« PreviousContinue »
that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, Matt. iii. 13. to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
knowledging Christ to be the Messiah, exclaims, “ I have need to be baptized of Thee,” (by the Holy Spirit).
3. The baptism of Christ is placed after the history of John's ministry, and before his imprisonment.
The Evangelists, like the writers of the Old Testament, do not exactly observe the chronological order, as Whiston supposes they did in this instance. As John was the forerunner of Christ, it might have been expected that they would follow the plan they have actually adopted ; that is, would put together all those actions of John which characterized the second Elias : and would then proceed to the ministry of our Lord, beginning with his baptism, in which he was solemnly anointed by the Holy Spirit to his high office.
4. It appears, from Luke iii. 21. that Christ did not come to be baptized till all the rest of the people had been baptized.
The expression, ¿v Tū Barrioonvai, implies that Christ came to John while the people were still continuing to desire baptism from John ; it is not uerd ró. Campbell translates the passage, “ Now when John baptized all the people, Jesus was likewise baptized.”
5. The Baptist was imprisoned immediately after the baptism of Christ, Luke iv. 13, 14.
But this observation has been already answered. Whiston assumes that St. Luke wrote in order of time ; whereas he has merely anticipated the relation of the imprisonment of John, that he might better conclude for a time the history of the Baptist.
To these arguments Pilkington adds, that John did not know Christ till he had seen the Spirit descending on him ;—but before his baptism, when the Spirit descended, he declared he knew him.
To this the Archbishop replies : “ John i. 31. 33. may be reconciled with Matt. ii. 14. by supposing that John, for wise reasons, knew not Jesus personally till he came to be baptized; though he must have heard before of Jesus's name and wonderful birth, from his own relations. God seems to have revealed to the Baptist, soon after he entered on his ministry, that the visible descent of the Spirit should point out to him the Messiah, John i. 33. When Jesus came to be baptized, Matt. iii. 14. it is probable John knew him by a supernatural impulse ; as Samuel knew Saul and David, 1 Sam. ix. 17. xvi. 12; and as Ahijab discovered the wife of Jeroboam, 1 Kings xiv. 5. See also Luke ii. 28. 38. and afterwards the sign foretold, John i. 33. confirmed the Baptist in his belief that Jesus was the Christ. Le Clerc's Paraphrase on Matt. iii. 14. is, Quod afflatu prophetico ab eo dicebatur: nam Jesum non norât. Harm. p. 40. And F. Spanheim says, dub. evang. 2. p. 147. Nihil aliud propositum Joanni Baptistæ nisi ostendere se non ex familiaritate aliquâ ante contractâ Christum novisse ; sed ex merâ revelatione cælesti; adeoque nihil a se dari nec cognationi, nec amicitiæ, nec gratiæ, nec collusioni alicui clandestinæ. The Baptist is not to be understood as saying, he did not know Jesus, but by a sign from heaven ; see Dr. Priestley's Harm. p. 78. but that he knew him not, before he came to be baptized, and that God had promised a sign by which he should be
Mark i. 9.
Bethabara,&c. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be Matt. fil. 14.
baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to Matt. ili. 15. be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness 49. Then he suffered him: And [he] was baptized of John in Jordan.
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up Matt. ii. 16. straightway out of the water :
And straightway coming up out of the water; and praying,
lo! * Or, cloven, he saw the heavens * opened
unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descend- Matt. il. 16. ing like a dove 50,
Mark i. 10.
Matt. iii. 16.
Mark i. 10.
known; which sign, intended for a full confirmation, was preceded by an inspired knowledge of Jesus.”—Newcome, Harm. notes, p. 6.
These apparently inconsistent passages have been reconciled in various other ways. Hales, vol. ii. part ii. p. 731. is of opinion that John knew Christ personally, but was not informed of his dignity and office, till he was assured of it by a miracle.
Lightfoot supposes that John knew not that Christ was in the world till he came to be baptized-when, knowing him by the Spirit, John forbade him ;-and the sign of the Holy Ghost, descending from heaven, was the sign given him for assurance and confirmation. Vide Elsley on John i. 33.
I have discussed this question at greater length than to many will appear necessary: because Pilkington is one of my authorities, and has written a dissertation expressly on the subject.
48 The time had now arrived when the Messiah was to begin his public career, and to break forth from the obscurity of his lowly life. He commenced it in that manner which was most suited to his dignity as a spiritual Being, by an act of obedience to the established law of his heavenly Father, accompanied with the most fervent prayer. On thuis important occasion, in the presence of the assembled multitude, a voice from heaven declares him to be “ The beloved Son of God, in whom he was well pleased." His divine mission now received the miraculous confirmation which had always satisfied the ancient patriarchs and fathers of the Jewish Church. It received the testimony of the “ Bath Col," or “ voice from heaven;" and the visible glory of the Shechinah hovered over him.
The question, whether the inauguration of Christ into his bigh office was not as public, and therefore as generally known, as that of Moses, will be discussed in the note to 2 Peter i. 16. Danzius, in a learned tract preserved by Meuschen, in his N. T. ex Talmude, has treated this curious and interesting subject at some length.
49 Christ came to John to be baptized. He was baptized by John not of necessity, not for his own sake, but for ours. He was baptized that he might confer honour on John, sanction his ministry, and commend it to the doubting Jews. By this act he made himself the head of all who by baptism confess their
50 See next page.
Matt. fil. 17.
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years
Mark i. 11.
Luke iii. 23.
MATT. iii. part of ver. 13. 16, and 17. 13 f Then cometh Jesus from Galilee
f Mark 1. 9. 16 --and-the heavens were opened
Luke iii. 21. 17 -a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
sins, and are admitted into the Church. He sanctified baptism by thus subjecting himself to it, that man might not despise it as an useless or unmeaning ceremony. He would not that men should refuse to come to the baptism of their Lord, when he had not disdained the baptism of his servant. By baptism he shadowed out the difference between the carnal and spiritual state of man, and between our fallen condition and his own; first mean, then glorious ;--first earthly, then heavenly ;—first mortal, then immortal ;--first buried under the earth, as the worshipper was buried under the water, and rising therefrom spiritual, changed, and glorious. Christ by his baptism renewed his covenant with his Father; and fulfilled all righteousness, by complying with every law, which proceeded from the wisdom of God, and was designed only for the happiness and restoration of man.-Vide Witsius de Vita Joannis :-Miscell. Sac. vol. ii. p. 537.
50 As a dove hovers over her nest with an undulating and gentle motion, so did the emblem of the presence of God wave and bend, and rise and fall, over the head of our Saviour. Such seems to be the most defensible, as well as the most generally received, interpretation. It is consistent also with the analogy that may be found between the old and new covenants (a). At the beginning of the material creation the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters; the Spirit of God, “ dove like, sat brooding on the vast abyss (6)."
(a) This view of the analogy between the action of the Spirit at the Creation, and at the baptism of Christ, I find confirmed by a singular tradition among the Jews. In a note in Brescith Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 4. 4. on Genesis i. 2. we read, “ Et spiritus Dei: intelligitur Spiritus Regis Messiæ, de quo dicitur, Isa. xi. 1. Et quiescit super illum Spiritus Domini." Post quæ verba allegata statim hæc addit R. Ephraim in Gr. Gibborim ad Genes. 1. 2. ngnya, “Incubuit, sicut columba, quæ volitat super nido, illum attingens, et non attingens.” Pergunt vero in Brescith Rabba : “Quomodo vero ministratur Spiritus Messiæ, et venit movens se super faciam aquarum? Resp. Quando vos movebitis corda vestra, sicat aquas, per pænitentiam; quum admodum dicitur," Thren. ii. 19. “Effunde, sicut aquas, cor tuum coram Domino. Intelligitur Spiritus Messiæ. Quum primum enim ille se super aquis legis commovit, statim facta est redemptio.” Vide Schoetgeneii Horæ Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 9 and 10. This, then, is another instance of the wonderful fulfilment, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, of many of the singular traditions entertained among the Jews respecting their Messiah. (6) The word in Genesis non70 without points, must be considered as a participle of Hiphil, the causative; with points it is the participle of Pihel, the intensive ; a signification much more consistent
both with the sense of the passage in Genesis, and the description of the descent of the emblematical representation of the power of the Spirit in the Evangelical narrative.
MARK i. part of ver. 10.
LUKE iii. 21, 22. g Matt, ili. 13. 21 Now_5 it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized—the heaven was
22 And the Holy Ghost descended-upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleaseda
The Temptation of Christ 51, J.P.4739. Matt. iv. 1-11. MARK iv. 12, 13. LUKE iv. 1–13. V. Æ. 26.
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost re- Luke iv. I. Wilderness. h Matt. iv. i. turned from Jordan : and was led by the Spirit
into the wilderness.
In order to understand the passage of the New Testament, which is contained in this section, and is justly supposed to be attended with many difficulties, it is necessary to consider the Messiah under that name which is alike given to him in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, and in those of the Jewish traditions, which may be received with most confidence. Christ must be considered under the character of the second Adam, who came into the world to fulfil the same law which the first Adam had violated. That he might more evidently and effectually accomplish this object, it was appointed that he should be tempted like unto Adam, and undergo the same trial.
If we consider the Messiah in this point of view as the second Adam, it seems possible that we shall more easily solve many of the difficulties which have been supposed to attend the literal interpretation of this interesting narrative. The Old Testament begins with an account of the preparation of the material world for the accommodation of the first Adam ; the New Testament relates the preparation of the spiritual world, or Church, for the reception of the second Adam.
When the time of his creation came, the first Adam was formed by the power of God, out of the then unpolluted earth ; the second Adam was created by the same power of the Most High, in a similar state of innocence and perfection.
When the first Adam was ushered into the world, he was a perfect man, and his Father blessed him. When the second Adam had attained to the fulness of manhood, he was, while submitting for our sakes to the rite of baptism, blessed from above: both were sinless; both were, in a peculiar sense, the sons of God, and partakers of the human nature. The first Adam was placed in Paradise, and fell into the Wilderness. The second Adam was placed in the Wilderness, and regained that Paradise which his predecessor had forfeited. Adam was driven out of Paradise into the Wilderness, and banished from the tree of life. Christ was led or driven into the Wilderness by the same Spirit, to undergo the same trial, and by a sinless obedience to revoke the sentence of condemnation, open again the gates of Paradise, and regain the tree of life. In him we have another perfect man, as yet untouched by the Tempter. To him, therefore, as to the
Mark i. 12.
And immediately the Spirit driveth him into Wilderness.
i the wilderness,
first Adam, the evil spirit makes his approaches from without, proposing his suggestions in a personal conversation ; for as the nature of Christ, like that of Adam, was uncorrupted by sin, the wicked spirit had no immediate access to the heart. It was for this cause that Eve was tempted in a personal conversation; so also was tempted the seed of the woman, who was to bruise the serpent's head.
To shew, however, still more clearly the evident parallel that exists, between the temptations of the first and second Adam, it will be necessary to examine the peculiar circumstances of each event.
According to St. John, all the sin that tempts mankind may be comprized in these three terms; the lust of the flesh,—the lust of the eye,-and the pride of life ; and to these three may be reduced the temptations both of Adam and of Jesus. In the temptation in Eden these three principles of evil are evidently alluded to, in the description of the forbidden fruit. In the temptation in the wilderness, Christ was tempted like unto Adam; and in a more general sense, like unto all the children of Adam.
Adam was first tempted to the lust of the flesh, by indulging his natural appetite for food, in a manner which was contrary to the express command of God. Christ was tempted to gratify his wish for food in a manner forbidden by the spirit of the law of God. He was tempted to supply himself with provision, by devoting that miraculous power which was given him for the benefit of mankind, and for the more effectual demonstration of the truth of his mission, to the gratification of his human nature.
Adam was, secondly, tempted to the lust of the eye: “ He took of the fruit, because it was pleasant to the eye." And the evil spirit enforces the power of the motives to disobedience, by perverting the understanding, in misrepresenting Scripture itself. Our Lord was, secondly, tempted by the perversion of Scripture itself, to indulge that feeling which is gratified by the admiration and homage of the world. He was invited by the Tempter to proclaim himself at once, by the performance of an useless and ostentatious miracle, the promised Messiah of the Jews. He was invited to encourage their false notions of a Messiah, and to obtain immediate possession of his promised kingdom, by throwing himself from the pinnacle (or wing, or battlement, or royal portico, for the word a tepúylov, is thus variously rendered,) of the temple, and claim the homage of the crowds assembled to worship there. For the Jews interpreted literally the prediction of Malachi iii. 1. and expected that the Messiah, by some extraordinary demonstration of his power, would suddenly come to his temple. The pilgrimage which our Lord came to undergo, was one which was expressly and painfully opposed to all that train of feelings and dispositions, so pleasing to our fallen nature. The Captain of our salvation was to become perfect through sufferings. He was to be poor, despised, insulted, and rejected. At the time when his painful career was beginning, he was tempted to avoid his appointed course of suffering, and to assume at once his destined honours, as the Messiah of Israel. No evil, he was assured, could happen to him, if he were the Son of God ;—for he shall give his angels charge over thee,—they shall bear thee up, and protect thee from suffering and from danger.