The townsfolk take up the controversy

The townsfolk take up the controversy

The Feast of Tabernacles.

(The Gospel History, Section 77)

Some therefore of them of Jerusalem said, Is not this he whom they seek to kill? And lo, he speaketh openly, and they say nothing unto him. Can it be that the rulers indeed know that this is the Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when the Christ cometh, no one knoweth whence he is.

The townsfolk take up the controversy

(The Saviour of the World, Vol V Book II Poem XV)

They of Jerusalem had marked the crowd,
Those country pilgrims, toss the ball about—
The question concerning Jesus, nor gave heed;
Sure, better-informed, they, and knew the facts
Which the multitude spent idle guesses on.
But the Lord’s word arrested them: all men
Have that within which answers when one cries,—
“Fair play is all I ask!” “Judge righteously,”—
Said Christ; and straight, they asked themselves in doubt,
“Is His offence so certain? What know we?”
Now, see, immediately, a tribunal’s called;
The men in the street—the judges—hear the case,
And one and another urges plea that counts.

First Citizen. These strangers don’t know all that’s going on;

They think this Rabbi’s mad for guessing well
That the Rulers seek His life; we know about that.

Second. They’ve compassed heaven and earth to seize the Man;

I have it on authority; my kin,
Some two or three, are Temple servitors,
And they’ve been bribed to lie in wait for Him—
A heavy price to the man who brings Him up
Before the Sanhedrin! What do they then?
Take my word for’t, my masters, He’ll not live!
He opes His mouth and all the folk lend ear,
And every word of His, as battering-ram,
Shatters some bastion in that edifice
Of practices they’ve built up in God’s name.
’Tis as if God Himself had come to purge
His House of error.

Third. Here’s a curious thing—

We know they’ve sought Him up and down the land,
And there He stands, and none lays hand on Him!
Explain me this. Would’st say, the finger of God?

Fourth. Aye, that’s the point; our rulers, do they know

That here is indeed The Christ? We’ve waited long,
These thousand years and more, to see His face—
And, what if the Coming One indeed hath come
And speaks with us in His Temple?

Fifth. The wonder of ’t! But dare the Jews conspire

Against Jehovah’s Self, and knowingly
Put the Messias to an open shame?
See you, He speaks what all men know is true;
And they, convicted, say nought in defence,
Nor venture to attack Him! What means this?

Sixth. Nay, my good friends! Ye go too far in your zeal;

The Man speaks marvellous words; I will admit
That all we hear of Him proclaims His praise;—
But, see, He claims too much; allow His words,
And, where’s the Temple ritual, nay, our life?
Our rulers must safeguard the things of God,
Nor let him live who attacks.

Seventh. Aye, we know

That the rulers of the people be good men,
Patterns of righteous living, free of alms,
And holy men of prayer; why, any day
You see them at street corners, lifting voice
To God on high, as in His confidence;
Would such as these, think you, plot to deprive
Their people of the Prince who should be our Peace?
Why, it were infamous that our teachers, they,
Should make the promises of none effect,
Whilst the Nation lives on hope! That were too base!

Sixth. Our ignorance is in fault; but knew we well

The Scriptures of our people as do they,
We’d have assurance that this is not the Christ,
E’en as our rulers have; look you at this,—
“The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple,”—now,
No glorious sudden coming’s here! His ways,
All His poor living down at Nazareth,—
These things be known; not our Messias, this!

St. John vii. 25, 26, 27.
Malachi iii. 1

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