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Title: A Life of St. John for the Young
Author: Weed, George Ludington, 1828-1904
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Life of St. John for the Young" ***

[Illustration: ST JOHN
_Domenichino Frontispiece_]

A Life of St. John

For the Young







Copyright, 1900



The recorded incidents of the Life of St. John are few. Almost all those
of which we certainly know are related in the Gospels, the Acts of the
Apostles, The Epistles of St. John, and The Revelation. Some of the
traditions concerning him are in such harmony with what we do know that
we are almost ready to accept them as historic.

The known events though few, are very distinct. They are the beautiful
fragments of a great picture. The plan of this volume does not include
those which pertain to him in common with the twelve disciples. Such a
record would practically involve the story of the life of our Lord. This
is limited to those events in which his name is mentioned, or his person
otherwise indicated; to those in which he was a certain or implied
actor; to those in which we may suppose from his character and relations
he had a special interest; to those narratives whose fulness of detail
makes the impression that they are given by an eye-witness; to those in
which a deeper impression was made on him than on his fellow-disciples,
or where he showed a deeper insight than they into the teachings of the
Lord, and is a clearer interpreter; to those records which add to, or
throw light upon, those of the other three Evangelists; and especially
to those things which reveal his peculiar relation to Jesus Christ.

Another limitation of this volume is its adaptation, in language,
selection of subjects and general treatment, to young people, for whom
it is believed no life of John, at any rate of recent date, has been
prepared. It is designed especially for those between the ages of ten
and twenty, though the facts recorded may be of value to all.

The attempt is made to trace the way by which John was led to, and then
by, Christ. We first see him as a boy with Jewish surroundings, taught
to expect the Messiah, then watching for His coming, then rejoicing in
finding Him, then faithful and loving in serving Him; becoming the most
loved of His chosen ones. We see the Christ through John's eyes, and
listen to the Great Teacher with his ears. Christ and John are the
central figures in the scenes here recorded.

The full table of contents suggests the variety and scope of the topics

In the mind of the writer the interest of many of the scenes described
has been greatly deepened by memories of the paths in which he has
followed in the footsteps of the Master and His disciple.

The many quotations of words, phrases and texts--which are from the
Revised Version--are designed to direct the young to Scripture forms
with which they should become familiar; and sometimes to emphasize a
fact or truth, or to recall a former incident.

Grateful acknowledgment is made especially to the works of Farrar,
Edersheim and Stalker, for facts, and germs of thought which have been
simplified in form and language for the interest and instruction of the
young, in the hope that they may thereby be led into deeper study of one
of the noblest of human lives.
_Philadelphia, July, 1900_.





   A Fitting Study for the Young--The Glory of all Lands--Divisions of
   Palestine--Galilee--People of Galilee--Gennesaret and its
   Surroundings--Comparisons--Jewish Sayings--McCheyne--Towns, Villages and
   Palaces--Fisheries--Bethsaida                                        19



  Five Apostles of Jesus--Two Pair of Brothers--Salome--Brothers
  Indeed--Views from a Hilltop--View of the Lake--Poetic
  Description--Rambles North of the Lake--On the West--Keble's Poem--Answer
  to the Poet's Question--The Sower--Object Lessons of the Great
  Teacher--Mount of Beatitudes--Nature's Influence on John--Philip      24



  Salome and Mary Sisters--John and Jesus Cousins--Visit to
  Bethsaida--Visit to Nazareth--A Picture of the Boy Jesus--The Picture a
  Help--A Phrase to Remember--A Kinsman of John and Jesus--Education--The
  Messiah                                                               31



  Prophecy Concerning the Messiah--Jewish Mistakes--Roman Conquest--Judas
  of Galilee--The Five Bethsaidan Boys--John and Peter                  35



  Special Influences on the Five--Scripture Students--Rabbi Like Simeon,
  or a Teacher--Prophetess Like Anna--Home Teaching--From the Five to
  Two--Salome and Her Sons--Review--Boyhood
  Traits--Imperfections--Perfection                                     39



  Jewish Boy at Twelve--Interest in the First Pilgrimage--John's
  Journey--The Jordan Ford--City, Temple and Altar--John and Saul--Silent
  Years--Parental Thoughts Concerning John                              44



  John's Old Testament Studies--First Gospel Promise--Promises to
  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--Promise to David--Mary and Immanuel--Names and
  Titles of the Messiah--John's Misreading of the Old Testament--Christ's
  Sufferings                                                            48



  The Infancy of Jesus Forgotten--Our Ignorance of Christ's
  Childhood--The Boy in the Temple--The Carpenter's Silent Years         53



  Elizabeth and Her John--A Father's Prophecy--The Prophet in the
  Wilderness--Young Men of Galilee--The Hermit--His Galilean
  Disciples--His Public Ministry--His Hearers--His Preaching--St. John the
  Baptist--St. John of Galilee                                           57



  "Jesus from Galilee to Jordan"--Baptism of Jesus--Temptation--"Behold
  the Lamb of God"--Andrew and John with the Baptist--Our First Knowledge
  of John of Galilee--Parting of the Baptist and Jesus--The Two St. Johns
  and Jesus--Following Jesus in the Way--Blessed Invitation
  Accepted--Precious Memories--Change of Discipleship--Silence of
  John--Disciples at Emmaus--Brothers Brought to Jesus--Memorials of
  Andrew--John's Memories of His First Day with
  Jesus--Philip--Nathanael--Jesus' First Disciples--John the Nearest
  to Him                                                                63



  Invited Guests to a Marriage Feast--Words of Mary and Jesus Concerning
  Wine--Three Commands of Jesus--First Miracle--Belshazzar's
  Feast--Believing Disciples--Believing Samaritans--What John Might Have
  Written--First Miracle, for Innocent Joy--John and Mary at the
  Feast--Mary's Thoughts of John and Her Sons--Her Thoughts of Jesus    72



  Reasons for a Night Visit to Jesus--John's Possible Abode in
  Jerusalem--Nicodemus Goes Thither--His Conversation With Jesus--Seven
  Great Truths--Golden Text of the Bible--Golden Truth of John--Tradition
  of Nicodemus                                                          79



  John's Record--With the Master--Valley and Well--A Personal
  Privilege--John With Jesus at the Well--Memories of the
  Region--Abraham--Thoughts of the Future--A Samaritaness--Strange
  Request--Living Water--Greater than Jacob--Difference in Waters--Woman's
  Request--Jesus a Prophet--Place and Spirit of True Worship--"Messiah
  Cometh"--John an Earnest Listener--Jesus' Revelation of Himself--Changed
  Name for the Well--Wonder of the Disciples--The Samaritaness a Gospel
  Messenger--Unknown Meat--John's Watchful Eye--His Story of the Well--A
  Memorable Hour for Him                                                84



  Two Pair of Brothers Mending Nets--Call of Four Disciples--Fishers of
  Men--A Partner in Fishing--Followers of Him--True Brothers--Family
  Ties--The Twelve Chosen--First Disciples, First Apostles--The Inner
  Circles--Peter and John--John--Aaron's Breastplate--Apostolic Stones  92



  A Father's Cry--Reason for Hope--Sad Message--Strength of Faith--"Fear
  Not"--Curious Crowd--The Twelve and the Three--Jealousy--Ambition--A
  Coming Change--John One of Three--"Tahtha Cumi"--A Lesson for John--A
  Future Scene--Influence of a Secret                                   97



  Family Prayer--Sayings of Men Concerning Jesus--Saying of Peter--A
  Great Need--Christ's Prophecy of His Death--Apart by Themselves--Not
  Tabor, but Hermon--Thoughts of the Nine and of the Three--Heavy with
  Sleep--Answers to Two Prayers of Jesus--Transfigured--Moses and
  Elijah--Moses' Shining Face--The Lord's Shining Figure--The Shechinah--A
  Strange Proposal--Voice from the Clouds--Touch and Word of
  Jesus--Descent from Hermon--A Great Secret--Peter's Memory of the
  Transfiguration--John's Record--Greater than John the Baptist or
  Moses--Moses and the Shechinah--Ungranted Request, but Answered
  Prayer--Hermon, a Mount of Prayer                                    101



  Four Reasons for Recording Failings--Jealousy and Pride--Intolerant
  Spirit--Two Questions, What? and Who?--First and Last--An Object
  Lesson--The Child-Spirit--Startled Disciples--John's Confession--Lesson
  Not Learned--Hospitality--Samaritan Hatred--Hospitality
  Refused--Indignant Brothers--A Story of Elijah--Fiery Spirit of James
  and John--Rebuked by Jesus--Ambitious Brothers--Mother's Request--Sons'
  Request--Sorrowing Lord's Reply and Thoughts--Two Thrones--Though
  Imperfect, a Grand Character                                         111



  John's View of a Family Group--His Relation to It--A Sad Message and
  the Reply--The Lord's Delay and Concealed Purpose--A Possible Thought of
  John's--John and Thomas--"Our Friend"--"Sleepeth"--John an
  Eye-witness--Mary and Jesus--"Jesus Wept"--Mourning Disciple--Glorified
  Father and Son--Jesus with Martha at the Tomb--Repeated Command,
  "Arise"--The Release from the Tomb--John a Companion in Joy--John's
  Memory of Mary--Lazarus' Tomb and Jesus' Cross--A
  Tradition of Lazarus



  A Scene in Bethany--An Unfinished Picture--John with Manuscripts of
  Matthew and Mark--A Great Event not Understood--A Joyful Meeting--A
  Supper in Honor--A Fitting Place--Omitted Names--An Unnamed Woman
  Named--Mary's Cruse--Interested Witnesses--An Unusual Anointing--An
  Unwoven Towel--Odor of the Ointment--Judas the Grumbler--Jesus' Defence
  of Mary--A Prophecy--John the Preserver of Mary's Name--Prophecy
  Fulfilled--Judas and Mary--Judas and the Chief Priests--A Group of
  Three--A Sublime Action--A Group of Four                             128



  The Messiah-King--The Prophetic Colt--The Lord's Need--The Lord's
  Heralds--Hosannas--Disciples' Thoughts--Changed Earthly Scenes--Lamb on
  Earth and in Heaven--A Prophecy Recalled--Twice a Herald             138



  The Lord in His Temple--His Farewell to It--Admiring Disciples--Sad
  Prophecy--The Two Pair of Brothers on Olivet--A Sacred Memory--The Poet
  Milman's View from Olivet--Unanswered Question--The Coming Fall of
  Jerusalem--The Poet Heber's Lament Over Jerusalem                    142



  The Betrayer--A Lamb and a Place--Not Judas, but Peter and John--A
  Secret Sign--The Goodman of the House--A New Friendship--Upper
  Room--"Furnished"--"Prepared"--Paschal Lamb--Child Memories--John and
  the Baptist--Temple Worship--Obeying Silver Trumpets--Slaying of the
  Lamb--Chant and Response--Lamb and Lamps--Alone with Jesus--Jerusalem
  Chamber--John and the Upper Room                                     148



  The Open Door of the Upper Room--Door Ajar--Revelation by John--Two
  Statements by Luke--Cause of Contention--John's Relation to the
  Quarrel--Sittings at the Table--John and Judas Beside Jesus--Two Things
  About Jesus--Grieved Spirit--Bethany Recalled--A Great Contrast--Love
  and Reproof--Lesson Ended--A Sacred Relic--A Guest an Enemy--Troubled
  Spirit--"Verily, Verily"--Looking and Doubting--John's Gaze--"Is It
  I?"--Peter and the Great Secret--Jesus' Hint of the Great
  Secret--Meaning of the Sop--Judas and Satan--Departure of Judas--"It Was
  Night"--A New Name--A New Command--Farewell Words and Prayer and
  Song--Closed Door to be Opened Again                                 154



  An Eye-witness--Departure from the Upper
  Room--Kidron--Gethsemane--Olive Trees--John's Memories--Garden
  Owner--Charge to the Nine--Mt. Moriah--Final Charge--A
  Prophecy--Companions in Glory and Sorrow--A Sad Change--John Beside
  Jesus--Sorrowful Soul--Charge to the Three--Jesus Alone--Jesus Seen and
  Heard--Garden Angel--Agonizing Prayer--Sleeping Disciples--Midnight
  Scene--Sleeping for Sorrow--Awakening Call--Flesh and Spirit--Repeated
  Prayer--Victory--"Arise"--Path of Prayer--Gathered Band--Lighted
  Way--Empty Upper Room--John's Contrasted Memories--Betrayal
  Sign--Warning Cry--Unshrinking Purpose--The Meeting--Traitor's
  Kiss--Marred Visage--Repeated Question and Answer--Two Bands--One
  Request--Peter's Sword--Changed Voice--A Captive and Legions of
  Angels--The Fleeing Disciples                                        163



  Flight of the Nine--Captive Lord--Peter and John Following--The
  Palace--Disciple Within and Disciple Without--Peter Brought In--The
  First Denial--John's Watch of Peter--Peter's Tears--His
  Restlessness--His Sin and John's Silence--Three Turning and
  Looking--John's Pity for Peter--John and Pilate--Christ a King--"What is
  Truth?"--The Mocked King--"Behold the Man"--"Behold your King"--John the
  Faithful Watcher and Comforter                                       176



  Following the Cross--Jesus Bearing the Cross--Wearing the Thorny
  Crown--Great Multitude Following--"Daughters of
  Jerusalem"--Calvary--John's Memories--Group of Four Enemies--Seamless
  Coat--Casting Lots--Jesus and the Gamblers--Three Marys and Salome--John
  their Companion--A Contrast--Other Apostles--John and Salome--A Mother's
  Love--Mary's Thoughts--Sword of Anguish--Comfort in Sorrow--Lonely
  Future--Loyal Son--New Relation--Mary's Return from the Cross--Why John
  Her Guardian--A Poet's Words to John--In the New Home                184



  "I Thirst"--"It Is Finished"--The Bowed Head--The Women and John--His
  Anxious Thoughts Relieved--Pierced Side--Two Prophecies--Prayer in
  Song--Joseph of Arimathæa--Nicodemus--Two Secret Friends of Jesus--Two
  Gardens--The Stone Closing the Tomb--Two Mourners at the Tomb--John's
  Thoughts on Leaving the Tomb                                         195



  John and Mary Magdalene--Mary's Mistaken Inference--Her Report to Peter
  and John--Their Hastening Toward the Tomb--John Alone at the
  Tomb--Silent Witnesses--Peter's Entry and Discovery--John Within the
  Tomb--The Rolled Napkin--Seeing and Believing--Lingering in the
  Tomb--The Return from the Tomb--Weeping Mary--Silence of Angels--Mary
  and the Angels--Jesus Unknown to Mary--"Mary" and "Rabboni"--John's Two
  Records of Mary--Day of Days--Evening Benedictions--Pierced Side--Close
  of John's Gospel                                                     204



  An Added Chapter--Old Scenes Revived--Following Peter--Stranger on the
  Shore--John and Peter--John's Remembrance of the Miracle--"Fire of
  Coals"--Reverent Guests--"Lovest Thou Me?"--"Feed My Lambs and
  Sheep"--An Interested Listener--A Prophecy--John Following
  Peter--Question and Answer--Mistake Corrected by John--Partial Answer to
  Peter's Questions--A Former Hour Recalled                            212



  On a Mount in Galilee--The Great Commission--Waiting for the Promised
  Comforter--Words of the Baptist Recalled--A Revived Hope and a
  Question--Jesus' Reply--The Ascension--Angels' Question--"The Upper
  Chamber"--Luke's Lists of the Apostles--The Lord's Mother, Brethren and
  Sisters--The Day of Pentecost--A Great Miracle--Pentecostal Gifts to
  John--Evening Prayer--Beautiful Gate--Lame man--A Gift Better than
  Alms--John Twice a Prisoner--Prison Angel--Preaching of Philip--John
  Sent to Samaria--John and the Samaritaness--His Changed Spirit--Death of
  James--The Pillar Apostles                                           219



  Last Record--Meeting of Paul and John--Years of Silence--Leaving
  Jerusalem--New Home in Ephesus--City and Temple--Paul and John--Churches
  of Asia Minor--John in Patmos--Solitude--The Lord's Day--Aid to
  Meditation--Calm and Turmoil--A Voice and a Command--A Contrast--"As One
  Dead"--The Eagle--John's Three Kinds of Writings--The Revelation--John's
  Gospel--His First Epistle--The Apostle of Love--His Second Epistle--The
  Apostle of Childhood--"Little Children, Love one
  Another"--John's Death                                                231



  Boyhood--The Disciple--What John Saw--What He Heard--What He Made
  Known--John a Reflector of Christ--Alone in History--Our Glimpses of
  Him--In Everlasting Remembrance on Earth--With His Lord in Heaven    241



  St. John and the Robber-Chief--St. John and the Partridge--"Little
  Children, Love One Another"--Miraculous Preservation from Death--The
  Empty Grave--The Heaving Grave                                       251


  St. John                                   _Domenichino._  _Frontispiece_

  Map of the Land Where St. John Lived                               19

  Sea of Galilee                                    _Old Engraving_  20

  Site of Bethsaida                               _From Photograph_  22

  Calm on Galilee                                 _From Photograph_  26

  Virgin, Infant Jesus and St. John
       (Madonna della Sedia) _Raphael_                               32

  Christ and St. John                                 _Winterstein_  35

  Simeon and Anna in the Temple                     _Old Engraving_  39

  The Boy John                                   _Andrea del Sarto_  41

  Jerusalem                                         _Old Engraving_  43

  Joshua's Host Crossing the Jordan                 _Old Engraving_  45

  The Prophet Isaiah                                      _Sargent_  55

  The Boy Jesus in the Temple                          _H. Hofmann_  58

  A Street Scene in Nazareth                      _From Photograph_  60

  Visit of Mary to Elisabeth                        _Old Engraving_  62

  The Wilderness of Judea                         _From Photograph_  64

  Traditional Place of Christ's Baptism           _From Photograph_  67

  The Baptism of Jesus                              _Old Engraving_  68

  The First Disciples                                   _Ittenbach_  83

  The Marriage at Cana                              _Old Engraving_  85

  Belshazzar's Feast                                _Old Engraving_  87

  The Hill of Samaria                               _Old Engraving_  90

  Jacob's Well                                    _From Photograph_  92

  The Miraculous Draught of Fishes                  _Old Engraving_  94

  Raising the Daughter of Jairus                       _H. Hofmann_  99

  The Transfiguration                              _Old Engraving_  106

  Moses on Mt. Pisgah                             _Artist Unknown_  109

  Bethany                                          _Old Engraving_  120

  Resurrection of Lazarus                          _Old Engraving_  126

  Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.                  _Gustave Doré_   133

  Christ and St. John                              _Ary Scheffer_   140

  The Last Supper                                  _Benjamin West_  156

  In Gethsemane                                    _Gustave Doré_   163

  The Valley of Jehoshaphat                        _Old Engraving_  165

  Christ Before Caiaphas                           _Old Engraving_  167

  Christ Before Pilate (Ecce Homo)                    _H. Hofmann_  170

  Christ Bearing His Cross                            _H. Hofmann_  185

  The Virgin and St. John at the Cross             _Old Engraving_  192

  The Descent from the Cross                              _Rubens_  195

  In the Sepulchre                                    _H. Hofmann_  199

  Jesus Appearing to Mary Magdalene
        (Easter Morning)                           _B. Plockhorst_  202

  The Descent of the Spirit                        _Old Engraving_  206

  St. Peter and St. John at the Beautiful Gate     _Old Engraving_  211

  Ephesus                                        _From Photograph_  227

  The Isle of Patmos                               _Old Engraving_  231

  Smyrna                                           _Old Engraving_  234

  Pergamos and the Ruins of the
        Church of St. John                         _Old Engraving_  242

  Ruins of Laodicea                                _Old Engraving_  246


A Life of St. John


_A Home in the Blest Land, by the Sacred Sea_

    "Blest land of Judæa! Thrice hallowed in song,
     Where the holiest of memories pilgrim like throng,
     In the shade of thy palms, by the shores of thy sea,
     On the hills of the beauty, my heart is with thee."

A Galilean boy, a fisherman, a follower of Jesus, one of the twelve
Apostles, one of the favored three, the beloved one, the Apostle of
love, the Apostle of childhood, the one of all men who gave to mankind
the clearest view of Jesus Christ--such was St John.

For young people he is a fitting study. To aid such is the purpose of
this volume.

Let us first glance at the land where he lived, surrounded by influences
that directed his life, and moulded his character.

Palestine was called by God Himself "The Glory of All Lands." He made it
the home of His people the Jews, who long waited for the promised time
when it should have greater glory by becoming the home of the Messiah,
the Son of God. Before He was born the Jews were conquered by the
Romans, and governed by them instead of the Jewish judges and kings. The
country was divided into three parts. The southern was called Judæa; the
middle, Samaria; and the northern, Galilee, which was the most beautiful
part. It contained the hills of Galilee, and the plain and sea of
Gennesaret, hallowed by the presence of Jesus, and what He there did.

At the time of which we write, two thousand years ago, Galilee was not
inhabited wholly or chiefly by Jews. Other peoples, called Gentiles,
were mixed with the Jewish race which continued to cultivate the land,
and to tend the vineyards and olive-yards, and to dwell in the
fisherman's huts and moor their boats on the sandy beach. Some Jews were
artisans, working at their trades in the smaller towns. But there were
vast crowds of foreigners whose life was a great contrast to that of the
Jews. Their customs were those of the nations to which they belonged.
They spoke their own languages. They worshiped their own false gods.
Their amusements were such as they were accustomed to in their distant
homes. This was especially true of the Romans who had theatres, chariot
races, and gladiatorial combats, by the peaceful waters of Galilee.

[Illustration: SEA OF GALILEE _Old Engraving_ Page 21]

There were also Greeks who had sought new homes far from their native
land. Many Arabians came from the deserts on swift horses, in roving
bands in search of plunder. They wore brightly-colored dresses, and
flashing swords and lances, carrying terror wherever they went. Egyptian
travelers came with camels loaded with spices and balm. The bazaars were
crowded with merchandise from India, Persia and Arabia. Long caravans
from Damascus passed through Galilee, with goods for the markets of
Tiberius on Lake Gennesaret, and the more distant cities of Jerusalem,
Cæsarea and Alexandria.

The gem of Galilee and of Palestine itself, is the Lake of Gennesaret,
or the Sea of Tiberius. Its length is twelve and three-fourths miles;
its greatest width, seven and one-fourth; its greatest depth, one
hundred and sixty feet. On the west is the beautiful Plain of Galilee.
On the east are rounded hills; and rugged mountains which rise nine
hundred feet above the waters, with grassy slopes, and rocky cliffs
barren and desolate. Bowers of olive and oleander deck the base of the
hills whose sides yield abundant harvest. Around the lake is a level
white beach of smooth sand. Gennesaret has been fittingly compared to a
sapphire set in diamonds; and to a mirror set in a frame of richness and

"He hath made everything beautiful," says Solomon concerning God. It is
a well-known saying of Jewish writers, "Of all the seven seas God
created, He made choice of none but the Lake of Gennesaret." It was
called the "beloved of God above all the waters of Canaan."

The writer of this volume gratefully recalls blessed memories of
Gennesaret, wishing his young friends could view with their own eyes
those scenes which he asks them to behold through his own. Then could
they join him in singing with the saintly McCheyne,

    "How pleasant to me thy deep blue wave,
        O Sea of Galilee!
     For the glorious One who came to save,
        Hath often stood by thee.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "O Saviour, gone to God's right hand,
        Yet the same Saviour still,
     Graved on Thy heart is this lovely strand,
        And every fragrant hill."

At the period of which we speak the region was full of people. Nine
large towns, each containing fifteen thousand inhabitants, bordered on
the lake. Numerous populous villages lined the shores, or nestled in the
neighboring valleys, or were perched on the hilltops. Fishermen's
huts--which were mere stone sheds--fringed the lake. They stood in every
rift of rock, and on every knoll, with their little cornfields and
vine ledges extending to the sandy beach.

[Illustration: SITE OF BETHSAIDA _From Photograph_ Page 23]

On the seashore, among the chief buildings, were palaces for Roman
princes, and quarters for Roman soldiers. The waters were covered with
boats for pleasure, merchandise and fishing. Four thousand floated at
one time on the narrow lake. Vast quantities of fish were caught in the
waters, supplying not only the people of Galilee, but the populous city
of Jerusalem, especially when crowded with pilgrims; and were even sent
to distant ports of the Mediterranean. We shall see John's interest in
such labors.

On the north-western shore of Gennesaret is a beautiful bay sheltered by
hills and projecting cliffs. The sight is such as would be a fisherman's
delight--a little haven from storm, with a broad beach of sand on which
to moor his boats. There is no place like it in the region of Galilee.
Close to the water's edge, it is supposed, was the town of Bethsaida,
probably meaning House of Fish.


_Five Boys of Bethsaida--Rambles About Home_

     "Walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren, Simon who is
     called Peter, and Andrew his brother."--_Matt._ iv. 18.

     "And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son
     of Zebedee, and John his brother."--_v._ 21.

     "Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and
     Peter."--_John_ i. 44.

Bethsaida was honored as being the home of five of the Apostles of
Jesus. We know nothing definitely concerning them until their manhood.
We wish we knew of their childhood. It is only because of their relation
to Jesus that they have been remembered. Had it not been for this they
would, like many other boys of Galilee, have lived on the shores of
Gennesaret, fished in its waters, died, and been forgotten. These five
Bethsaidan boys were two pairs of brothers and a friend. The names of
one pair were Andrew and Peter. They were the sons of Jonas, a
fisherman. As they grew up they were engaged with him in casting the net
and gathering fish, by day or by night, and thus securing a livelihood
without thought of change of occupation. It was a Jewish custom for
boys to learn a trade or business, which was generally that of their

The names of the other pair of brothers were James and John. Their
father was named Zebedee. He also was a fisherman having so much
prosperity in his business that he employed servants to help him.
Judging by what we know of the family they must have been highly
respected by the people among whom they lived.

We do not know the exact date of John's birth. He was probably younger
than James, and several years younger than Peter.

The mother of James and John was named Salome. We know more of her than
of her husband. She was a warm friend of Jesus, ministering to Him when
He was living, and was one of the few who cared for His dead body. Her
sons seemed to be greatly attached to her. All were of kindred spirit,
having like thoughts, feelings and plans.

James and John were brothers indeed, companions until the death of James
separated them. The feelings of boyhood must have been greatly
strengthened in later scenes, and by influences which we shall have
occasion to notice. As we know of them as daily companions in manhood,
we think of the intimacy and affection of boyhood. It will help us to
gain an idea of their companionship, and the influences of their
surroundings, if we notice some things with which they were familiar in
the region of their home.

Standing on one of the hills behind Bethsaida they beheld a magnificent
panorama. In the northeast Hermon rose like a mighty giant, called by
the people of the land the "Kingly Mountain." They knew it by the name
Moses had given it--"the goodly mountain." They were to know it by the
name which Peter would give in after years, "The Holy Mount," so called
for a blessed reason of which all of them were to learn. Down from its
snowy glittering sides a thousand streamlets blended in larger streams
combining in the Jordan, which flowed through marshes and Lake Merom
until it entered Gennesaret near their home. Eastward, across the lake,
the rugged cliffs of Gadara cut off their view. Perhaps at this very
hour the winds from Hermon rushed through the gorges, first ruffling the
placid waters of the lake, and then tossing them as if in rage. They
little thought of a coming time when they themselves would be tossed
upon them until they heard a voice saying, "Peace be still." And now

    "The warring winds have died away,
     The clouds, beneath the glancing ray,
     Melt off, and leave the land and sea
     Sleeping in bright tranquillity.
       Below, the lake's still face
       Sleeps sweetly in th' embrace
     Of mountains terraced high with mossy stone."

[Illustration: CALM ON GALILEE _From Photograph_ Page 26]

In another hour they watch the more quiet movements of pleasure
boats,--gay barges and royal galleys--and trading vessels, and fishing
boats,--all crowding together seemingly covering the lake.

As it narrows in the southern distance, the Jordan commences the second
stage of its journey of one hundred and twenty miles through rugged
gorges. As it leaves the quiet lake, we can almost hear them saying to

    "Like an arrow from the quiver,
       To the sad and lone Dead Sea,
     Thou art rushing, rapid river,
       Swift, and strong, and silently,
     Through the dark green foliage stealing,
       Like a silver ray of light."

Descending from the hill we may follow James and John in their rambles
in the region near their home. On the northern extremity of the lake,
among the colossal reeds, and meadow grass and rushes, they watch the
little tortoises creeping among them; and the pelicans which make them
their chosen home; and the blue and white winged jays that have strayed
from the jungles through which the Jordan has pushed its way; and the
favorite turtle-doves; and the blue birds so light that one can rest on
a blade of grass without bending it; and the confiding larks and storks
which, not fleeing, seem to welcome the visitors to their haunts. Here
grow oleanders of such magnificence as is seen nowhere else in the
country, twenty feet high, sometimes in clumps a hundred feet in
circumference; and "masses of rosy red flowers, blushing pyramids of
exquisite loveliness."

Our ramblers follow the western shore to the shallow hot stream, where
boy-like,--or manlike as I did--they burn their hands in trying to
secure pebbles from its bottom. They rest under the shade of an olive or
a palm. They gather walnuts which are in great abundance; and grapes and
figs, which can be done ten months in the year; and oranges and almonds
and pomegranates.

They wander through meadows rich in foliage, and gay with the brightness
and richness of flowers which retain their bloom in Galilee when they
would droop in Judæa or Samaria.

We hear the poet Keble asking them,

        "What went ye out to see
         O'er the rude, sandy lea,
    Where stately Jordan flows by many a palm,
         Or where Gennesaret's wave
         Delights the flowers to lave,
    That o'er her western slope breathe airs of balm?

        "All through the summer night,
         These blossoms red and white
    Spread their soft breasts unheeding to the breeze,
         Like hermits watching still,
         Around the sacred hill,
    Where erst our Saviour watched upon His knees."

To the poet's question James and John would answer that they "went out
to see the blue lupin and salvia, the purple hyacinth, the yellow and
white crocus, the scarlet poppy, and gladiolus, the flowering almond,
the crimson and pink anemone."

They also saw the cultivated fields, and the sower casting his seed
which fell on the hardened pathway, or barren rocks, or bounteous soil.
They watched the birds from mountain and lake gather the scattered
grain. They thought not of the parable into which all these would be
weaved; nor of Him who would utter it in their hearing near where they
then stood. They saw the shepherds and their flocks, the sparrows and
the lilies, that became object lessons of the Great Teacher yet unknown
to them. In their rambles they may have climbed the hill, only seven
miles from their home, not thinking of the time when they would climb it
again; after which it would be forever known as the Mount of Beatitudes.

Such were some of the charming and exciting scenes with which John was
familiar in his early life, and which would interest his refined and
observing nature, of which we know in his manhood. They must have had
an important influence in the formation of his character.

We have spoken of five Bethsaidan boys--Andrew and Peter, James and
John--and a friend. His name was Philip. We know but little of him. What
we do know is from John. He tells us that "Philip was of Bethsaida, the
city of Andrew and Peter." Perhaps he was their special friend, and so
became one of the company of five, as he afterward became one of the
more glorious company of twelve. We shall find three of these five in a
still closer companionship. They are Peter, James and John. One of these
shall have the most glorious honor of all. It is John.


_John's Royal Kindred_

It seems almost certain that Salome and Mary the mother of Jesus, were
sisters. Royal blood was in their veins. They were descendants of David.
The record of their ancestry had been carefully preserved for God's own
plans, especially concerning Mary, of which plans neither of the sisters
knew until revealed to her by an angel from God. We think of them as
faithful to Him, and ready for any service to which He might call them,
in the fisherman's home of Salome, or the carpenter's home of Mary.
Mary's character has been summed up in the words, "pure, gentle and
gracious." Salome must have had something of the same nature, which we
find again in her sons.

If Salome and Mary were sisters, our interest in James and John deepens,
as we think of them as cousins of Jesus. This family connection may have
had something to do with their years of close intimacy; but we shall
find better reason for it than in this kinship. There was another
relation closer and holier.

We wonder whether Jesus ever visited Bethsaida, and played with His
cousins on the seashore, and gathered shells, and dug in the sand, and
sailed on Gennesaret, and helped with His little hands to drag the net,
and was disappointed because there were no fish, or bounded with glee
because of the multitude of them.

We wonder whether James and John visited Jesus in Nazareth, nestled
among the hills of Galilee. Did they go to the village well, the same
where children go to-day to draw water? Did James and John see how Jesus
treated His little mates, and how they treated Him--the best boy in
Nazareth? Did the cousins talk together of what their mothers had taught
them from the Scriptures, especially of The Great One whom those mothers
were expecting to appear as the Messiah? Did they go together to the
synagogue, and hear the Rabbi read the prophecies which some day Jesus,
in the same synagogue, would say were about Himself?

Jesus was the flower of Mary's family, the flower of Nazareth, of
Galilee, of the whole land, and the whole world. Nazareth means
flowery--a fitting name for the home of Jesus. It was rightly named. So
must James and John have thought if their young cousin went with them to
gather daisies, crocuses, poppies, tulips, marigolds, mignonette and
lilies, which grow so profusely around the village. Did they ramble
among the scarlet pomegranates, the green oaks, the dark green palms,
the cypresses and olives that grew in the vale of Nazareth, and made
beautiful the hills that encircled it? Did they climb one of them, and
gain a view of the Mediterranean, and look toward the region where John
would live when his boyhood was long past, in the service of his cousin
at his side?

[Illustration: VIRGIN, INFANT JESUS, AND ST JOHN (Madonna della Sedia)
_Raphael_ Page 31]

A great artist, Millais, painted a picture of the boy Jesus,
representing Him as cutting His finger with a carpenter's tool, and
running to His mother to have it bound up. Did John witness any such
incident? How little did he think of a deeper wound he was yet to behold
in that same hand.

We cannot answer such questions. These things were possible. They help
us to think of Jesus as a boy, like other boys. James and John thought
of Him as such only until long after the days of which we are speaking.

While thinking of John and Jesus as cousins, we may also think of a
kinsman of theirs, a second cousin of whom we shall know more. John was
to have a deep interest in both of the others, and they were to have
more influence on him than all other men in the world.

There were some things common to them all. They were Jews. According to
Jewish customs they were trained until six years of age in their own
homes. Their library was the books of the Old Testament. They learned
much of its teachings. They read the stories of Joseph, Samuel and
David. At six they went to the village school, taught by a Rabbi. Some
attention was paid to arithmetic, the history of their nation, and
natural history. But, as at their homes, the chief study was the
Scriptures. They were taught especially about One--"Of whom Moses in the
law and the prophets did write." Let us remember those words for we
shall hear them again. That One was called the Messiah--He whom we call
Jesus, the Christ, the Saviour of the world. He had not then come. _We_
look back to the time when He did come: those boys looked forward to the
time when He _would_ come. The Messiah was the great subject in the
homes of the pious Jews, and in the synagogues where old and young
worshiped on the Sabbath.

[Illustration: CHRIST AND ST. JOHN _Winterstein_ Page 34]


_The Great Expectation in John's Day_

Moses wrote of a promise, made centuries before the days of John, to
Abraham--that in the Messiah all the nations of the earth,--not the Jews
only--should be made happy with special blessings. Isaiah and other
prophets wrote of the time and place and circumstances of His coming,
and of the wonders He would perform.

The Jews understood that the Messiah would descend from David. They
believed that He would sit "upon the throne of David," ruling first over
the Jews, an earthly ruler such as David had been, and then conquering
their enemies; thus being a great warrior and the king of the world.

But they were sadly mistaken in many of their ideas of the Messiah. They
had misread many of the writings of the prophets. They had given wrong
meanings to right words. They made real what was not so intended. They
overlooked prophecies about the Messiah-King being despised, rejected
and slain, though God had commanded lambs to be slain through all those
centuries to remind them of the coming Messiah's cruel death. Each of
those lambs was a "Lamb of God." Remember that phrase; we shall meet it
again. They looked for wonders of kinds of which neither Moses nor the
prophets had written. Many did not understand what was meant by the
kingdom of God in the hearts of men, as differing from the earthly
kingdom of David. They did not understand that Messiah's kingdom would
be in the hearts of all people.

With such mistaken views of the Messiah at the time of which we are
writing, the Jews had not only the great expectation of the centuries,
but the strong belief that Messiah was about to appear.

A great event had happened which made them especially anxious for His
immediate coming. The Jewish nation had been conquered by the Romans.
The "Glory of All Lands" was glorious only for what it had been. Galilee
was a Roman province which, like those of Judæa and Samaria, longed for
the expected One to free them from the Roman yoke, and show Himself to
be the great Messiah-Deliverer of the Jews. They were prepared to
welcome almost any one who claimed to be He. Such an one was at hand.

In those days appeared a man who has been known as Judas of Galilee. He
had more zeal than wisdom. In his anger and madness at the Romans he was
almost insane. He was an eloquent man. He roused the whole Jewish
nation. Multitudes welcomed him as the promised Messiah. Thousands
gathered around him; many of them fishermen, shepherds, vine-dressers
and craftsmen of Galilee. They followed him throughout the entire land
with fire and sword, laying waste cities and homesteads, vineyards and
cornfields. Their watchword was, "We have no Lord or master, but God."

But this rebellion against the Roman government failed. Judas himself
was slain. Villages in Galilee--Bethsaida probably one of them--became
hospitals for the wounded in battle. The whole region was one of
mourning for the dead. There was terrible disappointment concerning
Judas of Galilee. None could say of him, "We have found the Messiah."
"We have found Him, of whom Moses in the Law, and the prophets, did
write." Again think of these words; they are yet to be spoken concerning

What the five young Galileans of Bethsaida saw and heard of these events
must have made a deep impression on them. They were old enough to be
young patriots interested in their nation. Their sympathies would be
with those trying to free their people from Roman power. Perhaps their
thoughts concerning Messiah became confused by the false claims of
Judas, the pretender, and his deluded followers.

But this did not destroy their confidence in the Scriptures. They
believed the prophecy it contained would yet be fulfilled. At this time
John is supposed to have been about twelve years of age. Had he been
older, the temperament which he afterward showed, and which sometimes
misled him, allows us to think that he might have been drawn into the
rebellion. Peter also in his fiery zeal might have drawn his mistaken
sword. They might have become comrades in war, as they did become in
peace. For many years they continued their Scripture studies, without
however gaining the full knowledge of the Messiah and His kingdom, to
which at last they attained.

[Illustration: SIMEON AND ANNA IN THE TEMPLE _Old Engraving_ Page 39]


_Early Influences on Character_

As we trace the history of the five youthful Bethsaidans, it seems
almost certain that some special influence or influences helped to shape
their characters, and to unite them in thought, purpose and effort; and
so secure marked and grand results. This union was not a mere
coincidence. Nor can it be accounted for by their being of the same
nation or town, and having the same education common to Jewish boys.
There was something which survived the mere associations of boyhood, and
continued to, or was revived in, manhood. The influence whatever it was
must have been special and powerful. What was it? In that little village
were their faithful souls praying more earnestly than others, and
searching the Scriptures more diligently, finding spiritual meanings
hidden from the common readers, and so understanding more correctly,
even though not perfectly, who was the true Messiah, and what He would
do when He came? Or, was there some rabbi in Bethsaida like Simeon in
Jerusalem, of whom it could be said, "the Holy Ghost was upon him," and
"he was waiting for the consolation of Israel"--the coming of the
Messiah? Or, was there a teacher of the synagogue school in Bethsaida,
instructing his pupils as no other teacher did? Or, was there some aged
Anna, like the prophetess in the Temple, who "served God with fastings
and prayer," who going about the village full of thoughts concerning the
Messiah, "spake of Him to all them that looked for His coming"? Or, was
it in the homes of the five that we find that special influence? Did
Jonas talk with his sons as few other fathers did, while Andrew and
Peter listened most attentively to his words? Did Zebedee and Salome, as
Jonas, prepare by teaching their sons for the coming time when the two
pairs of brothers should be in closer companionship than the family
friendship of these Galilean fishermen and business partnership could
secure? Was Peter, full of boyish enthusiasm, a leader of the little
company; or did John in quiet loveliness draw the others after himself?
Did Philip have such family training as had the other four, or was he
guided by the lights that came from their homes?

And now in thought we disband the little circle of five, to be reunited
elsewhere after many years. We glance into the home of James and John.
We have already spoken of Salome's royal descent, and of the sympathy
between her and her sons. With what deep interest we would listen to her
teachings and watch the influence on them as they talked together of
David their ancestor, and of how they were of the same tribe and family
to which the Messiah would belong. Salome understood much about Him,
more probably than most mothers: but she was much mistaken about what
was meant by His Kingdom. She thought He would rule like David on an
earthly throne. Her sons believed as she did, and so were as sadly
mistaken. It was long before they discovered their mistake. That was in
circumstances very different from what were now in their minds.

[Illustration: THE BOY JOHN _Andrea del Sarto_ Page 41]

Thus far we have attempted to restore the surroundings of John in his
early days, which did much in shaping his early life, and fitting him
for the great work he was to perform. We have glanced at the country and
town in which he lived. As we see them through his eyes, he appears the
more real to us. We have watched the little circle of his intimate
friends, on whom he must have had an influence, and who influenced him.
We have glanced at his home with his parents and brothers. We have tried
to gain some idea of what and how much he had learned, especially
concerning the Messiah. We are now prepared to look at him alone, and
try to get a more distinct view of his character.

We are not told what kind of a boy John was. We are told of many things
he said and did when he was a man. These help us to understand what he
must have been when young. Though there be great changes in us as we
grow older, some things remain the same in kind if not in degree.
Judging by certain things in John's manhood, we form an idea of his
childhood. We may think of him as a lovable boy. His feelings were
tender. He was greatly interested in events which pleased him. He was
quick and active. He was modest and generally shy, yet bold when
determined to do anything. He was not ready to tell all he felt or knew.
He was helpful in his father's business. He thought and felt and planned
much as his mother did. He was thoughtful and quick to understand, and
sought explanation of what was not easily understood. He was frank in
all he said, and abhorred dishonesty, especially in one who professed to
be good. Above all he was of a loving disposition, and this made others
love him. He was beloved because he loved.

[Illustration: JERUSALEM _Old Engraving_ Page 44]

Yet John was not perfect, as we shall see in another chapter. We know of
some things he said and did when a man, which help us to understand the
kinds of temptations he had in his younger days. They were such as
these; contempt for others who did not think and do as he did, judging
them unjustly and unkindly, and showing an unkind feeling toward them; a
revengeful spirit, ready to do harm for supposed injury; selfishness;
ambition--wanting to be in honor above others. His greatest temptation
was to pride. But at last he overcame such temptations. What was lovable
in childhood became more beautiful in manhood. He more nearly reached
perfection than any other of whom we know--by what influence, we shall


_First Visit to Jerusalem_

At twelve years of age a Jewish boy was no longer thought of as a child,
but a youth. Before he reached that age he looked forward to an event
which seemed to him very great. It was his first visit to Jerusalem.
Peter was probably older than James or John. With boyish interest they
listened to the report of his first pilgrimage to the Holy City. When
the time came for James to accompany him, John's interest would increase
as he heard his brother's story; and much more when he could say, "Next
year I too shall see it all." And when at last he, probably the youngest
of the five Bethsaidan boys, could be one of the company, a day of
gladness indeed had come. With his father, and perhaps his mother, he
joined the caravan of pilgrims, composed chiefly of men and boys. Their
probable route was across the Jordan, then southward, through valleys
and gorges, and along mountain-sides which echoed with the Psalms which
were sung on these pilgrimages, called "Songs of Degrees."

At Bethabara, nearly opposite Jericho, the travelers recrossed the
Jordan. There John might think of that other crossing many years
before when Joshua led the hosts of Israel between the divided waters;
and when Elijah smote them with his mantle, and there was a pathway for
him and Elisha. John was to add to his memories of the spot. At a later
day he would there witness a more glorious scene.

[Illustration: JOSHUA'S HOST CROSSING THE JORDAN _Old Engraving_ Page 45]

At last from the Mount of Olives, at a turn in the road, he had his
first view of the Holy City; its walls and seventy towers of great
height, and the Holy House--the Temple of God, with which in after years
he was to become familiar. There he saw for himself of what he had often
heard;--the Holy Altar and lamb of sacrifice--reminders of the coming
Messiah; the offering of incense; and the many and varied forms of
stately worship.

At the time that John made this visit to Jerusalem, there was a
celebrated school known as that of Gamaliel, who was the most noted of
the Jewish Rabbis, or teachers. Boys were sent to him from all parts of
Palestine, and even from distant countries in which Jews lived. There
was one such boy from the town of Tarsus, in the Roman province of
Cilicia in Asia Minor. Though living in a heathen city, surrounded by
idolatry, he had received a Jewish training in his home and in the
synagogue school, until he was old enough to go to Jerusalem to be
trained to become a Rabbi. Like John he had learned much of the Old
Testament Scriptures, but it does not appear that he had the special
influences which we have imagined gave direction to the thoughts and
plans of the five boys of Galilee. In his boyhood he was known as Saul;
afterward as Paul. He and John in their early days differed in many
things; in the later days they became alike in the most important
thoughts, feelings, purposes and labors of their lives. And because of
this they became associated with each other, and are remembered together
as among the best and greatest of mankind.

It is possible that John visited the school of Gamaliel, and that the
boy from Bethsaida and the one from Tarsus met as strangers, who would
some day meet as friends indeed. It is more probable that they worshiped
together in the temple at the feast, receiving the same impressions
which lasted and deepened through many years, and which we to-day have
in what they wrote for the good of their fellow-men.

When John returns from Jerusalem to his home we lose even the dim sight
of him which our imagination has supplied. During the silent years that
follow we have two thoughts of him,--as a fisherman of Galilee, and as
one waiting for the coming of the Messiah. His parents' only thought of
him is a life of honest toil, a comfort in their old age, a sharer in
their prosperity, and an heir to their home and what they would leave
behind. They little think that he will be remembered when kings of their
day are forgotten; that two thousand years after, lives of him will be
written because of a higher relationship than that of mere cousinship to
Jesus; and that their own names will be remembered only because John was
their son. Only God sees in the boy playing on the seashore, and in the
fisherman of Gennesaret, the true greatness and honor into which He will
guide him.


_John's View of the Coming Messiah_

In our thoughts of Jesus we have chiefly in mind the things that
happened at the time of His birth and afterward. We read of them in the
Gospels. John had the Old Testament only, containing promises of what
was yet to happen. We have the New Testament telling of their

Thus far we have spoken of Jesus as John knew Him--as a boy in Nazareth,
the son of Mary, and his own cousin. We have also spoken of John's ideas
of the Messiah. As yet he has not thought as we do of Jesus and the
Messiah being the same person. It is not easy for us to put ourselves in
his place, and leave out of our thoughts all the Gospels tell us. But we
must do this to understand what he understood during his youth and early
manhood, respecting the Messiah _yet to come_.

Let us imagine him looking through the Old Testament, especially the
books of Moses and the prophets, and finding what is said of Him; and
see if we can what impressions are made on this young Bible student of
prophecy. His search goes back many years. He finds the first Gospel
promise. It was made while Adam and Eve, having sinned, were yet in the
Garden of Eden. It was the promise of a Saviour to come from heaven to
earth, through whom they and their descendants could be saved from the
power of Satan and the consequences of sin. We do not know how much our
first parents understood of this coming One: but we feel assured that
they believed this promise, and through repentance and faith in this
Saviour, they at last entered a more glorious paradise than the one they
lost. That promise faded from the minds of many of their descendants and
wickedness increased. But God had not forgotten it. John could find it
renewed by him to Abraham, in the words, "In thee shall all the families
of the earth be blessed,"--meaning that the Messiah should be the
Saviour of all nations, Gentiles as well as Jews. The promise was
renewed to Isaac, the son of Abraham; and then repeated to his son
Jacob, in the same words spoken to his grandfather. Jacob on his dying
bed told Judah what God had revealed to him, that the Messiah should be
of the tribe of which Judah was the head.

Many years later God made it known to David that the Messiah should be
one of his descendants. This was a wonder and delight to him as he
exclaimed, "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house! for Thou hast
spoken of Thy servant's house for a great while to come." John must
have been taught by his mother that they were of the honored house of
David. They, in common with other Jews, believed that the "great while
to come" was near at hand.

John read in Isaiah of her who would be the mother of the Messiah,
without thought that she was his aunt Mary. He read that she should call
her son Immanuel, meaning "God with us," without thinking this was
another name for his cousin Jesus. John would find other names
describing His character. His eye would rest on such words and phrases
as these--"Holy One;" "Most Holy;" "Most Mighty;" "Mighty to Save;"
"Mighty One of Israel;" "Redeemer;" "Your Redeemer;" "Messiah the
Prince;" "Leader;" "Lord Strong and Mighty;" "King of Glory;" "King over
all the earth."

Most of all John would think again and again of a wonderful declaration
of Isaiah, writing as if he lived in John's day, saying, "Unto us a
child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon
His shoulders, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The
Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the exercise
of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of

Had John known that these words of Isaiah referred to Jesus, he might
have repeated them, not as a prophecy, but with a present meaning,
saying, "The Child _is_ born!" As he read the prophecy of Haggai,
uttered more than five hundred years before--"The desire of all nations
shall come"--he might have exclaimed, "He _has_ come!"

In John's reading in the Old Testament it seems strange to us that some
things made a deeper impression on him than did others, and that he
understood some things so differently from what we do, especially about
the Messiah's kingdom. He noticed the things about His power and glory,
but seems to have misread or overlooked those about the dishonor, and
suffering and death that would come upon Him. We read in the fifty-third
chapter of Isaiah, how He was to be "despised and rejected of men, a man
of sorrows and acquainted with grief, ... wounded for our transgressions
and bruised for our iniquities, ... brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before his shearers, ... and make His grave with the
wicked." We know that all this happened. We think of a suffering
Saviour. We wonder that John did not have such things in his mind. But
in this he was much like his teachers, and most of the Jews. Though, as
we have imagined, his family and some others were more nearly right than
most people, even they did not have a full knowledge or correct
understanding of all that the Old Testament Scriptures taught,
concerning these things.

But at last John learned more concerning Christ than any of them. We are
yet to see how this came to pass. For the present we leave him in
Bethsaida, increasing in wisdom and stature. So is also his cousin in
Nazareth, of whom let us gain a more distinct view before He is revealed
to John as the Messiah.


_Jesus the Hidden Messiah_

     "There has been in this world one rare flower of Paradise--a holy
     childhood growing up gradually into a holy manhood, and always
     retaining in mature life the precious, unstained memories of
     perfect innocence."--_H.B. Stowe_.

The aged Simeon in the Temple, with the infant Jesus in his arms, said,
"Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord, ... in peace; for mine
eyes have seen Thy salvation"--the expected Messiah. But it was not for
Him to proclaim His having come. The aged Anna could not long speak "of
Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem," or anywhere
else. For awhile the shepherds told their wonderful story, and then
died. The angels did not continue to sing their hymn of the Nativity
over the plains of Bethlehem. The Wise Men returned to their own
country. Herod died, and none thought of the young child he sought to
kill. The hiding in Egypt was followed by a longer hiding of another
kind in Nazareth. The stories of those who gathered about the infant
cradle were soon forgotten, or repeated only to be disbelieved. Mary,
and her husband Joseph--who acted the part of an earthly father to the
heaven-born child--carried through the years the sacred secret of who
and what Jesus was.

We long to know something of the holy childhood. We have allowed our
imagination to have a little play, but this does not satisfy our
curiosity, nor that desire which we have concerning all great men, to
know of their boyhood. What did He do? Where did He go? What was His
life at home, and in the village school? Who were His mates? How did He
appear among His brothers and sisters? So strong is a desire to know of
such things that stories have been invented to supply the place of
positive knowledge; but most of them are unsatisfactory, and unlike our
thoughts of Him. Thus much we do know, that, "He grew in wisdom and
stature" not only, but also "in favor with God and man."

It has been finally said; "Only one flower of anecdote has been thrown
over the wall of the hidden garden, and it is so suggestive as to fill
us with intense longing to see the garden itself. But it has pleased
God, whose silence is no less wonderful than His words, to keep it
shut." That "one flower" refers to Jesus' visit to Jerusalem just as He
was passing from childhood to youth, when He tarried in the Temple with
the learned Rabbis, asking them questions with which His mind was
full, and making answers which astonished them.

[Illustration: THE PROPHET ISAIAH _Sargent_ Page 50]

A most interesting question arises in connection with that visit; Did
Jesus then and there learn that He was the Messiah? When He asked His
mother, "Wist ye not that I must be in My Father's house," or, "about My
Father's business?" did He have a new idea of God as His Father Who had
sent Him into the world to do the great work which the Messiah was to

There were eighteen silent years between His first visit to Jerusalem,
and the time when, at thirty years of age, he made Himself known as the
Messiah. They were spent as a village carpenter. He was known as such.
No one suspected Him to be anything more. In His work He must have been
a model of honesty and faithfulness. We can believe that "all His works
were perfect, that never was a nail driven or a line laid carelessly,
and that the toil of that carpenter's bench was as sacred to Him as His
teachings in the Temple, because it was duty."

In His home He was the devoted eldest son. It was of that time that the
poet sings to Mary;--

    "O, highly favored thou, in many an hour
       Spent in lone musings with thy wondrous Son,
     When thou didst gaze into that glorious eye,
       And hold that mighty hand within thine own.

    "Blest through those thirty years when in thy dwelling
       He lived as God disguised with unknown power,
     And thou His sole adorer, His best love,
       Trusted, revering, waited for His hour."
                                          --_H.B. Stowe_.

Joseph had probably died, and the care of Mary fell especially on Jesus.
But in the carpenter's shop, in the home, and wherever He was, He had
thoughts and feelings and purposes hidden from all others. They were
such as no mere human being could have. He was alone in the world. In
silence and solitude His communions were with His Father in heaven.
Calmness and peace filled His soul. His great work was before Him, ever
present to His thought. So was His cross, and the glory which should
come to God, and the blessedness to man, when His work on earth was
done. As John long after declared, "He was in the world and the world
knew Him not." As a great King He had come from heaven, and was waiting
for a certain one to proclaim His coming. Toward that herald let us turn
and with John listen to his voice.


_"The Prophet of the Most High"_

     "Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
     ... "Yea, and thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most
     High: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready
     His ways."--_Luke_ i. 67, 76.

     "There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same
     came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all
     men might believe through him."--_John_ i. 6, 7.

     "He was the lamp that burneth and shineth."--_John_ v. 35.

     "In devotional pictures we see St. John the Evangelist and St. John
     the Baptist standing together, one on each side of Christ."--_Mrs.

Salome and Mary had a cousin named Elizabeth. Her home was not in
Galilee, but in Judæa--the southern part of the Holy Land--probably near
Hebron, possibly near Jerusalem. She had a son also named John. He was
so called because the angel Gabriel, who had told Mary to call her son
Jesus, had said to Zacharias, an aged high priest, the husband of
Elizabeth, concerning their son, "Thou shalt call his name John." This
name means "The Gift of God." Born in their old age he seemed especially
such to them. He was a gift not only to his parents, but to his country
and mankind. While Zebedee and Salome had not been told what their John
should become, Zacharias and Elizabeth had been told the future of their
John. The angel declared, "He shall be great." Had he said only this, we
might think he meant great in power, or learning, or in other things
which men call great, but which the Lord does not. Gabriel said, "He
shall be great in the sight of the Lord."

Mary visited the home of Elizabeth and the happy cousins praised God for
what He had revealed to them concerning their sons.

The greatness to which Elizabeth's son was to attain was that of a
prophet--greater than Elijah, or Isaiah, or any other who had lived
before him. With exultation Zacharias said to him, "Thou, child, shalt
be called the prophet of the Most High."

God had arranged that he should be ready to proclaim the coming One just
before the Messiah should appear among men. For this reason he was
called the Fore-runner of the Messiah. But though Jesus was in the
world, the time for His appearance as the Messiah had not yet come.

John was greatly saddened by what he saw of the wickedness of men, even
those who professed to be the people of God, and their unfitness to
receive Him for whom they were looking. Led by the Spirit of God, John
retired to the wilderness of Judæa, in the region of the Dead Sea and
the Jordan, for meditation and communion with God. But he was not
entirely concealed. There were a few who heard of his sanctity and
wisdom, sought instruction from him, and abode with him, becoming his
disciples. He seems to have had special influence over young men. Our
Bethsaidan boys have now grown to be such since we saw them in their
early home, and as school and fisher boys. They were now toiling at
their nets with their fathers, closer than ever in their friendship for
each other, still waiting and watching for Him whom they had been taught
from their earliest days to expect. We think of their interest in the
rumors concerning the prophet of Judæa.

[Illustration: THE BOY JESUS IN THE TEMPLE _H. Hofmann_ Page 54]

As the two pair of brothers talk together, we can hear one of them
saying, "I must see and hear and know for myself. I will lay aside my
fishing, and go to the wilderness of Judæa." To this the others reply,
as on another occasion to Peter, "We also come with thee." Leaving the
quiet shores of Gennesaret, they follow the road each has traveled
annually since twelve years of age on his way to the feast in Jerusalem.

They met the hermit in the wilderness. His appearance was strange
indeed. His hair was long and unkempt; his face tanned with the sun and
the desert air; his body unnourished by the simple food of locusts and
wild honey. His raiment was of the coarsest and cheapest cloth of
camel's hair. His girdle was a rough band of leather, such as was worn
by the poor,--most unlike those made of fine material, and ornamented
with needlework. His whole appearance must have been a great contrast to
his gentle and refined namesake from Galilee.

The solemn earnestness of the prophet, and the greatness of the truths
he taught, were well calculated to excite the greatest interest of the
young Galileans. They looked upon him with increasing conviction that he
was "a prophet of God." Instead of returning to their homes, they
remained in Judæa and attached themselves to him, and became known as
his disciples. In their new service there was a new bond of union for
themselves, which--though they then knew it not--would lead to another
yet stronger.

At last "the word of the Lord came unto" John, when he was about thirty
years old, calling him to a more public ministry. So "He came into all
the country about Jordan." Beginning in the south he moved northward
from place to place.

Rumors concerning the new strange prophet spread rapidly. "There went
out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about
Jordan." Shepherds left their flocks and flocked around him. Herdsmen
left their fields, and vine-dressers their vineyards, and Roman soldiers
their garrisons, for the wilderness. Rabbis left their parchments in
the synagogue, the schoolroom and the home, to hear the living voice of
a teacher greater than any one of them. Self-righteous Pharisees and
common people followed them. Some sought the preacher only from
curiosity; some to hear the truth. John's preaching was summed up in two
phrases,--"Repent ye," and "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

[Illustration: STREET SCENE IN NAZARETH _From Photograph_ Page 55]

His preaching was bold, clear, earnest, and forcible. Many yielded to
the power of his preaching. They were baptized by him; for this reason
he was known as St. John the Baptist, or the Baptizer.

John of Galilee was one of those who obeyed the injunction "Repent ye."
With all his lovable qualities which we have imagined in his
childhood--his refinement, his faithfulness in his home and synagogue,
and his honest toil--he saw that within himself which was not right in
the sight of God. He repented of his sins and sought forgiveness. A
lovely character became more lovely still, to be known as the loving and
beloved one. He was ready to welcome the Messiah of whom the Baptist
told. He had no fears that another Judas of Galilee had arisen. He
believed that the promises concerning the coming One were being
fulfilled. He was a faithful disciple of the prophet and forerunner, to
whom he must have been a great joy, but who was ready to have him,
whenever the time should come, transfer his following to the Lord of
them both. For how long a period the two Johns continued together, we do
not know, but it was drawing to its close.

[Illustration: VISIT OF MARY TO ELISABETH _Old Engraving_ Page 58]


_The Messiah Found_

    "They found Him not, those youths of noble soul;
     Long seeking, wandering, watching on life's shore,
     Reasoning, aspiring, yearning for the light.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "But years passed on; and lo! the Charmer came,
       Pure, simple, sweet, as comes the silver dew,
     And the world knew Him not,--He walked alone,
       Encircled only by His trusting few."
                                     --_H.B. Stowe_.

     "We"--Andrew and John--"have found the Messiah."--_Andrew to

     "We"--Andrew and Peter, James and John, and Philip--"have found
     Him, of Whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of
     Nazareth."--_Philip to Nathanael_.

"The fulness of the time was come," not only when "God sent forth His
Son," but "when the Son should reveal Himself to the world." So Jesus
came forth from His retirement in Nazareth to enter on His public

"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan, unto John to be baptized of
him." What a meeting! Probably the first in their lives. It is no marvel
that John said, "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to
me?" But he obeyed Jesus' bidding, "Suffer it to be so now." "So He was
baptized of John in Jordan." Then followed the prayer of the Son of God;
and then "the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon
Him"; and then the voice of the Father, saying, "Thou art my beloved
Son: in Thee I am well pleased." Let us remember that voice: we shall
hear it again.

And then for forty days and forty nights Jesus was hidden completely
from the face of man, alone on the Mount of Temptation, with wild
beasts, until ministering angels come to Him from heaven.

He returned to the region where the Baptist was preaching. "John seeth
Jesus coming to him." His eye is turned away from the multitude
thronging about him, and is fastened upon Jesus only. His thought is of
Him of whom Isaiah wrote long before--"He is brought as a lamb to the
slaughter." Pointing to Jesus he exclaims, "Behold the Lamb of God which
taketh away the sin of the world!"

The Galilean disciples were doubtless present, and were deeply moved by
their Master's exclamation. Because of their previous training in their
homes, and in the wilderness with the prophet, it must have kindled in
them deeper emotion than it did in any others of that astonished throng.
But it was to become deeper still. This was especially true of two of

[Illustration: THE WILDERNESS OF JUDEA _From Photograph_ Page 59]

The next day, probably a Sabbath, was to become a memorable day in the
history of the two and of their master. It was a morning hour. We think
of the three as alone, before the multitudes had gathered, or the day's
ministry of preaching and baptizing had begun. They walked along the
bank of the river communing together of Him whom they had seen the day
before. In the distance John saw the Figure again. In awe and reverence,
and with a fixed gaze, "John was standing, and two of his disciples; and
he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God!"
The exclamation was in part that which they had heard in the presence of
the multitude; but that was not enough. It was as if John had said,
"Behold the Messiah for whom our nation has waited so long; Him of whom
our Scriptures have told us; Who has been the theme in our homes from
childhood; of whom I have been the prophet and herald. He it is of whom
I have taught you, my disciples, as you have followed me in the
wilderness until I now can bid you behold Him. Henceforth follow Him."

John says that one of the two was Andrew. There is no doubt that the
other was himself. We shall notice in his writings that he never uses
his own name. This incident is our first definite knowledge of him. All
we have said hitherto is what we think must have been true, judging from
circumstances of which we do know, and from his character revealed
after this time.

We long to know whether "Jesus as He walked" came near the Baptist, and
with what salutation they met, and what were their parting words, for
this seems to be the last time of their meeting. If Mary and Salome were
sisters, and Elizabeth was their cousin--as we use the term--John of
Galilee and Jesus were related to John the Baptist in the same way. But
there was a closer relationship than that of family. In this Jesus was
the connecting link between the two Johns. "One on each side of
Christ"--this was their joy and their glory. One was the last prophet to
proclaim His coming: the other was to be the last evangelist to tell the
story of His life on the earth.

When the Baptist the second time uttered the cry, "Behold the Lamb of
God!" "the two disciples heard Him speak and followed Jesus." Their old
master saw them turn from him without a jealous, but with a gladsome
thought. Encouraged by him, and drawn by Jesus, with reverential awe, in
solemn silence or with subdued tone, they timidly walked in the
footsteps of the newly revealed Master. The quickened ear before them
detected their footsteps or conversation. "Jesus turned and saw them
following," as if to welcome their approach, and give them courage. He
then asked them a question, "What seek ye?" It was not asked because
He was ignorant, but to encourage them in familiar conversation, as He
did at other times. Their answer was another question, "Rabbi, where
abidest Thou?" They longed for a fuller opportunity than that on the
road to be taught by Him. "Come and see," was His welcome reply. "They
came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day." First by a
look, then a question, then an invitation, then hospitality, they were
drawn to Him, and into His service.

_From Photograph_ Page 63]

Often in after years must Andrew and John have recalled that walk with
Jesus, and "rehearsed the things that happened," and said one to
another, "Was not our heart burning within us while He spake to us in
the way?" So afterward did other two, of Emmaus, when "Jesus Himself
drew near and went with them." But the eyes of Andrew and John were not
"holden that they should not know Him." The pleasing dream of years was
past: they were wakening to a glorious reality. Their following of Him
in that hour has been claimed to be "the beginning of the Christian

That day of abiding with Jesus was the first of many days these
disciples spent with Him, knowing Him more and more perfectly, and the
truth which He alone could reveal. They were then passing from the
school of the Baptist to that of the Greatest Teacher. What was said in
those sacred hours? John has reported other private interviews with
Jesus, but concerning this one his lips are sealed. Did he tell of his
surprise and joy to learn that He, Jesus, the son of his aunt, Mary, was
the Messiah of whom his mother, Salome, had taught him from his early
days? Were there any memories of childhood--of the sandy beach of
Bethsaida, or the hills of Nazareth; or, were all such thoughts buried
in newer and deeper question? Was there any hint of their future
relation too sacred for others then to know? Was this the beginning of
that sweet intimacy so private then, but of which the whole world should
hear in all coming time?

After the evening meal in Emmaus the two disciples there "rose up the
same hour, and returned to Jerusalem," with joyful and quickened steps
to report the glad tidings of what they had seen and heard. Andrew and
John were to be of the number who, in three years, would hail these
disciples from Emmaus. Like them, Andrew and John hastened away from the
sheltering booth on the Jordan bank on a like errand. But they went not
together, nor to an assembled company. They each went in search of his
own brother--Andrew for Peter, and John for James. Andrew found his
brother first. Afterward John found his: so we infer from his narrative.
Each carried the same tidings, "_We have found the Messiah!_"

[Illustration: THE BAPTISM OF JESUS _Old Engraving_ Page 64]

Andrew is thought to have asked leave to bring his brother. "He
brought him to Jesus." When John wrote that simple statement, he did not
think how much was included in it concerning Peter and his own relation
to him. As little did Andrew think to what the promptings of his
brotherly affection would lead. His mission seems to have been that of
bringing others to Christ--his own brother, the lad with five loaves and
two fishes, and certain Greeks who desired to see Jesus. John only has
made note of these three incidents. In so doing he has given to us the
key to the character of his friend, and caused him to be held in
everlasting remembrance. Andrew is remembered in the cross that bears
his name; in his anniversary day; in the choice of him for the patron
saint of Scotland; in orders of knighthood, and in Christian societies
of brotherhood named after him, as an example and inspiration to the
noblest of Christian endeavor--that of bringing old and young to Christ.

It is John alone who wrote of that memorable day on the Jordan. His
impressions were deep and lasting. The record of them is so fresh and
minute that we seem to be perusing a notebook which was in his hands
when these events were transpiring. His memory is distinct of the exact
location of each; of the attitudes and movements of the actors,--as when
"John stood," and "Jesus walked," and "Jesus turned"; of the fixed and
earnest look of Jesus--as on Andrew and John in the way, and Peter in
the place of His abode. John remembered the words of the Baptist, and of
his two disciples, and of Jesus. He remembered the day not only, but
that "it was about the tenth hour when he accepted the invitation to
come and see where Jesus was tarrying."

All these pictures hung unfading on the walls of John's memory. This was
not strange. It was the day and the hour for which he looked through all
his early years, and to which he looked back in his latest. Then was the
beginning of a most blessed relationship, alone in the history of
mankind; that which was to make his name immortal, and radiant with a
halo which encircles none other.

"The day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth
Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the
city of Andrew and Peter." So writes John, recalling to us the Galilean
group of Bethsaidan boys. When we became familiar with their names,
there was no prospect that the two pairs of brothers and their friend
would head the roll of disciples of the Messiah for whom they were
looking. But such a day had come. We know not that Philip had a brother
whom he could bring to Jesus, as did Andrew and John, but he was as full
of wonder and joy as they. Like them he must go in search of some one
to whom he could repeat their exclamation. The search was not long. John
tells the result. "Philip findeth Nathanael and saith unto him, We have
found Him." But this simple declaration is not enough for Philip. He
recalls those Scripture scrolls in his home and the Rabbi's school, and
the synagogue, that told of the coming Messiah, and so he exclaims, "We
have found Him of whom Moses and the Law, and the Prophets did
write"--thus repeating the phrase we were to remember till we should
hear it again. Nathanael, coming to Jesus declared in wonder and
admiration, "Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel." His
name was added to those of the Galilean group.

The disciples now numbered five or six--Andrew, John, Peter, Philip,
Nathanael, and probably James. These were one half of a completed circle
to surround Jesus. All but one of them were of the Bethsaidan band. John
has drawn lifelike pictures of them, more complete than those of the
other apostles,--except that of Judas, whom he contrasts with all the
rest. We have thought of James and John as nearest to Jesus in kinship.
We are already beginning to think of John as nearest in discipleship.


_John a Wedding Guest_

     "There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus
     was there: and Jesus also was bidden, and His disciples to the

     "The mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine."

     "The ruler of the feast tasted the water now become wine."

     "This beginning of His signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and
     manifested His glory; and His disciples believed on Him."--_John_
     ii. 1-3, 9, 11.

Again John notices the very day on which occurred a remarkable event, of
which he had a vivid recollection. It was the third, as is probable,
after the departure of Jesus from Jordan for Galilee.

He was invited to a wedding in Cana. His disciples were invited also, we
may suppose out of respect to Him. James and John might have been there
without the rest. It is possible that they were relatives of the family,
as their aunt Mary is thought to have been. She was there caring for the
guests, and what had been provided for them. The marriage feast lasted
several days. Jesus and His disciples were not present at the beginning.
After their arrival, Mary discovered that the wine had given out. Like
the sister of another Mary, in whose house Jesus was a guest, she was
troubled because it looked as if the family had not provided for all the
company. She had probably been a widow for several years, and as Jesus
was her oldest Son, she had gone to Him for advice and help when in
trouble at home. So now "when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus
saith unto Him, They have no wine." We are not to suppose that she
intended to ask Him to do a miracle. Perhaps she simply said, "What
shall we do?" as many a housekeeper has said when in doubt. He made a
reply which seems harsh and unkind, unless we understand His meaning,
and imagine His words to have been spoken in a kind tone, and with a
kind and loving look. She was not offended by His reply. Thinking He
might do something--she knew not what--she said unto the servants,
"Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."

It might be said of Him at this time, as it was at another, "He knew
Himself what He would do." He gave three simple commands to the
servants. The first was, "Fill the water-pots with water." They did as
Mary had said, and obeyed Him. Watching them until the jars were full,
He said, "Draw out now and bear unto the ruler of the feast." This was
probably a special friend of the family, who with Mary was directing it.
While Jesus' command was being obeyed, His first miracle was performed.
"When the ruler had 'tasted the water now become wine, and knew not
whence it was,' ... he called the bridegroom," and in a playful joke
praised the goodness of the wine which he imagined had purposely been
kept to the last.

"The water now become wine" is the brief statement of the first of the
thirty-six recorded miracles of our Lord. It was seen by the six
disciples. They witnessed the first of the miracles since those in the
days of Daniel, of which they had read in their Scriptures, one of the
last of which was at the impious feast of Belshazzar. There the holy
cups from Jerusalem were used in praising false gods of silver and gold,
in the hands of the king and his lords, as they read the handwriting on
the wall, interpreted by Daniel. How different the feast in Cana. There
was no fear there. When the disciples saw the cup in the hands of the
hilarious governor, and heard his playful words, they were not in a
sportive mood. Theirs was that of astonishment and reverence at the
miracle. No Daniel was needed to interpret the meaning of that water
changed into wine. John tells us what they understood thereby--that
"Jesus manifested His glory." He showed the power which belongs to God

John immediately adds, "And His disciples believed on Him." This is the
first time they are spoken of as such. As yet they were disciples only.
At the end of the blessed week in which they had "found the Messiah,"
there had been formed a close companionship which was to become closer
still. But the time had not yet come for them to leave their homes and
business, and attend Him wherever He went. They were not yet Apostles.
The marriage feast had become to them more than a social festival. Their
Lord had intended that it should be so. Their faith in Him on the
Jordan, was strengthened in Cana.

"This _beginning_ of miracles," says John. What was this beginning? It
was not the healing of the sick, nor raising of the dead, nor supplying
a hungry company with bread, nor furnishing a necessary drink. There was
no display. Jesus stretched forth no rod over the water-jars, as did
Moses over the waters of the Nile when the same Divine power changed
them into like color, but different substance, and with a different
purpose. The first manifestation of His glory was for "the increase of
innocent joy."

When John had read the story of Jesus in the first three Gospels, and
found no record of this miracle, did he not feel that there had been a
great omission which he must supply? Nowhere else does Jesus appear just
as He did at that feast, though other incidents of His life are in
harmony with it. It is sometimes said He "graced" that marriage feast,
as royalty does by mere presence. But He did more. He entered into the
innocent festivities, and helped to their success. A glance into that
village home is a revelation of Jesus in social life, and His interests
in human friendships and relations.

We must remember that it was only innocent pleasures that He helped to
increase, in which alone we can seek the presence of His Spirit, and on
which alone we can ask His blessing.

This marriage feast must have been of special interest to John, if, as
is supposed, the family was related to Mary and probably to him. This
would seem to be her first meeting with Jesus since He bid her farewell
in Nazareth, and left the home of thirty years, to be such no longer.

Did not Mary, mother-like, call John aside from the festive scene and
say to him, "What has happened at the Jordan? tell me all about it." I
seem to hear John saying to her; "It is a wonderful story. Of some
things I heard, and some I both saw and heard. You know of the ministry
of your cousin Elizabeth's son John--of his preaching and baptizing.
Jesus was baptized by him. Immediately they both had a vision of 'the
Spirit of God descending upon Him; and lo! a voice from heaven saying,
This is My beloved Son.' Then John was certain who Jesus was. He told
the people about the vision, saying, 'I saw and bear record that this
is the Son of God.' And one day when my friend Andrew and I were with
him, he pointed us to Jesus saying, 'Behold the Lamb of God,' whom we
followed, first to His abode on the Jordan, and then here to Cana. We
were disciples of John, but now are _His_ disciples, and ever shall be.
You know, aunt Mary, how from childhood I had thought of Him as my
cousin Jesus, and loved Him for His goodness. From what my mother has
told me, which she must have learned from you, there has been some
beautiful mystery about Him. It is all explained now. Hereafter, I shall
love Him more than ever, but I shall think of Him, not so much as my
cousin Jesus, as the Messiah for whom we were looking, and as the Son of

How the mother-heart of Mary must have throbbed as she listened to her
nephew John's story of Jesus on the Jordan. How it must have gone out
toward him, because of his thoughts about her son, and his love for Him.
How grieved she must have been as she thought of her own sons who did
not believe as John did concerning their brother Jesus. The time was to
come when Jesus would make her think of John, not so much as a nephew,
as a son.

In that festive hour, Mary too learned the lesson that human
relationships to Jesus, however beautiful, were giving way to other and
higher. The words He had spoken to her at the feast, like those He had
uttered in the Temple in His boyhood, and the things that had happened
on the Jordan, showed her that henceforth she should think, not so much
of Jesus as the Son of Mary, as the Son of God.

In thoughts she must have revisited the home of Elizabeth, whose walls,
more than thirty years before, had echoed with her own song, "My soul
doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."


_John and Nicodemus_

     "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the
     Jews: the same came unto Him by night."

     "We speak that we do know, and bear witness of that we have
     seen."--_John_ iii. 1, 2, 11.

     "There is Nicodemus, who visited Jesus by night--to the
     astonishment of St. John--but who was soon afterward Jesus'
     friend."--_John Watson_.

     "The report of what passed reads, more than almost any other in the
     gospels, like notes taken at the time by one who was present. We
     can almost put it again into the form of brief notes.... We can
     scarcely doubt that it was the narrator John who was the witness
     that took the notes."--_Alfred Edersheim_.

Three incidents mentioned by John only comprise all we know of
Nicodemus. In each of them he refers to him as coming to Jesus by night.
That visit seems to have made a deep impression on John. We may think of
Him as present at the interview between the Pharisee and the "Teacher
come from God."

We are not told why Nicodemus came at a night hour. Perhaps he thought
he could make sure of a quiet conversation, such as he could not have in
the daytime. Perhaps he did not want to appear too friendly to Jesus
until he knew more about Him, though he already had a friendly feeling
toward Him. Perhaps he was afraid of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish
Court. Most of its members hated Jesus and had commenced their
opposition to Him, which was continued during His life, and resulted in
His death. Not so felt Nicodemus, though a member. At a later day he
opposed their unjust treatment of Him. If he did not think of Jesus as
the Messiah, he yet thought of Him as a prophet, "a teacher come from
God." He was anxious to know more. So cautiously and timidly he sought
Jesus in the night.

We suppose that, at the time of Jesus' death, John had a home in
Jerusalem. It has been thought possible that when and before he became a
disciple of Jesus he had an abode there, attending to the business
connected with the sale of fish from his home in Galilee. There Jesus
might be found in the guest-chamber on the roof of the oriental house
which was reached by an outside stair. Nicodemus had no invitation, such
as Andrew and John had to Jesus' abode on the Jordan, but he had an
equal welcome to John's home, whither he had come on a like errand,
though with different views of Jesus, to learn of Him. He sees still
burning in the upper chamber the night lamp of Him whom he is to know as
"the light of the world." He ascends the stair, stands at the door and
knocks; and it is opened. Apparently without lengthy salutation, or
introduction, he makes known his errand in the single sentence, "Rabbi,
we know that Thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these
signs that Thou doest, except God be with Him." He might have added,
"What shall I do?" Jesus gave a very solemn answer to his
question,--"Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of
God." He taught him that doing certain things, and not doing others, was
not enough; he must _be_ good. To be good there must be a change of
spirit. As a child has a beginning of its earthly life, he must have the
beginning of a spiritual life, or he cannot be fitted for the kingdom of
God in this world or that which is to come. That great change comes
"from above," from God Himself.

Listen to some of the wonderful truths Jesus taught to Nicodemus. They
are for us as well as for him. 1. Those who do not have this change of
spirit must "perish." 2. But none need to perish, for "eternal life" has
been provided. 3. This life is through the suffering and death of the
"Son" of God. 4. God "gave His only begotten Son" to do all this. 5. God
did this because He "so loved the world." 6. This "eternal life" can be
had only by "believing on" the Son of God. 7. "Whosoever" so believes
may have eternal life.

All this is included in one sentence:

"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

This is the golden text of St. John's Gospel, and of the whole Bible.
Through all the ages it has sounded, and will sound to the end of time,
as the gospel itself.

John must have been a most attentive listener to all that Jesus said.
This was at the beginning of His Lord's ministry. Fresh truths easily
impressed him. They were the buddings of which he was to see the bloom,
of whose fruitage he would partake most abundantly, and which he would
give to others long after the echo of the Great Teacher's words had died
in the chamber where he and Nicodemus heard them.

It was long after that nightly visit that John wrote his account of it,
including the golden text whose keyword was _Love_. It is supposed that
he wrote his Epistle about the same time. That text was so present in
his thought that he repeated it in almost the same words: "Herein was
the Love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent His only begotten
Son into the world, that we might live through Him."

At the close of his long life, in which he had learned much of the power
and justice and holiness and goodness of God, it seemed to him that all
these were summed up in the one simple saying, "God is love."

[Illustration: THE FIRST DISCIPLES _Ittenbach_ Page 67]

When John bade Nicodemus good-night, he could not look forward to the
time, nor to the place where we see them together again. John the lone
apostle with Nicodemus and his Lord at the beginning of His ministry, is
the lone apostle at the cross. Then and there, he recalls the first
meeting of the three as he beholds the Rabbi approaching. This is his
record; "Then came also Nicodemus, who at the first came to Jesus by

There is a tradition concerning Nicodemus that after the Resurrection of
Jesus, his faith in Him was strengthened. The "teacher come from God" he
now believed to be the Son of God. The timid Rabbi became a bold
follower of the Lord whom he once secretly sought. For this he was no
longer permitted to be a ruler of the Jews. He was hated, beaten, and
driven from Jerusalem. At last he was buried by the side of the first
martyr Stephen, who had baptized and welcomed him into the fellowship of
the Christian Band.


_St. John and the Samaritaness_

     "He cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar.... Jacob's well was
     there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on
     the well. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said
     unto her, Give Me to drink."--_John_ iv. 5-7.

     "Probably John remained with the Master. They would scarcely have
     left Him alone especially in that place; and the whole narrative
     reads like one who had been present at what passed."--_Edersheim._

The vale of Sychar is one of the most interesting spots in the Holy
Land. Jacob's well is one of the sacred sights about whose identity
there is no dispute. I count the Sabbath when my tent overshadowed it
one of the most memorable of my life. It was a privilege to read on the
spot John's story of the Master tarrying there, and of the truths there

John tells us that Jesus, on His way from Judæa to Galilee, passed
through Samaria, arrived at Jacob's well, and "being wearied with His
journey sat thus on the well," while His disciples went "away unto the
city to buy food."

It is not necessary to suppose that all of the six went to the
neighboring city. Probably John remained with the Master. His narrative
is one of the most distinct word-paintings in the whole Gospel story.
He writes like one who saw and heard all that passed, not only when the
other disciples were with him, but also and especially what happened
when they were absent from the well.

[Illustration: THE MARRIAGE AT CANA _Old Engraving_ Page 72]

John tells us that Jesus "was wearied with His journey." The observing,
tender-hearted disciple saw and remembered his Master's weariness. In
this simple, brief record, he reminds us of Jesus' humanity, and so how
much He was like ourselves. How much of his Lord's weariness and
suffering the sympathizing disciple was yet to witness.

We may think of John alone with Jesus, seated in an alcove which
sheltered them from the sun. They may often have been thus found in
loving companionship. With what delight would we read of those private
interviews. How sacred and precious they must have been to John.

At the well, what subjects there were for conversation, suggested by
memories of the spot. Here Abraham had erected his first altar in Canaan
to the true God, whom Jesus was about to reveal more perfectly. This was
the parcel of ground which Jacob had bought, and in which he had buried
the false gods of his household. Here Joseph had been a wanderer seeking
his brethren. This was the place which Jacob when dying had given to his
son Joseph, on whose tomb Jesus and John looked as they talked
together. The twin mountains of Ebal and Gerizim looked down upon them,
reminders of the days of Joshua, when the two Israelitish bands called
to each other in solemn words, and the valley echoed with their loud
"Amen." Not every Jew could have the personal interest in that well,
such as the two weary travelers could claim, through the family records
of their common ancestor even to Abraham. It was not on account of John
that these records had been kept, but of the "Son of Man" at his side,
whom he had learned to look upon as "the Son of God." As they sat
together John could not look into the future, as his Master could, and
think of the time when they would be in the region together with an
unfriendly reception; nor of that other time when John would come to it
again and have a friendly reception, but with memories only of his Lord.

[Illustration: BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST _Old Engraving_ Page 74]

But their visit alone did not last until the return of His disciples. It
was suddenly interrupted. "There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw
water." She was no fitting companion for them. She was not prepared to
enter into their thoughts and feelings. She was an ignorant woman of the
lower order of society, sinful, and not worthy of the respect of those
who knew her. "Give me to drink," said Jesus--fatigued, hungry, thirsty.
She gazed upon Him with astonishment. She knew by His appearance and
dress that He was a Jew. She supposed that any such would be too full
of hatred and pride to ask even such a simple favor of a Samaritan. Her
answer showed her surprise. He gently spoke of her ignorance of Him, and
of a richer gift than the one He asked, and which He was ready to
bestow. It was "living water"--"the grace and truth of which He was
full." Changing her manner toward Him, and addressing Him more
respectfully, she asked, "Art _Thou_ greater than our father Jacob?" She
meant, "Surely Thou art not greater." How strange this must have sounded
to John as his eye turned from her, to Him before whom Jacob would bow
in adoration could he have joined that circle on the spot where he had
built an altar many years before. Jesus explained more fully the
difference between the water for which He had asked, and that which He
would give. He had asked a very small favor of her; He would bestow the
greatest of gifts, even eternal life.

Not fully understanding Him, and yet believing He was some wonderful
person, she repeated His own request, but with a changed meaning,--"Sir,
give me this water." Perhaps to make her feel her sinfulness and to lead
her into a better life, He showed her that though He was a stranger, He
knew her past history. Her astonishment increased and she exclaimed,
"Sir, I perceive that Thou art a Prophet." Ashamed, she quickly changed
the subject.

She and her people claimed that Mount Gerizim was the holy place of the
Holy Land; while the Jews said that Jerusalem was "the place where men
ought to worship." She wanted the Prophet she had so unexpectedly met to
decide between them. With calmness, solemnity and earnestness, He made a
sublime declaration to her, meant for Jews, Samaritans and all men. It
was this: "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this
mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.... The hour
cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in
spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be His worshipers.
God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and

But this did not satisfy her. It was all so new and strange, so
different from what she and her people believed, that she was not
prepared to accept it from an unknown stranger, though he seemed to be a
prophet. She thought of One greater than she thought He could be, One
who was wiser than any prophet then living, or who ever had lived, One
who she believed was to come. So, with a sigh of disappointment, her
only reply was, "I know that Messiah cometh; ... when He is come, He
will declare unto us all things."

How the quickened ear of John must have made his heart thrill at the
name Messiah. Until a few weeks before, he too had talked of His
coming, but already had heard Him declare many things which no mere
prophet had spoken. Is he not prompted to break the silence of a mere
listener? Is not his finger already pointed toward Jesus? Are not the
words already on his tongue?--"O woman, _this is He_," when Jesus makes
the great confession he made before Pilate, saying to the Samaritaness,
"I that speak unto Thee, am He."

So it was that He whose coming the angels in their glory announced to
the shepherds in Bethlehem, He whom the Baptist proclaimed to multitudes
on the Jordan, He whose glory was manifested to the company in Cana,
made Himself known to this low, ignorant, sinful, doubting, perplexed
stranger, in words "to which all future ages would listen, as it were
with hushed breath and on their knees."

These words of Jesus to the woman, "I am He," closed their conversation,
so unexpected to her when she came with her water-pot, in which she had
lost all interest. Her mind and heart had been filled instead. She had
drawn from Him richer supplies than Jacob's well could ever contain.
From that hour she thought of it, not so much as Jacob's well as the
Messiah's well.

The disciples returning from the city, coming within sight of Jesus,
"marveled that He was speaking with a woman." The people then and there
had a mistaken idea that to do so was very improper. The disciples were
the more astonished because she was a Samaritan. But they had such a
sense of His goodness, that they did not dare to ask, "Why talkest Thou
with her?"

She was interrupted in her conversation with Jesus, by the coming of the
disciples. She left her water-pot at the well. Too full of wonder and
gratitude to stop to fill it, or to be hindered in carrying it, she
hastened to the city with the good news of what she had seen and heard.
So had Andrew and John each carried the good news to his brother saying,
"We have found the Messiah." She believed she had found Him. But the
good news seemed almost too good to be true, and she wanted the men of
the city to learn for themselves. So she put her new belief in the form
of a question, "Is not this the Christ?" A great number obeyed her call,
and believed with her that Jesus was the Messiah.

[Illustration: THE HILL OF SAMARIA _Old Engraving_ Page 84]

Meanwhile the disciples asked Him to eat of the food they had brought.
But His deep interest in the woman, and joy in the great change in her,
was so great that for the moment He felt no want of food. So He said to
them, "I have meat to eat that ye know not." ... "My meat is to do the
will of Him that sent Me." Never again did the disciples marvel that
their Master talked with a woman, or with a sinner of any kind. We
seem to see John, weary and hungry as his Master, but unmindful of
bodily discomforts, because of his intense interest in what is passing.
His record does not give his own experiences, but we can imagine some of
them. His watchful eye detects every movement and expression of his
companions,--the calm, earnest, loving, pitying look of Jesus; and the
excited, scornful, surprised, joyful, constantly changing looks of the
woman. He first marks her pertness of manner; then the respectful "Sir";
then the reverence for a prophet; and at last the belief and joy in the

Whether or not John was witness to all that passed at the well, or
whether Jesus gave him the minute details, or whether the Samaritaness,
during the two days that Jesus and His disciples remained in Sychar,
told Him all, his story is one of the most lifelike in the Gospels,
teaching the greatest of truths.

If that noon hour at Jacob's well was a memorable one for the woman, it
was also for John. For him Christ was the Well of Truth. Of it he was to
drink during blessed years. Standing nearest to it of any mortal,
receiving more than any other, he was to give of it to multitudes
thirsting for the water of life.


_The Chosen One of the Chosen Three of the Chosen Twelve_

     "Walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren, Simon, who is
     called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea,
     for they were fishers. And He said unto them, Come ye after Me, and
     I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left the nets,
     and followed Him. And going on from thence He saw other two
     brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the
     boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called
     them. And they straightway left the boat and their father, and
     followed Him."--_Matt._ iv. 18-22.

     "He was the Supreme Fisher, and this day He was fishing for

     "When it was day, He called His disciples; and he chose from them
     twelve, whom also He named apostles, Simon, whom He also named
     Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and
     Philip...."--_Luke_ vi. 13, 14

     "Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John."--_Matt._ xvii.

     "One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved."--_John_ xiii. 23.

      "We know not all thy gifts,
         But this Christ bids us see,
       That He who so loved all,
         Found more to love in thee."

Once more we find the two pair of brothers on the shore of Gennesaret,
not together, but within hailing distance. All night long they have
toiled at fishing without any reward. The morning has dawned. Wearied
and with the marks of labor on their persons and their garments, their
empty boats drawn upon the beach, they are mending their nets which have
been torn by the waves, and cleansing them from the sand which has been
gathered instead of the fishes they sought.

[Illustration: JACOB'S WELL _From Photograph_ Page 91]

Meanwhile a multitude of people in the neighboring field is listening to
the Master. The fishermen may hear His voice, but their nets must not be
left in disorder; they must be put in readiness for another trial,
which, though they know it not, will be most abundantly rewarded.

They cannot go to Him, but He comes to them with a greeting and a
command, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men."

The time had come for Him to gather His first disciples more closely
about Him for instruction and preparation and service in His kingdom.
They had seen proofs of His Messiahship. They had been with Him long
enough to know something of His work and teachings, and what was
included in His call to follow Him. They understood it meant leaving
their boats and nets by which they had earned their daily bread, and
even leaving their homes, and going with Him wherever He went, trusting
Him for support, ready to do anything to which all this would lead them.
Their belief in Him, and their love for Him, were enough to secure
immediate obedience to the new command.

In their faithfulness in their duties in their former life, in the
carefulness in mending their nets, in the patience and perseverance
during the nights of fruitless toil, in their thoughtfulness, skill and
experience in catching fish--in such things Christ found likeness of
what He would make them to become--fishers of men. From their old
business He would teach them lessons about the new,--of His power, the
abundance of His store, and the great things they were to do for Him and
their fellow-men. Before they leave it, He makes Himself a kind of
partner with them. Having used Simon's boat for a pulpit for teaching,
He tells him to launch out into the deep and to let down his net. It
encloses a multitude of fishes. Andrew and James with their brothers
whom they had called to Jesus, the first company to follow Him from the
Jordan, are the first to do so in a new and fuller sense from the shores
of Gennesaret, where they first learned of Him.

There is something touching in the special reference to the call of the
sons of Salome, whose relation to Mary first interested us in them. It
is said of Jesus, "He saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother
and He called them. And they immediately left their father in the ship
with the hired servants. They forsook all and followed Him."

[Illustration: THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES _Old Engraving_ Page 94]

What reminders do we here have of the past! James and John, true
brothers in childhood, united in business in early life, now hand in
hand commence life anew. Having become the help, and much more the
companions of their father they must leave him to the companionship of
hired servants. But in this hour of sundering family ties, the loving
father and loving sons rejoice in Jesus as their Master whom they all
willingly obey.

He chose twelve whom He called Apostles. Such was the glorious company,
composed of young men, the most honored in all earthly history, to be
His closest companions, His missionary family. During the remainder of
His life He would train them; and when leaving the world trust their
faithfulness and devotion in extending His kingdom. The two pair of
brothers and their early friend Philip are the first named of the
Apostles. The early Bethsaidan group composed almost one-half of the
apostolic company. But within that circle there was another. Three of
the twelve were chosen by the Lord for closer intimacy. They were to be
special witnesses of His greatest power, His most radiant glory, and His
deepest sorrow upon earth. They were Peter, James and John. Two of the
three, Peter and John, were to be united in special service for their
Lord while He was with them, and so continue after He was gone. But of
the twelve Jesus drew one closest to Himself, most loved and the most
glorious of them all: it was John.

In seeking a reason for Christ's fixing the number of His disciples,
some have found a fancied one in the twelve precious stones of Aaron's
breastplate. The most precious stone would represent John, the chosen
one of the Great High Priest. In his own vision of the new Jerusalem
"the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner
of precious stones." "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,
and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb." It was
that Lamb of God to which he had been pointed on the Jordan, and to
which he points us as he beholds Him by the "glassy sea." As John read
those names did he not recall the day when Jesus chose twelve whom "He
named Apostles"?


_John in the Home of Jairus_

     "He suffered no man to follow with Him, save Peter, and James, and
     John. And they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue."

     "And taking the child by the hand, He saith unto her, Talitha cumi;
     which is, being interpreted, Damsel I say unto thee, Arise. And
     straightway the damsel rose up, and walked."--_Mark_ v. 37, 38, 41,

The first scene in which we find John as one of the favored three is in
the house of mourning. It was the home of Jairus in Capernaum. He was a
ruler of the synagogue. "He had an only daughter, about twelve years of
age, and she lay a dying." He hastened to Jesus, fell at His feet,
worshiped Him, and besought Him saying, "Come and lay Thy hands on her
that she may be healed; and she shall live."

Did he not have in mind Peter's wife's mother, living in the same town,
and how Jesus "came and took her by the hand and lifted her up; and
immediately the fever left her"? Jesus started for the house, followed
by a throng, some doubtless full of tender sympathy for their townsman,
and some curious to see what the wonder-worker would do.

A messenger from Jairus' home met him saying, "Thy daughter is dead;
trouble not the Master." But the father's faith in Jesus was not limited
to the power to heal. Could not the hand that had already touched the
bier of the widow's only son, be laid on his only daughter, with
life-restoring power? Could not the command spoken in Nain "I say unto
thee, arise," be repeated in Capernaum, and in like manner be obeyed?
Without heeding the messenger's question about troubling the Master, he
cried out yet more earnestly, "My daughter is even now dead; but lay Thy
hand upon her, and she shall live." But the father's entreaty was
unnecessary, for Jesus was already responding to the messenger's words
as, turning to Jairus, He said, "Fear not, only believe."

How eagerly the curious crowd hastened toward the ruler's home, because
of a possible miracle, even raising the dead. But they were not to be
witnesses of such display of Divine power. Yet even if the throng be
excluded, might not the Twelve, following close to Jairus and Jesus,
expect admission to the home? What was the surprise and disappointment
of nine of them to be forbidden admission by Him whom they were
following. But so it was. "When He came to the house He suffered not any
man to enter in with Him, save Peter, and John and James, and the father
of the maiden, and her mother."

[Illustration: RAISING THE DAUGHTER OF JAIRUS _H. Hofmann_ Page 99]

This is the first we know of this distinction in the apostolic band. We
almost hear the nine saying, "Why is this?" Can it be that, in that
hour, at the door of this house of mourning, there was awakened the
feeling of jealousy which afterward appeared? Did it inspire in the
three a sense of superiority, and ambition to be higher in position than
the rest in the kingdom of their Lord? Did James and John especially
hope for promotion above the nine, and even the ten including Peter? So
it will appear. But all this was to pass away when the band better
understood the nature of their Lord's kingdom, and possessed more of His

The death-chamber was too sacred a place for numbers, even for the nine,
whose admittance would be more fitting than that of the hired mourners
whom Jesus excluded with them. He had His own wise reasons for the
choice of the three. We do not wonder that John was one of them. With
all his manifest failings--which he at last overcame--he was the most
like his Master. In that death-chamber the Lord was to show His
"gentleness and delicacy of feeling and action" such as John could
understand, and with which he could sympathize.

"And taking the child by the hand, He saith unto her, Talitha, cumi." We
are glad that Mark has preserved for us the very words that must have
thrilled the heart of John. They had been interpreted, "My little lamb,
my pet lamb, rise up." In them was a lesson for John. They were a
revelation of his Master's tenderness toward childhood. It was a needed
lesson, which he finally learned.

As John and Peter saw the returning life of the little maid, and heard
their Master's command "that something should be given her to eat," they
thought not of the time when they should stand together again near the
same spot with the same Master, Himself risen from the dead, and hear
Him utter another command, "Feed My lambs."

As they with James followed their Lord out from the death-chamber--such
no longer--and heard His charge "that no man should know" what had
happened, the very secrecy drew more distinctly the line of the inner
circle about the three. It was not to be erased during the Lord's
earthly sojourn with the twelve.


_John a Beholder of Christ's Glory_

     "We beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the
     Father."--_St. John_ i. 14.

     "We were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the
     Father honor and glory ... when we were with Him in the holy
     mount."--2 _Peter_ i. 16-18.

      "As brightest sun, His face is bright;
       His raiment, as the light, is white,
         Yea, whiter than the whitest snow.
       Moses, Elias, spake with Him.
       Of deepest things, of terrors grim,
         Of boundless bliss, and boundless woe,
         Of pangs that none but Christ may know.

      "A voice sublime I panting hear,
       A voice that conquers grief and fear,
         Revealing all eternity;
       Revealing God's beloved Son,
       Born to redeem a world undone;
         Filled with God's fulness from on high,
         To gain God's noblest victory."
                             --_Trans. Kingo of Denmark._

We may think of the twelve as Christ's family with whom He often prayed
apart from the multitude. One such occasion was in Cæsarea Philippi. The
prayer was followed by two earnest and solemn questions. "He asked the
disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of Man is? And they said,
Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah or one of
the prophets."

How strange these sayings must have sounded to St. John and his Jordan
companions, who had been directed by the Baptist to their Messiah. Three
of them were soon to witness Elijah's tribute to Him, as being more than
the "Son of Man." Such already had He become to them. He was more
interested in the opinions of the disciples than in those of the
multitude. So He asked with emphasis, "But who say ye that I am? And
Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the
living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou,
Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but
My Father which is in heaven."

But in the mind of Jesus even this blessed revelation was not enough for
His believing yet frail disciples. Even the three, the most enlightened
of the twelve, needed a clearer vision of Him and His kingdom, and
strength for trials they were to endure. So they needed His prayers.

"From that time began Jesus to show unto His disciples how that He must
go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things, ... and be killed." He needed
prayer also for Himself. So "Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James and
John, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves."
The favored three, who had witnessed His power in the raising of Jairus'
daughter, were to be witnesses of his glory. Luke says He "went up into
the mountain to pray." Not Tabor,--for which mistaken tradition has
claimed the honor--but Hermon was doubtless the "high mountain." This
kingly height of the Lebanon range was a fitting place for Jesus the
King. The glittering splendor of its snows is a fitting emblem of His
character. It was the highest earthly spot on which He stood. From it He
had His most extensive views. Here He had His most exalted earthly
experience. Peter rightly named it "the Holy Mount" because of its
"glory that excelleth" all other mountains.

We do not know the thoughts or feelings or words of the nine when Jesus
"taketh with Him the three." We wonder whether their wonder was at all
mixed with jealousy. As they saw the three "apart by themselves," their
lessening forms ascending Hermon, and at last hidden from their view by
the evening shades, can it be that the dispute began which cast a gloom
over their Lord when He descended from that mountain of glory?

And the three themselves--what were their emotions as they looked down
upon their companions in the plain below, and upward to the height
whither their Master was bringing them. Did they whisper together
concerning the word He had just spoken--that He must die. They must have
had such mingling of feelings as they never had before.

It was the evening after a Sabbath. At the close of the weary summer
day, after the long and steep ascent of the mountain, and in the strong
mountain air, it is no wonder that the three disciples were "weighted
with sleep."

Luke not only tells us that Jesus went up "to pray" but also that "He
prayed." Would that John had recorded that prayer, as he did those
supplications in the Upper Room and in Gethsemane. "As we understand
it," says Edersheim, "the prayer with them had ceased, or merged into
silent prayer of each, or Jesus now prayed alone and apart."

On the banks of the Jordan, where Jesus and the three had met, while He
"was praying, the heavens were opened," and the dove-like form descended
upon Him, and His Father's voice was heard. And now "as He prayed,"
there came an answer, immediate and glorious: "He was transfigured
before them."

The disciples though "weighted with sleep," "having remained awake, they
saw His glory, and the two men that stood with Him." It was many years
after this vision that John, speaking for the three, testified, "We saw
His glory."

"The fashion of His countenance was altered." "His face did shine as
the sun." "His garments became exceeding white; so as no fuller on earth
can whiten them," "white as the light," "glistering," "dazzling."

"Behold there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with Him." How
did the disciples know the Lawgiver and the Prophet? We are not told.
There may have been given them some supernatural powers of discernment.
They may have known by the conversation between Jesus and His celestial
visitants, as, in earthly language with heavenly tone, they "spoke of
His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem," of which
He had told them on the plain below.

It was that Moses who fifteen hundred years before came down from Mount
Sinai with the two tables of the law in his hands, when Aaron and the
children of Israel stood in awe before His shining face. But now He had
come, not from the mount which Paul describes as "darkness," but unto
that other whose snowy whiteness has given it the name of Lebanon. He
had come from Heaven, to yield homage to Him to whom He would sing with

    "My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
       I read my duty in Thy Word;
     But in Thy life the Law appears,
       Drawn out in living Characters."

"The children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon Moses for the
glory of His face." In the "excellent glory" by which Peter describes
the scene on Hermon, the whole figure of His Lord was bathed in light.
But the glory of that vision was not yet complete. A cloud, brighter
than any on which the moon was shining, enwrapped Jesus and Moses and
Elijah. It was no other than the Shechinah, once more returning to the
earth,--"the symbol of Jehovah's presence."

This cloud overshadowed the disciples. As its light gleamed upon them,
they were filled with reverential fear. They were ready to do the
heavenly visitors immediate and humble service. But the mission of the
two was ended. Their last words of comfort to Jesus had been spoken. If
they could be detained, it must be done quickly. So, awed and confused
by the strange vision, yet longing for its continuance, the disciples,
Peter being the spokesman, proposed to make booths for their Master and
His two heavenly visitors. But the two had gone, and the crown of glory
that had enveloped them spread to the disciples, filling them with yet
increasing awe. The silence that had followed Peter's call was broken.
"There came a voice out of the cloud, This is My Beloved Son; hear ye
Him." Startled by such a response, "they fell on their face and were
sore afraid." They did not dare to look about them. The Cloud of
Glory lifted. How long they lay prostrate and trembling, we do not know.
At last a hand gently touched them. It was the hand of Jesus. His voice
bid them, "Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their
eyes they saw no man, save Jesus only."

[Illustration: THE TRANSFIGURATION _Old Engraving_ Page 106]

The Transfiguration was over. Its grand purpose was accomplished. Master
and disciples were prepared for the labors and trials to which they must
return. The night ended. As the morning sun glistened on the peaks of
Hermon, while darkness yet overspread the plain below, Jesus descended
with the three, to the nine awaiting their return.

"And as they were coming down from the mountain, He charged them that
they should tell no man what things they had seen, save when the Son of
Man should have risen again from the dead. And they kept the saying,
questioning among themselves what the raising again from the dead should

Peter's and John's memories of that vision of their Lord were ever
distinct and precious. When it was no longer a secret, Peter wrote in
ecstasy of the hour in which they "were eyewitnesses of His majesty, ...
when they were with Him in the holy mount."

Let us notice the record by John. In the beginning of his gospel he says
"The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us." By this he means that
the Son of God became a man, and lived among men who witnessed His
life. But of all the events of that life which John had seen, there was
a special one in his mind, which not all men had witnessed. So he adds,
"We beheld His glory." This probably refers to the Transfiguration and
the Shechinah, which he and Peter and James had seen. And then he thinks
of how much greater Jesus was than John the Baptist, "a man sent from
God," "to bear witness of" Him. He thinks also of the great Lawgiver of
whom he says, "the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came by
Jesus Christ."

We imagine that ever after the Transfiguration, John thought of Moses
and the Shechinah together. Had he with his companions been permitted to
build three tabernacles or booths, "one for Moses," what delightful
visits John would have made him there, like that one which he had made
in the abode of Jesus on the banks of the Jordan.

[Illustration: MOSES ON MT. PISGAH _Artist Unknown_ Page 109]

I seem to hear Moses telling John something of his own history when on
the earth, and teaching him lessons from it in words like these: "This
is not the first time I have heard the Lord's voice, from out this cloud
of glory. Out of the burning bush He called me, 'Moses, Moses.' At Sinai
He said, 'Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud.' And again He appeared
in 'a pillar of a cloud,' and said, 'Behold thou shall sleep with thy
fathers.' I saw not that cloud again on earth until you beheld it. My
thoughts were about death. I prayed about it, not as your Master and
mine has done in preparation therefor, but that I might not then die.
This was my prayer: 'Let me go over I pray Thee and see the good land
that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon,'--the very
mountain where we now are. But the Lord would not hear me. I prayed yet
again more earnestly, and the Lord said unto me, 'Let it suffice thee;
speak no more unto me of this matter.' From yonder mountain of Nebo He
showed me all the land we now see from Hermon; and then I died. The Lord
buried me in yonder land of Moab. No man knoweth my sepulchre unto this
day. I died, my great hope of forty years disappointed. My repeated
earnest prayer was ungranted then, but it has not been unanswered. This
'goodly' Lebanon, to which I looked from Nebo with longing eyes, is more
'goodly' now than when it sadly faded from my dying vision. You, John,
are one of the witnesses to the answer to my dying prayer. Never did the
Shechinah at Horeb, or Sinai, or the Tabernacle, seem so resplendent as
on this Mount Hermon. Here it has enwrapped Elijah and me, the favored
two whose mission Gabriel might have envied. We were sent down from
heaven to talk with Jesus concerning His death, of which He has told
you. In view of it He has lead you, the favored three hither to pray.
It was while He prayed that ye 'beheld His glory.' Not only for me, but
much more for Him, is Hermon _the_ mount--'The Holy Mount,' because the
mount of Prayer, and therefore the mount of Transfiguration."


_St. John's Imperfections_

     "Master, we saw one casting out demons in Thy name; and we forbade
     him, because he followeth not with us."--_John._

     "Lord, wilt Thou that we bid fire to come down from heaven, and
     consume them, even as Elijah did?"--_James and John._

     "Grant us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and one on Thy
     left hand, in Thy glory."--_James and John._

     "And when the ten heard it, they began to be moved with indignation
     concerning James and John."--_Mark_ x. 41.

John was not perfect. There were unlovely traits in his otherwise noble
character. It is not pleasant to write of his faults. We would gladly be
silent concerning them. But there are four reasons for making record of
them. 1. If we think of his virtues and not of his faults, we do not
have a just view of his character; it is one-sided; we have an imperfect
picture. 2. We see how Jesus loved him notwithstanding his
imperfections. While hating his sins he loved the man. 3. Remembering
John's faults, we give him all the more credit when we see how he
overcame them, and what he became under the example and teachings of
Jesus. 4. Having failings ourselves, we are encouraged by the full and
truthful story of John's life, to overcome our own sins. Such are good
reasons why the imperfections of good men like David and Peter and John
are recorded in the Bible.

In speaking of John's boyhood, we hinted at some of his faults. Let us
now notice them more particularly as given by the Evangelists. Sometimes
he was evidently included when Jesus rebuked the disciples for some
wrong they had said or done. On one occasion, he alone is mentioned; on
two others he and his brother James are rebuked together. The first
recorded incident, showing imperfection, is soon after the descent from
Hermon. Jesus seems to have accompanied Peter to his home in Capernaum,
to which the other disciples followed them. The favor which Christ
showed the three in taking them to the mount may have caused a feeling
of pride in them, and of jealousy in the nine. Pride was John's
besetting sin, as we shall see. A great privilege had been granted him.
Without telling the secret of Hermon to his fellow-disciples, he may, by
improper word or act, or both, have shown a feeling of superiority,
which displeased them, as the same spirit did on another occasion. At
any rate, something led to a dispute who should be the greatest in the
kingdom which they believed their Lord was to establish. This was a sad
revelation of the ambitious spirit of these good men. It was probably on
the way to Capernaum that an incident happened in which John seems to
have been the chief actor. He exhibited a spirit of intolerance--a want
of patience and forbearance toward a man whom they met. He was a
disciple of Christ, in whose power he had such faith that he was enabled
to cast out evil spirits in His name. He was doing a good work such as
Christ gave His apostles power to do. They prided themselves in it, and
felt as if they only had a right to it. So John, speaking for the rest,
as if he had authority, forbade this man to use the power any more. On
their reaching the house of Peter, Jesus asked, "What was it that ye
disputed among yourselves by the way?" Perceiving that He knew their
thoughts, they were silent with shame, until one of them, yet
unconquered by His question of reproof, asked Him "Who is the greatest?"
He did not answer the question immediately. As if in preparation for
something special, "He sat down and called the twelve" about Him; He
uttered one reported sentence, "If any man would be first, he shall be
last of all, and minister of all." And then "He called a little child to
Him and set him in the midst of them." It was His object lesson. Through
it He rebuked and taught them. He made childhood a test of character.
With solemnity and earnestness He declared, "Verily I say unto you,
Except ye turn and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter
into the kingdom of heaven."

That child-spirit included simplicity, meekness, harmlessness,
obedience, dutifulness, trustfulness and, especially at this time,

The Lord's declaration must have startled the disciples. They thought of
themselves as His chosen ones, superior to others, having special
powers, and destined to special honors which none other might claim. In
a spirit contrary to His declaration, they were contending who should be
the greatest in His kingdom. He revealed to them, then and there, the
nature of that kingdom which they had so greatly misunderstood.

Upon one at least, Christ's lesson was not altogether lost. That was
John. He recalled his proud and unjust treatment of the humble man whom
he had forbidden to do good work in the name of Christ. He saw that his
own spirit had been contrary to that of which Christ had just spoken. He
finally confessed his fault. But the lesson of his Master was not
perfectly learned, or if learned, was not, as we shall see, perfectly
obeyed. Though the beloved, he was still an imperfect, disciple, as is
shown in another incident.

At the time when Jesus lived, and in the country where He journeyed,
travelers were generally welcomed as guests in any home. Though
strangers, they were treated as friends. This was a necessary kindness
because there were no hotels such as we have in our day and country.

But to this hospitality there was a noted exception. We have noticed
the hatred of the Samaritans to the Jews. This was especially shown to
pilgrims going up to Jerusalem to attend the feasts.

Jesus was on His last journey thither. As ever, He was teaching and
healing on the way. His own heart was burdened with the thought of what
He was to endure, but He was steadfast in His purpose to reach the Holy
City, willing there to suffer and to die. Nearing the first Samaritan
village, He sent messengers before Him to prepare for Himself and His
company. Even the common hospitality was refused, and that in a most
unfriendly manner. The Master was treated as a teacher of falsehood.
Even the kind healer was not permitted to enter the village. He was a
Jew on His way to Jerusalem. In the minds of the villagers, this was
more than enough to balance all the good in Him.

James and John especially were indignant at the unkind treatment. They
felt keenly the insult to their Lord, whom they believed was on His way
to Jerusalem to establish His Kingdom, and was worthy of the most
generous hospitality and the sincerest homage. They had a fresh
remembrance of the glory in which they had seen Him on the Holy Mount in
company with Elijah. They were reminded of that prophet's experience
more than nine hundred years before. It was this: Ahaziah, a king of
Israel, was seriously injured by a fall from the balcony of his house.
He sent to inquire of the false god Baal-zebub whether he should
recover. God sent Elijah to reprove him for his idolatry and insult to
Himself. The king sent a captain with fifty men to seize the prophet,
but they were consumed by fire from heaven. Another captain and his
fifty men were also destroyed in like manner.

Such a punishment James and John would call down on the Samaritans. They
felt that it would be just. If fitting for the enemies of Elijah, how
much more for those of Jesus. They were ready to give the command which
God permitted Elijah to give, if Jesus would allow them to do likewise.
And so, being displeased, provoked, revengeful, with a fiery spirit,
they said to Him, "Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down
from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did?" But Jesus "turned
and rebuked them," and said, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are

It was contrary to the spirit of meekness and love manifest in His
declaration to them, "The Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives,
but to save them." And so He inspired them with another spirit, as He
quietly led them "to another village." We sadly turn to another scene in
which imperfection in the beloved disciple is especially revealed.

The favored brothers had not yet learned perfectly the lesson of
humility which their Lord had tried to teach them. They were still
devoted to Him, following Him, loving Him. But they still misunderstood
what He said about His death, and His kingdom, in which they hoped for
the most honored places. They wanted to be assured of promotion above
their fellow-disciples. They were earnest in an unholy desire. They had
a bold, ambitious request to make of the Lord. It was the chief occasion
on which their pride was revealed. We have two accounts of it. In one of
them the mother Salome appears as the speaker. She brings her sons to
Jesus, prostrates herself before Him, and offers this petition, "Grant
that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other
on Thy left, in Thy Kingdom." She had a loving mother's pride. She was
the aunt of Jesus, and perhaps felt that because of this relationship,
her sons had a right which the other Apostles could not claim. She had
given them to His service, and had proved her own love and devotion to
Him by following Him with other women of Galilee, ministering to His
comforts. Meanwhile James and John, according to another account,
themselves urged their mother's request saying, "Grant unto us that we
may sit, one on Thy right hand, and one on Thy left hand, in Thy glory."

Mother and sons shared in the spirit of self-seeking and
self-exaltation. But we must not forget that it was faith in Him as the
Messiah, and in His coming "glory," that led them to show it, though in
a mistaken way.

In sorrow and tenderness, and pity for their ignorance, Jesus replied,
"Ye know not what ye ask." While His eye rested on them, His thoughts
were on another scene. It was a cross with Himself upon it, and a
malefactor on each side, instead of the brothers in their pride. As John
at last stood by it, did he recall the hour of his mistaken ambitious
request, which had never been repeated. There had been no need that the
Lord should say to him, as to Moses, "Ask me not again," yet like Moses,
he was to receive a most glorious answer in another form. In his pride,
with an earthly throne in mind, he had asked, "Grant that I may sit with
Thee in Thy glory?" Having conquered his unholy ambition there was
fulfilled in him the promise of His Lord in glory, "To him that
overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne."

The time came when there was no longer occasion for the other ten
apostles to be "moved with indignation concerning James and John,"
because of their pride and ambitious seeking. This John is the disciple
whom, with all his imperfections, Jesus loved most of all; this the man
known as the most lovable of men; this the one who well-nigh reached
human perfection through his ardent and ever increasing love for Jesus;
this the one who is called _the Apostle of Love_.


_John and the Family of Bethany_

     "He entered into a certain village; and a certain woman named
     Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called
     Mary, which also sat at the Lord's feet, and heard His
     word."--_Luke_ x. 38, 39.

     "Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of
     Mary and her sister Martha."--_John_ xi. 1.

     "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus."--_v._ 5.

     "Jesus ... said, ... Lazarus is dead."--_v._ 14.

     "Jesus wept."--_v._ 35.

     "He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. He that was dead
     came forth."--_vs._ 43, 44.

     "As he (John) gives us so much more than the synoptists about the
     family at Bethany, we may infer that he was a more intimate friend
     of Lazarus and his sisters."--_A. Plummer, D.D._

In four sentences Luke draws an unfinished picture of a family group,
whose memory has become especially precious because of what John has
added to it. His probable familiarity with the family made this
possible. No wonder if he felt that the original picture must be
enlarged and retouched. The place where that family lived had become to
him too sacred a spot to be called simply "a certain village." Martha
was more than "a certain woman," who though hospitable, was distracted
in her housekeeping. Mary was fairer than Luke had painted her. John
had seen her do more than sit at Jesus' feet. He manifestly felt that
the resurrection of Lazarus was too great an event to be omitted from
the gospel story, as it was by the other Evangelists who, when they
wrote, might have endangered the life of Him whom the Jews sought to
destroy. John's heart demanded a stronger tribute to Mary than Matthew
or Mark had given. Let him be our guide to the blessed home. With his
eyes let us see Jesus' relation to it, and with his ears listen to the
Master's words there spoken.

[Illustration: BETHANY _Old Engraving_ Page 120]

As he opens the door we see a family of wealth, refinement, hospitality
and affection. Its members are of kindred spirit with him: and so would
be attracted to him, and he to them. But there was a special bond of
union. "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." Such is the
tender passing remark of John who elsewhere calls himself "the disciple
whom Jesus loved." These four form a group of special objects of
Christ's affection. They ardently loved Him. We may suppose that John's
relation to the family of Bethany was closer than that of any other
disciple. This fitted him to make us familiar with their characters, and
many incidents of their home.

John was with Jesus in Bethany in Peræa, when there came the sad, brief,
confiding message from Mary and Martha, "Lord, behold, he whom Thou
lovest is sick." Doubtless it touched the heart of the apostle as well
as that of his Master, whose response he records: "This sickness is not
unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be
glorified thereby." We are reminded of John's own words concerning the
change of water into wine: "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana
of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory."

Jesus' plan for Lazarus included a delay of two days in Bethany of
Peræa. Meanwhile His heart went out toward Bethany in Judæa. So did
John's. But, though Jesus tarried, it can be said, as on another
occasion, "He Himself knew what He would do." While John was wondering,
waiting and watching, perhaps he remembered how the nobleman's son was
healed in Capernaum when Jesus was in Cana, and thought it possible that
the messenger would be told to say to the sisters, "Thy brother liveth."

When at last Jesus proposed to His disciples that they all go to Judæa,
John's love may have contended for a moment with fear, as they
protested, because of danger from His enemies: but it was for a moment
only. When Jesus said, "Let us go unto him," we almost wonder that it
was not John the loving, nor Peter the bold, but Thomas the sometimes
unready, that said concerning Jesus, "Let us also go that we may die
with Him." But we imagine that John was the readiest to go, and kept
the closest to his Master in the pathway to Bethany in Judæa.

"Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," said Jesus. Though all of the disciples
were thus addressed, we think of John as especially including Jesus and
himself in that word "our," because of the nearness of their relation to
the afflicted family. And then that other word "sleepeth"--it must have
carried him, as well as James and Peter, back to the home of Jairus,
where they heard the same voice to which they were now listening say,
"The child is not dead but sleepeth."

We almost wonder that the three did not turn to their fellow-disciples
and say that "Jesus had spoken of the _death_ of Lazarus," while "they
thought that He spake of taking rest in sleep." But evidently not so;
and when Jesus "said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead," doubtless John
was the saddest of them all, because of his special interest in him. The
full record--the only one of what transpired in that sad, joyful
home--shows how closely John watched every movement of Jesus and the
sisters, and how carefully he noted what they said. We may give credit
to his memory, even with the aid which he says was promised the
disciples in their remembrance. He notes the coming of Martha to meet
Jesus, while "Mary sat still in the house;" Martha's plaintive cry,
"Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died;" the
conversation between her and Jesus concerning the resurrection; the
sudden change from it to His asking for Mary; Martha's return to the
house and whispering in her sister's ear, "The Master is come and
calleth for thee;" the hurried obedience to the call--all these
incidents are recorded by John with the particularity and vividness of
an eyewitness.

It appears as if Jesus would not perform the intended miracle until the
arrival of Mary. John's account of their meeting is full of pathos. He
watches her coming, notices the moment she catches sight of Him through
her tears, and her first act of falling down at His feet, and her
repetition of Martha's cry, "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother
had not died." He looks into the faces of both as "Jesus sees her
weeping." He contrasts Mary's real and deep sorrow with the outward and
heartless outcries of pretended grief, at which Jesus "groans in
spirit," because a seeming mockery in the presence of His loving friend.
John measures the depth of the Lord's "troubled" spirit by His outward
movements. He opens to us His heart of hearts in the brief, tender
record, "Jesus wept." Where in the whole story of His life do we gain a
keener sense of His humanity, especially His tenderness and sympathy.
What a revelation we would have missed if John had been silent, but the
emotion of His own heart had been too deep to allow any such omission.
"Jesus wept." As Professor Austin Phelps declares, "The shortest verse
in the Bible is crowded with suggestions."

While John is our guide to the tomb of Lazarus, and more than that, the
sincere mourner with the afflicted sisters, he is yet more the disciple
of Jesus, receiving new and lasting impressions of divine truth and of
his Master, which are embodied in his story.

John recorded seven miracles of our Lord. The first was that of turning
water into wine. The last was the raising of Lazarus. In both of them He
points us to the same glorious purpose. He says that in the first,
Christ "manifested forth His glory," and that the second was "for the
glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." And now
standing with Martha by the yet unopened tomb, John hears their Lord
remind her of His assurance that if she believed, she "should see the
glory of God." That hour had come. The Lord had commanded, "Take ye away
the stone." John was most attentive to every act of the passing scene.
His eyes glanced from the stone to his Lord. As soon as the command
concerning it was obeyed Jesus lifted His eyes upward, and said,
"Father"--calling upon Him with whom He was to be glorified.

John had stood at the bedside of the only daughter of Jairus, and heard
the command, "Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise." By the bier of the
widow's only son he had probably heard that other, "Young man, I say
unto thee, Arise." And now standing by the open door of the tomb of the
only brother, was He not listening for a like command? He had not long
to wait. The prayer of his Lord was ended. The tone of prayer was
changed to that of command. "He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come
forth. And he that was dead came forth." John describes his appearance.
He was "bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was bound
about with a napkin." When Jesus saith unto them, "Loose him and let him
go"--away from the excitement and curiosity of the heartless
mourners--who was so ready as John to obey the command, while welcoming
his friend back to life? Who could so fittingly escort him from the
darkened tomb to the relighted home, with the sisters still weeping--but
for joy.

In John's old age when he recalled this resurrection scene, he seems to
have had a special memory of the younger sister's sorrow. He speaks of
the "Jews which came to Mary" in the hour of her sadness.

But His memory of that resurrection day was tinged with gloom. He traced
back, from the cross on Calvary to the tomb in Bethany, the way by which
his Lord had been led by His enemies. "From that day forth they took
counsel together for to put Him to death."

[Illustration: THE RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS _Old Engraving_ Page 126]

It is tradition, not John, which tells us concerning Lazarus that the
first question which he asked Christ after He was restored to life was
whether He must die again; and that being told that he must, he was
never more seen to smile. But John, better than tradition, tells of
another scene in which we imagine his smiles were not restrained. To it
let us turn.


_John's Memorial of Mary_

     "When Jesus was in Bethany, ... there came unto Him a woman having
     an alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment, and she poured
     it upon his head, as He sat at meat."--_Matt._ xxvi. 6, 7.

     "Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached
     in the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be
     spoken of for a memorial of her."--_Matt._ xxvi. 13.

     "It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped
     His feet with her hair."--_John_ xi. 2.

     "There is something touchingly fraternal in the momentary pleasure
     which He (Christ) appears to have taken in the gift of the
     alabaster box."--_Austin Phelps._

      "Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,
         Nor other thought her mind admits
         But, he was dead, and there he sits,
       And He that brought him back is there.

      "Then one deep love doth supersede
         All other, when her ardent gaze
         Rose from the living brother's face,
       And rests upon the life indeed."

That is an impressive picture drawn by Saints Matthew and Mark, of a
scene in Bethany, where an unnamed woman brought a flask of ointment
which she poured on the head of Jesus, thus exciting murmuring and
indignation against her, who was defended by Him, with assurance of
perpetual remembrance of her deed.

Yet a comparison of the accounts of these two Evangelists with the story
given by John, suggest the thought that he was not satisfied with the
picture. His remembrance of the things that happened before and after
that scene, his friendship for the family of Bethany, his understanding
of the Master's feelings and thoughts, his sense of justice to himself
and to his fellow-disciples, the omission of an important figure in the
grouping, and especially his tender sympathy for the unnamed heroine of
the story--these things demanded in his mind additions and re-touchings
to make the picture complete.

Let us imagine ourselves before him while he is reading the manuscripts
of Matthew and Mark, long after they were written. He tells us of
incidents, unmentioned by them, that enlarge and make clearer our view
of the scene. We note the impressions we may suppose were made on him at
the time of the event, and were still fresh in his old age when he tells
the story.

"I remember distinctly"--so he might say--"this scene in Bethany, both
what these two writers report, and what they do not. The hour was
drawing near when my Lord must die. So He had told me; but somehow I
did not understand that this must be. It seems strange to me now that I
did not, as well as one of my friends did, who realized the nearness of
the sad hour. I had arrived with Him at Bethany 'where Lazarus was which
had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.' It was a great joy to meet
again the friend whom I had welcomed from the tomb."

It is true, as here written by Mark, that Jesus "sat at meat." But this
does not tell the whole story. The people of Bethany wished to unite in
doing Him honor: "So they made Him a supper there." It was fitting that
it should be "in the house of Simon" whom Jesus had healed from leprosy,
and who was probably a relative or special friend of the family loved by
Jesus. I wonder that their names do not appear in the story given by
these two Evangelists: I could not forget them. I remember how "Martha
served" at the table, as if in her own home, seeming more of a hostess
than a guest; and how "Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table
with Him" who had bid him rise from the tomb; and how Mary showed her
gratitude for her brother's restoration, and love for his Restorer. To
me that supper loses half its interest without the mention of these
names, so suggestive of near relation to the Lord. Here I read, "There
came unto Him a woman." That is indeed true; but I find no hint of who
this unknown woman was. Could Matthew probably present, have forgotten
it? Had Mark absent, never been told?

Matthew says she had "an alabaster cruse of precious ointment," which
Mark explains was "spikenard very costly." This also is truly said, for
I learned that "Mary ... took a _pound_ of ointment of spikenard very
precious." This she could well afford. Some have suggested that perhaps,
like oriental girls of fashion, she had bought it in her pride, but
after coming under the influence of Jesus, had left it unused. But I am
more inclined to believe she intended it from the first as an expression
of overflowing love.

Mark says "she broke the cruse." I remember, as she crushed the neck of
it, all eyes were turned upon her, watching her movements. Lazarus,
reclining at the table, gazed upon her with brotherly interest; and
Martha, moving around it glanced at her with sisterly affection. There
was one man whose expression was something more than curiosity. In it
there was a shade of displeasure.

These two Evangelists tell that Mary "poured the ointment upon" and
"over" the "head" of Jesus. This was a common custom in rendering honor
and adoration. But it did not satisfy Mary, if the Lord could only say
with David, "Thou anointest my _head_." Her anointing was so profuse
that He could say,--as Matthew testifies that He did--"She poured this
ointment upon My body." But I would testify to another act, fuller yet
of meaning. She "anointed the _feet_ of Jesus." This meant far more than
the washing of feet, as an humble act of hospitality and honor. It was
an unusual act of adoration. I saw bathed in spikenard what I have since
seen bathed in blood. But that was not all. Making of her long tresses a
fine but unwoven towel, "she wiped His feet with her hair"; kneeling in
devotion where she had loved to sit in learning.

I noticed the glowing rapture in her face, and an occasional glance into
that of her Lord, unmindful of the presence of all others, while He
looked kindly upon her. It was then that I discovered that "the house
was filled with the odor of the ointment." But, alas, not so with the
perfume of her deed. "There were some that had indignation among
themselves, ... and they murmured against her": so says Mark. "When the
disciples" saw Mary's deed "they had indignation": so says Matthew. It
is true that signs of dissatisfaction came from the group of the
disciples, but it is the voice of one of them that has ever since rung
in my ears, to whom "the unworthy grumbling should be assigned." In
justice to the disciples he should not be unnamed. Mary was still in the
act of her devotion to Jesus. "But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples,
which should betray Him, saith, 'Why was not this ointment sold for
three hundred pence, and given to the poor?' This he said, not because
he cared for the poor"--not he--"but because he was a thief and, having
the bag, took away what was put therein." He it was who from the first
showed displeasure at Mary's act. His words were both an exclamation and
a question, a sort of soliloquy, and yet addressed to anybody who might
hear and answer: but they needed no answer. It was too late to gather up
the ointment already used, and sell it for the poor or for any other
purpose. But Judas' purpose I well understand. I see through his
hypocrisy now more clearly than I did then.

[Illustration: TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM _Gustave Doré_ Page 138]

With the sharp, reproving voice of Judas, Mary glanced into his angry
face. This would have filled her with terror had she not immediately
looked into that of Jesus beaming upon her. One hand of His was over
her, as if in protection and benediction, while the other waved in a
reproving gesture. As I read how He answered the question of Judas with
another, "Why trouble ye her?" and then commanded, "Let her alone"; and
then declared, "She hath wrought a good work upon me," I recall the
changing expressions of His face, and His tones of indignation and

I was startled by the reason He gave for letting her alone,--that she
might preserve what remained of the ointment, not for the poor, but to
be used for His burial, near at hand.

She it was of whom I have spoken who understood better than I or any of
my fellow-apostles, that our Lord's life was nearing its end.

I find here in the records of Matthew and Mark the assurance of the Lord
concerning the unnamed woman of whom they have written. It is this,
"Verily I say unto you, 'Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in
the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of
for a memorial of her.' Let it be known that this woman was Mary of
Bethany, then at Jesus' feet. Henceforth let her name be linked with her

Thus ends the words we have imagined St. John might have spoken with the
Gospels of Matthew and Mark in his hand. The additions to their story
are suggested by his own Gospel. He has drawn a beautiful picture of
Mary, in brighter colors and more delicate shades than has any other. To
him artists are chiefly indebted for their ideas of her. His own
character was so completely in harmony with hers that he understood what
his fellows did not. By them she was misjudged and condemned; he saw and
admired the sweetness of her spirit, and the purity and nobleness of her
motive. Upon the monument reared by other Evangelists, he inserted her
name. In her he saw a reflection of her Lord and his. His memory and
his record alone secured for her in particular the fulfilment of the
Lord's prophecy concerning the remembrance of her deed. Every Christian
home in the whole world has been, or will be, filled with the spiritual
fragrance of her offering. But the prophecy is more than fulfilled. That
which she hath done is not only "_spoken of_," for in many a home
inspired by her spirit, her name has been given as a memorial of her
whom John distinguished from all others as "that Mary which anointed the
Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair." It was of Mary
that Jesus said, "She hath done what she could."

John's picture of her is all the brighter because of his dark background
of Judas. He has forever associated their names in contrast. In his
mind, the anointing was ever suggestive of the betrayal. He remembered
how the "thief" asked his hypocritical question at the moment of the
greatest perfume; and how Judas was planning the betrayal while Mary was
meditating on the death to which it would lead. It appears almost
certain that Judas, stung by the Lord's reproof of him and defence of
Mary, ready to sell his Lord's body for a less sum than he valued the
ointment, turned from the feast in anger, hastening to the chief priest
with the cursed question and promise, "What will ye give me, and I will
deliver Him unto you?" Wheresoever the gospel is preached throughout
the whole world, that also which _this man_ hath done is spoken of--but
not for a memorial of him.

John's picture of Mary, Judas and Jesus is a most suggestive grouping.
What harmony and contrast! What light and shade! What revelation of love
and hate, of friendship and enmity, of devotion and sacrilege! To no
other scene does Christ sustain quite the same relation. The friendship
of His first feast--that of Cana--is deeper and tenderer in His last, at

There is something sublime in this Son of God having all power, pleading
with Judas that Mary might be permitted to continue her service of love
for Him.

Add John's own likeness to the three at whom we have been looking, and
what a grouping we have--Jesus with His loved Mary, and John the most
beautiful illustration of human friendship, and Judas the _betrayer_.
Let imagination complete what no artist has attempted.

When John recalls the odors of Mary's ointment filling the house, he
seems to catch a refrain from Solomon's song, and addresses it to
her,--"Thine ointments have a goodly fragrance; thy name is as ointment
poured forth; therefore do the maidens love thee."

It is not the "maidens" alone, especially the Marys of Christendom,
that "love" her, but all to whom the gospel is preached, who join in
John's refrain, while thanking him for his "memorial of her."


_John a Herald of the King_


     "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of
     Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: ... lowly, and riding
     upon ... a colt."--_Zech._ ix. 9.


     "He sent two of his disciples, saying, Go your way into the village
     over against you; in the which as ye enter ye shall find a colt
     tied: ... loose him, and bring him.... And they brought him to
     Jesus: and they threw their garments upon the colt, and set Jesus
     thereon."--_Luke_ xix. 30, 35.


     "These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when
     Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were
     written of Him, and that they had done these things unto
     Him."--_John_ xii. 16.

    "Daughter of Zion! Virgin Queen! Rejoice!
     Clap the glad hand and lift th' exulting voice!
     He comes,--but not in regal splendor drest,
     The haughty diadem, the Tyrian vest;
     Not arm'd in flame, all glorious from afar,
     Of hosts the chieftain, and the lord of war:
     Messiah comes!--let furious discord cease;
     Be peace on earth before the Prince of Peace!"
                                     --_Heber's Palestine_.

Zechariah foretold the coming of Christ five hundred years before the
angels over Bethlehem heralded His birth. The prophets saw Him as the
Messiah-king, but not such a ruler as most of the Jews of Christ's day
expected. Even the disciples, believing Him to be the Messiah, had
mistaken views of His kingdom. Yet He was the King foretold by the
prophets; the Son of David who sang of Him as the "King" and as the
"Lord's anointed"; the Messiah or Christ; the king of the Jews not only,
but of all men. As such He would make a triumphal entry into the "City
of the Great King." This would not be in the pride and pomp of an
earthly conqueror, but in the "lowly" manner which Zechariah had

All the accounts of Jesus' journeyings leave the impression that He went
a-foot. Only once do we know that He rode; that was in fulfilment of
prophecy. That prophecy He purposed to fulfil the day after the feast of
Bethany. This was intended by Christ to be His royal and Messianic entry
into Jerusalem. The hour had come. A colt unused, and so fitted by
custom for sacred purposes, was ready for His use. Having left the
village "He sent two of His disciples to bring it to Him." These two are
understood to be Peter and John, for whose united service He would soon
call again. We may think of the owner of the colt as friendly toward
their Master. When told by the disciples, "The Lord hath need of him,"
he was ready to serve Him by the loan of his beast. That
"need"--whatever the owner or the disciples thought--was not so much to
aid in Christ's journey as to make true the prophetic words concerning
Him, "Thy King cometh ... riding upon ... a colt."

The two disciples "brought him to Jesus, and they threw their garments
upon the colt, and set Jesus thereon."

We may think of Peter and John, having arranged for the royal ride, as
heralds of their Lord, leading the procession from Bethany, and the
first to greet with signal and shout the other coming from Jerusalem.

Beside their King, perhaps leading the colt on which they had placed
Him, they would be the first to tread where "a very great multitude
spread their garments in the way," and others "branches from the trees,"
and yet others "layers of leaves which they had cut from the
fields"--thus carpeting the road winding around the slope of Olivet.

Were not Peter and John leaders in song when "at the descent at the
Mount of Olives the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice
and praise God," and especially when "the City of David" came into view?
The joyful strains were from the Psalms of David--"Hosanna to the Son of
David, Hosanna in the Highest Blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the
kingdom of our Father David. Blessed is the King that cometh in the
name of the Lord; peace in heaven, and glory in the highest."

[Illustration: CHRIST AND ST. JOHN _Ary Scheffer_ Page 155]

In that last strain it would almost seem as if the angelic song of
thirty-three years before, over the plain of Bethlehem, had not yet died
away, and was echoed from Olivet.

In that hour did John and James have thoughts about sitting one on the
right hand and the other on the left in a kingdom which seemed near at
hand? Did they and the other disciples, who had been disappointed
because their Lord had refused on the shore of Galilee to be made king,
imagine that He certainly would now be willing to be crowned in

When John wrote his account of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he
recalled the prophecy concerning it. It is claimed that he speaks of
himself and Peter in particular when he says, "These things understood
not the disciples at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then
remembered they that these things were written, and that they had done
these things unto Him." This was a frank confession of his own dulness
and ignorance: it is also an assurance of his later wisdom.

We see John on the highway of Olivet, a chosen disciple to aid His Lord
in the hour of His earthly glory. We shall see him, even down to old
age, in a yet nobler sense, a Herald of the King.


_With the Master on Olivet_

     "Some spake of the Temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones
     and offerings."--_Luke_ xxi. 5.

     "One of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, behold, what manner
     of stones and what manner of buildings! And Jesus said unto him,
     Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left here one
     stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down."

     "As He sat on the Mount of Olives over against the Temple, Peter
     and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us, when
     shall these things be? and, What shall be the sign when these
     things are all about to be accomplished?"--_Mark_ xiii. 1-4.

The Temple was the most sacred of all places, even before the Lord of
the Temple entered it. His presence became its chiefest glory. In the
hour when the waiting Simeon at last could there say "he had seen the
Lord's Christ," it had a new consecration, and a beauty which its
richness of materials and adornments had never given. In the hour when
He there said to His mother, "Wist ye not that I must be in My Father's
House?" or, "I must be about My Father's business," it was more
consecrated still. Twice He had cleansed it from the profanation of
unholy worshipers. Within it He had spoken as no man had ever done. It
had been a theatre of His divine power.

That was a sad and solemn hour in the last week of His life when, as
Matthew says, "Jesus went out and departed from the Temple." That was
His farewell to it. With sadness He thought not only that He would never
return to it for a blessed ministry of word and healing, but that the
place itself would be destroyed. As He led His disciples from it, their
minds were also upon the Holy House: but their thoughts were not His
thoughts. They had long been familiar with its magnificence, from the
day when each of them, at twelve years of age, for the first time had
gazed upon it in wonder and admiration. We do not know why, as they were
turning away from it and walked toward Olivet, "some spake of the
Temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings," nor why
"one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, behold what manner of
stones, and what manner of buildings!" But so they did. Doubtless they
were surprised and disappointed that the Lord did not respond with like
spirit to their enthusiastic exclamations. Were not such richness and
beauty worthy of even His admiration? Why His momentary silence? Why His
sadness of expression, as He looked toward the Temple, beholding it as
they bid Him do, but manifestly with different purpose and feeling from
what they intended? His appearance seemed most inconsistent with the
glorious view. His response was startling,--"Seest thou these great
buildings? There shall not be left here one stone upon another, which
shall not be thrown down."

The astonished disciples were silenced, but an unspoken question was in
the minds of some of them. Christ turned aside and ascended the
mountain, taking with Him the chosen three, Peter, James and John. On
this occasion Andrew is added to the private company. Once more we see
by themselves the two pair of brothers with whom in their boyhood we
became familiar in Bethsaida. We are reminded of the days when they sat
together on the sea-shore, the time when they were watching for the
coming of the Messiah with whom they now "sat on the Mount of Olives
over against the Temple." Two days before, in the road below He had also
prophesied of the destruction of the city, as He gazed upon it through
His tears. Now He was on the summit, directly opposite the Temple, from
which the city was spread out before Him. To me it is still a delight in
thought, as it was in reality, to stand where they sat, and look down
upon the same Temple area, and think of the Holy and Beautiful House, as
it appeared before the sad prophecy had been fulfilled.

On this spot the poet Milman makes Titus to stand just before the
destruction of Jerusalem, with determination and yet with misgiving,
looking down on the city in its pride and the Temple in its
gorgeousness, and saying:

                                 "Yon proud City!
    As on our Olive-crowned hill we stand,
    Where Kidron at our feet its scanty waters
    Distills from stone to stone with gentle motion,
    As through a valley sacred to sweet Peace,
    How boldly doth it front us! How majestically!
    Like as a luxurious vineyard, the hillside
    Is hung with marble fabrics, line o'er line,
    Terrace o'er terrace, nearer still, and nearer
    To the blue Heavens. Here bright and sumptuous palaces,
    With cool and verdant gardens interspersed;
    Here towers of war that frown in massy strength;
    While over all hangs the rich purple eve,
    As conscious of its being her last farewell
    Of light and glory to the fated city.
    And as our clouds of battle, dust and smoke
    Are melted into air, behold the Temple
    In undisturbed and lone serenity,
    Finding itself a solemn sanctuary
    In the profound of Heaven! It stands before us
    A mount of snow, fettered with golden pinnacles!
    The very sun, as though he worshiped there,
    Lingers upon the gilded cedar roofs;
    And down the long and branching porticoes,
    On every flowery, sculptured capital,
    Glitters the homage of His parting beams.
    .... The sight might almost win
    The offended majesty of Rome to mercy."

But Roman majesty was not to be won to mercy. To the Twelve, Christ had
foretold the destruction of the city. And now when the four were alone
with Him, they "asked Him privately, tell us when shall these things
be." For wise reasons Jesus did not tell. But one of them at least would
learn both when and what these things would be. This was John. His
tender and loving heart was to bleed with the horrible story of the fall
of Jerusalem. There hunger and famine would be so dire that mothers
would slay and devour their own children. Multitudes would die of
disease and pestilence. Rage and madness would make the city like a cage
of wild beasts. Thousands would be carried away into captivity. The most
beautiful youths would be kept to show the triumph of their conqueror.
Some of them would be doomed to work in chains in Egyptian mines. Young
boys and girls would be sold as slaves. Many would be slain by wild
beasts and gladiators. Saddest of all would be the Temple scenes. Though
Titus command its preservation his infuriated soldiery will not spare
it. On its altar there would be no sacrifice because no priest to offer
it. That altar would be heaped with the slain. Streams of blood would
flow through the temple courts, and thousands of women perish in its
blazing corridors. The time was to come when John, recalling his
question on Olivet and his Lord's prophecy concerning Jerusalem, could

    "All is o'er, Her grandeur and her guilt."

Was he the one of the disciples who hailed the Master, saying, "Behold
what manner of stones, and what manner of buildings!"? If so, with what
emotions he must have recalled his exclamation after the prophecy of
their destruction had been fulfilled. Outliving all his fellow-apostles
the time came when he could stand alone where once he stood with Peter
and James and Andrew, not asking questions "When shall these things be?"
and, "What shall be the sign when these things are all about to be
accomplished?" but repeating the lament of Bishop Heber over Jerusalem
in ruins:

    "Reft of thy son, amid thy foes forlorn,
     Mourn, widow'd Queen; forgotten Zion, mourn.
     Is this thy place, sad city, this thy throne,
     Where the wild desert rears its craggy stone;
     Where suns unblessed their angry luster fling,
     And way-worn pilgrims seek the scanty spring?
     Where now thy pomp, which kings with envy viewed?
     Where now thy might which all those kings subdued?
     No martial myriads muster in thy gate;
     No suppliant nations in thy temple wait;
     No prophet bards, thy glittering courts among,
     Wake the full lyre, and swell the tide of song:
     But lawless force and meagre want are there,
     And the quick-darting eye of restless fear,
     While cold oblivion, 'mid thy ruins laid,
     Folds its dank wing beneath the ivy shade."


_John a Provider for the Passover_

     "He sent Peter and John, saying, Go and make ready for us the
     Passover, that we may eat."--_Luke_ xxii. 8.

     "And they went ... and they made ready the Passover."--_v._ 13.

The last time we saw Judas was when he left the feast of Bethany,
murmuring at Mary's deed, angry at the Lord's defence of her, and
plotting against Him. "From that time He sought opportunity to betray

"The day ... came on which the Passover must be sacrificed." A lamb must
be provided and slain in the Temple for Jesus and His disciples.
Moreover a place must be provided for them to eat it. This preparation
would naturally fall on Judas, the treasurer of the company, whom at a
later hour the disciples thought Jesus instructed to buy some things for
the feast. The place in Jesus' mind was yet a secret, unknown to the
disciples, including Judas who could not therefore reveal it to His
enemies. Who shall be entrusted with the service which He needed, and be
in sympathy with Him in the solemn approaching hour? Not Judas. The two
who had been the heralds of the King should be His messengers. So "He
sent Peter and John saying, Go and make ready for us the Passover that
we may eat." Again and again we shall find Peter and John together in
circumstances of joy and sorrow, trial and triumph. Their first question
was a very natural one, "Where wilt Thou that we make ready?" The Lord's
secret was not at once revealed. He gave them a sign by which their
question would be answered--another proof of His divine fore-knowledge.
He told them to go into the city, entering which they would find a man
bearing a pitcher of water. Him they were to follow to the house he
entered, and tell its owner of His purpose to keep the Passover there.
In a furnished room they were to prepare for His coming. They were full
of curiosity, but had no doubt concerning the result of their errand.
They trusted Him who had entrusted them with it.

Soon at the public fountain they were watching for the servant who
should be their guide. Having done "as Jesus appointed them," they
"found as He said unto them." As instructed they said "unto the goodman
of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest-chamber
where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples?"

"The goodman of the house" is the only name by which this owner has
been known. Some have thought He was Joseph of Arimathæa; others the
Father of Saint Mark; others Mark himself. It is the name by which Jesus
has called Him; that is honor enough. Without doubt he was a friend of
the Lord. Perhaps like Nicodemus he had come to Him privately for
instruction. He was ready to do what he could for His necessities when
homeless in Jerusalem. He was ready to give Him a place of protection
when, that very night, His enemies were seeking His life. Peter and John
may never have met this unnamed disciple before. If so, it was doubtless
the beginning of an acquaintance close and tender between them and him
who was "the last host of the Lord, and the first host of His Church."

He showed them "a large upper room." It was probably reached, as in many
oriental houses, by outside stairs. It was the choicest and most retired
room. The goodman led the disciples into it. They found it "furnished"
with a table, and couches around it on which Jesus and His company could
recline. But this probably was not all. The table was "prepared" with
some of the provisions required for the feast. These included the cakes
of unleavened bread, the five kinds of bitter herbs, and the wine mixed
with water for the four cups which it was the custom to use.

But there was something more which Peter and John must do to "make
ready" for the feast. It was the most important thing of all. It was to
prepare the "Paschal Lamb." With such a lamb they had been familiar from
childhood. As their fathers brought it into their homes, and their
mothers roasted it, and parents and children gathered about it in solemn
worship, the Bethsaidan boys had no thought of the day when the Messiah
would bid them prepare for the feast of which He Himself would be the
host, at the only time apparently when He acted as such.

When John was pointed by the Baptist to Jesus, he had no thought that He
would prepare the last Lamb for Him whom He was to see sacrificed as
"the Lamb of God." No wonder that Jesus sent Peter and John to make
ready, instead of Judas the usual provider, who in the same hour "sought
opportunity to betray Him."

We follow them from the house of the goodman toward the Temple. Nearing
it they listen with mournful solemnity to the chanting of the
eighty-first Psalm, with its exhortation to praise,--"Sing aloud unto
God our strength. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time
appointed, on the solemn feast day." Then they listen for the threefold
blast of the silver trumpets. By this they know that the hour has come
for the slaying of the lambs. Peter and John enter the court of the
priests, and slay their lamb whose blood is caught by a priest in a
golden bowl, and carried to the Great Altar.

Of this they must have been reminded a few hours later when Christ spoke
of His own blood shed for the remission of sins. John must have
remembered it when he saw and wrote of the "blood and water" that flowed
from the pierced side of his Lord. While the lamb is being slain the
priests are chanting, and the people responding, "Hallelujah: Blessed is
He that cometh in the Name of the Lord."

The lamb of sacrifice, slain and cleansed and roasted, is carried by the
two disciples on staves to the upper room. After lighting the festive
lamps, they have obeyed their Lord's command, "Make ready the Passover."

Meanwhile He and the remaining ten, as the sun is setting, descend the
Mount of Olives, from which He takes His last view of the holy but fated
city. The disciples follow Him, still awed by what He had told them of
its fate, and with forebodings of what awaited Him and them. Among them
was the traitor carrying his terrible secret, bent on its awful purpose
which is unknown to the nine, but well known to the Master. Thus they go
to the upper room where Peter and John are ready to receive them.

In Jesus' message to the goodman He said, "I will keep the Passover at
thy house with My disciples." They were His family. He chose to be
alone with them. Not even the mothers Mary and Salome, nor Nicodemus on
this night, nor the family of Bethany, could be of His company. No Mary
was here to anoint His feet with ointment; nor woman who had been a
sinner to bathe them with her tears. Lazarus was not one of them that
sat with them; nor did "Martha serve." It was the twelve whom He had
chosen, and who had continued with Him. It was to His apostolic family
that He said, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you
before I suffer." And so "He sat down with the twelve" alone, the only
time--as is supposed--that He ever ate the Passover meal with His

That room became of special interest to John. Sent by his Master to find
it, he was mysteriously guided thither. There he was welcomed by the
good owner of the house, who united with him in preparation for the most
memorable feast ever held. It is there that we see him in closest
companionship with his Lord. It was the place in Jesus' mind when He
said, "Go and make ready for us the Passover." "Where shall we go?"
asked John. He found answer when he entered that upper room. Because of
his relation thereto it has been called "St. John's Room"--more sacred
than any "Jerusalem Chamber," so named, or any "St. John's Cathedral!"


_John's Memories of the Upper Room_

     "When the hour was come, He sat down, and the apostles with
     him."--_Luke_ xxii. 14.

     "There was at the table reclining in Jesus' bosom one of His
     disciples, whom Jesus loved."--_John_ xiii. 23.

Three Evangelists leave the door of the upper room standing ajar.
Through it we can see much that is passing, and hear much that is said.
John coming after them opens it wide, thus enlarging our view and
increasing our knowledge.

Luke says of Jesus, "He sat down and the apostles with Him." That is a
very simple statement. We might suppose all was done in quietness and
harmony. But he tells us of a sad incident which happened, probably in
connection with it. "There arose also a contention among them which of
them is accounted to be greatest." The question in dispute was possibly
the order in which they should sit at the table. They still had the
spirit of the Pharisees who claimed that such order should be according
to rank.

We wonder how John felt. Did he have any part in that contention; or had
he put away all such ambition since the Lord had reproved him and his
brother James for it? Or was his near relation to the Lord so well
understood that there was no question by anybody where John might
sit--next to the Master?

Let us notice the manner of sitting at meals. The table was surrounded
by a divan on which the guests reclined on their left side, with the
head nearest the table, and the feet extending outward.

"There was at the table reclining in Jesus' bosom one of His disciples,
whom Jesus loved." This is the first time John thus speaks of himself.
He never uses his own name. His place was at the right of the Lord.
There he reclined during the meal, once changing his position, as we
shall see. Judas was probably next to Jesus on His left. This allowed
them to talk together without others knowing what they said.

John begins his story of the upper room as a supplement to Luke's record
of the contention. He first tells two things about Jesus,--His knowledge
that His hour "was come that He should depart out of this world unto the
Father," and His great and constant love for His disciples. With these
two thoughts in mind, how grieved He must have been at the ambitious
spirit of the Apostles. He had once given them a lesson of humility,
using a little child for an object lesson. That lesson was not yet
learned; or if learned was not yet put into practice. So He gave them
another object lesson, having still more meaning than the first.

But before making record of it John, as at the supper in Bethany,
points to Judas. We are reminded of the traitor's purpose formed while
Mary anointed and wiped Jesus' feet. So awful was that purpose, so full
of hatred and deceit, that John now tells us it was the devil himself
who "put into the heart of Judas ... to betray Him." "Humanity had
fallen, but not so low."

John seems to have well understood his Master's thoughts and interpreted
His actions in giving the second object lesson. He noticed carefully,
and remembered long and distinctly, every act. Was there ever drawn a
more powerful picture in contrast than in these words,--"Jesus, knowing
that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came
forth from God, and goeth unto God, riseth from supper, and layeth aside
His garments; and He took a towel, and girded Himself. Then He poureth
water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe
them with the towel wherewith He was girded."

This was the service of a common slave. It is easy to imagine the silent
astonishment of the disciples. The purpose of Jesus could not be
mistaken. It was a reproof for their contention. The object lesson was
ended. John continued to closely watch His movements, as he took the
garments He had laid aside and resumed His seat at the table. The
very towel with which the Lord had girded Himself, found a lasting place
in John's memory, worthy of mention as the instrument of humble service.
What a sacred relic, if preserved, it would have become--more worthy of
a place in St. Peter's in Rome than the pretended handkerchief of

[Illustration: THE LAST SUPPER _Benjamin West_ Page 158]

Christ's treatment of one of the disciples at the feet-washing left a
deep impression on John's mind. With sadness and indefiniteness the Lord
said, "He that eateth My bread lifted up his heel against Me": one who
accepts My hospitality and partakes of the proofs of My friendship is My
enemy. For that one whoever it might be, known only to himself and to
Jesus, it was a most solemn call to even yet turn from his evil purpose.
But the faithless one betrayed no sign; nor did Jesus betray him even
with a glance which would have been a revelation to John's observant

It is John who tells us that as they sat at the table "Jesus ... was
troubled in spirit." The apostle closest to Him in position and sympathy
would be the first to detect that special trouble, and the greatness of
it, even before the cause of it was known. But that was not long. "Jesus
said, Verily, verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray Me."
Such is John's record of Christ's declaration. It is in His Gospel alone
that we find the double "Verily" introducing Christ's words, thus
giving a deeper emphasis and solemnity than appears in the other
Evangelists. A comparison of this declaration of Christ as given by the
four, illustrates this fact. John immediately follows this statement of
the betrayal with another, peculiar to himself. Its shows his close
observation at the time, and the permanence of his impression. What he
noticed would furnish a grand subject for the most skilful artist,
beneath whose picture might be written, "The disciples looked one on
another, doubting of whom He spake." As John gazed upon them, raising
themselves on their divans, looking first one way, then another, from
one familiar face to another, exchanging glances of inquiry and doubt,
each distrustful of himself and his fellow, he beheld what angels might
have looked upon with even deeper interest. There has been no other
occasion, nor can there be, for such facial expressions--a blending of
surprise, consternation, fear and sorrow. Was John one of those who
"began to question among themselves which of them it was that should do
this thing"? Did he take his turn as "one by one" they "began to say,
... Is it I, Lord?" If so it must have been in the faintest whisper; and
so the blessed answer, "No." But we must believe that Jesus and John
understood each other too well for any such question and answer. The
definite answer was not yet given to any one by the Master, yet with an
awful warning, He repeated His prediction of the betrayal.

Peter was impatient to ask Jesus another question. At other times he was
bold to speak, but now he was awed into silence. Yet he felt that he
must know. The great secret must be revealed. There was one through whom
it might possibly be done. So while the disciples looked one on another,
Peter gazed on John with an earnest, inquiring look, feeling that the
beloved disciple might relieve the awful suspense. "Peter therefore
beckoneth to him, and saith unto him, Tell us who it is of whom He
speaketh." So "He, leaning back, as he was, on Jesus' breast, saith unto
Him, Lord, who is it? Jesus therefore answereth, He it is for whom I
shall dip the sop and give it him." Did John on one side of Jesus hear
the whispered question of Judas on the other, "Is it I, Rabbi?" He
watched for the sign which Jesus said He would give. The morsel was
given to Judas. That was more than a sign, more than kindness to an
unworthy guest; it was the last of thousands of loving acts to one whom
Jesus had chosen, taught and warned--yet was a traitor. Of that moment
John makes special note. Having told us that at the beginning of the
supper "the devil ... put into the heart of Judas ... to betray," he
says, "After the sop, Satan entered into him." As he saw Judas, with a
heart of stone and without a trembling hand, coolly take the morsel from
that hand of love, he realized that the evil one had indeed taken
possession of him whose heart he had stirred at the feast of Bethany.

It must have been a relief to John when he heard the Lord bid Judas
depart, though "no man at the table knew for what intent."

"He then having received the sop went out straightway,"--out from that
most consecrated room; out from the companionship of the Apostles in
which he had proved himself unfit to share; out from the most hallowed
associations of earth; out from the most inspiring influences with which
man was ever blessed; out from the teachings, warnings, invitations and
loving care of his only Saviour. "When Satan entered into him, he went
out from the presence of Christ, as Cain went out from the presence of
the Lord." As John spoke of the departure, no wonder he added, "It was
night." His words mean to us more than the darkness outside that room
illumined by the lamp which Peter and John had lighted. They are
suggestive of the darkness of the traitor's soul, contrasted with the
"Light of the World" in that room, to whose blessed beams he then closed
his eyes forever. Night--the darkest night--was the most fitting symbol
for the deeds to follow. Possessed by Satan, Judas went out to be
"guide to them that took Jesus." To them, two hours later, He who was
the Light of the World said, "This is your hour and the power of

It was when "he was gone out" that Christ called the disciples by a new
name, and gave them a new commandment. In both of them John took a
special interest which he showed long after. That name was "Little
Children." The word which Christ used had a peculiar meaning. This is
the only time we know of His ever using it. It was an expression of the
tenderest affection for His family, so soon to be orphaned by His death.
When John wrote his Epistles, he often used the same word, whose special
meaning he had learned from his Lord, to show his own love for his

The new commandment was this--"That ye love one another; as I have loved
you, that ye also love one another." The command itself was not new, for
it had been given through Moses, and repeated by Christ, "Thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself." But Christ gave the disciples a new
reason or motive for obeying it. They were to love one another because
of His love for them. As John grew older he became a beautiful example
of one who obeyed the command. In his old age he urged such obedience,
saying, "If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

Through the door of the Upper Room left ajar by three Evangelists, we
catch glimpses of the group around the table of the Last Supper. Through
it as opened wide by John we hear the voice of Jesus as He utters His
farewell words. He comforts His disciples and tells of heavenly
mansions. He gives His peace in their tribulations. He promises the Holy
Spirit as a Comforter. He closes His address, even in this hour of
sadness and apparent defeat, with these wonderful words, "Be of good
cheer; I have overcome the world."

And now as John still holds open the door, we hear the voice of prayer,
such as nowhere else has been offered. It is ended. There are moments of
silence, followed by a song of praise. Then John closes the door of the
Upper Room, which we believe was opened again as the earliest home of
the Christian Church. There we shall see him again with those who,
because of his experience with his Lord in that consecrated place, gave
him the name of "The Bosom Disciple."

[Illustration: IN GETHSEMANE _Gustave Doré_ Page 163]


_With Jesus in Gethsemane_

     "He went forth with His disciples over the brook Kidron, where was
     a garden."--_John_ xviii. 1.

     "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and
     saith unto His disciples, Sit ye here while I go yonder and
     pray."--_Matt._ xxvi. 36.

     "And He taketh with Him Peter and James and John, ... and He saith
     unto them, ... abide ye here, and watch."--_Mark_ xiv. 33, 34.

     "And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed."
     _v._ 35.

John was our leader to the Upper Room. And now he guides us from it,
saying, "Jesus ... went forth with His disciples." That phrase "went
forth" may suggest to us much more than mere departure. The banquet of
love was over. The Lord's cup of blessing and remembrance had been drunk
by His "little children," as He affectionately called them. He was now
to drink the cup the Father was giving His Son--a mysterious cup of
sorrow. It was probably at the midnight hour that Jesus "went forth" the
last time from Jerusalem, which He had crowned with His goodness, but
which had crowned Him with many crowns of sorrow.

Other Evangelists tell us that He went "to the Mount of Olives," "to a
place called Gethsemane." John shows us the way thither, and what kind
of a place it was. Jesus went "over the ravine of the Kidron," in the
valley of Jehoshaphat. At this season of the year it was not, as at
other times, a dry water-bed, but a swollen, rushing torrent, fitting
emblem of the waters of sorrow through which He was passing. Whether the
name Kidron refers to the dark color of its waters, or the gloom of the
ravine through which they flow, or the sombre green of its overshadowing
cedars, it will ever be a reminder of the darker gloom that overshadowed
John and His Master, as they crossed that stream together to meet the
powers of darkness in the hour which Jesus called their own.

The garden of Gethsemane was an enclosed piece of ground. We are not to
think of it as a garden of flowers, or of vegetables, but as having a
variety of flowering shrubs, and of fruit-trees, especially olive. It
might properly be called an orchard. On the spot now claimed to be the
garden, there are several very old gnarled olive-trees. Having stood
beneath them, I would be glad to believe that they had sheltered my
Lord. But I remember that when the prophecy concerning Jerusalem was
fulfilled, the most sacred trees of our world were destroyed.

[Illustration: THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT _Old Engraving_ Page 164]

Who was the owner of that sacred garden? He must have known what
happened there "ofttimes." Perhaps, like the "goodman of the house" in
Jerusalem, he was a disciple of Jesus, and provided this quiet retreat
for the living Christ, in the same spirit with which Joseph of Arimathæa
provided a garden for Him when He was dead. To these two gardens John is
our only guide. From the one he fled with Peter in fear and sadness: to
the other he hastened with Peter in anxiety followed by gladness.

When at the foot of Hermon, Jesus left nine of His disciples to await
His return. Now one was no longer "numbered among" them, as Peter
afterward said of him "who was guide to them that took Jesus." At the
entrance to the garden Jesus paused and said to eight, "Sit ye here
while I go yonder and pray." So had Abraham nineteen hundred years
before, pointing to Mount Moriah, visible from Olivet in the moonlight,
said "unto his young men, Abide ye here ... and I and the lad will go
yonder and worship."

That very night Jesus was to ascend that very Mount on His way as a
sacrifice, without any angel to stay the sacrificial hand.

At the garden gate there was no formal farewell, but a solemn final
charge, "Pray that ye enter not into temptation." Jesus knew that the
hour had come in which should be fulfilled Zechariah's prophecy. Sadly
He had declared in the Upper Room, "All ye shall be offended because of
Me this night; for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the
sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."

He dreads to be entirely alone. He longs for companionship. He craves
sympathy. In whose heart is it the tenderest and deepest? There is no
guessing here. The names are already on our lips. Answer is found in the
home of Jairus and on Hermon. Those whom He had led into the one, and
"apart" onto the other, He would have alone with Him in the garden. So
"He taketh with Him Peter and James and John." These companions of His
glory shall also be of His sorrow.

As Jesus advanced into the garden, the three discovered a change in
Him--a contrast to the calmness of the Upper Room and the assurances of
victory with which He had left it. He "began to be sore amazed and
sorrowful and troubled," and "to be very heavy." We have seen John
apparently quicker than others to detect his Lord's thoughts and
emotions. We imagine him walking closest to His side, and watching as
closely every change of His countenance and every motion that revealed
the inward struggle. And so when Jesus broke the silence, he was
somewhat prepared to hear Him say to the three, "My soul is exceeding
sorrowful even unto death."

[Illustration: CHRIST BEFORE CAIAPHAS _Old Engraving_ Page 176]

The moment had come when He must deny Himself even the little comfort
and strength of the immediate presence of the three. So saying, "Tarry
ye here and watch with Me," He turned away. They must not follow Him to
the spot of His greatest conflict. There He must be alone, beyond the
reach of human help, however strong or loving. Even that which He had
found in the few moments since leaving the garden entrance must end.
Their eyes followed Him where they might not follow in His steps. It was
not far. "He went forward a little." "He was parted from them about a
stone's cast"--probably forty or fifty yards. This separation implies
sorrow. They were near enough to watch His every movement as He "kneeled
down" and "fell on His face to the ground" They were near enough to hear
the passionate cry of love and agony, "O, My Father." This is the only
time we know of His using this personal pronoun in prayer to His Father.
He thus showed the intensity of His feeling, and longing for that
sympathy and help which the Father alone could give.

On Hermon the glories of the Transfiguration were almost hidden from the
three disciples by their closing eyes. And now weariness overcame them
in the garden. They too fell to the ground, but not in prayer. They
tarried indeed, but could no longer watch.

They had seen Moses and Elijah with their Lord on the Holy Mount, but
probably did not see the blessed watcher in the garden when "there
appeared unto Him an angel from heaven strengthening Him" in body and
soul. So had angels come and ministered unto the Lord of angels and men
in the temptation in the wilderness.

"Being in agony He prayed more earnestly" until mingled blood and sweat
fell upon the ground. The heavenly visitants on Mount Hermon in glory
had talked with Him of His decease now at hand. The cup of sorrow was
fuller now than then. He prayed the Father that if possible it might
pass from Him. Then the angel must have told Him that this could not be
if He would become the Saviour of men. He uttered the words whose
meaning we cannot fully know, "Not My will, but Thine, be done."

The angelic presence did not make Him unmindful of the three. "He rose
up from His prayer," and turned from the spot moistened by the drops of
His agony. With the traces of them upon His brow, "He came unto the
disciples." How much of pathos in the simple record, "He found them
sleeping." Without heavenly or earthly companionship, His loneliness is

    "'Tis midnight; and from all around,
       The Saviour wrestles 'lone with fears;
     E'en that disciple whom He loved,
       Heeds not His Master's griefs and tears."

The head that reclined so lovingly on the bosom of the Lord in the Upper
Room now wearily rests on the dewy grass of Gethsemane. The eyes that
looked so tenderly into His, and the ear that listened so anxiously for
His whisper, are closed.

As Jesus stood by the three recumbent forms held by deep sleep, and
gazed by the pale moonlight into their faces which showed a troubled
slumber, He knew they "were sleeping for sorrow." In silence He looked
upon them until His eye fastened--not on the beloved John--but on him
who an hour ago had boasted of faithfulness to His Lord. The last
utterance they had heard before being lost in slumber was that of
agonizing prayer to the Father. The first that awakened them was sad and
tender reproof--"Simon, sleepest _thou_? Couldest thou not watch one
hour?" In the Master's words and tones were mingled reproach and
sympathy. In tenderness He added, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the
flesh is weak." Because of the spirit He pardoned the flesh. The
question, "Why sleep ye?" was to the three, as well as the charge, "Rise
and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."

Let imagination fill out the outline drawn by the Evangelists:--"He
went away again the second time and prayed; He came and found them
asleep again; He left them and went away again and prayed the third
time; and He cometh a third time and saith unto them, 'Sleep on now and
take your rest.'" If we may suppose any period of rest, it was soon
broken by the cry, "Arise, let us be going; behold he that betrayeth Me
is at hand." They need "watch" no longer. Their Lord's threefold
struggle was over. He was victor in Gethsemane, even as John beheld Him
three years before, just after His threefold conflict in the wilderness.

As they rose from the ground the inner circle that had separated them,
not only from the other Apostles but from all other men, was erased. We
do not find them alone with their Lord again. They rose and joined the
eight at the garden gate.

Recalling Gethsemane we sing to Jesus,

    "Thyself the path of prayer hast trod."

The most sacred path of prayer in all the world was in Gethsemane. It
was only "a stone's cast" in length. The Lord trod it six times in
passing between the place where He said to the three, "tarry ye here,"
and that where He "kneeled down and prayed." One angel knows the spot.
Would that he could reveal it unto us.

[Illustration: CHRIST BEFORE PILATE (Ecce Homo) _H. Hofmann_ Page 182]

When Jesus was praying and the three were sleeping, Judas reported
himself at the High-Priestly Palace, ready to be the guide of the band
to arrest his Master. There were the Temple-guard with their staves, and
soldiers with their swords, and members of the Sanhedrin, ready to aid
in carrying out the plot arranged with the betrayer. It was
midnight--fit hour for their deed of darkness. The full moon shone
brightly in the clear atmosphere; yet they bore torches and lamps upon
poles, to light up any dark ravine or shaded nook in which they imagined
Jesus might be hiding. If any cord of love had ever bound Judas to his
Master, it was broken. That very night he had fled from the Upper Room,
which became especially radiant with love after his departure. To that
room we believe he returned with his murdering band. But the closing
hymn had been sung, and the Passover lamps extinguished two or three
hours before. The consecrated place was not to be profaned with
murderous intent. Another place must be sought for the victim of hate
and destruction.

John in his old age recalled precious memories of it, because Jesus
ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples. But he had a remembrance
of another kind. It is when speaking of this midnight hour that he says,
"Judas also which betrayed Him knew the place." Thither he led his
band--to Gethsemane.

"Lo, he that betrayeth Me is at hand," said

Jesus to the three, as He saw the gleams of the torches of the coming
multitude. His captors were many, but His thought was especially on
one--His betrayer. Again John reads for us the mind of Jesus, as he did
when the "Lord and Master washed the disciples' feet." He would have us
understand the calmness of the fixed purpose of Jesus to meet without
shrinking the terrible trial before Him, and to do this voluntarily--not
because of any power of His approaching captors. "Knowing all things
that were coming upon Him," He "went forth" to meet them--especially him
who at that moment was uppermost in His thought. John now understood
that last, mysterious bidding of the Lord to Judas, with which He
dismissed him from the table--"That thou doest, do quickly." He now
"knew for what intent He spake this unto him." It was not to buy things
needed for the feast, nor to give to the poor. It was to betray Him.

What a scene was that--Jesus "going forth," the three following Him; and
Judas in advance, yet in sight of his band, coming to meet Him.

"Hail, Rabbi," was the traitor's salute. And then on this solemn
Passover night, in this consecrated place, just hallowed by angelic
presence, interrupting the Lord's devotions, rushing upon holiness and
infinite goodness, with pretended fellowship and reverence, profaning
and repeating--as if with gush of emotion--the symbol of affection,
Judas covered the face of Jesus with kisses.

How deep the sting on this "human face divine," already defaced by the
bloody sweat, and to be yet more by the mocking reed, and smiting hand
and piercing thorn. The vision of the prophet seven hundred years before
becomes a reality--"His visage was so marred more than any man." "But
nothing went so close to His heart as the profanation of this kiss."

According to John's account, Judas' kiss was an unnecessary signal.
Jesus Himself leaving the traitor, advanced toward the band, with a
question which must have startled the Apostles, as well as the traitor
and his company--"Whom seek ye?" The contemptuous reply, "Jesus of
Nazareth," did not disturb His calmness as He said, "I am He," and
repeated His question, "Whom seek ye?" Nor was that infinite calmness
disturbed by the deeper contempt in the repeated answer, "Jesus of
Nazareth." They had come with weapons of defence, but they were as
useless as the betrayal kiss, especially when some of them, awed by His
presence and words, "went backward and fell to the ground."

We have seen Jesus going forward from His company and meeting Judas
going forward from his. We must now think of Judas joining his band, and
the eleven disciples surrounding their Lord. John has preserved the
only request made of the captors by the Master. It was not for Himself,
but for His disciples;--"If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their

Three Evangelists tell that one of the disciples struck a servant of the
high priest and cut off an ear. Luke the physician says it was the right
ear, and that Christ touched it and healed it. John gives the disciple's
name, which it was not prudent for the other Evangelists to do when
Peter, who struck the blow, was still living. He also preserves the name
of the servant, Malchus--the last one on whom he saw the Great Physician
perform a healing act, showing divine power and compassion. John records
the Lord's reproof to Peter, "Put up thy sword into the sheath; the cup
which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" Can this firm
voice be the same which an hour ago, a stone's cast from these two
disciples, said beseechingly, "O My Father, if it be possible, let this
cup pass from Me." Yea, verily, for He had added to the prayer, "Not as
I will, but as Thou wilt."

Thus does John's record concerning Peter testify to the triumph of his
Lord. But he also notes the immediate effect of Peter's mistaken zeal.
The captain and officers "bound Him." That was a strange, humiliating
sight, especially in connection with the Lord's words to Peter while
returning the sword to its sheath, "Thinkest thou that I cannot beseech
My Father, and He shall even now send Me more than twelve legions of
angels?" Wonderful words! fitting to be the last of the Lord's
utterances to a disciple in Gethsemane. With burning and just
indignation at His being bound, Jesus turned to His captors, saying,
"Are ye come out as against a robber, to seize Me?" As they closed
around Him His disciples were terrified with the fear of a like fate.
"And they all left Him and fled." Prophecy was fulfilled; the Shepherd
was smitten; the sheep were scattered.

Without the voice of friend or foe, the garden of Olivet was silent. One
had left it who, outliving his companions, gives us hints of his lone
meditations. The beloved disciple cherished memories of joyous yet sad
Gethsemane. He it was who longest remembered, and who alone preserved
the prophecy in the Upper Room, so soon fulfilled--"Ye shall be
scattered every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone."

In George Herbert's words we hear the Master cry,

    "All My disciples fly! fear put a bar
     Betwixt My friends and Me; they leave the star
     Which brought the Wise Men from the East from far.
         Was ever grief like Mine!"


_John in the High Priest's Palace_

     "And they that had taken Jesus led Him away to the house of
     Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were
     gathered together."--_Matt._ xxvi. 57.

     "Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. That
     disciple ... entered in with Jesus into the court of the high
     priest; but Peter was standing at the door without. So the other
     disciple ... went out ... and brought in Peter."--_John_ xviii. 15,

     "Everywhere we find these two Apostles, Peter and John, in great
     harmony together."--_Chrysostom._

      "Bow down before thy King, My soul!
         Earth's kings, before Him bow ye down;
       Before Him monarchs humbly roll,--
         Height, might, and splendor, throne and crown.
       He in the mystic Land divine
         The sceptre wields with valiant hand.
       In vain dark, evil powers combine,--
         He, victor, rules the better Land."
                               --_Ingleman.--Trans. Hymns of Denmark._

     "It is probable that St. John attended Christ through all the weary
     stages of His double trial--before the ecclesiastical and the civil
     authorities--and that, after a night thus spent, he accompanied the
     procession in the forenoon to the place of execution, and witnessed
     everything that followed."--_Stalker._

We know not what became of nine of the disciples fleeing from
Gethsemane; whether they first hid among the bushes and olive-trees,
and escaped into the country; or took refuge in the neighboring tombs;
or stole their way to some secret room where the goodman of the house
furnished them protection; or scattered in terror each in his lonely

The captive Lord was dragged along the highway where Peter and John had
been for a single hour the Heralds of the King. Over the Kidron, up the
slope of Moriah, through the gate near the sacred Temple, along the
streets of the Holy City, He was led as a robber to the high-priestly

Three Evangelists tell us, "Peter followed afar off." But love soon
overcame his fears. He was not long alone. John says, "Simon Peter
followed Jesus and so did another disciple." We cannot doubt who was
Peter's companion as he turned from his flight. They "went both
together," as two days later they ran on another errand. In the shadows
of the olive-trees along the roadside, or of the houses of the city,
they followed the hurrying band which they overtook by the time it
reached the palace gate. John did not "outrun Peter," who was probably
the leader. But at the gate they were separated.

We must not think that this palace was like an American house. The
entrance to it was through a great arched gateway. This was closed with
a large door or gate, in which there was a small entrance called a
wicket gate, through which people passed. These gates opened into a
broad passage or square court. Around it on three sides the house was
built. All rooms upstairs and down looked into it. One large room,
forming one side, was separated from it, not by a wall, but by a row of
pillars. Being thus opened it was easy to see what was passing in the
room or the court.

"That disciple," who accompanied Peter to the gate, "was known unto the
high priest and entered in with Jesus into the court of the high priest.
But Peter was standing at the door without." John was doubtless familiar
with the place and the servants, and went in with the crowd. He kept as
near as he could to his Master during the dark hours of His trial, as he
was to do during the yet darker hours at the cross.

But the disciple within could not forget the one without. They must not
be separated in their common sorrow. Peter too must show by his presence
his continued love for his Master. He must have opportunity to show in
the palace something of the faithfulness of which he had boasted in the
Upper Room, though it had faltered in Gethsemane.

"Then went out that other disciple which was known unto the high priest
and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter." That
doorkeeper was not Rhoda--she who with a different spirit joyfully
answered Peter's knocking at another door--but was a pert maiden who,
sympathizing with the enemies of Jesus, "saith unto Peter, Art thou also
one of this man's disciples?" She understood that John was such. Her
contempt was aimed at them both. But it was not her question so much as
Peter's answer--"I am not"--that startled John. Was it for this denial
that he had gained admission for his friend? It would have been better
far if Peter had been kept "standing at the door without" though "it was
cold," than to be brought into the court of temptation and sin, where he
"sat with the servants" in his curiosity "to see the end," warming
himself at the fire they had kindled.

Meanwhile we think of John hastening back to the judgment hall, from
which he anxiously watched the movements of Peter "walking in the
counsel of the ungodly, and standing in the way of sinners, and sitting
in the seat of the scornful."

Poor Peter! He fears to look into any man's face, or to have any one
look into his. He has obeyed the Master's bidding, "Put up thy sword
into the sheath," but Malchus has not forgotten it; nor has his kinsman
who saw Peter in the garden with Jesus,--though he may have forgotten
the healing of Malchus' ear by his prisoner.

Three Evangelists tell how Peter "sat" with the enemies of Jesus. John
tells how at different times he "stood" among them. Thus does he report
as an eye-witness, and show his own watchfulness of Peter's
restlessness;--of the conflicting emotions of shame and fear, the
scornful frown, the enforced and deceiving smile, the defiant look, the
vain effort to appear indifferent, and the storm of anger. Amazed at the
first denial, shocked at the second, horrified at the third, what were
John's feelings when one was "with an oath," and with another "he began
to curse and to swear." But concerning this climax of Peter's sin, John
is silent. It finds no place in his story.

At last "the Lord turned and looked upon Peter," either from the hall,
or as He was being led from it. At the same moment, Peter turned and
looked upon Him. We imagine John turning and looking upon them both,
marking the grief of the one, and the sense of guilt and shame of the
other. But he knew the loving, though erring disciple so well that he
need not be told that when "Peter went out" "he wept bitterly." We
almost see John himself weeping bitterly over his friend's fall; then
comforting him when they met again, with assurances of the Lord's love
and forgiveness. John's next record of their being together shows them
united in feeling, purpose and action for their Lord.

There was another toward whom John's watchful eyes turned during the
long and painful watches of that night. The picture of him is not
complete without this Apostle's records.

"Art thou the King of the Jews?" asked Pilate of Jesus. Such John had
thought Him to be. For three years he had waited to see Him assume His
throne. He has preserved the Lord's answer,--"My kingdom is not of this
world." This declaration contained a truth to which even the favored
disciple had been partly blind. Was he not ready to ask with Pilate,
though with different spirit and purpose, "Art thou a King then?" The
Lord's answer must have meant more to the listening Apostle than to the
captious and heedless Governor. It was a declaration of the true
kingship of the Messiah-King,--"To this end have I been born, and to
this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the

"What is truth?" asked Pilate in a careless manner, not caring for an
answer. "What is truth?" was the great question whose answer the Apostle
continued to seek, concerning the King and the kingdom of Him whom He
had heard say, "I am the Truth."

In that night he saw the Messiah-King crowned, but with thorns. He saw
the purple robe upon Him, but it was the cast-off garment of a Roman
Governor. A reed, given Him for a sceptre, was snatched from His hand to
smite Him on His head. Instead of pouring holy oil of kingly
consecration, as upon David's head, His enemies "spit upon Him." It was
in mockery that they bowed the knee before Him saying, "Hail King of the

There are two scenes with which John alone has made us familiar. One is
described in these words:--"Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of
thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith, Behold the man!" Did not
that word "Behold," recall to John another scene--that on the Jordan
when he looked upon this same Jesus as the Lamb of God, whom His enemies
were about to offer unwittingly, when He offered Himself not unwillingly
a sacrifice upon the cross? The Baptist's exclamation had been in
adoration and joyfulness: Pilate's was in pity and sadness. It was an
appeal to humanity, but in vain. There was no pity in that maddened
throng. Pilate turned in bitterness toward those whom he hated, but
whose evil deeds he did not dare to oppose. So in irony "Pilate ...
brought forth Jesus ... and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!"

John was the only one who heard the three cries of "Behold"--one at the
beginning, the others at the close of the Lord's ministry. How much he
had beheld and heard and learned between, concerning "the Lamb," "the
Man," and "the King."

The only earthly throne on which John saw Him sit was one of mockery.
He did not ask to sit with Him. It was a sad yet blessed privilege to be
with Him during that night of agony--the only friendly witness to
probably all of His sufferings. While John's eyes were turned often and
earnestly toward Peter and Pilate, they were yet more on the Lord. When
he went in with Jesus into the palace, and while he tarried with Him, he
could _do_ nothing--only _look_. No angel was there as in Gethsemane to
strengthen the Man of sorrows, but did He not often look for sympathy
toward that one who had leaned lovingly upon Him a few hours before? Was
not John's mere waking presence among His foes in the palace, a solace
which slumber had denied Him in the garden? John's eyes were not heavy
now. There was no need of the Lord's bidding, "Tarry ye here and watch
with Me." Love made him tarry and watch more than "one hour"--even
through all the watches of the night. Then he was the Lord's only human
friend--the one silent comforter.


_John the Lone Disciple at the Cross_

     "When they came unto the place which is called Calvary, there they
     crucified Him."--_Luke_ xxiii. 33.

     "At Calvary poets have sung their sweetest strains, and artists
     have seen their sublimest visions."--_Stalker._

      "Now to sorrow must I tune my song,
          And set my harp to notes of saddest woe,
       Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long,
          Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so,
          Which He for us did freely undergo:
       Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
       Of labors huge and hard, too hard for human wight."
                                             --_Milton.--The Passion._

Even careful students of the life of John are not together in their
attempts to follow him on the day of crucifixion. Some think they find
evidence, chiefly in his silence concerning certain events, that after
hearing the final sentence of Pilate condemning Christ to be crucified,
he left the palace and joined the other disciples and faithful women and
the mother of Jesus, and reported what he had seen and heard during the
night; and at some hour during the day visited Calvary, and returning to
the city brought the women who stood with him at the cross: and
witnessed only what he minutely or only describes. Other students think
he followed Jesus from the palace to the cross, remaining near Him and
witnessing all that transpired. This is certainly in keeping with what
we should expect from his peculiar relation to Christ. It is in harmony
with what we do know of his movements that day. So we are inclined to
follow him as a constant though silent companion of Jesus, feeling that
in keeping near him we are near to his Lord and ours. This we now do in
the "Dolorous Way," along which Jesus is hurried from the judgment-seat
of Pilate to the place of execution.

[Illustration: CHRIST BEARING HIS CROSS _H. Hofmann_ Page 185]

It is John who uses the one phrase in the Gospels which furnishes a
tragic subject for artists, and poets and preachers, on which
imagination dwells, and excites our sympathies as does no other save the
crucifixion itself. His phrase is this,--"Jesus ... bearing the cross
for Himself." We notice this all the more because of the silence of the
other Evangelists, all of whom tell of one named Simon who was compelled
to bear the cross. As John read their story, there was another picture
in his mind, too fresh and vivid not to be painted also. He recalled the
short distance that Christ carried the cross alone, weakened by the
agonies of the garden and the scourging of the palace, until, exhausted,
He fell beneath the burden. We are not told that the crown of thorns
had been removed, though the purple robe of mockery had been. So this
added to His continued pain. As John looked upon those instruments of
suffering he heard the banter and derision of shame that always
accompanied them.

There followed Jesus "a great multitude of the people," whose morbid
curiosity would be gratified by the coming tragedy. But there were
others--"women who bewailed and lamented Him."

It is surmised that at the moment when Jesus could bear His cross no
longer, and was relieved by Simon, He turned to the weeping "Daughters
of Jerusalem" following Him, and in tenderest sympathy told of the
coming days of sorrow for them and their city, of which He had told John
and his companions on Olivet.

John says that Jesus "went out ... unto the place called the place of a
skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha." The place was also called
Calvary. We do not certainly know the sacred spot, though careful
students think it is north of the city, near the Damascus gate, near the
gardens of the ancient city, and tombs that still remain. We think of
John revisiting it again and again while he remained in Jerusalem, and
then in thought in his distant home where he wrote of it. "There," says
John, "they crucified Jesus, and with Him two others, on either side
one, and Jesus in the midst." How few his words, but how full of
meaning. We long to know more of John's memories of that day--of all
that he saw and felt and did. They were such in kind and number as none
other than he did or could have.

There were two contrasted groups of four each around the cross, to which
John calls special attention. One, the nearest to it, was composed of
Roman soldiers, to whom were committed the details of the
crucifixion--the arrangement of the cross, the driving of the nails, and
the elevation of the victim upon it.

Having stripped Jesus of His clothing, according to custom they divided
it among themselves; the loose upper garment or toga to one, the
head-dress to another, the girdle to another, and the sandals to the
last. John watched the division--"to every soldier a part." But his
interest was chiefly in the under-garment such as Galilean peasants
wore. This must have been a reminder of the region from which he and
Jesus had come. He thinks it worth while to describe it as "without
seam, woven from the top throughout." Perhaps to him another
reminder--of Mary or Salome or other ministering women by whose loving
hands it had been knit. If ever a garment, because of its associations,
could be called holy, surely it is what John calls "the coat" of Jesus.
Even without miraculous power, it would be the most precious of relics.
We notice John's interest in it as he watches the soldiers'
conversation of banter or pleasantry or quarrel, in which it might
become worthless by being torn asunder. He remembered their parleying,
and the proposal in which it ended,--"Let us not rend it, but cast lots
for it whose it shall be." How far were their thoughts from his when
their words recalled to him the prophecy they were unconsciously
fulfilling,--"They part My garments among them, and upon My vesture do
they cast lots."

With what pity did Jesus look down upon the lucky soldier--so he would
be called--sporting with the coat which had protected Him from the night
winds of Gethsemane. How He longed to see in the bold and heartless
heirs to His only earthly goods, the faith of her, who timidly touched
the hem of His garment. What a scene was that for John to behold! What a
scene for angels who had sung the glories of Jesus' birth, now looking
down upon His dying agonies of shame--and upon the gambling dice of His
murderers! No marvel John added to the almost incredible story, "These
things ... the soldiers did."

It is at this point that we notice a sudden transition in John's
narrative. He points us from the unfriendly group of four, to another of
the same number; saying as if by contrast, "_But_ there were standing by
the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife
of Clopas and Mary Magdalene." By "His mother's sister" we understand

The centurion had charge of the plundering soldiers; John was the
guardian of the sympathizing women. He had a special interest in that
group, containing his mother and aunt, and probably another relative in
Mary the wife of Clopas. Mary Magdalene was not of this family
connection, though of kindred spirit. So must John have felt as she
stood with him at the cross, and at a later hour when we shall see them
together again.

In the days of the boyhood of John and Jesus, we thought of their
mothers as sisters, and of parents and children as looking for the
coming Messiah. None thought of the possibilities of this hour when they
would meet in Jerusalem at the cross. By it stands John the only one of
the Apostles. Judas has already gone to "his own place." If Peter is
following at all it is afar off. The rest have not rallied from their
flight enough to appear after their flight. James the brother of John is
not with him. As their mother looks upon Jesus between two robbers, does
she recall her ambitious request, "Command that these my two sons may
sit, one on Thy right hand, and one on Thy left hand"? She understands
now the fitness of the reply she had received,--"Ye know not what ye

But Salome and John are loyal to the uncrowned King. Though they may
not share the glory of His throne, they are yet ready to stand beneath
the shameful shadow of His cross.

But another is there,--drawn by a yet stronger cord of affection. She
heads John's list of the women "by the cross of Jesus--His mother,"
whose love is so deep that it cannot forego witnessing the sight that
fills her soul with agony. Yes, Mary, thou art there.

    "Now by that cross thou tak'st thy final station,
       And shar'st the last dark trial of thy Son;
     Not with weak tears or woman's lamentation,
       But with high, silent anguish, like His own."
                                          --_H.B. Stowe_.

As she stands there we seem to read her thoughts: "Can that be He, my
babe of Bethlehem, my beautiful boy of Nazareth, in manhood my joy and
my hope! Are those hands the same that have been so lovingly held in
mine; those arms, outstretched and motionless, the same that have so
often been clasped around me! Oh! that I might staunch His wounds, and
moisten His parched lips, and gently lift that thorny crown from His
bleeding brow."

But this cannot be. There is being fulfilled Simeon's prophecy, uttered
as he held her infant in his arms,--a foreboding which has cast a
mysterious shadow on the joys of her life.

    "Beside the cross in tears
        The woeful mother stood,
     Bent 'neath the weight of years,
       And viewed His flowing blood;
     Her mind with grief was torn,
       Her strength was ebbing fast,
     And through her heart forlorn,
       The sword of Anguish passed."

She can only draw yet nearer to His cross and give the comfort of a
mother's look, and perhaps receive the comfort of a look from Him,
and--oh, if it can be--a word of comfort from His lips for the
mother-heart. Perhaps for a moment her thoughts are on the future,--her
lonely life, without the sympathy of her other sons who believed not on
their brother. Oh! that they were like John, to her already more of a
son than they.

In childhood Jesus had been "subject" to her: in youth and manhood He
had been faithful to her. In the Temple He had thought of her as His
mother, and of God as His Father. But no exalted relation, no greatness
to which He had attained on earth, had made Him disloyal to her. While
claiming to be the Son of God, He was still the loving son of Mary. Such
He would show Himself to be on the cross. We thank John for the record
of that moment when "Jesus ... saw His mother." "The people stood
beholding" Him, but His eyes were not on them; nor on those passing by
His cross wagging their heads, nor the malefactor at His side reviling
Him; nor on the chief priest and scribes, the elders and soldiers
mocking Him; nor the rulers deriding Him. His thought was not on them,
nor even on Himself in His agonies, as His eyes rested keenly on His
mother. It was a deep, tender, earnest gaze.

John tells that Jesus also "saw" "the disciples standing by, whom He
loved." The Lord turned His head from His mother to His disciple. This
could be His only gesture pointing them one to the other.

The prayer for His murderers had apparently been uttered when His hands
were pierced, before the cross was raised. He may have spoken once after
it was elevated, before He saw the two special objects of His love. His
eyes met His mother's. She saw Him try to speak. The utterance of His
parched lips, with gasping breath, was brief, full of meaning and
tenderness--"Woman! behold, thy son!" Then turning toward John He said,
"Behold! thy mother!"

In these words Jesus committed His mother to John without asking whether
he would accept the charge.

"From that hour the disciple took her unto his own home." It is a
question whether or not the phrase, "from that hour," is to be taken
literally. It may be that the blessed words, "mother" and "son," were as
a final benediction, after which John led her away, and then returned
to the cross. Or, it may be that the mother-heart compelled her to
witness the closing scenes.

[Illustration: THE VIRGIN AND ST. JOHN AT THE CROSS _Old Engraving_
 Page 193]

If we pause long enough to inquire why John was chosen to be trusted
with this special charge, we can find probable answer. Jesus' "brethren"
did not then believe on Him. Mary's heart would go out toward him who
did, especially as he was her kindred as well as of a kindred spirit.
His natural character, loving and lovable, made him worthy of the trust.
Apparently he was better able to support her than were any other of the
Apostles, and perhaps even than her sons. He seems to have been the only
Apostle or relative of Mary who had a home in Jerusalem, where she
certainly would choose to dwell among the followers of the Lord. Above
all John was the beloved disciple of Mary's beloved son. So to him we
can fittingly say:

          "As in death He hung,
    His mantle soft on thee He flung
    Of filial love, and named the son;
    When now that earthly tie was done,
    To thy tried faith and spotless years
    Consigned His Virgin Mother's tears."
                        --_Isaac Williams_.--Trans. An. Latin Hymn.

Blessed John. When Jesus called His own mother "thy mother," didst thou
not almost hear Him call thee "My brother"?

One tradition says that John cared for Mary in Jerusalem for twelve
years, until her death, before his going to Ephesus. Another tradition
is that she accompanied him thither and was buried there. What a home
was theirs, ever fragrant with the memory of Him whom they had loved
until His death. No incidents in His life, from the hour of brightness
over Bethlehem to that of darkness over Calvary, was too trivial a thing
for their converse. That home in Jerusalem became what the one in
Nazareth had been, the most consecrated of earth. What welcomes there of
Christians who could join with Mary as she repeated her song of
thirty-three years before, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit
hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Of her we shall gain one more distinct
view--the only one.

[Illustration: THE DESCENT FROM THE CROSS _Rubens_ Page 200]


_John the Lone Disciple at the Cross--Continued_

     Three sayings on the cross reported by John:

      "Woman, behold, thy son! Behold, thy mother!"

      "I thirst."

      "It is finished."

                            --_John_ xix. 26, 27, 28, 30.

Of the seven sayings of Christ on the cross, three are preserved by John
only; one of love, another of suffering, and another of triumph. The
first is that to Mary and John himself. The second is the cry, "I
thirst"--the only one of the seven concerning the Lord's bodily
sufferings. John was a most observing eyewitness, as is shown by the
details of the narrative,--the "vessel _full_ of vinegar," the "sponge
filled with vinegar," and the hyssop on which it was placed, the
movements of the soldiers as they put it to Christ's lips, and the
manner in which He received it. He was willing to accept it to revive
His strength to suffer, when "He would not drink" the "wine mingled with
gall" that would relieve Him from the pain He was willing to endure. The
end was drawing near. The thirst had long continued. He had borne it
patiently for five long hours. Why did He at last utter the cry, "I
thirst"? John gives the reason. A prophecy was being fulfilled, and
Jesus would have it known. It was this: "In My thirst they gave Me
vinegar to drink." So "Jesus, ... that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
saith, 'I thirst.'"

John watched Him as He took His last earthly draught. It was probably of
the sour wine for the use of the soldiers on guard. What varied
associations he had with wine,--the joyful festivities of Cana, the
solemnities of the Upper Room, and the sadness of Calvary.

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, "It is
finished." This is the third of the sayings of Jesus on the cross
preserved by John, who was a special witness to the chief doings of his
Lord on the earth. So the declaration meant more to him than to any
other who heard it. Yet it had a fulness of meaning which even he could
not fully know. Jesus' life on earth was finished. He had perfectly
obeyed the commandments of God. The types and prophecies concerning Him
had been fulfilled. His revelation of truth was completed. The work of
man's redemption was done. On the cross He affirmed what John said He
declared in the Upper Room to His Father: "I have glorified Thee on the
earth, having accomplished the work Thou hast given Me to do."

All four Evangelists tell of the moment when Jesus yielded up His life,
but John alone of the act that accompanied it as the signal thereof,
which his observant eye beheld. "He bowed His head,"--not as the
helpless victim of the executioner's knife upon the fatal block, but as
the Lord of Life who had said, "No one taketh it away from Me, but I lay
it down of Myself."

John makes mention of another incident without which the story of the
crucifixion would be incomplete. Mary Magdalene and other loving women
had left the cross, but were gazing toward it as they "stood afar off."
John remained with the soldiers who were watching the bodies of the
crucified. "The Jews, ... that the bodies should not remain upon the
cross upon the Sabbath, asked of Pilate that their legs might be
broken"--to hasten death--"and that they might be taken away." As John
saw the soldiers "break the legs of the first and of the other which was
crucified with" Jesus, with what a shudder did he see them approach His
cross; but what a relief to him when they "saw that He was dead already,
and brake not His legs."

In a single clause John pictures a scene ever vivid in Christian
thought. He knew that Jesus "gave up His spirit" when "He bowed His
head." The executioners pronounced Him dead. "Howbeit one of the
soldiers"--to make this certain beyond dispute--"with a spear pierced
His side, and straightway there came out blood and water." There was now
no pain to excite the Apostle's sympathy, and yet he reports the
incident as being of special importance. He calls attention to the fact
that he was an eye-witness, and that there was something in it that
should affect others as well as himself. He says, "He that hath seen
hath borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knoweth that he
saith true, that ye also may believe." He explains why these incidents
so deeply impressed him. They recalled two prophecies of the Old
Testament. One was this, "A bone of Him shall not be broken." This
reminded John of the Paschal Lamb which should be perfect in body; and
of Jesus as the Lamb of God, by which name He had been called when
pointed out to him as the Messiah. All through life Jesus had been
preserved from accident that would have broken a bone, and in death even
from the intended purpose that would have defeated the fulfilment of the

The other prophecy was this,--"They shall look on Him whom they
pierced." Because of what John saw and tells, we pray in song,

    "Let the water and the blood
     From Thy riven side which flowed,
     Be of sin the double cure:
     Cleanse me from its guilt and power."

[Illustration: IN THE SEPULCHRE _H. Hofmann_ Page 201]

John once more furnishes a contrast between Jesus' foes and friends. He
says that the Jews asked Pilate that the bodies of the crucified might
be taken away. This was to the dishonored graves of malefactors. John
more fully than the other Evangelists tells of Joseph of Arimathæa who
"besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus"--for
honorable burial. Other Evangelists tell of his being "rich," "a
counsellor of honorable estate," "a good man and a righteous," who "had
not consented to" the "counsel and deed" of the Sanhedrin of which he
was a member, because he "was Jesus' disciple." Mark says, "He boldly
went in unto Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus." He had summoned
courage so to do. Hitherto as John explains he had been "a disciple of
Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews." John implies that Joseph was
naturally timid like Nicodemus. As Pilate had delivered Jesus to His
open enemies to be crucified, he delivered the crucified body to Joseph,
the once secret but now open friend. The Jews "led him"--the living
Christ--"away to crucify Him." Joseph "came" and tenderly "took away His
body" from the cross.

"There came also Nicodemus," says John, "he who at the first came to Him
by night." Yes, that night which John could not forget, in which to this
same Nicodemus Jesus made known the Gospel of God's love, manifested in
the gift of His Son whose body in that hour these timid yet emboldened
members of the Sanhedrin took down from the cross. They were sincere
mourners with him who watched their tender care as they "bound it in
linen cloths with the spices" for burial, with no thought of a

Perhaps Joseph and Nicodemus recalled moments in the Sanhedrin when they
whispered together, speaking kindly of Jesus, but were afraid to defend
Him aloud; thus silently giving a seeming consent to evil deeds because
timidity concealed their friendship. But at last the very enmity and
cruelty of His murderers emboldened them as they met at the cross.

It is John who tells us that Jesus the night before His crucifixion went
"where was a garden into which He entered," and who also says, "Now in
the place where He was crucified there was a garden." The one was ever
more suggestive to him of a coming trial; the other of that trial past.
"There," in the garden--probably that of Joseph--John says "they laid
Jesus." There also were laid John's hopes, which seemed forever buried
when Joseph "rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and
departed." What a contrast in his thoughts and feelings between the
rolling _away_ of the stone from the tomb of Lazarus, and the rolling
_to_ that of Jesus. The one told him of resurrection; but the other of
continued death; for as he afterward confessed, "as yet" he and Peter
"knew not that Jesus must rise from the dead."

Two mourners at least lingered at the closed tomb. "Mary Magdalene was
there, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre" of their
Lord, after they "beheld where He was laid." John's parting from them at
that evening hour was in sadness which was to be deepened when he met
Mary Magdalene again.

It is not easy for us to put ourselves in the place of John, as he turns
from the tomb toward his lonely home. _We_ know what happened afterward,
but he did not know what would happen, though his Lord had tried to
teach him. He is repeating to himself the words he had heard from the
cross, "It is finished," but he is giving them some difference of
meaning from that which Jesus intended. He is walking slowly and sadly
through the streets of Jerusalem, dimly lighted by the moon that shone
in Gethsemane the night before upon him and his living Lord. We imagine
him saying to himself:--"Truly it is finished: all is over now. How
disappointed I am. I do not believe He intended to deceive me, yet I
have been deceived. From early childhood I looked, as I was taught to
do, for the coming of the Messiah. On Jordan I thought I had found Him.
He chose me for one of His twelve, then one of the three, then the one
of His special love. What a joy this has been, brightening for three
years my hopes and expectations. I have seen Him work miracles, even
raising the dead. I have seen Him defeat the plots of evil men against
Him, and did not believe any power on earth could destroy Him. I have
watched to see Him the great and glorious King. But to-day instead of
this I have seen Him crucified as the feeblest and worst of men. I do
remember now how Moses and Elijah, when we were with them on the Holy
Mount, talked with Him of 'His departure which He was about to
accomplish at Jerusalem.' But I did not understand them, nor even
Himself when, just before we ascended the Mount, He told us 'how that He
must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, ... and be killed.' I do
not wonder that Peter then said to Him, 'Be it far from Thee, Lord,'
though the Lord was right in rebuking him. Can it be only last night He
said, 'Tarry with Me.' How gladly would I do it now. But He is dead, and
buried out of my sight. Oh that I might see Him rise, as I did the
daughter of Jairus. Oh that I might roll away the stone from His tomb as
I helped to do from that of Lazarus, and see Him come forth. How gladly
would I 'loose Him' from His 'grave-bands' and remove the 'napkin bound
about His face.' I know it was a mean and shameful taunt of His revilers
when they said, 'If Thou art the Son of God, come down from the
cross.' But why did He not do it? I remember how once He said concerning
His life, 'no one taketh it away from Me.' But have not Pilate and the
Jews taken it away? I shall never lean upon His bosom again. But this I
know--He loved me, and I loved Him, and love Him still. The mysteries
are great, but the memories of Him will be exceedingly precious

[Illustration: JESUS APPEARING TO MARY MAGDALENE (Easter Morning)
              _B. Plockhorst_ Page 209]

Poor John. He forgot those other words of His Lord concerning His
life,--"I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
The Lord had done the one already: He was soon to do the other, though
His sorrowing disciple understood it not. Meanwhile we leave him,
resting if possible from the weariness of the garden and the palace and
Calvary, during that Friday night, which was to be followed by a day of
continued sadness, and that by another night of sorrowful restlessness.


_John at the Tomb_

     "Now on the first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early,
     while it was yet dark, unto the tomb, and seeth the stone taken
     away from the tomb. She runneth therefore, and cometh to Simon
     Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved.

     "Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they went
     toward the tomb.

     "Simon Peter ... entered into the tomb.

     "Then entered in therefore the other disciple also, ... and he saw
     and believed."--_John_ xx. 1, 2, 3, 6, 8.

     "Let us take John for our instructor in the swiftness of love, and
     Peter for our teacher in courage."--_Stalker_.

      "Oh, sacred day, sublimest day!
         Oh, mystery unheard!
       Death's hosts that claimed Him as their prey
         He scattered with a word;
       And from the tomb He valiant came;
         And ever blessed be His name."
                             --_Kingo. Trans. Hymns of Denmark_.

      "Mine eye hath found that sepulchral rock
       That was the casket of Heav'n's richest store."
                                         --_Milton_.--_The Passion_.

Of the women who visited the tomb of Jesus on the morning of the
Resurrection, John was especially interested in Mary Magdalene, from
whom seven demons had gone out, probably in his presence; thus giving
him opportunity to see the marvelous change from a most abject
condition, to grateful devotion to her Healer, perhaps beyond that of
any other one whom He healed. John long remembered her starting on her
errand "while it was yet dark." So he remembered Judas starting when "it
was night" on his errand, of which Mary's was the sad result. One was a
deed of love which no darkness hindered: the other was a deed of hate
which no darkness prevented or concealed.

John had a special reason for remembering Mary. When she had seen that
the stone was taken away from the tomb, it had a different meaning to
her from what it did when she and John saw it on Friday evening. And
when she "found not the body of the Lord Jesus," she imagined that
either friends had borne it away, or foes had robbed the tomb. In
surprise, disappointment and anxiety, her first impulse was to make it
known--to whom else than to him who had sorrowed with her at the
stone-closed door? So she "ran"--not with unwomanly haste, but with the
quickened step of woman's love--"to Simon Peter and to the other
disciple whom Jesus loved." They were both loved, but not in the fuller
sense elsewhere applied to John. Astonished at her early call, startled
at the wildness of her grief, sharing her anxiety, "they ran both
together" "toward the tomb" from which she had so hastily come. But it
was an uneven race. John, younger and nimbler, "outran Peter and came
first to the tomb." "Yet entered he not in." Reverence and awe make him
pause where love has brought him. For a few moments he is alone. His
earnest gaze confirms the report of Mary that somebody has "taken away
the Lord." He can only ask, Who? Why? Where? No angel gives answer.
Still his gaze is rewarded. "He seeth the linen cloths lying." These are
silent witnesses that the precious body has not been hastily and rudely
snatched away by unfriendly hands, such as had mangled it on the cross.

Peter arriving, everywhere and evermore impulsive, enters at once where
John fears to tread. He discovers what John had not seen,--"the napkin
that was upon His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up
in a place by itself." John does not tell whose head, so full is he of
the thought of his Lord.

"Then entered in therefore that other disciple also," says John of
himself, showing the influence of his bolder companion upon him. Though
the napkin escaped his notice from without the tomb, it found a
prominent place in his memory after he saw it. Who but an eye-witness
would give us such details? What does he mean us to infer from the
"rolled" napkin put away, if not the calmness and carefulness and
triumph of the Lord of Life as He tarried in His tomb long enough to lay
aside the bandages of death. When he saw the careful arrangement of the
grave-cloths, "he believed" that Jesus had risen. We are not to infer
from his mention of himself only that Peter did not share in this
belief. We can believe that Luke does not complete the story when he
says that Peter "departed to his home wondering at that which was come
to pass." As they came down from the Mount of Transfiguration they were
"questioning among themselves what the rising again from the dead should
mean." As they came from the tomb they questioned no longer.

[Illustration: THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT _Old Engraving_ Page 224]

We long for a yet fuller record than that which John has given of what
passed when he and Peter were within the tomb. He frankly tells us that
"as yet they knew not the Scriptures, that He must rise again from the
dead." Neither prophecy, nor the Scriptures, nor the Lord's repeated
declarations, had prepared them for this hour of fulfilment.

We imagine them lingering in the tomb, talking of the past, recalling
the words of their Lord, illumined in the very darkness of His
sepulchre, and both wondering what the future might reveal. At last they
left the tomb together. There was no occasion now for John to outrun
Peter. They were calm and joyful. There was nothing more to see or to
do. "So the disciples went away again unto their own home."

"But Mary was standing without at the tomb weeping." In these words John
turns our thoughts from himself to her who had summoned him and Peter,
and then followed them. After they had left the sepulchre she continued
standing, bitterly weeping. She could not refrain from seeking that
which she had told the disciples was not there. Her gaze was "at the
very cause of her grief." "She stooped and looked into the tomb" as John
had done.

From the infancy of Jesus to His death there was no ministry of angels
to men, though they ministered to Him. "The Master being by, it behooved
the servant to keep silence." But the angelic voices that proclaimed His
birth, were heard again after His resurrection. According to John's
minute description Mary "beholdeth two angels in white sitting, one at
the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain." The
angelic silence was broken by them both, with the question, "Woman, why
weepest thou"--so bitterly and continuously? They might have added, "It
is all without a cause." Her answer was quick and brief; and without any
fear of the shining ones who lightened the gloomy tomb, and were ready
to lighten her darkened spirit. Her reply was the echo of her own words
to Peter and John, slightly changed to show her personal loss;--"Because
they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid
Him."--Am I not wretched indeed? Is there not a cause? Why should I
check my tears?

To answer was needless. Were not the angels in the blessed secret which
was immediately revealed? Were they not glancing from within the tomb,
over her bowed head, to the gently moving form without? Did Mary become
suddenly conscious of some presence as "she turns herself back, and
beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus"? His question
seemed an echo of the angelic voices, "Woman, why weepest thou?" with
the added question, "Whom seekest thou?" This was the first utterance of
the risen Lord. In the garden, at this early hour, who--so thought
Mary--can this be but the gardener? As such she addressed Him, "Sir, If
_thou_ hast borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I
will take Him away." We can hardly restrain a smile when we see how the
strength of her love made her unmindful of the weakness that would
attempt to "take Him away."

"Jesus saith unto her, Mary." That name, that familiar voice, that
loving tone, sent a thrill through her heart which the name "woman" had
failed to excite. More completely "she turned herself, and saith unto
Him, Rabboni," with all the devotion of her impassioned soul.

Let us recall John's account of Mary's report of her first visit to the
tomb, full of sadness--"_They have taken away the Lord_," and then in
contrast place by its side his record of her second report, full of
gladness--"Mary Magdalene, cometh and telleth the disciples, _I have
seen the Lord_." The one was a mistaken inference; the other a blessed
reality. Between these two utterances on the same day what revelations
to them both. But the end was not yet.

"When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week,
and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the
Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be
unto you." So John describes the first meeting of Jesus with the
disciples after His resurrection. He gives hints of some things of which
other Evangelists are silent. With emphasis he notes "that day" as the
day of days whose rising sun revealed resurrection glory. That "evening"
must have recalled the last one on which they had been together. Then
the Lord had said unto them, "Peace I leave with you." But the
benediction had seemed almost a mockery, because of the sorrow which
followed. But now it was repeated with a renewed assurance of His power
to bestow it. Through fear of the Jews they had closed the doors of
probably the same Upper Room where they had been assembled before. These
doors were no barrier to His entry, any more than the stone to His
leaving His tomb.

              _Old Engraving_ Page 225]

As John alone preserved the incident of the pierced side, he alone tells
how Jesus "showed unto them His ... side," and said to Thomas, at the
next meeting, "Reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side;" and
how this was followed by Thomas' believing exclamation, "My Lord, and my
God." With this and the Lord's beatitude for other believing ones, John
originally ended his story of the Lord, in these words,--"Many other
signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of His disciples which are not
written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life
in His name."


"What Shall This Man Do_?"

     "Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of
     Tiberias."--_John_ xxi. 1.

     "There were together Simon Peter ... and the sons of
     Zebedee."--_v_. 2.

     "Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved
     following."--_v._ 20.

     "Peter ... saith to Jesus, Lord, and What shall this man do?"--_v_.

The twenty-first chapter of John's Gospel is without doubt an addition,
written some time after the original Gospel was finished. Why this
addition? To answer the question we must recall the things of which the
addition tells. They are of special interest in our studies of Peter and

In our last chapter we were with John in Jerusalem. From there he
carries us to the Sea of Tiberias. He tells us that he and his brother
James, and Peter, with four others, "were there together." They were
near their childhood home, where they had watched for the Messiah, and
where, when He had appeared He called them to leave their fishing
employment, and to become fishers of men. They had been saddened by His
death, then gladdened by His resurrection. He had told them to meet Him
in Galilee. And now they were waiting for His coming. They were within
sight of a boat from which perhaps some day they had fished. Peter, ever
active and ready to do something, said to his companions, "I go
a-fishing." As John had followed him into the tomb, he and the others
followed him to the boat saying, "We also come with thee." Let John
himself tell what happened. "They went forth and entered into the boat;
and that night they took nothing. But when day was now breaking, Jesus
stood on the beach: howbeit the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus therefore saith unto them, Children, have ye aught to eat? They
answered Him, No. And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side
of the boat, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were
not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes."

Once more we are to find Peter and John the prominent figures, and see
the difference between them, John being the first to understand, and
Peter the first to act. When John saw the multitude of fishes he
remembered the same thing had happened before at the beginning of
Christ's ministry. Looking toward the land, and whispering to Peter, he
said, "It is the Lord." "So when Simon Peter heard that it was the
Lord, he girt his coat about him"--out of reverence for his Master--"and
cast himself into the sea," and swam or waded about one hundred yards to
the beach. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net
with the fishes. John remembered their great size, and the number "an
hundred and fifty and three." He says, "When they got out upon the land,
they see a fire of coals there." Did it not remind him of another "fire
of coals" of which he had already written, kindled in the court of the
high-priestly palace where "Peter stood and warmed himself," and near
which he denied his Lord three times? If he did not recall that scene
immediately, he did very soon.

Jesus invited the disciples to eat of the meal he had prepared. As they
did so they were filled with awe and reverence, "knowing that it was the
Lord." In the light of the palace fire, "the Lord turned and _looked_
upon Peter"--that only. But in the morning light on the seashore, "when
they had broken their fast, Jesus _saith_ to Simon Peter, Lovest thou
Me?" Three times, with some difference of meaning, gently and solemnly
He asked the question as many times as Peter had denied Him. On Peter's
first assurance of his love Christ gave him a new commission, "Feed My
lambs." This was a humble work,--not so exalted as it is now--a test of
Peter's fitness for Apostleship. He was ready to accept it; and thus he
showed his fitness for the enlarged commission, "Feed My sheep."

With what intense interest John must have listened to the conversation
between his friend and their Lord. Was he not as ready as Peter to say,
"Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee"? In the
end John fulfilled the commission, "Feed My lambs," better than either
Peter or any of the other Apostles. Of them all he had the most of the
child-like spirit. He may fittingly be called the Apostle of Childhood.

Peter was told by the Lord something about his own future,--how in
faithful service for his Master he would be persecuted, and "by what
manner of death he should glorify God." By this his crucifixion is
apparently meant. As John listened, perhaps he wondered what his own
future would be. He was ready to share in service with Peter. Was he not
also ready to share in his fate, whatever it might be?

"Follow Me," said Jesus to Peter. They seem to have started together
away from the group. John felt that he must not be thus separated from
his friend and his Lord. Though he had not been invited to join them, he
started to do so, as if the command to Peter had been also for himself.
"Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following;
which also leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said, Lord, who
is he that betrayeth Thee?" As Peter at the supper beckoned unto John to
ask that question concerning Judas, is it not possible that John now
beckoned to Peter to ask Christ concerning himself? However this may be,
"Peter, seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, what shall this man do?" or,
as it is interpreted, "Lord--and this man, what?" It is as if he had
said, "Will John also die a martyr's death, as you have said I shall
die?" It is not strange that he wanted to know the future of his friend.
But he did not receive the answer he sought, for "Jesus saith unto him,
If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"

These words may mean that John would live to old age and escape
martyrdom, which became true. But this was not the meaning which
Christians of his day put into them. They had the mistaken idea that
Christ, having ascended to Heaven, would soon come again. They also
believed that John would live until Christ's second coming. "This saying
therefore went forth among the brethren, that that disciple should not
die." John was unwilling to have this mistake concerning Christ's words
repeated over and over wherever he was known. So he determined to
correct the false report by adding what is the twenty-first chapter of
His Gospel, telling just what Christ did say, and the circumstances in
which He uttered the words to Peter concerning John. His testimony is
this:--"Jesus said not unto him, he shall not die; but, If I will that
he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me."

Peter became the suffering; John the waiting disciple, "tarrying" a long
time, even after his friend was crucified, and all his fellow-Apostles
had died, probably by martyrdom.

But after all that John wrote to correct the mistaken report concerning
His death, tradition would not let him die. It affirmed that although he
was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil at Rome, and though he was
compelled to drink hemlock, he was unharmed; and that though he was
buried, the earth above his grave heaved with his breathing, as if,
still living, he was tarrying until Christ should return.

"What shall this man"--John--"do?" asked Peter. He found partial answer
in what they did together for the early Christian Church, until John saw
"by what manner of death Peter should glorify God." And then that church
found yet fuller answer in John's labors for it while alone he "tarried"
long among them.

When John tells us that Peter turned and saw him following, we recall
the hour when Andrew and he timidly walked along the Jordan banks, and
"Jesus turned and saw them following," and welcomed their approach and
encouraged them in familiar conversation. How changed is all now! John
does not ask as before, "Where dwellest Thou?" Nor does Jesus bid him
"Come and see." He who has become the favored disciple is now better
prepared than then to serve his Master, following in the path they had
trod together, and having an abiding sense of the blessed though unseen
Presence, until his Lord shall bid him, "Come and see" My heavenly
abode, and evermore "be with Me where I am," and share at last, without
unholy ambition, the glory of My Throne."


_St. John a Pillar-Apostle in the Early Christian Church_

     "James and Cephas and John, they who are reputed to be
     pillars."--_Paul. Gal._ ii. 9.

     "They went up into the upper chamber where they were abiding; both
     Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip, ..."--_Acts_ i. 13.

     "When the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in
     one place."--_Acts_ ii. 1.

     "An angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought
     them out."--_Acts_ v. 19.

     "Now when the Apostles which were in Jerusalem heard that Samaria
     had received the word of the Lord, they sent unto them Peter and
     John."--_Acts_ viii. 14.

     "He (Herod) killed James the brother of John with the
     sword."--_Acts_ xii. 2.

The next place where we may think of John with his Lord was on a
mountain in Galilee. At least once before His death, and twice after His
resurrection, He directed His Disciples to meet Him there. For what
purpose? Evidently to receive His final commission.

"Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been
given unto Me in Heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make
disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all
things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even
unto the end of the world."

But the disciples were not yet prepared to fulfil this commission. So He
appointed another meeting, to be held in Jerusalem, where He met them,
"speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Here the
command on the mountain was limited by another--not to depart from
Jerusalem immediately. "Wait" said He, "for the promise of the Father
which you heard from Me." That promise we find in John's record:--"I
will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He
may abide with you forever." "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,
shall teach you all things." "He shall testify of Me." In the
fulfilment of that promise, the disciples were to find the preparation
to "go" and "preach." For that preparation they were to "wait."

Jesus then reminds them of the assurance given by John the Baptist
concerning Himself:--"He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." Once
more John is carried back to the Jordan, and reminded of the time when
he and Jesus had been baptized. All those former scenes must have been
recalled when Jesus at the final meeting in Jerusalem declared, "John
truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost
not many days hence."

These words revived in the disciples the hope which had died in them
when Jesus died upon the cross. So, with yet mistaken ideas, they asked,
"Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" John
and the rest of the Bethsaidan band, who had heard the Baptist say that
the kingdom of God was at hand, hoped that "at this time" it would
appear. But, as when Jesus gave no direct answer to the two pairs of
brothers on Olivet concerning the time of the destruction of Jerusalem,
or to Peter's question concerning John's future, so now He avoided a
direct answer to this last question. He reminded them of something more
important for them than knowledge of the future: that was their own
duty,--not to reign, but to be witnesses for Him, first in Jerusalem,
then throughout Judæa, then in Samaria, then "unto the uttermost parts
of the earth." Yet this could not be until they had "received power
after that the Holy Ghost had come upon them." This was promised them:
they did not clearly understand what was meant: they were waiting to

"He led them out until they were over against Bethany,"--well-remembered
Bethany. From there Jesus had made His triumphal entry into the City of
the Great King: from there He would make a more glorious entry into the
New Jerusalem. John was not His herald now. He, with the other ten, was
"led" by Him to witness His departure.

As He ascended Olivet the last time, did He not give a parting glance
down the slope into the village below, His eye resting on the home of
those He loved, made radiant for us by the search-light thrown upon it
by the loved disciple at His side? In thought did He not say, "Lazarus,
Martha, Mary, farewell."

The lifted hands, the parting blessing, the luminous cloud, and the
vanishing form--such is the brief story of the Ascension.

"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into Heaven?" The questioners
were two angels. Without waiting for answer, they gave promise of Jesus'
return. "Then returned the disciples unto Jerusalem from the Mount
called Olivet." Whither bound? We are told, "They went up into _the_
upper chamber." No longer simply "_A_ large upper room" to which Jesus
had told Peter and John they would be guided. Were they not now the
guide of the nine thither, to the place where they had six weeks before
"prepared" for the Passover? Did not the goodman of the house give the
Disciples a second welcome, and offer it to them as a temporary place
for the Christian Church? So it would appear, for again we are told,
"they were there abiding." Once more Luke gives their names, in the
Acts as he did in his Gospel. All except Judas answered, in that upper
room, to the roll call of the company scattered from Gethsemane, but
reunited in a closer union. In each of Luke's lists he begins with the
Bethsaidan band. But he does not preserve the same order. In the latter
he begins, not with the two pairs of brothers as such--Peter and Andrew,
James and John,--but with the Apostles whom Christ had drawn into His
inner circle, Peter, John and James, naming first the two who were
already becoming the acknowledged leaders of the Christian band. In that
list we find the name of Andrew recorded the last time in Holy Writ.

But the eleven were not alone: others resorted thither for the same
purpose. What was that purpose? and who were some of them? This is the
answer:--"These all with one accord continued steadfastly in prayer,
with the women, and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and with His brethren."

It is here, for the last time, that we read of Mary, in the Gospels. In
what better place could we bid her farewell than in the room consecrated
by the presence of her Son. How we rejoice with her that in that place
the longing of her heart must have been satisfied as she joined "with
one accord in prayer ... with His brethren"--her sons who during His
life had not believed on Him. What a welcome to that room did they
receive from John, their adopted brother! May we not indulge the thought
that among "the women" were her own daughters; and that we hear her
joyfully asking the once carping question of the Jews concerning "the
carpenter's son," but with changed meaning, saying, "His _sisters_, are
they not all with us?" If so "His Mother called Mary," "and His
brethren," "and His sisters," and John the adopted son and brother, were
at last a blessed family indeed. Mary on her knees with her children
around her, rejoicing in God her Saviour, of whom she had sung in the
infancy of her Son--that certainly is a fitting scene to be the last in
which we behold the Mother of Jesus.

"When the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one
place." They were united in feeling, purpose and devotion, in the "one
place," the home of the early Church.

The hour had come for the fulfilment of the promise of their Lord, for
which they were to tarry in Jerusalem and wait. There was a great
miracle,--a sound from Heaven as of the rushing of a mighty wind which
filled the house. Flame-like tongues, having the appearance of fire
rested on the heads of the disciples, who were "all filled with the Holy
Ghost." He gave them utterance as they spoke in languages they had not
known before. Crowds of foreigners in the city "were confounded because
that every man heard them speaking in his own language."

On the morning of that day the Church numbered one hundred and twenty.
"There were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls."

St. John was one of those filled with the Holy Ghost, according to the
prophecy he had heard by the Baptist, and the promise by Christ. On him
rested a fiery tongue. To him the Spirit gave utterance, perhaps in the
languages of those among whom he was to labor in Asia Minor, from where
some of these strangers had come. He was in full sympathy with that
Christian company, an actor with them, a leader of them, a pillar for
them strong and immovable.

But the Upper Room was not the only place where John worshiped. The
Temple was still a sanctuary where such as he communed with God. The
hour for the evening prayer was nearing when "Peter and John were going
up into the Temple." They reached the Beautiful Gate, which Josephus
describes as made of Corinthian brass, surpassing in beauty other temple
gates, even those which were overlaid with silver and gold. By it they
saw what doubtless they had often seen before, a lame man who, during
most of the forty years of his life, had been daily brought thither. His
weakness was a great contrast to the massive strength of the pillar
against which he leaned, as he counted the long hours and the coins he
received in charity. His haggard appearance and ugly deformity were a
greater contrast to the richness and symmetry of the gate which was so
fittingly "called Beautiful."

Was there something especially benignant in the faces of the two
Apostles, that encouraged the poor creature to hail them as he saw them
"about to go into the Temple"? They were willingly detained. "Peter,
fastening his eyes on him, with John, said, 'Look on us.'" A gift was
bestowed richer far than that for which he had hoped. They were full of
joy themselves, and of pity for him, and of a sense of the power of
their Lord, so often exercised in their presence. Therefore the command,
"In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

That was a strange sight to those who had long known the beggar, as he
held Peter with one hand and John with the other, as if leading them
into the Temple, into which he entered, "walking, and leaping, and
praising God."

The glad shout of the healed man attracted a crowd around him, "greatly
wondering." The Apostles declared that the miracle was by no power of
their own, but by that of Jesus who had been killed, but had risen from
the dead. For this they were arrested and put in prison--strange place
for such men and for such a reason. On the next day they were brought
before the rulers who demanded by what power they had done this thing.
Again the disciples declared it was in the name of Jesus Christ of
Nazareth, whom the Jews crucified, but whom God had raised from the
dead. The rulers were amazed when "they saw the boldness of Peter and
John." They had known the power of Jesus' words: they saw a like power
in the words of the Apostles, whom they were assured had been with Him
and been aided by Him. But this did not check their rage, which was
increased as they saw how many believed the Apostles. The three thousand
converts on the day of Pentecost were increased to five thousand.

[Illustration: EPHESUS _From Photograph_ Page 232]

As leaders of the Christian company Peter and John were again put into
prison--into the public jail for malefactors. But the divine power which
had been used through them was now used for them. A solemn warning was
given to the daring wickedness of the rulers. When they thought their
prisoners kept "with all safety," in the darkness, behind bolted doors,
"an angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them
out, and said, 'Go ye, and stand and speak in the temple to the people
all the words of this Life.'"

We know not the manner in which he led them out as he invisibly opened
and closed the doors through which they passed, to obey without fear
the heavenly bidding. With consternation the rulers heard a messenger
declare, in words almost echoing the angel's command, "Behold the men
whom ye put in prison are in the temple standing and teaching the

Persecution scattered Christians who fled from Jerusalem, telling
wherever they went, of Christ as the Saviour. A deacon named Philip
preached in Samaria with great effect. "Now when the Apostles which were
at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent
unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come down, prayed for them
that they might receive the Holy Ghost."

These two were chosen because they had taken the most active part in
establishing the church in Jerusalem, and were specially fitted for
similar work elsewhere. With what peculiar feelings John must have
entered Samaria. He must have recalled a day when hot and weary he had
journeyed thither with his Lord and met the Samaritaness at the well.
Perhaps he now met her again, and together they talked over that
wonderful conversation which made her the first missionary to her
people, many of whom declared, "We know that this is indeed the Saviour
of the world."

Did John on this visit enter into "a village of the Samaritans"--the
same where he had said, "Lord, wilt Thou that we bid fire to come down
from heaven and consume them?" Is it of them that it is now said he
"prayed for them"? His fire of indignation and revenge had changed to
the fire of love. The pentecostal flames had rested on his head.

Once more--only once--we find the names of James and John together. One
short sentence, full of pathos, of injustice and cruelty, of affection
and sorrow, tells a story of the early Church: Herod "killed James the
brother of John with the sword." He was the first martyr of the
Apostles. The smaller circle of the three, and the larger one of the
twelve, is broken. For these brothers we may take up David's lamentation
over Saul and Jonathan, slightly changed, and say, "They were lovely and
pleasant in their lives: but in their death they were divided,"--for
through half a century John mourned the loss of his loved companion from

After James--one of the three whom Paul named pillars--had fallen, the
other two, Peter and John, stood for awhile side by side in strength and
beauty. To each of them he might have given the name Jachin by which one
of the pillars of Solomon's temple was called, meaning, "whom God
strengthens." Peter was the next to fall, after which John long stood
alone, until at last the three whom first we saw by the Sea of Galilee,
stood together by the glassy sea, in each of them fulfilled the promise
made through John, by their Lord,--"He that overcometh, I will make him
a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more."

[Illustration: THE ISLE OF PATMOS _Old Engraving_ Page 233]


_Last Days_

     "I John ... was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of
     God, and the testimony of Jesus.... And I heard behind me a great
     voice, as of a trumpet saying, What thou seest, write in a book,
     and send it to the seven churches."--_Rev._ i. 9-11.

      "Since I, whom Christ's mouth taught, was bidden teach,
       I went, for many years, about the world,
       Saying, 'It was so; so I heard and saw,'
       Speaking as the case asked; and men believed.
       Afterward came the message to myself
       In Patmos Isle. I was not bidden teach,
       But simply listen, take a book and write,
       Nor set down other than the given word,
       With nothing left to my arbitrament
       To choose or change; I wrote, and men believed."

From Samaria John with Peter "returned to Jerusalem." This is the last
record of him in the Acts. We have but little information concerning him
after that event. He suddenly disappears. We have two glimpses of him
which are historic, and several through shadowy traditions.

There was a very important meeting in Jerusalem to settle certain
questions in which the early Church was greatly interested, and about
which there had been much difference in judgment and feeling. St. Paul
was present. He says that St. John was there, one of the three
Pillar-Apostles who gave to him and Barnabas "the right hands of
fellowship." This is the only time of which we certainly know of the
meeting of these two Apostles; though we have imagined the possibility
of John's visiting the school of Gamaliel, and worshiping in the Temple
when young Saul was in Jerusalem. From this time, A.D., 50, we
lose sight of John and do not see him again until A.D., 68, in
the Isle of Patmos. As his Lord was hidden eighteen years, from the time
of His boyhood visit to Jerusalem until He entered on His public
ministry, so long His disciple is concealed from our view. Leaving
Jerusalem he probably never returned. Why he left we do not know. It may
have been because of persecutions. Perhaps the death of Mary relieved
him from the charge we may believe he had faithfully kept, and thus made
it possible for him to go about like other Apostles to preach the
Gospel. If so we have no hint in what direction he went. He may have
gone directly to Ephesus. On reaching it perhaps he found a welcome from
some who had heard him speak in their own language on the day of
Pentecost. It was a populous city, wealthy and wicked. Its magnificent
Temple of Diana was one of the seven wonders of the world. Its ruins
give us a hint of its former glory.

All the traditions of early times make Ephesus the home of St. John in
the latter part of his life. From it as a centre he ministered to the
Churches of Asia Minor.

Gospel truth found its way thither, even before Paul made it the centre
of his third missionary tour. He was driven from it, but he left the
foundation of a Christian Church, upon which John builded. There were
like foundations in at least six other important cities of Asia
Minor--Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

The silence of the latter half of St. John's life is broken but once,
and that by himself. He tells us that he "was in the isle that is called
Patmos." It was not far from Ephesus, within a day's sail. It is a huge
rock, rugged and barren, only a few miles in length.

Why was John in Patmos? He says, "for the word of God and the testimony
of Jesus." What does he mean by this? Perhaps that he was led thither by
circumstances of which we do not know, or by the guidance of the Spirit
of God, who there would make wonderful revelations to him. But more
probably he was banished thither for the preaching of the Gospel of
Jesus, and for being a faithful follower of Him, notwithstanding the
persecutions of Nero or Domitian. As told in an ancient Latin hymn,--

    "To desert islands banished,
       With God the exile dwells,
     And sees the future glory
       His mystic writing tells."

The grotto of La Scala may have been the spot from which he looked out
upon the Ægean Sea, and upward into the heavens, communing in solitude
with his own thoughts, or with his Lord for whom he was there. Patmos
was for this a fitting place, whether he had gone there from his own
choice, or had been driven thither by the cruelty of his persecutor. In
such solitude did Milton muse, and Bunyan dream.

It was the "Lord's Day," says John. He alone, and at this time only,
uses that name with which we have become familiar, though it may have
been in common use among the early Christians. It meant much to John,
even more than to us. It was a reminder of the day when he looked into,
and then entered, the tomb of his Lord, and believed that He had risen
from the dead.

His meditations may have been aided by Old Testament Manuscripts, his
only companions; especially that of Daniel, in which it is claimed "the
spirit and imagery of the Book of Revelation is steeped."

What a contrast there was between the peaceful waves of Gennesaret,
creeping silently upon the sandy beach of his childhood home, and the
breakers dashing upon the rocky coast of his exile abode in his old
age! How suggestive of the calm and turmoil of his life!

[Illustration: SMYRNA _Old Engraving_ Page 233]

But his musings were suddenly broken by "a great voice, as of a
trumpet," giving a command--"What thou seest, write in a book." He says,
"I turned to see the voice that spake with me." He beheld his Lord in
greater grandeur than he had seen Him on earth, even on Hermon. As he
gazed upon the divine figure he must have exclaimed,

    "Can this be He who used to stray,
     A pilgrim on the world's highway,
     Oppressed by power, and mocked by pride,
     The Nazarene, the Crucified!"

We do not wonder that he says,--"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as
one dead." So had Paul done when the Lord appeared to him at Damascus.
John adds, "He laid His right hand upon me, saying, Fear not." The words
seem almost an echo from the Holy Mount,--"Jesus came and touched them,
and said, Arise, and be not afraid."

The command to John was renewed, to write--of things which he had seen,
and what he was yet to behold. The early Christians called him the
Eagle, meaning that of all the sacred writers he had the loftiest
visions of divine truth.

John's writings are of three kinds, the Book of The Revelation of the
secret purposes of God; his Gospel; and his three Epistles or letters.

Although The Revelation is the last of the books of the Bible, it is
probably the first of those by John. It contains messages from the Lord
in Heaven to the seven churches in Asia, which we have mentioned,
concerning their virtues and their failings. To each was given a special
promise of reward to those who overcame sin, and were faithful to
Christ. From this Revelation of John we get our imagery of Heaven,
helping us to understand something of its glory.

His Gospel is supposed to have been written next. Why did he write it?
As we have noticed, Matthew, Mark and Luke had already written their
Gospels. But there was abundant reason for John's writing the fourth
Gospel. We need not doubt the tradition that he was urged to do so by
the disciples, elders and bishops of the early Church. They had heard
him tell much concerning Christ of which the first three Evangelists had
not told. These things were too precious to be forgotten, or to be
changed by frequent repetition after his lips were silent. That must be
soon, for he was very old, having long passed the limit of human age.
They had listened to the story of the early call of the disciples, and
of the first miracle at Cana, and of the night visit of Nicodemus to
Jesus, and of the talk by the well of Samaria with the Samaritaness, and
of the washing of the disciples' feet, and of many other things which
Jesus said and did of which no one had written. In John's talks with
Christians, and his preaching in their churches, he explained fully and
simply the teachings of Jesus, as no one else had done, or could do.
They longed for a record of them, that they might read it themselves,
and leave it to their children, and those who never could hear the words
from his lips.

So St. John wrote his Gospel, giving to his first readers his great
reason,--"These are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in His

For the writing of his first Epistle he also gives a reason,
saying,--"That which we have heard, that which we have seen with our
eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled concerning the word of
life, ... that ... declare we unto you also, that ye also may have
fellowship with us."

Through these words John draws us very near to his Lord and ours, Whom
we behold through his eyes, and hear through his ears. We almost feel
the grasp of a divine yet human hand.

The great theme is the love of God, or as Luther expresses it, "The main
substance of this Epistle relates to love." John's Gospel abounds in
declarations and illustration of this greatest of truths, but it does
not contain the phrase in this Epistle in which he sums up the whole
Gospel, "GOD IS LOVE." Because of John's deep sense of God's
love, and because of the depth of his own love, the Beloved Apostle is
called, The Apostle of Love.

John's second Epistle should be of special interest to the young. From
it we infer that there were two Christian homes, in each of which John
took delight. The mothers were sisters. His letter is addressed to "The
elect lady"--or as she is sometimes called the Lady Electa--and her
children. John tells of his love and that of others for them,--Mother
and children--because of their Christian character. He tells of his
great joy because of the children "walking in the truth"--living as
children should live who have learned of the teachings of Christ.

From the group of children around him in the home where he wrote, he
sends messages to their aunt, saying, "The children of thine elect
sister salute thee." How the children of Electa must have prized that
letter! How little they thought that nineteen hundred years after they
received it, other children would read it, and think how happy were
those who had the Apostle John for their friend.

This letter is one of the things that revealed his child-like spirit. We
remember the time when he did not have that spirit. At last he did have
it because he became so much like his Master who loved the little ones,
and taught His disciples to do the same.

John thought of the child-spirit as the Christ-spirit, whether it was in
the old or the young. He called all who had it children. He called those
to whom he ministered in his old age his little children. This he does
in the last sentence of his last letter to the Christian church,--"My
little children, guard yourselves from idols."

Because of his own child-like spirit and his seeking to cultivate it in
others, and because of his manifest interest in children, he may be
called the Apostle of Childhood.

There is a beautiful tradition concerning him, that in his old age, when
he was too feeble to walk to the church or to preach, he was carried
thither, and said again and again,--"Little children, love one another."
Some said, "Master, why dost thou always say this?" He replied, "It is
the Lord's command, and if this alone is done, it is enough." Of his
death at the probable age of about one hundred nothing is known. It is
claimed that there is a sacred spot somewhere among the tangled thickets
of Mt. Prion which looks down on Ephesus where his body was laid.

There is a tradition, inconsistent with the supposition that Mary died
in Jerusalem, that she accompanied John to Ephesus and was buried near
him; her eyes having been closed by him on whom her Son had looked with
dimming vision, commending her to his loving care.

No magnificent tomb marks the place of John's burial. None is needed.
But there are richer and abundant memorials of St. John the Divine--an
imperishable name because that of the Beloved Disciple of Him Whose name
is above every name.


_A Retrospect_

How wonderful and charming a history is that of St. John! Our glimpses
of him have been few and often-times indistinct; but they have been
enough in number and clearness to reveal a noble and lovable character.

We saw him first on the sea-shore of Gennesaret, not differing from any
other Galilean boy. We watched him playing and fishing with his
Bethsaidan companions, none of them thinking of how long their
friendship would be continued, or in what new and strange circumstances
of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, disappointment and glad surprises,
that companionship would become closer and closer.

We saw John in his rambles about his home, amid scenes beautiful in
themselves, which became sacred because of what he there beheld and

We discovered his relationship to a child in Nazareth whom he did not
know at first as the most wonderful being in the world.

We entered his home and visited the school where he was taught of Him
who was called the coming Messiah; but who had already come, though his
parents and teachers knew it not.

We followed him as a Jewish boy into the Temple, whose glories were to
become more glorious in his manhood by what he beheld therein.

We saw him on the Jordan, standing with his kindred and namesake, who
pointed him to Jesus as the Messiah for whom he had been looking. From
that hour we have known him as a disciple of Jesus, later as one of his
twelve Apostles, then one of the chosen three, then the one--the beloved

Through his eyes we have beheld the wonderful works of our Lord: with
his ears we have heard the most wonderful words ever spoken to man. We
have caught glimpses of him in most wonderful scenes which he was almost
the only one to behold--amid the glories of the transfiguration, in the
death-chamber changed to that of life, in the shadows of Gethsemane.

We have learned through John the sacredness of human friendships, made
closer and holier by friendship with the loved and loving Lord. He has
been our guide to the Upper Room of joy and sadness; to the Priestly
Palace of suffering and of shame; to the cross of agony and death; to
the tomb of surprise and exaltation; to the mount of final blessing and

              _Old Engraving_ Page 233]

John saw what kings and prophets longed to see, but died without the
sight--the Messiah come. He witnessed probably all the miracles of
Jesus, from his first in Cana as a guest, to his last on the sea-shore
as a host--the signs of divine power inspired by pity and love. He
looked upon the enthusiastic but mistaken throng who in Galilee would
force upon Jesus an unwelcome crown; then upon the multitudes who hailed
him with hosannas on Olivet; then the maddened crowd who shouted through
the streets of Jerusalem, "Crucify Him." He witnessed Christ's movements
when the multitudes gathered about Him for instruction and healing, and
when he withdrew from them to pray. His eyes were dazzled by the
brightness of the transfiguration as he looked upon the form which at
last was enshrouded in darkness on Calvary. With another vision he
beheld that form in Heaven itself.

On the Jordan he beheld Jesus as the Lamb of God which was to be offered
as a sacrifice. He saw the cross become His altar of sacrifice, and then
in Heaven discerned Him as the "Lamb as it had been slain." He was
witness of Christ's joys and sorrows, shame and suffering, humiliation
and exaltation, entering into them more fully than did any other human

From the hour in which John stood with the Baptist who told him to
behold Jesus, his eye was upon Him, until, because there was no more
for him to behold of his Lord on earth, the angels asked, "Why stand ye
gazing?" Having seen Him "lifted up" on a beclouded cross, he saw Him
"taken up" as a glorious "cloud received Him out of sight."

John heard wondrous things. He became familiar with his Lord's voice,
its tones of instruction and exhortation, warning and reproof,
invitation and affection, forgiveness and benediction, prayer and
praise, depression and agony, joy and triumph. He was no careless
listener to the words spoken to Jesus--those of inquiry and pleading,
hypocrisy and contempt, mockery and deceit, hatred and love. Beside his
Lord, he heard saintly voices, and the voice of the Father.

Much that John saw and heard when with his Lord he has made known. We
imagine some things were too tender and sacred for others' ears:
concerning such his lips were sealed. Other things were too precious for
silence: of such he is the most distinct echo. His Gospel is often a
commentary on the other three. He was an eye-witness of most of the
events of which he tells. His Gospel is rich with illuminated texts.
Having the best understanding of "the words of the Lord Jesus," he is
the fullest reporter of His teachings. Having the deepest insight into
the heart of hearts of his Lord, he is its clearest revealer. While many
others grasped separate truths, he placed them side by side in harmony
and unity, and thus held them up and revealed them to mankind. His
Lord's words were the most sacred treasures of his memory: his greatest
joy was to bring them forth for others to view and admire, that they too
might be inspired thereby to "love and good works." Without erasing
aught from the pictures drawn by his fellow-Evangelists, he has added
to, and filled in, and re-touched with a sympathizing hand. So familiar
had he become with his Lord's countenance, with all its varied
expressions, and so skilful was he in reproducing them, that his
composite portrait is the most beautiful and impressive of all attempts
to portray "the human face divine."

Standing outside of some grand cathedral, before its stained window, we
mark the figures with their rich depth of color. Passing within we see
the same figures, but the outline is more distinct; the colors are
richer, and with more harmonious blending. So sometimes we seem to stand
with the three Evangelists outside the Gospel Cathedral; and then with
John within.

Like Ruth in the field of Boaz he followed the reapers--the first three
Evangelists in the field of their Lord,--to "glean even among the
sheaves." He "gleaned in the field until evening," the close of the long
day of his life, "and beat out that he had gleaned," and gave it to
others. There was not need for them to ask him, "Where hast thou
gleaned?" There was only one field from which such harvest could be
gathered. Rather could they say as Naomi to Ruth, "Blessed is he that
did take knowledge of thee."

There have been more noted illustrations of change in character than is
furnished in St. John. His early life was not profligate like that of
John Newton or John Bunyan. And yet the change in him was marked enough
to furnish an exhibition of contrast, showing the power of Christ's
teachings and example upon him, until he reached an unwonted degree of
perfection. He combined the noblest traits of the loftiest manhood and
womanhood, with the simplicity of childhood. His human kinship to Jesus
illustrated but faintly the closer and tenderer relation formed by the
transforming of his spirit into the likeness of Christ. This was more
royal than any merely human relationship. It was the closest relation of
which we know of the perfect Christ with imperfect man. We have watched
the changes in John's spirit, and seen his imperfections smoothed away,
and his character so polished that it became the brightest reflector of
the image of Jesus Christ. Yet from the first there were budding virtues
in him which Mary Magdalene's supposed gardener brought to perfection.

[Illustration: RUINS OF LAODICEA _Old Engraving_ Page 233]

In history John stands and must ever stand alone. He was one of the
two who first accepted the call of Christ to come to Him: he was the
last of the Apostles to repeat, in another and yet as true a sense, that
invitation to multitudes of men. He was one of those two who first saw
what may be called the beginning of the Christian Church, in the little
booth by the Jordan: and the last one of the Twelve to remember its
fuller establishments in the Upper Chamber of Jerusalem. He was the last
man who had seen the last prophet who told of the coming Messiah; and
was the last Evangelist to tell that He had come. He was one of the
three who were the last to behold the Shechinah, and to whom came the
voice of God the Father.

John was the lone disciple in the palace of the high priest, witnessing
the injustice, mockery, and cruelty before Pilate; the last one with
whom the Lord spoke and on whom His eye rested before His death. He was
the lone disciple to gaze upon the cross and witness the dying agonies;
the first to look into the deserted tomb; the first of whom we are told
that he believed the Lord had risen therefrom. The last survivor of the
Apostolic band, he had the fullest opportunity to witness the fulfilment
of prophecies of which he was a careful student and clear interpreter.
He saw the sad close of the Jewish dispensation, and the glorious
beginning of Christianity. He saw the Holy City overthrown, as Christ
declared to Him on Olivet that it would be, and had a vision of the New
Jerusalem of which the old was a consecrated type, at last profaned.

Of the golden Apostolic chain he was the last link binding the Church to
its Lord. He was the last known human kindred of the Son of Man. The
last words of inspiration were spoken to and recorded by him. He was the
latest prophet, historian, and Evangelist. One of the first to say, "I
have seen the Messiah," he was the last to say, "I have seen the Lord."

We have caught glimpses of St. John in the early days of Christianity,
as a light and a pillar, a teacher and a guide. Sometimes for years
together he has been hidden from our view, and then has emerged with a
yet brighter halo around his head. We have watched him on a lonely isle
gazing into heaven, beholding glories of which he gives us hints, but
which he tells us he cannot fully describe.

Because of his relation to the Lord, the fisher boy unknown beyond the
hamlet of Bethsaida two thousand years ago is "spoken of" as truly as
Mary of Bethany, whose memory he especially has made sacred and
perpetual. Wherever the Gospel is preached he too is remembered, honored
and loved.

Because of his relation to the Lord, towns in lands of which he never
knew, bear his name; in which people are taught by his words and
inspired by his spirit. In them many a family is known by the name St.
John. Rivers in their flow bear his name from generation to generation
on earth, while he points men to the pure river "proceeding out of the
throne of God and the Lamb," which was "showed" him in Patmos. Societies
for fraternal fellowship and mutual helpfulness are called after him.
St. John's day has a sacred place in the calendar. Many a rural chapel
and stately city church are reminders of him. The richness of his
graces, and the yet future of his saintly influence, are symbolized in
the yet unfinished temple of surpassing grandeur in the City of New
York,--"The Cathedral of St. John the Divine."

From all these earthly scenes in which we have beheld him, to which
history and tradition have pointed us, and from those things which are
memorials of him, we turn to the Heavenly scenes which he bids us behold
as they were revealed to him. Thither we follow him after all his trials
and labors and triumphs of earth. With reverence and gladness for him,
we listen to the voice of the Lord saying to him what He had told him to
say to the Churches of Asia:--"Because thou didst overcome I give thee
'to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of
God.' Thou shalt 'not be hurt with the second death.' I give thee 'a
white stone, and upon the stone a new name written.' I give thee 'the
morning star.' 'I will in no wise blot thy name out of the book of life!
I make you a pillar in the temple of My God.' O John, rememberest thou
thy petition and that of thy brother who has long been with Me,--'Grant
unto us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and one on Thy left hand
in Thy glory'? Thou thoughtest that 'glory' was an earthly throne, which
thou never sawest. But thou hast overcome thy pride and ambition, thy
jealous and revengeful spirit. Thou hast triumphed over those who were
thine enemies because thou wast My friend. Thou didst see My agonies and
victories in Gethsemane and on Calvary. Thou didst take up My cry on My
cross concerning My work on earth, and sound it forth,--'It is
finished.' Dost thou remember My final promise to him that overcometh,
which I made from this My true throne of glory, through thee, 'in the
isle that is called Patmos'--precious name even here because of thy
'testimony for' Me. That promise I now fulfil in thee. O John, one of My
chosen Twelve on earth; yea more, one of My chosen three; yet more, My
beloved one, here in Heaven, now, 'Sit down with Me on My throne, as I
also overcame and sat down with My Father in His throne.'"


_Legends and Traditions of St. John_

After closing the history of St. John, we linger over the traditions
that cluster about his later years. They reveal the feelings of the
early Church toward him who was the last of the Apostolic band, and the
last who had seen their Lord.

There is one legend so beautiful, so much like him, that we can almost
believe it as having a fitting place in his history. It belongs to the
time when he preached in the magnificent Church which Christians had
reared for him in Ephesus. We may not credit the story that on his brow
he wore a golden plate engraven with the inscription, "Holiness to the
Lord," but we can almost imagine it written there. His memorable
appearance and his tender manner, the loving voice with which he told
the story of his Lord, fastened all eyes upon him, and opened all ears
to his message of salvation. There was one, a young man, who standing in
the distance, looked and listened with such eager interest as to attract
the attention of the Apostle. In repentance and faith he found the peace
which nothing else can give. He was baptized and numbered with the
Ephesian Christians. St. John took special interest in him, training him
in Christian doctrine, and preparing him for a useful life. When the
hour for John's banishment came, in his anxiety for the youth, he
committed him to the care of the Bishop of the place, whom he charged to
be faithful in teaching and spiritual guidance.

But the youth was exposed to many temptations from the heathen about
him. Their songs and dances and wine again charmed him as they did
before he heard the preaching of John. He yielded to their influences,
and renounced his profession of Christianity. In the absence of the
Apostle, the reproofs of the Bishop only maddened him. He no longer
attended the services of the Church, or sought the companionship of
Christians. Having entered the paths of sin, he wandered farther and
farther therein. At last he committed a crime against the government. In
fear of punishment he fled from Ephesus, and joined a company of robbers
and bandits in the wild ravines of the mountains. Though young in years,
he was so cunning and bold in crime that he became the leader of the
band. Inspired by his daring spirit they were ready for deeds of
violence that made them the terror of the whole region.

On John's return from his exile in Patmos to Ephesus, he longed to know
of the welfare of the young disciple, who had been to him as an adopted
son, ever present to his mind and heart in his lonely island. The
Bishop, with downcast eyes, sorrow and shame, declared, "He is dead."
"How?" asked John, "and by what death?" "He is dead to God," said the
Bishop. "He has turned out wicked and abandoned, and at last a robber."

John rent his garments as a sign of distress. Weeping he cried with a
loud lamentation, "Alas! alas! to what a guardian have I trusted our
brother!" The tender, faithful heart of the aged Apostle yearned for the
young man. He was ready to say, "How can I give thee up!" He knew the
mercy of God, and the power of love, human and divine; and determined
that the robber-chieftain should know it too.

Immediately he procured a horse and guide, and rode toward the
stronghold of the robbers. It was in a wild mountainous ravine, with
rushing torrents and rugged rocks overgrown with brushwood and luxuriant
herbage. It was a place of grandeur, and yet of gloom--a fitting haunt
for the robber-band. Few travelers passed that way, and that hurriedly
and in terror.

At last the Apostle and his guide heard from behind the rocks the hoarse
shouts of revelry. But he heeded them not, so intent was he on his
errand. He was seeking the prodigal, his adopted son--who was not
seeking the loving father. He drew the reins of his horse, while he
told his guide that their journey was ended, and prayed for themselves
and for him whom they sought. His nearness was discovered by one of the
band, who led him to the rest, and bound his guide. There was a great
contrast between the old man with his snowy locks and beard, in his
humble garb; and the younger, the wild looking bandit with his streaming
hair and loose white kilt; between the defenceless captive, and his
captors armed with Roman swords, long lances, and bows and arrows before
which he seemed perfectly powerless.

As he looked upon their hardened features they looked into his benignant
face, and stood awed in his presence. Their rough manner, words and
tones were changed by his smile and even friendly greeting. He made no
resistance. His only motion was a wave of his hand. It was mightier than
sword or lance or bow. His only request was, "Take me to your captain."
Over-awed by the dignity of his manner and his calmness, the captors
obeyed their captive and silently led him to their chief. In an open
space the tall handsome young man was seated on his horse, wearing
bright armor and breastplate, and holding the spear of a warrior. At a
glance he recognized his old master, instructor and guide, who had been
to him as a father. His first thought was, "Why should this holy man
seek me?" He answered his own question, saying to himself, "He has come
with just and angry threatenings which I well deserve." John had been
called "a son of thunder." As such the trembling chief thought of him,
ready to hear him pronounce an awful woe. So with a mingled cry of fear
and anguish, he turned his horse and would have fled--a strange sound
and sight for his fellow-robbers.

But St. John had no thunder tones for him, no threats of coming
punishment. The kind shepherd had found the sheep that had been lost.
The father had found the prodigal, without waiting for the wanderer's
return. John sprang toward him. He held out his arms in an affectionate
manner. He called him by tender names. With earnest entreaty he
prevailed on him to stop and listen. As young Saul, when near Damascus
caught sight of Jesus and heard His voice, dropped from his horse to the
ground; so did the young chieftain at the sight and voice of St. John.
With reverence he kneeled before him, and in shame bowed his head to the
ground. Like Peter who had denied the same Lord, the young man wept
bitterly. His cries of self-reproach and his despair echoed strangely in
that rocky defile. As St. John had wept for him, he wept for himself.
Those were truly penitential tears. John still spoke encouragingly. The
young man lifted his head and embraced the knees of the Apostle,
sobbing out, "No hope, no pardon." Then remembering the deeds of his
right hand, defiled with blood, he hid it beneath his robe. St. John
fell on his knees before him and enfolded him in his arms. He grasped
the hand that had been hidden, and bathed it in tears as if he would
wash away its bloody stains, and then kissed it, in thought of the good
he said it should yet perform.

That hand cast away the sword it had wielded in murder, and lovingly,
gratefully held that of John, as the Apostle, and the robber-chief now
penitent and forgiven, together left the wilderness; within sight of the
astonished band; some of whom were greatly touched by what they had seen
and heard, while others were ready to scoff at what they called the
weakness of their leader.

Another tradition is a beautiful illustration of the tenderness and
sympathy which we may judge was increasingly manifest in St. John's
character, the spirit of the Lord "whose tender mercies are over all His
works," the spirit St. John had seen in his Master who noticed the
sparrow falling to the ground. True it is,

    "He prayeth well who loveth well
     Both man, and bird, and beast.
     He prayeth best who loveth best
       All things, both great and small;
     For the dear Lord who loveth us,
       He made and loveth all."

There was a young tame partridge in which St. John took delight and
found recreation in many an hour from which he had turned from labor for
rest. A young hunter anxiously seeking the great Apostle was surprised
to find him in what seemed a frivolous employment. He doubted for a
moment whether this could be he. John asked, "What is that thing which
thou carriest in thy hand?" "A bow," replied the hunter. "Why then is it
unstrung?" said John. "Because," was the answer, "were I to keep it
always strung it would lose its spring and become useless." "Even so,"
replied the Apostle, "be not offended at my brief relaxation, which
prevents my spirit from waxing faint."

We have already alluded to a tradition which is perhaps the best known
of all, and universally accepted. In Ephesus, in extreme old age, too
infirm to walk, St. John was carried as a little child to the church
where he had so long preached. In feebleness his ministry had ended. The
last sermon as such had been preached. He could no longer repeat the
words of Christ he had heard on the mountain, and the sea-shore, and in
the Temple. He could no longer tell of the wonders of which he was the
only surviving witness. In Christians he saw the child-spirit, whether
in old or young. In his old age he was a father to all such as none
other could claim to be. His great theme --his only theme--was love. So
his only words, again and again repeated as he faced the congregation
were "Little children, love one another." And when asked why he repeated
the same thing over and over, he told them it was the Lord's command,
and if they obeyed it, that was enough.

Traditions alone tell of St. John's death. One claims that as his
brother James was the first of the Apostles to suffer martyrdom, he was
the last. Others tell of miraculous preservation from death;--that he
was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, and drank hemlock, without any
effect upon him. Sometimes he is pictured as holding a cup from which a
viper, representing poison, is departing without doing him any harm.

There is still another story concerning his death. On the last Lord's
Day of his life, after the Holy Communion, he told some of his disciples
to follow him with spades. Leading them to a place of burial, he bid
them dig a grave into which he placed himself, and they buried him up to
the neck. Then in obedience to his command they placed a cloth over his
face and completed the burial. With weeping they turned away and
reported what had been done. But his disciples felt that, not the grave,
but the great church was the fitting place for his burial. So with
solemn service they went to bring his body thither. But on reaching the
grave they found it empty, as he and Peter had found the tomb of their
Lord on Easter morning. Then they remembered the words of Christ to
Peter concerning John, "If I will that he abide till I come, what is
that to thee?"

But there is another tradition stranger still. People refused to believe
that St. John was dead, even though he had been supposed to be, and had
been buried. For centuries his grave was shown at Ephesus. Pilgrims
visiting it beheld a wonderful sight. The ground above it rose and fell,
as if the great Apostle were still breathing as he had done for one
hundred years, while treading the earth which now guarded his immortal

Such stories seem strange to us when we remember the chapter he wrote to
correct a mistake made by those who misunderstood his Master's word, and
believed that he would not die until the Lord returned to the earth.

He probably escaped martyrdom which befell his fellow-Apostles. Dying,
probably in Ephesus, we think of him as peacefully entering the mansions
of which he had heard his Lord tell in far-off Jerusalem nearly seventy
years before.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Life of St. John for the Young" ***

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