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and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
The other Disciples, "the brethren," as they have now begun to be called, interpret the Lord's obscure saying as intimating the immortality of the favoured follower; that he is to be exempted from the common lot; reserved till the return of the Lord to "restore again the Kingdom unto Israel;" an event which they judged, even should it be after their death, to be yet not very far off. Our Evangelist notes the error while he records it; is conscious that it is an error, though this saying be still hidden from him, and he as yet understands it not; waiting patiently for the event to explain the prophecy; contenting himself with simply recapitulating the words of the Lord, without venturing on any explanation of them a lesson, it may be observed, for the future ministers of the Word against rash interpretations of the same; a tacit censure of those who revel in the region of unfulfilled prophecy, and, unabashed by former failures, still hazard their presumptuous schemes. But the Scripture is not answerable for the errors of its interpreters. Let us not imagine at any time that we have exhausted the meaning of any passage. Our sense of it may not be the whole sense of it. Very simple and beautiful is the conclusion of this appendix or postscript to his Gospel by our Evangelist. This is not mere oral tradition. The same Apostle who witnessed these things committed his testimony to writing. Here he speaks in the person and with the voice of the Church, avouching the credibility of the witness, and the truth of his testimony. What an amount of conviction in that formula, the testimony of the true Gnostic, "We know." And again, in finally sealing the record, our Evangelist is careful to inform us that he is far from having
1 Acts i. 6-8.
3 Bp. Butler, Anal. ii. 7.
41 St. John ii. 20, 21; iii. 2, 14; v. 15, 18-20; 3 St. John 12.
St. John xx. 30, 31.
exhausted the doings of his Lord. These he has been led to select are but a few out of many. The principle of his selection we have seen; and in this he was guided, in a special sense, by the Holy Ghost. By a sort of proverbial expression he intimates how much has been of necessity omitted. And he adds, with his three Co-Evangelists before him, the solemn and confirmatory Amen, the Verily of his Lord; sealing up the record with such a formula; so setting seal to his testimony.2
St. Luke xxiv. 44-48.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
Here we seem to have the substance and summary of several discourses, sayings of our Lord on various occasions, during the great forty days which came between His Resurrection from the dead and His Ascension into Heaven.3 He is reminding them all through that interval of what He had told them from time to time while He was with them in the flesh, during those three years when He consorted with them, up to the time of His Passion. Then He had foretold them
12 Esdras v. 44; Amos vii. 10; St. John xii. 19. "With as great certainty of truth as height of hyper
bole."-Pearson, On the Creed, Art. ii. 2 St. John iii. 33.
3 Acts i. 3.
that all the things written concerning Him must be fulfilled. Here He is referring to the threefold division of the Old Testament, with which the Jews were familiar, into the Law, that is the Pentateuch, containing the first five books of Moses; the Prophets, beginning with Joshua; and the Psalms, the book which gave its name to the rest of the Canon. The door of their understanding however had hitherto seemed closed. Those plain predictions and their application to Him had as yet effected no entrance into their minds. But now He opened the hitherto closed eyes and ears of their understanding.3 Now they saw that what had happened to Him was only what had been written before concerning Him. Now they see that to which till now they seem to have been blind. Christ, the predicted Messiah, must needs suffer and rise again. Part also of the Divine plan it is that forgiveness of sins upon repentance should be proclaimed in His name. No longer is there need of those sacrifices which were but shadows of things to come. And though the message of mercy must be first proclaimed to the nation of the Jews at their head-quarters, Jerusalem,--it is not to be restricted to them, but from them to sound forth to the Gentiles, to men of all nations. And they are witnesses, let them remember, of these things. And so we find them afterwards testifying continually to these simple facts of history, on which the Christian faith is built, and which no unbeliever has ever been able to explain away.
This is of course a rough division. That called The Prophets comprised Joshua, Judges, the four books of Kings, and the Prophets proper with the exception of Daniel. The Hagiographa at the head of which comes the Psalms, as the chief book of the division, included all the rest.
2 Ps. cxix. 130.
3 St. Luke xxiv. 25-27, 32; Acts xiii. 27; Eph. i. 18.
Acts iv. 18; v. 28; viii. 12; ix. 27.
5 Heb. x. 1.
e. g. Acts ii. 32; iii. 15; v. 32; x. 39; 2 St. Pet. i. 16; 1 St. John i. 1-3.
THE SAME SUBJECT—continued.
St. Luke xxiv. 49.
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
The Apostles seem now to have returned from Galilee to Jerusalem. Once more the Lord joins Himself to their assembly.1 To His previous charge He now adds a promise. He repeats what He had promised already. He promises again, referring to the Baptist's early words, the gift of the Holy Ghost.3 He calls it the promise of His Father, because the Holy Spirit was about to be sent by the Father in the name of the Son, as the result and recompense of His work. And He bids them remain in that place in which they then were, till they had received the promised gift, till they were endued with special power for their peculiar work, till in fact after the day of Pentecost, not many days thence. Jerusalem or Zion was to be the cradle of Christianity." From this Evangelist's more detailed account of our Lord's Ascension in his Acts of the Apostles, it would seem that there was yet another gathering together of the Disciples, when they took the opportunity of asking Him that question, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?" From which it appears that they still retained their old inadequate notion concerning the Messiah's Kingdom. With His death the flame of their hopes had burnt low. With His resurrection it revived. But even yet they had not considered His words, "My Kingdom is not of this world." He does not however now undertake to confute their error. Soon the Spirit should descend and sweep away
1 Acts i. 4.
2 St. Matt. iii. 11. See also Acts xi. 16.
3 Acts i. 5.
4 St. John xiv. 26.
5 Ps. cii. 21, 22; Rom. xi. 26.
all these mists from their minds, guiding them, upon this and every other point, into all truth. So He contents Himself with simply answering, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.' The times and seasons of His acts are among the things He has reserved for Himself. This is one of the secret things which belong unto the Lord our God. But He repeats His promise of the Holy Spirit's help,2 and reminds them of their duty,3 according to His former charge.
St. Luke xxiv. 50, 51.
And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
After that last conversation between our Lord and His Disciples, which may have been held partly during this their last walk together from Jerusalem to Bethany, comes the crowning event of His Ascension. With what different feelings must He and they have measured over that ground again, which they had traversed together evening after evening, not long before, during those days of the Holy Week which preceded His Cross and Passion! Now the task is done, the fight has been fought, the victory won, the Cross carried to the end. He goes to receive His Crown. Arrived at Bethany, in the act of blessing, He is taken up from them into Heaven. What must have been their feelings! We can better imagine than describe them. They watched Him as He went, like Elijah of old, that forerunner and type of Him, in His chariot of a cloud; watched Him going from glory to glory; watched Him far as eye could 3 Compare St. John xxi. 22.
1 Acts i. 7.
2 Acts i. 5, 8.