A Wonderful Meeting
On the evening of January 23 we had a most wonderful and enjoyable meeting in the auditorium of the First Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The meeting was called by the radio committee and a very nice and edifying program was prepared by them. The chief purpose of the meeting was to acquaint the audience with the work of the radio committee and to inform our people about the various stations from which our program is broadcasted and thus to create more interest in our radio work. In this they succeeded very well.
There were representatives from all our churches in the vicinity and the down stairs part of the auditorium was well filled. There was some beautiful singing by the men’s chorus of First Church and by the mixed chorus of Hope Church as well as by some individuals. Besides, two members of the radio committee gave the audience an interesting number by passing through the auditorium with microphones and asking various people of those present whether they listened to our broadcast on Sunday and how they liked it.
A special number was arranged by the mission committee. The Rev. C. Hanko spoke on the work of the mission committee in connection with the radio. He read several letters from different parts of the world outside of the United States which revealed that it was possible to do mission work in foreign lands by means of the radio.
We may certainly be grateful to the radio committee for preparing for us such an interesting program.
The chairman announced that, after the meeting in the auditorium, there would be a social get together where coffee and cake would be served.
After a few remarks, in which he emphasized the importance of preaching the Word of God in distinction from mere lecturing, even over the radio, the undersigned closed the meeting with prayer and thanksgiving to God.
Everyone present certainly enjoyed the evening as was evident from the remarks made at the sociable aftermath in the basement.
It was a wonderful evening, indeed.
Did They Know That Jesus Is The Christ?
Sometime ago I received a bit of correspondence from the Rev. H. Veldman to which, I believe, I answered in a personal letter without, however, responding materially to the question that was asked in the letter. Although the parties that were interested did not directly ask me to answer the question in The Standard Bearer, they, nevertheless, suggested that they would like to have me do so.
Here follows the question:
“At our Ladies’ Aid meeting we were confronted with the following problem. We are studying John 8 and were busy with the vss. 25-30. Note what we read in vs. 25. Then someone made the remark that you had said in a radio sermon (April 7, 1957, third page, a little below the middle of the page) that the Jews knew that Jesus was the Christ because He had declared this repeatedly and had also manifested it in all His way and works . . . And this appears in harmony with what we read in Matt. 21:38. This latter passage appears to teach that the Jews recognized Jesus as the Heir. However, this seems to be in conflict with John 8:28; here Jesus says that they would know Him, that He is He, when they lift up the Son of man. And we also read in Acts 3:17 that ‘through ignorance they did it as did also your rulers,’ and in I Cor. 2:8 that “had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.’
“So you understand our problem. Of what and to what extent were the Jews guilty when they crucified the Lord? What did they know concerning Jesus of Nazareth? This could be an interesting question forThe Standard Bearer. The Ladies’ Aid did not decide last Thursday evening to send this question to The Standard Bearer; but the thought was expressed after the meeting that it might be a good thing to do so. You would probably rather answer the question publicly than in a private letter to me. You understand the problem and can word the question as you please. You need not name me in The Standard Bearer, although I surely have no objection to your doing so.”
Here, then, is the question. And I will attempt to answer it to the best of my knowledge.
First of all, I wish to quote the passage of my radio sermon to which reference is made in the above stated question. The whole passage reads as follows:
“We may ask the question: who were they that crucified the Lord? And the answer of Scripture is: the whole world as it lieth in the darkness of sin and death. In the first place, of course: there were the soldiers that were immediately instrumental in His execution. But they were personally responsible too, for they became more than executioners. Already in the trial before Pilate they had robed Him in a mock garment, and put a crown of thorns on His head, and a mock scepter in His hand, and saluted Him with a mock salute, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They therefore were also responsible. Besides, they parted His raiments among them, and cast lots for His upper garment, concerning which they said, “Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.” John 19:24. Hence, although the soldiers stood in the service of the Roman government, nevertheless they themselves became responsible. Next, of course, and behind the soldiers, stands Pilate, the Roman governor, who became the judge of our Lord, and although he knew Him to be righteous and innocent, yet condemned him to death to please the Jews. His was of course, the greater sin. But even back of the Roman political world was the religious world represented by the Sanhedrin of the Jews. They knew that he was the Christ, as He had emphasized repeatedly, and as all His way and work plainly revealed to them. And therefore, we repeat: it was the whole world,—the military, the political, and the religious world,—that crucified our Lord. It was the world that lay in the darkness of sin and death, with the prince of this world at their head.” The part to which Edgerton calls special attention in the above paragraph is, of course, that which speaks of the fact that the Sanhedrin knew that He was the Christ. The tests to which Edgerton refers do, indeed, seem to teach that the Jews that crucified the Lord did not know that He was the Christ and that they did it in ignorance, so that they were not guilty of the sin of rejecting the promised Messiah and of killing Him.
But let us look at these passages a little more closely.
In I Cor. 2:8 we read: “Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Now this passage does not prove that, at the time of the crucifixion and before, the leaders of the Jews, the Sanhedrists, did not know that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Let us note:
1. That the apostle here does not speak merely of the leaders of the Jews but of the princes of this world. Now, it is very probable that by this expression he also refers to the Sanhedrists, particularly to Annas and Caiachas, but he certainly includes the leaders of the Romans, princes of this world like Herod and Pilate. Hence, the text does not answer the question whether or not the Sanhedrists knew that Jesus was the Christ when they crucified the Lord of glory. It refers to a different knowledge and to a different ignorance which characterized all the princes of this world in common.
2. Of this different knowledge the apostle speaks in the context. When in the test quoted he writes that, if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory, he refers to a true, spiritual-ethical knowledge, a knowledge that is imparted by the Holy Spirit. For in vss. 6 and 7 we read: “Howbeit we Speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” It is, evidently, to this true wisdom that the apostle refers when he writes in vs. 8 that had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. That this is true is still further evident from what follows. There we read, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him: But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, even the deep things of God.” And once more in vs. 12: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given us, of God.” This spiritual knowledge none of the princes of this world possessed. Spiritually, they were in darkness. They were foolish, spiritually foolish.
3. This darkness and spiritual foolishness, however, did not make it impossible for men like Annas and Caiaphas and the rest of the leaders of the Jews to know the fact that Jesus was the Christ. Let us ask the question: would they not have crucified the Lord if they had had some knowledge of the fact that He was the Christ? My answer would be: they certainly would have as long as he walked among them in the state of humiliation. Did they not deny Him and even invent the story that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus after He was raised from the dead? In other words did they not really crucify Him again? And do not men today do the same thing even though they cannot deny the fact revealed in the gospel? But, surely, the darkness of the Sanhedrists and their spiritual foolishness certainly did not mean that they could not, in some measure, know that He was the Christ.
In the same way I would explain Acts 3:17.
In the context, Peter, who is speaking here, emphasizes the great sin they had committed by denying and killing Christ. They denied the Holy One and the Just; they preferred a murderer; they killed the Prince of life; and they had delivered Him to Pilate though he would rather let Him go. Such was their sin, and, surely, even apart from the fact that some of them knew that He was the Christ, they all knew that they had committed a heinous sin. But in vs. 17 the apostle adds: “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Now, in the first place, I am of the opinion, as is also expressed in some commentaries, that Peter expresses himself mildly in order to gain his audience. But, in the second place, I think that the term “ignorance” may be referred to, not to the fact Jesus is the Christ, but to spiritual foolishness and carnal lust and darkness: The fact that Jesus is the Christ, or, at least that He claimed to be the Christ, was well-known even to the high priest, witness the oath under which he put the Lord at the time of his trial. But, although he knew the fact, he did not have the faith and, hence, he lived in spiritual darkness. In that sense, he was ignorant, as were also the rest of the audience.
As to John 8:28, it is, undoubtedly true that many of the Jews did not understand that He was the Christ. They expected an entirely different Christ. But after Jesus was lifted up, that is, after His cross and resurrection and exaltation, they understood, not only, but many also believed on Him. To be sure, the cross and exaltation of the Lord made it much clearer than before that He is the Christ.
Still, I would maintain that; even before His being lifted up many were acquainted with the fact that He was the Christ.