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Life of Jesus Christ in Its Historical Connexion and Historical Developement.
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§ 222. Journey continued through Samaria. (Luke, xvii., 11, seq.)Inhospitality of certain Samaritans.—Displeasure of the Disciples. (Luke, ix., 54.)—Ingratitude of Nine Jewish Lepers that were Healed.—Gratitude of the Samaritan Leper. (Luke, xvii., 15, 16.)

Christ determined, in this his last journey, to pass through Samaria,598598   As all that is found in this part of Luke’s Gospel does not refer to one journey, it is possible that Luke, ix., 52, belongs to a separate one. We place it in this later period from the “messengers” (v. 52), which we take to allude to the Seventy, and from the confidence of the Apostles in the efficacy of their prayer (v. 54), which implies that they were at that time organs of miraculous power. The mention in verse 52 of the sending out of messengers, without express allusion to the Seventy, taken in connexion with the fact that this is a fragmentary account, separate from the narrative of the mission of the Seventy, serves to confirm the veracity of the latter. as he had done on his first return from the Feast of Passover. The seventy disciples prepared his way among the Samaritans. A few of them met with a bad reception at a certain place; the people refused to entertain them and their Master because they were going to the Feast at Jerusalem. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, with a zeal not yet sufficiently tempered by love—probably relying on the miraculous powers intrusted to them by Christ—said to him, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did?” But he rebuked them with the question, “Know ye not with what temper of mind599599   Namely, not to call judgments down upon the enemies of the kingdom, but to seek their salvation; the spirit of love and mercy, sympathizing with those that err from mistaken zeal; as Jesus himself had distinguished the sin against the Son of Man from that against the Holy Ghost. Cf. p. 227, 243. They should have known that his miracles were designed to bless, not to punish. Cf. p. 134. ye ought, as representatives of my spirit, to be actuated?” And they went to another village.

In the case just mentioned the Samaritans were in fault, and their conduct tended to strengthen the Jewish prejudice of the disciples against them.600600   The absence of any allusion here to Christ’s former reception among the Samaritans proves nothing against the veracity of the narrative; it only illustrates the manner in which the synoptical Gospels were compiled. But. another soon occurred in which Samaritan gratitude was made use of by the Saviour to counteract that prejudice.601601   Of course we do not pretend to prove that this event (Luke, xvii., 11) necessarily falls in the chronological place in which we give it.

On the outskirts of a village ten lepers met him, nine of whom were Jews, and the tenth a Samaritan. Shut out in common from the fellowship of men, they forgot their national hatred in their sufferings, and banded together. Not daring, as lepers, to approach the Saviour, they stood afar off and called for help. They were healed, but not immediately; Christ telling them to show themselves to the priests for inspection. Of all the ten, only the Samaritan came back to thank Christ, and in him God, for the grace of healing.602602   There are several obscurities in the narrative. At what point did the Samaritan turn back (v. 15)? Schleiermacher supposes that it was not until after the lepers had been declared to be healed by the priest, and had brought the usual sacrifices; that the Jews might have expected to meet Christ at the feast in Jerusalem and thank him there; but the other, following the Samaritan sense of the Mosaic law, went to the Temple of Gerizim, and therefore could not expect to meet him again. Had this been the case, Christ would not nave praised him to the disadvantage of the others, merely because his gratitude, without being greater, was sooner expressed. This being inadmissible, let us suppose the case thus: the Samaritan, from intercourse with Jews, had imbibed Jewish opinions, and admitted the authority of their prophets, so far, at least, as to apply the law in their sense, in fact, it appears from the account that all the ten went together. But his ardent gratitude could not wait for Christ’s arrival at Jerusalem; and as soon as he had the priest’s certificate, he hurried back to meet Jesus—who travelled slowly—on the way, and express his thanks. But the sense which naturally flows from Luke’s words is also the most probable in itself; the lepers found themselves healed soon after leaving the village, and the Samaritan, full of gratitude, hastened back to give utterance to it.

The Saviour drew the attention of the disciples to the susceptible mind of the thankful Samaritan, in contrast with the dulness of heart shown by the Jews. This simple example was, in fact, a type of the conduct of multitudes.603603   In the narrative the miracle holds a subordinate place; the prominent feature is the contrast between the thankfulness of the Samaritan and the ingratitude of the Jews; and this fact alone testifies to its veracity in respect to the miracle itself. The attempts that have been made to impugn it, or to show that it was originally a parable, are futile; it bears no mark of improbability, and its position in the historical account of the journey is perfectly natural. A narrator of events naturally gives prominence to those points in which his own mind is most interested, and throws others comparatively into the background; so that many things may appear wanting in his statements to readers who wish to form for themselves a perfect image of the transactions. But this certainly is no ground for supposing all the rest to be mere invention. This much against Hase, who expresses himself, however, with uncertainty, and opposes Strauss.


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