Where the habit of mind is thus set to fact, and life is based on God, on God’s will and God’s doings, it is not surprising that in the daily round there should be noted “sanity, reserve, composure, and steadiness.” It may seem to be descending to a lower plane, but it is worthwhile to look for a moment at the sheer sense which Jesus can bring to bear on a situation. The Sabbath—is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Well, if a man’s one sheep is in a pit on the Sabbath, what will he do? (Matt. 12:11), or will he refrain from leading his ox to the water on the Sabbath (Luke 13:15)? Such questions bring a theological problem into the atmosphere of sense—and it is better solved there. He is interrupted by a demand that he arbitrate between a man and his brother; and his reply is virtually, Does your brother accept your choice of an arbitrator? (Luke 12:14)—and that matter is finished. “Are there few that be saved?” asks some one in vague speculation, and he gets a practical answer addressed to himself (Luke 13:23). Even in matters of ordinary manners and good taste, he offers a shrewd rule (Luke 14:8). Luke records also two or three instances of perfectly banal talk and ejaculation addressed to him—the bazaar talk of the Galilean murders (Luke 13:1)—the pious if rather obvious remark of some man about feasting in the Kingdom of God (Luke 14:15)—and the woman’s homey congratulation of Mary on her son (Luke 11:27). In each case he gets away to something serious.
Above all, we must recognize the power which every one felt in him. Even Herod, judging by rumour, counts him greater than John the Baptist (Matt. 14:2). The very malignity of his enemies is a confession of their recognition that they are dealing with some one who is great. Men remarked his sedative and controlling influence over the disordered mind (Mark 1:27). He is not to be trapped in his talk, to be cajoled or flattered. There is greatness in his language—in his reference of everything to great principles and to God; greatness in his freedom from ambition, in his contempt of advertisement and popularity, in his appeal to the best in men, in his belief in men, in his power of winning and keeping friends, in his gift for making great men out of petty. In all this we are not stepping outside the Gospels nor borrowing from what he has done in nineteen centuries. In Galilee and in Jerusalem men felt his power. And finally, what of his calm, his sanity, his dignity, in the hour of betrayal, in the so-called trials, before the priests, before Pilate, on the Cross? The Pharisees, said Tertullian, ought to have recognized who Christ was by his patience.
THE TEACHER AND HIS DISCIPLES
It was as a teacher that Jesus of Nazareth first began to gather disciples round him. But to understand the work of the Teacher, we must have some general impression of the world to which he came. The background will help us understand what had to be done, and what it was he meant to do.