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only doing of good; nor words, which were mystical and parabolical (as we may see, Matt. xxi. and xxii, and the parallel places of Matthew and Luke;) nor any of his ways of making himself known to be the Messiah ; could be brought in testimony, or urged against him, as opposite or dangerous to the government. This preserved him from being condemned as a malefactor; and procured him a testimony from the Roman governor, his judge, that he was an innocent man, sacrificed to the envy of the jewish nation. So that he avoided saying that he was the Messiah, that to those who would call to mind his life and death, after his resurrection, he might the more clearly appear to be
It is farther to be remarked, that though he often appeals to the testimony of his miracles, who he is, yet he never tells the jews, that he was born at Bethlehem, to remove the prejudice that lay against him, whilst he passed for a Galilean, and which was urged as a proof that he was not the Messiah, John vii. 41, 42. The healing of the sick, and doing good miraculously, could be no crime in him, nor accusation against him. But the naming of Bethlehem for his birth-place might have wrought as much upon the mind of Pilate, as it did on Herod's; and have raised a suspicion in Pilate, as prejudicial to our Saviour's innocence as Herod was to the children born there. His pretending to be born at Bethlehem, as it was liable to be explained by the jews could not have failed to have met with a sinister interpretation in the Roman governor, and have rendered Jesus suspected of some criminal design against the government. And hence we see, that when Pilate asked hin, John xix. 9, “ Whence art thou ? Jesus gave
him no answer.”
Whether our Saviour had not an eye to this straitness, this narrow room that was left to his conduct, between the new converts and the captious jews, when he says, Luke xii. 50, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, “ and ws ouvézouan, how am I straitened until it be ac“ complished !" I leave to be considered.
come to send fire on the earth,” says our Saviour, " and what if it be already kindled ?" i. e. There be
66 I am
gin already to be divisions about me, John vii. 12, 43, and ix. 16, and x. 19. And I have not the freedom, the latitude, to declare myself openly to be the Messiah ; though I am he, that must not be spoken on, until after my death. My way to my throne is closely hedged in on every side, and much straitened; within which I must keep, until it bring me to my cross in its due time and manner; so that it do not cut short the time, nor cross the end of my ministry.
And therefore, to keep up this inoffensive character, and not to let it come within the reach of accident or calumny, he withdrew, with his apostles, out of the town, every evening; and kept himself retired out of the way, Luke xxi. 37. Ind in the day-time he was
teaching in the temple, and every night he went out “ and abode in the mount, that is called the Mount of
Olives," that he might avoid all concourse to him in the night, and give no occasion of disturbance, or suspicion of himself, in that great conflux of the whole nation of the jews, now assembled in Jerusalem at the passover.
But to return to his preaching in the temple : he bids them, John xii. 36, “ To believe in the Light, whilst
they have it.” And he tells them, ver. 46, “ I am " the Light come into the world, that every one who " believes in me, should not remain in darkness ;" which believing in him, was the believing him to be the Messiah, as I have elsewhere showed.
The next day, Matt. xxi. he rebukes them for not having believed John the Baptist, who had testified that he was the Messiah. And then, in a parable, declares himself to be the “ Son of God," whom they should destroy; and that for it God would take away the kingdom of the Messiah from them, and give it to the gentiles. That they understood him thus, is plain from Luke xxi. 16, 66 And when they heard it, they said, “ God forbid.” And ver. 19, “ For they knew that “ he had spoken this parable against them."
Much to the same purpose was his next parable, concern ng “ the kingdom of heaven," Matt. xxi, 1--10. That the jews not accepting of the kingdom
of the Messiah, to whom it was first offered, other should be brought in.
The scribes and pharisees and chief priests, not able to bear the declaration he made of himself to be the Messiah (by his discourses and miracles before them, šu te poolev aútūv, John xii. 37, which he had never done before) impatient of his preaching and miracles, and being not able otherwise to stop the increase of his followers, (for, “ said the pharisees among themselves, “ Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing ? Behold, the “ world is gone after him,") John xii. 19. So that “ the chief priests, and the scribes, and the chief of the
people sought to destroy him,” the first day of his entrance into Jerusalem, Luke xix. 47. The next day again, they were intent upon the same thing, Mark xi. 17, 18, “ And he taught in the temple; and the scribes si and the chief priests heard it, and sought how they “ might destroy him; for they feared him, because all “ the people were astonished at his doctrine.”
The next day but one, upon his telling them the kingdom of the Messiah should be taken from them, “ The chief priests and scribes sought to lay hands on “ him the same hour, and they feared the people, Luke xx. 19. If they had so great a desire to lay hold on him, why did they not? They were the chief priests and the rulers, the men of power. The reason St. Luke plainly tells us in the next verse : “ And they watched “ him, and sent forth spies, who should feign them“ selves just men, that they might take hold of his
words, that so they might deliver him unto the
power and authority of the governor.” They wanted matter of accusation against him, to the power they were under; that they watched for, and that they would have been glad of, if they could have “ entangled him in his “ talk;" as St. Matthew expresses it, chap. xxii. 15. If they could have laid hold on any word, that had dropt from him, that they might have rendered him guilty, or suspected to the Roman governor; that would have served their turn, to have laid hold upon him, with hopes to destroy him. For their power not answering their malice, they could not put him to death by their
own authority, without the permission and assistance of the governor ; as they confess, John xviii. 31, “ It is “ not lawful for us to put any man to death.” This made them so earnest for a declaration in direct words, from his own mouth, that he was the Messiah. It was not that they would more have believed in him, for such a declaration of himself, than they did for his miracles, or other ways of making himself known, which it appears they understood well enough. But they wanted plain direct words, such as might support an accusation, and be of weight before an heathen judge. This was the reason why they pressed him to speak out, John X. 24, “ Then came the jews round about him, and said “ unto him, How long dost thou hold us in suspense ? “ If thou be the Messiah, tell us PLAINLY, Tapinoige;" i. e. in direct words: for that St. John uses it in that sense we may see, chap. xi. 11-14, 66 Jesus saith to " them, Lazarus sleepeth. His disciples said, If he
sleeps, he shall do well. Howbeit, Jesus spake of “ his death; but they thought he had spoken of taking “ rest in sleep. Then said Jesus to them plainly, nap
śnośą, Lazarus is dead.” Here we see what is meant by rapincéợ, PLAIN, direct words, such as express the same thing without a figure; and so they would have had Jesus pronounce himself to be the Messiah. And the same thing they press again, Matt. xxvi. 63, the high priest adjuring him by the living God, to tell them whether he were the Messiah the Son of God; as we shall have occasion to take notice by-and-by.
This we may observe in the whole management of their design against his life. It turned upon this, that they wanted and wished for a declaration from him in direct words, that he was the Messiah ; something from his own mouth that might offend the Roman power, and render him criminal to Pilate. In the 21st verse of this xxth of Luke, “ They asked him, saying, Master, we “ know that thou sayest and teachest rightly; neither
acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the
way of God truly. Is it lawful for us to give tribute “ to Cæsar, or no ?" By this captious question they hoped to catch him, which way soever he answered.
For if he had said they ought to pay tribute to Cæsar, it would be plain he allowed their subjection to the Romans; and so in effect disowned himself to be their King and Deliverer; whereby he would have contradicted what his carriage and doctrine seemed to aim at, the opinion that was spread amongst the people, that he was the Messiah. This would have quashed the hopes, and destroyed the faith of those that believed on him; and have turned the ears and hearts of the people from him. If on the other side he answered, No, it is not lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar, they had out of his own mouth wherewithal to condemn him before Pontius Pilate. But St. Luke tells us, ver. 23,
66 He “ perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why
tempt ye me?" i. e. Why do ye lay snares for me? “ Ye hypocrites, show me the tribute money;" so it is, • Matt. xxii. 19, “ Whose image and inscription has it ?
They said Cæsar's.” He said unto them, “ Render “ therefore to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and " to God the things that are God's.” By the wisdom and caution of which unexpected answer, he defeated their whole design : “ and they could not take hold of “ his words before the people; and they marvelled at “ his answer, and held their peace.” Luke xx. 26. “ And leaving him, they departed.” Matt. xxii. 22.
He having, by this reply (and what he answered to the sadducees, concerning the resurrection, and to the lawyer about the first commandment, Mark xii.) answered so little to their satisfaction or advantage, they durst ask him no more questions, any of them. And now, their mouths being stopped, he himself begins to question them about the Messiah ; asking the pharisees, Matt. xxii. 41, “ What think ye of the Messiah? whose “ son is he? They say unto him, the Son of David.” Wherein though they answered right, yet he shows them in the following words, that, however they pretended to be studiers and teachers of the law, yet they understood not clearly the scriptures concerning the Messiah ; and thereupon he sharply rebukes their hypocrisy, vanity, pride, malice, covetousness, and ignorance; and particularly tells them, ver. 13, “ Ye shut up the king