Thomas was not present at this first appearance, and at a later interview was suffered to put his hand into the marks of the wounds.
|November 24, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter five||
In the case of Jesus, as in that of others, the vital spark would have been gradually extinguished, had not Providence mysteriously effected on behalf of its favourite that which in the case of others was sometimes effected in more obvious ways by human skill and care. The lance-thrust, which we are to think of rather as a mere surface wound, served the purpose of a phlebotomy. The cool grave and the aromatic unguents continued the process of resuscitation, until finally the storm and the earthquake aroused Jesus to full consciousness. Fortunately the earthquake also had the effect of rolling away the stone from the mouth of the grave. The Lord stripped off the grave-clothes and put on a gardener’s dress which He managed to procure. That was what made Mary, as we are told in John xx. 15, take Him for the gardener. Through the women, He sends a message to His disciples bidding them meet Him in Galilee, and Himself sets out to go thither. At Emmaus, as the dusk was falling, He met two of His followers, who at first failed to recognize Him because His countenance was so disfigured by His sufferings. But His manner of giving thanks at the breaking of bread, and the nail-prints in His uplifted hands, revealed to them who He was. From them He learns where His disciples are, returns to Jerusalem, and appears unexpectedly among them. This is the explanation of the apparent contradiction between the message pointing to Galilee and the appearances in Jerusalem. Thomas was not present at this first appearance, and at a later interview was suffered to put his hand into the marks of the wounds. It is a misunderstanding to see a reproach in the words which Jesus addresses to him. What, then, is the meaning of “Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed”? It is a benediction upon Thomas for what he has done in the interests of later generations. “Now,” Jesus says, “thou, Thomas, art convinced because thou hast so unmistakably seen Me. It is well for those who now or in the future shall not see Me; for after this they can feel a firm conviction, because thou hast convinced thyself so completely that to thee, whose hands have touched Me, no possible doubt can remain of My corporeal reanimation.” Had it not been for Thomas’s peculiar mental constitution we should not have known whether what was seen was a phantom or a real appearance of the reanimated Jesus.
In this way Jesus lived with them for forty days, spending part of that time with them in Galilee. In consequence of the ill-treatment which He had undergone. He was not capable of continuous exertion. He lived quietly and gathered strength for the brief moments in which He appeared among His own followers and taught them. When He felt His end drawing near He returned to Jerusalem. On the Mount of Olives, in the early sur. light, He assembled His followers for the last time. He lifted up His hands to bless them, and with hands still raised in benediction He moved away from them. A cloud interposes itself between them and Him, so that their eyes cannot follow Him. As he disappeared there stood before them, clothed in white, the two dignified figures whom the three disciples who were present at the transfiguration had taken for Moses and Elias, but who were really among the secret adherents of Jesus in Jerusalem. These men exhorted them not to stand waiting there but to be up and doing.
Where Jesus really died they never knew, and so they came to describe His departure as an ascension.
This Life of Jesus is not written without feeling. At times, in moments of exaltation, the writer even dashes into verse. If only the lack of all natural aesthetic feeling did not ruin everything! Paulus constantly falls into a style that sets the teeth on edge. The episode of the death of the Baptist is headed “Court-and-Priest intrigues enhance themselves to a judicial murder.” Much is spoiled by a kind of banality. Instead of “disciples,” he always says “pupils,” instead of “faith,” “sincerity of conviction.” The appeal which the father of the lunatic boy addresses to Jesus, “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief,” runs “I am sincerely convinced; help me, even if there is anything lacking in the sincerity of my conviction.”
The beautiful saying in the story of Martha and Mary, “One thing is needful,” is interpreted as meaning that a single course will be sufficient for the meal. The scene in the home at Bethany rejoices in the heading, “Geniality of Jesus among sympathetic friends in a hospitable family circle at Bethany. A Messiah with no stiff solemnity about Him.” The following is the explanation which Paulus discovers for the saying about the tribute-money: “So long as you need the Romans to maintain some sort of order among you,” says Jesus, “you must provide the means thereto. If you were fit to be independent you would not need to serve any one but God.”
 This interpretation, it ought to be remarked, seems to be implied by the ancient reading. “Few things are needful, or one,” given in the margin of the Revised Version.—TRANSLATOR.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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