With the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah the closest possible connexion was established, for every devout Jew, between Jesus’ message and his person; for it is in the Messiah’s activity that God Himself comes to His people, and the Messiah who does God’s work and sits at the right hand of God in the clouds of heaven has a right to be worshipped. But what attitude did Jesus himself take up towards his Gospel? Does he assume a position in it? To this question there are two answers; one negative and one positive.
In those leading features of it which we described in the earlier lectures the whole of the Gospel is contained, and we must keep it free from the intrusion of any alien element: God and the soul, the soul and its God. There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind that God could be found, and had been found, in the law and the prophets. “He hath showed thee, 0 Man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” He takes the publican in the temple, the widow and her mite, the lost son, as his examples; none of them know anything about “Christology,” and yet by his humility the publican was justified. These are facts which cannot be turned and twisted without doing violence to the grandeur and simplicity of Jesus’ message in one of its most important aspects. To contend that Jesus meant his whole message to be taken provisionally, and everything in it to receive a different interpretation after his death and resurrection, nay, parts of it to be put aside as of no account, is a desperate supposition. No! his message is simpler than the churches would like to think it; simpler, but for that very reason sterner and endowed with a greater claim to universality. A man cannot evade it by the subterfuge of saying that as he can make nothing of this “Christology” the message is not for him. Jesus directed men’s attention to great questions; he promised them God’s grace and mercy; he required them to decide whether they would have God or Mammon, an eternal or an earthly life, the soul or the body, humility or self-righteousness, love or selfishness, the truth or a lie. The sphere which these questions occupy is all-embracing; the individual is called upon to listen to the glad message of mercy and the Fatherhood of God, and to make up his mind whether he will be on God’s side and the Eternal’s, or on the side of the world and of time. The Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed it, has to do with the Father only and not with the Son. This is no paradox, nor, on the other hand, is it “rationalism,” but the simple expression of the actual fact as the evangelists give it.