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§ 192. His Precautions against the Persecutions of the Sanhedrim. (John, vii.)

FOR nearly eighteen months Christ had been employed in scattering the seed of the kingdom of God in Galilee, and in training the Apostles for their calling. During all this time he had kept away from the metropolis, to which he had before been used to go at the time of the three chief feasts.

The Feast of Tabernacles occurred during the month of October; and he determined to attend it, in order to confirm the faith of such as had received Divine impressions from his former labours in Jerusalem, and to avoid the imputation, likely otherwise to be cast on him, that he feared to give public testimony to his Divine calling in presence of his enemies and the Sanhedrim. It was his rule of conduct to avoid, by prudent choice of time and place, all such dangers as were not necessarily to be met in the course of duty; he determined, therefore, to appear suddenly in the city, after the body of visitors to the feast had arrived, before the Sanhedrim could take measures to seize upon his person.530530   John, vii., 8. The mention of this circumstance by John proves his veracity as an eye-witness. A merely traditional or invented narrative would have said nothing about it, as tending to lower the estimate of Christ’s divinity and supernatural power.

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The minds of his own brothers were not fully made up as to his character.531531   Cf. p. 244. When they were about to set out for the feast, they could not understand why he remained behind. They expressed their surprise that he kept his ministry so concealed. If he wrought such great works532532   Little as John relates of Christ’s labours in Galilee, he implies them in vii., 3, 4. This passage obviously alludes to a chasm filled up by the other Evangelists. (they told him), he should not confine himself to such a corner as Galilee, but should make his followers, gathered from different quarters to the feast at Jerusalem, witnesses of his miracles, and accredit himself as Messiah publicly, before the assembled nation. Imbued with such sentiments, and incapable of apprehending the reasons of Christ’s conduct, they did not deserve his confidence, and needed to be made conscious that they did not. He, therefore, only told them that his relations to the world were different from theirs; that his movements were not to be judged by theirs; that his motives must be unknown to them, as they were engaged in no struggle with the world, and had nothing to fear at Jerusalem. He did not say, however, but that there would be, subsequently, a proper time for himself to go: “My time is not yet come to show myself publicly at Jerusalem; but you need not wait to choose the favourable moment, for your time is always ready; you have nothing to fear; the world cannot hate you, for it looks upon you as its own; but me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast; I go not yet up, because my time is not yet full come.”

He afterward set out unnoticed, and arrived at Jerusalem about the middle of the eight-days’ feast. Great anxiety for his arrival had been felt, and the most opposite opinions had been expressed concerning him. We need not be surprised to find the charge of Sabbath-breaking still fresh, though eighteen months had elapsed; for this was all ways the favourite starting-point of the Pharisees in their accusations against him, both in the city and through their agents in Galilee.


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