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custom of baptizing had been in common and ordinary practice and use amongst the Jewish nation for many hundreds of years before John ever appeared among them ; but still they regarded with wonder, and question why he meant to baptize as with any reference to the Messiah
All the four Evangelists concur in the substance of the answer of the Baptist to this question, namely, that, although a well-known symbol of purification is the element of my baptism, I baptize not to establish my own authority, but to make disciples for the Messiah, Who will very soon appear; and Who is infinitely superior to me, more so than the greatest among human beings is to the meanest person in his family 5. The testimony which he thus bears to our blessed Lord, is conceived in terms so respectful and magnificent, that no one could ever after be encouraged to draw the least comparison between the Messiah and the messenger. He declares the preference due to the former, whose forerunner he was, with a reverence as profound, and a distance as great, as any words can express . SECT. XV.-. The Conversion of Andrew, Peter, John, Philip, where John was baptizing, probably with the view of attending upon his ministry; for it is evident that He appeared among his audience the very day after he had had his interview with the Priests and Levites’: “ John seeth Jesus, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” He thus points out Jesus as the expiatory sacrifice; “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world ® ;" — the Lamb typified by all the legal sacrifices, and especially that of the Passover; the Lamb that taketh away sin,-not some particular sin, but sin in general; the strength, as well as the guilt, of sin; our inclination to it, as well as our obligation to the punishment of it; the sin, not of some particular persons, but of the whole world ; not only of Abraham, but of Adam's posterity; the sin of the Gentiles, as well as of the Jews”; the grand atonement for the sins of mankind foretold by the prophet Isaiah'. This is the first time that John pointed out Christ personally, or demonstrated Him to the people, – This is the Man. He had hitherto spoken of Him, and borne witness of Him continually, to all that came to be baptized by him, both before and after the baptism of Christ; but till now he never showed them who it was of whom he Dr. Robinson.
and Nathanael.—John. i. 35–51. AFTER the temptation, Christ took up His abode, as it would seem, near to the place * Dr. Lightfoot. • Bishop Mann. « Dean Stanhope.
spoke so much, and with so much honour. This was, indeed, the first revealing of Himself that Jesus had made since his baptism and temptation; and it was now seasonable and necessary for John to demonstrate Him?.
It would appear as if, on this first occasion, the Baptist had showed Him openly among the people; but, “ the next day after,” John pointed Him out to two of his disciples “as the Lamb of God.” One of the two was “Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.” The other is thought to have been St. John the Evangelist himself, who usually conceals his own name, and we may the more readily understand it so, because, when St. Matthew records the calling of the Apostles, he names them in order of the two sons of Jonas first, and then the two sons of Zebedee. Andrew and John, thus following Jesus, were accosted by Him, “What seek ye?” to which they most respectfully reply, by asking of Him his habitation. Nothing is said certainly of this habitation of Christ; the Greek word employed would seem to signify an inn or place of public entertainment, and as it could scarcely be far from the place where John was baptizing, it may have been some hired lodging in which the Saviour temporarily abided, although some have concluded that Jesus lived at this time at the city : Dr. Lightfoot.
3 Dr. Whitby.
of Capernaum". His temporary abode at any place is not a matter of much moment; that which is of greater moment, is, that the Man “who spake as never man spake,” so won upon his hearers, by the preaching of “that day,” that they were convinced they had really “ found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” Simon Peter was then brought by his brother Andrew, and Jesus at once shows his Divinity by naming him, whom He had never before seen or known, and evinces his intuitive knowledge of character by immediately giving him a name descriptive of his natural firmness and resolution. It does not appear, from the order in which the story is related by the several Evangelists, that Jesus at this time called any to be his more intimate associates or Apostles, or that He did so until after the imprisonment of John, from which time, St. Matthew says, “ he began to preach, and to say, Repent;” but He was, doubtless, already followed by many who were induced to do so by the fame He acquired by his sayings. “The next day Jesus findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me, and Philip findeth Nathanael.” We must all be astonished at the superior perception of Christ under such a circumstance as is related of Nathanael, when He said of him, at first sight,
. Dr. Lightfoot.
“ Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” It seems that this was a common name and title by which Nathanael was known amongst his neighbours, and those that knew him, from his very honest, upright, and exemplary dealing, converse, and integrity : SO that he was commonly called the guileless Israelite. Our Saviour calls him by this very name, as he approached Him; whereupon Nathanael questions Him how He came to know him, that He could so directly hit upon his common denomination. But he was still more startled, when the Saviour referred to some good action that he had done under the figtree, apart from the eyes of men, before Philip had called him ;-it may have been praying, vowing, or some other deed, which none but the eye of God could have discovered. Then it was that this proof of Divine Spirit displayed by Jesus, at once so perfectly convinced Nathanael, that he at once acknowledged Him to be “the Son of God, and the King of Israel 6.”.
A remarkable expression, exceedingly usual in the speeches of our Saviour throughout the Gospel, comes under our observation for the first time, in the rejoinder we have now to consider, which our Lord makes to Nathanael. Our version translates it by the adverb “ verily;" but the original word employed is “ Amen,” a s Lightfoot.