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only the last verse of this was questioned. Jesus, it was said, did not at this early period anticipate His own death, and He certainly did not begin to speak of it to His disciples till much later. Further, the mention of His death is irrelevant: all that it is necessary to say is, 'Can the children of the bridechamber fast as long as the Bridegroom is with them? My disciples and I are a wedding party, and therefore fasting is out of place.' But a more penetrating application of this same kind of criticism. carries us further. The inventive evangelist who added verse 20 from his own resources has been severely lectured for perverting the parabolic saying in verse 19 into allegory, and then continuing the allegory mechanically in verse 20, on the line of the history of Jesus and His Church. But there is something to be said for him, nevertheless. What is the tertium comparationis which would make it possible for Jesus to compare His disciples to guests at a wedding, for whom fasting would be out of place? It neither is nor can be anything else than the conception of Jesus Himself as the Bridegroom. But this is an allegorical conception. To suppose that Jesus spoke of Himself as a Bridegroom, or as the Bridegroom, is to suppose that He had recourse to allegory-a supposition which is nothing short of distressing to many honourable men. Hence we are rather to suppose that the whole passage is due to the productive activity of the Church. Jesus really had no part in it. The transaction which it perpetuates was not one which took place between John and Jesus, but between the disciples of the two Masters. It has no meaning for the time to which it is said to belong, but only for the future. After Jesus died, His
1 The Death of Christ, p. 23 f.
2 Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Marci, p. 20: 'Es schimmert also schon in 219 der allegorische Sinn durch (auch in dem Ausdruck so lange der Bräutigam bei ihnen ist statt während der Hochzeit), und man darf 2 20 nicht davon abschneiden.'
disciples departed from His practice. They took over from John's disciples not only baptism but prayer (Luke II1) and fasting. Jesus is here represented as giving them permission for the fasting, though a permission that only comes into effect after His death.'
All this, we have no hesitation in saying, is as dull as it is gratuitous. No one denies that there were in the lifetime of Jesus followers of John and Pharisees as well as disciples of Jesus Himself. They represented different types of religion, in spirit and observance, and the differences between them were both reflected on by Jesus independently, and discussed by their adherents. There is a notable word of Jesus about fasting in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6 16 ff.); in Matt. II 2-19, and in the parallel passages in Luke, Jesus expressly compares Himself and John as religious leaders, and points the difference between them in the very sense of this passage; and He frequently came into collision with the representatives of Pharisaism on ritual observances of an analogous character (v. Mark 71, Matt. 151f). It is simply a mistake, therefore, to say with Wellhausen that the subject has no significance for the time at which it is introduced, but only for the future: the subject is one of a class which was undoubtedly discussed by Jesus oftener than once or twice. But if we recognise this, it will not be without influence on our interpretation and appreciation of the passage as a whole. If Jesus is the Speaker, His words must be something else than the legitimation of the practice of the early Church as to fasting, in contrast with the practice of the disciples in His lifetime. Nothing is less credible in the lips of Jesus than such artificial and prosaic legalism. But the words cease to be legal and prosaic, they become personal and inspired, poetic and moving, above the common measure
All this is borrowed from Wellhausen as above.
even of the words of Jesus, provided we admit the possibility that Jesus could speak of Himself as the Bridegroom. And why should it be impossible? It is the same thought which meets us again in the parable-with allegoric traits in it no doubt, but why not?-of the king who makes a marriage for his son (Matt. 222). It has echoes in Eph. 5 25 ff. and in Rev. 19, 21. It has antecedents in the Old Testament conception of God's relation to Israel. Certainly it is an extraordinary thing that Jesus should have conceived in this way His relation to the new people of God which was gathering round Him, but everything in Jesus is extraordinary. After the incident and the self-revelation of verses 1 to 12, we do not expect platitude or commonplace here; and the sense which Wellhausen extracts is poorer than platitude or commonplace. With the Bridegroom among them, the disciples can fairly be compared to a marriage party in which fasting would be incongruous; and what can be truer to nature than that the Bridegroom, even while he defends their joyousness, should become sensible, in the very disposition of those who question it, of that suspicion and malignity toward Himself which would one day end in murder, and turn the joy of the bridal party into a sorrow in which fasting would be sadly spontaneous? The unity, the inner truth and the poetic charm of the whole utterance are indisputable, unless we deny that Jesus could think of Himself as the Bridegroom; and for such a denial there is no ground except that it implies a consciousness on Jesus' part of Himself and of His place in God's work which men are resolved, on grounds with which historical criticism has nothing to do, not to recognise. As it stands, the revelation which it makes of Jesus is in harmony with everything which has hitherto been presented to us in the record, and we need have no hesitation in replying on it as true.
THE UNPARDONABLE SIN: Mark 3
(Matt. 12 24-32, Luke 12 10)
We have already examined, in the source common to Matthew and Luke, the words of Jesus about a sin for which there is no forgiveness. The saying on this subject in Mark, though it differs by not mentioning the Son of Man, throws an equally striking light on Jesus' consciousness of Himself. It is pronounced with a solemn assurance of its truth. 'Verily I say unto you that all things shall be forgiven to the sons of men, the sins and the blasphemies wherewithsoever they have blasphemed. But whoso shall have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit hath not forgiveness for ever, but is guilty of an eternal sin.' How is this sin committed? The Holy Spirit is that divine power which is manifested in Jesus as He casts out evil spirits; it is not something distinct from Him and to be contrasted with Him; it is simply God acting through Him for the deliverance of men from Satan. There are cases in which God acts, as it were, from behind a screen, and it is possible not to recognise Him, and to sin or blaspheme inadvertently and therefore pardonably; but in the case before us it is different. The works that Jesus did were so palpably the works of God, the operations of His holy redeeming power, that inadvertent failure to recognise them for what they were was impossible. The dullest spectator was bound to say, as the magicians of Egypt did of Moses, This is the finger of God (Ex. 819, Luke 11 20): nothing but the blackest malignity could whisper, He has an unclean spirit, He casts out demons by Beelzebub. Nothing could more convincingly show how entirely Jesus identifies Himself with the cause of God and His Kingdom. That absolute significance of his Person and His work to which reference has been so frequently made already is the
fundamental idea here also. The solemnity and vehemence with which He speaks-'hath not forgiveness for ever,' 'is guilty of an eternal sin'-reminds us of the words in which He pronounces woes on the impenitent cities (it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, for Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment than for you'), or of the awful warning to whoso shall deny Him before men (him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven'). The cure of demoniacs had a peculiar value for Jesus as a demonstration that God's victory over Satan was actually in process of accomplishment, that the Kingdom of God, if one might dare to say it, was no longer a thing to be waited for, but had come to men while as yet they did not realise it (Matt. 12 28); but the victory of God and the coming of His Kingdom are identified with Jesus and His work. They are mediated for the world through Him, and it is because things so great are mediated through Him that unpardonable guilt attaches to those who slanderously misinterpret what He does. One may be excused if he hesitates between the forms in which Jesus' saying has been preserved by Mark and by the other early source, but there is no doubt that in either form the divine power of God at work for the redemption of men is identified with Jesus in His own words. In His own mind-we have the most solemn assurance of it-He had the same place as the Mediator of God's salvation which He has always had in Christian faith.
THE MESSIAH AND THE CROSS
Such passages as those we have just examined reveal or rather betray the consciousness of Jesus as to His place in the world, and in the working out of God's purposes towards men. What He is, however, cannot be told, unless it has been in a sense discovered. The