Do not say that the whole presentation above is exaggerated. Ah, you know (but, possibly, have not fully realized it) that among all the respectable men, among all the enlightened and sensible men, there was but one—though it is easily possible that one or the other of them, impelled by curiosity, entered into conversation with him—that there was but one among them who sought him in all seriousness. And he came to him—in the night! And as you know, in the night one walks on forbidden paths, one chooses the night to go to places of which one does not like to be known as a frequenter. Consider the opinion of the inviter implid in this—it was a disgrace to visit him, something no man of honor could afford to do, as little as to pay a nightly visit to—but no, I do not care to say in so many words what would follow this “as little as.” Come hither to me now all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
THE SECOND PHASE OF HIS LIFE
His end was what all the wise and the sensible, the statesmen and the citizens and the mockers, etc., predicted it would be. And as was later spoken to him, in a moment when, it would seem, the most hardened ought to have been moved to sympathy, and the very stones to tears: “He saved others; let him save himself,” and as it has been repeated thousands upon thousands of times, by thousands upon thousands: “What was it he spoke of before, saying his hour was not yet come—is it come now, perchance?”—It has been repeated, alas, the while the single individual, the believer, shudders whenever considering—while yet unable to refrain from gazing into the depth of what to men is a meaningless absurdity—shudders when considering that God in human guise, that his divine teaching, that these signs and wonders which might have made a very Sodom and Gomorrha reform its ways, in reality produced the exact opposite, and caused the teacher to be shunned, hated, despised.
Who he is, one can recognize more easily now when the powerful ones and the respected ones, and all the precautionary measures of those upholding the existing order, have corrected any wrong conception one might have entertained about him at first—now when the people have lost their patience to wait for a Messiah, seeing that his life, instead of rising in dignity, lapsed into ever greater degradation. Who, pray, does not recognize that a man is judged according to the society in which he moves—and now, think of his society! Indeed, his society one might well designate as equivalent to being expelled from “human society”; for his society are the lowest classes of the people, with sinners and publicans among them, people whom everybody with the slightest self-respect shuns for the sake of his good name and reputation—and a good name and reputation surely are about the least one can wish to preserve. In his company there are, furthermore, lepers whom every one flees, madmen who can only inspire terror, invalids and wretches—squalor and misery. Who, then, is this person that, though followed by such a company, still is the object of the persecution of the mighty ones? He is one despised as a seducer of men, an impostor, a blasphemer! And if any one enjoying a good reputation refrains from expressing contempt of him, it is really only a kind of compassion; for to fear him is, to be sure, something different. Such, then, is his appearance; for take care not to be influenced by anything that you may have learned after the event—as, how his exalted spirit, with an almost divine majesty, never was so markedly manifest as just them. Ah, my friend, if you were the contemporary of one who is not only himself “excluded from the synagogue” but, as you will remember, whose very help meant being “excluded from the synagogue”—I say, if you were the contemporary of an outcast, who in every respect answers to that term, (for everything has two sides) : then you will scarcely be the man to explain all this in terms directly contrary to appearances; or, which is the same thing, you will not be the “single individual” which, as you well know, no one wants to be, and to be which is regarded as a ridiculous oddity, perhaps even as a crime.