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§ 110. Proof that Christ frequently exercised his Ministry in Judea and Jerusalem.
It is every way accordant, indeed, with internal probability, that Jesus should have expected to find easier access to the simple-minded Galilean peasants than to the rich, the haughty, and the learned at Jerusalem. But it is altogether improbable to suppose that he would subject himself to the reproach of despising the ancient and holy institutions238238 In the Talmudical treatise “Chagigah,” c. ii., none (among adults) but the deaf, the sick, the insane, and the very aged, are exempted from the obligation to attend the principal feasts at Jerusalem. Of course, this law could not apply to the Jews of distant countries, who were only required to send annually a deputation to the Temple, with sacrifices, and with the money arising from the price of the first fruits. Conf. Philo, Legat. ad Cajum, §§ 23, 31. of the Jews, by absenting himself from the gatherings of the devout at their chief feasts;239239 Luke, ii., 41, shows that the devout of Galilee felt themselves bound to journey to Jerusalem at least at the Passover; the passage even speaks of the journey of a woman, on whom the law imposed no such obligation. We cannot (with Strauss) find any proof even in Matthew that absence from the festivals was held of no account among the Jewish-Christians. and it would have been strange if he had neglected the opportunity of extending his labours that was afforded by the general coming together of Jews from all countries at those festivals.
And how unwise would it have been in him to defer the commencement of his labours in the Theocratic capital until the precise period when his ministry in Galilee must have drawn upon him the hatred and the fears of the prevailing Pharisaic party of Jerusalem, when he must have foreseen, too, that he would be overcome by them!
As to his putting off his journey to Jerusalem until the Apostles were sufficiently prepared to carry on the work without his personal presence, surely the Apostles knew as yet too little of his doctrines to render such a course consistent even with human foresight.
Moreover, the fanatical hatred of Christ which was manifested by the Pharisaical party can only be explained upon the ground that he had excited their opposition by a previous ministry, of some duration, in the city of Jerusalem itself. Nor are there wanting, even in the first three Gospels, intimations to the same effect, e. g., Matt., iv., 25; xv., 1, in which the scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem are spoken of as gathering round Jesus in Galilee and asking him entangling questions. It may have been the case, either that, after his labours in Jerusalem had drawn their hatred upon him, they followed, and watched him suspiciously, even in Galilee; or that some of the events that originally happened in the city were, in the course of tradition, intermingled and confused with those which occurred in Galilee. Again, the earnest exclamation of Christ, recorded in Luke, xiii., 34; Matt., xxiii., 37, distinctly implies that he had often endeavoured, by his personal teaching in Jerusalem, to rouse the people to repentance and conversion, that they might be saved from the ruin then impending over them. The words, “children of Jerusalem,” although they might apply to the whole nation, must, in this exclamation, which is specifically addressed to the “city which killed the prophets,” be taken as referring directly to the inhabitants of that city.
The account of Christ’s relations with the family of Lazarus, given in Luke (x., 38-42), coincides in spirit with John’s statement (xi., 5) of the intimate affection with which the Saviour regarded them; and the intimacy must have been formed during a prolonged stay in Jerusalem. The fact, too, that several distinguished men of that city (e. g., Joseph of Arimathea, as we are told by the first Evangelists) had attached themselves to Christ, affords us the same conclusion. Nor can we fail to trace, in Luke’s account (ix., 51-62) of his last journey to Jerusalem, some confusion, arising from a blending together, in the narrative, of events that had occurred on a former journey.
And, again, can it be imagined that Christ omitted to make use of his miraculous powers240240 This difficulty, indeed, is avoided in Matthew’s Gospel, for it is there stated (xxi. 14). quite indefinitely, however, that “he healed the lame and the blind in the Temple.” It is impossible not to see that the historical connexion is lost in this passage of Matthew; we can gather it correctly only from John’s Gospel.precisely in Jerusalem, where the best opportunities of employing them for the relief of human suffering would have been afforded? Would there not, moreover, have been some trace of this in the mode of his reception at Jerusalem, similar, probably, to what occurred on his first labours at Nazareth? Would not his labours there have been very different from what the synoptical Gospels report them, if they had been his first efforts in the city?
Thus there are many things in the first three Gospels themselves which indicate and presuppose the accuracy of John’s narrative. The latter is, besides, entirely consistent with itself, both in its chronology, and in its accounts of the several journeys of Christ to the Feasts.
Finally, those who infer from the synoptical Gospels that Christ made but one journey, must ascribe to the author of John’s Gospel a fabrication, wilfully invented, to serve his own purpose. But the man who could do this could never have written such a Gospel. Moreover, were it a fiction, still, if intended to be believed, it would have been more accommodated to the popular tradition. No one individual could have remodelled the entire tradition after an invented plan of his own, contradicting all others.
But, on the other hand, by following John, we do not charge any falsification upon the three other Evangelists: we can easily conceive how the separate traditions, of which those Gospels were made up, may have been so put together, without any intention to deceive, as apparently to represent Christ as making one Passover journey. From the account of the appearances of Christ after the resurrection given by Matthew, we may see how easily such obscurities crept into the circle of Galilean traditions. Luke agrees with John in assigning Jerusalem as the scene of those appearances; yet, from reading Matthew alone, we might infer that they all took place in Galilee.241241 A favourable light is thrown upon the genuineness and credibility of John’s Gospel by the fact that it alone contains a closely connected and chronological account of Christ’s public ministry.
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