I General Survey of the Ministry 106. The attempt to arrange an orderly account of the way in which Jesus set about the work to which he was called at his baptism is met at the outset by a problem. The vivid and familiar words of Mark (i.14), seconded by the representation in both Matthew (iv.12) and Luke (iv.14), indicate the imprisonment of John as the occasion, and Galilee as the scene of the inauguration of Jesus' public ministry. The fourth gospel, on the other hand, tells of a work of Jesus and his disciples in Judea prior to the imprisonment of John (in.24), and makes this work follow at some interval after the inauguration of the Messianic ministry in Jerusalem. The minuteness of detail of time and place in the early chapters of John (i.19 to iv.43), together with the vividness of their narrative, give them strong claim to credence. They thus record a ministry earlier than that narrated in the other gospels, proving that the actual inauguration of Jesus' work occurred in Jerusalem at a Passover season previous to the imprisonment of John. This is known as the Early Judean Ministry.107. The fact that Peter was wont to tell the story of Jesus' life in such a way as to lead Mark to set the opening of the ministry after the close of John's activity, indicates that that beginning of work in Galilee seemed to the disciples to be in a way the actual inauguration of Jesus' constructive and successful work. Peter cannot have been ignorant of the labors in Judea, though he may not himself have accompanied Jesus to the Passover. A new stage in the life of Jesus began, therefore, with his withdrawal to Galilee.108. The story of the Galilean ministry is given chiefly by the first three gospels, John contributing but two incidents to the period covered by that ministry, -- a second miracle at Cana (iv.46-54), and a visit to Judea (v.1-47), -- and relating more fully the story of the feeding of the multitudes (vi.1-71). The journey from Judea through Samaria (John iv.1-45) should be identified with the removal to Galilee which stands at the beginning of Mark's record (i.14; Matt. iv.12; Luke iv.14). Mark's account of the Galilean activity of Jesus (i.14 to ix.50) is one of such simple and steady progress that the whole period must be considered as a unit.109. In the use which Matthew (iv.12 to xviii.35) and Luke (iv.14 to ix.50) make of Mark's record this unity is emphasized. Their treatment of the matter which they add, however, makes it best to study the period topically rather than attempt to follow closely a chronological sequence. As it is probable that the early writing ascribed by Papias to the apostle Matthew failed to preserve in many cases any record of the time and place of the teachings of Jesus, so is it certain that the first and third evangelists have distributed quite differently the material which they seem to have derived from that apostolic document. Mention need only be made of the exhortation against anxiety which Matthew places in the sermon on the mount (vi.19-34), and which Luke has given after the close of the Galilean activity (xii.22-34). It is possible to form some judgment of the general relations of such discourses from the character of their contents, but in the absence of positive statement by the evangelists it is hopeless to seek to give them a more definite historical setting. A topical study can consider them as contributions to the period to which they belong, while a chronological study would be lost in uncertain conjectures. A topical study may, however, disclose the fact that sequence of time was identical with development of method. This is, in general, the case with the Galilean ministry. The new lesson which Jesus began to teach after the confession at Caesarea Philippi marked the supreme turning point in his whole public activity. Before that crisis the work of Jesus was a constructive preparation for the question which called forth Peter's confession. Subsequently his work was that of making ready for the end, which from that time on he foretold. As has been stated, the Galilean ministry is the story of the first three gospels, except for two incidents and a discourse added by John. The visit to the feast of Tabernacles (John vii.1 to viii.59) stands on the border between the work in Galilee and that which followed. It was one of Jesus' many attempts to win Jerusalem, and is evidence that the author of the fourth gospel -- either because of special interest in the capital, or because of superior knowledge of the work of his Master in Judea -- gave emphasis to a side of the life of Jesus which the other gospels have neglected.110. With the close of the constructive ministry in Galilee, the account of Mark (x.1; compare Matt xix.1; Luke ix.51) turns towards Jerusalem and the cross. The journey was not direct, but traversed Perea, the domain of Antipas beyond Jordan, and was accompanied by continued ministry of teaching and healing (Mark x.1-52; Matt. xix.1 to xx.34). It is at this point that Luke has inserted the long section peculiar to his gospel (ix.51 to xviii.14), becoming again parallel with Mark as Jesus drew near to Jerusalem (xviii.15 to xix.28; compare Mark x.13-52). Much of that which Luke adds gives evidence that in all probability it should be placed before the change in method at Caesarea Philippi, while much of it undoubtedly belongs to the last months of Jesus' life. Since the last journey to Jerusalem is reported with considerable fulness, it is natural in a study of Jesus' life to treat that journey by itself. At this point John contributes important additions to the record (ix.1 to xi.57) showing that the journey was not continuous, but was interrupted by several more or less hurried visits to the capital, renewed efforts of Jesus to win the city. 111. With the final arrival in Jerusalem the four gospels come together in a record of the last days and the crucifixion (Mark xi.1 to xv.47; Matt, xxi 1 to xxvii.66; Luke xix.29 to xxiii.56; John xi.55 to xix.42). The evangelists, in their accounts of the last week, seem to have had access to completer and more varied information than for any other part of the ministry. This causes some difficulties in constructing an ordered conception of the events, yet it greatly adds to the fulness of our knowledge. It is easier, therefore, to consider the period in three parts, -- the final controversies in Jerusalem, the Last Supper, and the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion.
112. In a sense the resurrection and ascension form the conclusion of the final visit to Jerusalem, and should be treated with the last week. In a larger sense, however, they form the culmination of the whole ministry, and therefore constitute a final stage in the study of Jesus' life. At this point the record of the gospels is supplemented by the first chapter of the Acts and by Paul's concise report of the appearances of the risen Christ (I. Cor. xv.3-8). The various accounts exhibit perplexing independence of each other. In total impression, however, they agree, and show that the tragedy, by which the enemies of Jesus thought to end his career, was turned into signal triumph.
Outline of Events in the Early Judean Ministry
The first Passover of the public ministry: Cleansing of the temple -- John ii.13-22.
Early results in Jerusalem: Discourse with Nicodemus -- John ii.23 to iii.15.
Withdrawal into rural parts of Judea to preach and baptize -- John in.22-30; iv.1, 2.
Imprisonment of John the Baptist -- Matt. iv.12; Mark i.14.
Withdrawal from Judea through Samaria -- John iv.1-42.
Unlooked-for welcome in Galilee -- John iv.43-45.
? Second sign at Cana: Cure of the Nobleman's son -- John iv.46-54 (see sect. A 41).
[Retirement at Nazareth, the disciples resuming their accustomed calling. Inferred from Matt. iv.13; Luke iv.31; Matt. iv.18-22 and ||s.]
Events marked ? should possibly be given a different place; ||s stands for |parallel accounts;| for sections marked A -- as A 41 -- see Appendix.