« НазадПродовжити »
"They marvelled and glorified God,' certainly seems to presuppose it. The miracle of Jesus is thereby quite conceivable to us if we understand the such power' for which the witnesses glorified God, of the power symbolized by the healing to forgive sin.
We have already shown the grounds on which He gave the narrative just considered its place at the head of our second group. We again express our opinion that it signifies the highest of true treasures, the foundation of all salvation, the salvation and remission of sins' (Luke i. 77) as revealed in Christ. All the other miracles belonging to this group move within a narrower circle: they relate to single treasures of the kingdom of God which are now attainable. A real condition of the solution of our problem will be to show correctly in the various cases the special treasures referred to.
THE CLEANSING OF THE LEPERS.
From various intimations of the evangelists, we may draw the conclusion that our Lord had repeatedly cured the sickness of leprosy, which often occurred in Palestine. At the same time, only two cases are expressly and fully narrated in which He manifested His power over this disease. The one is related by the first three evangelists (Matt. viii. 2-4; Mark i. 40-44; Luke v. 12–14), the other only by the third (Luke xvii. 11-19). John reports no miracle of that kind by Jesus. Although Strauss cannot produce a prophetical passage which might have given occasion to the composition of these narratives, he finds in them, nevertheless, “prophetico-Messianic myths of the clearest stamp' (p. 442, Eng. transl. ii. 174). For instance, in Luke's account he believes that he recognises a palpable imitation of the healing of Naaman by Elisha. The resernblance between the one Samaritan who returned to give thanks, and the similar conduct on the part of Naaman, appears so much the more certain, since there is the express declaration in Luke iv. 27, that 'many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian.' Besides, the connection between the grateful stranger and the merciful Samaritan, he says, is so evident, that the history of the miracle before us is thus recognisable as a later composition, written in a friendly spirit towards the Gentiles. We know no better way to oppose such violent arbitrariness than by showing the complete probability of this miracle of our Lord.
1 The way in which Strauss arranges this circumstance (p. 444, Eng. transl. ii. 177)— In the comparatively early Grecian world of Asia Minor, maladies of this kind were not so common, and they could not be so easily adapted to the symbolical system of the fourth Gospel, which consists in the opposition between light and darkness, life and death?—is in its first half unworthy of serious opposition; and as regards the second part, it can be considered only as the delusion of an ignorant man. For Strauss must know that in the fourth Gospel (chap. xiii. 10, xv. 3), as well as in the First Epistle of John (chap. iii. 3), the conception of cleansing takes a prominent place. We shall find further on an opportunity of considering why John has reported no healing of lepers.
There is, in fact, some possibility that the healing of lepers by Jesus could be conceived as mere acts of His compassion, as simple tokens of the time of grace which had arrived. Was, then, leprosy such an evil as would at once have called forth that deep compassion which our Lord experienced at the sight of those smitten by it (moved with compassion, Mark i. 41), and which perfectly justified the urgent request of the ten (Have mercy on us, Luke xvii. 13)? Even the milder form of it, the neúkn, lepra Mosaica, was so severe a suffering, on account of the pain connected with it; on account of the loathsome appearance which caused disgust; on account of its course, slowly but surely leading to death, and on account of the depression caused by it on the spiritual life,—that the Jews recognised in it one of the hardest plagues, one of the severest punishments of Jehovah. At the same time, these cures only appear in their full light when they are placed in the symbolical point of view.
Before fully considering the subject, we will casually call attention to the following circumstance. Among the three miraculous signs which were entrusted to Moses, in order to attest his divine mission before the people, and to strengthen his own faith, the second was, as is known, his hand becoming leprous in his bosom, and again becoming cleansed (Ex. iv. 6, 7). Expositors do differ about its meaning; but they nearly all agree in this, that what Strauss calls only a divine jugglery,' is no mere tépas, but a onuelov of symbolical significance. But then the conduct of our Lord in both cases in which He helped the lepers, demands consideration. He sends them cleansed to the priests (Matt. viii. 4; Luke xvii. 14). We will speak later of the peculiar, indeed almost violent, severity with which He does this (Mark i. 43, 44). As far as the general circumstance goes, we have to call to remembrance the legal ordinance in Lev. xiv. 2 : This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest.' But if we consider the numerous symbolical acts by which this speaking of the cleansed to the priest is surrounded, this sending to him on the part of our Lord is just as certain a reference to the symbolical meaning of the healing of the leper, as the sending of the blind man to Siloam serves to the right understanding of the restoration of his
Now, when we consider the cleansing of the leper
from this point of view, the question arises, What higher gift has our Lord shown as manifested by these deeds ? Vitringa is not alone in saying that the leper is a symbol of sin. The homiletical exposition of Scripture considers the point as settled. We should certainly blame expositors if they employed this view without sifting it and closely defining it. It is more than a mere want of taste to give an apparent precision to its interpretation, such as to liken the hereditary character of leprosy to hereditary sin, etc.
It is certainly a view common to both Testaments to look upon sin as a sickness. Our Lord Himself interprets His assertion, "They that are whole need not a physician ; but they that are sick,' in this sense, 'I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance' (Luke v. 31, 32). But what case of sickness which Jesus had cured could not just as well have been put in this point of view! Or had leprosy a special right to it? No, certainly not; for it is not in accordance with Scripture to consider leprosy as a sickness, and to include it under this general category ! Let us compare the highly instructive passage in Matt. x. 8: 'Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils.' Thus our Lord charges His disciples when He sent them forth. In this trial the sick proper, those needing therapeutic aid, are alone the áo levoûUTES. The lepers are expressly distinguished from the sick as a special class of sufferers by themselves. The lepers are certainly sick in the general sense in which even the demoniacs can be so called. If therefore we wish to consider leprosy as a symbol of sin, we require a closer definition; and then from this closer definition we can recognise the gift of grace which
1 Whether the clause raise the dead' is genuine or not is of no consequence. We leave it out here, because the settlement of the question which interests us is not really advanced by it.
our Lord wishes to point out in the deliverance from this suffering.
We call attention to a twofold circumstance. First, leprosy is an evil of which one is conscious absolutely by the appearance. A sick man is sensible of his suffering, he feels himself ill; the leper observes it, he sees that he is not clean. His eyesight, not his feelings, announce to him the alarming symptoms. In the first stage, according to Lev. xiii. 1-7, it needed even the sharp eye of the priest to diagnose whether the leprosy was really existing or not. And even the experienced priest might be deceived: he had to wait to observe until the appearances justified a decisive judgment. In leprosy there was a far closer connection between being and appearing than in any other bodily suffering; indeed, in this disease the one coincides completely with the other. In this view it is significant, that the help which was given to the lepers is constantly described as the καθαρίζειν. Hardly once (excepting, perhaps, Luke xvii. 15) do we meet in the Gospels with the expression iáoaobai Aert poús; in fact, the question is always of the Kabapio uós (Matt. x. 8; Mark i. 41; Luke iv. 27, xvii. 14, 17, etc.). If the appearance of the leprosy had vanished, the suffering itself was also taken away.
It results from this, that leprosy can be a symbol of sin only so far as it relates to appearances, to its being perceived, and to its being observed with dissatisfaction as a personal disfigurement. And thus the gracious
1 From this point of view the striking representation in Matt. viii. 3, “ His leprosy was cleansed,' is explained much more satisfactorily than by means of the supposition of an inexact method of expression. There is also no need to consider that xodagičelv means here (and Mark vii. 19), as in other places, “ to drive away.' If we bear in mind that it is in leprosy that the suffering and the appearance of it coincide ; it can be said, “the leprosy was cleansed,' with the same right and in the same sense which Naaman in 2 Kings v. 11 expected that Elisha 'would strike his hand over the place and recover the leper.'