The Period Of Doubt Among The Friends Of Jesus: A Study In The Life Of Jesus -- By: Edward I. Bosworth

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 057:227 (Jul 1900)
Article: The Period Of Doubt Among The Friends Of Jesus: A Study In The Life Of Jesus
Author: Edward I. Bosworth


The Period Of Doubt Among The Friends Of Jesus: A Study In The Life Of Jesus

Prof Edward I. Bosworth

It is necessary first to sketch briefly Jesus’ method of procedure in announcing his Messiahship, for only so do we see how the period of doubt was occasioned.

According to Matthew a voice from heaven at the baptism, applying to Jesus the Messianic title, Son of God, identified Jesus to John the Baptist as Messiah. According to the first chapter of John’s Gospel, the Baptist introduced at least two, and probably more, of his disciples to Jesus as Messiah. There is evidence that the Baptist limited this explicit designation of Jesus as Messiah to an inner circle of his disciples, speaking of him to the main body simply as a very great personage from whom mighty works were to be expected. The evidence of this is the fact, that later, when John the Baptist and Jesus were working near each other in northern Judaea or southern Samaria, the Baptist’s disciples came to him in a spirit of grieved loyalty, complaining that he who had been with them beyond Jordan, to whom their Rabbi had borne testimony, was now drawing all men to himself.1 They would not have resented the growing popularity of Jesus, if the Baptist had previously distinctly introduced him to them as the Messiah. They would surely have joined the company of Jesus, as did those to whom the Baptist did speak of Jesus’ Messiahship. Another indication that John spoke publicly of Jesus only as of a great personage is seen

in the later attitude toward Jesus of the people east of the Jordan. Late in his ministry, when he was generally thought to be a Messianic aspirant, he went back to this region east of the Jordan where he had first received testimony from John. On the occasion of this visit, the people seem to have regarded him, not as one who had been designated by John as the Messiah, but as one from whom mighty works had been predicted. “John,” they said, “did no sign: but all the things whatsoever John spake of this man were true.”2 They then proceeded to believe in Jesus, presumably as Messiah, accepting the surmise that had now become current regarding him.

It is to be observed that these two different, though wholly consistent, designations of Jesus are attributed to the Baptist, not the one in the Synoptic Gospels and the other in John’s Gospel, but both in John’s Gospel. The explanation of the phenomenon is to be sought in Jesus himself. The Synoptic Gospels teach very distinctly that Jesus was opposed to any general announcement of his Messiahship. He hushed the confessions of the affright...

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