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8. DEVELOPMENT OF JESUS IN THE COURSE OF HIS WORK.

In the character of Jesus as described by the Synoptics we are allowed to see further that he developed both in thought and action. It would of course be a very great mistake to suppose that they themselves were conscious of any such development or believed in it. But they at any rate make such statements as enable us, when we carefully examine them, to discover this truth. It is at a relatively late date that Jesus in these Gospels is recognised by his disciples to be the ardently hoped-for deliverer of his people, the God-sent inaugurator of the kingdom of God, the Saviour, to use a popular term, or, as the Jewish name “Messiah” and the Greek name “Christus” mean, the “Anointed” of God. They do not report it, that is to say until the public ministry of Jesus had continued for a fairly long time, not until after he had found occasion to withdraw for the second time beyond the northern boundary of Galilee (Mk. viii. 27-30). The confession which Peter now made in Caesarea Philippi, in the name of the other disciples as well, was, according to the Synoptics, one of the most important turning-points. According to Jn., Peter made the corresponding pronouncement (vi. 66-69), not on foreign territory, but at Capernaum (Jn. knowing nothing of the journey farther north); but—and this is the chief point—it is not represented as a new discovery and announcement and as made for the first time. In truth, it cannot be such, 34for in this Gospel John the Baptist already knows, when he sees Jesus approaching him for the first time, that he is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world, and that he has existed before him (i. 29 f.) And Andrew, after he has been a day with Jesus, and even before Jesus’ public appearance, is able to say to his brother Peter, “we have found the Messiah” (i. 38-41).

Next, in the Synoptics we find Jesus saying at one time that he has not come to destroy the Law of Moses, but only to fill it with its true import, and so to deepen it (Mt. v. 17) in a manner which is more precisely exemplified in Mt. v. 21 f. 27 f.; and at another time making such statements as, “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mk. ii. 27), or “whatsoever from without goeth into the man, it cannot defile him, but only evil thoughts which proceed out of the heart” (Mk. vii. 18-23). Such declarations as these brush aside the whole Law, if we think of the literal meaning of its particular precepts. There is hardly any other way of reconciling the two classes of utterance but to suppose that Jesus expressed himself in the one way at an earlier period, and in the other at a later date.

Or when we read that Jesus went into foreign territory that he might remain unrecognised, and that at first he roughly repulsed the Phoenician woman who cried after him, beseeching him to heal her sick daughter, but after wards paid attention to her (Mk. vii. 24; Mt. xv. 21-28), certainly the natural explanation is that at first he seriously meant what he said to her: that it would be wrong to take the bread—that is to say, the power to heal, with which he was endowed—from the children (of the chosen people) and to give it to the dogs, that is to say, to the Gentiles, to whom she also belonged. It was only the affecting and 35very appropriate retort of the anxious mother, “even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs,” that could convert him, if this version is correct, and so prepare him to alter all his ideas about the extension of his lifework to the Gentiles.

Jn. does not give us the slightest clue to any such changes; Jesus in this Gospel suffers no alteration; he is the same from beginning to end.

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