Full Text for Studies in Discipleship Part I (Text)

CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Volume XXXI October 1960 Number 10 Pablished by THE LUTHERAN CHURCH-MISSOURI SYNOD Edited by THE FACULTY OF CONCORDIA SEMINARY SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY is published monthly by Concordia Publishing House, 3558 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis 18, Mo., to which all business correspondence is to be addressed. $3.50 per annum, anywhere in the world, payable in advance. Second-class postage paid at St. Louis, Mo. PRINTED IN U. S. A. Studies in Discipleship I Judaism. But in this point, in the genesis THE CALLING OF DISCIPLES of the circle of disciples, there is a striking difference. In rabbinical circles the ini- (Matt. 4: 18-22; 1: 1--4: 16) tiative in discipleship lay with the dis- T HERE is probably no balder piece of ciple. "Take to yourself a teacher" is narrative in all literzture than Mat- the advice given to the aspiring disciple thew's account of the calling of the &st by a Jewish teacher of preChristian times. four disciples (418-22). There is not an we have no record of a call issued by adjective in it, and only one adverb, and a ~~~i~h rabbi to a disciple in rabbinic the style is so completely nondramatic that literature, a literature which otherwise at least one scholar has spoken of its .fie, many instructive to the "casualness." But this sparse and lean association bemeen J~~~~ and the men simplicity of narrative is anything but an who followed ~i~. what in ~~d~i~~ was indication that the event here recorded is the pious duty of the disciple is here the of minor or subordinate importance, for sovereign act of the this same Matthew records the birth and And this is a persistent trait in the the resurrection of Jesus in subordinate record. Jesus is singularly brusque with clauses and devotes to the act of the cru- cifixion a single participle. There are enthusiastic volunteers. To the scribe who events so great that man dare not wrap offers to follow Him wherever He may go, them in his rawer breath, incidents so in- He responds with the sober and sobering cisive in the history of God and man that word "the Son of man has nowhere to lay the bare force of their having occurred His head" (8:20). He dispels the pink blocks out rhetoric. mists of emotional impulse with the cool air of the realities of discipleship, with the Jesus Takes the Initiative: chill fact that communion with Him means The Call Is an Act of Grace a career of self-expending ministry which The plain facts of the narrative are preg- reduces man to a level of comfort below nant with revelation. Jesus takes the ini- that of bird and beast. But He who rejects tiative and calls the disciples. In many so promising a candidate as the schooled respects the circle of disciples gathered and skillful scribe coolly calls the tax col- about Jesus was no startling novelty in lector from his place of business. He binds first-century Palestine. In the terminology to Himself in discipleship the man whom of "rabbi" and "disciple," in the fact that not only scribe and Pharisee but also all they "followed" their master, constantly pious and self-respecting Jews kept at an attended Him, observed Him and served antiseptic distance (9:9). When the tax Him, respected and honored Him, this collector gave a dinner, his guests were circle of disciples fitted naturally and un- limited to his class and kind, men whom obtrusively into the given patterns of the judgment of the synagog had marked 607 608 STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP as "sinners" and segregated from the faith- ful (9: 10,ll). Jesus reserves the initiative for Himself. The question concerning the way to eternal life may come from the rich young man; the summons to discipleship comes from Jesus ( 19: 16-21). One is reminded of the calling of the Old Testament prophets, whose successors the disciples of Jesus were to be (5:12). They were men to whom "the Word of the Lord came" without their volition and often against their volition. We hear of men like Moses and Jeremiah, who went into the prophetic office reluctantly and only after a struggle. They were too young, they said, or they were stammerers; or they simply ran away like Jonah. To none of the prophets did the call come in response to self-preparation or mood making. In the last analysis the Word that came to them simply overrode them and left them with no alternative but to obey. Amos the prophet once said that men no more choose to be prophets than they choose to be afraid when the lion roars: The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy? (Am. 3:8) And the calling of Paul to discipleship and apostolate, a calling so different in other ways from that of the first disciples that Paul calls himself an untimely birth ( 1 Cot. 15 : 8), is in this respect absolutely parallel to that of the men who were in Christ before him. The initiative was not his; he was to the last the blasphemer, persecutor, and insulter of Christ and His church. He speaks repeatedly of the grace of God which called him. Indeed it was his calling which, historically, dehed the grace of God for him and made that word a peculiarly Pauline word (Gal. 1 : 15-17; 1 Cor. 15:7-10; 1 Tim. 1:12-16; Eph. 3: 2-8). The absolute initiative of God in establishing communion with man, that spontaneous free love of God which does not find but creates its lovable object, as Luther puts it, that bare intervention of a graciously superior and regnant will - this grace of God had been unforgettably spelled out for him in his call; he saw in his own call the classic prototype of all God's gracious calling. This mark of the sovereignly divine ini- tiative was stamped upon the existence of the disciples from the first. They were not impelled to a decision by any of the human devices for bringing on a decision; they were not played upon emotionally or psy- chologically and snapped up in a moment of high enthusiasm or in a mood of des- peration. They were simply called. Their call had about it the high sobriety of a de- liberate divine act, and it set them free for a waking, conscious response. The words of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel could stand as caption over every story of the calling of disciples: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you" (John 15 : 16). No Stress on the Qudzty of the Person Called The call is Jesus' sovereign act. And so there is no emphasis whatever, in Mat- thew's account, on the qualifications of the persons called. There are no likely can- didates for discipleship. All that we learn of the first four who were called is that they were fishermen; and even that is no picturesque detail but is recorded to enable the reader to appreciate the metaphor with which Jesus described their futute task: STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP 609 "I will make you fishers of men" (4: 19). The list of the 12 apostles indicates that they were an oddly assorted lot of men, ranging, as regards religious convictions, from the tax collector, who had decided to take the cash of this world and let the credit of Israel's promise go, to the Zealot, who was willing to stake his life on the strength of God's promise to Israel, how- ever blindly and mistakenly he did it (10:2-4). But the disciples are never really characterized very fully in the Gos- pels. Beyond a few obvious and dramatic traits, such as the volatility of Peter, we know next to nothing about them as per- sonalities. People who write character sketches of disciples and apostles are to be admired for their enterprise; they do not have much to work with. The one thing that is certain about them all be- comes clear from Jesus' reply to Peter when Peter asked, "How often shall I for- give?" In the parable of the unforgiving servant Jesus is treating Peter's case as normal and is making plain what the call meant for the disciple. This, Jesus says, is what happens when the kingdom of heaven reaches a man in the call-this establishes the rule of forgiveness between brother and brother. The normal, usual, characteristic thing about the called dis- ciple is that he is like a forgiven debtor. The call has reached him in a situation of desperation and has meant release and restoration of a man whose whole existence was a lost and forfeited existence, an existence under inexorable judgment ( 18: 21-35). That is the characteristic of the called disciple at his calling. It is no wonder that the word "call" came to be so loaded a term in the New Testament proclamation of the Christ. Paul speaks of called saints, and the New Testament knows no other kind. The Call Ded~ Obedience and Renunciation Calling is really a divine act. God called Abraham; He called Israel-"Out of Egypt 1 called my son" (Hos. 11: 1 ) ; God called Moses; God called the prophets. In calling men in this same decisive and exclusive sense Jesus is exercising a divine function and prerogative. And so His call, like the call of God, is an imperious confiscation, a laying of claim to man. The four who were first called were expected to obey, and they did obey, and that "immediately" and implicitly. "They followed Him." The word "follow" here begins to get the rich connotation of complete committal and unstinted devotion which it has in the New Testament (cf. Rev. 14: 1-5). This obedience involved renunciation; the four left their boats, their nets, their fathers and their fathers' house. Matthew left his tax office as a matter of course (9:9), when Jesus called him. To the candidate for discipleship who wanted to go home and first bury his father Jesus made clear the rigor of the renunciation which he demanded by replying, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead (8:22). The dis- ciple in coming to Jesus was leaving the world of the dead and entering upon life; and nothing was allowed to impede him in that movement. He was not permitted to do even that which filial piety claimed of him, a piety rooted in the Fourth Com- mandment and strongly felt in Judaism. There was denied him even that which was permitted for the common priest. He who was more than the Temple claimed of His own the singleness of devotion 610 STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP which the Law demanded only of the High Priest: "He shall not go in to any dead body nor defile himself, even for his father or his mother . . . for the conse- cration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him. I am the LORD" (Lev.21: 11,12). The disciple's devotion to Him who called was to be like that of the Nazirite, who was so completely separated and consecrated to God that he did not go neat a dead body all the days of his separation, "neither for his father, nor for his mother, nor for brother or sister . . . because his separation to God is upon his head" ( Nurn. 6: 7 ) . But in this Jesus is evangelist, not legis- lator. His claim is the personal claim of grace, not the external pressure of Law. This is seen clearly in the fact that he made no rule or pattern of renunciation. His claim overrode the claim of wife and family and home, but he founded no order of cloistered celibates. He asked that men be ready to cut off their right hands for His sake, but we hear nothing of an Order of Mutilated Martyrs. He asked that men renounce the sustaining comfott of the majority (7:13), but this does not mean that His followers become a sequestered sect. They go on a narrow way through the world into the Kingdom, but they do not leave the world. By the same token the renunciation which Jesus demands does not degenerate into an ascetic exercise, into a sort of re- ligious calisthenics on a par with the re- nunciations of self-centered religiosity. The renunciation which He claims is the re- nunciation of the man who "in his joy" sells all that he has in order to buy the one field which contains the unexampled treasure ( 13 : 44). This renunciation is man's turning to the kingdom of heaven drawn nigh; it is man's turning to the royally working grace of God which fills the hungry with good things, a turning so complete that it turns a man's back upon everything else. The renunciation involved in the response to Jesus' creative call is therefore no leap into the dark with eyes closed and teeth clenched; it is a leap into the arms of the Father who clothes the lilies and feeds the birds. In other words, the call of Jesus in asking renunciation and making men ca- pable of it creates faith in the disciple; Jesus is creating the little ones who be- lieve in Him (18:6). And this faith is from the beginning marked and molded as a faith which works through love. "I will make you fishers of men" (4: 19). That still lies in the future, but the signature of ministry, universal ministry to "men" without qualification or restriction, is upon their discipleship from the beginning. The line begins here and runs clearly through all the record of Jesus' association with the disciples to reach the goal in Jesus' com- mand to "make disciples of all nations" in Matthew's last chapter (28: 19). Jesus C& to Himelf Alone: He Alone Is the Baris of His Claim We can call this will created in the disciple nothing less than faith, faith in Jesus. For Jesus bases His claim to obe- dience, renunciation, and ministry on nothing but Himself. He calls to Himself, simply that: "Follow Me." Incredible as it may seem, the records are unanimous on this point. The disciples who left the record of their call never assigned to it any basis but that of the person of Him who called them. Their relationship to STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP 61 1 Jesus was never a merely human master- disciple relationship. The record of their years with Jesus does not picture the gradual ripening of human relationship into a religious one; it is the record of the deepening and enriching of a relation- ship which was from the beginning re- ligious and was based solely on the person of Jesus. That person dominated the call and all that followed upon the call. The usual rabbi-disciple relationship had its basis in something which transcended both rabbi and disciple: the Torah. It was respect for the rabbi's knowledge of the Law, admiration for his skill in expounding the Law, and reverence for his devotion in fulfilling it that attracted the disciple to the rabbi and determined his relationship to his master. But in the case of Jesus there is not a syllable in the records which indicates that anything beside or beyond Jesus Himself, anything detachable from His person, anything possessible apart from Him, ever determined the relationship of His disciples to Him. This is confirmed by three traits in the New Testament witness to Jesus. For one thing, it is notable that Jesus never permits admiration of Himself as a teacher. The rich young man in Mat- thew ( 19: 1,2) and both Nicodemus and the Jews in John (John 3: 1 ff.; 7: 14-17) receive curt and deprecatory replies when they express admiration for the Teacher. For another, the behavior of the disciples at the death of Jesus is eloquent testimony on this point; none of them takes comfort in the fact that the legacy of Jesus' teach- ing, at least, is left them. Having lost Jesus, they have lost all. And thirdly, the nature of the apostolic witness to Jesus is significant. The disciples preserved the record of Jesus' words and deeds, of course; but they do not appear in history as ex- positors of Jesus' words; it is remarkable how rarely Jesus' words are cited in the apostolic writings. They are His witnesses, witnesses to His person and His history, His words and works in indissoluble unity. Jesus calls to Himself, His disciples were summoned to Him alone and to Him wholly. He gave Himself to them wholly, they believed Him wholly; and their words, under the afflatus of the Spirit whom He sent, transmitted Him wholly to the church. Who Cdls, Rabbi or Messiah? The very baldness of the narrative in Matthew attests the fact that nothing less than the imperiously royal grace of God was in that call; the complete absence of every motivation except the call itself wit- nesses to that. The call of the disciple is the first item under the heading "The king- dom of heaven is at hand" (4: 17). And the narrative with which Matthew prefaces that programmatic utterance of Jesus an- swers the question, "Who calls, Rabbi or Messiah?" quite unambiguously. Matthew by his record of Jesus' beginnings in His first four chapters has expressed the same conviction that Paul expressed concerning his own call in the Epistle to the Galatians: "When He who had set me apart before I was born and had called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me" (Gal. 1 : 15,16) -the conviction, namely, that it was the eternal counsels of God which brought His Son into the lives of Peter and Andrew, James and John, and Mat- thew, too, and transfigured those lives. Matthew dehes the Caller, not by abstract disquisition but in characteristically Bib- lical fashion, by a recital of the deeds of God which led up to the call. By the genealogy of Jesus and the series of seven events, all of them fulfillments of Scrip- 612 STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP ture, he interprets the calling of the four men by the Sea of Galilee as the first impetus of God's last motion toward the goal of all His gracious governance of history, the ingathering of a redeemed and glorified people of God. He Who Calls, the Goal and Falfillment of Israel's History: The Genealogy The form which Matthew's recital first takes, that of a table of the ancestors of Jesus, is strange to us and repellent to modern taste (one modern translator has practically omitted it in his rendering of Matthew). Matthew wrote, of course, for a church in which the history of Israel was a vibrantly living tradition, a church for which the Old Testament was the very air it breathed. He wrote for men to whom Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were near neighbors. Writing for such men, he could hardly have found a more econom- ical and more telling means of placing before his readers the indispensable back- ground of the story he had to tell than the clipped recital of the genealogy ( 1 : 1-17 ) . For Matthew is telling the story of Jesus the "Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham" ( 1: 1). This Jesus is the goal and fulfillment of that history which began when God called Abraham to be the first of a chosen and separated people of God, the people through whom God's redemp- tive purpose for all mankind was to be realized (Gen. 18: 18). Jesus is the ful- fillment of the promise given to David (and kept alive and enriched by a succes- sion of prophets) of a reign of God In- carnate, a reign by His Anointed King from the house of David, a reign destined to restore the paradisal world which man's sin had marred (Is. 1l:l-lo). That history moved on sure and meas- ured paths of providence. That is the meaning of the symmetry of numbers in the genealogy, the 3X 14 generations. It moves from Abraham to the splendor of David's reign, from that high point to the deportation of God's people to Babylon, and thence to a man no one had ever heard of, Joseph, whose sole distinction is, again, that he is the husband of an equally obscure Mary. Even so much is enough to reveal that the ways of God in history have been strange and wondrous ways, that the God of Israel and Israel's Savior is a God "who hides Himself" (Is. 45: 15). His sovereign lordship of history is no transparently obvious fact; it is not docu- mented in a rectilinear development of forces present in history toward a predict- able goal. His people does not produce the Christ as the triumphant climax to a brilliant history. His people is made to pass through the fires of national humilia- tion and through divine judgment upon its sins; the house of David is reduced to insignificance and obscurity; the royal tree of Jesse is cut down to a stump before the promise made to David is fulfilled. When the sin of Israel has made the coming of the mighty Anointed King impossible, then the Christ comes, solely as God's gift; purely as God's gracious intervention, not as Israel's contribution to the weal of mankind. What is plain from the very structure of Israel's history, as the genealogy sche- matically presents it, is underscored by the presence of the four women in the geneal- ogy-Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah ( 1 : 3, 5,6). The presence of women is in itself singular enough; they were rarely included in Jewish genealogies. STUDLES IN DISCIPLESHIP 613 But more striking still is the kind of woman here included. These are not the renowned four of Judaism, the celebrated mothers of the race, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah. Here are four, but four of quite another kind. Three of them certainly, perhaps all of them, are not even born Israelites. They came by curious ways into the people of God and into the Messianic line. And they are anything but paragons of virtue. Incest, harlotry, and adultery mark the careers of three of them. They appear, moreover, at key points in Israel's history: Tamar beside Judah, the head of the tribe of the promise; Rahab at the entry into the Promised Land; Ruth in the history of the house of the anointed King; and the wife of Uriah (Matthew very pointedly calls her that) beside King David as the mother of Solomon. They are firmly enmeshed in the history of God's chosen people, and their presence speaks eloquently of the fact that this history is not the story of man's glory but of God's grace. It proclaims the fact that this grace is wholly independent of the potentialities of man. The God of Israel, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, is the God who "chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are" (1 Cor. 1 : 28 ) . When Israel's kingdom has fallen under God's judgment, then God's royal reign can arise. fore marked as being under the guidance and governance of God. His coming is the creative act of God whereby He fulfills His promises- in history, to be sure, but by a more than historical intervention in the course of history. Jesus is the Son of David, born to Joseph, the son of Jacob; but He is therefore no less the Son of God, in whom God gave to Joseph and to man- kind what mankind cannot give itself, what history cannot produce. His birth signifies the fulfillment of the promise given through the prophet Isaiah. It sig- nifies "Ernmanuel, God with us" (Is. 7: 14; Matt. 1:23). And God comes to be with man not when a religious genius or a series of religious geniuses give man a clearer and nobler conception of God but when God acts, acts in inexplicable mercy to unite Himself with men. Jesus therefore enters history as the son of a mother who is "with child of the Holy Spirit" ( 1 : 18). "Spirit" marks the living, dynamic pres- ence of God, His creative interposition in history, here as of old in the story of creation, as in prophecy, as in the divine inspiration of the strong deliverers of Israel. So it is that God Himself gives the Child its significant name, Jesus, "for He will save the people from their sins" ( 1 :21) . In Him the faithful God of the covenant, the Lord (whose name is a com- ponent of the Hebrew name which we use in its Hellenized form, Jesus) is present to deliver His people, and this deliverance The First Fulfillment of Prophecy: is the radical deliverance from sin. Jesus' Emmanuel ( 1 : 18-25 ) name is the crystallization of the psalmist's The Jesus who calls is thus firmly an- words: chored in the history of His people; but Israel, hope in the Lord! it is history conceived of as the dress F,, ,ith the ~~~d there is steadfast love, wherein the sovereign Creator God clothes and with Him is plenteous redemDtion. Himself in order to reveal Himself. Every And He will redeem Israel step of Jesus' way, even the first, is there- from all his iniquities (Ps. 130:7,8 j. 614 STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP The strictly divine character of this in- tervention in history is marked, further, by the fact that it cuts athwart the normal thinking of man, even of pious man. Jo- seph, the son of David, just man though he be, has no eyes for the working of God. His objections must be overcome; the son of David must be compelled to accept the gift God gives to David's house ( 1: 19-25 ). God's ways surprise man and humble him. The disciples who recorded this act of Joseph did so in the consciousness that they, too, had been graciously overpowered. They had not left their trades and their homes at the stirring of their nobler im- pulses but by the intervening will of God. of them. They were not kings, according to the record of Matthew, for all the richness of their gifts. And the King they came to was king only to the eyes of faith. The line of David lived on in utter ob- scurity, and the King was indeed a shoot from the stump of Jesse ( Is. 11 : 1 ) . And yet, and just in this way, God was carrying out His purposes, carrying them out in such a way that the history of the Messiah's infancy became prophetic for the whole history of His mission. The story of the Magi is both the fuliillment of prophecy and itself a prophecy. Israel remains in- different to her King and rejects Him; the good news of His reign goes to the Gentiles. The Second Fulfillment: Born in Bethlehem (2:l-12) The Third Fulfillment: The Son Culled Out of Egypt (2:13-15) Jesus is Messiah, Son of David; as such He is destined to be born in David's city, "Out of Egypt have I called My son" Bethlehem. This, too, comes to pass (2: (2 : 15; Hos. 11 : 1 ) . God's governing hand 1-12), and the fulfillment of prophecy is is manifest in the history of the Messianic attested in a strangely contradictory way. Child. The Gentiles who sought out the Israel's alien Idumean king, the King born to be the Light of the nations, Great, is prompted by the inquiry of Gen- God led safely home again. He has tile stargazers and his own fears of a threat- thwamd the purposes of the king ening Messianic movement to elicit the who sought to use them and the revelation prophecy from the scribes, the stewards of given to them to secure in his word to ~~~~~l. lt is they who, kingship. God will not be so exploited. perfunctorily enough, become the spokes- removed the to when His men of ~od to proclaim ~i~ fulfillment life was threatened by the suspicious king. of His promise: Once Israel had gone down to Egypt, in And you, 0 Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, a determined the guilt of the are by no means least among the rulers of patriarchs, and had to seeming been Judah; buried there, lost to the mission in the for from you shall come a ruler world which God's promise had assigned who will govern My people Israel to her. God's comprehensive governance (2:6; Micah 5:2). of history had used that guilt and that Only Gentiles sought out the King of Is- history for His own gracious ends, and He rael, and they were by no means the had in His love recalled His "first-born" splendid and colorful train that Christian from the land of Egypt (Hos. 1l:l). So tradition and sacred art have since made now the guilt of God's people had banished STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP 615 to Egypt Him who was the Compendium of the people of God, the inclusive Repre- sentative of Israel, the Descendant of Abra- ham. The overruling providence of God used that history, too, to reveal God's Son as the One in whom His will and intention to have a people in communion with Him- self was to be finally and fully realized. The words on the calling love of God which Hosea had spoken as a reproach to an ingrate and apostate people are on the pages of the evangelist a bright promise and benediction for all who come to son- ship by the Son, for the true Israel of God (cf. Gal. 6: 16). The Fourth Fulfillment: Rachel Weeping (2: 16-1 8) The history of Israel had been a history for lamentation, and tears fell now. When Israel went into captivity and Rachel's descendants were marshaled at Ramah for the long and hopeless trek to Babylon (Jer. 40: 1 ) , the prophet Jeremiah heard the mother of the race weeping from her grave: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children (Jer. 31:15). Rachel wept then; Matthew heard her weep again ( 2: 18) now at the climax of that long and somber history of guilt and judgment which is the history of Israel. She weeps now when she sees how once again the purposes of God collide with the sinful rebellion of man and God's saving miah would have for Matthew's readers an overtone of hope. These readers would remember how the word of the Lord con- tinued: Keep your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears. . . . There is hope for your future (Jer. 31:16,17). They would remember the pathos of the Lord's yearning for his "darling child Ephraim, even in His wrath. They would recall the bright promise for the days to come when the Lord would make a new and better covenant with a people whom He Himself had renewed by forgiving their iniquity and remembering their sins no more (Jer. 31 :20,31-34), and Israel's his- tory would no longer be a history for tears. The Fifth Fulfillment: Called a Nuzurene (2: 19-23) Rachel weeps, and the cessation of her tears is not yet. The Messiah lives on in the obscurity of little Galilean Nazareth, and the fulfillment of the hope which shall put an end to all weeping, the coming of the new covenant, seems as remote as ever. But Matthew sees in this, too, the fulfill- ment of prophecy. The obscurity of the Messiah is under the governance of God. Which Old Testament prophecy is meant remains obscure for us. Some link of thought which Matthew could assume for his first readers has apparently been lost to us. But the main point is certain: for the faith of Matthew it was no accident that Jesus was called "Nazarene" (2 : 19-23). - intent, pregnant with peace, becomes the The Sixth Fulfillment: occasion of the inconsolable sorrow of the The Voice in the Wilderness (3:l-12) mothers of Bethlehem whose children But at last the obscurity is ended, and Herod slew. the silence is broken. A voice is heard But those words of sorrow from Jere- crying in the wilderness, again in fulfill- 616 STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP ment of prophecy. For of John the Baptist it is said: "This is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight (3 : 3; Is. 40: 3 ) . Many titles are applied to John in the New Testament: prophet and more than a prophet, messenger, Elijah, baptist, wit- ness. But none describes him better than the word from Isaiah, the voice. For John lives and dies solely intent upon the task given him to do. The man John is ex- pended in his ofice; the crier is consumed in his cry. John's Proclpmation: The Kingdom at Hand That cry stirred all Israel, and well it might. For John spoke of the drawing near of the kingdom of heaven. This meant, since for John's contemporaries and countrymen "heaven" was one of a num- ber of reverential periphrases for the name of God, that the reign of God was near at hand. He spoke of the near advent of God the King. "Kingdom of heaven" stirred a thousand memories in every pious Jew and roused a mighty hope. John did not explain to his contemporaries what the "kingdom of heaven" was or tell them that there was a "kingdom of heaven." No good Jew needed to be told what the kingdom of heaven was. His Old Testa- ment told him that on every page; it meant: "Thy God reigneth!" When John's contemporaries heard "kingdom of heaven," they would recall the God of creation and the Lord of his- tory as the Old Testament proclaimed Him. Psalm 29, for example, celebrates Him as the Lord of all, whose voice shakes and shatters the world in the glory of its might, a might which is to those who believe in Him the signature of His Godhead, so that in God's temple all cry out, "Glory!" (Ps. 29:9). The awed obeisance of the psalm culminates in the declaration and acknowledgment of God's kingship: The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; The Lord sits enthroned as King forever (Ps. 29: 10). The word here used for flood is the word which the Old Testament reserves for the Flood, the Deluge of Genesis 7, and the parallelism of the Hebrew poetry signifies: God's glory and God's kingship remain untouched by even the mightiest catas- trophes on earth. As He sat exalted over the Flood when mankind perished and the world seemed lost, so He now sits exalted above the forces of chaos and shall so sit forever. He is King without restriction or limitation, independent of space and time. And this is not a piece of theology to be abstractly considered; this is the content of man's faith and is in the texture of their prayers, as the conclusion of the psalm shows: May the Lord give strength to His people! May the Lord bless His people with peace! (Ps.29:ll). He, the God of undisputed power and tre- mendous majesty, is the Source of strength and the sure Ground of hope for His people. The people of God therefore hail Him who is King above all gods as the Rock of their salvation and come into His presence with thanksgiving ( Ps. 95 : 1-3) . And the prophet comforts and reassures the people of God with these words: The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; You shall fear evil no more (Zeph. 3:15). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP 617 of this King (Zeph. 3: 5 ) , but the power which makes His wrath and judgment in- escapable also makes His love the pledge of sure salvation. "He will renew you in His love" (Zeph. 3 : 17). The God revealed in the Old Testament is primarily King of Israel; but God's kingship over Israel does not make Him King only of Israel. He remains Lord of all creation. 'me earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein" (Ps. 24: 1 ) ; and He is Lord of all history. "The Most High rules the kingdoms of men" (Dan. 4:25). The mightiest kings on earth do His service; the king of Assyria is His judgmental razor (Is. 7:20), the rod of His anger, the staff of His fury (IS. 10:5). God is the First and the Last; He shall have the last word in history, as He had the &st word in Creation. The Kingdom comes, according to the proclamation of John the Baptist, in the person of a Mightier One who follows John upon the stage of history and is in the midst of the people of Palestine (3 : 11,12). This, too, has its roots in the Old Testament, in the relationship between the kingship of God and that of the human kings of Israel there depicted. God's sole kingship over Israel excluded any thought of a human king apart from God the King; it made impossible the thought of a human king whose kingship should in any way call into question or obscure the sover- eignty of God the King. When the men of Israel asked their deliverer Gideon to rule over them and establish a dynasty, Gideon replied, with a genuinely religious kingdom conviction: "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you" (Judg. 8: 23). And when the elders of Israel asked Samuel to appoint for them a king to govern them "like all the nations" ( 1 Sam. 8: 5 ) , there lived in that request an apostasy from the Israelite faith in God the King. They wanted not an unseen Lord of hosts but a visible and substantial king to go before them and to fight their battles (1 Sam. 8: 19,20). The Lord Himself branded this request as rebellion against Himself: "They have rejected Me from being King over them" ( 1 Sam. 8: 7 ) . But God's counsels had ordained kings for Israel from the beginning, as His promises to Abraham and His blessing upon Jacob show (Gen. 17: 6; 35: 11 ). And the grace of God over- ruled the sin of His people here, too, ih their apostasy. The king whom they have chosen is still the king whom the Lord has set over them (1 Sam. 12: 13). This theocratic impress set upon Israel's royalty at its beginning remained the characteristic token of kingship in Israel, however much the sins of king and people might again and again contradict and obscure it. The throne of David remains in Israel's faith what the chronicler called it, "the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel" ( 1 Chron. 28: 5), and the kingship of the descendants of David remains the "king- dom of the Lord in the hands of the sons of David (2 Chron. 13 : 8). The rule and dominion of the anointed King whom God has set upon the throne remains God's rule. The reign of God has made a visible be- ginning on earth. His kingship is no longer merely a reign over the history of men and nations; it is in the midst of the history of men and nations; it has, in a sense, become incarnate. "The kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David (2 Chron. 13: 8), 618 STLIDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP a kingship limited to a corner of the world and marred and thwarted by the tragic failure of his anointed kings, is not and cannot be the ultimate kingship of God in human history. The Davidic king- ship is but a preliminary and partial in- carnation of it, a standard set up upon the field of history marking God's claim to the whole field. It points beyond itself to a greater and complete realization. And Israel's prophets continue to point Israel beyond the judgment of God upon Israel's failure and apostasy to the ultimate and universal establishment of His reign over all nations in all the earth forever. One or two utterances may serve as representa- tive of the voices of many: It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and we may walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plow- shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. . . . In that day, says the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away, and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant; and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time fwth and fweuermwe (Micah 4: 1-4,6,7 ) . God shall be King! Through judgment and redemptive restoration His reign shall be universally established and universally ac- knowledged. "The Lord will become King over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be One"- all competing claims will have been forever silenced - "and His name one"- His name alone, His reve- lation of Himself in judgment and merq, will claim all men's faith and will shape all men's worship (Zech. 14:9). All that the church has since learned to pray for in the &st three petitions of the Lord's Prayer will be realized. His name will be hallowed, His will done, and thereby His kingdom shall come. In all this God's Yea to His anointed King on earth is not withdrawn; the promise made to David is not annulled. The Lord will yet make David a house, set up his seed after him, and establish his kingdom and throne forever (2 Sam. 7: 11,12,16). The hope of David, founded on the covenant "ordered in all things and secure" which God bad made with him, shall not be put to shame. David shall yet see the righteous Ruler rising out of his house "like the morning light, like the sun shining forth upon a cloudless morn- ing, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth" (2 Sam. 23:3-5). The prophet Micah, who speaks of the universal reign of God "in the latter days," goes on to link that universal reign with the com- STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP 619 ing of "the former dominion" (that is, the Davidic kingship) to Zion: And you, 0 tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem ( Micah 4 : 8 ) . The promised reign of God will be a reign incarnate, enmeshed in history, tied directly to the world of men and events. A per- sistent strain of prophecy keeps alive the hope of the coming King, under various figures and in a prodigal variety of imagery. But one motif unites all the figures and is common to all the imagery, whether the coming One is explicitly linked with the kingdom of God or not. God will in the latter days establish His reign, and that in and through One whom He raises up in history for a mission and a ministry in history. Whether He be called David, or Irnmanuel or Child (with wondrous titles which reveal the benediction of His reign - 'Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace"), or "shoot from the stump of Jesse" (that is, offspring of the judged and ruined house of David), or Ruler from little Bethlehem Ephrathah who shall be great to the ends of the earth, or righteous Branch raised up for David (whose name spells salvation: "The Lord is our Righteousness"), or David, the Shepherd of the gathered flock of God, or the meek King who speaks peace to the nations, or Son of man, or Servant of the Lord - always the hope that God's ultimate reign will be established and that God's new and better order will prevail is linked with the person and the work of the One who is to come in history. The various and resplendent colors in which the reign of the Coming One are pictured have this in common also: They all point up the fact that the kingdom which God is to establish in and through the Coming One breaks the limits of the merely historical. It transcends anything which men might expect from the normal course of historical development. The kingdom of God is not the development of forces latent in mankind and mankind's history. It comes by way of a radical break with the merely historical, by a direct in- tervention of God in history, an irruption of the divinely more than historical into the world of history. What the prophetic vision implied, Israel's own history spelled out unmistakably. The Captivity and the piteously fragmentary character of the Restoration wiped out every hope of any merely political, mundane restoration of the Davidic kingdom. Men's ears were therefore attuned by their history to proph- ecies, such as Daniel 2, which made plain that the kingdom would come solely by a sovereign act of God. The dream of the king as interpreted by Daniel sets the im- posing colossus of the world empires over against the kingdom of God. The mighty figure of gold and silver and bronze and iron and clay is struck by a stone and is broken to pieces and becomes like the chaff of the summer threshing floor. And the wind carries it away, so that no trace of it remains, while the stone becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth (Dan. 2:31-45). It is "a stone cut out by no human hand" (Dan.2:34) which puts an end to all human greatness and all human dominion and thus clears the way for the coming of the sole and unbeclouded reign of God. God, who in this age acts through the 620 STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP agency of men, who executes His wrath with the Assyrian as His rod (Is. 10:5) and employs a Cyrus as shepherd to His people (Is.44:28), will in the last days establish His reign by an act of His own hand. There shall come into the world that which is not of this world (John 18:36), something which no longer fits into the framework and the categories of normal human history. There shall be an act "by no human hand," beyond human capacities and beyond human grasp. The kingdom to come is absolutely transcendent, not a de- velopment from below but an intervention from above. And as such it shall be uni- versal in its workings. The stone becomes a mountain which fills the whole earth. God shall reign supreme and alone. That stone is, compared with the colos- sus of the world's powers, not an impres- sive entity. It is only a stone; not a single adjective of splendor graces it. When God Himself acts, He acts by contrarieties. He chooses the things which are base, despised, the things which are nothing in this world, in order to confound the things that are. He chose the least of all people to be the bearers of His promise and the vehicles of His regnant grace. And the history of that people culminates in insignificance. A Child is born in'a stable, a sower goes out to sow, and the seed grows silently - and that is the beginning of the kingdom of God, the beginning and the guarantee of the new world of God. The kingdom of God is in its beginnings in history like the Servant of God; it has no form or come- liness to commend it. In proclaiming the kingdom of heaven John was attaching to a thought which was for his contemporaries a living one. Men of Israel in John's time spoke of "taking the yoke of the Kingdom," that is, of acknowledging God as their King, their sole Lord and God. A convert to Judaism was said "to take upon himself the yoke of the Kingdom" at his conversion; that is, he accepted and confessed the divine King of Israel as his King. Even the recitation of the Judaic creed, the Shew: "Hear, 0 Israel; the Lord, our God, is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4), was called "taking upon one- self the yoke of the Kingdom." And men of John's day prayed that the Kingdom might become manifest - the fact that men could still either "take the yoke of the Kingdom" or "cast it from them" was evi- dence enough that it had not yet been manifested; for once it appeared, all men would have to acknowledge the King. For the Jews of John's day the thought of the Kingdom was a personal thought and a re- ligious one, a thought not so much en- crusted with ideas of national prerogative and materialistic desires as the thought of the Messiah. In the thought of the King- dom their more purely religious hope found its expression. But "thought" is too pale a term for all that lay in the word "kingdom of heaven." When John spoke of the kingdom of heaven, he evoked living and dynamic echoes in the hearts of his countrymen. They would think, in terms of the Old Testament, of God as the Creator of the universe and its King, the Lord of all his- tory, the God who was peculiarly the King of His chosen people, the God whose royal reign had found a preliminary, par- tial, and predictive incarnation in the reign of the Davidic kings, the God whose ulti- mate and triumphant self-assertion prophet after prophet had foretold. They would think of Him as laying bare His holy and STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP 62 1 puissant arm for the last time in history, to lead all history to its conclusion and goal, to triumph forever in judgment over all the powers of evil, and to lead His own safely home for a life of unbroken communion with Himself. The Coming of the Mightier Ow: Wd John was renewing the voice of proph- ecy when he spoke of the Kingdom. But he spoke of it as "at hand," at hand, more- over, in the person of a Mightier One who was to follow him on earth, in history. Both in his announcement of the near advent of the Kingdom and in his witness to the Mightier One John's first act was to shatter Judaic complacency by the proc- lamation of the wrath of God. He was a latter-day Amos, who had to do once more for his generation what Amos had done for his. The popular hope of Amos' contemporaries looked to the arrival of the Day of the Lord, the day when He would assert His kingship and reign, as to the day when Israel would surely triumph over all her enemies and see them destroyed. To that hope, which surrounded the Day of the Lord with fevered dreams of na- tional triumph and splendor, to the secur- ity of heart which felt itself immune from a wrath of God which would destroy Israel's enemies, Amos opposed a violent and in- escapable no! He would allow no hope to stand which evaded repentance and linked God's action with an all too human lust for power. Amos led men to the presence of the living God, whose te- demption comes by way of judgment: Woe to you who desire the Day of the Lord! Why would you have the Day of the Lord? It is darkness and not light; as if a man fled from a lion and a bear met him; or went into the house and leaned with his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the Day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? (Amos 5: 18-20) John proclaimed again the mighty reality of the wrath of God which the Old Testa- ment had proclaimed on many a page in images of he and storm, of reeling cup and dripping winepress, that destructive visitation of God upon man's rebellion against his God, the annihilating reaction of God's injured love against His faithless sons and His adulterous spouse. That prophecy had pointed beyond all visita- tions of God's wrath in history to a final Day of Wrath when man's proud rebellion would be visited dehitively on his head (Zeph. 1 : 14,lS ) . John renewed the voice of prophecy and proclaimed the wrath of God in exceptionless rigor on all, includ- ing the Pharisee and Sadducee who came to his Baptism and exulted for a season in his light (Matt. 3: 7). He proclaimed it as wrath upon man as man, so that no descent from Abraham exempted a man from the divine verdict. John's proclama- tion marked man as a child of evil, the serpent's offspring, the inheritor and en- actor of the satanic rebellion against God. And he proclaimed that wrath as an in- evitable and imminent wrath. It is "the wrath to come" ( 3: 10). And as the Coming One, the Messianic Redeemer, had always, in Old Testament prophecy, loomed up against the dark back- ground of judgment and had in His com- ing spelled judgment for all who opposed His gracious reign (Is. 1 114; Dan. 7: 11-14; Is. 50: 9-1 1 ) , so John links the Mightier One with the execution of God's wrath 622 STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP on man's rebellion. The Mightier One appears in order to baptize men with fire, to overwhelm them with God's judgment upon their sin ( 3: 11 ) . The great Win- nower stands on His threshing floor, the winnowing fork in His hand, to clear His floor; and "the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire" ( 3: 12). The wrath is inescapable, for the Mightier One is the Executor of divine wrath, and He is a di- vine Executor of divine wrath. John, whom Jesus was to call the greatest of woman born, is utterly dwarfed by Him. He cannot even carry His sandals ( 3 : 11 ) ; His fire is an unquenchable fire; the thresh- ing floor, the scene of God's judgment, belongs to Him-He owns the world; and the winnowed grain, the purified and gathered people of God, is His too ( 3 : 12 ) . The fullness of God dwells in Him. The Coming of the Mightier One: Renewal But he is not only a visitant of wrath. The name given to the Baptist at the an- gel's command signifies "the Lord is gra- cious," the promise implicit in that name is fulfilled in John's message. Grace is the burden of his message concerning the Mightier One; wrath is but the cast shadow of the divine grace which he proclaims. The coming of the Mightier One is not mere destruction; there shall be a gathered people of God, brought home at last to God's garners. For the Mightier One bap- tizes with the Spirit; John's hearers knew from the Old Testament what "Spirit" meant. It meant the vital, creative presence of God, that presence which moved in life-creating potency upon the face of the waters at the beginning (Gen. 1: 2). It meant that vital presence of God which was to rest upon the Messiah at the end of days, too, to enable Him to establish God's righteous order in the world of men and to recreate God's primal, paradisal peace for all nations (Is. 11: 1-10). The Spirit of God is the Spirit of heroism which inspired men to do great deeds for God for the deliverance of His people (e. g., John 6: 34; 1 Sam. 16: 13). It is the Spirit of prophecy which enables men to say, "Thus says the Lord" and to speak the very words of God ( e. g., Micah 3 : 8). The Old Testament prophets had pictured the wondrous working of that Spirit in the last days in manifold ways. The in- breaking of the Spirit transforms creation (Is. 32 : 15 ) ; it makes dead people live (Is. 42:3,4) ; it inwardly renews men for a spontaneously obedient life as the people of God (Ezek. 36:26,27) ; it opens men's eyes for visions and looses their tongues for prophecy (Joel 2:28) ; it restores the broken communion between God and man (Zech. 12: 10). What John had hinted at in the sentence "God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham" (3:9) -the assurance that the promise given to Abraham would not fail (however much Abraham's descendants might fail) ; that the same divine, creative word which wrought faith in Abraham and gave Abra- ham a son when all hoping for a son was past would go on to make redemptive history - that is told outright in the prom- ise of a baptism with the Spirit (3: 11). John'r Proclamation: Recent John renewed the prophetic proclama- tion of the Kingdom and the prophetic prediction of the One to come with a new emphasis on the unity of the two predic- tions. The coming of the Kingdom and the advent of the Coming One are now seen to be one indivisible act of God. He renewed it also with a new immediacy STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP 62 3 and urgency. It is the voice of the herald who ushers in what he proclaims. And SO, since he takes the coming of the Kingdom with full religious seriousness, he renews also the prophetic call to repentance, for the coming of the King demands a people made ready to receive Him. The Old Testament prophets conceived of sin as a personal and total aversion of man from his God and therefore conceived of repentance as a personal and total turn- ing to God. They deprecated any merely ritual repentance ("Rend your hearts and not your garments," Joel 2 : 13) and de- manded that man turn to God not merely ritually and formally but personally, turn to Him in obedience and trust, with a rad- ical aversion from self and sin. The wicked man is to turn from his ways and live (Ezek. 33 : 11 ) . The prophets knew, and more than once said, that this turning is not a possibility with man but rests with God. The clean heart is God's creation (Ps. 51 : 10). The penitents pray, "Restore us to Thyself, 0 Lord, that we may be restored" (Lam. 5: 2 1 ) ; or "Bring me back that I may be restored, for thou art the Lord, my God (Jer. 3 1 : 18) . Elijah pleads with the Lord at Carmel: "Answer me, 0 Lord, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, 0 Lord, art God, and that thou hart turned th& he~ts back" (1 Kings 18:37). John restored to the idea of repentance the Old Testament stringency and vigor which it had all too often lost in Judaism; for it had become, commonly, a legalistic distortion of that complete, personal, com- mitted, resolute, divinely wrought return to God, the 180-degree turn from sin to God of which the prophets had spoken. John's call to repentance was universal. He bade all men turn to the God who was turning to them. He demanded repentance not only of the prostitutes and tax col- lectors (2 1 : 3 1,32) but also, and particu- larly, of the pious (3:7-10). As he pro- claimed an exceptionless wrath on man as man, so he demanded a universal repent- ance of man as man. And John demanded a repentance as radical as it was universal, as deep as it was wide. His appeal was more categorical even than that of the prophets, for it was made under the urgency of the last days, in the shadow of the coming final revela- tion of God. The wrath impends, the ax is laid to the root of the tree. All fruitless uees will be cut down inexorably and will be cast into the fire. Only if a man turns, really turns, can he become God's planting and bear God's fruit and be spared the judgment of God (3: 10). The Bqtism of John As God in the Old Testament confers what He demands, so in the New. He is still the turner of the hearts of men, the Creator of the clean heart that can receive Him. That is what the Baptism of John signifies. His Baptism bore a fam- ily resemblance to the ceremonial and cultic washings that his contemporaries practiced, and they were many. The Law prescribed ritual washings in great number, and the Judaic tradition had developed severe and detailed prescriptions for puri- fication (15:1,2; Mark 7:l-4). The Es- senes outdid the Pharisees in their zeal for purification, and the obscure sect of the Hemerobaptists probably outdid the Es- senes. Proselytes were admitted into the people of God not only by circumcision but also by a baptism to which Judaism 624 STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP attached great significance. Yet for all the formal resemblance between John's Bap- tism and the washings of Judaism, espe- cially the baptism of proselytes, there was one significant point in which it was markedly differentiated from them all. John's Baptism was not self-performed but required a baptizer. "Baptist" is applied to John, the son of Zechariah, by both the New Testament and Josephus, and only to him. The term seems to have been coined for him and to have remained peculiarly his. Here was a baptism whose content was given to it by the prophetic word and was performed by another, one endowed with prophetic authority. It was therefore, as Jesus said of it later, "from heaven" and not from men (21:25), not a self-chosen 01. legally prescribed act of man's piety but God's act upon man. In substance it there- fore attached, not to the contemporary baptisms of the Pharisees or of the Essenes or to the baptism of proselytes but to such promises of God as those of Ezekiel and Zechariah: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you . . . and you shall be My people, and I will be your God" (Ezek. 36:25-28). "On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness" (Zech. 13 : 1 ) . John could attach to them, for the words shaped the contemporary hope of Israel. The rabbis interpreted the words of Ezekiel to mean that God tells Israel: "In this world you are chastised for your sins and cleansed and again chastised, but in the future it is I who shall cleanse you from the world above." John's Baptism was therefore not only a way in which man expressed his re- pentance, though it was that, too. Men "were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins" (3: 5). But it was also, and primarily, God's giving of re- pentance, the judgment of God on sin, and the proffer of divine forgiveness in one. It was a sacrament of promise limited by its promissory character but effectual, be- cause it was a divine promise, a promise "from heaven." Thus God Himself was by His prophet making ready a people pre- pared for Him. It was in an air charged with the proc- lamation and the demand of John, an air still reverberating with the indicative and the imperative of this voice, that the dis- ciples heard Jesus renew John's cry of the Kingdom at hand and his call to repent- ance. Some of them, at least, had been disciples of John. All of them had been reached by his voice, for it had stirred all Israel. And so the miracle of grace which brought the Kingdom home to them in the imperious "Follow Me" of the Mightier One was no blank miracle which blocked out history and blotted out personality; it worked in history and through person- ality. All that was highest and best in their people's hope and all that God had given His people in John, the last of the prophets, the heritage of Israel and the personal experience of the disciple, had worked together to prepare the disciples for this call. The Seventh Falfi11mnt: The Great Light (3: 13--4: 17) Matthew does not indicate whether the disciples knew of the Baptism of Jesus at the hand of John, and there is no way of telling how fully they may have understood STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP 62 5 its significance then if they did know of it. But the fact that the narrative of the Baptism and the temptation of Jesus ( 3 : 13 to 4: 11) is placed just before the story of the calling of the disciples is not without significance for the story of the calling of the disciples; for it draws the contours of the Caller very clearly. What the Bap- tism revealed at the beginning of Jesus' Messianic ministry the disciples were to find confirmed a hundredfold in their long association with Jesus. That God Himself made Jesus the Bearer of the Spirit of God and marked Him out both as His anointed King and as His suffering and redeeming Servant (3:17; Ps.2:7; Is.42:l); that the divine good pleasure rested upon Him as the ministering and suffering Messiah- this Jesus' whole ministry spelled out for them. That ministry also made clear to them what Jesus on His part had done at His Baptism. He had united Himself with a mankind under the wrath and judgment of God, the mankind summoned to re- pentance by John. He had marked His solidarity with mankind in that act, and He had pointed also to the goal of that solidarity with men. He was baptized in order "to fulfill all righteousness" ( 3: 15 ) , in order that in Him the will of God might be fully and really done. The word concerning the "fulfilling of righteousness" was spoken against the background of John's proclamation of the wrath of God upon all men. That background gives "righteousness" its significance. It is that redeeming righteousness of God which Paul was to make the content of his Gospel as the power of God unto salvation. Similarly the narrative of the temptation of Jesus (4:l-11) defines the Messianic Caller as the disciples were to come to know Him. In His company the disciples came to know that pure will of His, which spoke a whole yea to God and therefore spoke a complete nay to Satan. They came to know Him as the Son of God, for whom sonship meant not privilege but obedience, an obedience which would not tempt God and conduct experiments of faith. They came to know Him as the Son of God who would not leap from the temple at satanic suggestion but could at God's com- mand leap from greater heights than the temple pinnacle to greater depth than the courtyard floor. They came to know in His whole life that obedience which could give God a whole worship in all things and was therefore impervious to the satanic suggestion that there might be a second way to royalty and glory, besides the way of implicit submission to the will of God. We have no way of reconstructing with any precision what was in the mind of Matthew at his calling or in the minds of the four men of Galilee when they were called. But the record of Matthew makes one thing clear: When they heard the words "Follow Me" they had no choice. Whatever degree of knowledge they had then attained, their wills were already claimed. Matthew could understand this event in Galilee only as a fulfillment of the promise given through Isaiah: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great Light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned (4:16; Is.9:3). The disciples knew, or surely sensed, that in Jesus' "Follow Me" the great light of God's new creation, the light which brought the life of God to men, was falling across their paths, and they knew, too: "We must walk in this light or die." St. Louis, Mo. (To be concluded)