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We cannot pass on without brief consideration of another notion regarding Jesus and his teaching about the kingdom that has lately won considerable acceptance, not to say enthusiastic advocacy, in "critical" circles. Bousset, for example, maintains that Jesus conceived the kingdom as something in the future and wholly miraculous. It was to come suddenly and with a great display of power. The apocalyptic ideas that we find in the discourses recorded in the thirteenth chapter of Mark's gospel, and in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth of Matthew's, dominate all of the thinking and teaching of Jesus. If this view is correct, and Jesus believed in an immediate and catastrophic consummation of the kingdom, after his lifetime yet near at hand, the remote future is excluded from the scope of his ethical teaching. In other words, all his teaching is of a temporary character, intended to govern his disciples during the brief time that was to elapse before the end of the age-interim ethics, not universal.

In this view of the case, Jesus not only did not teach any absolute ethics, valid for all subsequent ages, but he had no intention of doing such a thing. For all that we know, therefore, his sayings may have no application whatever to the conditions of the present age. Then, if Jesus was only an apocalyptist, and his ethics were only interim ethics, what concern have we with his teachings, or what difference does it make to us what he taught? If he was so entirely and hopelessly astray about the whole subject of the kingdom and its coming, as events proved him to be on this hypothesis, his opinions cannot matter to us more than those of any crack-brained enthusiast. Not merely the divinity of Christ, but any real

significance or authority of Jesus as an ethical teacher, absolutely disappears if this theory is accepted. We had better turn to Aristotle, who at least tried to establish ethics on a basis perpetually true.

But when we come to examine the gospels, it is evident that this theory cannot possibly he held, without a ruling out of one-half of the evidence. That the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus was apocalyptic and catastrophic exclusively, is a theory flatly contradicted by fully half of the sayings attributed to him. If we take into consideration all the evidence as given to us by the gospels, we find him describing the kingdom as both present and future that is to say, a present possession whose full consummation lies in the future, when God's love shall have completely conquered the evil in the world and restored men to his likeness.1 "The kingdom of God is at hand," "The kingdom of God is within (or among) you," are sayings that cannot be fairly ruled out, and they cannot be reconciled with an exclusively apocalyptic conception of the kingdom. The parables of the sower, the seed, the tares, of the mustard seed and the pounds, are not easily reconcilable, to say the least, with the idea of immediate catastrophe.2 Bousset does attempt to explain the parable of the mustard seed in this sense since the mustard plant in the Orient attains its great size in a single summer, therefore Jesus expected

1 Matt. 8:11; 13: 43; 25:34; 26: 29; Mk. 14:25; Luke 13:28; 22:18-29, 30.

2 This idea is even less sustained by the latest documentary criticism than by the gospels as they stand. Neither Schmiedel nor Burkitt seconds Bousset. The apocalyptic element is not prominent in the “nucleus" of Flinders-Petrie; it is wholly absent from the Sermon on the Mount, which gives the core of Jesus's teaching regarding the kingdom.

the kingdom to reach worldwide extent and power in a few years an exegesis as far beside the mark as the inane objection of earlier critics that Jesus committed a scientific blunder in this parable, since the mustard is demonstrably not "the least of all seeds."


The significance and worth of the kingdom, in the mind of Jesus, consisted in the fact that it was the kingdom of God. The deepest need of man's nature is to know God, and this knowledge men sought after, longed for, but never fully attained, until the coming into the world of Jesus of Nazareth. For he first clearly made known to men a God who is our Father in heaven, a Being whose inmost nature is holy love. Gods who hated the world, men had believed in ere this, and trembled before them. A Creator of the world, an omnipotent King, terrible in righteousness, merciful only to the one people whom he had chosen out of the nations to be peculiarly his — such a God the Jews had believed in and slavishly obeyed. But a Father,1 a God who loves all the creatures he has

1 Father is as distinctively the Christian name for God as Jehovah is the Jewish. "Father" as a name for God occurs about a dozen times in the Old Testament, and over two hundred times in the New. Five prayers of Jesus are recorded, and in each of these he addresses God as Father (Matt. 11:25-27; 26:39, 42; Luke 33:34, 46) and in the longest of these the name is thrice repeated. The disciples are bidden to follow his example (Matt. 6:9; 23:9). This was not the current Jewish habit, as the prayers of the Pharisee and Publican testify (Luke 18: 11-13). The fourth Gospel greatly emphasizes the Fatherhood idea, using the term about ninety times. If any deny that this gospel gives an accurate historical reflection of the ideas of Jesus, it must at least be allowed to measure how deeply he had impressed this idea on his disciples.



all, not a chosen race, nor a chosen few with parental solicitude ever seeks the good of all: of such a God the world had not so much as heard. It can hardly be said to believe in such a God now. Good News like this seemed too good to be true. Yet Jesus habitually spoke of God as "my Father"; in his teaching he spoke of him to men as "your Father"; and he taught his disciples to pray to God as "Our Father, who art in Heaven." Aristotle, one of the wisest of pagans, said, "Love to God does not exist; it is absurd to talk of such a thing, for God is an unknowable being." 1 But Jesus came to reveal the Fatherhood of God, and so to make the love of God not only possible but normal, since he is in every way worthy of our love, the one Being who is absolutely and unchangeably good.2

Will it be believed that learned Doctors of Divinity are still arguing whether Jesus warrants anybody but a Christiani.e. a professed follower of his in calling God "Our Father who art in Heaven"? To Christians, they say, he is indeed a loving Father; to all others he is still the same terrible hater of iniquity and punisher of the evil-doer, that men thought him to be before the coming of Jesus. One wonders if such disputants ever read the parable of the Prodigal Son! So little as that do Christian teachers, in this twentieth century, yet comprehend the kind of God that Jesus revealed to us: the Father of all men to whom he has given life, who, as their Father, desires with all the power of an infinite and holy

1" Magn. Moral." ii. 11. Plato is a little more hopeful - "God, the father and creator of the universe, is hard to find, and, when found, impossible to impart to all." To use modern nomenclature, Plato is theist, Aristotle Deist. 2 Mark 10: 18.

love the well-being of every child of his; who has no favorites among his sons; whose heart yearns over the erring and sinful, and precisely because he is a Being of infinite moral perfection, holy and righteous altogether, hating with all the energy of his nature that which is impure and unrighteous, longs, not to punish his erring and disobedient children, but to restore them to the joys and privileges and purity of the family of God. This is God as Jesus reveals him to us, not only in his words, but in his character, at the same time assuring us that "he that has seen me has seen the Father."

That God was the Father of Israel is an idea that the prophets should have made familiar to every Jew, but the conception of God as the Father of all mankind, of each human being, was first set forth with unerring certainty by Jesus. And if God is the Heavenly Father of all, it follows that every man is still his child, however sinful, wandering, or degraded. We may deny our sonship, we cannot lose it. Each human life, in the light of this truth, becomes a thing of priceless value, of unspeakable worth, so that there is joy in the presence of God over

single wanderer who returns to home and love. To be "lost" is to be in the far country, away from the Father's house, separated by our own act from the Father's love; to be "saved" is to be brought back to our Father's house and love, and restored to all the privileges of sonship. Only the cross could add anything to the idea of God's Fatherhood that is given in the parable of the Lost Son.

We see, therefore, in the teaching of Jesus a message that was not Jewish, not national, not racial, but universal. This element is apparent in many single sayings,

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