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GAMALIEL

GAMALIEL

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Published by glennpease
Key character in Jewish leadership.
Key character in Jewish leadership.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 21, 2011
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07/17/2014

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GAMALIELBy. Alexander WhyteREAD for the first time, and looked enon the surface, Gamaliers speech inthe council of Jerusalem was both anable and a successful performance.The argument of the speech carriedthe consent of the whole council — not an easy thingto do — for Peter had just cut the whole council tothe heart. But Gamaliel calmed the whole council ;he reassured the most hesitating; and he all butsatisfied the most bloodthirsty; till the wholeSanhedrim broke up that day with loud anduniversal congratulations pronounced upon theability and the sagacity of Gamaliel's speech. But,in order to see what was the real and ultimatevalue of Gamaliel's speech; and, still more, in orderto a true and ultimate estimate of Gamaliel himself,let us look with some closeness at the whole situa-tion with which Gamaliel was called upon to dealthat day.Well, then, this was the situation. Gamalielhad brought forward Theudas, who had boastedthat he was somebody ; and Judas of Galilee, whohad drawn away much people after him; andGAMALIEL «19Gamaliel had made some good points in his speechby his references to those two dispersed men. ButJesus Christ was not a Theudas, nor a Judas of Galilee, nor a dispersed man. Jesus Christ wasJesus Christ. He was Himself, and not another.Jesus Christ had been promised in every page of thelaw and the prophets and the psalms, all of whichwere the daily text-books in Gamaliel's school. AndJesus Christ had come, and had fulfilled, and thata thousand times told, every jot and tittle of all thathad been prophesied and promised concerning Him.And Gamaliel had been set in his high seat by theGod of Israel in order that he might watch for thecoming Messiah, and might announce His advent
 
to the people of Israel. But, for some reason orother, instead of recognising and announcing thetrue Christ of God when He came, as, for instance,John the Baptist did ; instead of casting in his lotwith Jesus of azareth ; instead of dissolving hisschool and sending Saul of Tarsus and all his otherscholars to follow the Lamb of God, Gamaliel, forsome reason or other, still kept his seat in theSanhedrim all through the arrest, the trial, thecrucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus Christ, and when Christ''s disciples were ontheir trial for their lives this short speech containsall that Gamaliel has to say for them and forhimself. We must, at all times, and to all men, doas we would be done by : and therefore it is thatwe seek again and again for some explanation, someexcuse, some apology, for Gamaliel's remaining a Vmember of the council that had tried and crucified220 BIBLE CHARACTERSJesus Christ. But, with all our search, we can findnothing out of which to make a cloak for Gamalierscase. Had Gamaliel been an ignorant and an un-learned man there might have been some excuse forhim. But Gamaliel had not that cloak at any ratefor his sin. So far as I can see it, the simple truthin Gamaliel's deplorable case was this. With all hislearning, and with all his ability, and with all hisaddress, Gamaliel had approached this whole caseconcerning Jesus Christ from the wrong side; hehad taken hold of this whole business by the wronghandle. And we all make GamaliePs tremendousand irreparable mistake when we approach JesusChrist and His cause and His kingdom on the sideof policy, and when we handle Him as a matteropen to argument and debate. He is not a matterof argument and debate ; He is an ambassador of reconciliation. We are simply not permitted to sitin judgment on Almighty God, and on His messageof mercy to us. He who sends that message to usis our Maker and our Judge. And Gamaliel, withall his insight, and with all his lawyer-like ability,has turned all things completely upside down whenhe sits in judgment, and gives this carefully-balancedcaution, concerning the Son of God. _ 
 
Speaking philosophically and politically andecclesiastically, Gamaliel was a liberal, and hehas this to be said for him, that he was a liberallong before the time. He was all for tolera-tion, and for a free church in a free state, in anintolerant and persecuting day. He was far inadvance of his colleagues in observation, and inGAMALIEL 221reading, and in breadth and openness of mind. Hewas tinctured with the Greek learning that so manyof his class were now beginning innovatingly totaste. And we cannot but wonder whether, amongall his stores of ancient instances, that of the Greek Socrates had come that day into his mind. " Weought to obey God rather than men," Peter had just said. " Whether it be right in the sight of Godto hearken unto you rather than unto Him, judgeye," he had also said. "Athenians," said Socrates, " Ihold you in the highest reverence and love; but I willobey God rather than you. I cannot hold my peace,because that would be to disobey God." AndSocrates continued so to obey God till his self-examining voice was put to silence in the hemlock-cup. And much more must Peter summon allJerusalem to repentance in spite of the prison andthe scourge and the cross. The Athenians, in theirphilosophical and political liberality, would have letSocrates alone, if he would have let them alone;but not for his life could he do that. And Peterwas under a far surer and a far stronger constraintthan Socrates. The one was the apostle of truth asit is in the reason, and in the conscience, and inthe self-examined heart; while the other was theapostle of the truth as it is in all that, and inJesus over and above all that. The French,with their keen, quick, caustic wit, have coineda nickname for those politicians who neglectprinciples and study the skies only to see how thewind is to blow. They call all such public men bythe biting name of " opportunists." ow, Gamaliel222 BIBLE CHARACTERS

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