« Prev § 54. His Manifestation greater than the “Temple.” Next »

§ 54. His Manifestation greater than theTemple.”

But a comparison of Matt., xii., 6-8, with Mark, ii., 28, will suggest to us something more than a mere assault upon the statutes of the Pharisees. In the first passage he begins with his opponents upon their own ground. “You yourselves admit that the priests who serve the Temple on the Sabbath must break the literal Sabbatical law in view of the higher duties of the Temple service.” Then he continues, “But I say unto you, there is something here greater than the Temple.”137137   I prefer Lachmann’s reading (μεῖζον) both on internal and external grounds. I cannot, however, believe, with De Wette, that the passage refers to Christ’s Messianic calling alone; but rather to his whole manifestation, of which his ministry as Messiah formed part. Similar expressions of Christ refer to his whole appearance, e. g., Matt., xii., 8, speaks of his person. Conf. Luke, xi., 30. In these, as in many of Christ’s words, there is more than meets the ear.138138   Justly says Dr. von Cölln (Ideen üb. d. inneren Zusammenhang der Glaubenseinigung und Glaubensreinigung in der evangel. Kirche, Leips., 1824, s. 10): “Every religious student of the Scriptures, however he may be satisfied with the sense that he has obtained from them by the aids of philosophy and history, must be constrained to acknowledge that the simplest words of the Saviour contain a depth and fulness of meaning which he can never boast of having mastered.” These holy words, containing the germ of an unending developement, could only be understood in the Spirit (as by the Apostles); and they who had not received this Spirit, like the Judaizers, who adhered to the letter could not but misunderstand them. When we remember the sanctity of the Temple in Jewish eyes, as the seat of the Shekinah, as the only place where God could ever be worshipped, we can conceive the weight of Christ’s declaration that his manifestation was something greater than the Temple, and was to introduce 90a revelation of the glory of God, and a mode of Divine worship to which the Temple-service was entirely subordinate. We may infer Christ’s conclusion to have been, “If the priests have been freed from the literal observance of the Sabbath law because of their relation to the Temple, heretofore the highest seat of worship, how much more must my disciples be freed from the letter of that law by their relation to that which is greater than the Temple! (Their intercourse with Him was something greater than Temple-worship.) They have plucked the corn on the Sabbath, it is true, but they have done it that they might not be disturbed in their communion with the Son of Man, and in reliance upon his authority. They are free from guilt, then, for the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” He thus laid the foundation for that true, spiritual worship to which the Temple-service was to give way.

Of the same character were those words of Jesus which taught a Stephen that Christ would destroy the Temple and remove its ritual-worship. (Acts, vi., 14.) Whether he learned this from the words recorded in John, ii., 19, or from some others, we leave for the present undecided. The doctrine of Paul in regard to the relation between the Law and the Gospel was only an extension of the truth first uttered by Stephen. This doctrine could not have originated in Paul, without a point of departure for it in the instructions of Christ himself; still less, if those instructions had been in direct contradiction to it.

Christ’s declaration, “My yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matt., xi., 30), was designed, indeed, primarily, to contrast his manner of teaching and leading men with that of the Pharisees; but it certainly meant far more. It contrasted his plan of salvation with legalism generally, of which Pharisaism was only the apex. Paul’s doctrine on the subject is nothing but a developement of the intimation contained in these words.139139   Schleiermacher (in his Hermeneutik, s. 82) very aptly applies the oft-abused comparison between Christ and Socrates to illustrate the relation between the apostolic doctrines, especially those of Paul, and the immediate teachings of Christ. He justly remarks, that while there was a similarity in the fact that the teachings of Socrates were not written down by himself, but transmitted through his disciples, who marked them with their own individuality without at all obliterating the Socratic ground-colours, the substantial difference lay in this, that the affinity of the Apostles was closer than that of the followers of Socrates, “because the power of unity which emanated from Christ was in itself greater, and acted so powerfully upon those Apostles who, like Paul, had marked individual peculiarities, that they appealed, in their teachings, exclusively to Christ. Although Paul first brought out the idea of the conversion of the heathen into perfect clearness before the Apostles, yet he advocated it in no other power than that of Christ. Had not the idea been contained in Christ’s teaching, the other Apostles would not have recognized Paul as a Christian, much less an Apostle.” The same remark may be applied to many other important doctrines.


« Prev § 54. His Manifestation greater than the “Temple.” Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |