A careful consideration of the Lord's Judean ministry shows the following characteristics. It was begun by an open assertion of His Messianic character, in the cleansing of the Temple. In this act He assumed an authority based upon His relation to God as His Son, (John ii. 16,) and in it He brought His claims directly to the knowledge of the priests and of all who had any supervision of the Temple service. This act he follows by miracles, perhaps wrought in the Temple, and which could not have been unknown to the hierarchy. As none of the rulers acknowledge Him, or perhaps even visit Him, except the doubting Nicodemus, He leaves the city, and begins somewhere in the province the work of baptizing, which He performed by the hands of His disciples. He does not, so far as we know, go about preaching in the synagogues; He works no new miracles. All this is in harmony with His position as one waiting for the recognition of the nation. The Baptist had pointed Him out as the Messiah. In the Temple, before the priests and elders, in the most open and significant way, He had asserted His Messianic authority, and given miraculous proof of His divine commission. He had thus presented Himself before those whom God had appointed to rule the nation, and into whose hands it was given to receive or reject Him. As He finds no recognition, He still seeks to draw them to His baptism, and thus lead them to a right knowledge of His work.1 In all that He does during this period there is apparently no step looking forward to the abrogation of the Mosaic institutions, and to the formation
1 The nature of this baptism, and its relations to the baptism of John, will be hereafter fully considered.of a church on a new foundation. Although assisted in His work by a few who early discerned in Him the Messiah, He seems to have organized no body of disciples, and to have done nothing that indicated a purpose to gather out a few from the nation at large. The whole Judean ministry is an appeal to the people to receive Him as the Messiah through the divinely constituted heads.