson of the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Matt.

[538] Compare Matt. 7:6.

[539] P. of G.P., Abraham 3:25; see pages 14, 15, herein.

[540] Acts 17:28.

[541] Compare the instance connected with the parable of the Pharisee
and the Publican, Luke 18:10-14.

[542] Matt. 6:19-34; compare Luke 12:24-34; 16:13; 18:22; B. of M., 3
Nephi 13:19-34.

[543] Luke 11:34-36.

[544] Compare Gal. 1:10; 1 Tim. 6:17; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15.

[545] Matt. 7:1-5; Luke 6:37, 38, 41, 42; compare B, of M., 3 Nephi

[546] Matt. 7:6; compare B. of M., 3 Nephi 14:6.

[547] Matt. 7:7-23; Luke 6:43-44, 46; 11:9-13; 13:24-30; compare B. of
M., 3 Nephi 14:7-23.

[548] "Articles of Faith," x:1-20; and xii:1-30.

[549] Matt. 7:24-29; Luke 6:46-49; compare B. of M., 3 Nephi 14:24-27.



Matthew's account of the invaluable address, known to us as the Sermon
on the Mount, is closed with a forceful sentence of his own, referring
to the effect of the Master's words upon the people: "For he taught them
as one having authority, and not as the scribes."[550] A striking
characteristic of Christ's ministry was the entire absence of any claim
of human authority for His words or deeds; the commission He professed
to have was that of the Father who sent Him. His addresses, whether
delivered to multitudes or spoken in relative privacy to few, were free
from the labored citations in which the teachers of the day delighted.
His authoritative "I say unto you" took the place of invocation of
authority and exceeded any possible array of precedent commandment or
deduction. In this His words differed essentially from the erudite
utterances of scribes, Pharisees and rabbis. Throughout His ministry,
inherent power and authority were manifest over matter and the forces of
nature, over men and demons, over life and death. It now becomes our
purpose to consider a number of instances in which the Lord's power was
demonstrated in divers mighty works.


From the Mount of Beatitudes Jesus returned to Capernaum, whether
directly or by a longer way marked by other works of power and mercy is
of little importance. There was at that time a Roman garrison in the
city. A military officer, a centurion or captain of a hundred men, was
stationed there. Attached to the household of this officer was an
esteemed servant, who was ill, "and ready to die." The centurion had
faith that Christ could heal his servant, and invoked the intercession
of the Jewish elders to beg of the Master the boon desired. These elders
implored Jesus most earnestly, and urged the worthiness of the man, who,
though a Gentile, loved the people of Israel and out of his munificence
had built for them a synagog in the town. Jesus went with the elders,
but the centurion, probably learning of the approach of the little
company, hastily sent other envoys to say that he did not consider
himself worthy to have Jesus enter his home, from which sense of
unworthiness he had not ventured to make his request in person.[552]
"But," ran the message of supplication, "say in a word, and my servant
shall be healed." We may well contrast this man's conception of Christ's
power with that of the nobleman of the same town, who had requested
Jesus to hasten in person to the side of his dying son.[553]

The centurion seems to have reasoned in this way: He himself was a man
of authority, though under the direction of superior officers. To his
subordinates he gave orders which were obeyed. He did not find it
necessary to personally attend to the carrying out of his instructions.
Surely One who had such power as Jesus possessed could command and be
obeyed. Moreover, the man may have heard of the marvelous restoration of
the nobleman's dying son, in accomplishing which the Lord spoke the
effective word when miles away from the sufferer's bed. That the
centurion's trust and confidence, his belief and faith, were genuine, is
not to be doubted, since Jesus expressly commended the same. The
afflicted one was healed. Jesus is said to have marveled[554] at the
centurion's manifestation of faith, and, turning to the people who
followed, He thus spake: "I say unto you, I have not found so great
faith, no, not in Israel." This remark may have caused some of the
listeners to wonder; the Jews were unaccustomed to hear the faith of a
Gentile so extolled, for, according to the traditionalism of the day, a
Gentile, even though an earnest proselyte to Judaism, was accounted
essentially inferior to even the least worthy of the chosen people. Our
Lord's comment plainly indicated that Gentiles would be preferred in the
kingdom of God if they excelled in worthiness. Turning to Matthew's
record we find this additional teaching, introduced as usual with "I say
unto you"--"That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit
down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But
the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."[555] This lesson, that the
supremacy of Israel can be attained only through excellence in
righteousness, is reiterated and enlarged upon in the Lord's teachings,
as we shall see.


On the day after that of the miracle last considered, Jesus went to the
little town of Nain, and, as usual, many people accompanied Him. This
day witnessed what in human estimation was a wonder greater than any
before wrought by Him. He had already healed many, sometimes by a word
spoken to afflicted ones present, and again when He was far from the
subject of His beneficent power; bodily diseases had been overcome, and
demons had been rebuked at His command; but, though the sick who were
nigh unto death had been saved from the grave, we have no earlier record
of our Lord having commanded dread death itself to give back one it had
claimed.[557] As Jesus and His followers approached the town, they met a
funeral cortege of many people; the only son of a widow was being borne
to the tomb; the body was carried according to the custom of the day on
an open bier. Our Lord looked with compassion upon the sorrowing mother,
now bereft of both husband and son; and, feeling in Himself[558] the
pain of her grief, He said in gentle tone, "Weep not." He touched the
stretcher upon which the dead man lay, and the bearers stood still. Then
addressing the corpse He said: "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." And
the dead heard the voice of Him who is Lord of all,[559] and immediately
sat up and spoke. Graciously Jesus delivered the young man to his
mother. We read without wonder that there came a fear on all who were
present, and that they glorified God, testifying that a great prophet
was amongst them and that God has visited His people. Reports of this
miracle were carried throughout the land, and even reached the ears of
John the Baptist, who was confined in the prison of Herod. The effect of
the information conveyed to John concerning this and other mighty works
of Christ, now claims our attention.


Even before Jesus had returned to Galilee after His baptism and the
forty days of solitude in the wilderness, John the Baptist had been
imprisoned by order of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and
Perea.[560] During the subsequent months of our Lord's activities, in
preaching the gospel, teaching the true significance of the kingdom,
reproving sin, healing the afflicted, rebuking evil spirits and even
raising the dead to life, His forerunner, the God-fearing, valiant John,
had lain a prisoner in the dungeons of Machærus, one of the strongest of
Herod's citadels.[561]

The tetrarch had some regard for John, having found him to be a holy
man; and many things had Herod done on the direct advice of the Baptist
or because of the influence of the latter's general teaching. Indeed,
Herod had listened to John gladly, and had imprisoned him through a
reluctant yielding to the importunities of Herodias, whom Herod claimed
as a wife under cover of an illegal marriage. Herodias had been and
legally was still the wife of Herod's brother Philip, from whom she had
never been lawfully divorced; and her pretended marriage to Herod
Antipas was both adulterous and incestuous under Jewish law. The Baptist
had fearlessly denounced this sinful association; to Herod he had said:
"It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife." Though Herod
might possibly have ignored this stern rebuke, or at least might have
allowed it to pass without punishment, Herodias would not condone. It
was she, not the tetrarch, who most hated John; she "had a quarrel
against him," and succeeded in inducing Herod to have the Baptist seized
and incarcerated as a step toward the consummation of her vengeful plan
of having him put to death.[562] Moreover, Herod feared an uprising of
the people in the event of John being slain by his order.[563]

In the course of his long imprisonment John had heard much of the
marvelous preaching and works of Christ; these things must have been
reported to him by some of his disciples and friends who were allowed to
visit him.[564] Particularly was he informed of the miraculous raising
of the young man at Nain;[565] and forthwith he commissioned two of his
disciples to bear a message of inquiry to Jesus.[566] These came to
Christ and reported the purpose of their visit thus: "John Baptist hath
sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for
another?" The messengers found Jesus engaged in beneficent
ministrations; and, instead of giving an immediate reply in words, He
continued His labor, relieving in that same hour many who were afflicted
by blindness or infirmities, or who were troubled by evil spirits. Then,
turning to the two who had communicated the Baptist's question, Jesus
said: "Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard;
how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf
hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And
blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."

The words of John's inquiring disciples were answered by wondrous deeds
of beneficence and mercy. When the reply was reported to John, the
imprisoned prophet could scarcely have failed to remember the
predictions of Isaiah, that by those very tokens of miracle and blessing
should the Messiah be known;[567] and the reproof must have been
convincing and convicting as he called to mind his own citations of
Isaiah's prophecies, when he had proclaimed in fiery, withering
eloquence the fulfilment of those earlier predictions in his own mission
and in that of the Mightier One to whom he had borne personal

The concluding sentence of our Lord's answer to John was the climax of
what had preceded, and a further though yet gentle rebuke of the
Baptist's defective comprehension of the Messiah's mission. "Blessed is
he, whosoever shall not be offended in me," said the Lord.
Misunderstanding is the prelude to offense. Gaged by the standard of the
then current conception of what the Messiah would be, the work of Christ
must have appeared to many as failure; and those who were looking for
some sudden manifestation of His power in the conquest of Israel's
oppressors and the rehabilitation of the house of David in worldly
splendor, grew impatient, then doubtful; afterward they took offense and
were in danger of turning in open rebellion against their Lord. Christ
has been an offender to many because they, being out of harmony with His
words and works, have of themselves taken offense.[569]

John's situation must be righteously considered by all who assume to
render judgment as to his purpose in sending to inquire of Christ, "Art
thou he that should come?" John thoroughly understood that his own work
was that of preparation; he had so testified and had openly borne
witness that Jesus was the One for whom he had been sent to prepare.
With the inauguration of Christ's ministry, John's influence had waned,
and for many months he had been shut up in a cell, chafing under his
enforced inactivity, doubtless yearning for the freedom of the open, and
for the locusts and wild honey of the desert. Jesus was increasing while
he decreased in popularity, influence, and opportunity; and he had
affirmed that such condition was inevitable.[570]

But, left in prison, he may have become despondent, and may have
permitted himself to wonder whether that Mightier One had forgotten him.
He knew that were Jesus to speak the word of command the prison of
Machærus could no longer hold him; nevertheless Jesus seemed to have
abandoned him to his fate, which comprized not only confinement but
other indignities, and physical torture.[571] It may have been a part of
John's purpose to call Christ's attention to his pitiable plight; and in
this respect his message was rather a reminder than a plain inquiry
based on actual doubt. Indeed, we have good grounds for inference that
John's purpose in sending disciples to inquire of Christ was partly, and
perhaps largely, designed to confirm in these disciples an abiding faith
in the Christ. The commission with which they were charged brought them
into direct communication with the Lord, whose supremacy they could not
well fail to comprehend. They were personal witnesses of His power and

Our Lord's commentary on John's message indicated that the Baptist had
no full understanding of what the spiritual kingdom of God comprized.
After the envoys had departed, Jesus addressed Himself to the people who
had witnessed the interview. He would not have them underrate the
importance of the Baptist's service.[572] He reminded them of the time
of John's popularity, when some of those then present, and multitudes of
others, had gone into the wilderness to hear the prophet's stern
admonition; and they had found him to be no reed, shaken by the wind,
but a firm and unbending oak. They had not gone to see a man in
fashionable attire; those who wore soft raiment were to be looked for in
the court of the king, not in the wilderness, nor in the dungeon where
John now lay. They had found in John a prophet indeed, yea, more than a
prophet; "For," affirmed the Lord, "I say unto you, Among those that are
born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but
he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."[573] What
stronger testimony of the Baptist's integrity is needed? Other prophets
had told of the Messiah's coming, but John had seen Him, had baptized
Him, and had been to Jesus as a body servant to his master. Nevertheless
from the day of John's preaching to the time at which Christ then spoke,
the kingdom of heaven had been rejected with violence, and this even
though all the prophets and even the fundamental law had told of its
coming, and though both John and Christ had been abundantly predicted.

Concerning John, the Lord continued: "And if ye will receive it, this is
Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him
hear."[574] It is important to know that the designation, Elias, here
applied by Jesus to the Baptist, is a title rather than a personal name,
and that it has no reference to Elijah, the ancient prophet called the
Tishbite.[575] Many of those who heard the Lord's eulogy on the Baptist
rejoiced, for they had accepted John, and had turned from him to Jesus
as from the lesser to the Greater; as from the priest to the great High
Priest, as from the herald to the King. But Pharisees and lawyers were
present, those of the class that John had so vehemently denounced as of
a generation of vipers, and those who had rejected the counsel of God in
refusing to heed the Baptist's call to repentance.[576]

At this point the Master resorted to analogy to make His meaning
clearer. He compared the unbelieving and dissatisfied generation to
fickle children at play, disagreeing among themselves. Some wanted to
enact the pageantry of a mock wedding, and though they piped the rest
would not dance; then they changed to a funeral procession and essayed
the part of mourners, but the others would not weep as the rules of the
game required. Ever critical, ever skeptical, by nature fault-finders
and defamers, hard of hearing and of heart, they grumbled. John the
Baptist had come amongst them like the eremitic prophets of old, as
strict as any Nazarite, refusing to eat with the merry-makers or drink
with the convivial, and they had said "He hath a devil." Now came the
Son of Man,[577] without austerity or hermit ways, eating and drinking
as a normal man would do, a guest at the houses of the people, a
participant in the festivities of a marriage party, mingling alike with
the publicans and the Pharisees--and they complained again, saying:
"Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and
sinners!" The Master explained that such inconsistency, such wicked
trifling with matters most sacred, such determined opposition to truth,
would surely be revealed in their true light, and the worthlessness of
boasted learning would appear. "But," said He, "wisdom is justified of
all her children."

From reproof for unbelieving individuals He turned to unappreciative
communities, and upbraided the cities in which He had wrought so many
mighty works, and wherein the people repented not: "Woe unto thee,
Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were
done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented
long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more
tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And
thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to
hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been
done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto
you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of
judgment, than for thee."[578]

Seemingly faint at heart over the unbelief of the people, Jesus sought
strength in prayer.[579] With the eloquence of soul for which one looks
in vain save in the anguish-laden communion of Christ with His Father,
He voiced His reverent gratitude that God had imparted a testimony of
the truth to the humble and simple rather than to the learned and great;
though misunderstood by men He was known for what He really was by the
Father. Turning again to the people, He urged anew their acceptance of
Him and His gospel, and His invitation is one of the grandest
outpourings of spiritual emotion known to man: "Come unto me, all ye
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye
shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is
light."[580] He invited them from drudgery to pleasant service; from the
well-nigh unbearable burdens of ecclesiastical exactions and traditional
formalism, to the liberty of truly spiritual worship; from slavery to
freedom; but they would not. The gospel He offered them was the
embodiment of liberty, but not of license; it entailed obedience and
submission; but even if such could be likened unto a yoke, what was its
burden in comparison with the incubus under which they groaned?


Reverting to John Baptist in his dungeon solitude, we are left without
information as to how he received and understood the reply to his
inquiry, as brought by his messengers. His captivity was destined soon
to end, though not by restoration to liberty on earth. The hatred of
Herodias increased against him. An opportunity for carrying into effect
her fiendish plots against his life soon appeared.[581] The king
celebrated his birthday by a great feast, to which his lords, high
captains, and the principal officials of Galilee were bidden. To grace
the occasion, Salome, daughter of Herodias though not of Herod, came in
and danced before the company. So enchanted were Herod and his guests
that the king bade the damsel ask whatever she would, and he swore he
would give it unto her, even though the gift were half of his kingdom.

She retired to consult her mother as to what she should ask, and, being
instructed, returned with the appalling demand: "I will that thou give
me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist." The king was
astounded; his amazement was followed by sorrow and regret;
nevertheless, he dreaded the humiliation that would follow a violation
of the oath he had sworn in the presence of his court; so, summoning an
executioner, he immediately gave the fatal order; and John was forthwith
beheaded in the dungeon. The headsman returned, carrying a dish in which
lay the ghastly trophy of the corrupt queen's vengeance. The bloody gift
was delivered to Salome, who carried it with inhuman triumph to her
mother. Some of John's disciples came, secured the corpse, laid it in a
tomb; and bore the tidings of his death to Jesus. Herod was sorely
troubled over the murder he had ordered; and when, later, the marvels
wrought by Jesus were reported to him, he was afraid, and said: "That
John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do
shew forth themselves in him." To those who dissented, the terrified
king replied: "It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the

So ended the life of the prophet-priest, the direct precursor of the
Christ; thus was stilled the mortal voice of him who had cried so
mightily in the wilderness: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." After many
centuries his voice has been heard again, as the voice of one redeemed
and resurrected; and the touch of his hand has again been felt, in this
the dispensation of restoration and fulness. In May, 1829, a resurrected
personage appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, announced himself
as John, known of old as the Baptist, laid his hands upon the two young
men, and conferred upon them the priesthood of Aaron, which comprizes
authority to preach and minister the gospel of repentance and of baptism
by immersion for the remission of sins.[583]


"And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he
went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat."[584]

From the place of this incident in Luke's narration of events, it
appears that it may have occurred on the day of the visit of John's
messengers. Jesus accepted the Pharisee's invitation, as He had accepted
the invitations of others, including even publicans, and those called by
the rabbis, sinners. His reception at Simon's house appears to have been
somewhat lacking in warmth, hospitality and honorable attendance. The
narrative suggests an attitude of condescension on the part of the host.
It was the custom of the times to treat a distinguished guest with
marked attention; to receive him with a kiss of welcome, to provide
water for washing the dust from his feet, and oil for anointing the hair
of the head and the beard. All these courteous attentions were omitted
by Simon. Jesus took His place, probably on one of the divans or couches
on which it was usual to partly sit, partly recline, while eating.[585]
Such an attitude would place the feet of the person outward from the
table. In addition to these facts relating to the usages of the time it
should be further remembered that dwellings were not protected against
intrusion by such amenities of privacy as now prevail. It was not
unusual at that time in Palestine for visitors and even strangers,
usually men however, to enter a house at meal time, observe the
procedure and even speak to the guests, all without bidding or

Among those who entered Simon's house while the meal was in progress,
was a woman; and the presence of a woman, though somewhat unusual, was
not strictly a social impropriety and could not well be forbidden on
such an occasion. But this woman was one of the fallen class, a woman
who had been unvirtuous, and who had to bear, as part of the penalty for
her sins, outward scorn and practical ostracism from those who professed
to be morally superior. She approached Jesus from behind, and bent low
to kiss His feet as a mark of humility on her part and of respectful
homage to Him. She may have been one of those who had heard His gracious
words, spoken possibly that day: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Whatever her motive in
coming, she had certainly come in a repentant and deeply contrite state.
As she leaned over the feet of Jesus her tears rained upon them.
Seemingly oblivious of her surroundings and of disapproving eyes
watching her movements, she shook out her tresses and wiped the Lord's
feet with her hair. Then, opening an alabaster box of ointment, she
anointed them, as a slave might do to his master. Jesus graciously
permitted the woman to proceed unrebuked and uninterrupted in her humble
service inspired by contrition and reverent love.

Simon had observed the whole proceeding; by some means he had knowledge
as to the class to which this woman belonged; and though not aloud,
within himself he said: "This man, if he were a prophet, would have
known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is
a sinner." Jesus read the man's thoughts, and thus spake: "Simon, I have
somewhat to say unto thee," to which the Pharisee replied, "Master, say
on." Jesus continued, "There was a certain creditor which had two
debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when
they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me
therefore, which of them will love him most?" But one answer could be
given with reason, and that Simon gave, though apparently with some
hesitation or reserve. He possibly feared that he might involve himself.
"I suppose" he ventured, "that he, to whom he forgave most." Jesus said,
"Thou hast rightly judged," and proceeded: "Seest thou this woman? I
entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she
hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her
head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in
hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint:
but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment."

The Pharisee could not fail to note so direct a reminder of his having
omitted the ordinary rites of respect to a specially invited guest. The
lesson of the story had found its application in him, even as Nathan's
parable had drawn from David the king a self-convicting answer.[586]
"Wherefore," Jesus continued, "I say unto thee, her sins, which are
many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven,
the same loveth little." Then to the woman He spake the words of blessed
relief: "Thy sins are forgiven." Simon and the others at table murmured
within themselves, "Who is this that forgiveth sins also?" Understanding
their unspoken protest, Christ addressed the woman again, saying, "Thy
faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

The latter part of the narrative brings to mind another occasion on
which Christ granted remission of sins, and because of opposition in the
minds of some hearers, opposition none the less real because unvoiced,
had supplemented His authoritative utterance by another

The name of the woman who thus came to Christ, and whose repentance was
so sincere as to bring to her grateful and contrite soul the assurance
of remission, is not recorded. There is no evidence that she figures in
any other incident recorded in scripture. By certain writers she has
been represented as the Mary of Bethany who, shortly before Christ's
betrayal, anointed the head of Jesus with spikenard;[588] but the
assumption of identity is wholly unfounded,[589] and constitutes an
unjustifiable reflection upon the earlier life of Mary, the devoted and
loving sister of Martha and Lazarus. Equally wrong is the attempt made
by others to identify this repentant and forgiven sinner with Mary
Magdalene, no period of whose life was marked by the sin of unchastity
so far as the scriptures aver. The importance of guarding against
mistakes in the identity of these women renders advisable the following
addition to the foregoing treatment.

In the chapter following that in which are recorded the incidents last
considered, Luke[590] states that Jesus went throughout the region,
visiting every city and village, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and
showing the glad tidings thereof. With Him on this tour were the Twelve,
and also "certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and
infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and
Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others,
which ministered unto him of their substance." Further reference is made
to some or all of these honorable women in connection with the death,
burial, and resurrection of our Lord, and of Mary Magdalene particular
mention appears.[591] Mary Magdalene, whose second name is probably
derived from her home town, Magdala, had been healed through the
ministrations of Jesus from both physical and mental maladies, the
latter having been associated with possession by evil spirits. Out of
her we are told Christ had cast seven devils,[592] but even such
grievous affliction affords no warrant for the assertion that the woman
was unvirtuous or unchaste.

Mary Magdalene became one of the closest friends Christ had among women;
her devotion to Him as her Healer and as the One whom she adored as the
Christ, was unswerving; she stood close by the cross while other women
tarried afar off in the time of His mortal agony; she was among the
first at the sepulchre on the resurrection morning, and was the first
mortal to look upon and recognize a resurrected Being--the Lord whom she
had loved with all the fervor of spiritual adoration. To say that this
woman, chosen from among women as deserving of such distinctive honors,
was once a fallen creature, her soul seared by the heat of unhallowed
lust, is to contribute to the perpetuating of an error for which there
is no excuse. Nevertheless the false tradition, arising from early and
unjustifiable assumption, that this noble woman, distinctively a friend
of the Lord, is the same who, admittedly a sinner, washed and anointed
the Savior's feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee and gained the boon
of forgiveness through contrition, has so tenaciously held its place in
the popular mind through the centuries, that the name, Magdalene, has
come to be a generic designation for women who fall from virtue and
afterward repent. We are not considering whether the mercy of Christ
could have been extended to such a sinner as Mary of Magdala is wrongly
reputed to have been; man cannot measure the bounds nor fathom the
depths of divine forgiveness; and if it were so that this Mary and the
repentant sinner who ministered to Jesus as He sat at the Pharisee's
table were one and the same, the question would stand affirmatively
answered, for that woman who had been a sinner was forgiven. We are
dealing with the scriptural record as a history, and nothing said
therein warrants the really repellent though common imputation of
unchastity to the devoted soul of Mary Magdalene.


At the time of our Lord's earthly ministry, the curing of the blind,
deaf, or dumb was regarded as among the greatest possible achievements
of medical science or spiritual treatment; and the subjection or casting
out of demons was ranked among the attainments impossible to rabbinical
exorcism. Demonstrations of the Lord's power to heal and restore, even
in cases universally considered as incurable, had the effect of
intensifying the hostility of the sacerdotal classes; and they,
represented by the Pharisaic party, evolved the wholly inconsistent and
ridiculous suggestion that miracles were wrought by Jesus through the
power of the prince of devils, with whom He was in league.[594]

While the Lord was making His second missionary tour through Galilee,
going about through "all the cities and villages, teaching in their
synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every
sickness and every disease among the people,"[595] the absurd theory
that Christ was Himself a victim of demoniacal possession, and that He
operated by the power of the devil, was urged and enlarged upon until it
became the generally accepted explanation among the Pharisees and their
kind. Jesus had withdrawn Himself for a time from the more populous
centers, where He was constantly watched by emissaries, whom the ruling
classes had sent from Jerusalem into Galilee; for the Pharisees were in
conspiracy against Him, seeking excuse and opportunity to take His life;
but even in the smaller towns and rural districts He was followed and
beset by great multitudes, to whom He ministered for both physical and
spiritual ailments.[596]

He urged the people to refrain from spreading His fame; and this He may
have done for the reason that at that stage of His work an open rupture
with the Jewish hierarchy would have been a serious hindrance; or
possibly He desired to leave the rulers, who were plotting against Him,
time and opportunity to brew their bitter enmity and fill to the brim
the flagons of their determined iniquity. Matthew sees in the Lord's
injunctions against publicity a fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy that the
chosen Messiah would not strive nor cry out on the street to attract
attention, nor would He use His mighty power to crush even a bruised
reed, or to quench even the smoking flax; He would not fail nor be
discouraged, but would victoriously establish just judgment upon the
earth for the Gentiles, as well as, by implication, for Israel.[597] The
figure of the bruised reed and the smoking flax is strikingly expressive
of the tender care with which Christ treated even the weakest
manifestation of faith and genuine desire to learn the truth, whether
exhibited by Jew or Gentile.

Soon after His return from the missionary tour referred to, an excuse
for the Pharisees to assail Him was found in His healing of a man who
was under the influence of a demon, and was both blind and dumb. This
combination of sore afflictions, affecting body, mind, and spirit, was
rebuked, and the sightless, speechless demoniac was relieved of his
three-fold burden.[598] At this triumph over the powers of evil the
people were the more amazed and said: "Is not this the son of David?" in
other words, Can this be any other than the Christ we have been so long
expecting? The popular judgment so voiced maddened the Pharisees, and
they told the almost adoring people: "This fellow doth not cast out
devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils." Jesus took up the
malicious charge and replied thereto, not in anger but in terms of calm
reason and sound logic. He laid the foundation of His defense by stating
the evident truth that a kingdom divided against itself cannot endure
but must surely suffer disruption. If their assumption were in the least
degree founded on truth, Satan through Jesus would be opposing Satan.
Then, referring to the superstitious practises and exorcisms of the
time, by which some such effects as we class today under mind cures were
obtained, He asked: "If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your
children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges." And to
make the demonstration plainer by contrast, He continued: "But if I cast
out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come upon
you." By the acceptance of either proposition, and surely one was true,
for the fact that Jesus did cast out devils was known throughout the
land and was conceded in the very terms of the charge now brought
against Him, the accusing Pharisees stood defeated and condemned.

But the illustration went further. Jesus continued: "Or else how can one
enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first
bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." Christ had
attacked the stronghold of Satan, had driven his evil spirits from the
human tabernacles of which they had unwarrantably taken possession; how
could Christ have done this had He not first subdued the "strong man,"
the master of devils, Satan himself? And yet those ignorant scholars
dared to say in the face of such self-evident refutation of their own
premises, that the powers of Satan were subdued by Satanic agency. There
could be no agreement, no truce nor armistice between the contending
powers of Christ and Satan. Offering a suggestion of self-judgment to
His accusers, that they might severally decide on which side they were
aligned, Jesus added: "He that is not with me is against me; and he that
gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."

Then, the demonstration being complete, and the absurdity of His
opponents' assumption proved, Christ directed their thoughts to the
heinous sin of condemning the power and authority by which Satan was
overcome. He had proved to them on the basis of their own proposition
that He, having subdued Satan, was the embodiment of the Spirit of God,
and that through Him the kingdom of God was brought to them. They
rejected the Spirit of God, and sought to destroy the Christ through
whom that Spirit was made manifest. What blasphemy could be greater?
Speaking as one having authority, with the solemn affirmation "I say
unto you," He continued: "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be
forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be
forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man,
it shall be forgiven him: but whosover speaketh against the Holy Ghost,
it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the
world to come."

Who among men can word a more solemn and awful warning against the
danger of committing the dread unpardonable sin?[599] Jesus was merciful
in His assurance that words spoken against Himself as a Man, might be
forgiven; but to speak against the authority He possessed, and
particularly to ascribe that power and authority to Satan, was very near
to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, for which sin there could be no
forgiveness. Then, in stronger terms, which developed into cutting
invective, He told them to be consistent--if they admitted that the
result of His labors was good, as the casting out of devils surely was,
to be likened unto good fruit--why did they not acknowledge that the
power by which such results were attained, in other words that the tree
itself, was good? "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or
else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known
by his fruit." With burning words of certain conviction He continued: "O
generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out
of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." By the truths He had
made so plain it was evident that their accusing words were drawn from
hearts stored with evil treasure. Moreover their words were shown to be
not only malicious but foolish, idle and vain, and therefore doubly
saturated with sin. Another authoritative declaration followed: "But I
say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give
account thereof in the day of judgment."


The Master's lesson, enforced though it was by illustration and analogy,
by direct application, and by authoritative avowal, fell on ears that
were practically deaf to spiritual truth, and found no place in hearts
already stuffed with great stores of evil. To the profound wisdom and
saving instruction of the word of God to which they had listened, they
responded with a flippant request: "Master, we would see a sign from
thee." Had they not already seen signs in profusion? Had not the blind
and the deaf, the dumb and the infirm, the palsied and the dropsical,
and people afflicted with all manner of diseases, been healed in their
houses, on their streets, and in their synagogs; had not devils been
cast out and their foul utterances been silenced by His word; and had
not the dead been raised, and all by Him whom they now importuned for a
sign? They would have some surpassing wonder wrought, to satisfy
curiosity, or perhaps to afford them further excuse for action against
Him--they wanted signs to waste on their lust.[601] Small wonder, that
"he sighed deeply in his spirit" when such demands were made.[602] To
the scribes and Pharisees who had shown such inattention to His words,
He replied: "An evil and adulterous generation[603] seeketh after a
sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the
prophet Jonas."

The sign of Jonas (or Jonah) was that for three days he had been in the
belly of the fish and then had been restored to liberty; so would the
Son of Man be immured in the tomb, after which He would rise again. That
was the only sign He would give them, and by that would they stand
condemned. Against them and their generation would the men of Nineveh
rise in judgment, for they, wicked as they were, had repented at the
preaching of Jonas; and behold a greater than Jonas was among them.[604]
The queen of Sheba would rise in judgment against them, for she had
journeyed far to avail herself of Solomon's wisdom; and behold a greater
than Solomon stood before them.[605]

Then, reverting to the matter of unclean and evil spirits, in connection
with which they had spread the accusation that He was one of the devil's
own, He told them, that when a demon is cast out, he tries after a
season of loneliness to return to the house or body from which he had
been expelled; and, finding that house in order, sweet and clean since
his filthy self had been forced to vacate it, he calls other spirits
more wicked than himself, and they take possession of the man, and make
his state worse than it was at first.[606] In this weird example is
typified the condition of those who have received the truth, and thereby
have been freed from the unclean influences of error and sin, so that in
mind and spirit and body they are as a house swept and garnished and set
in cleanly order, but who afterward renounce the good, open their souls
to the demons of falsehood and deceit, and become more corrupt than
before. "Even so," declared the Lord, "shall it be also unto this wicked

Though the scribes and Pharisees were mostly unconvinced, if at all
really impressed by His teachings, our Lord was not entirely without
appreciative listeners. A woman in the company raised her voice in an
invocation of blessing on the mother who had given birth to such a Son,
and on the breasts that had suckled Him. While not rejecting this
tribute of reverence, which applied to both mother and Son, Jesus
answered: "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and
keep it."[607]


While Jesus was engaged with the scribes and Pharisees, and a great
number of others, possibly at or near the conclusion of the teachings
last considered, word was passed to Him that His mother and His brethren
were present and desired to speak with Him. On account of the press of
people they had been unable to reach His side. Making use of the
circumstance to impress upon all the fact that His work took precedence
over the claims of family and kinship, and thereby explaining that He
could not meet His relatives at that moment, He asked, "Who is my
mother? and who are my brethren?" Answering His own question and
expressing in the answer the deeper thought in His mind, He said,
pointing toward His disciples: "Behold my mother and my brethren! For
whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is
my brother, and sister, and mother."

The incident reminds one of the answer He made to His mother, when she
and Joseph had found Him in the temple after their long and anxious
search: "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about
my Father's business?"[609] In that business He was engaged when His
mother and brethren desired to speak with Him as He sat amidst the
crowd. The superior claims of His Father's work caused Him to let all
minor matters wait. We are not justified in construing these remarks as
evidence of disrespect, far less of filial and family disloyalty.
Devotion, similar in kind at least, was expected by Him of the apostles,
who were called to devote without reserve their time and talents to the
ministry.[610] The purpose on which the relatives of Jesus had come to
see Him is not made known; we may infer, therefore, that it was of no
great importance beyond the family circle.[611]


1. The Two Accounts of the Miracle.--In the commentary on the miraculous
healing of the centurion's servant, as given in the text, we have
followed in the main Luke's more circumstantial account. Matthew's
briefer statement of the officer's petition, and the Lord's gracious
compliance therewith, represents the man as coming in person to Jesus;
while Luke refers to the elders of the local synagog as presenting the
request. There is here no real discrepancy. It was then allowable, as in
our time it is, to speak of one who causes something to be done as doing
that thing himself. One may properly be said to notify another, when he
sends the notification by a third party. A man may say he has built a
house, when in reality others did the work of building though at his
instance. An architect may with propriety be said to have constructed a
building, when as a matter of fact he made the design, and directed
others who actually reared the structure.

2. Jesus Marveled.--Both Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus marveled at
the faith shown by the centurion, who begged that his beloved servant be
healed (Matt. 8:10; Luke 7:9). Some have queried how Christ, whom they
consider to have been omniscient during His life in the flesh, could
have marveled at anything. The meaning of the passage is evident in the
sense that when the fact of the centurion's faith was brought to His
attention, He pondered over it, and contemplated it, probably as a
refreshing contrast to the absence of faith He so generally encountered.
In similar way, though with sorrow in place of joy, He is said to have
marveled at the peoples' unbelief (Mark 6:6).

3. Sequence of the Miracles of Raising the Dead.--As stated and
reiterated in the text the chronology of the events in our Lord's
ministry, as recorded by the Gospel-writers, is uncertain. Literature on
the subject embodies much disputation and demonstrates absence of any
near approach to agreement among Biblical scholars. We have record of
three instances of miraculous restoration of the dead to life at the
word of Jesus--the raising of the son of the widow of Nain, the raising
of the daughter of Jairus, and the raising of Lazarus; and on the
sequence of two of these there is difference of opinion. Of course the
placing of the raising of Lazarus as the latest of the three is based on
certainty. Dr. Richard C. Trench, in his scholarly and very valuable
_Notes on the Miracles of our Lord_ definitely asserts that the raising
of the daughter of Jairus is the first of the three works of restoration
to life. Dr. John Laidlaw, in _The Miracles of our Lord_, treats this
first among the miracles of its class though without affirming its
chronological precedence; many other writers make it the second of the
three. The incentive to arrange the three miracles of this group in the
sequence indicated may, perhaps, be found in the desire to present them
in the increasing order of apparent greatness--the raising of the damsel
being an instance of recalling to life one who had but just died,
("hardly dead" as some wrongly describe her condition), the raising of
the young man of Nain being the restoration of one on the way to the
tomb, and the raising of Lazarus an instance of recalling to life one
who had lain four days in the sepulchre. We cannot consistently conceive
of these cases as offering grades of greater or lesser difficulty to the
power of Christ; in each case His word of authority was sufficient to
reunite the spirit and body of the dead person. Luke, the sole recorder
of the miracle at Nain, places the event before that of the raising of
the daughter of Jairus, with many incidents between. The great
preponderance of evidence is in favor of considering the three miracles
in the order followed herein, (1) the raising of the young man of Nain,
(2) that of the daughter of Jairus, and (3) that of Lazarus.

4. Tetrarch.--This title by derivation of the term and as originally
used was applied to the ruler of a fourth part, or one of four divisions
of a region that had formerly been one country. Later it came to be the
designation of any ruler or governor over a part of a divided country,
irrespective of the number or extent of the fractions. Herod Antipas is
distinctively called the tetrarch in Matt. 14:1; Luke 3:1, 19; 9:7; and
Acts 13:1; and is referred to as king in Matt. 14:9; Mark 6:14, 22, 25,

5. Machærus.--According to the historian Josephus (Antiquities xviii;
5:2), the prison to which John the Baptist was consigned by Herod
Antipas was the strong fortress Machærus.

6. Christ an Offender to Many.--The concluding part of our Lord's
message to the imprisoned Baptist, in answer to the latter's inquiry,
was, "Blessed is he whosoever is not offended in me." In passing it may
be well to observe that whatever of reproof or rebuke these words may
connote, the lesson was given in the gentlest way and in the form most
easy to understand. As Deems has written, "Instead of saying 'Woe to him
who is offended in me,' He puts it in the softer way 'Blessed is he who
is not offended.'" In our English version of the Holy Bible the word
"offend" and its cognates, are used in place of several different
expressions which occur in the original Greek. Thus, actual infractions
of the law, sin, and wickedness in general are all called offenses, and
the perpetrators of such are guilty offenders who deserve punishment. In
other instances even the works of righteousness are construed as causes
of offense to the wicked; but this is so, not because the good works
were in any way offenses against law or right, but because the
law-breaker takes offense thereat. The convicted felon, if unrepentant
and still of evil mind, is offended and angry at the law by which he has
been brought to justice; to him the law is a cause of offense. In a very
significant sense Jesus Christ stands as the greatest offender in
history; for all who reject His gospel, take offense thereat. On the
night of His betrayal Jesus told the apostles that they would be
offended because of Him (Matt. 26:31; see also verse 33). The Lord's
personal ministry gave offense not alone to Pharisees and priestly
opponents, but to many who had professed belief in Him (John 6:61;
compare 16:1). The gospel of Jesus Christ is designated by Peter as "a
stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at
the word, being disobedient" (1 Peter 2:8; compare Paul's words, Romans
9:33). Indeed blessed is he to whom the gospel is welcome, and who finds
therein no cause for offense.

7. The Greatness of the Baptist's Mission.--The exalted nature of the
mission of John the Baptist was thus testified to by Jesus: "Verily I
say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a
greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the
kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt. 11:11; compare Luke 7:28).
In elucidation of the first part of this testimony, the prophet Joseph
Smith said, in the course of a sermon delivered May 24, 1843, (_Hist. of
the Church_, under date named): "It could not have been on account of
the miracles John performed, for he did no miracles; but it was--First,
because he was trusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before
the face of the Lord. Who was trusted with such a mission before or
since? No man. Second, he was trusted and it was required at his hands,
to baptise the Son of Man. Who ever did that? Who ever had so great a
privilege or glory? Who ever led the Son of God into the waters of
baptism, beholding the Holy Ghost descend upon Him in the sign of a
dove? No man. Third, John at that time was the only legal administrator
holding the keys of power there was on earth. The keys, the kingdom, the
power, the glory had departed from the Jews; and John, the son of
Zacharias, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven, held the keys of
power at that time."

The latter part of our Lord's statement--"notwithstanding he that is
least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (John), has given
rise to diverse interpretations and comment. The true meaning may be,
that surpassingly great as was John's distinction among the prophets, he
had not learned, at the time of the incident under consideration, the
full purpose of the Messiah's mission, and such he would surely have to
learn before he became eligible for admission into the kingdom of
heaven; therefore, the least of those who through knowledge gained and
obedience rendered, would be prepared for a place in the kingdom of
which Jesus taught, was greater than was John the Baptist at that time.
Through latter-day inspiration we learn that "it is impossible for a man
to be saved in ignorance" (Doc. and Cov. 131:6), and that "The glory of
God in intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth" (Doc. and Cov.
93:36). The Baptist's inquiry showed that he was then lacking in
knowledge, imperfectly enlightened and unable to comprehend the whole
truth of the Savior's appointed death and subsequent resurrection as the
Redeemer of the world. But we must not lose sight of the fact, that
Jesus in no wise intimated that John would remain less than the least in
the kingdom of heaven. As he increased in knowledge of the vital truths
of the kingdom, and rendered obedience thereto, he would surely advance,
and become great in the kingdom of heaven as he was great among the
prophets of earth.

8. John the Baptist the Elias that was to Come.--In the days of Christ
the people clung to the traditional belief that the ancient prophet
Elijah was to return in person. Concerning this tradition the Dummelow
_Commentary_ says, on Matt. 11:14: "It was supposed that his [Elijah's]
peculiar activity would consist in settling ceremonial and ritual
questions, doubts and difficulties and that he would restore to Israel
(1) the golden pot of manna, (2) the vessel containing the anointing
oil, (3) the vessel containing the waters of purification, (4) Aaron's
rod that budded and bore fruit." For this belief there was no scriptural
affirmation. That John was to go before the Messiah in the spirit and
power of Elias was declared by the angel Gabriel in his announcement to
Zacharias (Luke 1:17); and our Lord made plain the fact that John was
that predicted Elias. "Elias" is both a name and a title of office.
Through revelation in the present dispensation we learn of the separate
individuality of Elias and Elijah, each of whom appeared in person and
committed to modern prophets the particular powers pertaining to his
respective office (Doc. and Cov. 110:12, 13). We learn that the office
of Elias is that of restoration (Doc. and Cov. 27:6, 7; 76:100; 77:9,
14). Under date of March 10, 1844, the following is recorded (_Hist. of
Church_) as the testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith:--

"The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of
God, which is the Priesthood of Elias, or the Priesthood that Aaron was
ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a
greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it was called the
doctrine of Elias, even from the early ages of the world.

"John's mission was limited to preaching and baptizing; but what he did
was legal; and when Jesus Christ came to any of John's disciples, He
baptized them with fire and the Holy Ghost.

"We find the apostles endowed with greater power than John: their office
was more under the spirit and power of Elijah than Elias.

"In the case of Philip, when he went down to Samaria, when he was under
the spirit of Elias, he baptized both men and women. When Peter and John
heard of it, they went down and laid hands upon them, and they received
the Holy Ghost. This shows the distinction between the two powers.

"When Paul came to certain disciples, he asked if they had received the
Holy Ghost? They said, No. Who baptized you, then? We were baptized unto
John's baptism. No, you were not baptized unto John's baptism, or you
would have been baptized by John. And so Paul went and baptized them,
for he knew what the true doctrine was, and he knew that John had not
baptized them. And these principles are strange to me, that men who have
read the Scriptures of the New Testament are so far from it.

"What I want to impress upon your minds is the difference of power in
the different parts of the Priesthood, so that when any man comes among
you, saying, 'I have the spirit of Elias,' you can know whether he be
true or false; for any man that comes having the spirit and power of
Elias, he will not transcend his bounds.

"John did not transcend his bounds, but faithfully performed that part
belonging to his office; and every portion of the great building should
be prepared right and assigned to its proper place; and it is necessary
to know who holds the keys of power, and who does not, or we may be
likely to be deceived.

"That person who holds the keys of Elias hath a preparatory work.

       *       *       *       *       *

"This is the Elias spoken of in the last days, and here is the rock upon
which many split, thinking the time was past in the days of John and
Christ, and no more to be. But the spirit of Elias was revealed to me,
and I know it is true; therefore I speak with boldness, for I know
verily my doctrine is true."

9. At the Pharisee's Table.--The expression "sat at meat," as in Luke
7:37 and in other instances, is stated by good authority to be a
mistranslation; it should be rendered "lay" or "reclined" (see Smith's
_Comp. Dict. of the Bible_, article "Meals"). That sitting was the early
Hebrew posture at meals is not questioned (Gen. 27:19; Judges 19:6; 1
Sam. 16:11; 20:5, 18, 24; 1 Kings 13:20); but the custom of reclining on
couches set around the table seems to date back long before the days of
Jesus (Amos 3:12; 6:4). The Roman usage of arranging the tables and
adjoining couches along three sides of a square, leaving the fourth side
open for the passage of the attendants who served the diners was common
in Palestine. Tables and couches so placed constituted the _triclinium_.
In reference to the ceremonial of the Pharisees in the matter of
prescribed washing of articles used in eating, Mark (7:4) specifies
"tables"; this mention is conceded to be a mistranslation, as couches or
literally beds, are meant by the Greek expression. (See marginal
reading, "beds" in Oxford Bible, and others.) A person reclining at
table would have the feet directed outward. Thus it was a simple matter
for the contrite woman to approach Jesus from behind and anoint His feet
without causing disturbance to others at the table.

10. The Woman's Identity not Specified.--The attempt to identify the
contrite sinner who anointed the feet of Jesus in the house of Simon the
Pharisee with Mary of Bethany is thus strongly condemned by Farrar (p.
228, note): "Those who identify this feast at the house of Simon the
Pharisee, in Galilee, with the long-subsequent feast at the house of
Simon the leper, at Bethany, and the anointing of the feet by 'a woman
that was a sinner' in the city, with the anointing of the head by Mary
the sister of Martha, adopt principles of criticism so reckless and
arbitrary that their general acceptance would rob the Gospels of all
credibility, and make them hardly worth study as truthful narratives. As
for the names Simon and Judas, which have led to so many identifications
of different persons and different incidents, they were at least as
common among the Jews of that day as Smith and Jones among ourselves.
There are five or six Judes and nine Simons mentioned in the New
Testament, and two Judes and two Simons among the Apostles alone;
Josephus speaks of some ten Judes and twenty Simons in his writings, and
there must, therefore, have been thousands of others who at this period
had one of these two names. The incident (of anointing with ointment) is
one quite in accordance with the customs of the time and country, and
there is not the least improbability in its repetition under different
circumstances. (Eccles. 9:8; Cant. 4:10; Amos 6:6.) The custom still

The learned canon is fully justified in his vigorous criticism;
nevertheless he endorses the commonly-accepted identification of the
woman mentioned in connection with the meal in the house of Simon the
Pharisee with Mary Magdalene, although he admits that the foundation of
the assumed identification is "an ancient tradition,--especially
prevalent in the Western Church, and followed by the translation of our
English version" (p. 233). As stated in our text, there is an entire
absence of trustworthy evidence that Mary Magdalene was ever tainted
with the sin for which the repentant woman in the Pharisee's house was
so graciously pardoned by our Lord.

11. The Unpardonable Sin.--The nature of the awful sin against the Holy
Ghost, against which the Lord warned the Pharisaic accusers who sought
to ascribe His divine power to Satan, is more fully explained, and its
dread results are more explicitly set forth in modern revelation.
Concerning them and their dreadful fate, the Almighty has said:--"I say
that it had been better for them never to have been born, for they are
vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and
his angels in eternity; concerning whom I have said there is no
forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come.... They shall go
away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is
eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity,
where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their
torment; and the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their
torment, no man knows, neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will
be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof:
nevertheless I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway
shut it up again; wherefore the end, the width, the height, the depth,
and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except them
who are ordained unto this condemnation." (Doc. and Cov. 76:31-48; see
also Heb. 6:4-6; B. of M., Alma 39:6.)

12. An Adulterous Generation Seeking after Signs.--Our Lord's reply to
those who clamored for a sign, that "An evil and adulterous generation
seeketh after a sign" (Matt. 12:39; see also 16:4; Mark 8:38) could only
be interpreted by the Jews as a supreme reproof. That the descriptive
designation "adulterous" was literally applicable to the widespread
immorality of the time, they all knew. Adam Clarke in his commentary on
Matt. 12:39, says of this phase of our topic: "There is the utmost proof
from their [the Jews'] own writings, that in the time of our Lord, they
were most literally an adulterous race of people; for at this very time
Rabbi Jachanan ben Zacchi abrogated the trial by the bitter waters of
jealousy, because so many were found to be thus criminal." For the
information concerning the trial of the accused by the bitter waters,
see Numb. 5:11-31. Although Jesus designated the generation in which He
lived as adulterous, we find no record that the Jewish rulers, who by
their demand for a sign had given occasion for the accusation, ventured
to deny or attempt to repel the charge. The sin of adultery was included
among capital offenses (Deut. 22:22-25). The severity of the accusation
as applied by Jesus, however, was intensified by the fact that the older
scriptures represented the covenant between Jehovah and Israel as a
marriage bond (Isa. 54:5-7; Jer. 3:14; 31:32; Hos. 2:19, 20); even as
the later scriptures typify the Church as a bride, and Christ as the
husband (2 Cor. 11:2; compare Rev. 21:2). To be spiritually adulterous,
as the rabbis construed the utterances of the prophets, was to be false
to the covenant by which the Jewish nations claimed distinction, as the
worshipers of Jehovah, and to be wholly recreant and reprobate.
Convicted on such a charge those sign-seeking Pharisees and scribes
understood that Jesus classed them as worse than the idolatrous heathen.
The words "adultery" and "idolatry" are of related origin, each
connoting the act of unfaithfulness and the turning away after false
objects of affection or worship.

13. The Mother and the Brethren of Jesus.--The attempt of Mary and some
members of her family to speak with Jesus on the occasion referred to in
the text has been construed by many writers to mean that the mother and
sons had come to protest against the energy and zeal with which Jesus
was pursuing His work. Some indeed have gone so far as to say that the
visiting members of the family had come to put Him under restraint, and
to stem, if they could, the tide of popular interest, criticism, and
offense, which surged about Him. The scriptural record furnishes no
foundation for even a tentative conception of the kind. The purpose of
the desired visit is not intimated. It is a fact as will be shown in
pages to follow, that some members of Mary's household had failed to
understand the great import of the work in which Jesus was so
assiduously engaged; and we are told that some of His friends (marginal
rendering, "kinsmen,") on one occasion set out with the purpose of
laying hold on Him and stopping His public activities by physical force,
for they said "He is beside himself." (Mark 3:21); furthermore we learn
that His brethren did not believe on Him (John 7:5). These facts,
however, scarcely warrant the assumption that the desire of Mary and her
sons to speak with Him on the occasion referred to was other than
peaceful. And to assume that Mary, His mother, had so far forgotten the
wondrous scenes of the angelic annunciation, the miraculous conception,
the heavenly accompaniments of the birth, the more than human wisdom and
power exhibited in youth and manhood, as to believe her divine Son an
unbalanced enthusiast, whom she ought to restrain, is to assume
responsibility for injustice to the character of one whom the angel
Gabriel declared was blessed among women, and highly favored of the

The statement that the brethren of Jesus did not believe on Him at the
time referred to by the recorder (John 7:5) is no proof that some or
even all of those same brethren did not later believe on their divine
Brother. Immediately after the Lord's ascension, Mary, the mother of
Jesus, and His brethren were engaged in worship and supplication with
the Eleven and other disciples (Acts 1:14). The attested fact of
Christ's resurrection converted many who had before declined to accept
Him as the Son of God. Paul records a special manifestation of the
resurrected Christ to James (1 Cor. 15:7) and the James here referred to
may be the same person elsewhere designated as "the Lord's brother"
(Gal. 1:19); compare Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3. It appears that "brethren of
the Lord" were engaged in the work of the ministry in the days of Paul's
active service (1 Cor. 9:5). The specific family relationship of our
Lord to James, Joses, Simon, Judas and the sisters referred to by
Matthew (13:55, 56), and Mark (6:3), has been questioned; and several
theories have been invented in support of divergent views. Thus, the
Eastern or Epiphanian hypothesis holds, on no firmer basis than
assumption, that the brethren of Jesus were children of Joseph of
Nazareth by a former wife, and not the children of Mary the Lord's
mother. The Levirate theory assumes that Joseph of Nazareth and Clopas
(the latter name, it is interesting to note, is regarded as the
equivalent of Alpheus, see footnote page 224) were brothers; and that,
after the death of Clopas or Alpheus, Joseph married his brother's widow
according to the levirate law (page 548). The Hieronymian hypothesis is
based on the belief that the persons referred to as brethren and sisters
of Jesus were children of Clopas (Alpheus) and Mary the sister of the
Lord's mother, and therefore cousins to Jesus. (See Matt. 27:56; Mark
15:40; John 19:25.) It is beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus was
regarded by those, who were acquainted with the family of Joseph and
Mary as a close blood relative of other sons and daughters belonging to
the household. If these others were children of Joseph and Mary, they
were all juniors to Jesus, for He was undoubtedly His mother's firstborn
child. The acceptance of this relationship between Jesus and His
"brethren" and "sisters" mentioned by the synoptists constitutes what is
known in theological literature as the Helvidian view.


[550] Matt. 7:29; compare Luke 4:32; John 7:46.

[551] Luke 7:1-10; compare Matt. 8:5-13.

[552] Note 1, end of chapter.

[553] John 4:46-53; see page 177.

[554] Note 2, end of chapter.

[555] Matt. 8:11, 12; see also Luke 13:28, 29; compare Acts 10:45.

[556] Luke 7:11-17.

[557] Note 3, end of chapter.

[558] Matt. 8:17; compare Isa. 53:4.

[559] Luke 20:36, 38; compare Acts 10:42; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5; Rom.

[560] Matt. 4:12; Mark 1:14; Luke 3:19, 20; see Note 2, chap. 9, page
119, and Note 4, end of this chapter.

[561] Note 5, end of chapter.

[562] Mark 6:17-20.

[563] Matt. 14:5.

[564] Matt. 11:2. Note a similar liberty allowed to Paul when in
durance, Acts 24:23.

[565] Luke 7:18; Matt. 11:2.

[566] Matt. 11:2-6; Luke 7:18-23.

[567] Isa. 35:5, 6.

[568] Matt. 3:3; compare Isa. 40:3; Matt. 3:7; compare Isa. 59:5; Luke
3:6; compare Isa. 52:10.

[569] Matt. 13:57; 24:10; 26:31; Mark 6:3; 14:27; John 6:61. Note 6, end
of chapter.

[570] John 3:30.

[571] Note that Jesus compared the sufferings of John while in prison as
in part comparable to those He would Himself have to endure, in that
they did unto John "whatsoever they listed" (Matt. 17:12; Mark 9:13).

[572] Luke 7:24-30; see also Matt. 11:7-14; compare Christ's testimony
of John Baptist delivered at Jerusalem, John 5:33-35.

[573] Luke 7:28; see Note 7, end of chapter.

[574] Matt. 11:12-15; compare 17:12; Luke 1:17.

[575] Note 8, end of chapter.

[576] Matt. 3:7; Luke 7:30.

[577] Page 142.

[578] Matt. 11:20-24; compare Luke 10:13-15.

[579] Matt. 11:25-27; compare Luke 10:21, 22.

[580] Matt. 11:28-30.

[581] Mark 6:21-29.

[582] Mark 6:14-16.

[583] "Articles of Faith," x:18; also chapter 41, herein.

[584] Luke 7:36; see further, verses 37-50.

[585] Note 9, end of chapter.

[586] 2 Sam. 12:1-7.

[587] Matt. 9:2-6; Mark 2:5-7; page 191 herein.

[588] Matt. 26:6, 7; Mark 14:3; John 11:2.

[589] Note 10, end of chapter.

[590] Luke 8:1-3.

[591] Matt. 27:55, 56, 61; 28:1, 5; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1, 9; Luke 23:49,
55; 24:10, 22; John 19:25; 20:1, 13, 18.

[592] Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2.

[593] Matt. 12:24-45; compare 9:33, 34: see also Mark 3:22-30; Luke

[594] Matt. 9:34.

[595] Matt. 9:35.

[596] Matt. 12:14-15.

[597] Matt. 12:17-20; compare Isa. 42:1.

[598] Matt. 12:22, 23.

[599] Note 11, end of chapter.

[600] Matt. 12:38-45; compare 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16, 29; John
2:18; 1 Cor. 1:22.

[601] Doc. and Cov. 46:9; compare 63:7-12.

[602] Mark 8:12.

[603] Note 12, end of chapter.

[604] Jonah chaps. 1-4.

[605] Kings 10:1; 2 Chron. 9:1; compare Luke 11:31.

[606] Matt. 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26.

[607] Luke 11:27, 28.

[608] Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21.

[609] Luke 2:49. Page 114 herein.

[610] Matt. 10:37; compare Luke 14:26.

[611] Note 13, end of chapter.



Throughout the period of Christ's ministry with which we have thus far
dealt, His fame had continuously increased, because of the authority
with which He spoke and of the many mighty works He did; His popularity
had become such that whenever He moved abroad great multitudes followed
Him. At times the people so thronged as to impede His movements, some
with a desire to hear more of the new doctrine, others to plead at His
feet for relief from physical or other ills; and many there were who had
faith that could they but reach Him, or even touch the border of His
robe, they would be healed.[612] One effect of the people's eagerness,
which led them to press and crowd around Him, was to render difficult if
not impossible at times the effective delivery of any discourse. His
usual place for open-air teaching while He tarried in the vicinity of
the sea, or lake, of Galilee was the shore; and thither flocked the
crowds to hear Him. At His request, the disciples had provided a "small
ship," which was kept in readiness on the beach;[613] and it was usual
with Him to sit in the boat a short distance off shore, and preach to
the people, as He had done when in the earlier days He called the chosen
fishermen to leave their nets and follow Him.[614]

On one such occasion He employed a means of instruction, which, prior to
that time, had not been characteristic of His teaching; this consisted
in the use of parables,[615] simple stories to illustrate His doctrines.
Some of these we shall here consider briefly, in the order most
advantageous for treatment, and as best we know, in what may have been
the sequence in which they were given.


First in the order of delivery is the Parable of the Sower. It is a
splendid type of our Lord's parables in general, and is particularly
valuable for its great intrinsic worth and because we possess a
comprehensive interpretation of it by the divine Author. This is the

    "Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some
    seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them
    up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth:
    and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of
    earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because
    they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among
    thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other
    fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an
    hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to
    hear, let him hear."[616]

This new way of teaching, this departure from the Master's earlier
method of doctrinal exposition, caused even the most devoted of the
disciples to marvel. The Twelve and a few others came to Jesus when He
was apart from the multitude, and asked why He had spoken to the people
in this manner, and what was the meaning of this particular parable. Our
Lord's reply to the first part of the inquiry we shall consider
presently; concerning the second, He asked "Know ye not the parable? and
how then will ye know all parables?"[617] Thus did He indicate the
simplicity of this the first of His parables, together with its typical
and fundamental character, and at the same time intimate that other
parables would follow in the course of His teaching. Then He gave the

    "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When anyone heareth
    the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh
    the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his
    heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he
    that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that
    heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he
    not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when
    tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and
    by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns
    is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the
    deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh
    unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he
    that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth
    fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some

Further exposition may appear superfluous; some suggestion as to the
individual application of the contained lessons may be in place,
however. Observe that the prominent feature of the story is that of the
prepared or unprepared condition of the soil. The seed was the same
whether it fell on good ground or bad, on mellow mold or among stones
and thistles. The primitive method of sowing still followed in many
countries, consists in the sower throwing the grain by handfuls against
the wind, thus securing a widespread scattering. Running through the
Galilean fields, were pathways, hard trodden by feet of men and beasts.
Though seed should fall on such tracts, it could not grow; birds would
pick up the living kernels lying unrooted and uncovered and some of the
grains would be crushed and trodden down. So with the seed of truth
falling upon the hardened heart; ordinarily it cannot take root, and
Satan, as a marauding crow, steals it away, lest a grain of it perchance
find a crack in the trampled ground, send down its rootlet, and possibly

Seed falling in shallow soil, underlain by a floor of unbroken stone or
hard-pan, may strike root and flourish for a brief season; but as the
descending rootlets reach the impenetrable stratum they shrivel, and the
plant withers and dies, for the nutritive juices are insufficient where
there is no depth of earth.[619] So with the man whose earnestness is
but superficial, whose energy ceases when obstacles are encountered or
opposition met; though he manifest enthusiasm for a time persecution
deters him; he is offended,[620] and endures not. Grain sown where
thorns and thistles abound is soon killed out by their smothering
growth; even so with a human heart set on riches and the allurements of
pleasure--though it receive the living seed of the gospel it will
produce no harvest of good grain, but instead, a rank tangle of noxious
weeds. The abundant yield of thorny thistles demonstrates the fitness of
the soil for a better crop, were it only free from the cumbering weeds.
The seed that falls in good deep soil, free from weeds and prepared for
the sowing, strikes root and grows; the sun's heat scorches it not, but
gives it thrift; it matures and yields to the harvester according to the
richness of the soil, some fields producing thirty, others sixty, and a
few even a hundred times as much grain as was sown.

Even according to literary canons, and as judged by the recognized
standards of rhetorical construction and logical arrangement of its
parts, this parable holds first place among productions of its class.
Though commonly known to us as the Parable of the Sower, the story could
be expressively designated as the Parable of the Four Kinds of Soil. It
is the ground upon which the seed is cast, to which the story most
strongly directs our attention, and which so aptly is made to symbolize
the softened or the hardened heart, the clean or the thorn-infested
soil. Observe the grades of soil, given in the increasing order of their
fertility: (A) the compacted highway, the wayside path, on which, save
by a combination of fortuitous circumstances practically amounting to a
miracle, no seed can possibly strike root or grow; (B) the thin layer of
soil covering an impenetrable bed-rock, wherein seed may sprout yet can
never mature; (C) the weed-encumbered field, capable of producing a rich
crop but for the jungle of thistles and thorns; and (D) the clean rich
mold receptive and fertile. Yet even soils classed as good are of
varying degrees of productiveness, yielding an increase of thirty,
sixty, or even a hundred fold, with many inter-gradations.

Some Bible expositors have professed to find in this splendid parable
evidence of decisive fatalism in the lives of individuals, so that those
whose spiritual state is comparable to the hardened pathway or wayside
ground, to the shallow soil on stony floor, or to the neglected,
thorn-ridden tract, are hopelessly and irredeemably bad; while the souls
who may be likened unto good soil are safe against deterioration and
will be inevitably productive of good fruit. Let it not be forgotten
that a parable is but a sketch, not a picture finished in detail; and
that the expressed or implied similitude in parabolic teaching cannot
logically and consistently be carried beyond the limits of the
illustrative story. In the parable we are considering, the Teacher
depicted the varied grades of spiritual receptivity existing among men,
and characterized with incisive brevity each of the specified grades. He
neither said nor intimated that the hard-baked soil of the wayside might
be plowed, harrowed, fertilized, and so be rendered productive; nor that
the stony impediment to growth might not be broken up and removed, or an
increase of good soil be made by actual addition; nor that the thorns
could never be uprooted and their former habitat be rendered fit to
support good plants. The parable is to be studied in the spirit of its
purpose; and strained inferences or extensions are unwarranted. A strong
metaphor, a striking simile, or any other expressive figure of speech,
is of service only when rationally applied; if carried beyond the bounds
of reasonable intent, the best of such may become meaningless or even


Another parable, somewhat closely related to the foregoing as to the
actual story, dealing again with seed and sowing, and, like the first,
accompanied by an interpretation, was delivered by the Master as

    "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good
    seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed
    tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was
    sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares
    also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him,
    Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then
    hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The
    servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather
    them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye
    root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until
    the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the
    reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in
    bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."[621]

When Jesus had retired to the house in which He lodged, the disciples
came, saying: "Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field."

"He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son
of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the
kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy
that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and
the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and
burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of
man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his
kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall
cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of
teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of
their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."[622]

By the Author's explication, the sower was Himself, the Son of Man; and,
as the condition of wheat and tares growing together was one that shall
continue until "the end of the world," those who were ordained to carry
on the ministry after Him are by direct implication also sowers. The
seed as here represented is not, as in the last parable, the gospel
itself, but the children of men, the good seed typifying the honest in
heart, righteous-minded children of the kingdom; while the tares are
those souls who have given themselves up to evil and are counted as
children of the wicked one. Inspired by zeal for their Master's profit,
the servants would have forcibly rooted up the tares, but were
restrained, for their unwise though well-intended course would have
endangered the wheat while yet tender, since in the early stages of
growth it would have been difficult to distinguish the one from the
other, and the intertwining of the roots would have caused much
destruction of the precious grain.

One cardinal lesson of the parable, apart from the representation of
actual conditions present and future, is that of patience,
long-suffering, and toleration--each an attribute of Deity and a trait
of character that all men should cultivate. The tares mentioned in the
story may be considered as any kind of noxious weed, particularly such
as in early growth resembles the wholesome grain.[623] Over-sowing with
the seed of weeds in a field already sown with grain is a species of
malignant outrage not unknown even in the present day.[624] The
certainty of a time of separation, when the wheat shall be garnered in
the store-house of the Lord, and the tares be burned, that their
poisonous seed may reproduce no more, is placed beyond question by the
Lord's own exposition.

So important is the lesson embodied in this parable, and so assured is
the literal fulfilment of its contained predictions, that the Lord has
given a further explication through revelation in the current
dispensation, a period in which the application is direct and immediate.
Speaking through Joseph Smith the Prophet in 1832, Jesus Christ said:

    "But behold, in the last days, even now while the Lord is
    beginning to bring forth the word, and the blade is springing up
    and is yet tender. Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are
    crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to
    be sent forth to reap down the fields; but the Lord saith unto
    them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender, (for
    verily your faith is weak,) lest you destroy the wheat also.
    Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the
    harvest is fully ripe, then ye shall first gather out the wheat
    from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat,
    behold and lo! the tares are bound in bundles, and the field
    remaineth to be burned."[625]


Matthew records the Parable of the Tares as immediately following that
of the Sower; Mark places in the same position of sequence a parable
found in his writings alone. It is presented in outline form, and by
critical expositors would be classed rather as a simple analogy than a
typical parable. Read it:

    "And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast
    seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day,
    and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For
    the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then
    the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit
    is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because
    the harvest is come."[626]

We have no record of the disciples asking nor of the Master giving any
interpretation of this, or of any later parable.[627] In this story we
find effectively illustrated the fact of the vitality of the seed of
truth, though the secret processes of its growth be a mystery to all
save God alone. A man having planted seed must needs leave it alone. He
may tend the field, removing weeds, protecting the plants as best he
may, but the growth itself is dependent upon conditions and forces
beyond his power to ultimately control. Though it were Paul who planted
and Apollos who watered, none but God could insure the increase.[628]
The one who sowed may go about his other affairs, for the field does not
demand continuous or exclusive attention; nevertheless, under the
influences of sunshine and shower, of breeze and dew, the blade
develops, then the ear, and in due time the full corn in the ear. When
the grain is ripe the man gladly harvests his crop.

The sower in this story is the authorized preacher of the word of God;
he implants the seed of the gospel in the hearts of men, knowing not
what the issue shall be. Passing on to similar or other ministry
elsewhere, attending to his appointed duties in other fields, he, with
faith and hope, leaves with God the result of his planting. In the
harvest of souls converted through his labor, he is enriched and made to
rejoice.[629] This parable was probably directed more particularly to
the apostles and the most devoted of the other disciples, rather than to
the multitude at large; the lesson is one for teachers, for workers in
the Lord's fields, for the chosen sowers and reapers. It is of perennial
value, as truly applicable today as when first spoken. Let the seed be
sown, even though the sower be straightway called to other fields or
other duties; in the gladsome harvest he shall find his recompense.


    "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of
    heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and
    sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but
    when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a
    tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the
    branches thereof."[630]

This little story, addressed to the assembled multitude, must have set
many thinking, because of the simplicity of the incident related and the
thoroughly un-Jewish application made of it. To the mind taught by
teachers of the time the kingdom was to be great and glorious from its
beginning; it was to be ushered in by blare of trumpets and tramp of
armies, with King Messiah at the head; yet this new Teacher spoke of it
as having so small a beginning as to be comparable to a mustard seed. To
make the illustration more effective He specified that the seed spoken
of was "the least of all seeds." This superlative expression was made in
a relative sense; for there were and are smaller seeds than the mustard,
even among garden plants, among which rue and poppy have been named; but
each of these plants is very small in maturity, while the
well-cultivated mustard plant is one of the greatest among common herbs,
and presents a strong contrast of growth from tiny seed to spreading

Moreover, the comparison "as small as a mustard seed" was in every-day
use among Jews of the time. The comparison employed by Jesus on another
occasion evidences the common usage, as when He said: "If ye have faith
as a grain of mustard seed ... nothing shall be impossible unto
you."[631] It should be known that the mustard plant attains in
Palestine a larger growth than in more northerly climes.[632] The lesson
of the parable is easy to read. The seed is a living entity. When
rightly planted it absorbs and assimilates the nutritive matters of soil
and atmosphere, grows, and in time is capable of affording lodgment and
food to the birds. So the seed of truth is vital, living, and capable of
such development as to furnish spiritual food and shelter to all who
come seeking. In both conceptions, the plant at maturity produces seed
in abundance, and so from a single grain a whole field may be covered.


    "Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is
    like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures
    of meal, till the whole was leavened."[633]

Points of both similarity and contrast between this parable and the last
are easily discerned. In each the inherent vitality and capacity for
development, so essentially characteristic of the kingdom of God, are
illustrated. The mustard seed however, typifies the effect of vital
growth in gathering the substance of value from without; while the
leaven or yeast disseminates and diffuses outward its influence
throughout the mass of otherwise dense and sodden dough. Each of these
processes represents a means whereby the Spirit of Truth is made
effective. Yeast is no less truly a living organism than a mustard seed.
As the microscopic yeast plant develops and multiplies within the dough,
its myriad living cells permeate the lump, and every bit of the leavened
mass is capable of affecting likewise another batch of properly prepared
meal. The process of leavening, or causing dough "to rise," by the
fermentation of the yeast placed in the mass, is a slow one, and
moreover as quiet and seemingly secret as that of the planted seed
growing without the sower's further attention or concern.[634]


    "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a
    field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy
    thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that

This and the two parables following are recorded by Matthew only; and
the place assigned them in his narrative indicates that they were spoken
to the disciples alone, in the house, after the multitude had departed.
The quest for treasure-trove is always fascinating. Instances of finding
buried valuables were not uncommon in the time of which we speak, since
the practise of so concealing treasure was usual with people exposed to
bandit incursions and hostile invasion. Observe that the fortunate and
happy man is represented as finding the treasure seemingly by accident
rather than as a result of diligent search. He gladly sold all that he
possessed to make possible his purchase of the field. The hidden
treasure is the kingdom of heaven; when a man finds that, he ought to be
ready to sacrifice all that he has, if by so doing he may gain
possession. His joy in the new acquisition will be unbounded; and, if he
but remain a worthy holder, the riches thereof shall be his beyond the

Casuists have raised the question of propriety as to the man's course of
action in the story, inasmuch as he concealed the fact of his discovery
from the owner of the field, to whom the treasure, they say, rightly
belonged. Whatever opinion one may hold as to the ethics of the man's
procedure, his act was not illegal, since there was an express provision
in Jewish law that the purchaser of land became the legal owner of
everything the ground contained.[637] Assuredly Jesus commended no
dishonest course; and had not the story been in every detail probable,
its effect as a parable would have been lost. The Master taught by this
illustration that when once the treasure of the kingdom is found, the
finder should lose no time nor shrink from any sacrifice needful to
insure his title thereto.


    "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man,
    seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great
    price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."[638]

Pearls have always held high place among gems, and long before, as
indeed ever since, the time of Christ, pearl-merchants have been active
and diligent in seeking the largest and richest to be had. Unlike the
man in the last parable, who found a hidden treasure with little or no
search, the merchant in this story devoted his whole energy to the quest
for goodly pearls, to find and secure which was his business. When at
last he beheld the pearl that excelled all others, though it was, as of
right it ought to have been, held at high cost, he gladly sold all his
other gems; indeed he sacrificed "all that he had"--gems and other
possessions--and purchased the pearl of great price. Seekers after truth
may acquire much that is good and desirable, and not find the greatest
truth of all, the truth that shall save them. Yet, if they seek
persistently and with right intent, if they are really in quest of
pearls and not of imitations, they shall find. Men who by search and
research discover the truths of the kingdom of heaven may have to
abandon many of their cherished traditions, and even their theories of
imperfect philosophy and "science falsely so called,"[639] if they would
possess themselves of the pearl of great price. Observe that in this
parable as in that of the hidden treasure, the price of possession is
one's all. No man can become a citizen of the kingdom by partial
surrender of his earlier allegiances; he must renounce everything
foreign to the kingdom or he can never be numbered therein. If he
willingly sacrifices all that he has, he shall find that he has enough.
The cost of the hidden treasure, and of the pearl, is not a fixed
amount, alike for all; it is all one has. Even the poorest may come into
enduring possession; his all is a sufficient purchase price.


    "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast
    into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was
    full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good
    into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end
    of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked
    from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of
    fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."[640]

Men of many minds, men good and bad, all nationalities and races, are
affected by the gospel of the kingdom. The "fishers of men"[641] are
skilful, active, and comprehensive in their haul. The sorting takes
place after the net is brought to shore; and, as the fisherman discards
every bad fish while he saves the good, so shall the angels who do the
bidding of the Son of Man separate the just and the wicked, preserving
the one kind to life eternal; consigning the other to destruction.
Unwise efforts to carry the application of the parable beyond the
Author's intent have suggested the criticism that whether the fish be
good or bad they die. The good, however, die to usefulness, the bad to
utter waste. Though all men die, they die not alike; some pass to rest,
and shall come forth in the resurrection of the just; others go to a
state of sorrow and disquiet there to anxiously and with dread await the
resurrection of the wicked.[642] Similarity of application in the
present parable as in that of the tares, is apparent in the emphasis
given to the decreed separation of the just from the unjust, and in the
awful fate of those who are fit subjects for condemnation. A further
parallelism is noticed in the postponement of the judgment until the
"end of the world," by which expression we may understand the
consummation of the Redeemer's work, subsequent to the Millennium and
the final resurrection of all who have had existence on earth.[643]

Following His delivery of this, the last of the group of parables
recorded in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus asked the
disciples, "Have ye understood all these things?" They answered, "Yea,
Lord." He impressed upon them that they should be ready, like
well-taught teachers, to bring, from the store-house of their souls,
treasures of truth both old and new, for the edification of the


As before stated, the Twelve and other disciples were surprized at the
Lord's innovation of parabolic instruction. Prior to that time His
doctrines had been set forth in unveiled plainness, as witness the
explicit teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. It is noticeable that the
introduction of parables occurred when opposition to Jesus was strong,
and when scribes, Pharisees, and rabbis were alert in maintaining a
close watch upon His movements and His works, ever ready to make Him an
offender for a word. The use of parables was common among Jewish
teachers; and in adopting this mode of instruction Jesus was really
following a custom of the time; though between the parables He spake and
those of the scholars there is possible no comparison except that of
most pronounced contrast.[645]

To the chosen and devoted followers who came asking the Master why He
had changed from direct exposition to parables, He explained[646] that
while it was their privilege to receive and understand the deeper truths
of the gospel, "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" as He expressed
it, with people in general, who were unreceptive and unprepared, such
fulness of understanding was impossible. To the disciples who had
already gladly accepted the first principles of the gospel of Christ,
more should be given; while from those who had rejected the proffered
boon, even what they had theretofore possessed should be taken
away.[647] "Therefore," said He, "speak I to them in parables: because
they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they
understand." That the state of spiritual darkness then existing among
the Jews had been foreseen was instanced by a citation of Isaiah's
words, in which the ancient prophet had told of the people becoming
blind, deaf, and hard of heart respecting the things of God, whereby
though they would both hear and see in a physical sense yet should they
not understand.[648]

There is plainly shown an element of mercy in the parabolic mode of
instruction adopted by our Lord under the conditions prevailing at the
time. Had He always taught in explicit declaration, such as required no
interpretation, many among His hearers would have come under
condemnation, inasmuch as they were too weak in faith and unprepared in
heart to break the bonds of traditionalism and the prejudice engendered
by sin, so as to accept and obey the saving word. Their inability to
comprehend the requirements of the gospel would in righteous measure
give Mercy some claim upon them, while had they rejected the truth with
full understanding, stern Justice would surely demand their

That the lesson of the parables was comprehensible through study, prayer
and search was intimated in the Teacher's admonishment: "Who hath ears
to hear, let him hear."[650] To the more studious inquirers, the Master
added: "Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be
measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that
hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be
taken even that which he hath."[651] Two men may hear the same words;
one of them listens in indolence and indifference, the other with active
mind intent on learning all that the words can possibly convey; and,
having heard, the diligent man goes straightway to do the things
commended to him, while the careless one neglects and forgets. The one
is wise, the other foolish; the one has heard to his eternal profit, the
other to his everlasting condemnation.[652]

Another example of the merciful adaptation of the word of truth to the
varied capacities of the people who heard the parables is found in the
psychological fact, that the incidents of an impressive though simple
story will live, even in minds which for the time being are incapable of
comprehending any meaning beyond that of the common-place story itself.
Many a peasant who had heard the little incident of the sower and the
four kinds of soil, of the tares sown by an enemy at night, of the seed
that grew though the planter had temporarily forgotten it, would be
reminded by the recurring circumstances of his daily work; the gardener
would recollect the story of the mustard seed whenever he planted
afresh, or when he looked upon the umbrageous plant with birds nesting
in its branches; the housewife would be impressed anew by the story of
the leaven as she mixed and kneaded and baked; the fisherman at his nets
would think again of the good fish and the bad and compare the sorting
of his catch with the judgment to come. And then, when time and
experience, including suffering perhaps, had prepared them for deeper
thought, they would find the living kernel of gospel truth within the
husk of the simple tale.


The essential feature of a parable is that of comparison or similitude,
by which some ordinary, well-understood incident is used to illustrate a
fact or principle not directly expressed in the story. The popular
thought that a parable necessarily rests on a fictitious incident is
incorrect; for, inasmuch as the story or circumstance of the parable
must be simple and indeed common-place, it may be real. There is no
fiction in the parables we have thus far studied; the fundamental
stories are true to life and the given circumstances are facts of
experience. The narrative or incident upon which a parable is
constructed may be an actual occurrence or fiction; but, if fictitious,
the story must be consistent and probable, with no admixture of the
unusual or miraculous. In this respect the parable differs from the
fable, the latter being imaginative, exaggerated and improbable as to
fact; moreover, the intent is unlike in the two, since the parable is
designed to convey some great spiritual truth, while the so-called moral
of the fable is at best suggestive only of worldly achievement and
personal advantage. Stories of trees, animals and inanimate things
talking together or with men are wholly fanciful; they are fables or
apologues whether the outcome be depicted as good or bad; to the parable
these show contrast, not similarity. The avowed purpose of the fable is
rather to amuse than to teach. The parable may embody a narrative as in
the instances of the sower and the tares, or merely an isolated
incident, as in those of the mustard seed and the leaven.

Allegories are distinguished from parables by greater length and detail
of the story, and by the intimate admixture of the narrative with the
lesson it is designed to teach; these are kept distinctly separate in
the parable. Myths are fictitious stories, sometimes with historic basis
of fact, but without symbolism of spiritual worth. A proverb is a short,
sententious saying, in the nature of a maxim, connoting a definite truth
or suggestion by comparison. Proverbs and parables are closely related,
and in the Bible the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.[653] The
Old Testament contains two parables, a few fables and allegories, and
numerous proverbs; of the last-named we possess an entire book.[654]
Nathan the prophet reproved King David by the parable of the poor man's
ewe lamb, and so effective was the story that the king decreed
punishment for the wealthy offender, and was overcome by sorrow and
contrition when the prophet made application of his parable by the
fateful words, "Thou art the man."[655] The story of the vineyard, which
though fenced and well-tended yet brought forth only wild, useless
fruit, was used by Isaiah to portray the sinful state of Israel in his
attempt to awaken the people to lives of righteousness.[656]

The parables of the New Testament, spoken by the Teacher of teachers,
are of such beauty, simplicity, and effectiveness, as to stand
unparalleled in literature.


1. The First Group of Parables.--Many Bible scholars hold that the seven
parables recorded in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew were spoken at
different times and to different people, and that the writer of the
first Gospel grouped them for convenience in recording and with prime
consideration of their subjective interest. Some color is found for this
claim in Luke's mention of some of these parables in different relations
of both time and place; thus, the parables of the Mustard Seed and the
Leaven are given (Luke 13:18, 21) as directly following the healing of
the infirm woman in the synagog, and the rebuke to the hypocritical
ruler. While we must admit that Matthew may have grouped with the
parables spoken on that particular day some of other dates, it is
probable that Jesus repeated some of His parables, as He certainly did
other teachings, and thus presented the same lesson on more occasions
than one. As a matter of fact each parable is a lesson in itself, and
holds its high intrinsic value whether considered as an isolated story
or in connection with related teachings. Let us give heed to the lesson
of each whatever opinions men may promulgate as to the circumstances of
its first delivery.

2. Local Setting for the Parable of the Sower.--Dr. R. C. Trench, in his
excellent work _Notes on the Parables of our Lord_ (p. 57, note), quotes
Dean Stanley's description of existing conditions in the place where the
Parable of the Sower was given by Jesus; and as there is reason to
believe that the environment has changed but little since the days of
Christ, the account is here reproduced: "A slight recess in the hillside
close upon the plain disclosed at once in detail, and with a conjunction
which I remember nowhere else in Palestine, every feature of the great
parable. There was the undulating corn-field descending to the water's
edge. There was the trodden pathway running through the midst of it,
with no fence or hedge to prevent the seed falling here or there on
either side of it, or upon it--itself hard with the constant tramp of
horse and mule and human feet. There was the 'good' rich soil, which
distinguishes the whole of that plain and its neighborhood from the bare
hills elsewhere, descending into the lake, and which, where there is no
interruption, produces one vast mass of corn. There was the rocky ground
of the hillside protruding here and there through the corn-fields, as
elsewhere, through the grassy slopes. There were the large bushes of
thorn, the 'nabk' ... springing up, like the fruit-trees of the more
inland parts, in the very midst of the waving wheat."

3. Tares.--This term occurs nowhere within the Bible except in this
instance of the parable. Plainly any kind of weed, particularly a
poisonous sort, such as would seriously depreciate the garnered crop,
would serve the Master's purpose in the illustration. The traditional
belief commonly held is that the plant referred to in the parable is the
darnel weed, known to botanists as _Lolium temulenium_, a species of
bearded rye-grass. This plant closely resembles wheat in the early
period of growth, and exists as a pest to the farmers in Palestine
to-day; it is called by the Arabians "Zowan" or "Zawan" which name, says
Arnot, citing Thompson, "bears some resemblance to the original word in
the Greek text." The writer of the article "Tares" in Smith's Dictionary
says: "Critics and expositors are agreed that the Greek plural
_zizania_, A.V. 'tares,' of the parable (Matt 13:25) denotes the weed
called 'bearded darnel' (_Lolium temulentum_), a widely-distributed
grass, and the only species of the order that has deleterious
properties. The bearded darnel before it comes into ear is very similar
in appearance to wheat, and the roots of the two are often intertwined;
hence the command that the 'tares' should be left till the harvest, lest
while men plucked up the tares 'they should root up also the wheat with
them.' This darnel is easily distinguishable from the wheat and barley
when headed out, but when both are less developed, 'the closest scrutiny
will often fail to detect it. Even the farmers, who in this country
generally weed their fields, do not attempt to separate the one from the
other ... The taste is bitter, and, when eaten separately, or even when
diffused in ordinary bread, it causes dizziness, and often acts as a
violent emetic.'" The secondary quotation is from Thompson's _The Land
and the Book_, ii, 111, 112. It has been asserted that the darnel is a
degenerated kind of wheat; and attempts have been made to give
additional significance to our Lord's instructive parable by injecting
this thought; there is no scientific warrant for the strained
conception, however, and earnest students will not be misled thereby.

4. The Wickedness of the Sower of Tares.--Attempts have been made to
disparage the Parable of the Tares on the ground that it rests on an
unusual if not unknown practise. Trench thus meets the criticism (_Notes
on the Parables_, pp. 72, 73): "Our Lord did not imagine here a form of
malice without example, but adduced one which may have been familiar
enough to His hearers, one so easy of execution, involving so little
risk, and yet effecting so great and lasting a mischief, that it is not
strange, where cowardice and malice meet, that this should have been
often the shape in which they displayed themselves. We meet traces of it
in many quarters. In Roman law the possibility of this form of injury is
contemplated; and a modern writer, illustrating Scripture from the
manners and habits of the East, with which he had become familiar
through a sojourn there, affirms the same to be now practised in India."
In a subjoined note the author adds: "We are not without this form of
malice nearer home. Thus in Ireland I have known an outgoing tenant, in
spite at his eviction, to sow wild oats in the fields which he was
leaving. These, like the tares in the parable, ripening and seeding
themselves before the crops in which they were mingled, it became next
to impossible to extirpate.";

5. The Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly.--This parable has given
rise to much discussion among expositors, the question being as to who
is meant by the man who cast seed into the ground. If, as in the
parables of the Sower and the Tares, the Lord Jesus be the planter,
then, some ask, how can it be said "that the seed should spring and grow
up, he knoweth not how," when all things are known unto Him? If on the
other hand the planter represents the authorized teacher or preacher of
the gospel, how can it be said that at the harvest time "he putteth in
the sickle," since the final harvesting of souls is the prerogative of
God? The perplexities of the critics arise from their attempt to find in
the parable a literalism never intended by the Author. Whether the seed
be planted by the Lord Himself, as when He taught in Person, or by any
one of His authorized servants, the seed is alive and will grow. Time is
required; the blade appears first and is followed by the ear, and the
ear ripens in season, without the constant attention which a shaping of
the several parts by hand would require. The man who figures in the
parable is presented as an ordinary farmer, who plants, and waits, and
in due time reaps. The lesson imparted is the vitality of the seed as a
living thing, endowed by its Creator with the capacity to both grow and

6. The Mustard Plant.--The wild mustard, which in the temperate zone
seldom attains a height of more than three or four feet, reaches in
semitropical lands the height of a horse and its rider (Thompson, _The
Land and the Book_ ii, 100). Those who heard the parable evidently
understood the contrast between size of seed and that of the fully
developed plant. Arnot, (_The Parables_, p. 102), aptly says: "This
plant obviously was chosen by the Lord, not on account of its absolute
magnitude, but because it was, and was recognized to be, a striking
instance of increase from very small to very great. It seems to have
been in Palestine, at that time, the smallest seed from which so large a
plant was known to grow. There were, perhaps, smaller seeds, but the
plants which sprung from them were not so great; and there were greater
plants, but the seeds from which they sprung were not so small."
Edersheim (i, p. 593) states that the diminutive size of the mustard
seed was commonly used in comparison by the rabbis, "to indicate the
smallest amount such as the least drop of blood, the least defilement,
etc." The same author continues, in speaking of the grown plant:
"Indeed, it looks no longer like a large garden-herb or shrub, but
'becomes' or rather appears like 'a tree'--as St. Luke puts it, 'a great
tree,' of course, not in comparison with other trees, but with
garden-shrubs. Such growth of mustard seed was also a fact well known at
the time, and, indeed, still observed in the East.... And the general
meaning would the more easily be apprehended, that a tree, whose
wide-spreading branches afforded lodgment to the birds of heaven, was a
familiar Old Testament figure for a mighty kingdom that gave shelter to
the nations (Ezek. 31:6, 12; Dan. 4:12, 14, 21, 22). Indeed, it is
specifically used as an illustration of the Messianic Kingdom (Ezek.

7. The Symbolism of Leaven.--In the parable, the kingdom of heaven is
likened unto leaven. In other scriptures, leaven is figuratively
mentioned as representing evil, thus, "the leaven of the Pharisees and
of the Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6, see also Luke 12:1), "the leaven of
Herod" (Mark 8:15). These instances, and others (1 Cor. 5:7, 8) are
illustrative of the contagion of evil. In the incident of the woman
using leaven in the ordinary process of bread-making, the spreading,
penetrating vital effect of truth is symbolized by the leaven. The same
thing in different aspects may very properly be used to represent good
in one instance and evil in another.

8. Treasure Belonging to the Finder.--As to the justification of the man
who found a treasure hidden in another's field and then, concealing the
fact of his discovery, bought the field that he might possess the
treasure, Edersheim (i, p. 595-6) says: "Some difficulty has been
expressed in regard to the morality of such a transaction. In reply it
may be observed, that it was, at least, in entire accordance with Jewish
law. If a man had found a treasure in loose coins among the corn it
would certainly be his if he bought the corn. If he had found it on the
ground, or in the soil, it would equally certainly belong to him if he
could claim ownership of the soil, and even if the field were not his
own, unless others could prove their right to it. The law went so far as
to adjudge to the purchaser of fruits anything found among these fruits.
This will suffice to vindicate a question of detail, which, in any case,
should not be too closely pressed in a parabolic history."

9. Superiority of our Lord's Parables.--"Perhaps no other mode of
teaching was so common among the Jews as that by parables. Only in their
case, they were almost entirely illustrations of what had been said or
taught; while in the case of Christ, they served as the foundation for
His teaching.... In the one case it was intended to make spiritual
teaching appear Jewish and national, in the other to convey spiritual
teaching in a form adapted to the stand-point of the hearers. This
distinction will be found to hold true, even in instances where there
seems the closest parallelism between a Rabbinic and an Evangelic
parable.... It need scarcely be said that comparison between such
parables, as regards their spirit, is scarcely possible, except by way
of contrast" (Edersheim, i, pp. 580-1). Geikie tersely says: "Others
have uttered parables, but Jesus so far transcends them, that He may
justly be called the creator of this mode of instruction" (ii, p. 145).

10. Parables and Other Forms of Analogy.--"The parable is also clearly
distinguishable from the proverb, though it is true that, in a certain
degree, the words are used interchangeably in the New Testament, and as
equivalent the one to the other. Thus 'Physician, heal thyself' (Luke
4:23) is termed a parable, being more strictly a proverb; so again, when
the Lord had used that proverb, probably already familiar to His hearers
'If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch'; Peter
said 'Declare unto us this parable' (Matt. 15:14, 15); and Luke 5:36 is
a proverb or proverbial expression, rather than a parable, which name it
bears.... So, upon the other hand, those are called 'proverbs' in St.
John, which if not strictly parables, yet claim much closer affinity to
the parable than to the proverb, being in fact allegories; thus Christ's
setting forth of His relations to His people under those of a shepherd
to his sheep is termed a 'proverb,' though our translators, holding fast
to the sense rather than to the letter, have rendered it a 'parable'
(John 10:6; compare 16:25, 29). It is easy to account for this
interchange of words. Partly it arose from one word in Hebrew signifying
both parable and proverb."--Trench, _Notes on the Parables_, pp. 9, 10.

For the convenience of readers who may not have a dictionary at hand as
they read, the following definitions are given:

_Allegory._--The setting forth of a subject under the guise of some
other subject or aptly suggestive likeness.

_Apologue._--A fable or moral tale, especially one in which animals or
inanimate things speak or act, and by which a useful lesson is suggested
or taught.

_Fable._--A brief story or tale feigned or invented to embody a moral,
and introducing animals and sometimes even inanimate things as rational
speakers and actors; a legend or myth.

_Myth._--A fictitious or conjectural narrative presented as historical,
but without any basis of fact.

_Parable._--A brief narrative or descriptive allegory founded on real
scenes or events such as occur in nature and human life, and usually
with a moral or religious application.

_Proverb._--A brief, pithy saying, condensing in witty or striking form
the wisdom of experience; a familiar and widely known popular saying in
epigrammatic form.

11. Old Testament Parables, Etc.--"Of parables in the strictest sense
the Old Testament contains only two" (2 Sam. 12:1-; and Isa. 5:1-).
"Other stories, such as that of the trees assembled to elect a king
(Judges 9:8), and of the thistle and cedar (2 Kings 14:9), are more
strictly fables. Still others, such as Ezekiel's account of the two
eagles and the vine (17:2-), and of the caldron (24:3-) are allegories.
The small number of parabolic narratives to be found in the Old
Testament must not, however, be taken as an indication of indifference
toward this literary form as suitable for moral instruction. The number
is only apparently small. In reality, similitudes, which, though not
explicitly couched in the terms of fictitious narrative, suggest and
furnish the materials for such narrative, are abundant."--Zenos, _Stand.
Bible Dict._, article "Parables."

By applying the term "parable" in its broadest sense, to include all
ordinary forms of analogy, we may list the following as the most
impressive parables of the Old Testament. Trees electing a king (Judges
9:7-); the poor man's ewe lamb (2 Sam. 12:1-); the contending brothers
and the avengers (2 Sam. 14:1-); story of the escaped captive (1 Kings
20:35-); the thistle and the cedar (2 Kings 14:9); the vineyard and its
wild grapes (Isa. 5:1-); the eagles and the vine (Ezek. 17:3-); the
lion's whelps (Ezek. 19:2-); the seething pot (Ezek. 24:3-).


[612] Mark 3:10; compare Matt. 9:20, 21; 14:36; Mark 6:56; Luke 6:19

[613] Mark 3:9.

[614] Luke 5:10; page 197 herein.

[615] Note 1, end of chapter.

[616] Matt. 13:3-9; compare Mark 4:3-9; Luke 8:5-8.

[617] Mark 4:13.

[618] Matt. 13:18-23; compare Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15.

[619] Note 2, end of chapter.

[620] Pages 254 and 274.

[621] Matt. 13:24-30.

[622] Verses 36-43.

[623] Note 3, end of chapter.

[624] Note 4, end of chapter.

[625] Doc. and Cov. 86:4-7; read the entire section.

[626] Mark 4:26-29.

[627] Note 5, end of chapter.

[628] 1 Cor. 3:6.

[629] Read the Lord's early promise of souls as the hire of the
appointed harvesters: John 4:35-38; see also Matt. 9:37, 38; Luke 10:2.

[630] Matt. 13:31, 32; compare Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18, 19.

[631] Matt. 17:20; compare Luke 17:6.

[632] Note 6, end of chapter.

[633] Matt. 13:33; compare Luke 13:20, 21.

[634] Page 288. Note 7, end of chapter.

[635] Matt. 13:44.

[636] Compare Matt. 6:19, 20.

[637] Note 8, end of chapter.

[638] Matt. 13:45, 48.

[639] 1 Tim. 6:20.

[640] Matt. 13:47-50.

[641] Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17; Luke 5:10.

[642] John 5:29; see also B. of M., Alma 40:11-14; and the author,
"Articles of Faith," xxi:24-39.

[643] See chapter 42.

[644] Matt. 13:51, 52.

[645] Note 9, end of chapter.

[646] Matt. 13:10-17; compare Mark 4:10-13; Luke 8:9, 10.

[647] Matt. 13:12; compare 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18; 19:26.

[648] Isa. 6:9; see also 42:20; 43:8; Ezek. 12:2; John 12:40; Acts
28:26, 27.

[649] See the author's "Articles of Faith," iii:12, 13; B. of M., 2
Nephi 9:25-27; Rom. 2:12; Doc. and Cov. 45:54; 76:72.

[650] Matt. 13:9, 43; see also 11:15; Mark 4:9.

[651] Mark 4:24, 25.

[652] Read again Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49.

[653] Note 10, end of chapter.

[654] Note 11, end of chapter.

[655] 2 Sam. 12:1-7, 13.

[656] Isa. 5:1-7.




Near the close of the day on which Jesus had taught the multitudes for
the first time by parables, He said to the disciples, "Let us pass over
unto the other side."[657] The destination so indicated is the east side
of the sea of Galilee. While the boat was being made ready, a certain
scribe came to Jesus and said: "Master, I will follow thee whithersoever
thou goest." Prior to that time, few men belonging to the titled or
ruling class had offered to openly ally themselves with Jesus. Had the
Master been mindful of policy and desirous of securing official
recognition, this opportunity to attach to Himself as influential a
person as a scribe would have received careful consideration if not
immediate acceptance; but He, who could read the minds and know the
hearts of men, chose rather than accepted. He had called men who were to
be thenceforth His own, from their fishing boats and nets, and had
numbered one of the ostracized publicans among the Twelve; but He knew
them, every one, and chose accordingly. The gospel was offered freely to
all; but authority to officiate as a minister thereof was not to be had
for the asking; for that sacred labor, one must be called of God.[658]

In this instance, Christ knew the character of the man, and, without
wounding his feelings by curt rejection, pointed out the sacrifice
required of one who would follow whithersoever the Lord went, saying:
"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son
of man hath not where to lay his head." As Jesus had no fixed place of
abode, but went wherever His duty called Him, so was it necessary that
they who represented Him, men ordained or set apart to His service, be
ready to deny themselves the enjoyment of their homes and the comfort of
family associations, if the duties of their calling so demanded. We do
not read that the aspiring scribe pressed his offer.

Another man indicated his willingness to follow the Lord, but asked
first for time to go and bury his father; to him Jesus said: "Follow me;
and let the dead bury their dead." Some readers have felt that this
injunction was harsh, though such an inference is scarcely justified.
While it would be manifestly unfilial for a son to absent himself from
his father's funeral under ordinary conditions, nevertheless, if that
son had been set apart to service of importance transcending all
personal or family obligations, his ministerial duty would of right take
precedence. Moreover, the requirement expressed by Jesus was no greater
than that made of every priest during his term of active service, nor
was it more afflicting than the obligation of the Nazarite vow,[659]
under which many voluntarily placed themselves. The duties of ministry
in the kingdom pertained to spiritual life; one dedicated thereto might
well allow those who were negligent of spiritual things, and
figuratively speaking, spiritually dead, to bury their dead.

A third instance is presented; a man who wanted to be a disciple of the
Lord asked that, before entering upon his duties, he be permitted to go
home and bid farewell to his family and friends. The reply of Jesus has
become an aphorism in life and literature: "No man, having put his hand
to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."[660]

From Matthew's record we draw the inference that the first two of these
candidates for discipleship offered themselves to our Lord as He stood
on the shore or in the boat ready to begin the evening voyage across the
lake. Luke places the instances in a different connection, and adds to
the offers of the scribe and the man who would first bury his father,
that of the one who wished to go home and then return to Christ. The
three incidents may be profitably considered together, whether all
occurred in the evening of that same eventful day or at different times.


The instruction to launch forth and cross to the opposite side of the
lake was given by Jesus, who probably desired a respite after the
arduous labors of the day. No time had been lost in unnecessary
preparation; "they took him, even as he was, into the ship," and set out
without delay. Even on the water some of the eager people tried to
follow; for a number of small boats, "little ships" as Mark styles them,
accompanied the vessel on which Jesus was embarked; but these lesser
craft may have turned back, possibly on account of the approaching
storm; anyway, we do not hear of them further.

Jesus found a resting place near the stern of the ship and soon fell
asleep. A great storm arose,[662] and still He slept. The circumstance
is instructive as it evidences at once the reality of the physical
attributes of Christ, and the healthy, normal condition of His body. He
was subject to fatigue and bodily exhaustion from other causes, as are
all men; without food He grew hungry; without drink He thirsted; by
labor He became weary. The fact that after a day of strenuous effort He
could calmly sleep, even amidst the turmoil of a tempest, indicates an
unimpaired nervous system and a good state of health. Nowhere do we find
record of Jesus having been ill. He lived according to the laws of
health, yet never allowed the body to rule the spirit; and His daily
activities, which were of a kind to make heavy demands on both physical
and mental energy, were met with no symptoms of nervous collapse nor of
functional disturbance. Sleep after toil is natural and necessary. The
day's work done, Jesus slept.

Meanwhile the storm increased in fury; the wind rendered the boat
unmanageable; waves beat over the side; so much water was shipped that
the vessel seemed about to founder. The disciples were terror-stricken;
yet through it all Jesus rested peacefully. In their extremity of fear,
the disciples awakened Him, crying out, according to the several
independent accounts, "Master, Master, we perish"; "Lord, save us: we
perish"; and, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" They were
abjectly frightened, and at least partly forgetful that there was with
them One whose voice even death had to obey. Their terrified appeal was
not wholly devoid of hope nor barren of faith: "Lord, save us" they
cried. Calmly He replied to their piteous call, "Why are ye fearful, O
ye of little faith?"

Then He arose; and out through the darkness of that fearsome night, into
the roaring wind, over the storm-lashed sea, went the voice of the Lord
as He "rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the
wind ceased, and there was a great calm." Turning to the disciples, He
asked in tones of gentle yet unmistakable reproof: "Where is your
faith?" and "How is it that ye have no faith?" Gratitude for rescue from
what but a moment before had seemed impending death was superseded by
amazement and fear. "What manner of man is this," they asked one of
another, "that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

Among the recorded miracles of Christ, none has elicited greater
diversity in comment and in attempt at elucidation than has this
marvelous instance of control over the forces of nature. Science
ventures no explanation. The Lord of earth, air, and sea spoke and was
obeyed. He it was who, amidst the black chaos of creation's earliest
stages, had commanded with immediate effect--Let there be light; Let
there be a firmament in the midst of the waters; Let the dry land
appear--and, as He had decreed, so it was. The dominion of the Creator
over the created is real and absolute. A small part of that dominion has
been committed to man[663] as the offspring of God, tabernacled in the
very image of his divine Father. But man exercizes that delegated
control through secondary agencies, and by means of complicated
mechanism. Man's power over the objects of his own devizing is limited.
It is according to the curse evoked by Adam's fall, which came through
transgression, that by the strain of his muscles, by the sweat of his
brow, and by stress of his mind, shall he achieve. His word of command
is but a sound-wave in air, except as it is followed by labor. Through
the Spirit that emanates from the very Person of Deity, and which
pervades all space, the command of God is immediately operative.

Not man alone, but also the earth and all the elemental forces
pertaining thereto came under the Adamic curse[664] and as the soil no
longer brought forth only good and useful fruits, but gave of its
substance to nurture thorns and thistles, so the several forces of
nature ceased to be obedient to man as agents subject to his direct
control. What we call natural forces--heat, light, electricity, chemical
affinity--are but a few of the manifestations of eternal energy through
which the Creator's purposes are subserved; and these few, man is able
to direct and utilize only through mechanical contrivance and physical
adjustment. But the earth shall yet be "renewed and receive its
paradisaical glory"; then soil, water, air, and the forces acting upon
them, shall directly respond to the command of glorified man, as now
they obey the word of the Creator.[665]


Jesus and the disciples with Him landed on the eastern or Perean side of
the lake, in a region known as the country of the Gadarenes or
Gergesenes. The precise spot has not been identified, but it was
evidently a country district apart from the towns.[667] As the party
left the boat, two maniacs, who were sorely tormented by evil spirits,
approached. Matthew states there were two; the other writers speak of
but one; it is possible that one of the afflicted pair was in a
condition so much worse than that of his companion that to him is
accorded greater prominence in the narrative; or, one may have run away
while the other remained. The demoniac was in a pitiful plight. His
frenzy had become so violent and the physical strength incident to his
mania so great that all attempts to hold him in captivity had failed. He
had been bound in chains and fetters, but these he had broken asunder by
the aid of demon power; and he had fled to the mountains, to the caverns
that served as tombs, and there he had lived more like a wild beast than
a man. Night and day his weird, terrifying shrieks had been heard, and
through dread of meeting him people traveled by other ways rather than
pass near his haunts. He wandered about naked, and in his madness often
gashed his flesh with sharp stones.

Seeing Jesus, the poor creature ran toward Him, and, impelled by the
power of his demon control, prostrated himself before Christ, the while
crying out with a loud voice: "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou
Son of the most high God?" As Jesus commanded the evil spirits to
leave, one or more of them, through the voice of the man, pleaded to be
left alone, and with blasphemous presumption exclaimed: "I adjure thee
by God, that thou torment me not." Matthew records the further question
addressed to Jesus: "Art thou come hither to torment us before the
time?" The demons, by whom the man was possessed and controlled,
recognized the Master, whom they knew they had to obey; but they pleaded
to be left alone until the decreed time of their final punishment would

Jesus asked, "What is thy name?" and the demons within the man answered,
"My name is Legion, for we are many." The fact of the man's dual
consciousness or multi-personality is here apparent. So complete was his
possession by wicked spirits that he could no longer distinguish between
his individual personality and theirs. The devils implored that Jesus
would not banish them from that country; or as Luke records in words of
awful import, "that he would not command them to go out into the
deep."[669] In their wretched plight, and out of diabolical eagerness to
find abode in bodies of flesh even though of beasts, they begged that,
being compelled to leave the man they be allowed to enter a herd of hogs
feeding nearby. Jesus gave permission; the unclean demons entered the
swine; and the whole herd, numbering about two thousand, went wild,
stampeded in terror, ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and
were drowned. The swineherds were frightened, and, hastening to the
town, told what had happened to the hogs. People came out in crowds to
see for themselves; and all were astounded to behold the once wild man
of whom they had all been afraid, now clothed, and restored to a normal
state of mind, sitting quietly and reverently at the feet of Jesus. They
were afraid of One who could work such wonders, and, conscious of their
sinful unworthiness, begged Him to leave their country.[670]

The man who had been rid of the demons feared not; in his heart love and
gratitude superseded all other feelings; and as Jesus returned to the
boat he prayed that he might go also. But Jesus forbade, saying: "Go
home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done
for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." The man became a missionary,
not alone in his home town but throughout Decapolis, the region of the
ten cities; wherever he went he told of the marvelous change Jesus had
wrought on him.

The testimony of wicked and unclean spirits to the divinity of Christ as
the Son of God is not confined to this instance. We have already
considered the case of the demoniac in the synagog at Capernaum;[671]
and another instance appeared, when Jesus, withdrawing from the towns in
Galilee, betook Himself to the sea shore, and was followed by a great
multitude comprizing Galileans and Judeans, and people from Jerusalem
and Idumea, and from beyond Jordan (i.e. from Perea), and inhabitants of
Tyre and Sidon, amongst whom He had healed many of divers diseases; and
those who were in bondage to unclean spirits had fallen down and
worshiped Him; while the demons cried out: "Thou art the Son of

In the course of the short journey considered in this chapter, the power
of Jesus as Master of earth, men and devils, was manifest in miraculous
works of the most impressive kind. We cannot classify the Lord's
miracles as small and great, nor as easy and difficult of
accomplishment; what one may consider the least is to another of
profound import. The Lord's word was sufficient in every instance. To
the wind and the waves, and to the demon-ridden mind of the man
possessed, He had but to speak and be obeyed. "Peace, be still."


Jesus and His attendants recrossed the lake from the land of Gadara to
the vicinity of Capernaum, where He was received with acclamation by a
multitude of people, "for they were all waiting for him." Immediately
after landing, Jesus was approached by Jairus, one of the rulers of the
local synagog, who "besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter
lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her,
that she may be healed; and she shall live."

The fact of this man's coming to Jesus, with the spirit of faith and
supplication, is an evidence of the deep impression the ministry of
Christ had made even in priestly and ecclesiastical circles. Many of the
Jews, rulers and officials as well as the people in common, believed in
Jesus;[674] though few belonging to the upper classes were willing to
sacrifice prestige and popularity by acknowledging their discipleship.
That Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagog, came only when impelled
by grief over the impending death of his only daughter, a girl of twelve
years, is no evidence that he had not before become a believer;
certainly at this time his faith was genuine and his trust sincere, as
the circumstances of the narrative prove. He approached Jesus with the
reverence due One whom he considered able to grant what he asked, and
fell at the Lord's feet, or as Matthew says, worshiped Him. When the man
had started from his home to seek aid of Jesus, the maiden was at the
point of death; he feared lest she had died in the interval. In the very
brief account given in the first Gospel, he is reported as saying to
Jesus: "My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her
and she shall live."[675] Jesus went with the imploring father, and many

On the way to the house an incident occurred to hinder progress. A
sorely afflicted woman was healed, under circumstances of peculiar
interest; this occurrence we shall consider presently. No intimation is
given that Jairus showed impatience or displeasure over the delay; he
had placed trust in the Master and awaited His time and pleasure; and
while Christ was engaged in the matter of the suffering woman,
messengers came from the ruler's house with the saddening word that the
girl was dead. We may infer that even these dread tidings of certainty
failed to destroy the man's faith; he seems to have still looked to the
Lord for help, and those who had brought the message asked, "Why
troublest thou the Master any further?" Jesus heard what was said, and
sustained the man's sorely-taxed faith by the encouraging behest: "Be
not afraid, only believe." Jesus permitted none of His followers save
three of the apostles to enter the house with Himself and the bereaved
but trusting father. Peter and the two brothers James and John were

The house was no place of such respectful silence or subdued quiet as we
now consider appropriate to the time and place of death; on the contrary
it was a scene of tumult, but that condition was customary in the
orthodox observances of mourning at the time.[676] Professional
mourners, including singers of weird dirges, and minstrels who made
great noise with flutes and other instruments, had already been summoned
to the house. To all such Jesus said, on entering: "Why make ye this
ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead but sleepeth." It was in effect a
repetition of His command uttered on a then recent occasion--Peace, be
still. His words drew scorn and ridicule from those who were paid for
the noise they made, and who, if what He said proved true, would lose
this opportunity of professional service. Moreover, they knew the maid
was dead; preparations for the funeral, which custom required should
follow death as speedily as possible, were already in progress. Jesus
ordered these people out, and restored peace to the house.[677] He then
entered the death chamber, accompanied only by the three apostles and
the parents of the girl. Taking the dead maiden by the hand He "said
unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto
thee, arise." To the astonishment of all but the Lord, the girl arose,
left her bed, and walked. Jesus directed that food be given her, as
bodily needs, suspended by death, had returned with the girl's renewal
of life.

The Lord imposed an obligation of secrecy, charging all present to
refrain from telling what they had seen. The reasons for this injunction
are not stated. In some other instances a similar instruction was given
to those who had been blessed by Christ's ministrations; while on many
occasions of healing no such instructions are recorded, and in one case
at least the man who had been relieved of demons was told to go and tell
how great a thing had been done for him.[678] In His own wisdom Christ
knew when to prudently forbid and when to permit publication of His
doings. Though the grateful parents, the girl herself, and the three
apostles who had been witnesses of the restoration, may all have been
loyal to the Lord's injunction of silence, the fact that the maiden had
been raised to life could not be kept secret, and the means by which so
great a wonder had been wrought would certainly be inquired into. The
minstrels and the wailers who had been expelled from the place while it
was yet a house of mourning, and who had scornfully laughed at the
Master's assertion that the maiden was asleep and not dead as they
thought, would undoubtedly, spread reports. It is not surprizing,
therefore, to read in Matthew's short version of the history, that the
fame of the miracle "went abroad into all that land."


The vital distinction between a restoration of the dead to a resumption
of mortal life, and the resurrection of the body from death to a state
of immortality, must be thoughtfully heeded. In each of the instances
thus far considered--that of the raising of the dead man of Nain,[679]
and that of the daughter of Jairus, as also the raising of Lazarus to be
studied later--the miracle consisted in reuniting the spirit and the
body in a continuation of the interrupted course of mortal existence.
That the subject of each of these miracles had to subsequently die is
certain. Jesus Christ was the first of all men who have lived on earth
to come forth from the tomb an immortalized Being; He is therefore
properly designated as "the first fruits of them that slept."[680]

Though both Elijah and Elisha, many centuries prior to the time of
Christ, were instrumental in restoring life to the dead, the former to
the widow's son in Zareptha, the latter to the child of the Shunammite
woman,[681] in these earlier miracles the restoration was to mortal
existence, not to immortality. It is instructive to observe the
difference in the procedure of each of the Old Testament prophets
mentioned as compared with that of Christ in analogous miracles. By both
Elijah and Elisha the wonderful change was brought about only after long
and labored ministrations, and earnest invocation of the power and
intervention of Jehovah; but Jehovah, embodied in flesh as Jesus Christ,
did nothing outwardly but command, and the bonds of death were
immediately broken. He spoke in His own name and by inherent authority,
for by the power with which He was invested He held control of both life
and death.


While Jesus was walking to the house of Jairus with a great crowd of
people thronging about Him, the progress of the company was arrested by
another case of suffering. In the throng was a woman who for twelve
years had been afflicted with a serious ailment involving frequent
hemorrhage. She had spent in medical treatment all she had owned, and
"had suffered many things of many physicians," but had steadily grown
worse. She worked her way through the crowd, and, approaching Jesus from
behind, touched His robe; "For she said, If I may touch but his clothes
I shall be whole." The effect was more than magical; immediately she
felt the thrill of health throughout her body, and knew that she had
been healed of her affliction. Her object attained, the blessing she
sought being now secured, she tried to escape notice, by hastily
dropping back into the crowd. But her touch was not unheeded by the
Lord. He turned to look over the throng and asked, "Who touched my
clothes?" or as Luke puts it, "Who touched me?" As the people denied,
the impetuous Peter speaking for himself and the others said: "Master,
the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched
me?" But Jesus answered: "Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that
virtue is gone out of me."

The woman, finding that she could not escape identification, came
tremblingly forward, and, kneeling before the Lord, confessed what she
had done, her reason for so doing, and the beneficent result. If she had
expected censure her fears were promptly set at rest, for Jesus,
addressing her by a term of respect and kindness, said: "Daughter, be of
good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace," and as Mark
adds, "be whole of thy plague."

This woman's faith was sincere and free from guile, nevertheless it was
in a sense defective. She believed that the influence of Christ's
person, and even that attaching to His raiment, was a remedial agency,
ample to cure her malady; but she did not realize that the power to heal
was an inherent attribute to be exercized at His will, and as the
influence of faith might call it forth. True, her faith had already been
in part rewarded, but of greater worth to her than the physical cure of
her illness would be the assurance that the divine Healer had granted
the desire of her heart, and that the faith she had manifested was
accepted by Him. To correct her misapprehension and to confirm her
faith, Jesus gently subjected her to the necessary ordeal of confession,
which must have been made easier through her consciousness of the great
relief already experienced. He confirmed the healing and let her depart
with the comforting assurance that her recovery was permanent.

In contrast with the many cases of healing in connection with which the
Lord charged the beneficiaries that they should tell none how or by whom
they had been relieved, we see here that publicity was made sure by His
own action, and that too, when secrecy was desired by the recipient of
the blessing. The purposes and motives of Jesus may be but poorly
understood by man; but in this woman's case we see the possibility of
stories strange and untrue getting afloat, and it appears to have been
the wiser course to make plain the truth then and there. Moreover the
spiritual worth of the miracle was greatly enhanced by the woman's
confession and by the Lord's gracious assurance.

Observe the significant assertion, "Thy faith hath made thee whole."
Faith is of itself a principle of power;[683] and by its presence or
absence, by its fulness or paucity, even the Lord was and is influenced,
and in great measure controlled, in the bestowal or withholding of
blessings; for He ministers according to law, and not with caprice or
uncertainty. We read that at a certain time and place Jesus "could there
do no mighty work" because of the people's unbelief.[684] Modern
revelation specifies that faith to be healed is one of the gifts of the
Spirit, analogous to the manifestations of faith in the work of healing
others through the exercize of the power of the Holy Priesthood.[685]

Our Lord's inquiry as to who had touched Him in the throng affords us
another example of His asking questions in pursuance of a purpose, when
He could readily have determined the facts directly and without aid from
others. There was a special purpose in the question, as every teacher
finds a means of instruction in questioning his pupils.[686] But there
is in Christ's question, "Who touched me?" a deeper significance than
could inhere in a simple inquiry as to the identity of an individual;
and this is implied in the Lord's further words: "Somebody hath touched
me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me." The usual external
act by which His miracles were wrought was a word or a command,
sometimes accompanied by the laying on of hands, or by some other
physical ministration as in anointing the eyes of a blind man.[687] That
there was an actual giving of His own strength to the afflicted whom He
healed is evident from the present instance. Passive belief on the part
of a would-be recipient of blessing is insufficient; only when it is
vitalized into active faith is it a power; so also of one who ministers
in the authority given of God, mental and spiritual energy must be
operative if the service is to be effective.


Two other instances of miraculous healing are chronicled by Matthew as
closely following the raising of the daughter of Jairus. As Jesus passed
down the streets of Capernaum, presumably on His departure from the
house of the ruler of the synagog, two blind men followed Him, crying
out: "Thou son of David, have mercy on us." This title of address was
voiced by others at sundry times, and in no case do we find record of
our Lord disclaiming it or objecting to its use.[689] Jesus paused not
to heed this call of the blind, and the two sightless men followed Him,
even entering the house after Him. Then He spoke to them, asking:
"Believe ye that I am able to do this?" And they replied, "Yea, Lord."
Their persistency in following the Lord was evidence of their belief
that in some way, though to them unknown and mysterious, He could help
them; and they promptly and openly confessed that belief. Our Lord
touched their eyes, saying: "According to your faith be it unto you."
The effect was immediate; their eyes were opened. They were explicitly
instructed to say nothing of the matter to others; but, rejoicing in the
inestimable blessing of sight, they "spread abroad his fame in all that
country." So far as we can unravel the uncertain threads of sequence in
the works of Christ, this is the earliest instance, recorded with
attendant details, of His giving sight to the blind. Many remarkable
cases follow.[690]

It is worthy of note that in blessing the sightless by the exercize of
His healing power, Jesus usually ministered by some physical contact in
addition to uttering the authoritative words of command or assurance. In
this instance, as also in that of two blind men who sat by the wayside,
He touched the sightless eyes; in the giving of sight to the blind
indigent in Jerusalem He anointed the man's eyes with clay; to the eyes
of another He applied saliva.[691] An analogous circumstance is found in
the healing of one who was deaf and defective of speech, in which
instance the Lord put His fingers into the man's ears and touched his
tongue.[692] In no case can such treatment be regarded as medicinal or
therapeutic. Christ was not a physician who relied upon curative
substances, nor a surgeon to perform physical operations; His healings
were the natural results of the application of a power of His own. It is
conceivable that confidence, which is a stepping-stone to belief, as
that in turn is to faith, may have been encouraged by these physical
ministrations, strengthened, and advanced to a higher and more abiding
trust in Christ, on the part of the afflicted who had not sight to look
upon the Master's face and derive inspiration therefrom, nor hearing to
hear His uplifting words. There is apparent not alone an entire absence
of formula and formalism in His ministration, but a lack of uniformity
of procedure quite as impressive.

As the two men, once sightless but now seeing, departed, others came,
bringing a dumb friend whose affliction seems to have been primarily due
to the malignant influence of an evil spirit rather than to any organic
defect. Jesus rebuked the wicked spirit--cast out the demon that had
obsessed the afflicted one and held him in the tyranny of
speechlessness. The man's tongue was loosened, he was freed from the
evil incubus, and was no longer dumb.[693]


1. Storms on the Lake of Galilee.--It is a matter of record that sudden
and violent storms are common on the lake or sea of Galilee; and the
tempest that was quieted by the Lord's word of command was of itself no
unusual phenomenon, except perhaps in its intensity. Another incident
connected with a storm on this small body of water is of scriptural
record, and will be considered later in the text (Matt. 14:22-26; Mark
6:45-56; John 6:15-21). Dr. Thompson (_The Land and the Book_ ii:32)
gives a description founded on his personal experience on the shores of
the lake: "I spent a night in that Wady Shukaiyif, some three miles up
it, to the left of us. The sun had scarcely set when the wind began to
rush down toward the lake, and it continued all night long with
constantly increasing violence, so that when we reached the shore next
morning the face of the lake was a huge boiling caldron. The wind howled
down every wady from the north-east and east with such fury that no
efforts of rowers could have brought a boat to shore at any point along
that coast.... To understand the causes of these sudden and violent
tempests, we must remember that the lake lies low--six hundred feet
lower than the ocean; that the vast and naked plateaus of the Jaulan
rise to a great height, spreading backward to the wilds of the Hauran,
and upward to snowy Hermon; and the water-courses have cut out profound
ravines and wild gorges, converging to the head of this lake, and that
these act like gigantic funnels to draw down the cold winds from the

2. The Earth Before and After Its Regeneration.--That the earth itself
fell under the curse incident to the fall of the first parents of the
race, and that even as man shall be redeemed so shall the earth be
regenerated, is implied in Paul's words: "Because the creature itself
also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious
liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole Creation
groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they,
but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we
ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the
redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:21-23). The present author has written
elsewhere: "According to the scriptures, the earth has to undergo a
change analogous to death, and to be regenerated in a manner comparable
to a resurrection. References to the elements melting with heat, and to
the earth being consumed and passing away, such as occur in many
scriptures already cited, are suggestive of death; and the new earth,
really the renewed or regenerated planet, which is to result, may be
compared with a resurrected organism. The change has been likened unto a
transfiguration (Doc. and Cov. 63:20, 21). Every created thing has been
made for a purpose; and everything that fills the measure of its
creation is to be advanced in the scale of progression, be it an atom or
a world, an animalcule, or man--the direct and literal offspring of
Deity. In speaking of the degrees of glory provided for His creations,
and of the laws of regeneration and sanctification, the Lord, in a
revelation dated 1832, speaks plainly of the approaching death and
subsequent quickening of the earth. These are his words:--'And again,
verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom,
for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the
law. Wherefore it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall
die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it
is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.' (Doc. and Cov.

The vital Spirit that emanates from God and is coextensive with space,
may operate directly and with as positive effect upon inanimate things,
and upon energy in its diverse manifestations known to us as the forces
of nature, as upon organized intelligences, whether yet unembodied, in
the flesh, or disembodied. Thus, the Lord may speak directly to the
earth, the air, the sea, and be heard and obeyed, for the divine
affluence, which is the sum of all energy and power may and does operate
throughout the universe. In the course of a revelation from God to
Enoch, the earth is personified, and her groans and lamentations over
the wickedness of men were heard by the prophet: "And it came to pass
that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels
thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am
weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and
be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will
my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season
abide upon my face?" Enoch pleaded: "O Lord, wilt thou not have
compassion upon the earth?" Following further revelation as to the then
future course of mankind in sin and in the rejection of the Messiah who
was to be sent, the prophet wept with anguish, and asked of God "When
shall the earth rest?" It was then shown unto him that the crucified
Christ shall return to earth and establish a millennial reign of peace:
"And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the
last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath
which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah; and the day
shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens
shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the
heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be
among the children of men." And the glorious assurance followed "that
for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest." (P. of G.P.,
Moses 7:48, 49, 58, 60, 61, 64.)

A partial description of the earth in its regenerated state has been
given through the prophet Joseph Smith in the present dispensation:
"This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like
unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell
thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all
kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it;
and this earth will be Christ's." (Doc. and Cov. 130:9).

That Jesus Christ, in the exercize of His powers of Godship, should
speak directly to the wind or the sea and be obeyed, is no less truly in
accord with the natural law of heaven, than that He should effectively
command a man or an unembodied spirit. That through faith even mortal
man may set in operation the forces that act upon matter and with
assurance of stupendous results has been explicitly declared by Jesus
Christ: "For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of
mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder
place; and it shill remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you"
(Matt. 17:20; compare Mark 11:23; Luke 17:6).

3. The Land of the Gergesenes.--Attempts have been made to discredit the
account of Christ's healing the demoniac in "the country of the
Gadarenes" (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26) on the claim that the ancient town of
Gadara the capital of the district (see Josephus, Wars, iii, 7:1), was
too far inland to make possible the precipitous dash of the swine into
the sea from that place. Others lay stress on the fact that Matthew
differs from the two other Gospel-historians, in specifying "the country
of the Gergesenes" (8:28). As stated in the text, a whole region or
section is referred to, not a town. The keepers of the swine ran off to
the towns to report the disaster that had befallen their herd. In that
district of Perea there were at the time towns named respectively
Gadara, Gerasa, and Gergesa; the region in general, therefore, could
properly be called the land of the Gadarenes or of the Gergesenes.
Farrar (_Life of Christ_, p. 254 note) says: "After the researches of
Dr. Thompson (_The Land and the Book_, ii:25), there can be no doubt
that Gergesa ... was the name of a little town nearly opposite
Capernaum, the ruined site of which is still called Kerza or Gersa by
the Bedawin. The existence of this little town was apparently known both
to Origen, who first introduced the reading, and to Eusebius and Jerome;
and in their day a steep declivity near it, where the hills approach to
within a little distance from the lake, was pointed out as the scene of
the miracle."

4. Jesus Entreated to Leave the Country.--The people were frightened
over the power possessed by Jesus, as demonstrated in the cure of the
demoniac, and in the destruction of the swine, which latter occurrence,
however, was not in pursuance of His command. It was the fear that
sinful men feel in the presence of the Righteous. They were not prepared
for other manifestations of divine power, and they dreaded to think who
among them might be directly affected thereby should it be exerted. We
must judge the people mercifully, however, if at all. They were in part
heathen, and had but superstitious conceptions of Deity. Their prayer
that Jesus leave them brings to mind the ejaculation of Simon Peter in
his witnessing one of Christ's miracles: "Depart from me: for I am a
sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8).

5. "Dead," or "At the Point of Death."--According to Luke (8:42) the
daughter of Jairus "lay a dying" when the grief-stricken father sought
help of the Lord; Mark (5:23) reports the man as stating that the girl
lay "at the point of death." These two accounts agree; but Matthew
(9:18) represents the father as saying: "My daughter is even now dead."
Unbelieving critics have dwelt at length on what they designate an
inconsistency if not a contradiction in these versions; and yet both
accounts embodied in the three records are plainly true. The maid was
seemingly breathing her last, she was in the very throes of death, when
the father hurried away. Before he met Jesus he felt that the end had
probably come; nevertheless his faith endured. His words attest his
trust, that even had his daughter actually died since he left her side,
the Master could recall her to life. He was in a state of frenzied
grief, and still his faith held true.

6. Mourning Customs Among Orientals.--Observances that to us seem
strange, weird, and out of place, prevailed from very early times among
oriental peoples, some of which customs were common to the Jews in the
days of Christ. Noise and tumult, including screeching lamentations by
members of the bereaved family and by professional mourners, as also the
din of instruments, were usual accompaniments of mourning. Geikie,
citing Buxtorf's quotation from the Talmud, gives place to the
following: "Even a poor Israelite was required to have not fewer than
two flute players and one mourning woman at the death of his wife; but
if he be rich all things are to be done according to his quality." In
Smith's _Dictionary of the Bible_, we read: "The number of words (about
eleven Hebrew and as many Greek) employed in scripture to express the
various actions characteristic of mourning, shows in a great degree the
nature of Jewish customs in this respect. They appear to have consisted
chiefly in the following particulars: (1) Beating upon the breast or
other parts of the body. (2) Weeping and screaming in an excessive
degree. (3) Wearing sad-colored garments. (4) Songs of lamentation. (5)
Funeral feasts. (6) Employment of persons, especially women, to lament.
One marked feature of oriental mourning is what may be called its
studied publicity, and the careful observance of prescribed ceremonies
(Gen. 23:2; Job 1:20; 2:8; Isa. 15:3; etc.)."

7. "Not Dead, but Sleepeth."--That the daughter of Jairus was dead is
placed beyond reasonable doubt by the scriptural record. Our Lord's
statement to the noisy mourners that "the damsel is not dead but
sleepeth" told that her sleep was to be of short duration. It was a
rabbinical and common custom of the time to speak of death as a sleep,
and those who laughed Jesus to scorn for His statement chose to construe
His words in a sense of such literalism as the context scarcely
warrants. It is noticeable that the Lord used a strictly equivalent
expression with respect to the death of Lazarus. "Our friend Lazarus
sleepeth," said He, "but I go that I may awake him out of sleep." The
literal construction placed upon these words by the apostles evoked the
plain declaration "Lazarus is dead" (John 11:11, 14). In the Talmud
death is repeatedly designated as sleep--hundreds of times says
Lightfoot, a recognized authority on Hebrew literature.

8. Why Did Jesus Make Inquiries?--We have already considered many
instances of Christ's possession of what man would call superhuman
knowledge, extending even to the reading of unuttered thoughts. Some
people find difficulty in reconciling this superior quality with the
fact that Jesus often asked questions even on matters of minor
circumstance. We should realize that even complete knowledge may not
preclude the propriety of making inquiries, and, moreover, that even
omniscience does not imply ever-present consciousness of all that is.
Undoubtedly through his paternal heritage of divine attributes, Jesus
had the power of ascertaining for Himself, by means not possessed by
others, any facts He might have desired to know; nevertheless we find
Him repeatedly asking questions on circumstantial detail (Mark 9:21;
8:27; Matt. 16:13; Luke 8:45); and this He did even after His
resurrection (Luke 24:41; John 21:5; B. of M., 3 Nephi 17:7).

That catechization is one of the most effective means of mind
development is exampled in the methods followed by the best of human
teachers. Trench (_Notes on the Miracles_, pp. 148-9), thus
instructively points the lesson as illustrated by our Lord's question
concerning the woman who was healed of her issue of blood: With little
force "can it be urged that it would have been inconsistent with
absolute truth for the Lord to profess ignorance, and to ask the
question which He did ask, if all the while He perfectly knew what He
thus seemed implicitly to say that He did not know. A father among his
children, and demanding Who committed this fault? himself conscious,
even while he asks, but at the same time willing to bring the culprit to
a full confession, and so to put him in a pardonable state, can he be
said, in any way to violate the law of the highest truth? The same
offense might be found in Elisha's 'Whence comest thou, Gehazi?' (2
Kings 5:25) when his heart went with his servant all the way that he had
gone; and even in the question of God Himself to Adam, 'Where art thou?'
(Gen. 3:9), and to Cain, 'Where is Abel thy brother?' (Gen. 4:9). In
every case there is a moral purpose in the question, an opportunity
given even at the latest moment for making good at least a part of the
error by its unreserved confession."

9. The Blind See.--In his treatment of the miraculous healing of the two
blind men who had followed Jesus into the house, Trench (_Notes on the
Miracles of our Lord_, p. 152) says: "We have here the first of those
many healings of the blind recorded (Matt. 12:22; 20:30; 21:14; John 9)
or alluded to (Matt. 11:5) in the Gospels; each of them a literal
fulfilment of that prophetic word of Isaiah concerning the days of
Messiah: 'Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened' (35:5). Frequent
as these miracles are, they yet will none of them be found without
distinguishing features of their own. That they should be so numerous is
nothing wonderful, whether we regard the fact from a natural or
spiritual point of view. Regarded naturally they need not surprize us if
we keep in mind how far commoner a calamity is blindness in the East
than with us. Regarded from a spiritual point of view we have only to
remember how commonly sin is contemplated in Scripture as a moral
blindness (Deut. 28:29; Isa. 59:10; Job 12:25; Zeph. 1:17), and
deliverance from sin as a removal of this blindness (Isa. 6:9, 10; 43:8;
Eph. 1:18; Matt. 15:14); and we shall at once perceive how fit it was
that He who was the 'light of the world' should often accomplish works
which symbolized so well that higher work which He came into the world
to accomplish."

10. Imputation of Satanic Agency.--Observe that in the matter of healing
the dumb demoniac referred to in the text, Christ was charged with being
in league with the devil. Although the people, impressed by the
manifestation of divine power in the healing, exclaimed in reverence,
"It was never so seen in Israel," the Pharisees, intent on counteracting
the good effect of the Lord's miraculous ministration, said "He casteth
out devils through the prince of the devils." (Matt. 9:32-34.) For
further treatment of this inconsistent and, strictly speaking
blasphemous charge, see pages 265-269.


[657] Mark 4:35.

[658] "Articles of Faith," x:1-20--"Men called of God."

[659] Page 87.

[660] Luke 9:57-62; see also Matt. 8:19-22.

[661] Matt 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25.

[662] Note 1, end of chapter.

[663] Gen. 1:28; P. of G.P., Moses 2:26; 5:1.

[664] Gen. 3:17-19.

[665] Note 2, end of chapter.

[666] Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-19; Luke 8:26-39.

[667] Note 3, end of chapter.

[668] Compare Rev. 20:3.

[669] Revised version, "abyss" instead of "deep."

[670] Note 4, end of chapter.

[671] Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34, also verse 41; see page 181 herein.

[672] Mark 3:7-11; compare Luke 6:17-19. See page 187.

[673] Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41, 42, 49-56; Matt. 9:18, 19, 23-26.

[674] John 11:45; compare 8:30; 10:42.

[675] Note 5, end of chapter.

[676] Note 6, end of chapter.

[677] Note 7, end of chapter.

[678] Mark 5:19-20; Luke 8:39. Page 312.

[679] Page 251.

[680] 1 Cor. 15:20, 23; see also Acts 26:23; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5; and
"Articles of Faith," xxi:24-27.

[681] 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:31-37.

[682] Mark 5:25-34; Matt. 9:20-22; Luke 8:43-48.

[683] "Articles of Faith," v:11-13.

[684] Mark 6:5, 6; compare Matt. 13:58.

[685] Doc. and Cov. 46:19; compare Matt. 8:10; 9:28, 29. Acts 14:9.

[686] Note 8, end of chapter.

[687] Matt. 8:3; Luke 4:40; 13:13; John 9:6; compare Mark 6:5; 7:33;

[688] Matt. 9:27-35.

[689] Matt. 15:22; 20:30, 31; Mark 10:47, 48; Luke 18:38, 39.

[690] Note 9, end of chapter.

[691] Matt. 20:30-34; John 9:6; Mark 8:23.

[692] Mark 7:32-37.

[693] Matt. 9:32, 33. Note 10, end of chapter.




It will be remembered that, in the early days of His public ministry,
Jesus had been rejected by the people of Nazareth, who thrust Him out
from their synagog and tried to kill Him.[695] It appears that
subsequent to the events noted in our last chapter, He returned to the
town of His youth, and again raised His voice in the synagog, thus
mercifully affording the people another opportunity to learn and accept
the truth. The Nazarenes, as they had done before, now again openly
expressed their astonishment at the words He spoke, and at the many
miraculous works He had wrought; nevertheless they rejected Him anew,
for He came not as they expected the Messiah to come; and they refused
to know Him save as "the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of
James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon;" all of whom were common folk
as were also His sisters. "And they were offended at him."[696] Jesus
reminded them of the proverb then current among the people, "A prophet
is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin,
and in his own house." Their unbelief was so dense as to cause Him to
marvel;[697] and because of their lack of faith He was unable to
accomplish any great work except to heal a few exceptional believers
upon whom He laid His hands. Leaving Nazareth, He entered upon His third
tour of the Galilean towns and villages, preaching and teaching as He


About this time, also, Jesus inaugurated a notable expansion of the
ministry of the kingdom, by sending forth the Twelve on assigned
missions. Since their ordination the apostles had been with their Lord,
learning from Him by public discourse and private exposition, and
acquiring invaluable experience and training through that privileged and
blessed companionship. The purpose of their ordination was
specified--"that they should be with him, and that he might send them
forth to preach."[700] They had been pupils under the Master's watchful
guidance for many months; and now they were called to enter upon the
duties of their calling as preachers of the gospel and individual
witnesses of the Christ. By way of final preparation they were
specifically and solemnly charged.[701] Some of the instructions given
them on this occasion had particular reference to their first mission,
from which they would in due time return and report; other directions
and admonitions were to be of effect throughout their ministry, even
after the Lord's ascension.

They were directed to confine their ministrations for the time being "to
the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and not to open a propaganda
among the Gentiles,[702] nor even in Samaritan cities. This was a
temporary restriction, imposed in wisdom and prudence; later, as we
shall see, they were directed to preach among all nations, with the
world for their field.[703] The subject of their discourses was to be
that upon which they had heard the Master preach--"the kingdom of heaven
is at hand." They were to exercize the authority of the Holy Priesthood
as conferred upon them by ordination; it was a specified part of their
mission to "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out
devils," as occasion presented itself; and they were commanded to give
freely, even as they had freely received. Personal comfort and bodily
needs they were not to provide for; the people were to be proved as to
their willingness to receive and assist those who came in the name of
the Lord; and the apostles themselves were to learn to rely upon a
Provider more to be trusted than man; therefore money, extra clothing,
and things of mere convenience were to be left behind. In the several
towns they entered they were to seek entertainment and leave their
blessing upon every worthy family into which they were received. If they
found themselves rejected by a household or by a town as a whole, they
were to shake the dust from their feet on leaving, as a testimony
against the people;[704] and it was decreed that, in the day of
judgment, the place so denounced would fare worse than wicked Sodom and
Gomorrha upon which fire from heaven had descended.

The apostles were told to be prudent, to give no needless offense, but
to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves; for they were sent forth
as sheep into the midst of wolves. They were not to recklessly entrust
themselves to the power of men; for wicked men would persecute them,
seek to arraign them before councils and courts, and to afflict them in
the synagogs. Moreover they might expect to be brought before governors
and kings, under which extreme conditions, they were to rely upon divine
inspiration as to what they should say, and not depend upon their own
wisdom in preparation and premeditation; "For," said the Master, "it is
not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in

They were not to trust even the claims of kinship for protection, for
families would be divided over the truth, brother against brother,
children against parents, and the resulting strife would be deadly.
These servants of Christ were told that they would be hated of all men,
but were assured that their sufferings were to be for His name's sake.
They were to withdraw from the cities that persecuted them, and go to
others; and the Lord would follow them, even before they would be able
to complete the circuit of the cities of Israel. They were admonished to
humility, and were always to remember that they were servants, who ought
not to expect to escape when even their Master was assailed.
Nevertheless they were to be fearless, hesitating not to preach the
gospel in plainness; for the most their persecutors could do was to kill
the body, which fate was as nothing compared to that of suffering
destruction of the soul in hell.

Assurance of the Father's watchful care was impressed upon them by the
simple reminder that though sparrows were sold two for a farthing, and
yet not a sparrow could be sacrificed without the Father's concern,
they, who were of more value than many sparrows, would not be forgotten.
They were solemnly warned that whosoever would freely confess the Christ
before men would be acknowledged by Him in the Father's presence, while
they who denied Him before men would be denied in heaven. And again they
were told that the gospel would bring strife, whereby households would
be disrupted; for the doctrine the Lord had taught would be as a sword
to cut and divide. The duties of their special ministry were to
supersede the love for kindred; they must be willing to leave father,
mother, son, or daughter, whatever the sacrifice; for, said Jesus "He
that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."

The significance of this figure must have been solemnly impressive, and
actually terrifying; for the cross was a symbol of ignominy, extreme
suffering, and death. However, should they lose their lives for His
sake, they would find life eternal; while he who was not willing to die
in the Lord's service should lose his life in a sense at once literal
and awful. They were never to forget in whose name they were sent; and
were comforted with the assurance that whoever received them would be
rewarded as one who had received the Christ and His Father; and that
though the gift were only that of a cup of cold water, the giver should
in no wise lose his reward.

Thus charged and instructed, the twelve special witnesses of the Christ
set out upon their mission, traveling in pairs,[706] while Jesus
continued His personal ministry.


We are without definite information as to the duration of the apostles'
first mission, and as to the extent of the field they traversed. The
period of their absence was marked by many important developments in the
individual labors of Jesus. It is probable that during this time our
Lord visited Jerusalem, on the occasion mentioned by John as coincident
with the unnamed feast of the Jews.[707] While the apostles were absent,
Jesus was visited by the Baptist's disciples, as we have already
seen[708] and the return of the Twelve occurred near the time of the
infamous execution of John the Baptist in prison.[709]

The missionary labors of the apostles greatly augmented the spread of
the new doctrine of the kingdom, and the name and works of Jesus were
proclaimed throughout the land. The people of Galilee were at that time
in a state of discontent threatening open insurrection against the
government; their unrest had been aggravated by the murder of the
Baptist. Herod Antipas, who had given the fatal order, trembled in his
palace. He heard, with fear due to inward conviction of guilt, of the
marvelous works wrought by Jesus, and in terror averred that Christ
could be none other than John Baptist returned from the tomb. His
fawning courtiers essayed to allay his fears by saying that Jesus was
Elijah, or some other of the prophets whose advent had been predicted;
but the conscience-stricken Herod said: "It is John whom I beheaded: he
is risen from the dead." Herod desired to see Jesus; perhaps through the
fascination of fear, or with the faint hope that sight of the renowned
Prophet of Nazareth might dispel his superstitious dread that the
murdered John had returned to life.

Upon the completion of their missionary tour, the apostles rejoined the
Master and reported to Him both what they had taught and what they had
done by way of authoritative ministration. They had preached the gospel
of repentance in all the cities, towns, and villages to which they had
gone; they had anointed with oil many afflicted ones, and the power of
their priesthood had been attested by consequent healings; even unclean
spirits and devils had been subject unto them.[710] They found Jesus
attended by great multitudes; and they had little opportunity of private
conference with Him; "for there were many coming and going, and they had
no leisure so much as to eat." The apostles must have heard in gladness
the Lord's invitation: "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place,
and rest awhile." In quest of seclusion, Jesus and the Twelve withdrew
from the throng, and privately entered a boat in which they crossed to a
rural spot adjacent to the city of Bethsaida.[711] Their departure had
not been unobserved, however, and eager crowds hastened along the shore,
and partly around the northerly end of the lake, to join the party at
the landing place. From John's account we are led to infer that, before
the arrival of great numbers, Jesus and His companions had ascended the
hillside near the shore, where, for a short time they had rested. As the
multitude gathered on the lower slopes, our Lord looked upon them as
upon sheep without a shepherd; and, yielding to their desire and to His
own emotions of divine pity, He taught them many things, healed their
afflicted ones, and comforted their hearts with compassionate


So intent were the people on hearing the Lord's words, and so concerned
in the miraculous relief resulting from His healing ministrations, that
they remained in the wilderness, oblivious to the passing of the hours,
until the evening approached. It was the springtime, near the recurrence
of the annual Passover festival, the season of grass and flowers.[713]
Jesus, realizing that the people were hungry, asked Philip, one of the
Twelve, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" The purpose of
the question was to test the apostle's faith; for the Lord had already
determined as to what was to be done. Philip's reply showed surprize at
the question, and conveyed his thought that the suggested undertaking
was impossible. "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for
them, that every one of them may take a little," said he. Andrew added
that there was a lad present who had five barley loaves, and two small
fishes, "But," said he, "what are they among so many?"

Such is John's account; the other writers state that the apostles
reminded Jesus of the lateness of the hour, and urged that He send the
people away to seek for themselves food and lodging in the nearest
towns. It appears most probable that the conversation between Jesus and
Philip occurred earlier in the afternoon;[714] and that as the hours
sped, the Twelve became concerned and advized that the multitude be
dismissed. The Master's reply to the apostles was: "They need not
depart; give ye them to eat." In amazed wonder they replied: "We have
here but five loaves and two fishes;" and Andrew's despairing comment is
implied again--What are they among so many?

Jesus gave command, and the people seated themselves on the grass in
orderly array; they were grouped in fifties and hundreds; and it was
found that the multitude numbered about five thousand men, beside women
and children. Taking the loaves and the fishes, Jesus looked toward
heaven and pronounced a blessing upon the food; then, dividing the
provisions, He gave to the apostles severally, and they in turn
distributed to the multitude. The substance of both fish and bread
increased under the Master's touch; and the multitude feasted there in
the desert, until all were satisfied. To the disciples Jesus said:
"Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost;" and twelve
baskets were filled with the surplus.

As to the miracle itself, human knowledge is powerless to explain.
Though wrought on so great a scale, it is no more nor less inexplicable
than any other of the Lord's miraculous works. It was a manifestation of
creative power, by which material elements were organized and compounded
to serve a present and pressing need. The broken but unused portion
exceeded in bulk and weight the whole of the original little store. Our
Lord's direction to gather up the fragments was an impressive
object-lesson against waste; and it may have been to afford such lesson
that an excess was supplied. The fare was simple, yet nourishing,
wholesome and satisfying. Barley bread and fish constituted the usual
food of the poorer classes of the region. The conversion of water into
wine at Cana was a qualitative transmutation; the feeding of the
multitude involved a quantitative increase; who can say that one, or
which, of these miracles of provision was the more wonderful?

The multitude, now fed and filled, gave some consideration to the
miracle. In Jesus, by whom so great a work had been wrought, they
recognized One having superhuman powers. "This is of a truth the prophet
that should come into the world," said they--the Prophet whose coming
had been foretold by Moses and who should be like unto himself. Even as
Israel had been miraculously fed during the time of Moses, so now was
bread provided in the desert by this new Prophet. In their enthusiasm
the people proposed to proclaim Him king, and forcibly compel Him to
become their leader. Such was their gross conception of Messianic
supremacy. Jesus directed His disciples to depart by boat, while He
remained to dismiss the now excited multitude. The disciples hesitated
to leave their Master; but He constrained them and they obeyed. His
insistence, that the Twelve depart from both Himself and the multitude,
may have been due to a desire to protect the chosen disciples against
possible infection by the materialistic and unrighteous designs of the
throng to make Him king. By means that are not detailed, He caused the
people to disperse; and, as night came on, He found that for which He
had come in quest, solitude and quiet. Ascending the hill, He chose a
secluded place, and there remained in prayer during the greater part of
the night.


The return by boat proved to be a memorable journey for the disciples.
They encountered a boisterous head-wind, which of course rendered
impossible the use of sails; and though they toiled heavily at the oars
the vessel became practically unmanageable and wallowed in the midst of
the sea.[716] Though they had labored through the night they had
progressed less than four miles on their course; to turn and run before
the wind would have been to invite disastrous wreck; their sole hope lay
in their holding the vessel to the wind by sheer power of muscle. Jesus,
in His place of solitary retirement, was aware of their sad plight, and
along in the fourth watch,[717] that is, between three and six o'clock
in the morning, He came to their assistance, walking upon the
storm-tossed water as though treading solid ground. When the voyagers
caught sight of Him as He approached the ship in the faint light of the
near-spent night, they were overcome by superstitious fears, and cried
out in terror, thinking that they saw a ghostly apparition. "But
straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be
not afraid."

Relieved by these assuring words, Peter, impetuous and impulsive as
usual, cried out: "Lord, if[718] it be thou, bid me come unto thee on
the water." Jesus assenting, Peter descended from the ship and walked
toward his Master; but as the wind smote him and the waves rose about
him, his confidence wavered and he began to sink. Strong swimmer though
he was,[719] he gave way to fright, and cried, "Lord, save me." Jesus
caught him by the hand, saying: "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst
thou doubt?"

From Peter's remarkable experience, we learn that the power by which
Christ was able to walk the waves could be made operative in others,
provided only their faith was enduring. It was on Peter's own request
that he was permitted to attempt the feat. Had Jesus forbidden him, the
man's faith might have suffered a check; his attempt, though attended by
partial failure, was a demonstration of the efficacy of faith in the
Lord, such as no verbal teaching could ever have conveyed. Jesus and
Peter entered the vessel; immediately the wind ceased, and the boat soon
reached the shore. The amazement of the apostles, at this latest
manifestation of the Lord's control over the forces of nature, would
have been more akin to worship and less like terrified consternation had
they remembered the earlier wonders they had witnessed; but they had
forgotten even the miracle of the loaves, and their hearts had
hardened.[720] Marveling at the power of One to whom the wind-lashed sea
was a sustaining floor, the apostles bowed before the Lord in reverent
worship, saying: "Of a truth thou art the Son of God."[721]

Aside from the marvelous circumstances of its literal occurrence, the
miracle is rich in symbolism and suggestion. By what law or principle
the effect of gravitation was superseded, so that a human body could be
supported upon the watery surface, man is unable to affirm. The
phenomenon is a concrete demonstration of the great truth that faith is
a principle of power, whereby natural forces may be conditioned and
controlled.[722] Into every adult human life come experiences like unto
the battling of the storm-tossed voyagers with contrary winds and
threatening seas; ofttimes the night of struggle and danger is far
advanced before succor appears; and then, too frequently the saving aid
is mistaken for a greater terror. As came unto Peter and his terrified
companions in the midst of the turbulent waters, so comes to all who
toil in faith, the voice of the Deliverer--"It is I; be not afraid."


The night voyage, in the course of which Jesus had reached the boat with
its frightened occupants while "in the midst of the sea," ended at some
point within the district known as the land of Gennesaret, which, as
generally believed, embraced the rich and fertile region in the vicinity
of Tiberias and Magdala. Of the natural beauties, for which the region
was famed much has been written.[723] Word of our Lord's presence there
spread rapidly, and, from "all that country round about" the people
flocked to Him, bringing their afflicted to receive of His beneficence
by word or touch. In the towns through which He walked, the sick were
laid in the streets that the blessing of His passing might fall upon
them; and many "besought him that they might touch if it were but the
border of his garment; and as many as touched him were made whole."[724]
Bounteously did He impart of His healing virtue to all who came asking
with faith and confidence. Thus, accompanied by the Twelve, He wended
His way northward to Capernaum, making the pathway bright by the
plentitude of His mercies.


The multitude who, on the yesterday, had partaken of His bounty on the
other side of the lake, and who dispersed for the night after their
ineffectual attempt to force upon Him the dignity of earthly kingship,
were greatly surprized in the morning to discover that He had departed.
They had seen the disciples leave in the only boat there present, while
Jesus had remained on shore; and they knew that the night tempest had
precluded the possibility of other boats reaching the place.
Nevertheless their morning search for Him was futile; and they concluded
that He must have returned by land round the end of the lake. As the day
advanced some boats were sighted, bound for the western coast; these
they hailed, and, securing passage, crossed to Capernaum.

Their difficulty in locating Jesus was at an end, for His presence was
known throughout the town. Coming to Him, probably as He sat in the
synagog, for on this day He taught there, some of the most intrusive of
the crowd asked, brusquely and almost rudely, "Rabbi, when camest thou
hither?" To this impertinent inquiry Jesus deigned no direct reply; in
the miracle of the preceding night the people had no part, and no
account of our Lord's movements was given them. In tone of impressive
rebuke Jesus said unto them: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek
me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the
loaves, and were filled." Their concern was for the bread and fishes.
One who could supply them with victuals as He had done must not be lost
sight of.

The Master's rebuke was followed by admonition and instruction: "Labour
not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto
everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath
God the Father sealed." This contrast between material and spiritual
food they could not entirely fail to understand, and some of them asked
what they should do to serve God as Jesus required. The answer was:
"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."
That Jesus was referring to Himself, none could doubt; and straightway
they demanded of Him further evidence of His divine commission; they
would see greater signs. The miracle of the loaves and fishes was nearly
a day old; and its impressiveness as evidence of Messianic attributes
was waning. Moses had fed their fathers with manna in the desert, they
said; and plainly they regarded a continued daily supply as a greater
gift than a single meal of bread and fish, however much the latter may
have been appreciated in the exigency of hunger. Moreover, the manna was
heavenly food;[726] whereas the bread He had given them was of earth,
and only common barley bread at that. He must show them greater signs,
and give them richer provender, before they would accept Him as the One
whom they at first had taken Him to be and whom He now declared Himself
to be.


"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave
you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread
from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven,
and giveth life unto the world." They were mistaken in assuming that
Moses had given them manna; and after all, the manna had been but
ordinary food in that those who ate of it hungered again; but now the
Father offered them bread from heaven such as would insure them life.

As the Samaritan woman at the well, on hearing the Lord speak of water
that would satisfy once for all, had begged impulsively and with thought
only of physical convenience, "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst
not, neither come hither to draw,"[728] so these people, eager to secure
so satisfying a food as that of which Jesus spake, implored: "Lord,
evermore give us this bread." Perhaps this request was not wholly gross;
there may have been in the hearts of some of them at least a genuine
desire for spiritual nourishment. Jesus met their appeal with an
explanation: "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never
hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." He reminded
them that though they had seen Him they believed not His words; and
assured them that those who really accepted Him would do as the Father
directed. Then, without metaphor or symbolism, He affirmed: "I came down
from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."
And the Father's will was that all who would accept the Son should have
everlasting life.

There were present in the synagog some of the rulers--Pharisees,
scribes, rabbis--and these, designated collectively as the Jews,
criticized Jesus, and murmured against Him because He had said, "I am
the bread which came down from heaven." They averred that He could do
nothing more than any man could do; He was known to them as the son of
Joseph, and as far as they knew was of ordinary earthly parentage, and
yet He had the temerity to declare that He had come down from heaven.
Chiefly to this class rather than to the promiscuous crowd who had
hastened after Him, Jesus appears to have addressed the remainder of His
discourse. He advized them to cease their murmurings; for it was a
certainty that they could not apprehend His meaning, and therefore would
not believe Him, unless they had been "taught of God" as the prophets
had written;[729] and none could come to Him in the sense of accepting
His saving gospel unless the Father drew them to the Son; and none save
those who were receptive, willing, and prepared, could be so drawn.[730]
Yet belief in the Son of God is an indispensable condition to salvation,
as Jesus indicated in His affirmation: "Verily, verily, I say unto you,
he that believeth on me hath everlasting life."

Then, reverting to the symbolism of the bread, He reiterated: "I am the
bread of life." In further elucidation He explained that while their
fathers did truly eat manna in the wilderness, yet they were dead;
whereas the bread of life of which He spake would insure eternal life
unto all who partook thereof. That bread, He averred, was His flesh.
Against this solemn avowal the Jews complained anew, and disputed among
themselves, some asking derisively: "How can this man give us his flesh
to eat." Emphasizing the doctrine, Jesus continued: "Verily, verily, I
say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his
blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my
blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For
my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my
flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the
living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth
me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from
heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth
of this bread shall live forever."

There was little excuse for the Jews pretending to understand that our
Lord meant an actual eating and drinking of His material flesh and
blood. The utterances to which they objected were far more readily
understood by them than they are by us on first reading; for the
representation of the law and of truth in general as bread, and the
acceptance thereof as a process of eating and drinking, were figures in
every-day use by the rabbis of that time.[731] Their failure to
comprehend the symbolism of Christ's doctrine was an act of will, not
the natural consequence of innocent ignorance. To eat the flesh and
drink the blood of Christ was and is to believe in and accept Him as the
literal Son of God and Savior of the world, and to obey His
commandments. By these means only may the Spirit of God become an
abiding part of man's individual being, even as the substance of the
food he eats is assimilated with the tissues of his body.

It is not sufficing to accept the precepts of Christ as we may adopt the
doctrines of scientists, philosophers, and savants, however great the
wisdom of these sages may be; for such acceptance is by mental assent or
deliberate exercize of will, and has relation to the doctrine only as
independent of the author. The teachings of Jesus Christ endure because
of their intrinsic worth; and many men respect His aphorisms, proverbs,
parables, and His profoundly philosophical precepts, who yet reject Him
as the Son of God, the Only Begotten in the flesh, the God-Man in whom
were united the attributes of Deity with those of humanity, the chosen
and foreordained Redeemer of mankind, through whom alone may salvation
be attained. But the figure used by Jesus--that of eating His flesh and
drinking His blood as typical of unqualified and absolute acceptance of
Himself as the Savior of men, is of superlative import; for thereby are
affirmed the divinity of His Person, and the fact of His pre-existent
and eternal Godship. The sacrament of the Lord's supper, established by
the Savior on the night of His betrayal, perpetuates the symbolism of
eating His flesh and drinking His blood, by the partaking of bread and
wine in remembrance of Him.[732] Acceptance of Jesus as the Christ
implies obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel; for to
profess the One and refuse the other is but to convict ourselves of
inconsistency, insincerity, and hypocrisy.


The truth respecting Himself, as taught by the Lord in this, His last,
discourse in the synagog at Capernaum, proved to be a test of faith
through which many fell away. Not alone critical Jews of the official
class, whose hostility was openly avowed, but those who had professed
some measure of belief in Him were affected. "Many therefore of his
disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who
can hear it?" Jesus, cognizant of their disaffection, asked: "Doth this
offend you?" and added: "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend
up where he was before?" His ascension, which was to follow His death
and resurrection, is here definitely implied. The spiritual significance
of His teachings was put beyond question by the explanation that only
through the Spirit could they comprehend; "Therefore," He added, "said I
unto you, that no man can come unto me except it were given unto him of
my Father."

Many deserted Him, and from that time sought Him no more. The occasion
was crucial; the effect was that of sifting and separation. The
portentous prediction of the Baptist-prophet had entered upon the stage
of fulfilment: "One mightier than I cometh ... Whose fan is in his hand,
and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the
garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."[734] The
fan was in operation, and much chaff was blown aside.

It appears that even the Twelve were unable to comprehend the deeper
meaning of these latest teachings; they were puzzled, though none
actually deserted. Nevertheless, the state of mind of some was such as
to evoke from Jesus the question: "Will ye also go away?" Peter,
speaking for himself and his brethren, answered with pathos and
conviction: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal
life."[735] The spirit of the Holy Apostleship was manifest in this
confession. Though they were unable to comprehend in fulness the
doctrine, they knew Jesus to be the Christ, and were faithful to Him
while others turned away into the dark depths of apostasy.

While Peter spoke for the apostolic body as a whole, there was among
them one who silently revolted; the treacherous Iscariot, who was in
worse plight than an openly avowed apostate, was there. The Lord knew
this man's heart, and said: "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of
you is a devil?" The historian adds: "He spake of Judas Iscariot the son
of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the


1. Jesus at Nazareth.--As no one of the Gospel-writers records two
occasions of our Lord's ministry in Nazareth, and as the separate
accounts appearing in the synoptic Gospels closely resemble one another
in a few particulars, some commentators hold that our Lord preached to
His townsmen in Nazareth and was rejected by them but once. Luke's
account (4:14-30) refers to an occasion immediately following the first
return of Jesus to Galilee after His baptism and temptations, and
directly preceding the preliminary call of the fishermen-disciples, who
afterward were numbered among the apostles. Matthew (13:53-58) and Mark
(6:1-6) chronicle a visit of Jesus to Nazareth later than the occasion
of the first teaching in parables, and the events immediately following
the same. We have good reason for accepting Luke's record as that of an
early incident, and the accounts given by Matthew and Mark as those of a
later visit.

2. Gentiles.--In a general way the Jews designated all other peoples as
Gentiles; though the same Hebrew word is rendered in the Old Testament
variously, as "Gentiles" (Gen. 10:5; Judg. 4:2, 13, 16; Isa. 11:10;
etc.), "nations" (Gen. 10:5, 20, 31, 32; 14:1, 9; etc.), and "heathen"
(Neh. 5:8; Psa. 2:1, 8, etc.), the essential element of designation
being that of foreigners. In Smith's _Dict. of the Bible_, we read "It
[the name 'Gentiles'] acquired an ethnographic and also an invidious
meaning, as other nations were idolatrous, rude, hostile, etc., yet the
Jews were able to use it in a purely technical, geographical sense, when
it was usually translated 'nations.'" Dr. Edward E. Nourse, writing for
the _Standard Bible Dictionary_, says: "In New Testament times, the Jew
divided mankind into three classes, (1) Jews, (2) Greeks (Hellenes, made
to include Romans, thus meaning the civilized peoples of the Roman
Empire, often rendered 'Gentiles' in Authorized Version), and (3)
barbarians (the uncivilized, Acts 28:4; Rom. 1:14; 1 Cor. 14:11)." The
injunction laid by Jesus upon the Twelve--"Go not into the way of the
Gentiles"--was to restrain them for the time being from attempting to
make converts among the Romans and Greeks, and to confine their ministry
to the people of Israel.

3. Shaking the Dust from the Feet.--To ceremonially shake the dust from
one's feet as a testimony against another was understood by the Jews to
symbolize a cessation of fellowship and a renunciation of all
responsibility for consequences that might follow. It became an
ordinance of accusation and testimony by the Lord's instructions to His
apostles as cited in the text. In the current dispensation, the Lord has
similarly directed His authorized servants to so testify against those
who wilfully and maliciously oppose the truth when authoritatively
presented (see Doc. and Cov. 24:15; 60:15; 75:20; 84:92; 99:4). The
responsibility of testifying before the Lord by this accusing symbol is
so great that the means may be employed only under unusual and extreme
conditions, as the Spirit of the Lord may direct.

4. The Two Bethsaidas.--It is held by many Bible students that
Bethsaida, in the desert region adjoining which Jesus and the Twelve
sought rest and seclusion, was the town of that name in Perea, on the
eastern side of the Jordan, and known more specifically as Bethsaida
Julias to distinguish it from Bethsaida in Galilee, which latter was
close to Capernaum. The Perean village of Bethsaida had been enlarged
and raised to the rank of a town by the tetrarch, Philip, and by him had
been named Julias in honor of Julia, daughter of the reigning emperor.
The Gospel narratives of the voyage by which Jesus and His companions
reached the place, and of the return therefrom, are conformable to the
assumption that Bethsaida Julias in Perea and not Bethsaida in Galilee,
was the town to which the "desert place" referred to was an outlying

5. The Earlier and the Later Evening.--Matthew specifies two evenings of
the day on which the five thousand were fed; thus "when it was evening"
the disciples asked Jesus to send away the multitude; and later, after
the miraculous feeding and after the disciples had left by boat, and
after the crowds had departed, "when the evening was come" Jesus was
alone on the mountain (Matt. 14:15, 23; compare Mark 6:35, 47). Trench
_Notes on the Miracles_, (p. 217) says: "St. Matthew and St. Mark with
him, makes two evenings to this day--one which had already commenced
before the preparations for the feeding of the multitude had begun
(verse 15), the other now, when the disciples had entered into the ship
and set forth on their voyage (verse 23). And this was an ordinary way
of speaking among the Jews, the first evening being very much our
afternoon ... the second evening being the twilight, or from six o'clock
to twilight, on which absolute darkness followed." See Smith's _Dict._,
article "Chronology," from which the following excerpt is taken:
"'Between the two evenings' (margin of Exo. 12:6; Numb. 9:3; 28:4) is a
natural division between the late afternoon when the sun is low, and the
evening when his light has not wholly disappeared, the two evenings into
which the natural evening would be cut by the commencement of the civil
day if it began at sunset."

6. Watches of the Night.--During the greater part of Old Testament time,
the people of Israel divided the night into three watches, each of four
hours, such a period being that of individual sentinel duty. Before the
beginning of the Christian era, however, the Jews had adopted the Roman
order of four night-watches, each lasting three hours. These were
designated numerically, e.g. the fourth watch mentioned in the text (see
Matt. 14:25), or as even, midnight, cock-crowing, and morning (see Mark
13:35). The fourth watch was the last of the three-hour periods between
sunset and sunrise, or between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and therefore extended
from 3 to 6 o'clock in the morning.

7. The Hem of the Garment.--The faith of those who believed that if they
could but touch the border of the Lord's garment they would be healed,
is in line with that of the woman who was healed of her long-standing
malady by so touching His robe (see Matt. 9:21; Mark 5:27, 28; Luke
8:44). The Jews regarded the border or hem of their outer robes as of
particular importance, because of the requirement made of Israel in
earlier days (Numb. 15:38, 39) that the border be fringed and supplied
with a band of blue, as a reminder to them of their obligations as the
covenant people. The desire to touch the hem of Christ's robe may have
been associated with this thought of sanctity attaching to the hem or

8. Traditions Concerning Manna.--The supplying of manna to the
Israelites incident to the exodus and the long travel in the wilderness,
was rightly regarded as a work of surpassing wonder (Exo. 16:14-36;
Numb. 11:7-9; Deut. 8:3, 16; Josh. 5:12; Psa. 78:24, 25). Many
traditions, some of them perniciously erroneous, gathered about the
incident, and were transmitted with invented additions from generation
to generation. In the time of Christ the rabbinical teaching was that
the manna on which the fathers had fed was literally the food of the
angels, sent down from heaven; and that it was of diverse taste and
flavor to suit all ages, conditions, or desires; to one it tasted like
honey, to another as bread, etc.; but in all Gentile mouths it was
bitter. Moreover it was said that the Messiah would give an unfailing
supply of manna to Israel when He came amongst them. These erroneous
conceptions in part explain the demand of those who had been fed on
barley loaves and fishes, for a sign that would surpass the giving of
manna in the olden days, as evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus.

9. Faith a Gift of God.--"Though within the reach of all who diligently
strive to gain it, faith is nevertheless a divine gift, and can be
obtained only from God (Matt. 16:17; John 6:44, 65; Eph. 2:8; 1 Cor.
12:9; Rom. 12:3; Moroni 10:11). As is fitting for so priceless a pearl,
it is given to those only who show by their sincerity that they are
worthy of it, and who give promise of abiding by its dictates. Although
faith is called the first principle of the Gospel of Christ, though it
be in fact the foundation of all religion, yet even faith is preceded by
sincerity of disposition and humility of soul, whereby the word of God
may make an impression upon the heart (Rom. 10:17). No compulsion is
used in bringing men to a knowledge of God; yet, as fast as we open our
hearts to the influences of righteousness, the faith that leads to life
eternal will be given us of our Father."--_Articles of Faith_, v:16.

10. Spiritual Symbolism of Eating.--"The idea of eating, as a metaphor
for receiving spiritual benefit, was familiar to Christ's hearers, and
was as readily understood as our expressions--'devouring a book,' or
'drinking in' instruction. In Isaiah 3:1, the words 'the whole stay of
bread,' were explained by the rabbis as referring to their own teaching,
and they laid it down as a rule, that wherever, in Ecclesiastes,
allusion was made to food or drink, it meant study of the law, and the
practise of good works. It was a saying among them--'In the time of the
Messiah the Israelites will be fed by Him.' Nothing was more common in
the schools and synagogs than the phrases of eating and drinking, in a
metaphorical sense. 'Messiah is not likely to come to Israel,' said
Hillel, 'for they have already eaten Him'--that is, greedily received
His words--'in the days of Hezekiah.' A current conventionalism in the
synagogs was that the just would 'eat the Shekinah.' It was peculiar to
the Jews to be taught in such metaphorical language. Their rabbis never
spoke in plain words, and it is expressly said that Jesus submitted to
the popular taste, for 'without a parable spake he not unto them' (Mark
4:34)."--Geikie, _Life and Words of Christ_, vol. i, p. 184.

11. The Crucial Nature of the Discourse.--Commenting on the effect of
our Lord's discourse (John 6:26-71), Edersheim (vol. ii, p. 36) says:
"Here then we are at the parting of the two ways; and just because it
was the hour of decision, did Christ so clearly set forth the highest
truths concerning Himself, in opposition to the views which the
multitude entertained about the Messiah. The result was yet another and
a sorer defection. Upon this many of His disciples went back, and walked
no more with Him. Nay, the searching trial reached even unto the hearts
of the Twelve. Would they also go away? It was an anticipation of
Gethsemane--its first experience. But one thing kept them true. It was
the experience of the past. This was the basis of their present faith
and allegiance. They could not go back to their old past; they must
cleave to Him. So Peter spake it in name of them all: Lord, to whom
shall we go? Words of eternal life hast thou! Nay, and more than this,
as the result of what they had learned: And we have believed and know
that thou art the Holy One of God. It is thus, also, that many of us,
whose thoughts may have been sorely tossed, and whose foundations
terribly assailed, may have found our first resting-place in the
assured, unassailable spiritual experience of the past. Whither can we
go for words of eternal life, if not to Christ? If He fails us, then all
hope of the eternal is gone. But He has the words of eternal life--and
we believed when they first came to us; nay, we know that He is the Holy
One of God. And this conveys all that faith needs for further learning.
The rest will He show when He is transfigured in our sight. But of these
Twelve Christ knew one to be a devil--like that angel, fallen from
highest height to lowest depth. The apostasy of Judas had already
commenced in his heart. And the greater the popular expectancy and
disappointment had been, the greater the reaction and the enmity that
followed. The hour of decision was past, and the hand on the dial
pointed to the hour of His death."


[694] Matt. 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6.

[695] Luke 4:28-30. See pages 179-181.

[696] Pages 254, 274.

[697] Note 2, page 273.

[698] Note 1, end of chapter.

[699] Matt. 10:5-42; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-5.

[700] Mark 3:14.

[701] Matt. 10:5-42; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6.

[702] Note 2, end of chapter.

[703] Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15. Page 695 herein.

[704] Note 3, end of chapter.

[705] Matt. 10:18-20; compare Mark 13:9; Luke 12:10-12.

[706] Mark 6:7.

[707] John 5; pages 206, 216.

[708] Matt. 11:2-19; Luke 7:18-34; see page 252.

[709] Page 259.

[710] Mark 6:12, 13; Luke 9:10. Note similar testimony of the Seventy,
who were sent out at a later time, and who returned rejoicing in the
power that had been manifest in their ministry; Luke 10:17.

[711] Note 4, end of chapter.

[712] John 6:5-14; compare Matt. 14:15-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17.

[713] John 6:4; Matt. 14:19; Mark 6:39.

[714] Note 5, end of chapter.

[715] Matt. 14:22-33; compare Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21.

[716] Page 321.

[717] Note 6, end of chapter.

[718] That is to say, "since" or "inasmuch".

[719] Compare Peter's impetuous leap into the sea to reach the
resurrected Lord on the shore, John 21:7.

[720] Mark 6:52.

[721] Note that this is the first occurrence of this title in the
Synoptic Gospels, as applied to Jesus by mortals; compare an earlier
instance of its application by Nathanael, John 1:49.

[722] "Articles of Faith," v:11-13--"Faith a Principle of Power."

[723] Josephus, Wars. iii, 10:7, 8.

[724] Mark 6:53-56; compare Matt. 14:34-36. Note 7, end of chapter.

[725] John 6:22-27.

[726] Note 8, end of chapter.

[727] John 6:32-59.

[728] John 4:13-15; page 174 herein.

[729] Isa. 54:13; Jer. 31:34; Micah 4:2; compare Heb. 8:10; 10:16.

[730] Note 9, end of chapter.

[731] Note 10, end of chapter.

[732] Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19, 20. Page 596.

[733] John 6:59-71.

[734] Luke 3:16, 17; Matt. 3:11, 12.

[735] Compare this confession (John 6:68, 69) with Peter's later
testimony (Matt. 16:16). Note 11, end of chapter.



Our Lord's last recorded discourse in the synagog at Capernaum, which
followed close upon the miracle of feeding the five thousand and that of
walking upon the water, marked the beginning of another epoch in the
development of His life's work. It was the season of an approaching
Passover festival;[736] and at the next succeeding Passover, one year
later, as shall be shown, Jesus would be betrayed to His death. At the
time of which we now speak, therefore, He was entering upon the last
year of His ministry in the flesh. But the significance of the event is
other and greater than that of a chronological datum-plane. The
circumstance marked the first stage of a turn in the tide of popular
regard toward Jesus, which theretofore had been increasing, and which
now began to ebb. True, He had been repeatedly criticized and openly
assailed by complaining Jews on many earlier occasions; but these crafty
and even venomous critics were mostly of the ruling classes; the common
people had heard Him gladly, and indeed many of them continued so to
do;[737] nevertheless His popularity, in Galilee at least, had begun to
wane. The last year of His earthly ministration was inaugurated by a
sifting of the people who professed to believe His word, and this
process of test, trial, and separation, was to continue to the end.

We are without information as to Jesus having attended this Passover
feast; and it is reasonable to infer that in view of the increasing
hostility on the part of the rulers, He refrained from going to
Jerusalem on the occasion. Conjecture as to whether any of the Twelve
went up to the festival is profitless; we are not told. Certain it is
that immediately after this time, the detectives and spies, who had been
sent from Jerusalem into Galilee to watch Jesus, became more active than
ever in their critical espionage. They dogged His footsteps, noted every
act, and every instance of omission of traditional or customary
observance, and were constantly on the alert to make Him out an


Shortly after the Passover to which allusion has been made, and probably
in accordance with a plan decided upon by the Jewish rulers, Jesus was
visited by a delegation of Pharisees and scribes who had come from
Jerusalem, and who made protest against the disregard of traditional
requirements by His followers. It appears that the disciples, and almost
certainly the Master Himself, had so far transgressed "the tradition of
the elders" as to omit the ceremonial washing of hands before eating;
the Pharisaic critics found fault, and came demanding explanation, and
justification if such were possible. Mark tells us that the disciples
were charged with having eaten with "defiled", or, as the marginal
reading gives it, with "common" hands; and he interpolates the following
concise and lucid note concerning the custom which the disciples were
said to have ignored: "For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they
wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And
when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many
other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing
of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables."[739] It should be
borne in mind that the offense charged against the disciples was that of
ceremonial uncleanness, not physical uncleanliness or disregard of
sanitary propriety; they were said to have eaten with common or defiled
hands, not specifically with dirty fingers. In all the externals of
their man-made religionism, the Jews were insistent on scrupulous
exactitude; every possibility of ceremonial defilement was to be
carefully guarded against, and the effects thereof had to be
counteracted by prescribed washings.[740]

To the question: "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the
elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread", Jesus gave
no direct reply; but asked as a rejoinder: "Why do ye also transgress
the commandment of God by your tradition?" To the Pharisaic mind this
must have been a very sharp rebuke; for rabbinism held that rigorous
compliance with the traditions of the elders was more important than
observance of the law itself; and Jesus in His counter question put
their cherished traditions as in direct conflict with the commandment of
God. Adding to their discomfiture, He cited the prophecy of Isaiah, and
applied to them whom He designated hypocrites, the prophet's words:
"Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This
people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men."[741] With deserved severity Jesus carried the
lesson home to their consciences, declaring that they had laid aside the
commandments of God in order that they might follow the traditions of

This accusing affirmation was followed by the citing of an undeniable
instance: Moses had voiced the direct commandment of God in saying:
"Honour thy father and thy mother," and had proclaimed the ordained
penalty in extreme cases of unfilial conduct thus: "Whoso curseth father
or mother, let him die";[742] but this law, though given of God direct
to Israel, had been so completely superseded that any ungrateful and
wicked son could find ready means, which their traditions had made
lawful, of escaping all filial obligations, even though his parents were
destitute. If a needy father or mother craved help of a son, he had but
to say--What you ask of me is Corban--or in other words, an intended
gift to God; and he was held to be legally exempt from all requirements
to contribute of that substance to the support of his parents.[743]
Other obligations could be similarly evaded. To declare that any article
of property real or personal, or any part or proportion of one's
possessions was "corban," was generally understood as an averment that
the property so characterized was dedicated to the temple, or at least
was intended to be devoted to ecclesiastical purposes, and would
eventually be turned over to the officials, though the donor might
continue to hold possession during a specified period, extending even to
the end of his life. Property was often declared to be "corban" for
other purposes than dedication to ecclesiastical use. The result of such
established though utterly unlawful and pernicious traditions was, as
Jesus emphatically stated to the Pharisees and scribes, to make the word
of God of none effect, and, He added, "Many such like things do ye."

Turning from His titled visitors, He called the people together and
proclaimed unto them the truth, as follows: "Hearken unto me every one
of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that
entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him,
those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let
him hear." This was directly in conflict with rabbinical precept and
practise; the Pharisees were offended, for they had said that to eat
with hands that had not been ritualistically cleansed was to defile the
food touched, and in turn to become yet more defiled from the food thus
rendered unclean.

The apostles were not sure that they understood the Master's lesson;
though couched in plain, non-figurative language, it was to some of them
very like a parable, and Peter asked an exposition. The Lord explained
that the food one eats is but temporarily part of his body; having
served its purpose of nourishing the tissues and supplying energy to the
organism, it is eliminated; therefore the food that enters the body
through the mouth is of small and transient importance compared with the
utterances that issue from the mouth, for these, if evil, are truly
defiling. As Jesus set forth: "Those things which proceed out of the
mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the
heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts,
false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man; but
to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."[744]

Some of the disciples asked Jesus whether He knew that the Pharisees had
taken offense at His saying; His answer was a further denunciation of
Pharisaism: "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted,
shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind.
And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." There
could be no compromize between His doctrine of the kingdom and the
corrupt Judaism of the time. The rulers were plotting against His life;
if their emissaries chose to take offense at His words, let them be
offended and stand the consequences; but blessed would they be if they
were not offended because of Him.[745] He had no conciliatory measures
to offer those whose inability to understand His meaning was the result
of wilful obstinacy, or darkness of mind produced by persistence in sin.


Unable to find in Galilee rest, seclusion, or adequate opportunity of
instructing the Twelve as He desired to do, Jesus departed with them
northward, and journeyed into the coasts or borders of Phenicia, a
district commonly known by the names of its prominent cities, Tyre and
Sidon. In one of the little towns near the border, the party took
lodgings; but the attempt to secure privacy was futile, for the Master's
presence "could not be hid." His fame had preceded Him beyond the
boundaries of the land of Israel. On earlier occasions, people from the
region of Tyre and Sidon had been among His listeners, and some of them
had been blessed by His healing mercies.[747]

A woman, hearing of His presence within her own land, came asking a
boon. Mark tells us she was a Greek, or more literally a Gentile[748]
who spoke Greek, and by nationality a Syro-Phenician; Matthew says she
was "a woman of Canaan"; these statements are in harmony, since the
Phenicians were of Canaanite descent. The Gospel-historians make clear
the fact that this woman was of pagan or heathen birth; and we know that
among the peoples so classed the Canaanites were held in particular
disrepute by the Jews. The woman cried aloud to Jesus, saying: "Have
mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed
with a devil." Her words expressed at once faith in the Lord's power,
and a fulness of mother-love, for she implored as though she were the
afflicted sufferer. The fact that she addressed Jesus as Son of David
demonstrates her belief that He was the Messiah of Israel. At first
Jesus refrained from answering her. Undeterred, she pleaded the more,
until the disciples besought the Lord saying: "Send her away; for she
crieth after us." Their intervention was probably an intercession in her
behalf; she could be quieted by the granting of her request; as it was,
she was making an undesirable scene, probably on the street, and the
Twelve knew well that their Master sought quietude. To them Jesus said:
"I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and the
remark must have reminded them of the restriction under which they had
been sent out.[749]

The woman, with importunate desire came near, possibly entering the
house; she fell at the Lord's feet and worshiped Him, pleading
pitifully, "Lord, help me." To her Jesus said, "It is not meet to take
the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." The words, harsh as they
may sound to us, were understood by her in the spirit of the Lord's
intent. The original term here translated "dogs" connoted, as the
narrative shows, not the vagrant and despized curs elsewhere spoken of
in the Bible as typical of a degraded state, or of positive
badness,[750] but literally the "little dogs" or domestic pets, such as
were allowed in the house and under the table. Certainly the woman took
no offense at the comparison, and found therein no objectionable
epithet. Instantly she adopted the analogy, and applied it in combined
argument and supplication,[751] "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the
crumbs which fall from their masters' table;" or, in the words of Mark's
version: "Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's
crumbs." Her prayer was immediately granted; for Jesus said unto her, "O
woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her
daughter was made whole from that very hour." Mark emphasizes the
special recognition of her final plea, and adds: "And when she was come
to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon
the bed." The woman's commendable persistency was based on the faith
that overcomes apparent obstacles and endures even under discouragement.
Her case reminds one of the lesson taught by the Lord on another
occasion through the story of the importunate widow.[752]

Many have queried as to why Jesus delayed the blessing. We may not be
able to fathom His purposes; but we see that, by the course He adopted,
the woman's faith was demonstrated and the disciples were instructed.
Jesus impressed upon her that she was not of the chosen people, to whom
He had been sent; but His words prefigured the giving of the gospel to
all, both Jew and Gentile: "Let the children _first_ be filled" He had
said. The resurrected Christ was to be made known to every nation;[753]
but His personal ministry as a mortal, as also that of the apostles
while He was with them in the flesh, was directed to the house of


We are not told how long Jesus and the Twelve tarried in the land of
Tyre and Sidon, nor which portions of the district they traversed. They
went thence into the region adjoining the sea of Galilee on the east,
"through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis."[756] Though still among
semi-pagan peoples, our Lord was greeted by great crowds, amongst whom
were many lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and otherwise afflicted; and them
He healed. Great was the astonishment of these aliens, "when they saw
the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the
blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel."

Among the many who were healed was one of whom special mention is made.
He was deaf and defective in speech. The people asked the Lord to lay
His hands upon the man; but Jesus led him away from the multitude, put
His fingers in the man's ears, spat, and touched the man's tongue; then
looking upward in prayer, and sighing the while, He uttered a word of
command in Aramaic, "Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his
ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake
plain." The manner of effecting this cure was different again from the
usual mode of our Lord's healing ministrations. It may be that by the
finger-touch to the closed ears and to the bound tongue, the man's faith
was strengthened and his confidence in the Master's power increased. The
people were forbidden to tell abroad what they had witnessed; but the
more they were charged the more they published the news. Their
conclusion as to Jesus and His works was: "He hath done all things well:
he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."


For three days the glad crowds remained with Jesus and the apostles.
Camping out at that season and in that region entailed no great hardship
incident to exposure. Their supply of food, however, had become
exhausted; and many of them were far from home. Jesus had compassion
upon the people, and was loath to send them away fasting, lest they
would faint by the way. When He spoke to the disciples on the matter
they intimated the impossibility of feeding so great a number, for the
entire stock of food at hand comprized but seven loaves and a few little
fishes. Had they forgotten the former occasion on which a greater
multitude had been fed and filled with but five loaves and two small
fishes? Rather let us believe that the disciples remembered well, yet
deemed it beyond their duty or privilege to suggest a repetition of the
miracle. But the Master commanded; and the people seated themselves on
the ground. Blessing and dividing the small provision as before, He gave
to the disciples and they distributed to the multitude. Four thousand
men, beside women and children, were abundantly fed; and of the broken
but uneaten food there remained enough to fill seven baskets. With no
semblance of the turbulent enthusiasm that had followed the feeding of
the five thousand, this multitude dispersed quietly and returned to
their homes, grateful and doubly blessed.


Jesus and the apostles returned by boat to the western shore of the
lake, and landed near Magdala and Dalmanutha. These towns are understood
to have been so close together as to virtually make the latter a suburb
of the other. Here the party was met by the ever-vigilant Pharisees, who
on this occasion were accompanied by their usually unfriendly rivals,
the Sadducees. That the two parties had temporarily laid aside their
mutual differences, and had combined their forces in the common cause of
opposition to Christ, is a demonstration of the determined purpose of
the ecclesiastical authorities to find occasion against Him, and, if
possible, destroy Him. Their immediate object was to further alienate
the common people, and to counteract the influence of His former
teachings with the masses. They set anew the old-time snare of demanding
from Him a supernatural sign of His Messiahship, though thrice already
had they or others of their kind so attempted to entrap Him, and thrice
had they been foiled.[759] Before them, Satan in person had similarly
tried and failed.[760] To their present impertinent and impious demand
He gave a brief and definite refusal coupled with an exposure of their
hypocrisy. This was His reply: "When it is evening, ye say, It will be
fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul
weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can
discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the
times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and
there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
And he left them, and departed."[761]


Again with the Twelve upon the water, since on the Galilean coast
neither peace nor opportunity for effective teaching was found, Jesus
directed the vessel's course toward the north-easterly shore. When well
out from land, He said to His companions: "Take heed and beware of the
leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees," and, as Mark adds, "and
of the leaven of Herod." In their hasty departure the disciples had
forgotten to take a supply of food; they had with them but a single
loaf. They construed His words respecting leaven as a reference to
bread, and possibly as a reproof for their neglect. Jesus chided them as
of little faith for thinking then of material bread, and refreshed their
recollection of the miracles by which the multitudes had been fed, so
that their lack of loaves would not further trouble them. Finally they
were made to understand that the Master's warning was directed against
the false doctrines of the Pharisees and those of the Sadducees, and
against the political aspirations of the scheming Herodians.[763]

The party left the boat near the site of the first miraculous feeding of
the multitude, and made their way to Bethsaida Julias. A blind man was
brought, and Jesus was asked to touch him. He took the sightless one by
the hand, led him outside the town, applied saliva to his eyes, laid
hands upon him in a ministration, and asked him if he could see. The man
answered that he saw dimly, but was unable to distinguish men from
trees. Applying His hands to the man's eyes, Jesus told him to look up;
the man did so and saw clearly. Bidding him not to enter the town, nor
to tell of his deliverance from blindness to any in the place, the Lord
sent him away rejoicing. This miracle presents the unique feature of
Jesus healing a person by stages; the result of the first ministration
was but a partial recovery. No explanation of the exceptional
circumstance is given.


Accompanied by the Twelve, Jesus continued His way northward to the
neighborhood or "coasts" of Cæsarea Philippi, an inland city situated
near the eastern and principal source of the Jordan, and near the foot
of Mount Hermon.[765] The journey afforded opportunity for special and
confidential instruction to the apostles. Of them Jesus asked: "Whom do
men say that I the Son of man am?" In reply they reported the rumors and
popular fancies that had come to their notice. Some people, sharing the
superstitious fears of the conscience-stricken Herod Antipas, said that
Jesus was John the Baptist returned to life, though such a belief could
not have been entertained seriously by many, as John and Jesus were
known to have been contemporaries; others said He was Elias, or more
exactly, Elijah; still others suggested He was Jeremiah or some other
one of the ancient prophets of Israel. It is significant that among all
the conceptions of the people as to the identity of Jesus there was no
intimation of belief that He was the Messiah. Neither by word nor deed
had He measured up to the popular and traditional standard of the
expected Deliverer and King of Israel. Fleeting manifestations of
evanescent hope that He might prove to be the looked-for Prophet, like
unto Moses, had not been lacking; but all such incipient conceptions had
been neutralized by the hostile activity of the Pharisees and their
kind. To them it was a matter of supreme though evil determination to
maintain in the minds of the people the thought of a yet future, not a
present, Messiah.

With deep solemnity, and as a soul-searching test for which the Twelve
had been in unconscious preparation through many months of close and
privileged companionship with their Lord, Jesus asked of them: "But whom
say ye that I am?" Answering for all, but more particularly testifying
as to his own conviction, Peter, with all the fervor of his soul, voiced
the great confession: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
This was no avowal of mere belief, no expression of a result at which he
had arrived by mental process, no solution of a problem laboriously
worked out, no verdict based on the weighing of evidence; he spoke in
the sure knowledge that knows no question and from which doubt and
reservation are as far removed as is the sky from the ground.

"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona:
for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which
is in heaven." Peter's knowledge, which was also that of his brethren,
was of a kind apart from all that man may find out for himself; it was a
divine bestowal, in comparison with which human wisdom is foolishness
and the treasure of earth but dross, Addressing Himself further to the
first of the apostles, Jesus continued: "And I say also unto thee, That
thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates
of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys
of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall
be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be
loosed in heaven."

Through direct revelation from God Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ;
and upon revelation, as a rock of secure foundation, the Church of
Christ was to be built.[766] Though torrents should fall, floods roll,
winds rage, and all beat together upon that structure, it would not,
could not, fall, for it was founded upon a rock;[767] and even the
powers of hell would be impotent to prevail against it. By revelation
alone could or can the Church of Jesus Christ be builded and maintained;
and revelation of necessity implies revelators, through whom the will of
God may be made known respecting His Church. As a gift from God comes
the testimony of Jesus into the heart of man. This principle was
comprized in the Master's teachings at Capernaum, that none could come
to Him save such as the Father would bring.[768] The Lord's promise,
that unto Peter He would give "the keys of the kingdom of heaven,"
embodies the principle of divine authority in the Holy Priesthood, and
of the commission of presidency. Allusion to keys as symbolical of power
and authority is not uncommon in Jewish literature, as was well
understood in that period and is generally current today.[769] So also
the analogies of binding and loosing as indicative of official acts were
then usual, as they are now, particularly in connection with judicial
functions. Peter's presidency among the apostles was abundantly manifest
and generally recognized after the close of our Lord's mortal life.
Thus, it was he who spoke in behalf of the Eleven, in the council
meeting at which a successor to the traitor Iscariot was chosen; he was
the spokesman of his brethren on the occasion of the Pentecostal
conversion; it was he who opened the doors of the Church to the
Gentiles;[770] and his office of leadership is apparent throughout the
apostolic period.

The confession by which the apostles avowed their acceptance of Jesus as
the Christ, the Son of the living God, was evidence of their actual
possession of the spirit of the Holy Apostleship, by which they were
made particular witnesses of their Lord. The time for a general
proclamation of their testimony had not arrived, however; nor did it
come until after Christ had emerged from the tomb a resurrected,
immortalized Personage. For the time being they were charged "that they
should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ." Proclamation of Jesus
as the Messiah, particularly if made by the apostles who were publicly
known as His most intimate disciples and associates, or open assumption
of the Messianic title by Himself, would have aggravated the hostility
of the rulers, which had already become a grave interference if not an
actual menace to the Savior's ministry; and seditious uprisings against
the political government of Rome might easily have resulted. A yet
deeper reason for the secrecy enjoined upon the Twelve appears in the
fact that the Jewish nation was not prepared to accept their Lord; and
to ignore Him through lack of certain knowledge involved a lesser degree
of culpability than would have attached to an unpalliated rejection. The
particular mission of the apostles at a time then future was to proclaim
to all nations Jesus, the crucified and resurrected Christ.

From the time of Peter's confession however, Jesus instructed the Twelve
more plainly and with greater intimacy concerning the future
developments of His mission, and particularly as touching His appointed
death. On earlier occasions He had referred in their hearing to the
cross, and to His approaching death, burial and ascension; but the
mention in each case was in a measure figurative, and they had
apprehended but imperfectly if at all. Now, however, He began to show,
and often afterward made plain unto them, "how that he must go unto
Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."

Peter was shocked at this unqualified declaration, and, yielding to
impulse, remonstrated with Jesus, or, as two of the evangelists state,
"began to rebuke him," even going so far as to say: "This shall not be
unto thee."[771] The Lord turned upon him with this sharp reproof: "Get
thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest
not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." Peter's words
constituted an appeal to the human element in Christ's nature; and the
sensitive feelings of Jesus were wounded by this suggestion of
unfaithfulness to His trust, coming from the man whom He had so signally
honored but a few moments before. Peter saw mainly as men see,
understanding but imperfectly the deeper purposes of God. Though
deserved, the rebuke he received was severe. The adjuration, "Get thee
behind me, Satan," was identical with that used against the arch-tempter
himself, who had sought to beguile Jesus from the path upon which He had
entered,[772] and the provocation in the two instances was in some
respects similar--the temptation to evade sacrifice and suffering,
though such was the world's ransom, and to follow a more comfortable
way.[773] The forceful words of Jesus show the deep emotion that Peter's
ill-considered attempt to counsel if not to tempt his Lord had evoked.

Beside the Twelve, who were immediately about the Lord's person, others
were nearby; it appears that even in those remote parts, far removed
from the borders of Galilee--the habitat of a heathen population, with
whom, however, many Jews were intermixed--the people gathered around the
Master. These He now called together, and to them and the disciples
said: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross, and follow me." Here the frightful figure of the cross was
again made prominent. There was left no shadow of excuse for the thought
that devotion to Christ would not mean denial and privation. He who
would save his life at the cost of duty, as Peter had just suggested
that Christ should do, would surely lose it in a sense worse than that
of physical death; whereas he who stood willing to lose all, even life
itself, should find the life that is eternal.

As evincing the soundness of His teachings, Jesus uttered what has since
become an inspiring aphorism of life: "For what is a man profited, if he
shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man
give in exchange for his soul?" Whosoever is ashamed of Christ because
of His lowly estate, or through offense at His teachings, shall yet find
that the Son of Man, when He comes in the glory of the Father, with
attending cohorts of angels, will be ashamed of that man. The record of
this memorable day in the Savior's life closes with His blessed promise:
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not
taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his


1. Passover Celebrations Comprized within the Period of Our Lord's
Public Ministry.--The dates on which specific acts occurred in the
ministry of Jesus are difficult if not impossible to fix, except in few
instances; and as heretofore stated and reiterated, even the order of
events is often found to be uncertain. It will be remembered that Jesus
was in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover soon after His baptism, and
that on the visit referred to He forcibly cleared the temple courts of
traffickers and their property. This is known as the _first_ Passover
during the public life of Jesus. If the unnamed "feast of the Jews"
referred to by John (5:1) was a Passover, as many Bible students hold,
it marked the close of the year following the cleansing the temple; it
is commonly spoken of and written about as the _second_ Passover in the
course of our Lord's ministry. Then the Passover near which Jesus fed
the five thousand (John 6:4) would be the _third_, and would mark the
expiration of two years and a fraction since the baptism of Jesus; it
certainly marks the beginning of the last year of the Savior's life on

2. Ceremonial Ablutions.--The numerous washings required by Jewish
custom in the time of Christ were admittedly incident to rabbinism and
"the tradition of the elders" and not in compliance with the Mosaic law.
Under certain conditions, successive washings were prescribed, in
connection with which we find mention of "first," "second" and "other"
waters, the "second water" being necessary to wash away the "first
water," which had become defiled by contact with the "common" hands; and
so further with the later waters. Sometimes the hands had to be dipped
or immersed; at other times they were to be cleansed by pouring, it
being necessary that the water be allowed to run to the wrist or the
elbow according to the degree of supposed defilement; then again, as the
disciples of Rabbi Shammai held, only the finger tips, or the fingers up
to the knuckles, needed to be wetted under particular circumstances.
Rules for the cleansing of vessels and furniture were detailed and
exacting; distinct methods applied respectively to vessels of clay,
wood, and metal. Fear of unwittingly defiling the hands led to many
extreme precautions. It being known that the Roll of the Law, the Roll
of the Prophets, and other scriptures, when laid away were sometimes
touched, scratched, or even gnawed by mice, there was issued a
rabbinical decree, that the Holy Scriptures, or any part thereof
comprizing as many as eighty-five letters (the shortest section in the
law having just that number), defiled the hands by mere contact. Thus
the hands had to be ceremonially cleansed after touching a copy of the
scriptures, or even a written passage therefrom.

Emancipation from these and "many such like things" must have been
relief indeed. Escape from this thraldom Jesus freely offered, saying:
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and
lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is
easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30.)

3. "Corban," a Gift.--The law of Moses prescribed rules relating to vows
(Lev. 27; Numb. 30). "Upon these rules," says the writer in Smith's
_Bible Dict._, "the traditionalists enlarged, and laid down that a man
might interdict himself by vow, not only from using for himself, but
from giving to another or receiving from him, some particular object
whether of food or any other kind whatsoever. The thing thus interdicted
was considered as corban. A person might thus exempt himself from any
inconvenient obligation under plea of corban. Our Lord denounced
practises of this sort (Matt. 15:5; Mark 7:11), as annulling the spirit
of the law."

The revised version, Matt. 15:5 is made to read "But ye say, Whosoever
shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have
been profited by me is given to God; he shall not honor his father (or,
his mother)." The following account of this pernicious custom appears in
the _Commentary on The Holy Bible_ edited by Dummelow, "'Corban,'
meaning originally a sacrifice or a gift to God, was used in New
Testament times as a mere word of vowing, without implying that the
thing vowed would actually be offered or given to God. Thus a man would
say 'Corban to me is wine for such a time,' meaning that he took a vow
to abstain from wine. Or a man would say to a friend 'Corban to me for
such a time is whatsoever I might be profited by thee,' meaning that for
such a time he vowed that he would receive neither hospitality nor any
other benefit from his friend. Similarly, if a son said to his father or
mother, 'Corban is whatsoever thou mightest have profited by me' he took
a vow not to assist his father or mother in any way, however much they
might require it. A vow of this kind was held by the scribes to excuse a
man from the duty of supporting his parents, and thus by their tradition
they made void the word of God."

4. The "Dogs" that Eat of the Crumbs.--The woman's fervid rejoinder,
"Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their
masters' table," (Matt. 15:27), is thus commented upon and paraphrased
by Trench (_Notes on the Miracles_, p. 271): "The rendering of her
answer in our translation is not, however, altogether satisfactory. For,
indeed, she accepts the Lord's declaration, not immediately to make
exception against the conclusion which He draws from it, but to show how
in that very declaration is involved the granting of her petition.
'Saidest thou dogs? It is well; I accept the title and the place; for
the dogs have a portion of the meal,--not the first, not the children's
portion, but a portion still,--the crumbs which fall from the master's
table. In this very putting of the case, Thou bringest us heathen, Thou
bringest me, within the circle of the blessings which God, the Great
Householder, is ever dispensing to His family. We also belong to His
household, though we occupy but the lowest place therein.'"

The Dummelow _Commentary_, on Matt. 15:26, reads in part as follows:
"The rabbis often spoke of the Gentiles as dogs, e.g. 'He who eats with
an idolater is like one who eats with a dog.' ... 'The nations of the
world are compared to dogs.' 'The holy convocation belongs to you, not
to the dogs.' Yet Jesus in adopting the contemptuous expression slightly
softens it. He says not 'dogs,' but 'little dogs,' i.e. household,
favorite, dogs; and the woman cleverly catches at the expression,
arguing that if the Gentiles are household dogs, then it is only right
that they should be fed with the crumbs that fall from their masters'
table." Edersheim, referring to the original text, says: "The term means
'little dogs,' or 'house dogs.'"

5. Decapolis.--The name means "the ten cities," and was applied to a
region of indefinite boundaries lying mostly on the east of Jordan and
southerly from the sea of Galilee. Scythopolis, which Josephus (Wars of
the Jews, iii, 9:7) refers to as the largest of the ten cities, was on
the west side of the river. There is lack of agreement among historians
as to the cities comprized under the name. Biblical mention (Matt. 4:25;
Mark 5:20; 7:31) implies a general region rather than a definite area.

6. The Coasts of Cæsarea Philippi.--The term "coast" as it appears in
the Bible (authorized, or King James version), is used to connote
boundary, limit, or border, and not distinctively a seashore. (For
examples see Exo. 10:4, 14, 19; Josh. 15:1, 4; Judg. 11:20; Matt. 2:16,
etc.) It is applied therefore to inland areas, and frequently occurs as
indicating a vicinity or neighborhood.

Cæsarea Philippi, a town located, as stated in the text, near Mount
Hermon at the source of the Jordan, had been enlarged and beautified by
Philip the tetrarch, and by him was named Cæsarea in honor of the Roman
emperor. It was called Cæsarea Philippi to distinguish it from the
already existing Cæsarea, which was situated on the Mediterranean shore
of Samaria, and which in later literature came to be known as Cæsarea
Palestina. Cæsarea Philippi is believed to be identical with the ancient
Baal Gad (Josh. 11:17) and Baal Hermon (Judg. 3:3). It was known as a
place of idolatrous worship, and while under Greek sovereignty was
called Paneas in recognition of the mythological deity Pan. See
Josephus, Ant. xviii, 2:1; this designation persists in the present
Arabic name of the place, Banias.

7. Simon Peter and the "Rock" of Revelation.--Simon the son of Jonas, on
the occasion of his first recorded interview with Jesus had received
from the Lord's lips the distinguishing name-title "Peter," or in the
Aramaic tongue "Cephas," the English equivalent of which is "a rock" or
"a stone" (John 1:42; see also page 140 herein). The name was confirmed
upon the apostle on the occasion now under consideration (Matt. 16:18).
Jesus said to him "thou art Peter," adding, "and upon this rock I will
build my church." In the course of the general apostasy subsequent to
the ancient apostolic ministry, the Bishop of Rome laid claim to supreme
authority as the alleged lineal successor to Peter; and an erroneous
doctrine gained currency to the effect that Peter was the "rock" upon
which the Church of Christ was founded. Detailed consideration of this
inconsistent and infamous claim cannot be undertaken here; it is
sufficient to say that a church founded or dependent upon Peter or any
other man would be Peter's or the other man's church, and not the Church
of Jesus Christ. (See _The Great Apostasy_, chap 9; also B. of M., 3
Nephi 27:1-8; also chapter 40 herein). That upon Peter rested the
responsibility of presidency in the ministry, after the ascension of the
resurrected Christ, is not questioned; but that he was, even typically,
the foundation upon which the Church was built, is at once unscriptural
and untrue. The Church of Jesus Christ must authoritatively bear His
name, and be guided by revelation, direct and continuous, as the
conditions of its building require. Revelation from God to His servants
invested with the Holy Priesthood through authorized ordination as was
Peter, is the impregnable "rock" upon which the Church is built. (See
_Articles of Faith_, xvi,--"Revelation.")

8. Christ's Rebuke to Peter.--In addressing Peter as "Satan," Jesus was
obviously using a forceful figure of speech, and not a literal
designation; for Satan is a distinct personage, Lucifer, that fallen,
unembodied son of the morning (see page 7); and certainly Peter was not
he. In his remonstrance or "rebuke" addressed to Jesus, Peter was really
counseling what Satan had before attempted to induce Christ to do, or
tempting, as Satan himself had tempted. The command, "Get thee behind
me, Satan," as directed to Peter, is rendered in English by some
authorities "Get thee behind me, tempter." The essential meaning
attached to both Hebrew and Greek originals for our word "Satan" is that
of an adversary, or "one who places himself in another's way and thus
opposes him." (Zenos.) The expression "Thou art an offense unto me" is
admittedly a less literal translation than "Thou art a stumbling-block
unto me." The man whom Jesus had addressed as Peter--"the rock," was now
likened to a stone in the path, over which the unwary might stumble.

9. Some to Live Until Christ Returns.--The Savior's declaration to the
apostles and others in the neighborhood of Cæsarea Philippi, "Verily I
say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of
death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom," (Matt.
16:28; compare Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27), has occasioned great and diverse
comment. The event referred to, that of the Son of Man coming in the
glory of His Father attended by the angels, is yet future. At least a
partial fulfilment of the prediction is presented in the prolongation of
the life of John the apostle, who was there present, and who yet lives
in the flesh according to his desire (John 21:20-24; see further B. of
M., 3 Nephi 28:1-6; Doc. and Cov. Sec. 7).

10. "Thou Art the Christ."--Peter's solemn and soulful confession of
Jesus as the Christ is worded differently by each of the three
synoptists. To many the most expressive version is that of Luke: "The
Christ of God." On earlier occasions, some or all of the Twelve had
acknowledged Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, e.g. following the
miracle of walking upon the sea (Matt. 14:33), and again, after the
crucial sermon at Capernaum (John 6:69); but it is evident that Peter's
upwelling and reverential confession in answer to the Lord's question
"But whom say ye that I am?" had a significance, greater in assurance
and more exalted in kind, than had any prior expression of his
conception concerning his Lord. Yet even the conviction given through
direct revelation (Matt. 16:17) did not at the time comprize a
comprehensive knowledge of the Savior's mission. Indeed, a fulness of
understanding and assurance came to the apostles after the Lord's
resurrection (compare Romans 1:4). Nevertheless, Peter's testimony in
the land of Cæsarea Philippi evidences a very exalted attainment. At
that stage of the Savior's ministry, the public proclamation of His
divine status would have been as the casting of pearls before swine
(Matt. 7:6); therefore the Lord instructed the apostles that at that
time "they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ."


[736] John 6:4. Note 1, end of chapter.

[737] Mark 12:37.

[738] Matt. 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13.

[739] As the Oxford marginal note shows "beds" is a more literal
rendering than "tables", the couches upon which the eaters reclined at
table being meant. See page 261.

[740] Note 2, end of chapter.

[741] Mark 7:6, 7; see also Matt. 15:7-9; Isa. 29:13; compare the words
of the resurrected Christ to the prophet Joseph Smith, in the present
dispensation, P. of G.P., Joseph Smith, 2:19.

[742] Exo. 20:12; Deut. 5:16; Exo. 21:17; Lev. 20:9.

[743] Note 3, end of chapter.

[744] Matt. 15:10-20; compare Mark 7:14-23.

[745] Matt. 11:6; Luke 7:23; pages 255 and 274 herein.

[746] Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:21-30.

[747] Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17.

[748] See marginal reading in Oxford and Bagster Bibles; see also Note
2, page 345.

[749] Matt. 10:5, 6; see also page 328 herein.

[750] Deut. 23:18; 1 Sam. 17:43; 24:14; 2 Sam. 3:8; 16:9; Job 30:1;
Matt. 7:6; Philip 3:2; Rev. 22:15.

[751] Note 4, end of chapter.

[752] Luke 18:1-8. Page 436.

[753] Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15.

[754] Acts 3:25, 26; 13:46-48; Rom. 15:8.

[755] Mark 7:31-37; compare Matt. 15:29-31.

[756] Note 5, end of chapter.

[757] Matt. 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9.

[758] Matt. 15:29; 16:1-5; Mark 8:10-13.

[759] John 2:18; 6:30; Matt. 12:38.

[760] Matt. 4:6, 7; Luke 4:9-12.

[761] Matt. 16:2-4; compare 12:38-41; pages 155-157 herein.

[762] Matt. 16:6-12; Mark 8:14-21; compare Luke 12:1.

[763] Page 68.

[764] Matt. 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21. Note 10, end of

[765] Note 6, end of chapter.

[766] Note 7, end of chapter.

[767] Compare Matt. 7:24, 25.

[768] John 6:46; compare verses 37, 39, 40.

[769] See Isa. 22:22; Luke 11:52; Rev. 1:18; 3:7; compare Doc. and Cov.
6:28; 7:7; 27:5, 6, 9; 28:7; 42:69; 84:26; etc.

[770] Acts 1:15-26; 2:14-40; chap. 10, compare with 15:7.

[771] Matt. 16:22, 23; Mark 8:32, 33.

[772] Luke 4:8.

[773] Note 8, end of chapter.

[774] Note 9, end of chapter.



Of the week following the events last considered, no record is found in
the Gospels. We may safely assume that the time was devoted, in part at
least, to the further instruction of the Twelve respecting the rapidly
approaching consummation of the Savior's mission on earth, the awful
circumstances of which the apostles were loath to believe possible. When
the week had passed[775] Jesus took Peter, James, and John[776] and with
them ascended a high mountain, where they would be reasonably safe from
human intrusion.[777] There the three apostles witnessed a heavenly
manifestation, which stands without parallel in history; in our Bible
captions it is known as the Transfiguration of Christ.[778]

One purpose of the Lord's retirement was that of prayer, and a
transcendent investiture of glory came upon Him as He prayed. The
apostles had fallen asleep, but were awakened by the surpassing splendor
of the scene, and gazed with reverent awe upon their glorified Lord.
"The fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white
and glistering." His garments, though made of earth-woven fabric,
"became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can
white them;" "and his face did shine as the sun." Thus was Jesus
transfigured before the three privileged witnesses.

With Him were two other personages, who also were in a state of
glorified radiance, and who conversed with the Lord. These, as the
apostles learned by means not stated though probably as gathered from
the conversation in progress, were Moses and Elias, or more literally to
us, Elijah; and the subject of their conference with Christ was "his
decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." As the prophet
visitants were about to depart, "Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is
good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee,
and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said."
Undoubtedly Peter and his fellow apostles were bewildered, "sore afraid"
indeed; and this condition may explain the suggestion respecting the
three tabernacles. "He wist not what to say;" yet, though his remark
appears confused and obscure, it becomes somewhat plainer when we
remember that, at the annual feast of Tabernacles, it was customary to
erect a little bower, or booth of wattled boughs, for each individual
worshiper, into which he might retire for devotion. So far as there was
a purpose in Peter's proposition, it seems to have been that of delaying
the departure of the visitants.

The sublime and awful solemnity of the occasion had not yet reached its
climax. Even as Peter spake, "behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them:
and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." It was Elohim,[779] the Eternal
Father, who spake; and at the sound of that voice of supreme Majesty,
the apostles fell prostrate. Jesus came and touched them, saying,
"Arise, and be not afraid." When they looked they saw that again they
were alone with Him.

The impression made upon the three apostles by this manifestation was
one never to be forgotten; but they were expressly charged to speak of
it to no man until after the Savior had risen from the dead. They were
puzzled as to the significance of the Lord's reference to His
prospective rising from the dead. They had heard with great sorrow, and
reluctantly they were being brought to understand it to be an awful
certainty, that their beloved Master was to "suffer many things, and be
rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be
killed."[780] Such had been declared to them before, in language devoid
of ambiguity and admitting of no figurative construction; and with equal
plainness they had been told that Jesus would rise again; but of this
latter eventuality they had but dim comprehension. The present
reiteration of these teachings seems to have left the three with no
clearer understanding of their Lord's resurrection from the dead than
they had before. They seem to have had no definite conception as to what
was meant by a resurrection; "And they kept that saying with themselves,
questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should

The comprehensiveness of the Lord's injunction, that until after His
rising from the dead they tell no man of their experiences on the mount,
prohibited them from informing even their fellows of the Twelve. Later,
after the Lord had ascended to His glory, Peter testified to the Church
of the wondrous experience, in this forceful way: "For we have not
followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power
and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his
majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when
there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from
heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount."[782] And
John, reverently confessing before the world the divinity of the Word,
the Son of God who had been made flesh to dwell among men, solemnly
affirmed: "And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of
the Father, full of grace and truth."[783]

The divine purpose as shown forth in the Transfiguration may be as
incomprehensible to the human mind as is a full conception of the
attendant splendor from verbal description; some features of the results
achieved are apparent, however. Unto Christ the manifestation was
strengthening and encouraging. The prospect of the experiences
immediately ahead must naturally have been depressing and disheartening
in the extreme. In faithfully treading the path of His life's work, He
had reached the verge of the valley of the shadow of death; and the
human part of His nature called for refreshing. As angels had been sent
to minister unto Him after the trying scenes of the forty days' fast and
the direct temptation of Satan,[784] and as, in the agonizing hour of
His bloody sweat, He was to be sustained anew by angelic ministry,[785]
so at this critical and crucial period, the beginning of the end,
visitants from the unseen world came to comfort and support Him. What of
actual communication passed in the conference of Jesus with Moses and
Elijah is not of full record in the New Testament Gospels.

The voice of His Father, to whom He was the Firstborn in the
spirit-world, and the Only Begotten in the flesh, was of supreme
assurance; yet that voice had been addressed to the three apostles
rather than to Jesus, who had already received the Father's
acknowledgment and attestation on the occasion of His baptism. The
fullest version of the Father's words to Peter, James, and John is that
recorded by Matthew: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;
hear ye him." Aside from the proclamation of the Son's divine nature,
the Father's words were otherwise decisive and portentous. Moses, the
promulgator of the law, and Elijah the representative of the prophets
and especially distinguished among them as the one who had not
died,[786] had been seen ministering unto Jesus and subservient to Him.
The fulfillment of the law and the superseding of the prophets by the
Messiah was attested in the command--Hear ye _Him_. A new dispensation
had been established, that of the gospel, for which the law and the
prophets had been but preparatory. The apostles were to be guided
neither by Moses nor Elijah, but by _Him_, their Lord, Jesus the Christ.

The three selected apostles, "the Man of Rock and the Sons of Thunder"
had seen the Lord in glory; and they marveled that such a thing could be
at that time, since as they had interpreted the scriptures, it had been
predicted that Elijah should precede the Messiah's triumphal advent. As
they wended their way down the mountain-side, they asked the
Master:[787] "Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?"
Jesus confirmed the prophecy that Elias should first come, that is,
before the Lord's advent in glory, which event they had in mind; "But,"
He added, "I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him
not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also
the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he
spake unto them of John the Baptist." That John the Baptist would
officiate "in the spirit and power of Elias," as the forerunner of the
Christ, had been announced by the angel Gabriel to Zacharias,[788]
before the Baptist's birth; and that John was _that_ particular Elias
had been shown by Jesus in His memorable tribute to the Baptist's
fidelity and greatness. That His words would not be generally accepted
with understanding is evidenced by the context; Jesus, on that occasion,
had said: "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to

It is not possible that Jesus could have meant that John was the same
individual as Elijah; nor could the people have so understood His words,
since the false doctrine of transmigration or reincarnation of spirits
was repudiated by the Jews.[790] The seeming difficulty is removed when
we consider that, as the name appears in the New Testament, "Elias" is
used for "Elijah,"[791] with no attempt at distinction between Elijah
the Tishbite, and any other person known as Elias. Gabriel's declaration
that the then unborn John should manifest "the spirit and power of
Elias" indicates that "Elias" is a title of office; every restorer,
forerunner, or one sent of God to prepare the way for greater
developments in the gospel plan, is an Elias. The appellative "Elias" is
in fact both a personal name and a title.

In the present dispensation both the ancient Elias, who belonged to the
Abrahamic dispensation and in the spirit of whose office many have
officiated in different periods, and also the prophet Elijah, have
appeared in person and have conferred their particular and separate
authority upon latter-day bearers of the Holy Priesthood, and the keys
of the powers exercized by them while on earth are today inherent in the
restored Church of Jesus Christ. The authority of Elias is inferior to
that of Elijah, the first being a function of the Lesser or Aaronic
order of Priesthood, while the latter belongs to the Higher or
Melchizedek Priesthood. Malachi's prediction, that before "the great and
dreadful day of the Lord" Elijah the prophet would be sent to earth to
"turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the
children to their fathers,"[792] did not reach fulfilment in the mission
of John the Baptist, nor in that of any other "Elias";[793] its complete
realization was inaugurated on the third day of April, 1836, when Elijah
appeared in the temple at Kirtland, Ohio, and committed to Joseph Smith
and Oliver Cowdery the keys of the authority theretofore vested in
himself. "The great and dreadful day of the Lord" was not the meridian
of time; that awful though blessed period of consummation is yet future,
but "near, even at the doors."[794]


1. Interval Between Time of Peter's Confession and that of the
Transfiguration.--Both Matthew (17:1) and Mark (9:2) state that the
Transfiguration occurred "after six days" following the time of Peter's
great confession that Jesus was the Christ; while Luke (9:28) notes an
interval of "about an eight days." It is probable that the six-day
period was meant to be exclusive of the day on which the earlier events
had occurred and of that on which Jesus and the three apostles retired
to the mountain; and that Luke's "about an eight days" was made to
include these two days. There is here no ground for a claim of

2. Peter, James, and John who were selected from among the Twelve as the
only earthly witnesses of the transfiguration of Christ, had been
similarly chosen as witnesses of a special manifestation, that of the
raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51); and, later,
the same three were the sole witnesses of our Lord's night agony in
Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33).

3. Place of the Transfiguration.--The mountain on which the
Transfiguration occurred is neither named nor otherwise indicated by the
Gospel-writers in such a way as to admit of its positive identification.
Mount Tabor, in Galilee, has long been held by tradition as the site,
and in the sixth century three churches were erected on its plateau-like
summit, possibly in commemoration of Peter's desire to make three
tabernacles or booths, one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Later a
monastery was built there. Nevertheless, Mt. Tabor is now rejected by
investigators, and Mt. Hermon is generally regarded as the place. Hermon
stands near the northerly limits of Palestine, just beyond Cæsarea
Philippi, where Jesus is known to have been a week before the
Transfiguration. Mark (9:30) distinctly tells us that after His descent
from the mount, Jesus and the apostles departed and went through
Galilee. Weight of evidence is in favor of Hermon as the Mount of
Transfiguration, though nothing that may be called decisive is known in
the matter.

4. The Names "Elias" and "Elijah."--The following statement which
appears in Smith's _Bible Dictionary_ is supported by authorities in
general: "'Elias'" is "the Greek and Latin form of 'Elijah' given in the
Authorized Version of the Apocrypha and New Testament."

5. "The Spirit and Power of Elias."--That John the Baptist, in his
capacity as a restorer, a forerunner, or as one sent to prepare the way
for a work greater than his own, did officiate as an "Elias" is attested
by both ancient and latter-day scripture. Through him water baptism for
the remission of sins was preached and administered, and the higher
baptism, that of the Spirit, was made possible. True to his mission, he
has come in the last dispensation, and has restored by ordination the
Priesthood of Aaron, which has authority to baptize. He thus prepared
the way for the vicarious labor of baptism for the dead, the authority
for which was restored by Elijah, (see page 149 herein), and which is
preeminently the work by which the children and the fathers shall be
united in an eternal bond.

On the 10th of March, 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith gave the following
exposition of the power of Elias as compared with higher authority: "The
spirit of Elias is first, Elijah second, and Messiah last. Elias is a
forerunner to prepare the way, and the spirit and power of Elijah is to
come after, holding the keys of power, building the temple to the
cap-stone, placing the seals of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon the
house of Israel, and making all things ready; then Messiah comes to His
temple, which is last of all."

"Messiah is above the spirit and power of Elijah, for He made the world,
and was that spiritual rock unto Moses in the wilderness. Elijah was to
come and prepare the way and build up the kingdom before the coming of
the great day of the Lord, although the spirit of Elias might begin
it."--_Hist. of the Church_, under date named.

6. Mention of the Lord's Approaching "Decease."--Of the three
synoptists, Luke alone makes even brief mention of the matter upon which
Moses and Elijah conversed with the Lord at the Transfiguration. The
record states that the visitants, who appeared in glory, "spake of his
decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:31). It is
significant that the _decease_, which the Lord should _accomplish_, not
the _death_ that He should _suffer_ or _die_, was the subject of that
exalted communion. The Greek word of which "decease" appears as the
English equivalent in many of the MSS. of the Gospels, is one connoting
"exodus," or "departure," and the word occurring in other early versions
signifies glory. So also the Greek original of "accomplish," in the
account of the Transfiguration, connotes the successful filling out or
completion of a specific undertaking, and not distinctively the act of
dying. Both the letter of the record and the spirit in which the
recorder wrote indicate that Moses and Elijah conversed with their Lord
on the glorious consummation of His mission in mortality--a consummation
recognized in the law (personified in Moses) and the prophets
(represented by Elijah)--and an event of supreme import, determining the
fulfilment of both the law and the prophets, and the glorious
inauguration of a new and higher order as part of the divine plan. The
_decease_ that the Savior was then so soon to _accomplish_ was the
voluntary surrender of His life in fulfilment of a purpose at once
exalted and foreordained, not a _death_ by which He would passively
_die_ through conditions beyond His control. (See pp. 418, and 662).


[775] Note 1, end of chapter.

[776] Note 2, end of chapter.

[777] Note 3, end of chapter.

[778] Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36.

[779] Page 38.

[780] Mark 8:31. Note 6, end of chapter.

[781] Mark 9:10.

[782] 2 Peter 1:16-18.

[783] John 1:14.

[784] Matt. 4:11; Mark 1:13.

[785] Luke 22:43; compare John 12:27-28.

[786] 2 Kings 2:11.

[787] Matt. 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13.

[788] Luke 1:17; pages 77 and 257 herein.

[789] Matt. 11:14.

[790] Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus," vol. ii, p. 79.

[791] Note 4, end of chapter.

[792] Mal. 4:5, 6; see page 149 herein.

[793] Note 5, end of chapter.

[794] Doc. and Cov. 110:13-16. See chapter 41, herein.



Our Lord's descent from the holy heights[795] of the Mount of
Transfiguration was more than a physical return from greater to lesser
altitudes; it was a passing from sunshine into shadow, from the
effulgent glory of heaven to the mists of worldly passions and human
unbelief; it was the beginning of His rapid descent into the valley of
humiliation. From lofty converse with divinely-appointed ministers, from
supreme communion with His Father and God, Jesus came down to a scene of
disheartening confusion and a spectacle of demonized dominion before
which even His apostles stood in impotent despair. To His sensitive and
sinless soul the contrast must have brought superhuman anguish; even to
us who read the brief account thereof it is appalling.


Jesus and the three apostles returned from the mount on the morrow
following the Transfiguration;[796] this fact suggests the assumption
that the glorious manifestation had occurred during the night. At or
near the base of the mountain the party found the other apostles, and
with them a multitude of people, including some scribes or rabbis.[797]
There was evidence of disputation and disturbance amongst the crowd; and
plainly the apostles were on the defensive. At the unexpected approach
of Jesus many of the people ran to meet Him with respectful salutations.
Of the contentious scribes He asked: "What question ye with them?" thus
assuming the burden of the dispute, whatever it might be, and so
relieving the distressed disciples from further active participation.
The scribes remained silent; their courage had vanished when the Master
appeared. A man, "one of the multitude," gave, though indirectly, the
answer. "Master," said he, kneeling at the feet of Christ, "I have
brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he
taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth,
and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him
out; and they could not."

The disciples' failure to heal the stricken youth had evidently brought
upon them hostile criticism, taunts and ridicule from the unbelieving
scribes; and their discomfiture must have been intensified by the
thought that through them doubt had been cast upon the authority and
power of their Lord. Pained in spirit at this--another instance of
dearth of faith and consequent lack of power among His chosen and
ordained servants--Jesus uttered an exclamation of intense sorrow: "O
faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I
suffer you?" These words, in which there is evident reproof, however
mild and pitying it may be, were addressed primarily to the apostles;
whether exclusively so or to them and others is of minor importance. As
Jesus directed, the afflicted lad was brought nearer; and the tormenting
demon, finding himself in the Master's presence, threw his youthful
victim into a terrible paroxysm, so that the boy fell to the ground and
wallowed in convulsions, the while frothing and foaming at the mouth.
With calm deliberation, which contrasted strongly with the eager
impatience of the distracted parent, Jesus inquired as to when the
malady had first befallen the lad. "Of a child," answered the father,
adding, "And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the
waters, to destroy him." With pathetic eagerness he implored, "If thou
canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us." The man spoke of
his son's affliction as though shared by himself. "Help us," was his

To this qualifying expression "If thou canst do anything," which implied
a measure of uncertainty as to the ability of the Master to grant what
he asked, and this perhaps as in part a result of the failure of the
apostles, Jesus replied: "If thou canst believe"; and added, "all things
are possible to him that believeth." The man's understanding was
enlightened; up to that moment he had thought that all depended upon
Jesus; he now saw that the issue rested largely with himself. It is
noteworthy that the Lord specified belief rather than faith as the
condition essential to the case. The man was evidently trustful, and
assuredly fervent in his hope that Jesus could help; but it is doubtful
that he knew what faith really meant. He was receptive and eagerly
teachable, however, and the Lord strengthened his feeble and uncertain
belief. The encouraging explanation of the real need stimulated him to a
more abounding trust. Weeping in an agony of hope he cried out: "Lord, I
believe;" and then, realizing the darkness of error from which he was
just beginning to emerge, he added penitently "help thou mine unbelief

Looking compassionately upon the writhing sufferer at His feet, Jesus
rebuked the demon, thus: "Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come
out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent
him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that
many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him
up; and he arose;" and as Luke adds, "and delivered him again to his
father." The permanency of the cure was assured by the express command
that the evil spirit enter no more into the lad;[799] it was no relief
from that present attack alone; the healing was permanent.

The people were amazed at the power of God manifested in the miracle;
and the apostles who had tried and failed to subdue the evil spirit were
disturbed. While on their mission, though away from their Master's
helpful presence, they had successfully rebuked and cast out evil
spirits as they had received special power and commission to do,[800]
but now, during His absence of a day they had found themselves unable.
When they had retired to the house, they asked of Jesus, "Why could not
we cast him out?" The reply was: "Because of your unbelief;" and in
further explanation the Lord said, "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but
by prayer and fasting."[801]

Hereby we learn that the achievements possible to faith are limited or
conditioned by the genuineness, the purity, the unmixed quality of that
faith. "O ye of little faith;" "Where is your faith?" and "Wherefore
didst thou doubt?"[802] are forms of admonitory reproof that had been
repeatedly addressed to the apostles by the Lord. The possibilities of
faith were now thus further affirmed: "Verily I say unto you, If ye have
faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain,
Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be
impossible unto you."[803] The comparison between effective faith and a
grain of mustard seed is one of quality rather than of quantity; it
connotes living, virile faith, like unto the seed, however small, from
which a great plant may spring,[804] in contrast with a lifeless,
artificial imitation, however prominent or demonstrative.


From the locality whereat the last miracle was wrought, Jesus departed
with the Twelve, and passed through Galilee toward Capernaum. It is
probable that they traveled by the less frequented roads, as He desired
that His return should not be publicly known. He had gone into
comparative retirement for a season, primarily it seems in quest of
opportunity to more thoroughly instruct the apostles in their
preparation for the work, which within a few months they would be left
to carry on without His bodily companionship. They had solemnly
testified that they knew Him to be the Christ; to them therefore He
could impart much that the people in general were wholly unprepared to
receive. The particular theme of His special and advanced instruction to
the Twelve was that of His approaching death and resurrection; and this
was dwelt upon again and again, for they were slow or unwilling to

"Let these sayings sink down into your ears" was His forceful prelude on
this occasion, in Galilee. Then followed the reiterated prediction,
spoken in part in the present tense as though already begun in
fulfilment: "The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they
shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third
day." We read with some surprize that the apostles still failed to
understand. Luke's comment is: "But they understood not this saying, and
it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask
him of that saying." The thought of what the Lord's words might mean,
even in its faintest outline, was terrifying to those devoted men; and
their failure to comprehend was in part due to the fact that the human
mind is loath to search deeply into anything it desires not to believe.


Jesus and His followers were again in Capernaum. There Peter was
approached by a collector of the temple tax, who asked: "Doth not your
Master pay tribute?"[807] Peter answered "Yes." It is interesting to
find that the inquiry was made of Peter and not directly of Jesus; this
circumstance may be indicative of the respect in which the Lord was held
by the people at large, and may suggest the possibility of doubt in the
collector's mind as to whether Jesus was amenable to the tax, since
priests and rabbis generally claimed exemption.

The annual capitation tax here referred to amounted to half a shekel or
a didrachm, corresponding to about thirty-three cents in our money; and
this had been required of every male adult in Israel since the days of
the exodus; though, during the period of captivity the requirement had
been modified.[808] This tribute, as prescribed through Moses, was
originally known as "atonement money," and its payment was in the nature
of a sacrifice to accompany supplication for ransom from the effects of
individual sin. At the time of Christ the annual contribution was
usually collected between early March and the Passover. If Jesus was
subject to this tax, He was at this time several weeks in arrears.

The conversation between Peter and the tax-collector had occurred
outside the house. When Peter entered, and was about to inform the
Master concerning the interview, Jesus forestalled him, saying: "What
thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or
tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him,
Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free."

Peter must have seen the inconsistency of expecting Jesus, the
acknowledged Messiah, to pay atonement money, or a tax for temple
maintenance, inasmuch as the temple was the House of God, and Jesus was
the Son of God, and particularly since even earthly princes were
exempted from capitation dues. Peter's embarrassment over his
inconsiderate boldness, in pledging payment for his Master without first
consulting Him, was relieved however by Jesus, who said:
"Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and
cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou
hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and
give unto them for me and thee."

The money was to be paid, not because it could be rightfully demanded of
Jesus, but lest non-payment give offense and furnish to His opponents
further excuse for complaint. The "piece of money," which Jesus said
Peter would find in the mouth of the first fish that took his bait, is
more correctly designated by the literal translation "stater,"[809]
indicating a silver coin equivalent to a shekel, or two didrachms, and
therefore the exact amount of the tax for two persons. "That take, and
give unto them for me and thee" said Jesus. It is notable that He did
not say "for us." In His associations with men, even with the Twelve,
who of all were nearest and dearest to Him, our Lord always maintained
His separate and unique status, in every instance making the fact
apparent that He was essentially different from other men. This is
illustrated by His expressions "My Father and your Father," "My God and
your God,"[810] instead of our Father and our God. He reverently
acknowledged that He was the Son of God in a literal sense that did not
apply to any other being.

While the circumstances of the finding of the stater in the fish are not
detailed, and the actual accomplishment of the miracle is not positively
recorded, we cannot doubt that what Jesus had promised was realized, as
otherwise there would appear no reason for introducing the incident into
the Gospel narrative. The miracle is without a parallel or even a
remotely analogous instance. We need not assume that the stater was
other than an ordinary coin that had fallen into the water, nor that it
had been taken by the fish in any unusual way. Nevertheless, the
knowledge that there was in the lake a fish having a coin in its gullet,
that the coin was of the denomination specified, and that that
particular fish would rise, and be the first to rise to Peter's hook, is
as incomprehensible to man's finite understanding as are the means by
which any of Christ's miracles were wrought. The Lord Jesus held and
holds dominion over the earth, the sea, and all that in them is, for by
His word and power were they made.

The Lord's purpose in so miraculously supplying the money should be
studiously considered. The assumption that superhuman power had to be
invoked because of a supposed condition of extreme poverty on the part
of Jesus and Peter is unwarranted. Even if Jesus and His companions had
been actually penniless, Peter and his fellow fishermen could easily
have cast their net, and, with ordinary success have obtained fish
enough to sell for the needed amount. Moreover, we find no instance of a
miracle wrought by the Lord for personal gain or relief of His own need,
however pressing. It appears probable, that by the means employed for
obtaining the money, Jesus intentionally emphasized His exceptional
reasons for redeeming Peter's pledge that the tax would be paid. The
Jews, who did not know Jesus as the Messiah, but only as a Teacher of
superior ability and a Man of unusual power, might have taken offense
had He refused to pay the tribute required of every Jew. On the other
hand, to the apostles and particularly to Peter who had been the
mouth-piece of all in the great confession, the payment of the tax in
ordinary course and without explanation by Jesus might have appeared as
an admission that He was subject to the temple, and therefore less than
He had claimed and less than they had confessed Him to be. His
catechization of Peter had clearly demonstrated that He maintained His
right as the King's Son, and yet would condescend to voluntarily give
what could not be righteously demanded. Then, in conclusive
demonstration of His exalted status, He provided the money by the
utilization of knowledge such as no other man possessed.


On the way to Capernaum the apostles had questioned among themselves, as
they supposed beyond the Master's hearing; questioning had led to
argument, and argument to disputation. The matter about which they were
so greatly concerned was as to who among them should be the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven. The testimony they had received convinced them
beyond all doubt, that Jesus was the long-awaited Christ, and this had
been supplemented and confirmed by His unqualified acknowledgment of His
Messianic dignity. With minds still tinctured by the traditional
expectation of the Messiah as both spiritual Lord and temporal King, and
remembering some of the Master's frequent references to His kingdom and
the blessed state of those who belonged thereto, and furthermore
realizing that His recent utterances indicated a near crisis or climax
in His ministry, they surrendered themselves to the selfish
contemplation of their prospective stations in the new kingdom, and the
particular offices of trust, honor, and emolument each most desired. Who
of them was to be prime minister; who would be chancellor, who the
commander of the troops? Personal ambition had already engendered
jealousy in their hearts.

When they were together with Jesus in the house at Capernaum, the
subject was brought up again. Mark tells us that Jesus asked: "What was
it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?" and that they answered
not, because, as may be inferred, they were ashamed. From Matthew's
record it may be understood that the apostles submitted the question for
the Master's decision. The apparent difference of circumstance is
unimportant; both accounts are correct; Christ's question to them may
have eventually brought out their questions to Him. Jesus, comprehending
their thoughts and knowing their unenlightened state of mind on the
matter that troubled them, gave them an illustrated lesson. Calling a
little child, whom He lovingly took into His arm, He said: "Verily I say
unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye
shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall
humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name
receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which
believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about
his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." With this
lesson we may profitably associate a later teaching, that little
children are typical of the kingdom of heaven.[812]

Even the apostles were in need of conversion;[813] respecting the matter
at issue their hearts were turned, partly at least, from God and His
kingdom. They had to learn that genuine humility is an attribute
essential to citizenship in the community of the blessed; and that the
degree of humility conditions whatsoever there is akin to rank in the
kingdom; for therein the humblest shall be greatest.

Christ would not have had His chosen representatives become childish;
far from it, they had to be men of courage, fortitude, and force; but He
would have them become childlike. The distinction is important. Those
who belong to Christ must become like children in obedience,
truthfulness, trustfulness, purity, humility and faith. The child is an
artless, natural, trusting believer; the childish one is careless,
foolish, and neglectful. In contrasting these characteristics, note the
counsel of Paul: "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in
malice be ye children, but in understanding be men."[814] Children as
such, and children as types of adults who are true believers, are
closely associated in this lesson. Whosoever shall offend, that is cause
to stumble or go astray, one such child of Christ, incurs guilt so great
that it would have been better for him had he met death even by violence
before he had so sinned.

Dwelling upon offenses, or causes of stumbling, the Lord continued: "Woe
unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences
come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" Then, repeating
some of the precious truths embodied in His memorable Sermon on the
Mount,[815] He urged the overcoming of evil propensities whatever the
sacrifice. As it is better that a man undergo surgical treatment though
he lose thereby a hand, a foot, or an eye, than that his whole body be
involved and his life forfeited, so is it commended that he cut off,
tear away, or root out from his soul the passions of evil, which, if
suffered to remain shall surely bring him under condemnation. In that
state his conscience shall gnaw as an undying worm, and his remorse
shall be as a fire that cannot be quenched. Every human soul shall be
tested as by fire; and as the flesh of the altar sacrifices had to be
seasoned with salt, as a type of preservation from corruption,[816] so
also the soul must receive the saving salt of the gospel; and that salt
must be pure and potent, not a dirty mixture of inherited prejudice and
unauthorized tradition that has lost whatever saltness it may once have
had. "Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another," was the
Lord's admonition to the disputing Twelve.[817]

As applicable to children of tender years, and to child-like believers
young and old, the Savior gave to the apostles this solemn warning and
profound statement of fact: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these
little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always
behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." The mission of the
Christ was presented as that of saving those who are temporarily lost,
and who, but for His aid would be lost forever. In elucidation of His
meaning, the Teacher presented a parable which has found place among the
literary treasures of the world.


"How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone
astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the
mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he
find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of
the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of
your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should

In this effective analogy the saving purpose of Christ's mission is made
prominent. He is verily the Savior. The shepherd is portrayed as leaving
the ninety and nine, pastured or folded in safety we cannot doubt, while
he goes alone into the mountains to seek the one that has strayed. In
finding and bringing back the wayward sheep, he has more joy than that
of knowing the others are yet safe. In a later version of this splendid
parable, as addressed to the murmuring Pharisees and scribes at
Jerusalem, the Master said of the shepherd on his finding the lost

"And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours,
saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was
lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one
sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons,
which need no repentance."[819]

Many have marveled that there should be greater rejoicing over the
recovery of one stray sheep, or the saving of a soul that had been as
one lost, than over the many who have not been in such jeopardy. In the
safe-folded ninety and nine the shepherd had continued joy; but to him
came a new accession of happiness, brighter and stronger because of his
recent grief, when the lost was brought back to the fold. To this
parable in connection with others of analogous import we shall recur in
a later chapter.

"IN MY NAME."[820]

In continuation of the lesson illustrated by the little child, Jesus
said: "Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and
whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is
least among you all, the same shall be great." It may have been Christ's
reference to deeds done in His name that prompted John to interject a
remark at this point: "Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy
name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth
not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall
do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that
is not against us is on our part." The young apostle had allowed his
zeal for the Master's name to lead to intolerance. That the man who had
attempted to do good in the name of Jesus was evidently sincere, and
that his efforts were acceptable to the Lord we cannot doubt; his act
was essentially different from the unrighteous assumptions for which
some others were afterward rebuked;[821] he was certainly a believer in
Christ, and may have been one of the class from which the Lord was soon
to select and commission special ministers and the Seventy.[822] In the
state of divided opinion then existing among the people concerning
Jesus, it was fair to say that all who were not opposed to Him were at
least tentatively on His side. On other occasions He asserted that those
who were not with Him were against Him.[823]


The proper method of adjusting differences between brethren and the
fundamental principles of Church discipline were made subjects of
instruction to the Twelve. The first step is thus prescribed: "Moreover
if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault
between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy
brother." The rule of the rabbis was that the offender must make the
first advance; but Jesus taught that the injured one should not wait for
his brother to come to him, but go himself, and seek to adjust the
difficulty; by so doing he might be the means of saving his brother's
soul. If the offender proved to be obdurate, the brother who had
suffered the trespass was to take two or three others with him, and
again try to bring the transgressor to repentant acknowledgment of his
offense; such a course provided for witnesses, by whose presence later
misrepresentation would be guarded against.

Extreme measures were to be adopted only after all gentler means had
failed. Should the man persist in his obstinacy, the case was to be
brought before the Church, and in the event of his neglect or refusal to
heed the decision of the Church, he was to be deprived of fellowship,
thereby becoming in his relationship to his former associates "as an
heathen man and a publican." In such state of non-membership he would be
a fit subject for missionary effort; but, until he became repentant and
manifested willingness to make amends, he could claim no rights or
privileges of communion in the Church. Continued association with the
unrepentant sinner may involve the spread of his disaffection, and the
contamination of others through his sin. Justice is not to be dethroned
by Mercy. The revealed order of discipline in the restored Church is
similar to that given to the apostles of old.[825]

The authority of the Twelve to administer the affairs of Church
government was attested by the Lord's confirming to them as a body the
promise before addressed to Peter: "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye
shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall
loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."[826] Through unity of purpose
and unreserved sincerity they would have power with God, as witness the
Master's further assurance: "Again I say unto you, That if two of you
shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall
be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three
are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Peter here broke in with a question: "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin
against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" He would fain have
some definite limit set, and he probably considered the tentative
suggestion of seven times as a very liberal measure, inasmuch as the
rabbis prescribed a triple forgiveness only.[827] He may have chosen
seven as the next number above three having a special Pharisaical
significance. The Savior's answer was enlightening: "Jesus saith unto
him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times
seven." This reply must have meant to Peter as it means to us, that to
forgiveness man may set no bounds; the forgiveness, however, must be
merited by the recipient.[828] The instruction was made memorable by the
following story.


"Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which
would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one
was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch
as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife,
and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant
therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience
with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was
moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the
same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed
him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the
throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down
at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will
pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till
he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done,
they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was
done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou
wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even
as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the
tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise
shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts
forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."[829]

Ten thousand talents are specified as expressive of a sum so great as to
put the debtor beyond all reasonable possibility of paying. We may
regard the man as a trusted official, one of the king's ministers, who
had been charged with the custody of the royal revenues, or one of the
chief treasurers of taxes; that he is called a servant introduces no
inconsistency, as in an absolute monarchy all but the sovereign are
subjects and servants. The selling of the debtor's wife and children and
all that he had would not have been in violation of the law in the
supposed case, which implies the legal recognition of slavery.[830] The
man was in arrears for debt. He did not come before his lord voluntarily
but had to be brought. So in the affairs of our individual lives
periodical reckonings are inevitable; and while some debtors report of
their own accord, others have to be cited to appear. The messengers who
serve the summons may be adversity, illness, the approach of death; but,
whatever, whoever they are, they enforce a rendering of our accounts.

The contrast between ten thousand talents and a hundred pence is
enormous.[831] In his fellowservant's plea for time in which to pay the
hundred pence, the greater debtor should have been reminded of the dire
straits from which he had just been relieved; the words, "Have patience
with me, and I will pay thee all," were identical with those of his own
prayer to the king. The base ingratitude of the unmerciful servant
justified the king in revoking the pardon once granted. The man came
under condemnation, not primarily for defalcation and debt, but for lack
of mercy after having received of mercy so abundantly. He, as an unjust
plaintiff, had invoked the law; as a convicted transgressor he was to be
dealt with according to the law. Mercy is for the merciful. As a
heavenly jewel it is to be received with thankfulness and used with
sanctity, not to be cast into the mire of undeservedness. Justice may
demand retribution and punishment: "With what measure ye mete, it shall
be measured to you again."[832] The conditions under which we may
confidently implore pardon are set forth in the form of prayer
prescribed by the Lord: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our


1. Faith in Behalf of Others.--The supplication of the agonized father
for the benefit of his sorely afflicted son--"Have compassion on us, and
help us" (Mark 9:22)--shows that he made the boy's case his own. In this
we are reminded of the Canaanite woman who implored Jesus to have mercy
on her, though her daughter was the afflicted one (Matt. 15:22; page 354
herein). In these cases, faith was exercized in behalf of the sufferers
by others; and the same is true of the centurion who pleaded for his
servant and whose faith was specially commended by Jesus (Matt 8:5-10;
page 249 herein); of Jairus whose daughter lay dead (Luke 8:41, 42, 49,
50; page 313 herein), and of many who brought their helpless kindred or
friends to Christ and pleaded for them. As heretofore shown, faith to be
healed is as truly a gift of God as is faith to heal (page 318); and, as
the instances cited prove, faith may be exercized with effect in behalf
of others. In connection with the ordinance of administering to the
afflicted, by anointing with oil and the laying on of hands, as
authoritatively established in the restored Church of Jesus Christ, the
elders officiating should encourage the faith of all believers present,
that such be exerted in behalf of the sufferer. In the case of infants
and of persons who are unconscious, it is plainly useless to look for
active manifestation of faith on their part, and the supporting faith of
kindred and friends is all the more requisite.

2. Power Developed by Prayer and Fasting.--The Savior's statement
concerning the evil spirit that the apostles were unable to
subdue--"Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and
fasting"--indicates gradation in the malignity and evil power of demons,
and gradation also in the results of varying degrees of faith. The
apostles who failed on the occasion referred to had been able to cast
out demons at other times. Fasting, when practised in prudence, and
genuine prayer are conducive to the development of faith with its
accompanying power for good. Individual application of this principle
may be made with profit. Have you some besetting weakness, some sinful
indulgence that you have vainly tried to overcome? Like the malignant
demon that Christ rebuked in the boy, your sin may be of a kind that
goeth out only through prayer and fasting.

3. Nothing Impossible to Faith.--Many people have questioned the literal
truth of the Lord's declaration that by faith mountains may be removed
from their place. Plainly there would have to be a purpose in harmony
with the divine mind and plan, in order that faith could be exerted at
all in such an undertaking. Neither such a miracle nor any other is
possible as a gratification of the yearning for curiosity, nor for
display, nor for personal gain or selfish satisfaction. Christ wrought
no miracle with any such motive; He persistently refused to show signs
to mere sign-seekers. But to deny the possibility of a mountain being
removed through faith, under conditions that would render such removal
acceptable to God, is to deny the word of God, both as to this specific
possibility, and as to the general assurance that "nothing shall be
impossible" to him who hath faith adequate to the end desired. It is
worthy of note, however, that the Jews in the days of Christ and since
often spoke of removing mountains as a figurative expression for the
overcoming of difficulties. According to Lightfoot and other authorities
a man able to solve intricate problems, or of particular power in
argument or acumen in judgment, was referred to as a "rooter up of

4. The Temple Tribute.--That the tribute money referred to in the text
was a Jewish contribution to the temple and not a tax levied by the
Roman government, is apparent from the specification of the "didrachma,"
which in the authorized version is translated "tribute." This coin was
equivalent to the half shekel, reckoned "after the shekel of the
sanctuary," which was the fixed amount to be paid annually by every male
"from twenty years old and above," with the provision that "the rich
shall not give more and the poor shall not give less" (Exo. 30:13-15). A
tax levied by the political powers would not be designated as the
didrachma. Moreover, had the collector who approached Peter been one of
the official publicans, he probably would have demanded the tax instead
of inquiring as to whether or not the Master was to be counted among the

Among the many humiliations to which the Jews were subjected in later
years, after the destruction of the temple, was the compulsory payment
of what had been their temple tribute, to the Romans, who decreed it as
a revenue to the pagan temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Of the emperor
Vespasian, Josephus (Wars of the Jews, vii, 6:6) says: That he also laid
a tribute wheresoever they were, and enjoined every one of them to bring
two drachmæ every year into the capitol, as they used to pay the same to
the temple at Jerusalem.

5. Talents and Pence.--It is evident that by specifying ten thousand
talents as the debt due the king, and a hundred pence as that owed by
the fellow-servant, the Lord intended to present a case of great
disparity and striking contrast. The actual amounts involved are of
minor significance in the story. We are not told which variety of talent
was meant; there were Attic talents, and both silver and gold talents of
Hebrew reckoning; and each differed from the others in value. The Oxford
marginal explanation is: "A talent is 750 ounces of silver, which after
five shillings the ounce is 187 pounds, ten shillings." This would be in
American money over nine and a quarter millions of dollars as the sum of
the ten thousand talents. The same authority gives as the value of the
penny (Roman) sevenpence half-penny, or fifteen cents, making the second
debt equivalent to about fifteen dollars. Comparison with talents
mentioned elsewhere may be allowable. Trench says: "How vast a sum it
was we can most vividly realize to ourselves by comparing it with other
sums mentioned in Scripture. In the construction of the tabernacle,
twenty-nine talents of gold were used (Exo. 38:24); David prepared for
the temple three thousand talents of gold, and the princes five thousand
(1 Chron. 29:4-7); the queen of Sheba presented to Solomon one hundred
and twenty talents (1 Kings 10:10); the king of Assyria laid upon
Hezekiah thirty talents of gold (2 Kings 18:14); and in the extreme
impoverishment to which the land was brought at the last, one talent of
gold was laid upon it, after the death of Josiah, by the king of Egypt
(2 Chron. 36:3)." Farrar estimates the debt owed to the king as
1,250,000 times that owed by the lesser to the greater debtor.

6. An Assumed Approval of Slavery.--Some readers have assumed that they
find in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant an implied approval of the
institution of slavery. The greater debtor, who figures in the story,
was to be sold, together with his wife and children and all that he had.
A rational consideration of the story as a whole is likely to find at
most, in the particular incident of the king's command that the debtor
and his family be sold, that the system of buying and selling
bondservants, serfs, or slaves, was legally recognized at the time. The
purpose of the parable was not even remotely to endorse or condemn
slavery or any other social institution. The Mosaic law is explicit in
matters relating to bondservants. The "angel of the Lord" who brought to
Hagar a message of encouragement and blessing respected the authority of
her mistress (Gen. 16:8, 9). In the apostolic epoch, instruction was
directed toward right living under the secular law, not rebellion
against the system (Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22; 1 Tim. 6:1-3; 1 Peter 2:18).
Recognition of established customs, institutions, and laws, and proper
obedience thereto, do not necessarily imply individual approval. The
gospel of Jesus Christ, which shall yet regenerate the world, is to
prevail--not by revolutionary assaults upon existing governments, nor
through anarchy and violence--but by the teaching of individual duty and
by the spread of the spirit of love. When the love of God shall be given
a place in the hearts of mankind, when men shall unselfishly love their
neighbors, then social systems and governments shall be formed and
operated to the securing of the greatest good to the greatest number.
Until men open their hearts to the reception of the gospel of Jesus
Christ, injustice and oppression, servitude and slavery, in some form or
other, are sure to exist. Attempts to extirpate social conditions that
spring from individual selfishness cannot be otherwise than futile so
long as selfishness is left to thrive and propagate.


[795] Compare 2 Peter 1:18.

[796] Luke 9:37.

[797] Matt. 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42.

[798] Note 1, end of chapter.

[799] Compare Matt. 12:40-45.

[800] Mark 6:12, 13; compare verse 7; also 3:15; Matt. 10:1.

[801] Note 2, end of chapter.

[802] Matt. 14:31; 16:8; Luke 8:25.

[803] Matt. 17:20; compare 21:21; Mark 11:23; Luke 17:6; see also Note
3, end of chapter.

[804] Compare Parable of the Mustard Seed, page 290.

[805] Matt. 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:44, 45.

[806] Matt. 17:24-27.

[807] Note 4, end of chapter.

[808] Exo. 30:13; 38:26. Page 171.

[809] See reading in revised version, and in margin of Oxford and
Bagster Bibles.

[810] John 20:17.

[811] Matt. 18:1-11; Mark 9:33-37, 42; Luke 9:46-48.

[812] Matt. 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17.

[813] Compare Luke 22:32.

[814] 1 Cor. 14:20; compare 13:11; Matt. 11:25; Psa. 131:2.

[815] Page 234.

[816] Mark 9:49, 50; compare Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24.

[817] Mark 9:43-50; compare Matt. 18:8, 9. Page 232 herein.

[818] Matt. 18:12-14; compare Luke 15:3-7 in which occurs a repetition
of this impressive parable, as given on a later occasion to Pharisees
and scribes at Jerusalem with a somewhat different application.

[819] Luke 15:1-7. See further page 451 herein.

[820] Luke 9:48-50; Mark 9:37-41.

[821] Contrast the instance of the sons of Sceva, Acts 19:13-17.

[822] Compare Luke 9:52; 10:1.

[823] Matt. 12:30; Luke 11:23.

[824] Matt. 18:15-20; compare Luke 17:3, 4.

[825] Compare Doc. and Cov. 20:80; 42:88-93; 98:39-48.

[826] Matt. 18:18; compare 16:19, and John 20:23.

[827] They based this limitation on Amos 1:3 and Job 33:29. In the
latter passage, as it appears in the authorized version, the word
"oftentimes" is an erroneous rendering of the original, which really
signified "twice and thrice."

[828] Compare Luke 17:3, 4.

[829] Matt. 18:23-35.

[830] Compare 2 Kings 4:1; Lev. 25:39.

[831] Note 5, end of chapter.

[832] Matt. 7:1; see also verse 6.

[833] Matt. 6:12; compare Luke 11:4; B. of M., 3 Nephi 13:11; page 240.




Of our Lord's labors during His brief sojourn in Galilee following His
return from the region of Cæsarea Philippi we have no record aside from
that of His instructions to the apostles. His Galilean ministry, so far
as the people in general were concerned, had practically ended with the
discourse at Capernaum on His return thither after the miracles of
feeding the five thousand and walking upon the sea. At Capernaum many of
the disciples had turned away from the Master,[835] and now, after
another short visit, He prepared to leave the land in which so great a
part of His public work had been accomplished.

It was autumn; about six months had passed since the return of the
apostles from their missionary tour; and the Feast of Tabernacles was
near at hand. Some of the kinsmen of Jesus came to Him, and proposed
that He go to Jerusalem and take advantage of the opportunity offered by
the great national festival, to declare Himself more openly than He had
theretofore done. His brethren, as the visiting relatives are called,
urged that He seek a broader and more prominent field than Galilee for
the display of His powers, arguing that it was inconsistent for any man
to keep himself in comparative obscurity when he wanted to be widely
known. "Shew thyself to the world," said they. Whatever their motives
may have been, these brethren of His did not advize more extended
publicity through any zeal for His divine mission; indeed, we are
expressly told that they did not believe in Him.[836] Jesus replied to
their presumptuous advice: "My time is not yet come: but your time is
alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I
testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this
feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full
come." It was not their prerogative to direct His movements, not to say
when He should do even what He intended to do eventually.[837] He made
it plain that between their status and His there was essential
difference; they were of the world, which they loved as the world loved
them; but the world hated Him because of His testimony.

This colloquy between Jesus and His brethren took place in Galilee. They
soon started for Jerusalem leaving Him behind. He had not said that He
would not go to the feast; but only "I go not up yet unto this feast;
for my time is not yet full come." Some time after their departure He
followed, traveling "not openly, but as it were in secret." Whether He
went alone, or accompanied by any or all of the Twelve, we are not told.


The agitated state of the public mind respecting Jesus is shown by the
interest manifest in Jerusalem as to the probability of His presence at
the feast. His brethren, who probably were questioned, could give no
definite information as to His coming. He was sought for in the crowds;
there was much discussion and some disputation concerning Him. Many
people expressed their conviction that He was a good man, while others
contradicted on the claim that He was a deceiver. There was little open
discussion, however, for the people were afraid of incurring the
displeasure of the rulers.

As originally established, the Feast of Tabernacles was a seven day
festival, followed by a holy convocation on the eighth day. Each day was
marked by special and in some respects distinctive services, all
characterized by ceremonies of thanksgiving and praise.[839] "Now about
the midst of the feast," probably on the third or fourth day, "Jesus
went up into the temple, and taught." The first part of His discourse is
not recorded, but its scriptural soundness is intimated in the surprize
of the Jewish teachers, who asked among themselves: "How knoweth this
man letters, having never learned?" He was no graduate of their schools;
He had never sat at the feet of their rabbis; He had not been officially
accredited by them nor licensed to teach. Whence came His wisdom, before
which all their academic attainments were as nothing? Jesus answered
their troubled queries, saying: "My doctrine is not mine, but his that
sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine,
whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." His Teacher,
greater even than Himself, was the Eternal Father, whose will He
proclaimed. The test proposed to determine the truth of His doctrine was
in every way fair, and withal simple; anyone who would earnestly seek to
do the will of the Father should know of himself whether Jesus spoke
truth or error.[840] The Master proceeded to show that a man who speaks
on his own authority alone seeks to aggrandize himself. Jesus did not
so; He honored His Teacher, His Father, His God, not Himself; and
therefore was He free from the taint of selfish pride or
unrighteousness. Moses had given them the law, and yet, as Jesus
affirmed, none of them kept the law.

Then, with startling abruptness, He challenged them with the question,
"Why go ye about to kill me?" On many occasions had they held dark
counsel with one another as to how they could get Him into their power
and put Him to death; but they thought that the murderous secret was
hidden within their own circle. The people had heard the seducing
assertions of the ruling classes, that Jesus was possessed by a demon,
and that He wrought wonders through the power of Beelzebub; and in the
spirit of this blasphemous slander, they cried out: "Thou hast a devil:
who goeth about to kill thee?"

Jesus knew that the two specifications of alleged guilt on which the
rulers were striving most assiduously to convict Him in the popular
mind, and so turn the people against Him, were those of Sabbath-breaking
and blasphemy. On an earlier visit to Jerusalem He had healed an
afflicted man on the Sabbath, and had utterly disconcerted the
hypercritical accusers who even then had sought to compass His
death.[841] To this act of mercy and power Jesus now referred, saying:
"I have done one work, and ye all marvel." Seemingly they were still of
unsettled mind, in doubt as to accepting Him because of the miracle or
denouncing Him because He had done it on the Sabbath. Then He showed the
inconsistency of charging Him with Sabbath-desecration for such a
merciful deed, when the law of Moses expressly allowed acts of mercy,
and even required that the mandatory rite of circumcision should not be
deferred because of the Sabbath. "Judge not according to the appearance,
but judge righteous judgment" said He.

The masses were still divided in their estimate of Jesus, and were
moreover puzzled over the indecision of the rulers. Some of the
Jerusalem Jews knew of the plan to arrest Him, and if possible to bring
Him to death, and the people queried why nothing was done when He was
there teaching publicly within reach of the officials. They wondered
whether the rulers had not at last come to believe that Jesus was indeed
the Messiah. The thought, however, was brushed aside when they
remembered that all knew whence He came; He was a Galilean, and from
Nazareth, whereas as they had been taught, however wrongly, the advent
of the Christ was to be mysterious so that none would know whence He
came. Strange it was, indeed, that men should reject Him because of a
lack of mystery and miracle in His advent; when, had they known the
truth, they would have seen in His birth a miracle without precedent or
parallel in the annals of time. Jesus directly answered their weak and
faulty reasoning. Crying aloud within the temple courts, He assured them
that while they knew whence He came as one of their number, yet they did
not know that He had come from God, neither did they know God who had
sent Him: "But," He added, "I know him: for I am from him, and he hath
sent me." At this reiterated testimony of His divine origin, the Jews
were the more enraged, and they determined anew to take Him by force;
nevertheless none laid hands upon him "because his hour was not yet

Many of the people believed in their hearts that He was of God, and
ventured to ask among themselves whether Christ would do greater works
than Jesus had done. The Pharisees and chief priests feared a possible
demonstration in favor of Jesus, and forthwith sent officers to arrest
Him and bring him before the Sanhedrin.[842] The presence of the temple
police caused no interruption to the Master's discourse, though we may
reasonably infer that He knew the purpose of their errand. He spoke on,
saying that He would be with the people but a little while; and that
after He had returned to the Father, they would seek Him vainly, for
where He would then be they could not come. This remark evoked more
bitter discussion. Some of the Jews wondered whether He intended to
leave the borders of the land and go among the Gentiles to teach them
and the dispersed Israelites.

As part of the temple service incident to the feast, the people went in
procession to the Pool of Siloam[843] where a priest filled a golden
ewer, which he then carried to the altar and there poured out the water
to the accompaniment of trumpet blasts and the acclamations of the
assembled hosts.[844] According to authorities on Jewish customs, this
feature was omitted on the closing day of the feast. On this last or
"great day," which was marked by ceremonies of unusual solemnity and
rejoicing, Jesus was again in the temple. It may have been with
reference to the bringing of water from the pool, or to the omission of
the ceremony from the ritualistic procedure of the great day, that Jesus
cried aloud, His voice resounding through the courts and arcades of the
temple: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that
believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall
flow rivers of living water."[845]

John, the recorder, remarks parenthetically that this promise had
reference to the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, which at that time had not
been granted, nor was it to be until after the ascension of the risen

Again many of the people were so impressed that they declared Jesus
could be none other than the Messiah; but others objected, saying that
the Christ must come from Bethlehem of Judea and Jesus was known to have
come from Galilee.[847] So there was further dissension; and though some
wanted Him apprehended, not a man was found who would venture to lay
hold on Him.

The police officers returned without their intended prisoner. To the
angry demand of the chief priests and Pharisees as to why they had not
brought Him, they acknowledged that they had been so affected by His
teachings as to be unable to make the arrest. "Never man spake like this
man," they said. Their haughty masters were furious. "Are ye also
deceived?" they demanded; and further, "Have any of the rulers or of the
Pharisees believed on him?" What was the opinion of the common people
worth? They had never learned the law, and were therefore accursed and
of no concern. Yet with all this show of proud disdain, the chief
priests and Pharisees were afraid of the common people, and were again
halted in their wicked course.

One voice of mild protest was heard in the assembly. Nicodemus, a member
of the Sanhedrin, and the same who had come to Jesus by night to inquire
into the new teaching,[848] mustered courage enough to ask: "Doth our
law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" The
answer was insulting. Maddened with bigotry and blood-thirsty
fanaticism, some of his colleagues turned upon him with the savage
demand: "Art thou also of Galilee?" meaning, Art thou also a disciple of
this Galilean whom we hate? Nicodemus was curtly told to study the
scriptures, and he would fail to find any prediction of a prophet
arising in Galilee. The anger of these learned bigots had blinded them
even to their own vaunted knowledge, for several of the ancient prophets
were regarded as Galileans;[849] if, however they had meant to refer
only to that Prophet of whom Moses had spoken, the Messiah, they were
correct, since all predictions pointed to Bethlehem in Judea as His
birthplace. It is evident that Jesus was thought of as a native of
Nazareth, and that the circumstances of His birth were not of public


After the festivities were over, Jesus went to the temple one morning
early; and as He sat, probably in the Court of the Women, which was the
usual place of public resort, many gathered about Him and He proceeded
to teach them as was His custom. His discourse was interrupted by the
arrival of a party of scribes and Pharisees with a woman in charge, who,
they said, was guilty of adultery. To Jesus they presented this
statement and question: "Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such
should be stoned; but what sayest thou?" The submitting of the case to
Jesus was a prearranged snare, a deliberate attempt to find or make a
cause for accusing Him. Though it was not unusual for Jewish officials
to consult rabbis of recognized wisdom and experience when difficult
cases were to be decided, the case in point involved no legal
complications. The woman's guilt seems to have been unquestioned, though
the witnesses required by the statutes are not mentioned as appearing
unless the accusing scribes and Pharisees are to be so considered; the
law was explicit, and the custom of the times in dealing with such
offenders was well known. While it is true that the law of Moses had
decreed death by stoning as the penalty for adultery, the infliction of
the extreme punishment had lapsed long before the time of Christ. One
may reasonably ask why the woman's partner in the crime was not brought
for sentence, since the law so zealously cited by the officious accusers
provided for the punishment of both parties to the offense.[851]

The question of the scribes and Pharisees, "But what sayest thou?" may
have intimated their expectation that Jesus would declare the law
obsolete; perhaps they had heard of the Sermon on the Mount, in which
many requirements in advance of the Mosaic code had been
proclaimed.[852] Had Jesus decided that the wretched woman ought to
suffer death, her accusers might have said that he was defying the
existing authorities; and possibly the charge of opposition to the Roman
government might have been formulated, since power to inflict the death
penalty had been taken from all Jewish tribunals; and moreover, the
crime with which this woman was charged was not a capital offense under
Roman law. Had He said that the woman should go unpunished or suffer
only minor infliction, the crafty Jews could have charged Him with
disrespect for the law of Moses. To these scribes and Pharisees Jesus at
first gave little heed. Stooping down He traced with His finger on the
ground; but as He wrote they continued to question Him. Lifting Himself
up He answered them, in a terse sentence that has become proverbial: "He
that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Such
was the law; the accusers on whose testimony the death penalty was
pronounced were to be the first to begin the work of execution.[853]

Having spoken, Jesus again stooped and wrote upon the ground. The
woman's accusers were "convicted by their own conscience"; shamed and in
disgrace they slunk away, all of them from the eldest to the youngest.
They knew themselves to be unfit to appear either as accusers or
judges.[854] What cowards doth conscience make! "When Jesus had lifted
up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where
are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man,
Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no

The woman was repentant; she remained humbly awaiting the Master's
decision, even after her accusers had gone. Jesus did not expressly
condone; He declined to condemn; but He sent the sinner away with a
solemn adjuration to a better life.[856]


Sitting within the temple enclosure in the division known as the
Treasury, which was connected with the Court of the Women,[858] our Lord
continued His teaching, saying: "I am the light of the world: he that
followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of
life."[859] The great lamps set up in the court as a feature of the
joyful celebration just ended gave point to our Lord's avowal of Himself
as the Light of the World. It was another proclamation of His divinity
as God and the Son of God. The Pharisees challenged His testimony,
declaring it of no worth because He bore record of Himself. Jesus
admitted that He testified of Himself, but affirmed nevertheless that
what He said was true, for He knew whereof He spoke, whence He came and
whither He would go, while they spoke in ignorance. They thought,
talked, and judged after the ways of men and the frailties of the flesh;
He was not sitting in judgment, but should He choose to judge, then His
judgment would be just, for He was guided by the Father who sent Him.
Their law required the testimony of two witnesses for the legal
determination of any question of fact;[860] and Jesus cited Himself and
His Father as witnesses in support of His affirmation. His opponents
then asked with contemptuous or sarcastic intent, "Where is thy Father?"
The reply was in lofty tone; "Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye
had known me, ye should have known my Father also." Enraged at their own
discomfiture, the Pharisees would have seized Him, but found themselves
impotent. "No man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come."


Again addressing the mixed assemblage, which probably comprized
Pharisees, scribes, rabbis, priests, Levites, and lay people, Jesus
repeated His former assertion that soon He would leave them, and that
whither He went they could not follow; and added the fateful assurance
that they would seek Him in vain and would die in their sins. His solemn
portent was treated with light concern if not contempt. Some of them
asked querulously, "Will he kill himself?" the implication being that in
such case they surely would not follow Him; for according to their
dogma, Gehenna was the place of suicides, and they, being of the chosen
people, were bound for heaven not hell. The Lord's dignified rejoinder
was: "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am
not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your
sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."

This reiteration of His distinctive supremacy brought forth the
challenging question, "Who art thou?" Jesus replied, "Even the same that
I said unto you from the beginning." The many matters on which He might
have judged them He refrained from mentioning, but testified anew of the
Father, saying: "He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those
things which I have heard of him." Explicit as His earlier explanations
had been, the Jews in their gross prejudice "understood not that he
spake to them of the Father." To His Father Jesus ascribed all honor and
glory, and repeatedly declared Himself as sent to do the Father's will.
"Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then
shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my
Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 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 evident earnestness and profound conviction with which Jesus spoke
caused many of His hearers to believe on Him; and these He addressed
with the promise that if they continued in that belief, and shaped their
lives according to His word, they should be His disciples indeed. A
further promise followed: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth
shall make you free." At these words, so rich in blessing, so full of
comfort for the believing soul, the people were stirred to angry
demonstrations; their Jewish temper was immediately ablaze. To promise
them freedom was to imply that they were not already free. "We be
Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou,
Ye shall be made free?" In their unbridled fanaticism they had forgotten
the bondage of Egypt, the captivity of Babylon, and were oblivious of
their existing state of vassalage to Rome. To say that Israel had never
been in bondage was not only to convict themselves of falsehood but to
stultify themselves wretchedly.

Jesus made it clear that He had not referred to freedom in its physical
or political sense alone, though to this conception their false
disavowal had been directed; the liberty He proclaimed was spiritual
liberty; the grievous bondage from which He would deliver them was the
serfdom of sin. To their vaunted boast that they were free men, not
slaves, He replied: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever
committeth sin is the servant of sin." As a sinner, every one of them
was in slavery. A bond-servant, Jesus reminded them, was allowed in the
master's house by sufferance only; it was not his inherent right to
remain there; his owner could send him away at any time, and might even
sell him to another; but a son of the family had of his own right a
place in his father's home. Now, if the Son of God made them free they
would be free indeed. Though they were of Abrahamic lineage in the
flesh, they were no heirs of Abraham in spirit or works. Our Lord's
mention of His Father as distinct from their father drew forth the angry
reiteration, "Abraham is our father", to which Jesus replied: "If ye
were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 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. Ye do the deeds of your father." In their
blind anger they apparently construed this to imply that though they
were children of Abraham's household some other man than Abraham was
their actual progenitor, or that they were not of unmixed Israelitish
blood. "We be not born of fornication" they cried, "we have one Father,
even God." Jesus said unto them, "If God were your Father, ye would love
me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself,
but he sent me."

They failed to understand because of their stubborn refusal to listen
dispassionately. With forceful accusation Jesus told them whose children
they actually were, as evinced by the hereditary traits manifest in
their lives: "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.[862] And
because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not." He challenged them to
find sin in Him; and then asked why, if He spake the truth, they so
persistently refused to believe Him. Answering His own question, He told
them that they were not of God and therefore they understood not the
words of God. The Master was unimpeachable; His terse, cogent assertions
were unanswerable. In impotent rage the discomfited Jews resorted to
invective and calumny. "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and
hast a devil?" they shrieked. They had before called Him a Galilean;
that appellative was but mildly depreciatory, and moreover was a
truthful designation according to their knowledge; but the epithet
"Samaritan" was inspired by hate,[863] and by its application they meant
to disown Him as a Jew.

The charge that He was a demoniac was but a repetition of earlier
slanders. "Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father,
and ye do dishonour me." Reverting to the eternal riches offered by His
gospel, the Master said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep
my saying, he shall never see death." This rendered them the more
infuriate: "Now we know that thou hast a devil" they cried, and as
evidence of what they professed to regard as His insanity, they cited
the fact that great as were Abraham and the prophets they were dead, yet
Jesus dared to say that all who kept His sayings should be exempt from
death. Did He pretend to exalt Himself above Abraham and the prophets?
"Whom makest thou thyself?" they demanded. The Lord's reply was a
disclaimer of all self-aggrandizement; His honor was not of His own
seeking, but was the gift of His Father, whom He knew; and were He to
deny that He knew the Father He would be a liar like unto themselves.
Touching the relationship between Himself and the great patriarch of
their race, Jesus thus affirmed and emphasized His own supremacy: "Your
father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." Not
only angered but puzzled, the Jews demanded further explanation.
Construing the last declaration as applying to the mortal state only,
they said: "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen
Abraham?" Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before
Abraham was, I am."

This was an unequivocal and unambiguous declaration of our Lord's
eternal Godship. By the awful title I AM He had made Himself known to
Moses and thereafter was so known in Israel.[864] As already shown, it
is the equivalent of "Yahveh," or "Jahveh," now rendered "Jehovah," and
signifies "The Self-existent One," "The Eternal," "The First and the
Last."[865] Jewish traditionalism forbade the utterance of the sacred
Name; yet Jesus claimed it as His own. In an orgy of self-righteous
indignation, the Jews seized upon the stones that lay in the unfinished
courts, and would have crushed their Lord, but the hour of His death had
not yet come, and unseen of them He passed through the crowd and
departed from the temple.

His seniority to Abraham plainly referred to the status of each in the
antemortal or preexistent state; Jesus was as literally the Firstborn in
the spirit-world, as He was the Only Begotten in the flesh. Christ is as
truly the Elder Brother of Abraham and Adam as of the last-born child of


At Jerusalem Jesus mercifully gave sight to a man who had been blind
from his birth.[868] The miracle is an instance of Sabbath-day healing,
of more than ordinary interest because of its attendant incidents. It is
recorded by John alone, and, as usual with that writer, his narrative is
given with descriptive detail. Jesus and His disciples saw the sightless
one upon the street. The poor man lived by begging. The disciples, eager
to learn, asked: "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he
was born blind?" The Lord's reply was: "Neither hath this man sinned,
nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in
him." The disciples' question implied their belief in a state of moral
agency and choice antedating mortality; else, how could they have
thought of the man having sinned so as to bring upon himself congenital
blindness? We are expressly told that he was born blind. That he might
have been a sufferer from the sins of his parents was conceivable.[869]
The disciples evidently had been taught the great truth of an antemortal
existence. It is further to be seen that they looked upon bodily
affliction as the result of personal sin. Their generalization was too
broad; for, while as shown by instances heretofore cited,[870]
individual wickedness may and does bring physical ills in its train, man
is liable to err in his judgment as to the ultimate cause of affliction.
The Lord's reply was sufficing; the man's blindness would be turned to
account in bringing about a manifestation of divine power. As Jesus
explained respecting His own ministry, it was necessary that He do the
Father's work in the season appointed, for His time was short. With
impressive pertinency as relating to the state of the man who had been
in darkness all his days, our Lord repeated the affirmation before made
in the temple, "I am the light of the world."

The outward ministration to the blind man was different from the usual
course followed by Jesus. "He spat on the ground, and made clay of the
spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay"; and
then directed him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash in its
waters.[871] The man went, washed, and came seeing. He was evidently a
well-known character; many had seen him in his accustomed place begging
alms, and the fact that he had been blind from birth was also of common
knowledge. When, therefore, it was noised about that he could see, there
was much excitement and comment. Some doubted that the man they
questioned was the once sightless beggar; but he assured them of his
identity, and told how he had been made to see. They brought the man to
the Pharisees, who questioned him rigorously; and, having heard his
account of the miracle, tried to undermine his faith by telling him that
Jesus who had healed him could not be a man of God since He had done the
deed on the Sabbath. Some of those who heard demurred to the Pharisaic
deduction, and asked: "How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?"
The man was questioned as to his personal opinion of Jesus, and promptly
answered: "He is a prophet." The man knew his Benefactor to be more than
any ordinary being; as yet, however, he had no knowledge of Him as the

The inquisitorial Jews were afraid of the result of such a wondrous
healing, in that the people would support Jesus whom the rulers were
determined to destroy. They assumed it to be possible that the man had
not been really blind; so they summoned his parents, who answered their
interrogatories by affirming that he was their son, and they knew him to
have been born blind; but as to how he had received sight, or through
whose ministration, they refused to commit themselves, knowing the
rulers had decreed that any one who confessed Jesus to be the Christ
should be cast out from the community of the synagog, or, as we would
say today, excommunicated from the Church. With pardonable astuteness
the parents said of their son: "He is of age; ask him: he shall speak
for himself."

Compelled to acknowledge, to themselves at least, that the fact and the
manner of the man's restoration to sight were supported by irrefutable
evidence, the crafty Jews called the man again, and insinuatingly said
unto him: "Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner." He
replied fearlessly, and with such pertinent logic as to completely
offset their skill as cross-examiners: "Whether he be a sinner or no, I
know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." He
very properly declined to enter into a discussion with his learned
questioners as to what constituted sin under their construction of the
law; of what he was ignorant he declined to speak; but on one matter he
was happily and gratefully certain, that whereas he had been blind, now
he could see.

The Pharisaical inquisitors next tried to get the man to repeat his
story of the means employed in the healing, probably with the subtle
purpose of leading him into inconsistent or contradictory statements;
but he replied with emphasis, and possibly with some show of impatience,
"I have told you already, and ye did not hear:[872] wherefore would ye
hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?" They retorted with anger,
and reviled the man; the ironical insinuation that they perchance wished
to become disciples of Jesus was an insult they would not brook. "Thou
art his disciple," said they, "but we are Moses' disciples. We know that
God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he
is." They were enraged that this unlettered mendicant should answer so
boldly in their scholarly presence; but the man was more than a match
for all of them. His rejoinder was maddening because it flouted their
vaunted wisdom, and withal was unanswerable. "Why herein is a marvellous
thing," said he, "that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath
opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any
man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since
the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one
that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing."

For such an affront from a layman there was no precedent in all the lore
of rabbis or scribes. "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou
teach us?" was their denunciatory though weak and inadequate rejoinder.
Unable to cope with the sometime sightless beggar in argument or
demonstration, they could at least exercize their official authority,
however unjustly, by excommunicating him; and this they promptly did.
"Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he
said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? he answered and
said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto
him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And
he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him."

In commenting upon the matter Jesus was heard to say that one purpose of
His coming into the world was "that they which see not might see; and
that they which see might be made blind." Some of the Pharisees caught
the remark, and asked in pride: "Are we blind also?" The Lord's reply
was a condemnation: "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye
say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."


"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into
the sheep fold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and
a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the
sheep." With these words Jesus prefaced one of His most impressive
discourses. The mention of shepherd and sheep must have brought to the
minds of His hearers many of the oft-quoted passages from prophets and
psalms.[874] The figure is an effective one, and all the more so when we
consider the circumstances under which it was used by the Master.
Pastoral conditions prevailed in Palestine, and the dignity of the
shepherd's vocation was very generally recognized. By specific prophecy
a Shepherd had been promised to Israel. David, the king of whom all
Israelites were proud, had been taken directly from the sheepfold, and
had come with a shepherd's crook in his hand to the anointing that made
him royal.

As the Teacher showed, a shepherd has free access to the sheep. When
they are folded within the enclosure of safety, he enters at the gate;
he neither climbs over nor creeps in.[875] He, the owner of the sheep
loves them; they know his voice and follow him as he leads from fold to
pasture, for he goes before the flock; while the stranger, though he be
the herder, they know not; he must needs drive, for he cannot lead.
Continuing the allegory, which the recorder speaks of as a parable,
Jesus designated Himself as the door to the sheepfold, and made plain
that only through Him could the under-shepherds rightly enter. True,
there were some who sought by avoiding the portal and climbing over the
fence to reach the folded flock; but these were robbers, trying to get
at the sheep as prey; their selfish and malignant purpose was to kill
and carry off.

Changing the figure, Christ proclaimed: "I am the good shepherd." He
then further showed, and with eloquent exactness, the difference between
a shepherd and a hireling herder. The one has personal interest in and
love for his flock, and knows each sheep by name, the other knows them
only as a flock, the value of which is gaged by number; to the hireling
they are only as so many or so much. While the shepherd is ready to
fight in defense of his own, and if necessary even imperil his life for
his sheep, the hireling flees when the wolf approaches, leaving the way
open for the ravening beast to scatter, rend, and kill.

Never has been written or spoken a stronger arraignment of false
pastors, unauthorized teachers, self-seeking hirelings who teach for
pelf and divine for dollars, deceivers who pose as shepherds yet avoid
the door and climb over "some other way," prophets in the devil's
employ, who to achieve their master's purpose, hesitate not to robe
themselves in the garments of assumed sanctity, and appear in sheep's
clothing, while inwardly they are ravening wolves.[876]

With effective repetition Jesus continued: "I am the good shepherd, and
know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so
know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." For this cause
was Jesus the Father's Beloved Son--that He was ready to lay down His
life for the sake of the sheep. That the sacrifice He was soon to render
was in fact voluntary, and not a forfeiture under compulsion, is
solemnly affirmed in the Savior's words: "Therefore doth my Father love
me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man
taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it
down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I
received of my Father." The certainty of His death and of His subsequent
resurrection are here reiterated. A natural effect of His immortal
origin, as the earth-born Son of an immortal Sire, was that He was
immune to death except as He surrendered thereto. The life of Jesus the
Christ could not be taken save as He willed and allowed. The power to
lay down His life was inherent in Himself, as was the power to take up
His slain body in an immortalized state.[877] These teachings caused
further division among the Jews. Some pretended to dispose of the matter
by voicing anew the foolish assumption that Jesus was but an insane
demoniac, and that therefore His words were not worthy of attention.
Others with consistency said "These are not the words of him that hath a
devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?" So it was that a few
believed, many doubted though partly convinced, and some condemned.

As part of this profound discourse, Jesus said: "And other sheep I have,
which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear
my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."[878] The
"other sheep" here referred to constituted the separated flock or
remnant of the house of Joseph, who, six centuries prior to the birth of
Christ, had been miraculously detached from the Jewish fold in
Palestine, and had been taken beyond the great deep to the American
continent. When to them the resurrected Christ appeared He thus spake:
"And verily, I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said, other
sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and
they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one
shepherd."[879] The Jews had vaguely understood Christ's reference to
other sheep as meaning in some obscure way, the Gentile nations; and
because of their unbelief and consequent inability to rightly
comprehend, Jesus had withheld any plainer exposition of His meaning,
for so, He informed the Nephites, had the Father directed. "This much
did the Father command me," He explained, "that I should tell unto them,
That other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must
bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and
one shepherd." On the same occasion the Lord declared that there were
yet other sheep, those of the Lost, or Ten, Tribes, to whom He was then
about to go, and who would eventually be brought forth from their place
of exile, and become part of the one blessed fold under the governance
of the one supreme Shepherd and King.[880]


1. The Feast of Tabernacles.--In the order of yearly occurrence this was
the third of the great festivals, the observance of which was among the
national characteristics of the people of Israel; the others were the
Passover, and the feast of Weeks or Pentecost; at each of the three all
the males in Israel were required to appear before the Lord in formal
celebration of the respective feast (Exo. 23:17). The feast of
Tabernacles was also known as the "feast of ingathering" (Exo. 23:16);
it was both a memorial and a current harvest celebration. In
commemoration of their long journeying in the wilderness following their
deliverance from Egypt, in the course of which journey they had to live
in tents and improvized booths, the people of Israel were required to
observe annually a festival lasting seven days, with an added day of
holy convocation. During the week the people lived in booths, bowers, or
tabernacles, made of the branches or "boughs of goodly trees" wattled
with willows from the brook (Lev. 23:34-43; Numb. 29:12-38; Deut.
16:13-15; 31:10-13). The festival lasted from the 15th to the 22d of the
month Tizri, the seventh in the Hebrew calendar, corresponding to parts
of our September and October. It was made to follow soon after the
annual Day of Atonement which was a time of penitence and affliction of
the soul in sorrow for sin (Lev. 23:26-32). The altar sacrifices at the
feast of Tabernacles exceeded those prescribed for other festivals, and
comprized a daily offering of two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid as a
sin offering, and in addition a varying number of young bullocks,
thirteen of which were sacrificed on the first day, twelve on the
second, eleven on the third, and so on to the seventh day, on which
seven were offered, making in all seventy bullocks (Numb. 29:12-38).
Rabbinism invested this number, seventy, and the graded diminution in
the number of altar victims, with much symbolical significance not set
forth in the law.

At the time of Christ, tradition had greatly embellished many of the
prescribed observances. Thus the "boughs of goodly trees," more
literally rendered "fruit" (Lev. 23:40), had come to be understood as
the citron fruit; and this every orthodox Jew carried in one hand, while
in the other he bore a leafy branch or a bunch of twigs, known as the
"lulab," when he repaired to the temple for the morning sacrifice, and
in the joyous processions of the day. The ceremonial carrying of water
from the spring of Siloam to the altar of sacrifice was a prominent
feature of the service. This water was mingled with wine at the altar
and the mixture was poured upon the sacrificial offering. Many
authorities hold that the bringing of water from the pool was omitted on
the last or great day of the feast, and it is inferred that Jesus had in
mind the circumstance of the omission when He cried: "If any man thirst,
let him come unto me, and drink." At night, during the progress of the
feast, great lamps were kept burning in the temple courts, and this
incident Christ may have used as an objective illustration in his
proclamation: "I am the light of the world."

For fuller account see any reliable and comprehensive Bible Dictionary,
and Josephus Ant. viii, 4:1; xv, 3:3, etc. The following is an excerpt
from Edersheim, _Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah_, vol. ii, p.
158-160: "When the Temple-procession had reached the Pool of Siloam, the
priest filled his golden pitcher from its waters. Then they went back to
the Temple, so timing it that they should arrive just as they were
laying the pieces of the sacrifice on the great altar of burnt-offering,
towards the close of the ordinary morning-sacrifice service. A threefold
blast of the priests' trumpets welcomed the arrival of the priest as he
entered through the Water Gate, which obtained its name from this
ceremony, and passed straight into the Court of the Priests....
Immediately after the 'pouring of the water,' the great 'Hallel,'
consisting of Psalms 113 to 118 inclusive, was chanted antiphonally, or
rather, with responses, to the accompaniment of the flute.... In further
symbolism of this Feast, as pointing to the ingathering of the heathen
nations, the public services closed with a procession round the altar by
the priests.... But on 'the last, the Great Day of the Feast,' this
procession of priests made the circuit of the altar, not only once, but
seven times, 'as if they were again compassing, but now with prayer, the
Gentile Jericho which barred their possession of the promised land.'"

2. The Test of our Lord's Doctrine.--Any man may know for himself
whether the doctrine of Christ is of God or not by simply doing the will
of the Father (John 7:17). Surely it is a more convincing course than
that of relying upon another's word. The writer was once approached by
an incredulous student in college, who stated that he could not accept
as true the published results of a certain chemical analysis, since the
specified amounts of some of the ingredients were so infinitesimally
small that he could not believe it possible to determine such minute
quantities. The student was but a beginner in chemistry; and with his
little knowledge he had undertaken to judge as to the possibilities of
the science. He was told to do the things his instructor prescribed, and
he should some day know for himself whether the results were true or
false. In the senior year of his course, he received for laboratory
analysis a portion of the very substance whose composition he had once
questioned. With the skill attained by faithful devotion he successfully
completed the analysis, and reported results similar to those, which in
his inexperience he had thought impossible to obtain. He was manly
enough to acknowledge as unfounded his earlier skepticism and rejoiced
in the fact that he had been able to demonstrate the truth for himself.

3. The Pool of Siloam.--"The names 'Shiloah' ('Shelah,' Neh. 3:15,
'Siloah' in authorized version) and 'Siloam' are the exact equivalent in
Hebrew and Greek, respectively, of 'Silwan' in the modern Arabic name
('Ain Silwan') of the pool at the mouth of El-Wad. All the ancient
references agree with this identification (compare Neh. 3:15; Josephus,
Wars of the Jews, v, 4:1, 2; 6:1; 9:4; 12:2; ii, 16:2; vi, 7:2; 8:5). In
spite of its modern designation as an 'ain' (spring), Siloam is not a
spring, but is fed by a tunnel cut through the rock from the Gihon, or
Virgin's Fountain."--L. B. Paton, in article "Jerusalem," _Stand. Bible

4. Whence was the Messiah to Come?--Many stifled their inward promptings
to a belief in Jesus as the Messiah, by the objection that all
prophecies relating to His coming pointed to Bethlehem as His
birthplace, and Jesus was of Galilee. Others rejected Him because they
had been taught that no man was to know whence the Messiah came and they
all knew Jesus came from Galilee. The seeming inconsistency is thus
explained: The city of David, or Bethlehem in Judea, was beyond question
the fore-appointed place of the Messiah's birth; but the rabbis had
erroneously taught that soon after birth the Christ Child would be
caught away, and after a time would appear as a Man, and that no one
would know whence or how He had returned. Geikie (ii, p. 274), citing
Lightfoot in part, thus states the popular criticism: "'Do not the
rabbis tell us' said some, 'that the Messiah will be born at Bethlehem,
but that He will be snatched away by spirits and tempests soon after His
birth, and that when He returns the second time no one will know from
whence He has come?' But we know this man comes from Nazareth."

5. The Record Relating to the Woman Taken in Adultery.--Some modern
critics claim that the verses John 7:53 and 8:1-11 inclusive are out of
place as they appear in the authorized or King James version of the
Bible, on the grounds that the incident therein recorded does not appear
in certain of the ancient manuscript copies of John's Gospel, and that
the style of the narrative is distinctive. In some manuscripts it
appears at the end of the book. Other manuscripts contain the account as
it appears in the English Bible. Canon Farrar pertinently asks (p. 404,
note), why, if the incident is out of place or not of John's authorship,
so many important manuscripts give place to it as we have it?

6. The Treasury, and Court of the Women.--"Part of the space within the
inner courts was open to Israelites of both sexes, and was known
distinctively as the Court of the Women. This was a colonnaded
enclosure, and constituted the place of general assembly in the
prescribed course of public worship. Chambers used for ceremonial
purposes occupied the four corners of this court; and between these and
the houses at the gates, were other buildings, of which one series
constituted the Treasury wherein were set trumpet-shaped receptacles for
gifts." (See Mark 12:41-44.)--_The House of the Lord_, pp. 57-58.

7. The Sheepfold.--Dummelow's _Commentary_ says, on John 10:2: "To
understand the imagery, it must be remembered that Eastern folds are
large open enclosures, into which several flocks are driven at the
approach of night. There is only one door, which a single shepherd
guards, while the others go home to rest. In the morning the shepherds
return, are recognized by the doorkeeper, call their flocks round them,
and lead them forth to pasture."


[834] John 7:1-10.

[835] Page 343.

[836] John 7:5; compare Mark 3:21 in which "friends" is an inaccurate
rendition for "kinsmen".

[837] Compare Christ's answer to His mother, John 2:4; see also 7:30;

[838] John 7:11-53.

[839] Note 1, end of chapter.

[840] Note 2, end of chapter.

[841] John 5; see pages 206-208 herein.

[842] Page 69.

[843] Note 3, end of chapter.

[844] This was regarded as a literal fulfilment of Isa. 12:3.

[845] John 7:37, 38; compare with the assurance respecting "living
water" given to the Samaritan woman, 4:10-15.

[846] John 7:39; compare 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:7; Luke 24:49; Acts

[847] Note 4, end of chapter.

[848] John 3; page 158 herein.

[849] According to many excellent authorities, Jonah, Nahum, and Hosea
were all of Galilee; and it is further believed that Elijah also was of
Galilean nativity.

[850] John 8:1-11.

[851] Deut. 22:22-27.

[852] Matt. 5:21-48.

[853] Deut. 17:6, 7; also 13:9.

[854] Compare Rom. 2:1, 22; Matt. 7:1, 2; Luke 6:37; 2 Sam. 12:5-7.

[855] John 8:10, 11; compare 5:11. Consider another instance of mercy
granted through contrition Luke 7:36-50.

[856] Note 5, end of chapter.

[857] John 8:12-20.

[858] Note 6, end of chapter.

[859] John 8:12; compare 1:4, 5, 9; 3:19; 9:5; 12:35, 36, 46. See also
Doc. and Cov. 6:21; 10:58, 70; 11:11; 14:9; 84:45, 46; 88:6-13.

[860] Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Numb. 35:30; Matt. 18:16.

[861] John 8:21-59.

[862] Compare P. of G.P., Moses 4:4; 5:24; B. of M., 2 Nephi 2:18; Doc.
and Cov. 10:25; 93:25.

[863] Pages 174, 183.

[864] Exo. 3:14; compare 6:3.

[865] Compare Isa. 44:6; Rev. 1:4, 8; see also John 17:5, 24; Col. 1:17.
Page 36 herein.

[866] Page 13.

[867] John 9.

[868] Whether this incident occurred in immediate sequence to the events
last considered, or at a later time after the return of Jesus to
Jerusalem following an unrecorded departure therefrom, is not stated in
the scriptural record. The value of the lesson is not affected by its
place in the catalog of our Lord's works.

[869] Exo. 20:5; 34:7; Lev. 26:39; Numb. 14:18; 1 Kings 21:29; compare
Ezek. chap. 18.

[870] Pages 192 and 208.

[871] Note 3, end of chapter.

[872] That is, "heed" or "believe".

[873] John 10:1-21.

[874] Note the promise of a Shepherd to Israel, Isa. 40:11; 49:9, 10;
Ezek. 34:23; 37:24; compare Jer. 3:15; 23:4; Heb, 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25;
5:4; Rev. 7:17. Read studiously Psalm 23.

[875] Note 7, end of chapter.

[876] Matt. 7:15; compare 24:4, 5, 11, 24; Mark 13:22; Rom. 16:17, 18;
Eph. 5:6; Col. 2:8; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1; Acts 20:29.

[877] Pages 22 and 81.

[878] John 10:16; compare as to "one fold and one shepherd," Ezek.
37:22; Isa. 11:13; Jer. 3:18; 50:4. See "Articles of Faith,"
xviii,--"The Gathering of Israel."

[879] B. of M., 3 Nephi 15:21; read verses 12-24; see chapter 39 herein.

[880] 3 Nephi 16:1-5.



When or under what attendant circumstances our Lord departed from
Jerusalem after the Feast of Tabernacles, in the last autumn of His
earthly life, we are not told. The writers of the synoptic Gospels have
recorded numerous discourses, parables, and miracles, as incidents of a
journey toward Jerusalem, in the course of which, Jesus, accompanied by
the apostles, traversed parts of Samaria and Perea, and the outlying
sections of Judea. We read of Christ's presence in Jerusalem at the
Feast of Dedication,[881] between two and three months after the Feast
of Tabernacles; and it is probable that some of the events now to be
considered occurred during that interval.[882] That Jesus left Jerusalem
soon after the Feast of Tabernacles is certain; whether He returned to
Galilee, or went only into Perea, possibly with a short detour across
the border into Samaria, is not conclusively stated. We shall here as
heretofore devote our study primarily to His words and works, with but
minor regard to place, time, or sequence.

As the time of His foreknown betrayal and crucifixion drew near, "he
steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,"[883] though, as we shall
find, He turned northward on two occasions, once when He retired to the
region of Bethabara, and again to Ephraim.[884]


Jesus sent messengers ahead, to announce His coming and to prepare for
His reception. In one of the Samaritan villages He was refused
entertainment and a hearing, "because his face was as though he would go
to Jerusalem." Racial prejudice had superseded the obligations of
hospitality. This repulse is in unfavorable contrast with the
circumstances of His earlier visit among the Samaritans, when He had
been received with gladness and entreated to remain; but on that
occasion He was journeying not toward but farther from Jerusalem.[886]

The disrespect shown by the Samaritans was more than the disciples could
endure without protest. James and John, those Sons of Thunder, were so
resentful as to yearn for vengeance. Said they: "Lord, wilt thou that we
command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias
did?"[887] Jesus rebuked His uncharitable servants thus: "Ye know not
what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to
destroy men's lives, but to save them." Repulsed in this village the
little company went to another, as the Twelve had been instructed to do
under like circumstances.[888] This was but one of the impressive
lessons given to the apostles in the matter of tolerance, forbearance,
charity, patience, and long-suffering.

Luke gives next place to the incident of three men who were desirous or
willing to become disciples of Christ; one of them seems to have been
discouraged at the prospect of hardship such as the ministry entailed;
the others wished to be temporarily excused from service, one that he
might attend the burial of his father, the other that he might first bid
his loved ones farewell. This, or a similar occurrence, is recorded by
Matthew in another connection, and has already received attention in
these pages.[889]


The supreme importance of our Lord's ministry, and the shortness of the
time remaining to Him in the flesh, demanded more missionary laborers.
The Twelve were to remain with Him to the end; every hour of possible
instruction and training had to be utilized in their further preparation
for the great responsibilities that would rest upon them after the
Master's departure. As assistants in the ministry, He called and
commissioned the Seventy, and straightway sent them forth,[890] "two and
two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would
come." The need of their service was explained in the introduction to
the impressive charge by which they were instructed in the duties of
their calling. "Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great,
but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest,
that he would send forth labourers into his harvest."[891]

Many matters on which the Twelve had been instructed prior to their
missionary tour were now repeated to the Seventy. They were told that
they must expect unfriendly and even hostile treatment; their situation
would be as that of lambs among wolves. They were to travel without
purse or scrip, and thus necessarily to depend upon the provision that
God would make through those to whom they came. As their mission was
urgent, they were not to stop on the way to make or renew personal
acquaintanceships. On entering a house they were to invoke peace upon
it; if the household deserved the gift peace would rest therein, but
otherwise the Lord's servants would feel that their invocation was
void.[892] To any family by whom they were received they were to impart
blessing--healing the afflicted, and proclaiming that the kingdom of God
had come nigh unto that house. They were not to go from one house to
another seeking better entertainment, nor should they expect or desire
to be feasted, but they should accept what was offered, eating that
which was set before them, thus sharing with the family. If rejected in
any city, they were to depart therefrom, leaving, however, their solemn
testimony that the city had turned away from the kingdom of God, which
had been brought to its doors, and attesting the same by ridding
themselves of the dust of that place.[893] It was not for them to
pronounce anathema or curse, but the Lord assured them that such a city
would bring upon itself a fate worse than the doom of Sodom.[894] He
reminded them that they were His servants, and therefore whoever heard
or refused to hear them would be judged as having so treated Him.

They were not restrained, as the Twelve had been, from entering
Samaritan towns or the lands of the Gentiles. This difference is
consistent with the changed conditions, for now the prospective
itinerary of Jesus would take Him into non-Jewish territory, where His
fame had already spread; and furthermore, His plan provided for an
extension of the gospel propaganda, which was to be ultimately
world-wide. The narrow Jewish prejudice against Gentiles in general and
Samaritans in particular was to be discountenanced; and proof of this
intent could not be better given than by sending authorized ministers
among those peoples. We must keep in mind the progressiveness of the
Lord's work. At first the field of gospel preaching was confined to the
land of Israel,[895] but the beginning of its extension was inaugurated
during our Lord's life, and was expressly enjoined upon the apostles
after His resurrection.[896] Duly instructed, the Seventy set out upon
their mission.[897]

Mention of the condemnation that would follow wilful rejection of the
authorized servants of God aroused in our Lord's mind sad memories of
the repulses He had suffered, and of the many unrepentant souls, in the
cities wherein He had accomplished so many mighty works. In profound
sorrow He predicted the woes then impending over Chorazin, Bethsaida,
and Capernaum.[898]


Considerable time may have elapsed, weeks or possibly months, between
the departure of the Seventy and their return. We are not told when or
where they rejoined the Master; but this we know, that the authority and
power of Christ had been abundantly manifest in their ministry; and that
they had rejoiced in the realization. "Lord," said they, "even the
devils are subject unto us through thy name."[899] This testimony was
followed by the Lord's solemn statement: "I beheld Satan as lightning
fall from heaven." This was said with reference to the expulsion of the
rebellious son of the morning, after his defeat by Michael and the
heavenly hosts.[900] Commending the Seventy for their faithful labors,
the Lord gave them assurance of further power, on the implied condition
of their continued worthiness: "I give unto you power to tread on
serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing
shall by any means hurt you."[901] The promise that they should tread on
serpents and scorpions included immunity from injury by venomous
creatures if encountered in the path of duty[902] and power to prevail
over the wicked spirits that serve the devil, who is elsewhere expressly
called the serpent.[903] Great as was the power and authority thus
imparted, these disciples were told not to rejoice in such, nor
primarily in the fact that evil spirits were subject unto them, but
rather because they were accepted of the Lord, and that their names were
written in heaven.[904]

The righteous joy of His servants and His contemplation of their
faithfulness caused Jesus to rejoice. His happiness found its most
appropriate expression in prayer, and thus He prayed: "I thank thee, O
Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from
the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so,
Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." Compared with the learned
men of the time, such as the rabbis and scribes, whose knowledge served
but to harden their hearts against the truth, these devoted servants
were as babes in humility, trust, and faith. Such children were and are
among the nobles of the kingdom. As in the hours of darkest sorrow, so
in this moment of righteous exultation over the faithfulness of His
followers, Jesus communed with the Father, to do whose will was His sole

Our Lord's joy on this occasion is comparable to that which He
experienced when Peter had burst forth with the confession of his soul:
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." In solemn discourse
Jesus said: "All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man
knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the
Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." Then in more intimate
communion with the disciples He added: "Blessed are the eyes which see
the things that ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings
have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them;
and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."


We have seen that the Pharisees and their kind were constantly on the
alert to annoy and if possible disconcert Jesus on questions of law and
doctrine, and to provoke Him to some overt utterance or deed.[905] It
may be such an attempt that is recorded by Luke in immediate sequence to
his account of the joyous return of the Seventy,[906] for he tells us
that the "certain lawyer," of whom he speaks, put a question to tempt
Jesus. Viewing the questioner's motive with all possible charity, for
the basal meaning of the verb which appears in our version of the Bible
as "to tempt" is that of putting to test or trial and not necessarily
and solely to allure into evil,[907] though the element of entrapping or
ensnaring is connoted, we may assume that he wished to test the
knowledge and wisdom of the famous Teacher, probably for the purpose of
embarrassing Him. Certainly his purpose was not that of sincere search
for truth.

This lawyer, standing up among the people who had gathered to hear
Jesus, asked: "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"[908]
Jesus replied by a counter question, in which was plainly intimated that
if this man, who was professedly learned in the law, had read and
studied properly, he should know without asking what he ought to do.
"What is written in the law? how readest thou?" The man replied with an
admirable summary of the commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength,
and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself"[909] The answer was
approved. "This do, and thou shalt live" said Jesus. These simple words
conveyed a rebuke, as the lawyer must have realized; they indicated the
contrast between knowing and doing. Having thus failed in his plan to
confound the Master, and probably realizing that he, a lawyer, had made
no creditable display of his erudition by asking so simple a question
and then answering it himself, he tamely sought to justify himself by
inquiring further; "And who is my neighbour?" We may well be grateful
for the lawyer's question; for it served to draw from the Master's
inexhaustible store of wisdom one of His most appreciated parables.

The story is known as the _Parable of the Good Samaritan_; it runs as

    "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell
    among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded
    him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there
    came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he
    passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was
    at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other
    side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he
    was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to
    him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set
    him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care
    of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two
    pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care
    of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I
    will repay thee."

Then of the lawyer Jesus asked: "Which now of these three, thinkest
thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He
that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou

Whatever of motive there may have been in the lawyer's query, "Who is my
neighbour?" aside from that of self-justification and a desire to
retreat in the best form possible from an embarrassing situation, we may
conceive to lie in the wish to find a limitation in the application of
the law, beyond which he would not be bound to go. If he had to love his
neighbors as he loved himself, he wanted to have as few neighbors as
possible. His desire may have been somewhat akin to that of Peter, who
was eager to learn just how many times he was required to forgive an
offending brother.[911]

The parable with which our Lord replied to the lawyer's question is rich
in interest as a story alone, and particularly so as an embodiment of
precious lessons. It was withal so true to existing conditions, that,
like the story of the sower who went forth to sow, and other parables
given by the Lord Jesus, it may be true history as well as parable. The
road between Jerusalem and Jericho was known to be infested by highway
robbers; indeed a section of the thoroughfare was called the Red Path or
Bloody Way because of the frequent atrocities committed thereon. Jericho
was prominent as a residence place for priests and Levites. A priest,
who, out of respect to his office, if for none other cause, should have
been willing and prompt in acts of mercy, caught sight of the wounded
traveler and passed by on the far side of the road. A Levite followed;
he paused to look, then passed on. These ought to have remembered the
specified requirement of the law--that if one saw an ass or an ox fall
down by the way, he should not hide himself, but should surely help the
owner to lift the creature up again.[912] If such was their duty toward
a brother's beast, much greater was their obligation when a brother
himself was in so extreme a plight.

Doubtless priest as well as Levite salved his conscience with ample
excuse for his inhumane conduct; he may have been in a hurry, or was
fearful, perhaps, that the robbers would return and make him also a
victim of their outrage. Excuses are easy to find; they spring up as
readily and plentifully as weeds by the wayside. When the Samaritan came
along and saw the wretched state of the wounded man, he had no excuse
for he wanted none. Having done what he could by way of emergency
treatment as recognized in the medical practise of the day, he placed
the injured one upon his own beast, probably a mule or an ass, and took
him to the nearest inn, where he tended him personally and made
arrangements for his further care. The essential difference between the
Samaritan and the others was that the one had a compassionate heart,
while they were unloving and selfish. Though not definitely stated, the
victim of the robbers was almost certainly a Jew; the point of the
parable requires it to be so. That the merciful one was a Samaritan,
showed that the people called heretic and despized by the Jews could
excel in good works. To a Jew, none but Jews were neighbors. We are not
justified in regarding priest, Levite, or Samaritan as the type of his
class; doubtless there were many kind and charitable Jews, and many
heartless Samaritans; but the Master's lesson was admirably illustrated
by the characters in the parable; and the words of His application were
pungent in their simplicity and appropriateness.


On one of His visits to Bethany, a small town about two miles from
Jerusalem, Jesus was received at the home where dwelt two sisters,
Martha and Mary. Martha was housekeeper, and therefore she assumed
responsibility for the proper treatment of the distinguished Guest.
While she busied herself with preparations and "was cumbered about much
serving," well intended for the comfort and entertainment of Jesus, Mary
sat at the Master's feet, listening with reverent attention to His
words. Martha grew fretful in her bustling anxiety, and came in, saying:
"Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?
bid her therefore that she help me." She was talking to Jesus but really
at Mary. For the moment she had lost her calmness in undue worry over
incidental details. It is reasonable to infer that Jesus was on terms of
familiarity in the household, else the good woman would scarcely have
appealed to Him in a little matter of domestic concern. He replied to
her complaining words with marked tenderness: "Martha, Martha, thou art
careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and
Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from

There was no reproof of Martha's desire to provide well; nor any
sanction of possible neglect on Mary's part. We must suppose that Mary
had been a willing helper before the Master's arrival; but now that He
had come, she chose to remain with Him. Had she been culpably neglectful
of her duty, Jesus would not have commended her course. He desired not
well-served meals and material comforts only, but the company of the
sisters, and above all their receptive attention to what He had to say.
He had more to give them than they could possibly provide for Him. Jesus
loved the two sisters and their brother as well.[914] Both these women
were devoted to Jesus, and each expressed herself in her own way. Martha
was of a practical turn, concerned in material service; she was by
nature hospitable and self-denying. Mary, contemplative and more
spiritually inclined, showed her devotion through the service of
companionship and appreciation.[915]

By inattention to household duties, the little touches that make or mar
the family peace, many a woman has reduced her home to a comfortless
house; and many another has eliminated the essential elements of home by
her self-assumed and persistent drudgery, in which she denies to her
dear ones the cheer of her loving companionship. One-sided service,
however devoted, may become neglect. There is a time for labor inside
the home as in the open; in every family time should be found for
cultivating that better part, that one thing needful--true, spiritual


"And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when
he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray."
Our Lord's example and the spirit of prayer manifest in His daily life
moved the disciples to ask for instruction as to how they should pray.
No form of private prayer was given in the law, but formal prayers had
been prescribed by the Jewish authorities, and John the Baptist had
instructed his followers in the mode or manner of prayer. Responding to
the disciples' request, Jesus repeated that brief epitome of soulful
adoration and supplication which we call the Lord's Prayer. This He had
before given in connection with the Sermon on the Mount.[917] On this
occasion of its repetition, the Lord supplemented the prayer by
explaining the imperative necessity of earnestness and enduring
persistency in praying.

The lesson was made plain by the _Parable of the Friend at Midnight_:

    "And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and
    shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me
    three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me,
    and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall
    answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my
    children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say
    unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is
    his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give
    him as many as he needeth."

The man to whose home a friend had come at midnight could not let his
belated and weary guest go hungry, yet there was no bread in the house.
He made his visitor's wants his own, and pleaded at his neighbor's door
as though asking for himself. The neighbor was loath to leave his
comfortable bed and disturb his household to accommodate another; but,
finding that the man at the door was importunate, he at last arose and
gave him what he asked, so as to get rid of him and be able to sleep in
peace. The Master added by way of comment and instruction: "_Ask, and it
shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be
opened unto you._"

The hospitable man in the parable had refused to be repulsed; he kept on
knocking until the door was opened; and as a result received what he
wanted, found what he had set out to obtain. The parable is regarded by
some as a difficult one to apply, since it deals with the selfish and
comfort-loving element of human nature, and apparently uses this to
symbolize God's deliberate delay. The explanation, however, is clear
when the context is duly considered. The Lord's lesson was, that if man,
with all his selfishness and disinclination to give, will nevertheless
grant what his neighbor with proper purpose asks and continues to ask in
spite of objection and temporary refusal, with assured certainty will
God grant what is persistently asked in faith and with righteous intent.
No parallelism lies between man's selfish refusal and God's wise and
beneficent waiting. There must be a consciousness of real need for
prayer, and real trust in God, to make prayer effective; and in mercy
the Father sometimes delays the granting that the asking may be more
fervent. But in the words of Jesus: "If ye then, being evil, know how to
give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly
Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

Sometime later Jesus spake another parable, the moral of which is so
closely akin to that of the story of the midnight visitor, as to suggest
the study of the later lesson here. It is known as the _Parable of the
Unjust Judge_, or of the _Importunate Widow_:

    "There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither
    regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came
    unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not
    for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear
    not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I
    will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary

The judge was of wicked character; he denied justice to the widow, who
could obtain redress from none other. He was moved to action by the
desire to escape the woman's importunity. Let us beware of the error of
comparing his selfish action with the ways of God. Jesus did not
indicate that as the wicked judge finally yielded to supplication so
would God do; but He pointed out that if even such a being as this
judge, who "feared not God, neither regarded man," would at last hear
and grant the widow's plea, no one should doubt that God, the Just and
Merciful, will hear and answer. The judge's obduracy, though wholly
wicked on his part, may have been ultimately advantageous to the widow.
Had she easily obtained redress she might have become again unwary, and
perchance a worse adversary than the first might have oppressed her. The
Lord's purpose in giving the parable is specifically stated; it was "to
this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint."[919]


Varied comment as to the source of our Lord's superhuman powers was
aroused afresh by His merciful act of expelling a demon from a man, who,
in consequence of this evil possession had been dumb. The old Pharisaic
theory, that He cast out devils through the power of "Beelzebub, the
chief of the devils," was revived. The utter foolishness of such a
conception was demonstrated, as it had been on an earlier occasion to
which we have given attention.[921] The spiritual darkness, in which
evil men grope for signs, the disappointment and condemnation that await
them, and other precious precepts, Jesus elucidated in further

Then, by invitation He went to the house of a certain Pharisee to dine.
Other Pharisees, as also lawyers and scribes, were present. Jesus
intentionally omitted the ceremonial washing of hands, which all others
in the company scrupulously performed before taking their places at
table. This omission caused a murmur of disapproval if not an open
expression of fault-finding. Jesus utilized the occasion by voicing a
pungent criticism of Pharisaic externalism, which He likened to the
cleansing of cups and platters on the outside, while the inside is left
filthy. "Fools" said He, "did not he that made that which is without
make that which is within also?" In another form we may ask, Did not God
who established the outward observances of the law, ordain the inward
and spiritual requirements of the gospel also? In response to a question
by one of the lawyers, Jesus included them in His sweeping reproof.
Pharisees and scribes resented the censure to which they had been
subjected, and "began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to
speak of many things: laying wait for him, and seeking to catch
something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him." As our Lord's
recorded utterances on this occasion appear also in His final
denunciation of Pharisaism, later delivered at the temple, we may well
defer further consideration of the matter until we take up in order that
notable occurrence.[923]


Popular interest in our Lord's movements was strong in the region beyond
Jordan, as it had been in Galilee. We read of Him surrounded by "an
innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon
another." Addressing the multitude, and more particularly His disciples,
Jesus warned them of the leaven of the Pharisees, which He characterized
as hypocrisy.[925] The recent scene at the table of a Pharisee gave
special significance to the warning. Some of the precepts recorded in
connection with His Galilean ministry were here repeated, and particular
stress was laid upon the superiority of the soul to the body, and of
eternal life as contrasted with the brief duration of mortal existence.

One man in the company, intent on selfish interests and unable to see
beyond the material affairs of life, spoke out saying, "Master, speak to
my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." Jesus promptly
refused to act as mediator or judge in the matter. "Man, who made me a
judge or a divider over you?" was the Master's rejoinder. The wisdom
underlying His refusal to interfere is apparent. As in the case of the
guilty woman who had been brought before Him for judgment,[926] so in
this instance, He refrained from intervention in matters of legal
administration. An opposite course would have probably involved Him in
useless disputation, and might have given color to a complaint that He
was arrogating to Himself the functions of the legally established
tribunals. The man's appeal, however, was made the nucleus of valuable
instruction; his clamor for a share in the family inheritance caused
Jesus to say: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life
consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."

This combined admonition and profound statement of truth was emphasized
by the _Parable of the Foolish Rich Man_. Thus runs the story:

    "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And
    he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I
    have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I
    do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will
    I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul,
    Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine
    ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou
    fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose
    shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that
    layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward

The man's abundance had been accumulated through labor and thrift;
neglected or poorly-tilled fields do not yield plentifully. He is not
represented as one in possession of wealth not rightfully his own. His
plans for the proper care of his fruits and goods were not of themselves
evil, though he might have considered better ways of distributing his
surplus, as for the relief of the needy. His sin was twofold; first, he
regarded his great store chiefly as the means of securing personal ease
and sensuous indulgence; secondly, in his material prosperity he failed
to acknowledge God, and even counted the years as his own. In the hour
of his selfish jubilation he was smitten. Whether the voice of God came
to him as a fearsome presentiment of impending death, or by angel
messenger, or how otherwise, we are not informed; but the voice spoke
his doom: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of
thee."[928] He had used his time and his powers of body and mind to sow,
reap and garner--all for himself. And what came of it all? Whose should
be the wealth, to amass which he had jeopardized his soul? Had he been
other than a fool he might have realized as Solomon had done, the vanity
of hoarding wealth for another, and he perhaps of uncertain character,
to possess.[929]

Turning to the disciples Jesus reiterated some of the glorious truths He
had uttered when preaching on the mount,[930] and pointed to the birds
of the air, the lilies and grass of the field, as examples of the
Father's watchful care; He admonished His hearers to seek the kingdom of
God, and, doing so, they should find all needful things added. "Fear
not, little flock," He added in tone of affectionate and paternal
regard, "for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
They were urged to store their wealth in bags that wax not old,[931]
containers suited to the heavenly treasure which, unlike the goods of
the foolish rich man, shall not be left behind when the soul is
summoned. The man whose treasure is of earth leaves it all at death; he
whose wealth is in heaven goes to his own, and death is but the portal
to his treasury.

The disciples were admonished to be ever ready, waiting as servants wait
at night with lights burning, for their master's return; and, inasmuch
as the lord of the household comes at his will, in the early or later
watches, if when he comes he finds his faithful servants ready to open
immediately to his knock he will honor them as they deserve. So is the
Son of Man to come, perhaps when least expected. To a question
interjected by Peter as to whether "this parable" was spoken to the
Twelve only or to all, Jesus made no direct reply; the answer, however,
was conveyed in the continuation of the allegory of contrast between
faithful and wicked servants.[932] "Who then is that faithful and wise
steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them
their portion of meat in due season?" The faithful steward is a good
type of the apostles, individually or as a body. As stewards they were
charged with the care of the other servants, and of the household; and
as to them more had been given than to the others, so of them more would
be required; and they would be held to strict accountability for their

The Lord then referred feelingly to His own mission, and especially to
the dreadful experiences then soon to befall Him, saying: "I have a
baptism to be baptised with; and how am I straitened till it be
accomplished!" He told again of the strife and dissension that would
follow the preaching of His gospel, and dwelt upon the significance of
then current events. To those who, ever ready to interpret the signs of
the weather, yet remained wilfully blind to the important developments
of the times, He applied the caustic epithet, hypocrites![933]


Some of the people who had been listening to our Lord's discourse
reported to Him the circumstances of a tragical event that had taken
place, probably but a short time before, inside the temple walls. A
number of Galileans had been slain by Roman soldiers, at the base of the
altar, so that their blood had mingled with that of the sacrificial
victims. It is probable that the slaughter of these Galileans was
incident to some violent demonstration of Jewish resentment against
Roman authority, which the procurator, Pilate, construed as an incipient
insurrection, to be promptly and forcibly quelled. Such outbursts were
not uncommon, and the Roman tower or fortress of Antonia had been
erected in a commanding position overlooking the temple grounds, and
connected therewith by a wide flight of steps, so that soldiers could
have ready access to the enclosure at the first indication of turmoil.
The purpose of the informants who brought this matter to the attention
of Jesus is not stated; but we find probability in the thought that His
reference to the signs of the times had reminded them of the tragedy,
and that they were inclined to speculate as to the deeper significance
of the occurrence. Some may have wondered as to whether the fate of the
Galilean victims had befallen them as a merited retribution. Anyway, to
some such conception as this Jesus directed His reply. By question and
answer He assured them that those who had so been slain were not to be
considered as sinners above other Galileans; "But," said He, "except ye
repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

Then, referring on His own initiative to another catastrophe, He cited
the instance of eighteen persons who had been killed by the fall of a
tower at Siloam, and affirmed that these were not to be counted greater
sinners than other Jerusalemites. "But," came the reiteration, "except
ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." There were perhaps some who
believed that the men upon whom the tower had fallen had deserved their
fate; and this conception is the more probable if the generally accepted
assumption be correct, that the calamity came upon the men while they
were engaged under Roman employ in work on the aqueduct, for the
construction of which Pilate had used the "corban" or sacred treasure,
given by vow to the temple.[935]

It is not man's prerogative to pass upon the purposes and designs of
God, nor to judge by human reason alone that this person or that suffers
disaster as a direct result of individual sin.[936] Nevertheless men
have ever been prone to so judge. There are many inheritors of the
spirit of Job's friends, who assumed his guilt as certain because of the
great misfortunes and sufferings that had come upon him.[937] Even while
Jesus spake, calamity dark and dire was impending over temple, city and
nation; and unless the people would repent and accept the Messiah then
in their midst, the decree of destruction would be carried to its dread
fulfilment. Hence, as Jesus said, except the people repented they should
perish. The imperative need of reformation was illustrated by the
_Parable of the Barren Fig Tree_.

    "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he
    came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto
    the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come
    seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why
    cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord,
    let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung
    it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou
    shalt cut it down."[938]

In Jewish literature, particularly in rabbinical lore, the fig tree is
of frequent mention as a symbol of the nation. The warning conveyed in
the parable is plain; the element of possible escape is no less evident.
If the fig tree represents the covenant people, then the vineyard is
naturally the world at large, and the dresser of the vineyard is the Son
of God, who by personal ministry and solicitous care makes intercession
for the barren tree, in the hope that it may yet bear fruit. The parable
is of universal application; but so far as it had special bearing upon
the Jewish "fig tree" of that time, it was attended by an awful sequel.
The Baptist had cried out in warning that the ax was even then in
readiness, and every unfruitful tree would be hewn down.[939]


On a certain Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagog, of what place we
are not told, though it was probably in one of the towns of Perea. There
was present a woman who for eighteen years had been suffering from an
infirmity that had so drawn and atrophied the muscles as to bend her
body so that she could in no wise straighten herself. Jesus called her
to Him, and without waiting for petition or request, said simply,
"Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." These words He
accompanied by the laying-on of hands, a feature of His healing
ministrations not always performed. She was healed forthwith and stood
erect; and, acknowledging the source of the power by which she had been
released from her bonds, glorified God in a fervent prayer of
thanksgiving. Doubtless many of the beholders rejoiced with her; but
there was one whose soul was stirred by indignation only; and he, the
ruler of the synagog. Instead of addressing himself to Jesus, of whose
power he may have been afraid, he vented his ill feeling upon the
people, by telling them there were six days in which men ought to work,
and that on those days they who wished to be healed should come, but not
on the Sabbath. The rebuke was ostensibly directed to the people,
especially to the woman who had received the blessing, but in reality
against Jesus; for if there were any element of work in the healing it
had been done by Him, not by the woman nor by others. Upon the ruler of
the synagog the Lord turned with direct address: "Thou hypocrite, doth
not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the
stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a
daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be
loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?"

It may be inferred that the woman's affliction had been more deeply
seated than in the muscles; for Luke who was himself a physician[941]
tells us she "had a spirit of infirmity," and records the significant
words of the Lord to the effect that Satan had held her bound for
eighteen years. But whatever her ailment, whether wholly physical or in
part mental and spiritual, she was freed from her bonds. Again was the
Christ triumphant; His adversaries were shamed into silence, while the
believers rejoiced. The rebuke to the ruler of the synagog was followed
by a brief discourse in which Jesus gave to these people some of the
teachings before delivered in Galilee; these included the parables of
the mustard seed and the leaven.[942]


Continuing His journey toward Jerusalem, Jesus taught in many of the
cities and towns of Perea. His coming had probably been announced by the
Seventy, who had been sent to prepare the people for His ministry. One
of those who had been impressed by His doctrines submitted this
question: "Lord, are there few that be saved?" Jesus replied: "Strive to
enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to
enter in, and shall not be able."[944] The counsel was enlarged upon to
show that neglect or procrastination in obeying the requirements for
salvation may result in the soul's loss. When the door is shut in
judgment many will come knocking, and some will plead that they had
known the Lord, having eaten and drunk in His company, and that He had
taught upon their streets; but to them who had failed to accept the
truth when offered the Lord shall say: "I tell you, I know you not
whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity." The people
were warned that their Israelitish lineage would in no wise save them,
for many who were not of the covenant people would believe and be saved,
while unworthy Israelites would be thrust out.[945] So is it that "There
are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last."


On the day of the discourse last noted, certain Pharisees came to Jesus
with this warning and advice: "Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod
will kill thee."[947] We have heretofore found the Pharisees in open
hostility to the Lord, or secretly plotting against Him; and some
commentators regard this warning as another evidence of Pharisaic
cunning--possibly intended to rid the province of Christ's presence, or
designed to drive Him toward Jerusalem, where He would be again within
easy reach of the supreme tribunal. Ought we not to be liberal and
charitable in our judgment as to the intent of others? Doubtless there
were good men in the fraternity of Pharisees,[948] and those who came
informing Christ of a plot against His life were possibly impelled by
humane motives, and may even have been believers at heart. That Herod
had designs against our Lord's liberty or life appears most probable in
the answer Jesus made. He received the information in all seriousness,
and His comment thereon is one of the strongest of His utterances
against an individual. "Go ye," said He, "and tell that fox, Behold, I
cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day
I shall be perfected." The specifying of today, tomorrow, and the third
day, was a means of expressing the present in which the Lord was then
acting, the immediate future, in which He would continue to minister,
since, as He knew, the day of His death was yet several months distant,
and the time at which his earthly work would be finished and He be
perfected. He placed beyond doubt the fact that He did not intend to
hasten His steps, neither cut short His journey nor cease His labors
through fear of Herod Antipas, who for craft and cunning was best
typified by a sly and murderous fox. Nevertheless it was Christ's
intention to go on, and soon in ordinary course He would leave Perea,
which was part of Herod's domain, and enter Judea; and at the foreknown
time would make His final entry into Jerusalem, for in that city was He
to accomplish his sacrifice. "It cannot be," He explained, "that a
prophet perish out of Jerusalem."

The awful reality that He, the Christ, would be slain in the chief city
of Israel wrung from Him the pathetic apostrophe over Jerusalem, which
was repeated when for the last time His voice was heard within the
temple walls.[949]


1. Christ's Ministry Following His Final Withdrawal From Galilee.--John
tells us that when Jesus went from Galilee to Jerusalem to attend the
Feast of Tabernacles, He went "not openly, but as it were in secret"
(7:10). It appears improbable that the numerous works recorded by the
synoptic writers as features of our Lord's ministry, which extended from
Galilee through Perea, into Samaria and parts of Judea, could have
attended that special and, as it were secret, journey, at the time of
the Feast of Tabernacles. The lack of agreement among writers as to the
sequence of events in Christs' life is wide. A comparison of the
"Harmonies" published in the most prominent Bible Helps (see e.g. Oxford
and Bagster "Helps") exemplifies these divergent views. The
subject-matter of our Lord's teachings maintains its own intrinsic worth
irrespective of merely circumstantial incidents. The following excerpt
from Farrar (_Life of Christ_, chap. 42) will be of assistance to the
student, who should bear in mind, however, that it is professedly but a
tentative or possible arrangement. "It is well known that the whole of
one great section in St. Luke--from 9:51 to 18:30--forms an episode in
the Gospel narrative of which many incidents are narrated by this
Evangelist alone, and in which the few identifications of time and place
all point to one slow and solemn progress from Galilee to Jerusalem
(9:51; 13:22; 17:11; 10:38). Now after the Feast of Dedication our Lord
retired into Perea, until He was summoned thence by the death of Lazarus
(John 10:40, 42; 11:1-46); after the resurrection [raising] of Lazarus,
He fled to Ephraim (11:54); and He did not leave His retirement at
Ephraim until He went to Bethany, six days before His final Passover

"This great journey, therefore, from Galilee to Jerusalem, so rich in
occasions which called forth some of His most memorable utterances, must
have been either a journey to the Feast of Tabernacles or to the Feast
of Dedication. That it could not have been the former may be regarded as
settled, not only on other grounds, but decisively because that was a
rapid and secret journey, this an eminently public and leisurely one.

"Almost every inquirer seems to differ to a greater or less degree as to
the exact sequence and chronology of the events which follow. Without
entering into minute and tedious disquisitions where absolute certainty
is impossible, I will narrate this period of our Lord's life in the
order which, after repeated study of the Gospels, appears to me to be
the most probable, and in the separate details of which I have found
myself again and again confirmed by the conclusions of other independent
inquirers. And here I will only premise my conviction--

"1. That the episode of St. Luke up to 18:30, mainly refers to a single
journey, although unity of subject, or other causes, may have led the
sacred writer to weave into his narrative some events or utterances
which belong to an earlier or later epoch.

"2. That the order of the facts narrated even by St. Luke alone is not,
and does not in any way claim to be, strictly chronological; so that the
place of any event in the narrative by no means necessarily indicates
its true position in the order of time.

"3. That this journey is identical with that which is partially recorded
in Matt. 18:1; 20:16; Mark 10:1-31.

"4. That (as seems obvious from internal evidence) the events narrated
in Matt. 20:17-28; Mark 10:32-45; Luke 18:31-34, belong not to this
journey but to the last which Jesus ever took--the journey from Ephraim
to Bethany and Jerusalem."

2. Jesus at the Home in Bethany.--Some writers (e.g. Edersheim) place
this incident as having occurred in the course of our Lord's journey to
Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Tabernacles; others (e.g. Geikie)
assume that it took place immediately after that feast; and yet others
(e.g. Farrar) assign it to the eve of the Feast of Dedication, nearly
three months later. The place given it in the text is that in which it
appears in the scriptural record.

3. Shall but Few be Saved?--Through latter-day revelation we learn that
graded conditions await us in the hereafter, and that beyond salvation
are the higher glories of exaltation. The specified kingdoms or glories
of the redeemed, excepting the sons of perdition, are the Celestial, the
Terrestrial, and the Telestial. Those who obtain place in the Telestial,
the lowest of the three, are shown to be "as innumerable as the stars in
the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore." And these
shall not be equal, "For they shall be judged according to their works,
and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own
dominion, in the mansions which are prepared. And they shall be servants
of the Most High, but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come,
worlds without end." See Doc. and Cov. 76:111, 112; read the entire
section; see also _The Articles of Faith_ xxii:16-27; and p. 601 herein.


[881] John 10:22.

[882] Note 1, end of chapter.

[883] Luke 9:51.

[884] John 10:40; 11:54.

[885] Luke 9:51-56.

[886] John 4:4-42; page 176 herein.

[887] Luke 9:54; compare 2 Kings 1:10, 12.

[888] Matt. 10:23.

[889] Luke 9:57-62; see pages 305-307 herein.

[890] Luke 10:1-12.

[891] Compare Matt. 9:37, 38; see also John 4:35.

[892] Edersheim (vol. ii, p. 138) says: "The expression 'if the son of
peace be there' is a Hebraism, equivalent to 'if the house be worthy'
(compare Matt. 10:13) and refers to the character of the head of the
house and the tone of the household."

[893] Compare Matt. 10:14; page 329 herein.

[894] Compare the charge given the Seventy with that of the Twelve,
Matt. 10:5-42; Mark 6:7-11; Luke 9:1-5; see page 328 herein.

[895] Matt. 10:5, 6; 15:24.

[896] Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15.

[897] Doc. and Cov. 107:25; 124:137-140; see also "Articles of Faith,"
xi:20, 28. The special office of the Seventy has been reestablished in
the restored Church; and in this, the last dispensation, many quorums of
Seventy are maintained for the work of the ministry. The office of the
Seventy is one belonging to the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood.

[898] Luke 10:13-15; compare Matt. 11:20-24; see page 258 herein.

[899] Luke 10:17.

[900] Rev. 9:1; 12:8, 9; see pages 6 and 7 herein.

[901] Luke 10:19; read verses 20-24.

[902] Compare Mark 16:18; Acts 28:5.

[903] Rev. 12:9; 20:2; compare Gen. 3:1-4, 14, 15.

[904] Compare Rev. 13:8; 20:12; 21:27.

[905] Compare Mark 12:13; see also Luke 11:53, 54.

[906] Luke 10:25-37.

[907] Compare Gen. 22:1.

[908] Compare Matt. 19:16; Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18.

[909] Luke 10:27; compare Deut. 6:5, and Lev. 19:18; see also Matt.

[910] Luke 10:30-37.

[911] Matt. 18:21, 22; compare Luke 17:4; page 392 herein.

[912] Deut. 22:4; compare. Exo. 23:5.

[913] Luke 10:38-42. Note 2, end of chapter.

[914] John 11:5.

[915] Compare John 12:2, 3.

[916] Luke 11:1-13.

[917] Pages 238-241.

[918] Luke 18:2-5; read verses 1, and 6-8. See also Doc. and Cov.

[919] Luke 18:1; compare 21:36; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2; 1
Thess. 5:17.

[920] Luke 11:37-54.

[921] Luke 11:14-28; see page 265 herein.

[922] Luke 11:29-36; see page 270 herein.

[923] Matt. 23; see chapter 31 herein.

[924] Luke 12:1-12.

[925] Page 359.

[926] Page 404.

[927] Luke 12:14-21.

[928] Compare the fate that overtook Nebuchadnezzar, while the words of
boastful pride were yet in his mouth (Dan. 4:24-33); and that of
Belshazzar, before whose eyes appeared the hand of destiny in the midst
of his riotous feast; in that night was the king's soul required of him.
(Dan. 5.)

[929] Eccles. 2:18, 19; compare succeeding verses; see also Psa. 39:6:
49:6-20; Job 27: 16, 17.

[930] Luke 12:22-31; compare Matt. 6:25-34.

[931] Compare Matt. 6:20.

[932] Luke 12:35-48.

[933] Luke 12:49-57; compare Matt. 10:34-37.

[934] Luke 13:1-5.

[935] Josephus, Wars ii, 9:4; also page 352 herein.

[936] Compare John 9:2, 3; also page 413 herein.

[937] Job 4:7; 8:2-14, 20; 22:5.

[938] Luke 13:6-9.

[939] Luke 3:9.

[940] Luke 13:11-17.

[941] Colos. 4:14.

[942] Luke 13:19-21; see pages 290, 291 herein.

[943] Luke 13:23-30. Note 3, end of chapter.

[944] Compare Matt. 7:13.

[945] Compare Matt. 7:23; 8:11, 12; 19:30; Mark 10:31.

[946] Luke 13:31-33.

[947] In the revised version the last clause reads "for Herod would fain
kill thee."

[948] Paul the apostle had been a Pharisee of the most pronounced type.
(Acts 23:6; 26:5.)

[949] Luke 13:34, 35: compare Matt. 23:37-39.




On a certain Sabbath Jesus was a guest at the house of a prominent
Pharisee. A man afflicted with dropsy was there; he may have come with
the hope of receiving a blessing, or possibly his presence had been
planned by the host or others as a means of tempting Jesus to work a
miracle on the holy day. The exercize of our Lord's healing power was at
least thought of if not openly intimated or suggested, for we read that
"Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it
lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?"[951] No one ventured to reply. Jesus
forthwith healed the man; then He turned to the assembled company and
asked: "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and
will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?"[952] The learned
expositors of the law remained prudently silent.

Observing the eager activity of the Pharisee's guests in securing for
themselves prominent places at table, Jesus instructed them in a matter
of good manners, pointing out not only the propriety but the advantage
of decent self-restraint. An invited guest should not select for himself
the seat of honor, for some one more distinguished than he may come, and
the host would say: "Give this man place." Better is it to take a lower
seat, then possibly the lord of the feast may say: "Friend, go up
higher." The moral follows: "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be
abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."[953]

This festive gathering at the house of the chief Pharisee included
persons of prominence and note, rich men and officials, leading
Pharisees, renowned scholars, famous rabbis and the like. Looking over
the distinguished company, Jesus said: "When thou makest a dinner or a
supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor
thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be
made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the
lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense
thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."
This bit of wholesome advice was construed as a reproof; and some one
attempted to relieve the embarrassing situation by exclaiming: "Blessed
is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God."[954] The remark was
an allusion to the great festival, which according to Jewish
traditionalism was to be a feature of signal importance in the Messianic
dispensation. Jesus promptly turned the circumstance to good account by
basing thereon the profoundly significant _Parable of the Great Supper_:

"A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant
at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are
now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first
said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and
see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought
five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So
that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of
the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the
streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the
maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is
done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said
unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them
to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none
of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."[955]

The story implies that invitations had been given sufficiently early to
the chosen and prospective guests; then on the day of the feast a
messenger was sent to notify them again, as was the custom of the time.
Though called a supper, the meal was to be a sumptuous one; moreover,
the principal meal of the day was commonly spoken of as supper. One man
after another declined to attend, one saying: "I pray thee have me
excused"; another: "I cannot come." The matters that engaged the time
and attention of those who had been bidden, or as we would say, invited,
to the feast, were not of themselves discreditable, far less sinful; but
to arbitrarily allow personal affairs to annul an honorable engagement
once accepted was to manifest discourtesy, disrespect and practical
insult toward the provider of the feast. The man who had bought a field
could have deferred the inspection; he who had just purchased cattle
could have waited a day to try them under the yoke; and the newly
married man could have left his bride and his friends for the period of
the supper that he had promised to attend. Plainly none of these people
wanted to be present. The master of the house was justly angry. His
command to bring in the poor and the maimed, the halt and the blind from
the city streets must have appealed to those who listened to our Lord's
recital as a reminiscence of His counsel given a few minutes before,
concerning the kind of guests a rich man could invite with profit to his
soul. The second sending out of the servant, this time into the highways
and hedges outside the city walls, to bring in even the country poor,
indicated boundless benevolence and firm determination on the
householder's part.

Explication of the parable was left to the learned men to whom the story
was addressed. Surely some of them would fathom its meaning, in part at
least. The covenant people, Israel, were the specially invited guests.
They had been bidden long enough aforetime, and by their own profession
as the Lord's own had agreed to be partakers of the feast. When all was
ready, on the appointed day, they were severally summoned by the
Messenger who had been sent by the Father; He was even then in their
midst. But the cares of riches, the allurement of material things, and
the pleasures of social and domestic life had engrossed them; and they
prayed to be excused or irreverently declared they could not or would
not come. Then the gladsome invitation was to be carried to the
Gentiles, who were looked upon as spiritually poor, maimed, halt, and
blind. And later, even the pagans beyond the walls, strangers in the
gates of the holy city, would be bidden to the supper. These, surprized
at the unexpected summons, would hesitate, until by gentle urging and
effective assurance that they were really included among the bidden
guests, they would feel themselves constrained or compelled to come. The
possibility of some of the discourteous ones arriving later, after they
had attended to their more absorbing affairs, is indicated in the Lord's
closing words: "For I say unto you, That none of those men which were
bidden shall taste of my supper."


As had been in Galilee, so was it in Perea and Judea--great multitudes
attended the Master whenever He appeared in public. When once a scribe
has presented himself as a disciple, offering to follow wherever the
Master led, Jesus had indicated the self-denial, privation and suffering
incident to devoted service, with the result that the man's enthusiasm
was soon spent.[957] So now to the eager multitude Jesus applied a test
of sincerity. He would have only genuine disciples, not enthusiasts of a
day, ready to desert His cause when effort and sacrifice were most
needed. Thus did He sift the people: "If any man come to me, and hate
not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and
sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And
whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my
disciple." Literal hatred toward one's family was not specified as a
condition of discipleship; indeed a man who indulges hatred or any other
evil passion is a subject for repentance and reformation. The
preeminence of duty toward God over personal or family demands on the
part of one who had assumed the obligations of a disciple was the

As Jesus pointed out, it is good common-sense to count well the cost
before one enters upon a great undertaking, even in ordinary affairs. A
man who wishes to build, say a tower or a house, tries to determine,
before he begins the work, what the expense will be; otherwise he may be
able to do no more than lay the foundation; then, not only will he find
himself a loser, for the unfinished structure will be of no service, but
people may laugh at his lack of prudent forethought. So also a king,
finding his realm menaced by hostile invaders, does not rush into battle
recklessly; he first tries to ascertain the strength of the enemy's
forces; and then, if the odds against him be too great, he sends an
embassage to treat for peace. "So likewise," said Jesus to the people
around Him, "whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath,
he cannot be my disciple." All who entered His service would be expected
to maintain their self-sacrificing devotion. He wanted no disciples who
would become like salt that had spoiled, unsavory and useless. "He that
hath ears to hear, let him hear."[959]


The Pharisees in Galilee had intolerantly criticized Jesus because of
His friendly and helpful ministry among the publicans and their
associates, who were disparagingly classed together as "publicans and
sinners."[961] He had replied to these uncharitable aspersions by saying
that a physician is most needed by them that are sick, and that He had
come to call sinners to repentance. The Judean Pharisees raised a
similar complaint, and were particularly virulent when they saw that
"all the publicans and sinners" drew near to hear Him. He met their
murmurs by presenting a number of parables, designed to show the
incumbent duty of trying to recover the lost, and the joy of success in
such God-like endeavor. The first of the series of parables was that of
the _Lost Sheep_; this we have considered in connection with its earlier
delivery in the course of instruction to the disciples in Galilee.[962]
Its application in the present instance, however, is somewhat different
from that of its former presentation. The lesson on this later occasion
was directed to the self-seeking Pharisees and scribes who personified
the theocracy, and whose bounden duty it should have been to care for
the strayed and the lost. If the "publicans and sinners," whom these
ecclesiasts so generally contemned, were nearly as bad as they were
represented to be, if they were men who had broken through the
close-hedged path of the law and had become in a measure apostate, they
were the ones toward whom the helping hand of missionary service could
be best extended. In no instance of Pharisaic slur upon, or open
denunciation of, these "publicans and sinners," do we find Jesus
defending their alleged evil ways; His attitude toward these spiritually
sick folk was that of a devoted physician: His concern over these
strayed sheep was that of a loving shepherd whose chief desire was to
find them out and bring them back to the fold. This neither the
theocracy as a system nor its officials as individual ministers even
attempted to do. The shepherd, on finding the sheep that was lost,
thinks not at the time of reprimand or punishment; on the contrary,
"when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And
when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours,
saying unto them: Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was

A direct application of the parable appears in the Lord's concise
address to the Pharisees and scribes: "I say unto you, that likewise joy
shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety
and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Were they the ninety
and nine, who, by self-estimation had strayed not, being "just persons,
which need no repentance?" Some readers say they catch this note of just
sarcasm in the Master's concluding words. In the earlier part of the
story, the Lord Himself appears as the solicitous Shepherd, and by plain
implication His example is such as the theocratic leaders ought to
emulate. Such a conception puts the Pharisees and scribes in the
position of shepherds rather than of sheep. Both explications are
tenable; and each is of value as portraying the status and duty of
professing servants of the Master in all ages.

Without break in the narrative, the Lord passed from the story of the
lost sheep to the _Parable of the Lost Coin_.

"Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece,
doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till
she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her
neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece
which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence
of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."

Between this parable and that of the lost sheep there are certain
notable differences, though the lesson in each is in general the same.
The sheep had strayed by its own volition; the coin[963] had been
dropped, and so was lost as a result of inattention or culpable
carelessness on the part of its owner. The woman, discovering her loss
institutes a diligent search; she sweeps the house, and perhaps learns
of dirty corners, dusty recesses, cobwebby nooks, to which she had been
oblivious in her self-complacency as an outwardly clean and conventional
housewife. Her search is rewarded by the recovery of the lost piece, and
is incidentally beneficial in the cleansing of her house. Her joy is
like that of the shepherd wending his way homeward with the sheep upon
his shoulders--once lost but now regained.

The woman who by lack of care lost the precious piece may be taken to
represent the theocracy of the time, and the Church as an institution in
any dispensational period; then the pieces of silver, every one a
genuine coin of the realm, bearing the image of the great King, are the
souls committed to the care of the Church; and the lost piece symbolizes
the souls that are neglected and, for a time at least, lost sight of, by
the authorized ministers of the Gospel of Christ. These cogent
illustrations were followed by one yet richer in imagery and more
impressively elaborate in detail. It is the never to be forgotten
_Parable of the Prodigal Son_.[964]

"And he said, A certain man had two sons; And the younger of them said
to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.
And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger
son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and
there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent
all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in
want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and
he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled
his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto
him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my
father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I
will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have
sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be
called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and
came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw
him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in
thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father
said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and
put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the
fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son
was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began
to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew
nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the
servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy
brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he
hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in:
therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said
to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither
transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me
a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy
son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast
killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever
with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make
merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again;
and was lost, and is found."

The demand of the younger son for a portion of the patrimony even during
his father's lifetime, is an instance of deliberate and unfilial
desertion; the duties of family cooperation had grown distasteful to
him, and the wholesome discipline of the home had become irksome. He was
determined to break away from all home ties, forgetful of what home had
done for him and the debt of gratitude and duty by which he was morally
bound. He went into a far country, and, as he thought, beyond the reach
of the father's directing influence. He had his season of riotous
living, of unrestrained indulgence and evil pleasure, through it all
wasting his strength of body and mind, and squandering his father's
substance; for what he had received had been given as a concession and
not as the granting of any legal or just demand. Adversity came upon
him, and proved to be a more effective minister for good than pleasure
had been. He was reduced to the lowest and most menial service, that of
herding swine, which occupation, to a Jew, was the extreme of
degradation. Suffering brought him to himself. He, the son of honorable
parentage, was feeding pigs and eating with them, while even the hired
servants at home had good food in plenty and to spare. He realized not
alone his abject foolishness in leaving his father's well-spread table
to batten with hogs, but the unrighteousness of his selfish desertion;
he was not only remorseful but repentant. He had sinned against his
father and against God; he would return, confess his sin, and ask, not
to be reinstated as a son, but to be allowed to work as a hired servant.
Having resolved he delayed not, but immediately set out to find his long
way back to home and father.

The father became aware of the prodigal's approach and hastened to meet
him. Without a word of condemnation, the loving parent embraced and
kissed the wayward but now penitent boy, who, overcome by this
undeserved affection, humbly acknowledged his error, and sorrowfully
confessed that he was not worthy to be known as his father's son. It is
noteworthy that in his contrite confession he did not ask to be accepted
as a hired servant as he had resolved to do; the father's joy was too
sacred to be thus marred, he would please his father best by placing
himself unreservedly at that father's disposal. The rough garb of
poverty was discarded for the best robe; a ring was placed on his finger
as a mark of reinstatement; shoes told of restored sonship, not of
employment as a hired servant. The father's glad heart could express
itself only in acts of abundant kindness; a feast was made ready; for
was not the son, once counted as dead now alive? Had not the lost been
found again?

So far the story sustains a relation of close analogy to the two
parables that preceded it in the same discourse; the part following
introduces another important symbolism. No one had complained at the
recovery of the stray sheep nor at the finding of the lost coin; friends
had rejoiced with the finder in each case. But the father's happiness at
the return of the prodigal was interrupted by the grumbling protest of
the elder son. He, on approaching the house, had observed the evidences
of festal joy; and, instead of entering as was his right, had inquired
of one of the servants as to the cause of the unusual rejoicing. On
learning that his brother had returned and that the father had prepared
a festival in honor of the event, this elder son grew angry, and
churlishly refused to enter the house even after his father had come out
and entreated him. He cited his own faithfulness and devotion to the
routine labor of the farm, to which claim of excellence the father did
not demur; but the son and heir reproached his father for having failed
to give him so much as a kid with which to make merry with his friends;
while now that the wayward and spendthrift son had come back the father
had killed for him even the fatted calf. There is significance in the
elder one's designation of the penitent as "this thy son," rather than
"my brother." The elder son, deafened by selfish anger, refused to hear
aright the affectionate assurance; "Son, thou art ever with me, and all
that I have is thine," and with heart hardened by unbrotherly resentment
he stood unmoved by the emotional and loving outburst, "this thy brother
was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."

We are not justified in extolling the virtue of repentance on the part
of the prodigal above the faithful, plodding service of his brother, who
had remained at home, true to the duties required of him. The devoted
son was the heir; the father did not disparage his worth, nor deny his
deserts. His displeasure over the rejoicing incident to the return of
his wayward brother was an exhibition of illiberality and narrowness;
but of the two brothers the elder was the more faithful, whatever his
minor defects may have been. The particular point emphasized in the
Lord's lesson, however, had to do with his uncharitable and selfish

Pharisees and scribes, to whom this masterpiece of illustrative incident
was delivered, must have taken to themselves its personal application.
They were typified by the elder son, laboriously attentive to routine,
methodically plodding by rule and rote in the multifarious labors of the
field, without interest except that of self, and all unwilling to
welcome a repentant publican or a returned sinner. From all such they
were estranged; such a one might be to the indulgent and forgiving
Father, "this thy son," but never to them, a brother. They cared not who
or how many were lost, so long as they were undisturbed in heirship and
possession by the return of penitent prodigals. But the parable was not
for them alone; it is a living perennial yielding the fruit of wholesome
doctrine and soul-sustaining nourishment for all time. Not a word
appears in condonation or excuse for the prodigal's sin; upon that the
Father could not look with the least degree of allowance;[965] but over
that sinner's repentance and contrition of soul, God and the household
of heaven rejoiced.

The three parables which appear in the scriptural record as parts of a
continuous discourse, are as one in portraying the joy that abounds in
heaven over the recovery of a soul once numbered among the lost, whether
that soul be best symbolized by a sheep that had wandered afar, a coin
that had dropped out of sight through the custodian's neglect, or a son
who would deliberately sever himself from home and heaven. There is no
justification for the inference that a repentant sinner is to be given
precedence, over a righteous soul who has resisted sin; were such the
way of God, then Christ, the one sinless Man, would be surpassed in the
Father's esteem by regenerate offenders. Unqualifiedly offensive as is
sin, the sinner is yet precious in the Father's eyes, because of the
possibility of his repentance and return to righteousness. The loss of a
soul is a very real and a very great loss to God. He is pained and
grieved thereby, for it is His will that not one should perish.[966]


Addressing Himself more directly to the disciples present, who on this
occasion probably comprized in addition to the apostles, many believers,
including even some of the publicans, Jesus spake the _Parable of the
Unrighteous Steward_.[967]

    "And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich
    man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that
    he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him,
    How is it that I h