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And apart from all that is local and temporary, this miracle may be taken as the sign and symbol of all which Christis evermore doing in the world, ennobling all that he touches, making saints out of sinners, angels out of men, and in the end heaven out of earth, a new paradise of God out of the old wilderness of the world. For the prophecy of the world's regeneration of the day in which his disciples shall drink of the fruit of the vine new in his kingdom, is eminently here;—in this humble feast, the rudiments of the great festival which shall be at the open setting up of his kingdom—that marriage festival in which he shall be himself the Bridegroom and his Church the bride,-that season when his “hour” shall have indeed “come.”
Irenaeus” has an interesting passage, in which he puts together this miracle and that of the loaves, and, as I think, contemplates them together as a prophecy of the Eucharist, but certainly sees them as alike witnesses against all Gnostic notions of a creation originally impure. The Lord, he says, might have created with no subjacent material the wine with which he cheered these guests, the bread with which he fed those multitudes; but he rather chose to take his Father's creatures on which to put forth his power, in witness that it was the same God who at the beginning had made the waters and caused the earth to bear its fruits, who did in those last days give by his Son the cup of blessing and the bread of heaven.f
* Con. Haer, l. 3, c. 11; Chrysostom in like manner, in regard to the Mamichaeans, Hom. 22 in Joh. # The account of this miracle by Sedulius is a favorable specimen of his poetry:
Prima suae Dominus thalamis dignatus adesse
In very early times it was a favorite subject for Christian art. On many of the old sarcophagi Jesus is seen standing and touching with the rod of Moses, the rod of might which is generally placed in his hand when he is set forth as a worker of wonders, three vessels resting on the ground,-three, because in their skilless delineations the artists could not manage to find room for more. Sometimes he has a roll of writing in his hand, as much as to say, This is written in the Scripture; or the master of the feast is somewhat earnestly rebuking the bridegroom for having kept the good wine till last; having himself tasted, he is giving him the cup to convince him of his error. (MUNTER, Sinnbild.d. Alt. Christ, v. 2, p. 92)
THERE is an apparent contradiction in the words that introduce this miracle. It is there said that Jesus “went into Galilee, for he himself testified that a prophet hath no honor in his own country,” and yet Galilee was his own country, and immediately after we are told that the Galilaeans “received,” or gave him honorable welcome. This how. ever is easily got rid of; yet not as Tittmann, and some of the older expositors propose, by making St. John, in fact, to say that the Lord went into Galilee, though he had testified that a prophet was unhonored at home; for there is no compelling the words to mean this; nor yet by understanding “his own country” as Judaea, and then finding in this saying of his an explanation of his retiring from thence into Galilee. This is Origen's explanation, whom some moderns follow. But the Lord's birth at Bethlehem in Judaea being a fact not generally known, the slight esteem in which he was there held, could not have had in this its ground. Rather we must accept “country”; as the place where he had been brought up, namely, Nazareth, and then there is here an explanation of his not returning thither, (with a direct allusion to the testimony which he himself had borne in its synagogue, “No prophet is accepted in his own country,” Luke iv. 24.) but going in preference to Cana, and other cities of Galilee; “and the
* "Ečášavro, Benevolé et honorifice exceperunt: so often elsewhere.
# IIarpic, cf. Matt. xiii. 54, 57; Mark vi. 1, 4; Luke iv. 16. Chrysostom (Hom. 35 in Joh.) has this right view of the meaning, with the exception, indeed, of understeading by “his own country,” Capernaum (Luke x. 15) rather than Nazareth; inaptopmae will then have the sense of a plusq. perf, of which there are several instances in the New Testament.
Galilaeans,” as St. John, with an emphasis, relates, “received him,” though the Nazarenes, the people of his own immediate city, had re. jected, and would have killed him.” In treating of this miracle, the first question which occurs is this, namely, whether we have here the same history as that of the servant (raig) of the centurion related by St. Matthew (viii. 5), and St. Luke (vii. 2), and here repeated with only immaterial variations. Irenaeus? would seem to have looked at them as one and the same history; and Chrysostom and others note such an opinion as held by some in their time, though they themselves oppose it. And this rightly, for there is almost nothing in its favor. Not merely the external circumstances are greatly different; that centurion being a heathen, this noblemaní in every probability a Jew; that one pleading for his servant, this for his son; that intercession finding place as the Lord was entering Caper
* There is another view of the passage possible, namely that St. John, recording (ver. 43) Christ's return to Galilee, is explaining why he should have first left it, (ver. 44,) and why he should have returned to it now, (ver. 45.) He left it, because as he had himself testified, (#1aprüpmae, a first adrist for a plusq. perfect,) a prophet is unhonored in his own country, but he returned to it now, because his countrymen, the Galilaeans, having seen the signs that he did at Jerusalem, were prepared to welcome, and did welcome him, in quite another spirit from that which they manifested at his first appearance; “So (ver. 46) Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee.” This is Neander's explanation, (Leben Jesu, p. 385,) and Jacobi's, in the Theol. Stud. und Krit., 1836, p. 906.
# Con. Haer, l. 2, c. 22. Filium Centurionis absens verbo curavit dicens, Wade, filius tuus vivit. Yet Centurionis may well be only a slip of the pen or the memory. In modern times only Semler that I know, has held the same opinion.
# The term Baatzukóc tells rather against that view; since it is little probable that any military office is denoted by it. The exact meaning of the word here never can be exactly fixed; even Chrysostom (Hon. 35 in Joh) speaks uncertainly about it, and only suggests a meaning; showing that even in his day it was not to be explained by the familiar usage of them with whom Greek was a living language. Three meanings have been offered. Either by the Baat?urác is meant one of those that were of the king's party, the royalists, in which case the term would be much the same as Herodian, designating one of those that sided with the faction of the Herods, father and son, and helped to maintain them on the throne (Lightfoot); or, with something of a narrower signification, the Baathukóc may be one especially attached to the court, aulicus, or as Jerome (In Esai.65) calls this man, palatinus (Regulus qui Graece dicitur Baau2186, quem nos deaulá regià rectius interpretari possumus palatinum); thus in the margin of our Bibles it is “courtier;" or else, though this seems here the least probable supposition, Baqtātkóc may mean one of royal blood; so in Lucian the word is four times applied to those who are actually kings, or are related to them. Perhaps no better term could be found than that of our English version, “nobleman,” which has something of the doubtfulness of the original expression, and while it does not require, yet does not deny that he was of royal blood. naum, this in Cana; in that the petitioner sending by others, in this himself coming: the sickness there a paralysis, a fever here. But far more than all this, the heart and inner kernel of the two narratives is different. That centurion is an example of a strong faith, this noble man of a weak faith; that centurion counts that, if Jesus will but speak the word, his servant will be healed, while this nobleman is so earnest that the Lord should come down, because in heart he limits his power, and counts that nothing but his actual presence will avail to heal his sick; the other receives praise, this rebuke, at the lips of Christ. The difference is indeed here so striking, that Augustine” draws a comparison, by way of contrast, between the faith of that centurion, and the unbelief of this nobleman. Against all this, the points of apparent identity are very slight, as the near death of the sufferer, the healing at a distance and by a word, and the returning and finding him healed. It is nothing strange that two miracles should have these circumstances in common. It has been supposed by some that this nobleman is no other than Chuza, Herod's steward, whose wife was among the holy women that ministered unto the Lord of their substance (Luke viii. 3; cf. ver. 53). This is not wholly improbable; for it would seem as if only some mighty and marvellous work of this kind would have drawn a steward of Herod's with his family, into the net of the Gospel. But whether this was so or not, he leaving his son exceeding sick at Capernaum, now came and found Jesus, who was just returned from his journey to Jerusalem, in Cana of Galilee, “and besought him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” From the something of severity which comes out in our Lord's first notice of his petition, “Ercept ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe,”f it is evident that
* In En. Jok, Tract. 16: Videte distinctionem. Regulus iste Dominum ad domum suam descendere cupiebat; ille Centurio indignum se esse dicebat. Illi dicebatur, Ego veniam, et curabo eum: huic dictum est, Wade, filius tuus vivit. Illi praesentiam promittebat, hunc verbo sanabat. Iste tamen praesentiam ejus extorquebat. ille se praesentia ejus indignum esse dicebat. Hic cessum est elationi; illic concessum est humilitati. Cf. CHRYsostom, Hom. 35 in Joh.
+ Lightfoot, Chemnitz, and others.
f This passage, with that other in which the Lord declines to give a sign to some that asked it, dismissing them to the sign of Jonah, (Matt. xii. 38–40; xvi. 1–4,) are favorite passages with those who deny that he laid any especial stress on his miracles, as proving any thing concerning him; that other has been stretched so far by some as to be brought in proof that he did not even claim to do any. Thus by the modern rationalists, though the abuse of the passage is as old as Aquinas, who takes note of and rebukes it. But our Lord's words have not any such meaning, and it may be worth while to show how far they are from bearing out any such conclusion. The this nobleman was one driven to Jesus by the strong constraint of an outward need, a need which no other but he could supply, (Isai. xxvi. 16,) rather than one drawn by the inner necessities and desires of his soul;-a man who would not have come but for this;* who shared in the carnal temper of the most of his fellow-countrymen (they, by the plural number which our Lord here uses, being, it is most probable, intended to be included in the same condemnation);-one who had (as yet, at least) no organ for perceiving the glory of Christ as it shone out in his person and in his doctrine,—whom nothing but miracles, “signs and wonders,” would compel to a belief; unlike those Samaritans whom the Lord has just left, and who, without a miracle, had in great numbers “believed because of his word.” (John iv. 41.) But “the Jews required a sign,” (1 Cor. i. 22,) and this one, in the smallness of his present faith, straitened and limited the power of the Lord, counting it needful that he should “come down”: if his son was to be healed; being unable to conceive of any other cure, of any word spoken at a
Lord says, There shall no sign be given to them, the men who out of an unbelieving heart asked one, the same who but a little before had ascribed his miracles to Beelzebub. (Matt. xii. 24.) “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas,”—not, that is, to that evil and adulterous generation. The only sign for it is the appearance in the midst of it, of a warning prophet, a prophet of woe, a second and greater Jonah, with his burden of near judgment, proclaiming that in forty years shall Jerusalem be destroyed; the same being sealed by the wondrous circumstances of his life, by his resurrection, as Jonah by his deliverance from the whale's belly, to be indeed the commissioned of the Lord. Christ does not deny the value of the miracle, or say that he will do none; but only that he will do none for them, for an evil and adulterous generation which is seeking not after helps and confirmations of faith, but excuses and subterfuges for unbelief. These works of grace and power are reserved for those who are receptive of impressions from them. They are seals which are to seal softened hearts; hearts utterly cold and hard would take no impression from them, and therefore will not be tried with them. So that this is not, in fact, a slight put upon miracles, but an honoring of them. There are those upon whom they shall not be wasted. * Augustine (In Ev. Joh., Tract. 16) reads the words of Christ as implying that this nobleman did not believe that Christ could do this verything which he was asking of him. It was but a tentative request: in the utter lack of help any where, he snatched at what seemed to him, even while he was snatching at it, but as a straw, and so he received this rebuke: Arguit hominem in fide tepidum aut frigidum, aut omnino nullius fidei: sed tentare cupientem de sanitate filiisui, qualis esset Christus, quis esset, quantum posset. Verba enim rogantis audivimus, cor diffidentis non videmus; sed ille pronuntiavit, quiet verba audiwit, et cor inspexit. Yet the earnest. ness of the man's rejoinder, “Sir, come down ere my son die,” is very unlike this. + Gregory the Great (Hom. 28 in Evang.): Minus itaque in illum credidit, quem non putavit posse salutem dare, nisi praesens esset in corpore.