him altogether! At
bottom Jesus could not have desired anything else by his death than to
give the strongest public _example_ and _proof_ of his doctrine....
But his disciples were very far from _forgiving this_ death--though if
they had done so it would have been in the highest sense evangelical
on their part,--neither were they prepared, with a gentle and serene
calmness of heart, to _offer_ themselves for a similar death....
Precisely the most unevangelical feeling, _revenge,_ became once more
ascendant. It was impossible for the cause to end with this death:
"compensation" and "judgment" were required (--and forsooth, what could
be more unevangelical than "compensation," "punishment," "judgment"!)
The popular expectation of a Messiah once more became prominent;
attention was fixed upon one historical moment: the "Kingdom of God"
descends to sit in judgment upon his enemies. But this proves that
everything was misunderstood: the "Kingdom of God" regarded as the last
scene of the last act, as a promise! But the Gospel had clearly been
the living, the fulfilment, the _reality_ of this "Kingdom of God."
It was precisely a death such as Christ's that was this "Kingdom of
God." It was only now that all the contempt for the Pharisees and the
theologians, and all bitter feelings towards them, were introduced
into the character of the Master,--and by this means he himself was
converted into a Pharisee and a theologian! On the other hand, the
savage veneration of these completely unhinged souls could no longer
endure that evangelical right of every man to be the child of God,
which Jesus had taught: their revenge consisted in _elevating_ Jesus in
a manner devoid of all reason, and in separating him from themselves:
just as, formerly, the Jews, with the view of revenging themselves on
their enemies, separated themselves from their God, and placed him high
above them. The Only God, and the Only Son of God:--both were products
--And from this time forward an absurd problem rose into prominence:
"how _could_ God allow it to happen?" To this question the disordered
minds of the small community found a reply which in its absurdity
was literally terrifying: God gave his Son as a _sacrifice_ for the
forgiveness of sins. Alas! how prompt and sudden was the end of
the gospel! Expiatory sacrifice for guilt, and indeed in its most
repulsive and barbaric form,--the sacrifice of the _innocent_ for
the sins of the guilty! What appalling Paganism!--For Jesus himself
had done away with the concept "guilt,"--he denied any gulf between
God and man, he _lived_ this unity between God and man, it was this
that constituted _his_ "glad tidings."
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