Courses

The Historical Jesus: Lecture Ten


When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!

The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

Those missionaries mentioned earlier went from town to town and preached the ethic of love expedient for kingdom citizens. Those who accepted their message were welcomed into the circle of disciples while those who did not were upbraided for their hardness of heart. The fate of these kingdom rejecters is judgment.

What is so peculiar about this is that it seems to be opposed to Jesus simple preaching of the Gospel and leaving the response to the individual. It seems, therefore, that this segment of text would belong to the work of the early church as it spread out and was being rejected in some quarters. In response to this rejection, threats were tendered. This is the way many scholars view the issue.

However, there is nothing unreasonable in assuming that Jesus did proclaim judgment on those who rejected the Kingdom; for in sum th- not his message but the Kingdom and therefore God himself. For an enthusiastic follower of God such rejection is worthy of denunciation. Thus in my view these sentences clearly stem from the historical Jesus.

"No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness.

This saying reminds the disciples that they are to be straightforward and up front about their commitment to the kingdom. They must not play the hypocrite and hide the light that is within them. Since they have opened their eyes to the light they can now no longer stumble around in the dark.