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JESUS THE REDEEMER.
WHOEVER, refusing to be led astray by words, surveys the short history of early Christianity, cannot fail to be struck before long by a curious observation. All high-sounding words such as redemption, atonement, justification, the new birth, and the receiving of the spirit, are wanting in the early Gospels, and yet every reader feels that those that were about Jesus were raised to a state of peculiar happiness. On the other hand, the greater the frequency of these theological expressions in the later writings, the further does the actual fact of redemption, as of something experienced and imparted to us even to-day, recede into the background. Even St. Paul, who himself was certainly to be counted amongst the redeemed, set up general theories about redemption, which were more than once contradicted by experience in his own congregations. Talk, especially theological talk, about redemption, stands frequently, if not always, in the inverse ratio to the actual experience thereof.
We must speak of Jesus as Redeemer, because His 97activity is not exhausted in the promise that He gave and the demand that He made, nay, more, in describing these we have not even mentioned that which was highest and best in the work of Jesus. He did not merely set up a goal for men and point out the direction thither, but He helped them Himself on the road. And this in ways so manifold as completely to outdistance the poverty of the dogmatic conceptions.
In the Gospels, Jesus appears before us first of all as the physician of men’s bodies, as the redeemer of the sick and suffering. However great the number of miraculous narratives that we set on one side as exaggerations or inventions of a later age, a nucleus of solid fact remains with which we have to deal. Jesus possessed a healing power, strictly limited, it is true, by unbelief, but capable of producing the very greatest physical and psychical changes wherever He encountered faith. This power operated especially in the case of mental diseases, but was by no means confined to them. Now even though here, too, we see Jesus completely dominated by the conceptions of His time, and in part even not scorning to make use of its remedies, we can yet feel the moral grandeur of His character, and the boundless sympathy with every form of distress through all the outer folds of magic. He is a wonder-worker, but how infinitely exalted He appears when compared with any other worker of wonders. In the time of His enthusiasm Jesus explained this ‘Redemption’ as the beginning of the kingdom of God. On another occasion He places Himself on a line with the Jewish exorcists, and once again He expresses doubts as to the persistence of this driving out of demons. Jesus 98confines Himself strictly within the limits of miracles of beneficence; every request to perform a miracle for mere display, as a sign, He refuses with an emphatic no. Towards the end of His ministry an almost entire cessation of His miraculous activity is to be noticed. Yet He bequeathed His powers to the apostles if they made use of His name. The whole of the ‘Redemption’ was naturally of a transitory character. The evangelists assigned so important a place to it because of its value from an apologetic point of view. But there is no doubt that this side of Jesus' work as Redeemer was a very great religious consolation to those that experienced it. And it is an essential feature in the picture of Jesus that hunger, sickness and suffering moved Him to help scarcely less than mental trouble and distress.
Closely connected with the healing of the sick is the restitution of the alienated, the publicans and sinners. The Pharisees outlawed these people: Jesus loved them. His great compassion for the common people was especially directed towards this class. And that gained for Him the names, given in derision and mockery, of “glutton and winebibber, friend of tax-gatherers and godless people.” He ate and He drank with them; He sought shelter with them. He called one of them out of the tax-office to be His partner in His work as missionary. One can scarcely conceive the strange character of this ‘Home Mission work’ of Jesus. For Jesus brought these alienated classes back, not to any church party, but to God. It is probable, too, that when He preached to them He spoke little of sin and of repentance, but He entered sympathetically into their daily 99life, and He showed them that God was to be sought, not outside of it, but within it. Then at times He would call forth such striking decisions as that of Zacchaeus. He Himself preferred this company to that of the very pious. He felt there a touch of sincerity and simplicity and humanity, which are only rarely to be met with amongst ‘religious people.’ Jesus did not say that the publicans and sinners were ‘sick,’ but merely that they were in need of His love. Some of His greatest sayings, perhaps even the parable of the prodigal son, arose from His defence of His intercourse with them.
His ‘Home Mission’ won for the new religion its most valuable adherents, because they were theologically the least corrupted. But it was attended by consequences which were Hostile to the Church. For this love finally embraced even Samaritans and heathen, and leapt the bounds of any and every ecclesiastical system. As soon as the new Church was formed, therefore, it again applied the Pharisaic measure to the publicans and heathen, so in St Matt. xviii. 17, the unrepentant is to be treated as you would treat a heathen and a tax-gatherer.
Furthermore, Jesus ‘redeemed’ His listeners from the theologians, and that had consequences that reached still further. The Jewish religion was decaying, above all, because of the fact that instead of the prophets as mediators between God and man, stood the Scribes, their exact opposite. As the whole of the religion was founded upon the sacred book, and this was written in a dead language and stood in need of explanation, the interpreters of the book came to be looked upon as the sole revealers 100of God. Over against them stood the laity, the “multitude that knew not the law,” the unenlightened and immature. A perverted distinction, for, in the sight of God, it is the learned who are the laity rather than the others. These Scribes were ingenious, and had a good memory—other gifts they had none. The people were under the impression that they laid upon their shoulders a number of grievous ordinances with which they likewise burdened themselves, and that they endeavoured to close the kingdom of heaven to those that sought to enter therein. Jesus deposed the Scribes. He refused to acknowledge their gift of revelation. They did not know God. The conclusion to be drawn from this is, however, not that the laity are no longer babes in spiritual things or that no mediator is any longer necessary—which is the fancy of a fantastic liberalism—but that He is the one mediator. No man—no layman even—hath known the Father but the Son, to whom all—i.e. in this case, all knowledge—hath been committed, and who can reveal God to whomsoever He will. Thus, then, Jesus brings redemption as the revealer of God in place of the Scribes. Herewith the old religion of the prophets has come to life again. God’s word is no longer contained in a book: it is living. He speaks to the world, not through oracles and wonders, but through Jesus’ words. Since, however, the Son Himself is no theologian, but—in learning—a layman, so God is by Him revealed to the childlike and simple. Every child can understand Jesus. For He brings nothing but what is obvious to every conscience. He places each single 101person in the presence of reality and eternity. So Jesus can call the multitude to Him: “Come unto Me. all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” His ‘revelation’ implies the great simplification of religion, the emphasizing of the essential, of the really important. It implies the end of theology. Christianity is in its essence a layman’s religion, for its prophet was Jesus, a layman. But even the rise of the Pauline theology brought about the great change, though Paul himself still knew what Jesus meant. As for Christian dogma with its revelation of a body of doctrine, it is the veriest caricature of the Gospel. Jesus redeemed the people from the Scribes, and by the Scribes He was put to death. The two events are related as cause and effect. The evangelist, St Mark, has seized upon this connection very admirably when he portrays Jesus as one who did not preach like the Scribes, but finally comes to His end by them. In his book the lay character of the Gospel once more finds utterance.
Next to this, and as an immediate consequence of this redemption from the theologians, comes the redemption from the Jewish Church. It is in reality .already contained in the fact that the individual who was aroused by Jesus’ call was made dependent simply upon himself and his own conscience. Wherever men realize their individuality and individual responsibility, there the authority of the Church ceases. When Jesus claimed the personal allegiance of His followers, He was taking a step that was entirely hostile to every ecclesiastical organization and was aiming directly at separation. 102Jesus finally demanded of His disciples that they should place His person above everything else, and should for His sake be prepared to endure the breach with their people and the rulers. It would seem that in His last speeches He directly foretold the conflict with the Jewish monarchy, and demanded of them in this case the completest freedom and constancy. It was indeed an immense demand to make of His disciples, laymen of Galilee, brought up to feel the deepest reverence for Jerusalem, the Temple and the Sanhedrim. But for all that they did not belie His expectations. Jesus really trained a company of martyrs, men who did not fear the council, and obeyed God rather than men. These disciples possessed richly all those virtues which the Christians, in later times lost in their own Church.
Jesus' aim, however, was never merely negative. Side by side with the separation from the Jewish Church went the foundation of the new Christian fellowship—a fellowship, not a Church. Why should Jesus have founded a Church, filled as He was with the expectation of the near approach of the kingdom, which was to put an end to all human forms? The great interest felt in the Church is a product of later times, when the expectation of the kingdom no longer occupied men’s minds in the first instance. In Jesus’ teaching there is as yet no mention of any external organization, nor does He therefore say anything of the founding of sacraments, the outward signs of membership in the fellowship. He does not even, in any of His recorded sayings, exhort the brethren to foster the growth of the fellowship. But nevertheless He did found a fellowship 103through Himself and the Apostles. Whoever is faithful to Him, whoever receives Him and His messengers, whoever keeps His commandments and professes His cause before men, he belongs as a matter of course to the company of those that acknowledge the same Lord and Master. So then Jesus could from time to time speak of His ‘family’—that is, all the brothers and sisters that do God’s will. It appears also that He said that whoever forsook his home and his family for His sake should be recompensed a hundredfold, even in this present time—i.e. in the community of those who were of like mind with Himself. Jesus set up the keeping of the commandments, the ‘fruits,’ as the criterion by which men’s fidelity to His fellowship was to be judged. By these the sheep were to be distinguished from the wolf, and the brethren that were to be recognized by these tokens were exhorted to lay to heart, as their first and foremost duty, the rendering of mutual service and assistance. In proportion as all these commandments are conceived of as purely spiritual precepts without any legal addition, the deeper, the more heartfelt, is the obligation incurred. Hence, and hence alone, it came about that within so very short a time after the first dispersion of the disciples, a new fellowship could be formed, and in this case as an external organization.
The full scope of the redemptive activity of Jesus was only attained in this fellowship of the disciples, when the new life that was in Him was transmitted to receptive hearts and minds. All that was peculiarly His own in His piety and devotion was transplanted and became the germ of the piety of 104the new community. All that is rightly called Christianity is, directly or indirectly, the after effect of the new life in Jesus, and must be guided by Him. The first striking characteristic of the piety of Jesus is the hitherto unexampled concentration and exclusiveness of the religious relation. God was one and all for Him, and the service of God the sum of His life. There was no distinction here between Sunday and week-day, between sacred and profane. Eating and drinking and sleeping, joy and anger, were all under God’s eyes. He combined an entirely open mind towards the whole wealth of existence that was accessible to Him with a complete subordination of all things to God. Of all later writings it is perhaps only Luther’s “Table Talk” that reveals a similar combination. A being so completely united with God always exercises an influence upon his surroundings. Henceforth religion is placed in the centre of life, and becomes the dominant power. The enthusiasm of the disciples that found vent a little later in the speaking with tongues, and in the joy with which they embraced martyrdom, is a proof of this. These men were really able to offer up everything to God.
The next characteristic of the piety of Jesus is a combination of opposites which is quite peculiar to it the union of the blithesomeness and innocence of childhood with the courage and the serious earnestness of manhood. This cannot, of course, be imitated in its perfection by any one, but its effect nevertheless is that the predominance of the one quality always tends to be mitigated by the joint action of the other. It is probably impossible for anyone to form a conception 105of the childlike gladness of Jesus. His life was passed in sunshine and in joy, in childlike trust towards God, in glad exultation over Nature and good men. In the midst of the raging storm on the lake, He can sleep like the child in its mother’s arms; for why should anything hurt Him? He looks at the birds. They toil not at all, and yet they enjoy everything so gladly; or He sees them sitting so safely on the edge of the roof, and no danger threatens them. Then, again, He finds that the meanest flowers of the field are robed far more beautifully than King Solomon in all his grandeur. Truly, men might learn some profitable lessons here. But dearer than all to Him are the little children. He folds them in His arms, He presses them to His heart. For He feels that He is amongst those of like nature with Himself. We men should be able to accept God’s love as the child does the fairy tale that is told him. That is what the words mean: “He that receiveth not the kingdom of God like a little child cannot enter therein.” All moody and self-tormenting thoughts, all carking cares, everything done under compulsion, all unnatural excitation of one’s feelings, is entirely alien to Him. He possessed the full freedom and freshness of an entirely unspoilt and simple and great soul that rested in God’s love. But side by side with this there dwelt in this same soul an intense earnestness. Eternity was ever present to Him. There was no playing or dallying, no forgetting of oneself even for a moment. His gaze was directed straight forward to the goal. God’s thoughts fill His mind at all times. God’s will is to become His. There is a 106fearful alternative—a narrow and a broad way. At the one end stands hell, where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies. Better enter into the kingdom of heaven with one eye or with one foot, than descend to hell whole with all one’s limbs. This terrible saying stands side by side with that of the reception of the kingdom of God like a little child, only the two together give us a complete picture of Jesus. And now this strange combination of sharp contrasts originating from Jesus imparts itself to others, and produces results of which none can foretell the end.
First of all, there was the certainty of the goal. Men’s hopes were established and assured. For the Jews the end of the world was something uncertain and mysterious. They spend their time in minute studies and subtle reckonings as to its coming, and at the same time snatch at the pleasures of the fleeting moment. Better enjoy something tangible here than trust to an imaginary happiness yonder. Through Jesus hope has become an assured certainty, and thereby a power in men’s lives with which the world has to reckon henceforth. Eternity is no longer a mere thought but actual reality; whether it comes sooner or later, the goal stands firmly fixed before men’s eyes. And that is how the early Christians were enabled with quiet confidence to support their disappointment when the parousia did not come as they had expected. “The kingdom shall still be ours,” was their consolation.
In the next place, man’s freedom, his power to do the good, was incomparably strengthened. In all that He says Jesus appeals to the will, to the power of free choice. He conceives of God’s commandments as 107entirely capable of fulfilment. He has absolutely no doubt that man can do a thing; he is merely lacking in will power. Jesus could so believe and so speak because He Himself freed and strengthened the will more than any other in the history of the world. His enthusiasm, His love, and His courage come to be mighty impulses, the originating causes of all that is good in His disciples. He is able to demand all, because everything becomes possible through Him. He is really able, as the legend says, to make Peter walk upon the sea. It is at all times incredible what a good and holy man can bring about in weak and little souls. He enlarges the bounds of that which is possible in the domain of ethics, just as a discoverer in that of physics. Jesus’ disciples were no heroes. His whole intercourse with them up to the denial of Peter is a proof of that. And yet what a brave company Jesus made of them—ready to defy the whole world. In the great and everlasting struggle between the powers of good and evil, which runs through the whole history of the world, the appearance of Jesus implies the greatest addition of power on the side of the good, so that because of Him it is inconceivable that it should ever be conquered.
It was possible for Jesus to strengthen man’s will power to this extent, because He freed him at the same time from the terror of sin. The Jewish feeling of sin, which was rather the consequence of misfortune than of moral depth of character, had already become something morbid, resting upon men’s minds like a nightmare. Paul is its great interpreter. It is true that the most important Jewish prayer contained the splendid sixth petition—108
Forgive us, our Father,
For we have sinned.
Forgive us, O King,
For we have done unrighteously.
Dost thou not forgive and pardon gladly?
Praised be thou, Lord, most merciful,
Thou that dost pardon so greatly.
It was therefore an article in the Jewish creed that was firmly believed, that God pardoned the Israelites when they prayed to Him. But what was the use of fine words if the individual had no sense of personal certainty and was unable to derive thence the power to live a glad and joyous life? He was weighed down for all that by the feeling of sin. Jesus routed these wretched and morbid feelings all along the line. They vanish before His presence like the mist before the sun. Jesus turned the theory contained in the Jewish prayer into a fact, and gave to all that were about Him the certainty of pardon and courage and joy. If He uttered the divine declaration, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” to any anxious soul, then all trouble was at an end. As against the Pharisees He appears as the advocate of the true Father of Sinners, and in the parable of the prodigal son He proclaims the principle, that when God pardons, His justice is by no means diminished. But He taught His disciples just simply to pray to God for forgiveness and to look upon this as a fundamental law in the family both human and divine. Jesus has made it perfectly plain that the child of God is separated by no sin from God’s love, as little as the child of an earthly father from that father’s love. He looked into the human heart deeper than most rabbis, and He read there “no one is good,” “ye that are evil.” 109In the heart dwell evil thoughts, and even if the spirit be willing the flesh is weak. He that thus makes His way down into the depths is inaccessible to any easy-going optimism. But Jesus did not suffer Himself to be driven to despair by this discovery of sin, because He knows that God’s mercy and love are greater than all our sins. If it is human to sin, then to pardon is divine. Nay, more: man would cease to be in the right relation to God were he ever to forego his claim upon the divine pardon. These are bold articles to put in any creed, yet they are only fraught with danger for those that know not the God of Jesus. How miserably all those finely constructed theories of sacrifice and vicarious atonement crumble to pieces before this faith in the love of God our Father, who so gladly pardons. The one parable of the prodigal son wipes them all off the slate. Sin and its burden lie far away from the disciples of Jesus, and still further is the theology of sin and propitiation.
The depth and the reality of the sense of the peace of God which Jesus bestows upon His disciples by this glad gospel is proved by their new relation to the world. Here, too, Jesus brings redemption from all cares and terrors. Since Jesus treads them under foot, the demons are no longer powers to be feared. Imagining that they were surrounded at every step that they took by a whole host of evil spirits, the Jews had come to find it hard to go forward otherwise than timidly and anxiously. The world—so it was said repeatedly—had been handed over by God to the devil, for was he not the prince and god of this world? Jesus, who had a mistaken belief in the reality of demons, conceived 110of His life as a joyous and brave battle against them, and cried aloud to men: “The world belongs to God, and it is He that giveth us the victory.” Through His own fearlessness He freed His disciples from all fear of men. He showed them by His own example that fear of men cannot exist side by side with fear of God, and that he that stands under God’s protection need not be in the least distressed because little men hate him and oppress him. Even though God should suffer them to be vanquished here, they will even then rejoice in Him and will die with these words on their lips, “The kingdom shall still be ours.” He removed all that was painful from the cares caused by poverty and necessity by helping them to carry God’s fatherly love into all that was dark and difficult. The words, “Be not over anxious,” which Jesus carried with Him from place to place, acquired all their power through Him who was free from all anxiety, who had nothing and yet was so glad. He taught them also bravely to win their way through the temptations of the world. He Himself overcame them by prayer and a brave word. But above all, Jesus caused men to look upon suffering and even death in a new light.
By its precipitate judgments the Jewish doctrine of retribution turned every misfortune into a divine punishment, thereby doubling the distress. Jesus entirely rejected this doctrine. He shows, on the contrary, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus that an entirely poor and abandoned man can be so much happier than a rich man who satisfies his every desire, because death so often brings with it a reversal of men’s positions, and therefore Jesus says: “Blessed 111are the poor, the hungry, the persecuted, for the future is theirs.”
More important, however, than all this both for Himself and for His disciples was His own death and the whole series of events leading up to it. At first it was a bitter necessity for Him, a divine purpose coming into collision with the human, which just had to be obeyed. Then later He began already to see some positive object therein. Some good end must surely be intended by His death. It must be fraught with blessing for many among the people who as yet believed not in Him. And then once more, in the hour of bitterest anguish, when all consolatory thoughts were like to be driven away again by the rude reality, Jesus still clung firmly to this. “It is the Father’s cup.” And thus He began His great work of recoining the value of things. Through Jesus’ death the disciples were gradually enlightened. The dogma of retribution was not true. Suffering and death are not methods of punishment, since God has inflicted them upon His own Son. Thus the Christians were set free from all the bitterness that the fear of death contains. It is true that even the first generation of Christians did not rest content with the teaching of Jesus herein. The thoughts of punishment, retribution, and expiation, were lodged too firmly in their heads. They must needs be applied to Jesus in a new form. But nevertheless in the judgment that they passed upon their own misfortunes we can see that they began to grasp the new idea—that the ‘cross’ comes from God’s love—this idea is the fruit of Jesus’ death.
Thus, then, Jesus does, as an actual matter of fact, 112redeem His disciples from the influence of all powers hostile to God, and in so doing transforms the children of a world of vanity that passeth away into the children of God. For this was ever Jesus’ ultimate aim: so to unite God and man as He was united with God. He never reduced this aim to a theoretical formula, nor did it ever occur to Him or to those that accompanied Him, to remove the boundaries that separated the ‘Master’ from His ‘disciples,’ yet He admitted His disciples so closely into His relationship with God that the prayer of both is the same. And for Jesus and His friends everything in fact centres in prayer. In prayer man assumes his normal position—God the giver and he the recipient. Jesus and His disciples prayed with such joy, intensity and certainty of victory as perchance never before or since in the history of man. Philosophers may smile at this, because they do not understand it. Those have ever been the greatest epochs in the history of religion when the believer trusted God most of all, and therefore, too, received most from Him. Here the bounds of possibility are enlarged, new forces are set free, and cause the world to wonder. We are, however, here concerned with the contents of the ‘Lord’s Prayer.’ It is not only the simplest summary of the ‘redemption’ which Jesus effects: it constitutes the bond between Jesus and His disciples. He that can really pray it—not as a mere formula—has reached that stage beyond which nothing higher is to be looked for under the present conditions of existence. Such a one calling upon God as his father is himself His child and in so far like unto Jesus. When he prays for the 113coming of God’s kingdom he enters upon the possession of eternity. And finally, by asking for his daily bread, for forgiveness and protection during the short time that still remains, he receives the means of his existence, his peace and the certainty of his salvation from God’s hands, and no power in heaven or on earth can separate him from God. Therewith his redemption is completed, as far as it is possible upon earth, and the future is already within his grasp. He that so prays has gained for himself a share in the divine power and love within the bounds of this earthly life.
The disciple of Jesus prays this prayer without making any claim upon his Master’s advocacy or mention of His name. Thereby we are clearly given to understand in what sense Jesus would be the Redeemer, and in what sense He would not. His calling was to bring God so near to the men of His time and not to them alone—by His whole manner of life and personality, to bind them so firmly to God in the presence of eternity, that they should never more be able to part from Him. Herein He succeeded so entirely that the thought never occurred to His first disciples that He was setting Himself by the side of God, or was taking God’s place as the central object of man’s devotion.
They prayed to God alone, and they handed down the saying of Jesus that He, too, was not to be accounted good. And that was the final proof of their redemption. But through His humility and His truthfulness, and by His entire subordination to God, Jesus showed more than by all else that He deserved the name of Redeemer in the fullest sense of the word.114
Looked at from a purely historical point of view, the death of Jesus was the necessary consequence of His revolt against the divine authority of the Scribes and the propaganda of the Pharisees. After His capture, however, Jesus was compelled in the presence of the Sanhedrim to confess Himself Messiah, and thus furnish an ostensible reason for His conviction. It would seem that the Roman governor accepted this political pretext. But that was not the real reason of the hostility and the violent conclusion of the struggle. The spiritual leaders of the people, and the party that stood in the greatest odour of sanctity, recognized that a spirit had appeared in Jesus, which was bound to sweep them away. Finally, the danger came to be so great that only the immediate removal of Jesus appeared to offer any possibility of safety. The death of the leader seemed to them to imply as a necessary consequence the defeat of the cause, the confusion of His adherents, and the impossibility of belief in an executed criminal. These calculations appeared to be confirmed by the flight and the dispersal of the disciples after the capture of Jesus.
Contrary to all expectations, the dispersed disciples began to gather together again, at first in Galilee and then in Jerusalem. “He is not dead,” they cried in triumphant enthusiasm to the murderers of Jesus; “He liveth.” The reckoning of the Sanhedrists turned out to be at fault. Their clever calculations proved to be the greatest folly and impolicy, for faith in the crucified and risen Lord brought about that which faith in the living Christ had not accomplished: the foundation of the new Church, the separation from Judaism, the conquest of the world.115
Whence this sudden change? For that the disciples fled in confusion and consternation is a certain fact. Their answer was: the Lord has appeared to us, first to Peter, then to the twelve, then to more than five hundred brethren together, then to James, then to all of the apostles, last of all to Paul. From these appearances—the first must have taken place, according to the oldest accounts, in Galilee—they inferred the facts of the resurrection and of the present life of Jesus in glory. In the very earliest time, when St. Paul obtained this information from St Peter, they were content with drawing these conclusions and required no further proofs. The new faith rests upon the appearances alone.
Our judgment as to these appearances depends upon the credibility which we attach to St. Paul and his informant, and still more upon our philosophical and religious standpoint, upon our ‘faith.’ Purely scientific considerations cannot decide where the question at stake is the existence or non-existence of the invisible world, and the possibility of communicating with spirits. Hence, too, all attempts at explanation, which rest upon the axiom that our world of phenomena is the only reality, are merely subjectively persuasive and convincing. The Christian faith always reckons with the reality of the other world which is our goal. A Christian, therefore, has no difficulty in accepting as the ground of his belief in the resurrection, the real projection of Jesus into this world of sense by means of a vision.
But there is another reason which prevents the historian from resting content with this supposition 116even if he approves of it. The mere faith in these miracles makes the origin of Christianity dependent on a chance, as though the cause of Jesus had come to nought but for this story. But in Jesus’ person there resided so mighty a power of redemption, there was so great a certainty of ultimate victory, that it could not be destroyed by any death however disgraceful. “He was too great that He should die” (Lagarde)—i.e. the impression that He had made, the fellowship in which one had lived with Him, these were too great, too firm, too indestructible. As during the time of His earthly life He had continuously imparted to His disciples joy, consolation, courage, and certainty of victory, so after His death He did not cease to take up again after a short interval of confusion His work as Saviour of mankind.
Of John the Baptist, too, it was said that he had arisen, and worked though Jesus. But his sect disappeared in the confused jumble of Jewish sects. But Jesus was really the Redeemer even after His death, and instead of His influence decreasing, He now really began to draw all men unto Himself. Even, therefore, though He may have helped by means of His appearances to enable His disciples to recover from their perplexity, the fact that these appearances produced this effect was the consequence of the earlier impression which death had not been able to efface. Faith in the resurrection is the fruit of salvation through Jesus.117
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