John's Testimony to Jesus

Immediately after His baptism Jesus was led by the Matt. iv. 1-11, Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, and Markl 12,13. continued there forty days. After the temptations were Luke iv. 1-13. ended He returned to the Jordan. Just before His return, John i. 19-28. John was visited by a deputation of priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to inquire who he was, and by what authority he baptized. In reply, he announces himself as the forerunner of the Messiah. The next day he sees Jesus coming to him, and bears witness to Him as the Lamb of God. The day following he repeats this testimony to his Johni. 29-3^7. disciples. Two of them follow Him to His home, and, joined by others soon after, go with Him to Galilee. John i. 38-51.

The Synoptists do not mention the visit of the deputation to the Baptist, nor does John mention the temptation, but it is plain that the latter preceded the former. The temptation followed immediately upon the baptism, (Mark i. 12,) and during the forty days of its continuance John remained in the same place preaching and baptizing.

i Meyer in loco; Ebrard, 259. 2 So Pilkington and Whiston.

s So Meyer.

His reputation seems now to have reached its culminating point, and attracted the attention of the Pharisees and ecclesiastical rulers at Jerusalem. So popular a religious reformer could no longer be left unnoticed, and accordingly, acting probably in an official manner as the Sanhedrim, they sent a deputation of priests and Levites to ask him certain questions. As he denied that he was " the Christ," or " Elias," or " that prophet," his answers gave them no sufficient ground of accusation against him, however much they might have sought it. The next day he sees Jesus, apparently now returning from the temptation, and for the first time points Him out as He that should come after him, the Lamb of God, and Baptizer with the Holy Ghost. This he could not have done till after the baptism, for after it was the sign given, and immediately after the descent of the Spirit, Jesus departed into the wilderness. This was, therefore, the first opportunity of the Baptist to testify to Him personally, as the Christ. If the baptism had not taken place before the coming of the priests and Levites, there is no room for it in the subsequent narrative. Some suppose that Jesus had returned from the temptation before the deputation came, upon the ground that v. 26 implies His personal presence.1 Most, however, place His return upon the next day, (v. 29.)

John's testimony to Jesus was, up to this time, general. He knew that one should come after him, but who, or when, he could not say; and this is the character of his witness, as given in the Synoptists. But after the baptism he could bear a definite witness. He had seen and recognized the Messiah by the divinely-appointed sign, and could say, This is the man, he is come, he is personally present before you.

i So Alford in loco.

To ■whom the testimony (vs. 29-34) was spoken, is not certain. Perhaps it was spoken before his disciples only, though the multitude, and also the deputation from Jerusalem, may have been present. As, however, the Pharisees generally rejected John's baptism, as without authority, and did not acknowledge his office as a divinelyappointed herald of the Messiah, it was plainly idle for him to point out Jesus to them as such, (Luke vii. 29, 30.) But to his own disciples, and to all the people who, by being baptized of him, had acknowledged his prophetic character, such a designation of Him was valid, and they would recognize His Messianic character upon his testimony.1

The next day (v. 35) John repeats his testimony in the presence of two of his disciples.2 One of them was Andrew, and there is no doubt that the other was the Evangelist himself, though with the reserve that characterizes him he does not mention here, or elsewhere in* his gospel, his own name, or that of his mother, or brother. " It was about the tenth hour " that the two disciples went with Jesus to His abode, (v. 39.) If we adopt the Jewish computation, which divides the day from sunrise to sunset into twelve hours, the tenth hour would be that from 3-4 P. M.3 This, however, would leave but a brief space for their interview, and seems inconsistent with the statement that " they abode with Him that day." Some, therefore, refer this to the time when Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus. All the day had the two disciples been with Him, and did not leave Him till the tenth hour. Others say that the two going late in the afternoon remained with Him during the night. Many, not satisfied with these explanations, prefer the Roman computation, which began at midnight. So reckoned, the tenth hour would correspond to our 10 A. M., and the disciples had the whole day for their interview.1 Whether, however, the Roman computation of the hours of the day really differed at all from the Jewish is doubtful f nor, if so, does the Evangelist seem to have ever used it.3

1 As to the view of Origen, that there were three different missions from Jerusalem, distinguished in vs. 19, 21, 25, see Williams' Nativity, 264.

2 Sepp supposes these two to have been witnesses of the Lord's baptism, according to a Jewish law respecting the baptism of proselytes.

s Winer, ii. 560.

The finding of Simon (v. 41) by his brother Andrew, and his coming to Jesus, was upon the same day spoken of, (v. 35.) It is probable, from the form of expression, " He first findeth his own brother Simon," that as Andrew brought his brother Simon to the Lord, so John also brought his brother James.4 But Alford explains it as " implying that both disciples went together to seek Simon, but that Andrew found him first."

The next day (v. 43) Jesus departs to Galilee. There seems no good reason to doubt that He was accompanied by Simon, and Andrew, and John, who had recognized in Him the Messiah. Some, however, suppose that they remained with the Baptist, and did not join Jesus till a much later period.5 This is intrinsically improbable. Whether Philip was called by the Lord before His departure, or upon His way, is doubtful.6 Nor is it certain that the calling of Philip was founded upon a previous acquaintance with the Lord: it may have been through the agency of Simon and Andrew, who were of the same city, (v. 44.) Philip now brings to the Lord another disciple. Where he found Nathanael is not said, but most probably upon the journey.

i So Ebrard, 276; Ewald, Christus, 248.

2 See Becker's Gallu's, 315 ; Pauly, Real Encyclopadie, ii. 1017.

3 Against it, Meyer, Lichtenstein, Luthardt, Alford. See the following passages, iv. 6 and 52; xi. 9 ; xix. 14, which will each be examined in their order. Greswell, ii. 216, admits that the Jewish and Roman modes of computation were alike, but supposes John to have used the modern—from midnight to noon, and noon to midnight.

4 Meyer, Lichtenstein. & So author of " The Messiah/' 73. 6 For the former, Meyer, Alford; for the latter, Tholuck.

As the home of Nathanael was at Cana of Galilee, (John xxi. 2,) it has been thought by some that there he was brought to the Lord.

The place of the Lord's temptation was in the wilderness of Judea already spoken of, and cannot be more particularly designated. Tradition points to a high mountain a little west of Jericho, overlooking the plain of the Jordan, and which was the " exceeding high mountain " from which the Tempter showed the Lord all the kingdoms of the world. This mountain, in allusion to the forty days' fast, was called the Quarantana. Thomson says that " the side facing the plain is as perpendicular and apparently as high as the rock of Gibraltar; and upon the very summit are still visible the ruins of an ancient convent." Robinson speaks of it as "a perpendicular wall of rock, 1,200 or 1,500 feet above the plain." He does not think the name or the tradition to be older than the crusades, the mountain being first mentioned by Saewulf about 1100 A. r>., and its name a hundred years later. Stanley makes the scene of the temptation to have been on the eastern side of the Jordan, among " the desert hills whence Moses had seen the view of'all the kingdoms' of Palestine."1 An old tradition makes the trial of Adam and Eve in Paradise to have been forty days.

Matthew and Luke differ in the order of the three temptations; but on internal grounds, which cannot here be given, that of Matthew is to be preferred.2

That Jesus returned at once from the wilderness to the Jordan, is apparent from the whole order of the narrative. Wieseler, however, (258,) makes a period of 5-7 months to have intervened, during which nothing respecting Him is narrated. This is in the highest degree improbable.

1 See Ellicott, 109 ; Greswell, ii. 202. Sepp also puts it on the eastern shores of the Dead Sea.

2 As to the relation of the fast to the temptations, see Greswell, ii. 206; Williams, Nativ., 244.