Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 07. Chapter 7: Christ’s Necessary “Circumlocution”

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Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 07. Chapter 7: Christ’s Necessary “Circumlocution”

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SUBJECT: 07. Chapter 7: Christ’s Necessary “Circumlocution”

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Christ’s Necessary “Circumlocution”

And it came to pass when he was nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which, at your entering, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat; loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.

And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?

And they said, The Lord hath need of him.


IN THE foregoing chapters we observed Christ as He stood in the vestibule of the house of sorrows. Now we shall see Him put His own hand on the latch of the door that leads into the temple proper.

The first incident to attract our attention at this stage of the history of the passion is Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem. We all know that Jesus was given a great ovation as He rode into the Capitol. Had we not always known that He must be in His Father’s city?

It happens that very many observers have a way of seeing only the human aspect of that triumphal entry. These like to tell us of the enthusiastic thousands, of the surging masses of people who shout hosannas, extend those symbols of honor, the palm branches, in their hands, and who, in short, turn the city topsy-turvy by their holiday abandon. The sole regard of these observers is to that concourse of people. Jesus — to use a colloquial expression—is left to shift for Himself. The crowd becomes the subject of the predication and Christ the passive object of it, the Man to whom all these colorful things are “happening.”

It must be very obvious to all who ponder this event very carefully that to emphasize the contribution of the people in that way is to give the matter a false accentuation, quite out of harmony with the dominant tone of the story of the Bible. We must remember that the history of the Scriptures has been organically constructed and symmetrically planned by its author, the Holy Spirit.

The Reformed thinker and Bible student must take exception in general to any presentation of the Scriptures, and to any interpretation of them, which seems to assign a passive role to Jesus, one, that is, which only in a subsidiary and incidental way succeeds in including the Christ in the story at all. Christ Jesus is peculiarly the great Worker, the great Doer. His Father works, and He works. Hence He may at no time be presented as the “passive object” of events, and as that only. For Christ is conceivable in that way only when seen in relationship to His Father, and even as such He is as active as He is passive. Hence, when the church, and, for that matter, when anyone, speaks of an “active” and of a “passive” obedience, an equal stress should be placed upon both adjectives. Such balanced accentuation, as we see it, is one of the first principles of a Reformed interpretation of the Scriptures.

That the active obedience of Christ should be as sharply accented as His passive acquiescence becomes clear from a careful study of the passage at the head of this chapter. The incident related there illustrates quite plainly that in this triumphal entry Jesus Himself is peculiarly the active party; He is the first to act at every turn: it is He who initiates even the ovation. So obviously is Christ peculiarly in charge of affairs on this occasion that we almost feel inclined to speak of a kind of circumlocution. Were it not irreverent and illogical, we should almost say that Christ is at this time taking a very “roundabout” way to attain His ends, that He is making a superfluous detour. But to say that sounds startlingly irreverent, and is in no sense edifying. We can better turn our attention to the multitude again. Look at those surging crowds. Listen: they are shouting hosannas!

Nevertheless . . . it does look like circumlocution. And that on Jesus’ part. Perhaps we shall understand it better after we have studied again the introduction to the event.

In the first place, this is a very exciting time. The great festival which annually brought thousands of people, Jews and Gentiles, to Jerusalem from hither and yon is almost to begin. A nervously expectant crowd is looking forward to the scheduled program of events. The atmosphere is tense. And the tension is aggravated when this one and that begins to tell of the wonderful rumors that were beginning to be associated with the name of Jesus.

As quickly as a prairie fire the rumor passes from those native to the vicinity to the visitors from afar that Jesus has just miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead at Bethany. That piece of news creates a furor and immeasurably raises the pitch of excitement. The feast itself has not yet begun but the tension usually at its highest pitch during the festivities proper has now reached its acme beforehand. Naturally, the new miracle at Bethany, unusually astonishing as it was, is added, during the course of the conversations, to those which are already associated with the name of Jesus. A fascinating aureole begins to encircle His person. Quite definitely He becomes the center of attraction.

Moreover, the excitement is not the least bit tempered as the conversations on this corner and on that drift to the subject of the well-known friction between Jesus and the authorities. The question has been asked before, as a matter of fact, whether Jesus would dare to appear at the feast (Joh_11:56). It is being asked again: Will he dare to come? Will he be intimidated by the threat of the Scribes?

And now—how very remarkable—everyone has heard it said, each from a “reliable source,” not only that Jesus is in the immediate vicinity—for He is at Bethany—but also that He plans to come up with the people for the celebration. It is practically certain: the Nazarene will be there.

That news does put little Bethany on the center of the stage. There life was brought to light by Jesus’ grave-vanquishing power. Yes, life was called from the grave at Bethany. And this fact prompts the query: Can that life defend itself and Him who aroused it against the threat of death issued by the authorities?

We know that Jesus had arrived in Bethany on the Sabbath day. We can imagine how restless that Sabbath must have been. The little town, usually so quiet and peaceful, was in a tumult. Current rules and customs governing the length of a “Sabbath- journey” were not too strictly observed by those who felt like going over to Jesus’ house to satisfy their curiosity. Moreover, the distances separating the towns and villages were short. And anyway, if those distances did exceed the limit of a legitimate Sabbath-journey, there were devices enough the people could resort to, and, still preserving the letter of the law, travel as far as they pleased. On this particular Sabbath day, we can be sure, everything concentrated upon the person of Jesus.

Meanwhile, what does He do: recede into the background, or come out into society?

He answers the question Himself, and without hesitation. On the Sabbath He takes His rest, for He lives by the law. But on the next day, which is Sunday, He leaves Bethany, in the company of His disciples. That in itself is unusual. Imagine the crowds it must have attracted.

But now something takes place which causes not a little surprise. This time, so far from avoiding an ovation, Jesus seems actually to invite one. How often He had avoided the crowds; how frequently He had offset a mass demonstration by saying that none should report what miracles He had done. Now He seems deliberately to arouse curiosity and to attract the attention of the people.

Observe in how roundabout a way He proceeds.

He tells two of His disciples to go to a small settlement, not specifically named, situated some distance away. He tells them that when they arrive at that village they will find the colt of an ass tethered there. That they must take to Jesus.

It is this which, as we first read it, sounds very much like a circumlocution, like an unnecessary digression. If Jesus really wants a beast of burden, He Himself certainly can go and ask its owners whether He may use it. He can, of course, and that He does not is unusual and significant. Besides, He chooses an animal some distance removed rather than one from the immediate neighborhood. His disciples must fetch it. They are asked to do something which, to say the least, will excite the curiosity of those who see it: they are asked to commit a kind of robbery. Certainly their act will create that impression. Bold enough, all this, we feel like saying: to simply take the colt away from the man who owns it. Naturally the nonplussed owner will ask them what they are about. That, in turn, will precipitate considerable excitement in the street. A knot of people will collect there. Some discussion will ensue. The man will let the beast go. The rabble, their curiosity provoked, will follow the colt and its drivers until these come to the place where Jesus is awaiting them. We can follow the whole procedure to a T, can figure out precisely what will happen.

And so can Jesus. That is exactly the troublesome feature. Why this beating around the bush? We ask the question timidly and with embarrassment, but ... it persistently comes back for an answer.

And, startling as these circumstances are in themselves, we must remember that we have been looking at them only from the human point of view. There is another side. A miracle is taking place here: nothing short of a miracle. We notice that the moment we think of the strange coincidence of persons and circumstances. That coincidence persuades us that the Spirit is at work on this occasion. This is more than coincidence, more than accident. God Himself is active in the event. Jesus works toward God, but God also works toward Jesus. The significance of the episode is not only that Jesus’ discerning eye sees precisely where the colt is tied, and that He can state in advance exactly what the owner will say, but it is that God Himself is here disposing everything according to His extraordinary providence.

He directs matters so, that the colt is at the specified place, that the owner is at home, that the discussion predicted is actually begun, in short, that everything occurs as Jesus has announced beforehand.

Whoever believes with a childlike faith what the church confesses concerning an almighty and ever-present power of God’s providence, whoever knows that the “crisis”[1] is vitally present in every moment in which the sacred history of God’s special revelation is realizing itself, will conclude that this providence is obviously active at this time. The miraculous in the event may seem to be limited to a beast of burden, to a moping owner, and to two disciples acting rather unconventially. But, as far as the significance goes, that miraculous element is not second in importance to the smoking of Sinai, to the receding currents of the Red Sea, to the water issuing from the rock or to the attraction of the animals to the ark. This miracle is second to no other.

[1] Joh_12:31 : “Now is the judgment, the “crisis,” of this world; now is the week of the passion.”

Hence, if we try to keep God related to the event, we see how foolishly stupid it is to ignore the divinely “intentional” aspect of the event. There is a Divine purposiveness in it which comes from two sources, from above and below.

On the other hand, we do not care to deny, of course, that Jesus had good reasons for doing as He did. To name a few of these, for instance. The Saviour specified that the beast must be one “whereon yet never man sat.” This royal requirement was an expression of His own awareness of the distinctiveness of His position. And there is a good reason for His requiring a colt from a neighboring village rather than one from the immediate neighborhood. By that He demonstrated that as a King His is the right of confiscation. This privilege of the king had been declared a fact before the Spirit of prophecy by the mouth of Samuel had designated Saul as the first ruler of Israel. Now that Christ, as the last, the great, and the eternal, King has come into His kingdom, He makes use of that right at once, before the people thrust Him out of His empire.

But, even though such reasons tell us that the Christ had good cause for doing what He did, they do not satisfactorily account for our surprise at His circumlocution. That, then, requires a more specific explanation.

We must remember that once before in His life Jesus seemed to take a very roundabout way in arriving at His purpose. We read of that former instance in Luk_4:29-30. Jesus had just preached His first sermon in Nazareth. At its conclusion the populace wanted to put Him to death, for His words had rankled them. In a flash the little city rose in tumult, the people poured out of their houses in throngs, and the excited mob hustled Jesus out of the city, beyond the suburbs, and to the edge of a high precipice. But when the furies of Nazareth had driven Him to that point, Jesus became invisible and “went through the midst of them.” Naturally the question arises in our minds: Why did Jesus permit the people to go to such lengths before He made His escape? If He carried the power to withdraw from the passion and brutality of the throng anyway, why did He not exercise it at once? This, then, is another instance of apparent circumlocution. First He let every man, woman, and child in Nazareth lose himself in the bustle of an incensed mob. And only then He disappeared. He kept back the miracle until. . . .

And now He does it again.

There is a relationship between these two instances of circumlocution. In both cases Christ purposely, deliberately incited the mass upheaval. He lured the multitude from the homes of Nazareth in order to impress indelibly upon the minds of all, the significance of that high point in His prophetic career at which He had just arrived. The sermon He had just preached in their synagogue was His public inauguration into the prophetic ministry of Israel. And Jesus felt that this initial prophetic moment with its pure and penetrating ministration of the Word of God had to be preserved in the mind of the people as a “testimony unto them.” They had to be made to remember His word ever after so that they might recall later that He had said nothing amiss, that He had simply let the Scriptures speak, and that natural human nature had nevertheless rebelled against His true prophecy, even to the extent of wanting to put Him to death.

Now at Bethany, His kingly, not His prophetic claims, are the important issue. He is to enter Jerusalem today, and Jerusalem is peculiarly His city. He wants to make His debut as a King to as many people as He can possibly attract to one place. At Nazareth He had called a mass meeting to witness the beginning of His official career. Now He assembles the multitudes again, this time appearing in His official calling as a King. And He does this in order that at that last stage, His priestly “decease,” at once the height and depth of His official life, the whole world may, through the Word, witness the fulfillment of His calling.

In making these comparisons we get a glimpse of the artistic architecture of Jesus’ life.

The first time Jesus took a roundabout way He did so in order to catch the people in their own nets. Nazareth had countenanced Him for thirty years. That long they had accorded Him “grace and favor.” Then He made His first public sermon and attached a pure application to it. Thereupon the hosannas of the citizenry were metamorphosed into the bitterest of curses: crucify Him, crucify Him! And this time He invites the masses to choke the roads so that the whole world may be witness to the fact that the people first shout hosanna, and then, a few days later, when He refuses to become what flesh would have Him be, raise the other cry: crucify Him!

There is a magnificent harmony in the vital interrelationship of these events, a pattern of Divine perfection, an agonizing beauty.[1]

[1] “Mysterium tremendum.”

The second Adam Himself saw to it that His passing from the cuter court into the holy place of the tabernacle of the passion should not be forgotten for a moment. The Sanhedrin may be watching for an opportunity to take Him secretly, and not during the feast, especially not before the crowd. But Jesus precludes the possibility of a secret capture by describing an arc around the Sanhedrin, by making a circumlocution which, as we know now, is not superfluous but necessary.

The roundabout way which Jesus takes at Bethany, even though it seems to be a kind of self-advertisement, is essentially just the opposite. Jesus’ circumlocution is as substantial and as full of eternal content as the advertising of the world is hollow and superficial.

The Bible also speaks of a famous piece of advertising. Think of Isa_23:16. There we read a pathetic account of the decay of the heathen city, Tyre. The prophet pronounces a curse upon the kingdom of Phoenicia, and the judgment He prophesies is aimed especially at its capitol city. Just now, says the prophet, it may, by reason of its hydraulic engineering, its learning, and its military organization, occupy a conspicuous position in the secular world, but judgment will come upon it after a while. It will be buried, and then forgotten. But the forgotten and neglected city, we read, will not be congenially disposed to its widowhood. It will advertise itself in a futile attempt to recapture the attention it has lost. Tyre will parade upon the streets as a painted harlot, with a harp in her hand, trying to recaptivate the people by an artificially entrancing voice, by songs and playing.

This discerning picture of the prophet Isaiah is typical of that superficial and repulsive self-advertisement which not the true bride but the harlot needs to attract attention. Jerusalem, the true bride of the future, rises gloriously out of Zion, and, by virtue of an intrinsic beauty outwardly expressed, effortlessly enjoys the attentions of God Himself. But Tyre, the city which has prostituted the love of God, must assume the role of a neglected courtesan, weeping for a lost youth, and trying to compel attention by artificial means.

We should almost like to say that our Lord Jesus Christ similarly despairs now because of His own past; that He too is caught in a tragic conflict of personality, born of disillusionment; and that He by promoting the triumphal entry is making a desperate effort to get the esteem of the multitude. We should almost venture to say that . . .

We shall say it. There is a sense in which we dare to make that statement. In fact, that is all we can say—if we look upon Jesus only from the outside. Whoever fails to interpret Him in the light of prophecy, that is, in His own light, must conclude that the circumlocution which Jesus describes upon this occasion is quite superfluous, and very human—too characteristically “human,” in fact. That Christ was simply advertising Himself here in a last attempt to elicit esteem—that has been said. Friedrich Nietzsche said it. He once pictured Christ as a frail and world-weary Hebrew, who, doubting His future, bowed forward in despair and fell into death’s arms as the last attempt to find reception with the people failed.

In this matter, too, of course, the interpretation of unbelief and of faith differ fundamentally. The efforts of the Tyrian harlot to circumvent despair, and the circumlocution of Israel’s Bridegroom, Jesus, are in essence diametrically opposed. The advertisement Tyre employed was a caricature of the chaste wedding day of the true religion. But in Christ the true Bridegroom takes the legitimate way to His people. Tyre offers to give; however, she does so for her own sake. But the self-advertisement of Jesus is designed to give the great gift to those who have ears to hear, the great gift of love which does not seek its own. The promises of Tyre excite what is loathsome in those who meet her. But the charm of Jesus is designed to expel sin from His people, and to substitute for it righteousness and wisdom. The self-advertisement of Jesus, the true King of Jerusalem, is the swearing of an oath: Though ye may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.

Hence it was not a kind of fascination in seeking out false and idle antitheses, no playing with textual possibilities, which induced us to contrast Tyre with Jerusalem. For the Spirit of God which is the Spirit of Christ active in both instances. Two lines of prophetic pronouncement, two trends of history, both issuing in Christ, emerge from them. Always there are two lines running through the centuries. The despair of the Prince of Tyre is voiced in a cry which rends the night of a godless cultural world. That world is compelled to advertise itself because intrinsically it is devoid of love and life and truth. But Christ, the King of Jerusalem, still lives on, unforgotten, in the love acts of a church which is replete with beauty, truth, and simplicity.

Let us return, then, to the sublime beauty of the person of Jesus Christ as He manifests it here in all of its fulness. As we look upon Him we see that He is beautiful in His life, beautiful in His person, and beautiful in His relations to God and to man.

He is beautiful in His office. He instigates that mass ovation according to a careful plan; according to a specifically delineated outline, He calls forth a demonstration which will eventually force Him to the office of Caiaphas. Thus He illustrates that His active obedience is as great as His passive acquiescence. For it is in this very moment that He is entering His death, is assuming His passive obedience. Nevertheless He is very active, is obedient in point of deeds. Notice how He accommodates Himself to circumstances, how He, so far from letting things happen to Him, Himself guides the people and forces the authorities to the great deed to take place in God’s appointed hour. Once He said that He beheld “Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” But He is not content with the fall: He wrenches Satan out of heaven. Yes, the “sword is awakened against the great shepherd,” as the prophet had announced. But that sword is not only awakened from God’s side; Jesus draws its point to His breast with His own hands.

This harmony between His active and His passive obedience is sublimely beautiful. The two balance perfectly. Simplex sigillium veri—say that especially on the via dolorosa.

Christ is beautiful in His person. See how cautiously He carries out a previously carefully elaborated plan, and yet how organically, how smoothly that conduct is interwoven with the sequence of events. He embodies a simplicity which the people would almost call a naiveté, and a systematic approach which makes Him strictly the Architect of God.

This vital interrelationship of the several parts of Jesus’ life is astonishing in that it manifests a complete cooperation with God (the concursus). The Man Jesus makes an artistic pattern of His life. Each day of it He is working on a mosaic, a rich design, unified but elaborate, a perfect whole. Every new day introduces some new event into His program; but He always follows the old course. Successive moments provide successive changes, but no occurrence violates the form of the whole. Jesus’ life to many seems to be a piecing together of incidents. It comes in that guise to all who do not believe Him, to all who do not understand Him according to His own interpretation of His words.

But He who believes sees Him always doing His Father’s business.

His Father’s business . . . Christ is beautiful, too, in relation to His God.

A well-known commentator[1] points out that the perfect prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, presents a remarkable contrast of the first group of three petitions included in it to the second three. The first triad comprises three petitions in which some property of God, rather than God Himself, is the subject of each predication. God’s name is the subject of the first prayer; God’s Kingdom that of the second; His will that of the third. This featurebecomes especially conspicuous when we compare that first triad with the second group. For in each petition of this second series, God is the person addressed and the subject of the predication, even though that nominative of address and that subject is, as the grammarians say, “understood” and not “expressed”. Note that such is the case.

[1] Strack-Billerbeck, Das Evangelium nach Mattheus, (Komm. z. N. T. aus Talmud und Midrasch), 1, Munchen, 1922, p. 408.

Give us this day our daily bread (i.e., Do thou give...)

Forgive us our debts (Do thou forgive . . . )

Lead us not into temptation.

Now the commentator referred to has asked himself why this difference should obtain; why, in other words, God should be addressed directly in the second triad of petitions and not in the first. And the answer he suggests is that we human beings should have such respect for God’s work done in reference to Himself that it is unthinkable for us to designate precisely what He should do for Himself and to outline concretely how He should proceed to do it. The mystery which informs the hallowing of God’s name, the coming of His kingdom, and the fulfillment of His will is so awesome, so sublime a matter that the petitioner cannot conceivably name the ways and means by which these ends should be achieved. The Almighty forbid that any man should outline a specific program which the God of heaven and earth should follow in order to realize the great purpose of all that moves and has being.

But the same petitioner, says this commentator, does not hesitate to point out specific ways and means when the desired ends concern himself. Give us our bread, he prays; forgive us our debts; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. That is being very specific as to the “what” and “how.” And that courage is lacking in matters concerning God and His awful majesty.

There is no particular point in trying to decide now whether this interpretation of the delicate distinction between the first and second triads of the Lord’s Prayer is the correct one. Certainly it is beyond dispute that we human beings are perplexed in the extreme when it comes to naming the means God ought to employ in hallowing His name, accomplishing His will, and causing His kingdom to come. To creatures of the dust those exalted purposes are a mystery which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard. No human heart has appreciated that mystery, no human mind understood. The gulf which divides the Creator from the creature is wide, and no created mind has analyzed God’s being or measured the ways of His counsel.

Such is human limitation. But Christ is not bound in that way. He is true man and very God, and as such He is an eternal party to the counsel of God. His eye has seen, His ear has heard, and His mind has understood every minute detail, for He Himself planned along what avenues and by what channels God’s great purpose must be accomplished.

Moreover, Jesus’ true humanity enters into real relationship with His essential Divinity. He is ready now to assume personally the fulfillment of those three petitions of the first triad of the Lord’s Prayer. He knows the ways and means by which that must be done familiarly, He takes them into His hands, He looks them over, manipulates them. The King of supreme love, motivated by the perfect zeal of God, does not scorn to use human “tact” as He proceeds to hallow God’s name, to cause His kingdom to come, to do His will on earth almost as it is done in heaven. He thoroughly knows the steps in the program; without misgivings He makes use of definite means, fully satisfied that they will bring His Father’s purpose and His own to full fruition.

In setting out to achieve this sublime end, Christ proves to be not only our brother but also our Lord. As our brother He is a man among men; as our Lord He is exalted far above us, even in His humanity. He is simultaneously a servant and a king. As a servant He identifies Himself with the least of those who pray the perfect prayer. He uses common, human means to realize the great mystery of those first three petitions. A madding crowd, a colt, a man of the street—those are the media. But He is also the King, the first in rank among the people; first, too, in His humanity. In this double capacity He prays and explains the Lord’s Prayer; prays it in inaudible words, and explains it in common, in ordinary terms.

He Himself taught this prayer to His disciples. He alone could teach it, for He is the only person in heaven and on earth who actually embodies and fulfills its content and its form in His life.

Finally, Christ is most beautiful in His relationship to men. Observe how appropriately He treats each according to his essential nature: the Sanhedrin one way, the masses another. He has respect for the individuality of everyone and responds accordingly.

Jesus, certainly, has the right to startle the Sanhedrin, to break into its secret session, and to cause panic there, even as He had done when He dispersed the traders in the outer court of the temple and swept that court clean. And of course, He is able to do that. One prayer to heaven and twelve legions of angels will appear beside Him. Or He can give the word to the people and a legion of them will support Him in an attack upon that Bastille of falsehood, the Sanhedrin. Being students of Balaam (see chapter 4) its members may have little respect for hosts of angels, but they certainly will honor a few hundred of the people. People, soldiers, and many of them—that is an argument they can understand. But Jesus avoids them. He sees to it that its members hear of Him, but His course describes an arc around them.

To the people, however, the poor victims of hirelings, the subjects of traitors, to these He comes lovingly and patiently. He comes, eager to teach them one more lesson, anxious to ask them once more whether they choose to curse or to kneel. Such is the beautiful love which deals with each according to his character.

We must bow in reverence before this Man of sorrows, fully embodying perfect beauty as He does. We must bow, and remember that He goes up to celebrate a feast—but is meanwhile busy with His suffering.

And we must remember also that in order to achieve this service of love Jesus is compelled to resort to Tyre’s methods of self-advertisement. It is that fact which constitutes His suffering in this moment. In Jesus Christ God comes to Israel as a Bridegroom, for it is as a bridal people that He looks upon those masses today. Consider the incongruity, then. He who wants to preach the pure and holy law of marriage to His people is compelled to attract their attention in a way not unlike that employed by the Tyrian harlot. O man, bewail thy awful sins . . . because of them the Bridegroom must resort to artificial tactics to court your attention. Surely His perfect love has a right to your response by virtue of its intrinsic beauty. And still, after the flaming passion of that love has flared up into an official service of thirty-three years, the Bridegroom must woo by superficial means! True, these do not defile His love at all, nor cast the slightest reproach upon it, but they are, nevertheless, a sad comment on human sin and perversity.

Fortunately, however, that need not be the closing thought. We conclude in worship. Jesus’ circumlocution was a necessary one. What is necessary is not circumlocutive; what is circumlo- cutive is not necessary. It is true that Jesus takes a roundabout way. But He is busy in the things of His Father. Beyond that our thoughts cannot go.

We do not always see the perfection of that pattern. We do not always see that by means of the apparently confused intervolutions of His career, Christ was creating the perfect poem, His Father’s work. It will require all our days to the end of time to see that steadily always. To get just a glimpse of it requires a consecrated heart and a quiet soul.

But whoever has caught a glimpse of the fact that Jesus in the mean and commonplace activities of His life is busy in the things of His Father—He has experienced a moment of great faith. Whoever has seen that Christ’s by-paths never lead away from the highway of His official career will find rest in His spirit, rest and reverence and trust. To see Him in that way is to see Him perform a double duty. It is to see Him bear the suffering that comes to Him because of our transgressions. It is to witness His perfect poise, to see a second Adam whose attention is not distracted, and who keeps the garden of His soul beautiful and pure. This is the Saviour who suffered for what we did amiss and who achieved what we failed to do.

He will enter the temple of suffering now. But it is comforting at this point to take knowledge of both of Christ’s burdens. It is a comfort to witness the passive obedience by which He atones for our sin, for the sin by which we made chaos of the cosmos. And it is a blessing to note His active obedience, reaching to the beauty of God, an obedience which converts the chaos into a cosmos again, builds it and preserves it in and around His soul.