Ambition of the Apostles

Departing from the place where He had healed the Mark ix. 30-32. lunatic child, He passes through Galilee, avoiding, as Matt. xvii. 22, 23. far as possible, public attention, and giving Himself to the instruction of His disciples. He repeats the an- Luke ix. 43-45. nouncement respecting His death and resurrection, but they do not understand Him, and are afraid to ask. After some time thus spent they come to Capernaum ; Mark ix. 33-50. and He here discourses to them of their equality as Matt, xviii. 1-35. brethren, and teaches them who shall be regarded as Luke ix. 46-50. the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Peter, hav- Matt. xvii. 24-27. ing declared to the tax gatherer that his master is liable to pay tribute, goes by Christ's direction to the sea, and finds the tribute money in the mouth of a fish. Soon after this Jesus goes up secretly to Jerusalem to John vii. 2-10. attend the feast of Tabernacles.

If the healing of the lunatic child was, as we have supposed, in the neighborhood of Csesarea Philippi, the Lord, crossing the Jordan near its sources, would enter the northern parts of Galilee, and thus journey toward Capernaum. That this circuit was not for the purpose of public teaching is expressly said by Mark, (ix. 30:) " And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and He would not that any man should know." And the reason is added why He would not be known, " for He taught His disciples," &c. To instruct them more fully in the truths He had just opened to them of His approaching death and resurrection, now occupied Him, and the presence of large crowds would

have hindered Him in His purpose. How long this circuit continued we do not know, nor what particular parts of Galilee He visited. Matthew's language, (xvii. 22,) " And while they abode in Galilee," or more literally, "while they were going about in Galilee," implies that some time was spent there. The continued inability of the disciples to understand the Lord's words respecting His death and resurrection, will surprise no one acquainted with the Messianic expectations of the Jews. They found it impossible to give a literal interpretation to His words, but they were afraid to ask Him what He meant.

During these journeyings, and probably just before their arrival at Capernaum, a dispute had arisen among the disciples, who should be the greatest in the kingdom. That He was about to reveal Himself as the Messiah and set up His kingdom, was a belief still firmly rooted in their minds, and which His mysterious words about His death and resurrection seemed only to confirm. They knew that some great event was approaching ; what should it be but this long hoped for manifestation of the kingdom, when David's son should sit on David's throne ? It, therefore, naturally became now a question of deep personal interest to those most ambitious among them, who should fill the highest places under the new government. Perhaps the preference shown by Jesus to the three whom He took with Him upon the mount, and whom He had before specially honored, may have provoked envy and occasioned this dispute. It was not till after His arrival at Capernaum t'hat Jesus took notice of it. From Matthew (xviii. l) it seems that the incident of the tribute money had some connection with the strife, as some of the disciples coming to Him immediately after asked Him directly, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ? "l In the most expressive way, through a little child, He teaches them that only those like little children, trustful, humble, unambitious, could even enter the heavenly kingdom.

1 Greswell (ii. 462)'attempts to show that the question in Matthew to Jesus was subsequent to His question to the apostles in Mark (ix. 33) and in Luke, (ix. 46.)

The tax demanded of Jesus was the temple tax, which all Jews were obliged to pay yearly, (Ex. xxx. 13.)1 Some, as Wieseler, (265,) have understood a civil tax, payable to the Romans; but against this is the use of " didrachma" for the tribute, a sum equal to the half shekel, the legal due. Besides this, the scope of the Lord's reply shows that the temple tax is meant. As the Son of God, He was exempt from the payment to which others were bound for the support of ecclesiastical services. Had it been a civil tax, this reply would not have been so directly to the purpose.2

According to the Rabbins this temple tax was due between the 15th and 25th Adar.3 This would be about the time of the Passover. Greswell, however, maintains, upon the same authority, that it was paid at each of the three great feasts. We cannot then determine at what period of the year this demand of the tax gatherer was made. If payment was legally due at the Passover, still it may not have actually been demanded till a later period. It may be that, being regarded as a prophet, up to this time no tax at all had been demanded of Jesus, and that now, at the instigation of His enemies, and for the first time, the demand was made.* Some suppose that the Rabbins were exempt from taxation; and the question of the tax gatherer seems to show that he had not previously collected it of the Lord. That he should ask the question of Peter, may be explained from his prominent position as a disciple, or because, as a resident in the city, he was well known.

1 Josephus, Antiq., 18. 9. -.

2 Meyer; Winer, ii. 588, note 8 ; Trench, Mir., 299; Alford; Ellicott, 229. a See Winer, i. 4. * See Lightfoot in loco.

The inference of Bengel from the fact, that the Lord paid the tax for Himself and Peter but for none other of the apostles, that the others were too young to be taxed, is wholly improbable and unnecessary. A better basis has the inference of some early commentators, that the honor here shown to Peter gave edge to the dispute about preeminence.

It is at this period that we put His journey to Jerusalem to the feast of Tabernacles recorded by John, (vii. 2-10.) By many this journey and that mentioned by Luke (ix. 51-53) are regarded as identical. But a careful comparison shows so many points of difference that it is very difficult to believe them the same. These will be hereafter examined. For the present it will be assumed that the journeys are distinct.

In wrhat place Jesus met His brethren, (John vii. 3,) and whence He departed to the feast, is not certain, but most probably it was Capernaum.1 His brethren appear not wholly as unbelievers, but as those who, recognizing His works as wonderful, do not understand His course of conduct. Sharing the common opinions respecting the Messiah, they felt that if His Messianic claims were well founded, there could be no general recognition of them so long as He confined His labors to Galilee, (see vs. 41 and 52.) In advising Him to go and show Himself in Judea, their motives were friendly rather than evil. They knew that Jerusalem was the ecclesiastical centre, and that if He desired to be received by the nation at large, He must first find reception there. His works in Galilee, however great they might be, could avail little so long as the priests and scribes did not give Him their countenance and aid. The disciples He had already made were men of no reputation. Their adhesion gave Him no strength, for they were but Galilean fishermen and publicans, and, with few exceptions, poor and obscure people.

1 Greswell, ii. 482.

He must then stay no longer in that remote province, but go up to Jerusalem, and there in the temple, and before the priests and rulers, do His works. If once recognized there, He would be everywhere received. Had Jesus been such a Messiah as they supposed was to come, their advice was good. It is plain that they did not in any true sense believe on Him, but in a spirit of purely worldly wisdom attempted to guide Him in His conduct. Their advice was in its nature a temptation like that of the devil, (Matt. iv. 5 ;) a temptation to reveal Himself before the time, and in a presumptuous way. To the counsel of His brethren Jesus replies in substance, that His time is not come; that they were always sure of a friendly reception from the world, but Him it must hate, because He testified against it. Go you up to the feast. I do not go up to it, for my time is not yet come. Some think to find a contradiction here, since, saying " I go not up to this feast," He afterward went.1 One solution makes Him to have had no intention at this time to go, but afterward He changed His mind and went. Another lays weight upon the use of the present tense, " I go not," which means " I go not now, or yet;" or, as given by Alford, " I am not at present going up." Another lays weight upon " this feast," which it is said He did not in fact attend, except in its last days. Still another thus defines His words : " I go not up with you, or in public with the company of pilgrims," or " I go not up in such way as you think or advise." The matter to one who considers the scope of Christ's reply to His brethren, presents no real difficulty. They had said : " Go up to this feast and manifest thyself. Show thyself to the world, and work thy miracles in Judea." He replied: " My time to manifest myself is not yet come. I go not up to this feast with such intent.

1 For the reading in the received iextf " I go not up yet," ovirca ava&aww* Teschendorf has, " I go not up," owe awf}cuvw. So Alford, Meyer.

At some subsequent feast I shall manifest myself." As He had said so He acted, going up to Jerusalem in a secret way, avoiding all publicity, nor arriving there till the feast was partially past. At the following Passover He acted in substance as His brethren had advised, showing Himself to the world, and entering the holy city as a King, amid the shouts of the multitude.

The feast of Tabernacles was preceded by the fast of the Atonement, upon the 10th Tisri, or the 6th October of this year, the feast itself beginning on the 15 th Tisri, or 11th October. The Lord probably reached Jerusalem on the 12 th or 13th October. That He had reached the city earlier, and only now first showed Himself in the temple, is not implied in the narrative. We know not whether the apostles waited for Him, or went up at the usual time, but the latter is more probable. He went " as it were, in secret," which may imply not only that He went unattended, but went by some unusual and obscure route. That there was anything supernatural in His journey, or in His appearance in the temple, as some have supposed, does not appear in the narrative.