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acting all through. What the sonship to God means is rather to be made out from the gospel-which is, so to speak, a progressive illustration of it-than deduced from the words. The term Christ or Messiah, though used in the title, is not at this point used in the history. Perhaps that is to preclude misleading inferences. As the Son of God referred to in the ideal picture of the second psalm, Jesus is the Anointed in and through whom God's Kingdom is to be established; He is the Messiah; but the nature of His Messiahship and of the sovereignty it is to establish awaits definition in His life. It may quite well be that the Christ of God is not the same as the Christ of fanatical Jewish hopes. This apart, however, there is not for the evangelist any consciousness of himself on the part of Jesus except the Messianic self-consciousness; it is as Son of God that He lives, moves, and has His being, and it is in this character and consciousness that He is exhibited in the gospel. It is more than daring simply to set this aside. If we know anything at all of Jesus, we know that He was baptized by John, and that the baptism represented a crisis in His experience: if it did not mean what all our authorities represent it to mean, we may as well cease to ask questions about Him. From first to last in the gospel, Jesus acts as one conscious of a unique vocation, a unique endowment, a unique relation to God and men. It is easy to decide on à priori grounds that this is impossible, and not merely to leave the only Christianity known to history without explanation, but to pronounce it a complete mistake; it is easy to do this, but it is not writing history. If the life of Jesus reflected itself, in minds which submitted to its influence, in the form which we see in the gospel, then all the probabilities are that that form is substantially correct. This word or that may have suffered modification in transmission—this incident or that
may have been pointed or deflected as it was preached in this or that environment-but the attitude of Jesus to God and to men, and the attitude which this required on the part of men to Jesus, cannot have been misconceived and cannot be misrepresented. It is the direct and unconscious reflexion of an immediate impression, and the possibility of error is excluded.
Jesus is introduced in Mark as 'calling' men to follow Him, as preaching in the synagogues, 'as one having authority,' and as casting out demons (Mark 1 16-28). The evangelist does not represent Him as making formal claims from the outset, or putting His consciousness of His relation to God and man into challenging words, but the spiritual power with which He was invested in the baptism, and which marks Him out as the Son of God, underlies all His words and deeds. The Messiahship is exhibited, but not stated: this at least is how the evangelist understands it. That he is right in so understanding it is clear from the words of Jesus Himself (in Matt. 11 3), which we have considered above (p. 230 f.). To heal the sick and to preach the gospel to the poor, inadequate and unsatisfactory as some onlookers might think it, is emphatically to do 'the works of the Christ.' We do not read the opening scenes in Mark as they were meant to be read if we do not perceive that the Messianic consciousness of Jesus is latent in them and is the key to which they are all set.
A TYPICAL dóvapes OR MIGHTY WORK IN WHICH JESUS' CONSCIOUSNESS OF HIMSELF IS REVEALED
(Mark 2 1.12)
This will become unmistakable if we examine such a typical instance in Mark of the duváμses to which Jesus appeals (Matt. 11 21 ff) as the healing of the paralytic in ch. 2 1-12. There are several points of interest in this
narrative which it is important to notice. When the man was brought to Jesus, Jesus said to him, Child, thy sins are forgiven. Some scribes who sat by accused Him of blasphemy: Who can forgive sins but God only? Jesus had His own way of dealing with the charge, but there are moderns who clear Him at a much easier rate. His words, they tell us, were merely declaratory: as He looked on the face of the paralytic man, He saw that he was truly penitent for his sins-presumably those which had induced the palsy; and knowing that under the rule of a paternal God penitence and pardon are correlative terms, He simply announced to the man what was true quite independently of the announcement, that his sins no longer stood against him in the reckoning of God. This, however, is entirely out of keeping with what follows. Jesus does not claim power on earth to declare that sins are forgiven, but to forgive them (ver. 10); and the scribes were quite right in assuming that He exercised the prerogative of pardon. He Himself proceeds to act upon their assumption. It is easy to say, Thy sins are forgiven, but not easy to tell whether anything is accomplished by the words. Who can tell whether the spiritual miracle which they assume-for of all things that we can conceive the forgiveness of sins is the most purely supernatural-really takes place? Who can certify us that the load is really lifted from the bad conscience, that despair passes away, that the gate of righteousness opens again to the man who had shut it in his own face? It is an objection of this kind, an objection not to a declaration but to what purports to be a real exercise of the prerogative of pardon, that Jesus meets in what follows. It is easy to say to a paralysed man, Arise, take up thy bed and walk; but it is hazardous, because if nothing happens the pretensions of the would-be healer are exposed. Jesus puts Himself to this test, and heals the body
with a word the effect of which is sensible and indisputable, that men may believe that He has power also to heal the soul. He works on this poor man the comprehensive miracle of redemption, forgiving all his iniquities, healing all his diseases. It is not declarations we have to do with, here or anywhere in the gospels, but achievements. Jesus no more told the man his sins were forgiven than He told him he was not lame. With the same word of redemptive power He lifted the disabling touch of sin from his soul and of paralysis from his limbs, and in doing so revealed what He was.
And what was He? Plainly for such as had faith like the paralytic and his friends He was the bearer of God's salvation: the power of God for man's deliverance in all his sorest troubles was present in Him. To refer again to Matt. 11 5 (2) we see Him here doing 'the works of the Christ.' And here comes in another point of interest in the narrative. It contains, in the lips of Jesus Himself, what we have already seen to be a Messianic or quasi-Messianic title-the Son of Man: "That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, He saith to the sick of the palsy, Arise, take up thy bed and go to thy house.' It has come to be taken for granted with a certain school of critics that there must be a mistake here. The Son of Man, it is argued, just because it is a Messianic title, could not be used by Jesus openly and at this early stage. If we except this instance, and another in ver. 28 of this chapter, Jesus never uses it in Mark till after Peter has confessed Him to be the Christ at Caesarea Philippi (ch. 8 29), and even then the disciples are commanded to keep the Messiahship a secret. This, it is assumed, answers to the actual course of events. Further, what logic requires (it is said), both here and at verse 28, is not 'the Son of Man' but 'man' simply. The Pharisees say, Who can forgive
sins but God only? and Jesus is supposed to answer, I will prove to you that not only God in heaven but man upon earth has power to forgive. This is supported by the close of the parallel passage in Matthew (98): They glorified God who had given such power to men-that is, to beings of the class to which Jesus belonged. The elimination of the Son of Man from verse 28 is equally plausible. Logic seems thoroughly satisfied when we read, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; wherefore man is lord also of the Sabbath. The introduction of the Son of Man into these narratives is ascribed to mistranslation. In Aramaic, the language of Jesus, a human being was spoken of as a son of man; and some misapprehension of this Semitic idiom led to THE Son of Man being introduced here instead of the generic term expressing humanity. The mistake mars the logic of the passage, and is inconsistent with what the evangelist elsewhere tells us of the time and circumstances under which Jesus did speak of Himself as the Christ, but happily we are able to correct and explain it.
In spite of the fact that this explanation and correction have become almost a tradition of criticism, the writer has no hesitation in accepting the gospel narrative as it stands. No part of the process by which 'the Son of Man' is eliminated can stand scrutiny. The expression is said to be due to mistranslation of an Aramaic document in which 'son of man' occurred in the sense of 'human being.' To say so is surely to forget that the contents of the gospel history did not circulate in the Church merely in the form of one man's translation of an Aramaic document. Granting that Mark could make the kind of mistake which is here supposed, we must remember that the story which we know only through him must have been known to multitudes of Christians