229. The independence of human sympathy which Jesus often showed is all the more glorious for the evidence the gospels give of his longing for it. When he put the question to the twelve, “Would ye also go away?” (John vi. 67), there is no hint in his manner that their defection with the rest would turn him at all from faithfully fulfilling the task appointed to him by his Father. In fact only now and then did he allow his own hunger to appear. Ordinarily he showed himself as the friend longing to help, but not seeking ministry from others; he rather sought to win his disciples to unselfishness by showing as well as saying that he came not to be ministered unto but to minister. He washed the feet of his disciples to rebuke their petty jealousies, but we have no hint that he showed that he felt personal neglect. His own heart was full of “sorrow even unto death,” but his word was, “Let not your heart be troubled;” he asked in vain for the sympathy of his nearest friends in Gethsemane, yet when the band came to arrest him he pleaded, “Let these, the disciples, go their way.”
The Teacher with Authority
230. To his contemporaries Jesus was primarily a teacher. The name by which he is oftenest named in the gospels is Teacher,—translated Master in the English versions and the equivalent of Rabbi in the language used by Jesus (John i. 38). People thought of him as a rabbi approved of God by his power to work miracles (John iii. 2), but it was not the miracles that most impressed them. The popular comment was, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. vii. 29). Two leading characteristics of the scribes were their pride of learning, and their bondage to tradition. In fact the learning of which they were proud was knowledge of the body of tradition on whose sanctity they insisted; their teaching was scholastic and pedantic, an endless citing of precedents and discussion of trifles. To all this Jesus presented a refreshing contrast. In commending truth to the people, he was content with a simple “verily,” and in defining duty he rested on his unsupported “I say unto you,” even when his dictum stood opposed to that which had been said to them of old time.