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Connection between Jesus and the Idea of a Suffering and

Dying Messiuh; Observations of Jesus on his Death, Resurrection, and Return.


Did Jesus predict his Passion and Death with accuracy

and precision ?

According to the evangelists Jesus predicted to his disciples on more than one occasion, and for a considerable time previous to the event, that suffering and a violent death awaited him. And, if we are to believe the synoptical narratives, he did not even confine himself to general predictions, but specified beforehand not only the scene of his passion, namely Jerusalem; the epoch, namely, the feast of the passover; the persons at whose hands he was to suffer, namely, the high priests, the scribes, and gentiles; but even the essential form of his passion, namely, the crucifixion after judgment pronounced. He added, many accessory circumstances; he predicted that he should be scourged with a whip, that he should be reviled, and spit upon (Matt. xvi. 21; xvii. 12, 22, 23; xx. 17, et seq.; xxvi. 12, and parallel passages; Luke xiii. 33). Between the synoptics and the compiler of the fourth gospel, in this respect, a triple variance is to be found. In the first place, and principally, the predictions of Jesus, as John has related them, are destitute of this clearness and precision, and are for the most part presented in metaphorical 78


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and obscure language, and the writer himself has declared that they did not become clear even for the disciples themselves until after the event (ii. 22). With the exception of one precise expression, in which he says

that he lays down his life for the sheep (x. 15), Jesus, in this gospel, is pleased to make allusion to his approaching death, by the expression “lifted up,” an indefinite term applicable to an exaltation on a cross, or to an elevation to the summit of glory (iii. 14; viii. 28; xii. 32); he compares the elevation which awaits him to that of the brazen serpent in the desert (iii. 14), in the same way, as in Matthew, he compares his destiny with that of Jonas (Matt

. xii. 40); then he speaks of going where no one can follow him (vii. 33, 34; viii. 21, et seq.), in the same way as, in the synoptics, he talks of the carrying away of the bridegroom, leaving his friends to mourn (Matt. ix. 15, and parallel passages); he speaks also of a cup which he is to drink, of which his disciples will not be anxious to partake (Matt. xx. 22, and parallel passages). The two other differences are more easy to account for, remarkable they nevertheless are. In the first place, whilst in John, the allusions to the violent death of Jesus are to be found interspersed from one end of the gospel to the other, in the synoptics, the precise and repeated predictions of his death are only to be found towards the end of the several gospels, either immediately before the last journey to Jerusalem, or during the journey ; and, with the exception of the obscure observation respecting Jonas (we shall soon see that this is not a prediction of his death), with the exception of this observation, the preceding paragraphs contain nothing unless it be the notice respecting the taking away of the bridegroom, which, without doubt, is a violent abduction, In fine, whilst in the three first gospels, Jesus communicates these predictions to the twelve disciples alone, with the exception only of the passage to which we have just alluded (Matt. ix. 15), in John he delivers. them before all the people, and even before his enemies.

In the critical examination of these evangelical data,


proceeding from the particular to the general, we shall, in the first place, inquire whether it be possible that Jesus should have known beforehand so many of the peculiarities of the destiny which awaited him ? We shall next endeavour to ascertain if it is probable that he should have known and predicted his passion in a general way? and this will simplify the investigation of the difference between the narration of the synoptics and that of John.

There are two ways of explaining how Jesus should beforehand have known with such precision the details of his passion and death, the one supernatural, the other natural. The first appears to compass its purpose by simply asserting that the prophetic spirit which abode in Jesus in its supreme power must have laid bare to his vision in its totality the details of his destiny. Nevertheless, Jesus himself, in predicting his passion, appealed to the Old Testament, in which the prophecies respecting him where to to be literally fulfilled (Luke xviii. 31; compare xxii. 37; xxiv. 25, et seq.; Matt. xxvi. 54). Orthodox opinion should not, then, reject this aid ; and the turn which the subject will then take will be this: Jesus, penetrated and moved with the prophecies of the Old Testament was, with the aid of the spirit residing in him, in a state to infer from these writings the details of his passion and death. According to this opinion, then, whilst the announcement of the time of his passion must remain due to his prophetic foresight, unless it be supposed that he calculated the epoch from Daniel or from some similar source, Jesus might have been led to fix upon Jerusalem as the scene of his passion from consideration of the destiny of previous prophets, a destiny which was the type of his own, that is to say, that the spirit must have made known to him that there, where so many prophets had sealed their mission, the Messiah, as a necessary consequence, should also seal his (Luke xiii. 33); he might have been led to consider his death as the result of a formal judgment, from seeing that in Isaiah (liii. 8) mention is made of a “judgment" pronounced upon

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