Outlines Of New Testament History -Rev. Francis E. Gigot D.D.



(11–18 Oct.):

              1. Departure from Galilee:

              “After His brethren were gone up”—and “As it were in secret.”




              2. During the Celebration at Jerusalem:

              Before the arrival of Jesus: Frame of mind of the authorities and of the people towards Him.




                            After the arrival of Jesus:

              In the midst of the feast.


                                          Incidents of the last great day of the festival.




              3. After the celebration

              Short sojourn in Judæa:

              The woman taken in adultery brought to Him.


                                          The blind man healed adores Jesus.




                            Return to Galilee.






              Features of this Departure (Luke 9:15, 52 a).




              Incidents on His way through


              Rejection from a certain town.


                                          Sending of the seventy-two disciples; object of their mission; their return.





              Jesus instructs His disciples.


                                          He makes a deep impression upon the people.


                                          He unmasks more and more the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.


                                          He laments over the sin and coming ruin of Jerusalem.


§ 1. The Feast of Tabernacles (11–18 October)

1. Departure from Galilee. The feast of Tabernacles spoken of by St. John (7:2) was the most joyous of the three yearly festivals prescribed by the Law. It had been instituted to commemorate the dwelling of the Israelites in booths in the wilderness, and at the same time, to return thanks to Jehovah for the completed ingathering of the fruits of the goodly land which He had given to His people, and which He ever claimed as peculiarly His own. It fell on the fifteenth day of the seventh month—September or beginning of October—and was celebrated five days after the great day of Atonement, in which all the sins of Israel were declared forgiven, a circumstance which added very much to the joyous character of the feast of Tabernacles. During the seven days it lasted, the people dwelt in booths constructed of branches of trees, and erected on the terrace-like roofs of the houses, in the courts of the Temple, in the streets, etc.

Two ceremonies peculiar to this celebration are especially to be noticed. Every morning while the sacrifice was being prepared, a priest left the Temple accompanied by a joyous procession, and went to the pool of Siloe to draw water, and after his return he poured it in the sight of all before the Lord, as a memorial of the water from the rock of Horeb. The second ceremony occurred at the close of each day in the Court of the Women, where four golden candelabra were lighted amid the joyful acclamations of the people, in remembrance of the pillar of fire which had guided their ancestors.

As the feast of Tabernacles “was at hand” the “brethren” of Jesus, on their departure from Capharnaum—probably a week or ten days before the festival began—came to Our Lord. Not believing in His Messianic claims, they ironically advised Him to leave the remote province of Galilee, and to avail Himself of this period of national assemblage at Jerusalem to display His wonderful miracles before all those who would wish to be His disciples.

Jesus replied to His advisers that, differently from them, He had to choose the opportune time to present Himself in Jerusalem, because of the hatred the world had for His character and His mission. He then added, “Go you up to this festival day, but I go not up to this festival day; because my time is not accomplished.” From these words of Our Lord His brethren understood that if He intended to go to Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles He did not care to start with them; accordingly they left Him behind in Galilee. Some time after their departure He also started for the Holy City, but with all the secrecy naturally required by the murderous designs of the Jewish authorities.|

2. During the Celebration at Jerusalem. Meantime, the festivities were going on in Jerusalem, and both the authorities and the people were on the lookout for Jesus. Murmurs secret or half-stifled “for fear of the Jews” ran among the multitudes, some exalting His virtues, others representing Him as a dangerous man.

“About the midst of the festival” Jesus appeared in the Temple and took His station as a public teacher. Not having graduated in the rabbinical schools of the time, He was not supposed to have either the knowledge or the mission required to be considered as an official teacher of the people. Soon, however, His enemies noticed that He had a wonderful knowledge of Holy Writ, and they learned from His own lips that He had received both His doctrine and His mission from a higher authority than theirs, namely, from God. Having thus defended Himself against encroaching upon the rights and privileges of the Jewish authorities, Our Lord directly charged His enemies with violating one of the clearest precepts of the Mosaic Law. His words referred to the unjust sentence of death pronounced against Him at His last sojourn in the Holy City, because He had healed on the Sabbath the paralytic at the pool of Bethsaida, and all those who were aware of this sentence wondered at the fact that the Jewish rulers should allow Jesus to speak freely after they had decreed He should be arrested whenever found in Judæa. Some of His hearers asked, therefore, “Have the rulers known for a truth that this is the Christ?” Others rejected His Messiahship because unable to reconcile their knowledge about Our Lord’s origin with their notions respecting the origin of the Messias, while more, on the contrary, believed in Him on the strength of His miracles.

Amid this confused discussion, no one complied with the standing order of the authorities to arrest Jesus; nay more, when the Pharisees finally sent officers to apprehend Him, their messengers, overawed by the calm and solemnity of His words, failed to carry out their mandate,

On the seventh, “the last and great” day of the festival, Jesus publicly alluded to the first ceremony above described, the drawing of water from the pool of Siloe, and applying it to Himself, He invited all to come to Him to quench their thirst by means of the waters at His command. This started new discussions among the multitudes about Our Lord’s Messiahship, and there were actual though unsuccessful attempts to secure His person. Meanwhile, the Sanhedrists found that they could not depend on their own officers to apprehend Jesus, and they censured them for surrendering themselves to the popular deception in favor of one condemned by all the rulers of the nation. Whereupon, one of these very rulers, the Sanhedrist Nicodemus (he that came to Him by night), interfered in Our Lord’s behalf, and pointed out to his colleagues the illegal character of a condemnation of any man without a hearing. His moderate words met with a violent accusation of favoring a self-condemned party, since it was a foregone conclusion in their eyes that “out of Galilee a prophet riseth not.” Their meeting, however, was broken up without coming to any decision, perhaps because some members of the assembly agreed with Nicodemus.

3. After the Celebration. Early the next day, which was also observed as a festival by the Jews, Our Lord, who had spent the night at the Mount of Olives, came into the Temple and began to teach the people. This the Jewish rulers had anticipated, and with a view to entrap Him they brought to Him a woman taken in adultery and requested His decision concerning her. With His divine prudence, Jesus escaped the many snares hidden in their request, skilfully turned against His enemies the feelings of the surrounding multitudes, and dismissed the adulteress with these simple words: “Go, and now sin no more.”

On this same eventful Sabbath day, and apparently in the Court of the Women, where stood the candelabra which were lighted every night during the feast of Tabernacles, Our Lord, alluding to this ceremony, uttered these memorable words: “I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” This high claim of Jesus was at once challenged by His opponents, and this gave Him an opportunity to multiply His allusions to His Messiahship and divine descent. The careful reader of the sacred text cannot help feeling that the animosity of the Jews was steadily growing as Jesus unfolded His lofty claims, and as He reproached His enemies with their criminal unbelief and murderous designs. At length their animosity reached its height when He identified Himself with Jehovah in these significant words: “Before Abraham was made, I am,” and they would have stoned Him to death had not Jesus hid Himself and gone out of the Temple,

Leaving the Temple, Our Lord saw a man blind from his birth, and He miraculously cured him, to the great amazement of the people, who could hardly believe that the one cured was the very man they were wont to see begging at the gate of the Temple. As the cure had taken place when the Sabbath was not yet over, information respecting it was conveyed to the Jewish authorities, who, being divided among themselves regarding the character of one who did not keep the Sabbath, resolved to investigate the case with the utmost care. Accordingly, the man who was reported to have been healed was subjected to a lengthened and searching examination. Next, his parents were summoned and closely questioned. Finally, the evidence in favor of the miracle proving unassailable, the Sanhedrists did their best to overawe the healed man, and thereby prevent him from ascribing the miracle to Jesus, of whom they spoke as a sinner, as a man without clearly proved mission. But the one who had received his sight argued so powerfully in favor of Our Lord’s holiness and divine mission, that, no longer able to bear with him, the Sanhedrists pronounced against him a sentence of excommunication.

The news of this excommunication soon reached Jesus, who, having sought out the healed man, imparted to him the knowledge that He was the “Son of God,” and received from him a fervent homage of grateful adoration.

It is highly probable that after these events Jesus did not remain long in the territory of Judæa, but rather hastened to return into Galilee; for the Jewish rulers, who were bent on His destruction even before the feast of Tabernacles, must have been much exasperated by their discussions with Him and among themselves during its celebration.

§ 2. Last Departure from Galilee

1. Features of this Departure. After a brief sojourn in Galilee, Jesus left this province for the last time. This departure was an important step in the closing period of Our Lord’s life, and this is why it is described by St. Luke in words peculiarly solemn and impressive: “And it came to pass, when the days of His assumption were accomplishing, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” From the beginning of this journey to the Holy City, Jesus contemplated the ignominious passion and death which awaited Him there, and He gave vent to feelings in harmony with this prospect. To those around Him He appeared like one who, conscious of great perils to be en countered, fears, yet unflinchingly faces them.|

St. Luke mentions another feature of this last departure of Our Lord from Galilee, namely, its great publicity. Far from going up to Jerusalem “in private,” as He had done quite lately, He now appears surrounded with numerous followers. Indeed, their number is so great, that to secure for them sufficient food and lodging in the places they will traverse, He feels it needful to send before Him many messengers. The mission of seventy-two other disciples very soon afterwards added considerably to the public character of this journey, at the end of which Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph at the head of countless multitudes.

2. Incidents on His Way through Samaria. Leaving Galilee, Jesus proceeded southward through the plain of Esdraelon, and soon reached the border-land lying between Galilee and Samaria. Meanwhile, His messengers having arrived at a Samaritan village—very probably Ginæa announced His coming as that of the Messias on His way to Jerusalem. The inhabitants of this village shared manifestly the enmity of their race against the Jews, and hence they declined to have anything to do with Galileans who professed to be on their way to the Jewish capital. James and John would have punished this refusal of hospitality by calling down fire from heaven, and thus would have crushed the first attempt at resistance against Jesus, who they thought was about to assert His royal claims in Jerusalem. But Jesus rebuked His apostles, saying: “You know not of what spirit you are,” and they went into another town, probably in Galilee.

From this town Jesus passed eastward to the Jordan, and soon afterwards entered Peræa. Before, however, penetrating into this province, He selected and sent before Him seventy-two of His disciples. This large deputation was naturally calculated to gather crowds around Jesus in the places He would traverse, the more so because Our Lord’s messengers were to confirm their message by great miracles. The instructions which they received were about the same as those given to the apostles in their temporary mission through Galilee, and on the occasion of the menaces threatened against those who will not receive them, Jesus uttered awful woes against the unbelieving cities of Corozain, Bethsaida and Capharnaum, which about thirty years afterwards were but heaps of ruins.

The seventy-two rejoined their Master at a fixed place, and evinced the greatest joy because even evil spirits had been subjected to them in Our Lord’s name. Jesus rejoiced at their success, seeing in it the presage of the downfall of the empire of Satan, but at the same time He taught them that the moral worth of His ministers is proportionate, not to their wonderful powers even over demons, but to their persevering faithfulness to God’s grace. Then Jesus praised the divine decree that while the proud minds would not understand the things of God, the humble would enjoy this inestimable privilege.

3. Incidents on the Way through Peræa. While journeying through Peræa Our Lord availed Himself of every opportunity to train His apostles for their future mission. With them in particular he insisted on the great dangers connected with the possession of worldly riches, and among the special rewards He promised as a return for their generous giving up of everything to follow Him He reckoned the privilege of undergoing persecutions for His sake. During this same journey He gave them that divine form of prayer which is so familiar to us under the name of the Lord’s Prayer, and which ever suggested to Christ’s followers the proper frame of mind in which to address God in prayer.| For their own special benefit He delivered several parables well calculated to inspire them with the various feelings which should animate them in the discharge of their future apostolic duties.

If from the disciples of Jesus we turn to the multitudes which gathered around Him it is easy to notice that in His passage through Peræa Our Lord produced a deep impression upon men, of whom probably only a few had already seen and heard Him. Thus after He had cast out an evil spirit they began to consider Him as the Messias, and to expect—despite the calumnious charges of His enemies—that He would soon give the great sign which, according to their notions, was to usher in the Messianic era. They were most desirous to listen to His words, and hence they crowded around Him in very large numbers; indeed, on one occasion “they trod one upon another” in their eagerness to hear Him. They admired the depth of His doctrine,| recognized His perfect uprightness, and they all rejoiced at the miracles He performed and at the victories He won in His contest with the Pharisees.*

As might naturally be expected, these enemies of Christ kept on His track during His journey through Peræa and did their utmost to undermine His popularity. But Our Lord, who was perfectly safe on a territory outside of the direct influence of the Jewish rulers, denounced on every occasion their hypocritical doctrines and practices. It seems, therefore, very probable that when some of them reported to Jesus that Herod Antipas (on whose territory He then was) had a mind to kill Him they simply wanted Him to hasten His passage into Judæa, because they felt it a hopeless task to check the growth of His influence in the country beyond the Jordan.†

A last prominent feature of this journey of Our Saviour through Persea is connected with the fate which awaited the Jewish nation, and to which Jesus repeatedly alluded as He advanced towards the province of Judæa. He knew that the nation would not profit by His invitation to penance—nay, more, would even put to death its only Saviour, and the contemplation of the coming ruin of the Holy City drew from His loving heart the most tender expressions of grief.

It was in this frame of mind that He continued His way to Judæa, unwilling to remain beyond the reach of His deadly enemies, because He had been sent to lay down His life for the sins of the world.

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