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be the Messiah ; they represent Him, on His first appearance, as preaching the nearness of the kingdom of God, but not as announcing Himself as its founder; and of the ordinary descriptions of the Messiah, “Son of David,” and “Son of God,” they never represent Him as having used the first, nay, in one place, (Matt. xxii. 41, ff. parall.) as pretty clearly disavowing it as inapplicable, and as only accepting the second, when offered to Him by others; while He himself chiefly prefers to call Himself the Son of Man, which, according to Matthew, cannot then have been a recognised title of the Messiah. Now as it cannot be assumed that these features were not discovered until a later period, which, from its own stand-point had every motive for the opposite representation, it is concluded, and rightly so, that Jesus did not, at the beginning of His career as a teacher, put forward the pretension that the Messianic expectation was fulfilled in His own person, but only subsequently, and after this faith had formed itself among His adherents, impart to it His own confirmation. And as, moreover, the notion that He had long had this conviction in His own mind without declaring it, is irreconcileable with the magnificent sincerity and careless bravery of His character, there follows the further supposition that it arose within Him in the course of His public ministry, and not before; but that at the first He, like the Baptist, only proclaimed the nearness of the new Messianic period, and laboured to produce the inward condition of its coming—the conversion, that is, of His nation to true piety. And then the higher on the one hand the opinion and expectation of His adherents rose as to their Master's calling, and on the other, the more completely experience taught Him that that true piety, of which the ideal lived within Him, was only to be found within Himself, and that it was only from Him that it could spread to others—that He alone truly knew the Father—the more vivid the consciousness gradually became within Him that it was Himself and none other whom God had destined to open the new epoch of the world to found the kingdom of God. And this consideration is confirmed by a still further one, brought forward by Strauss, and which, as it appears to me, penetrates into the inmost core of the whole question. It could not have been, he remarks, (vol. i. p. 268 f., 311 f.), appropriating a striking expression of Schleiermacher's— it could not have been from the Messianic prophecies that the peculiar self-consciousness of Jesus developed itself, nor generally from the conviction that He was the Messiah, but conversely, it must have been from His own self-consciousness that He came to the conclusion that in the Messianic prophecies no one else could be meant but Himself. For if, at a period antecedent to the completion of His peculiar religious consciousness, He had hit upon the idea that He was the Messiah, and if that Messianic idea upon which His religious consciousness developed itself had been the national one, it could only have taken the form which that idea had already taken among His own contemporaries, and would have obtained such complete mastery over Him that He could hardly have divested Himself of it again. If, on the contrary, we find it overmastered in His life and conduct, it is probable that He did not meddle with it until, by means of the strengthening of a peculiar religious consciousness of His own, He could adopt it simultaneously. But if this was so, it is obvious to suppose that not merely passing thoughts about Himself and His contemporaries, but above all, His experiences of His public ministry itself, and the knowledge thereby
: gained of His spiritual superiority and originality, were causes which brought to maturity in Him the conviction that He was the Saviour, long since announced, of His people.
If, then, the Messianic consciousness in Jesus only gradually developed itself out of His own religious con-.. sciousness, and His relation to the surrounding world, the change which He produced in the prevalent expectation of the Messiah becomes all the more intelligible. The political elements in the idea of the Messiah, the demand for a new and powerful Jewish polity, was completely set aside by Him, whether because everything that looked in the direction of violence, independence, and worldly dominion, was opposed to the devout, mild, and ideal constitution of His mind, or because He had recognised the impossibility of carrying out any political plan of deliverance, accepted the oppression of foreign spoilers as an inevitable destiny of Heaven, and expected the introduction of a new state of things solely from Divine omnipotence, and found the immediate problem that was to be dealt with, and His own peculiar calling to consist only in bringing about a second birth of His nation of a morally religious character, and thus producing the indispensable inward condition of success. It will not be objected that the last assumption attributes to Him too much calculation, provided only we do not, as Renan does, consider Him a perfect child as regards knowledge and judgment of the universally known condition of the world, and even remember the expression, “ render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's,” whereby he most clearly refers to the perversity of men's resisting a power to which they are already de facto subject. But in the same degree in which the political side of the Messianic idea disappeared
as regarded His own conception of His calling, the importance of His ministry as a teacher must have increased ; from this, even in His own view, must His faith in His higher destiny have proceeded : He is not the king who externally produces a new order of things, but the prophet who preaches it, and the teacher who prepares men inwardly for it. The success of this preparatory ministry must have been the necessary condition of the real entrance of that order of things, which entrance, indeed, could scarcely be brought about except by a miraculous interference of the Godhead. But when, in the course of His ministry, experience impressed upon Him more and more that it was only among a small minority of His countrymen that He could count upon aptitude for the reception of His doctrine, and among a still smaller upon a continuous adherence to it; and on the other hand, among the existing and political powers, in the schooltheology, and the powerful party of the Pharisees, He could only look for an obstinate resistance; then He could not conceal from Himself the possibility that He might Himself fall a victim to this opposition ; and this thought must have struck its roots into His mind deeper in proportion to the growth of that opposition, and the more definitely when He consulted the sacred Scriptures of His nation as to His destiny and His views, a number of passages admitting of a Messianic interpretation, impressed upon Him the conviction that the Divine Messenger was fated to pass along His road through sorrows and a violent death. When, therefore, our Evangelists unanimously assure us that He prophesied His own tragic destiny, and when they represent Him as beginning with these prophecies at the same moment at which He had given corroboration to the recognition of His Messianic
dignity (Matt. xvi. 21 parall.), there is in general every probability in favour of this. Only these predictions cannot have been so definite as we have them in our accounts. He cannot have been unequivocally convinced from the first that this was His fixed destiny, as, according to our Evangelists' own statement, He was not firmly so convinced even immediately before His arrest (Matt. xxvi. 39); neither does His whole conduct in Jerusalem, nor the scene of His entrance, convey the impression of one who knew that His fate was inevitably sealed, but rather of one who has challenged the enemy in the centre of His power to a serious, but not hopeless, conflict. Had He been certainly convinced that the journey to Jerusalem could only end in His own destruction, then, instead of the wise man fearlessly and with calm resignation to God fulfilling His appointed calling, in which character He generally appears to us, He must have been a passionately excited enthusiast thus to bring about His own destruction; and doubly so if He had done this with the further conviction, which humanly He could not have, that He would rise again on the third day after His death. On the contrary, far the most probable supposition is that He entered upon the journey to Jerusalem with serious forebodings indeed, and with a mind prepared for the worst; but that, even at that time, He did not despair of the possibility of acting upon His countrymen by a last decisive attempt in the capital, at the feast at which the whole nation was assembled from far and wide, and even His own Galilean adherents were not absent, and attracting the former to Him in a mass. After His arrival in Jerusalem this expectation might have become fainter and fainter, and the conjecture that He would fall a victim to His enemies might have become a certainty. He stood