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Title: A Layman's Life of Jesus
Author: Byers, Samuel H. M.
Language: English
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A LAYMAN'S LIFE OF JESUS

[Illustration: logo]



  A LAYMAN'S LIFE
  OF JESUS

  BY
  MAJOR S. H. M. BYERS
  OF GENERAL SHERMAN'S STAFF

  Author of "With Fire and Sword," "Sherman's
  March to the Sea," "Iowa in War Times,"
  "Twenty Years in Europe," and
  of other books

[Illustration: Publisher's Mark]

  NEW YORK
  THE NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY
  1912
  Copyright, 1912, by
  THE NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY



PREFACE


Every book should have a purpose. The object of this little volume is
to try and harmonize, in a sense, and bring nearer to us, the story of
the Master. It is free from the fog of creed, and the simple picture
of the Times and the Man may help to waken new interest, especially
with the young in the greatest tale of the world.

  H. S. M. B.

  Des Moines, Sept. 3, 1912.



CONTENTS


                                                          PAGE

  CHAPTER I                                                  7

  Palestine two thousand years ago. The Little
  Land of Galilee. An Oriental Village. The
  Boy Carpenter.

  CHAPTER II                                                12

  A Boy of Babylon. The Founder of Judaism.
  Philo, the Philosopher. An out-door Man. The
  Poet-Carpenter. Staying in the Desert. The
  Silence of History. Where was Jesus in these
  silent years?

  CHAPTER III                                               23

  Christ still a Jew. Is the Child's escape at
  Bethlehem   still a secret? Performing wonders. A
  strange age. Rome still in the thrall of Heathendom.
  Augustus dead. Tiberius the Awful.
  Palestine itself half Heathen. A Religious
  Enthusiast. Jesus is ceasing to be a Jew. A
  church tyranny. Subjects of Cæsar. Human
  suffering counted for nothing with the Romans.
  The Jews are longing for the New Time when
  God might come and rule the world in Pity.
  An age of Superstitions and Magic. Laws of
  Science unknown. Nobody even knew that the
  world was round.

  CHAPTER IV                                                41

  The Fairy Prince. His Home is everywhere.
  John the Baptist is preaching down by Jericho.
  The young Jesus hears of him and goes a hundred
  miles on foot to see him. A stranger
  steps down to the River to be baptized. Look
  quick, it is the Lamb of God! John is put to
  death in a palace by the Dead Sea. A
  Woman's Revenge.

  CHAPTER V                                                 55

  An Oriental Wedding, and the first miracle.
  Jairus. "Little Maid, Arise." The Light of
  the World. The Poet of the Lord. Do we know
  what a Miracle is?

  CHAPTER VI                                                67

  A wandering Teacher. Lives in a borrowed house
  at Capernaum. The Testament Books, fragments
  written from memory. The whole Law of
  Life boiled down to Seven Words. He visits
  Tyre by the Ocean. Walking on the Sea. A
  hard saying, and not understood. His friends
  begin to leave Him. They demand Wonders,
  Miracles. Raffael's great picture.

  CHAPTER VII                                               82

  Jesus goes alone and on foot to Jerusalem, to try
  and prove Himself. In six months they will kill
  Him. The rich Capital no place for Socialism.
  "If thou be Christ, tell us, plainly." He is a
  fugitive from a city mob. The Raising of
  Lazarus. Again the people are following Him.
  The great Sanhedrin is alarmed. "This Man
  has everybody believing on Him. He will create
  a Revolution yet." Jerusalem is in political
  danger, anyway; so is the Roman Empire.
  Everything seems going to pieces. "This
  Man has too many Followers; we must kill
  Him." Judas is hired to betray Him.

  CHAPTER VIII                                              94

  The last supper. Leonardo's great picture. Betrayal.
  With a rope around his neck the Savior of mankind is
  dragged before a Roman Judge. The scene at Pilate's
  palace. Pilate's wife warns him. The awful murder and
  the End.



A Layman's Life of Jesus



CHAPTER I

     Palestine two thousand years ago. The Little Land of
     Galilee. An Oriental Village. The Boy Carpenter.


One of the beauty spots of the world, a couple of thousand years ago,
was the little land of Galilee, in upper Palestine. That was a land
for poets and painters.

Lonesome, deserted, and little inhabited as it seems now, there was a
time when this little paradise of earth had many people and many
handsome cities. "In my time," says Josephus, "there were not less
than four hundred walled towns in Galilee." Nature, too, was lavish in
its gifts to this little land. There were green valleys there,
picturesque mountains, clear blue lakes, running brooks, and grassy
fields. An Eastern sun shone on the province almost all the time.
There was no winter there. Like a diamond in the very heart of this
beautiful land sat the town of Nazareth, "The Flower of Galilee."
Close by the village were the hills that fenced in the upper end of
the plain of beautiful Esdralon. Figs grew there at Nazareth, and
oranges, and grapes luscious and bountiful as nowhere else. The
flower-lined lanes stretched from the village clear down to the blue
lake of Galilee, only a dozen miles or so away. It must have been a
delight to live in a climate so delicious, in a land so lovely.

It all belonged to Rome then, as did the whole country known
as Palestine. The Romans had divided the land into three
provinces,--Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, with its splendid city of
Jerusalem, then one of the noted capitals of the world. Governors or
kings were appointed for these three provinces by the emperors at
Rome; they were usually Orientals.

Just now two sons of Herod the Great, oftener known as "the splendid
Arab," are ruling there. The one named Herod is at Jerusalem; his
brother Antipater, or Herod Antipas, is governing little Galilee in
the north end of Palestine. Like many another Oriental king he is an
idle, luxurious, dissipated, and corrupt ruler.

There is yet another brother of these two kings. His name is Philip,
and he lives in Rome. He has a very beautiful wife, who some day is to
bring great trouble on the world, for Antipater will yet desert his
Galilean queen and marry this Roman beauty.

It is all in the time of the great Augustus that we are talking of
now. In Rome it is called the Golden Age. It is not quite that in
Palestine. Yet the world's greatest era is just beginning there. In
how small a territory the world's greatest deeds are about to be
enacted! Palestine, taken all together, did not make much of a country
in area; many of the states in the American union have more square
miles, but all the nations in the world combined have no such history.
Palestine is a strip of territory reaching along the Mediterranean for
one hundred and fifty miles on one side, and along the Arabian desert
on the other. It is hardly over sixty miles across. It is
topographically of the most diversified character. It has some
beautiful valleys and purling streams; it has mountains, too, lofty
and desolate, and its principal lakes are almost a thousand feet below
the level of the sea. The whole land is cut in two lengthwise by the
Jordan river, the most peculiar, the most rapid, and the most historic
river on the face of the earth.

We are now in Galilee. In the midst of the wonderful beauty of the
scene at Nazareth any one would be attracted by the appearance of a
youth there who is just out of school. This Nazareth, though not His
birthplace, is His home; here all His brothers and sisters and cousins
live. In a village close by His mother Mary was born. The boy's own
birth was at a country inn up near Jerusalem, at a time when His
parents had gone there to pay taxes, and be counted as citizens of the
Roman empire.

The lovely little village where this youth is, happy among His kith
and kin, is not unlike many an Oriental village of to-day. Strange
little stone-paved streets run into the open square where the
fountain of the village is. And this is the fountain where, on summer
evenings, the village girls, among them the beautiful Mary herself,
came for water. The little square, and the streets, and possibly some
of the old houses, and the ruins of the fountain are there yet, in
this 1912, and clustering vines and roses are still there--and so too
are the clear skies, the starlit nights, the purple hills, and the
dark-eyed women, just as in the long ago.



CHAPTER II

     A Boy of Babylon. The Founder of Judaism. Philo, the
     Philosopher. An out-door Man. The Poet-Carpenter. Staying in
     the Desert. The Silence of History. Where was Jesus in these
     silent years?


Let us go back to that long ago for a little while. At the foot of one
of the little streets, close by the square and the fountain, stands a
simple shop for carpenters. At the door, ax and saw in hand, we see
again that Galilean youth. He is a carpenter's apprentice now, and is
working with Joseph, His father. He is tall and beautiful, His eyes
are blue, and very mild--His hair is yellow. He is wearing the
working-man's costume common to Galileans of His age. He is perhaps
twenty--handsome in countenance, and kindly beyond expression. He has
long since finished with the little village school, where the tasks
consisted only in chanting verses from the Scriptures with the other
boys and girls of the village. But as He was apt, He has learned the
Scriptures well. He knows them by heart almost; and later at the
synagogue He heard the priests read from the Great Hillel, the
Babylonian, who is writing and saying things about life, religion, and
the Scriptures that are shaking the religious world. Philo, also, He
almost knows by heart. He also knows the Psalms of David, the Proverbs
of Solomon, as well as the aphorisms and maxims, the dreams and
stories of great men who were writing in Palestine just before He was
born. It was a day of maxims in literature. Men wrote short, strong,
simple sentences, full of thought. Their sayings were easy to
remember. Indeed, even to-day, there is no book so easy to commit to
memory as the Bible.

The young carpenter stored them all in a retentive mind. Some day He
would have use for them. At times the youth stops His work and talks
with His father Joseph about the magnificent temple that Herod is just
completing up there at Jerusalem. He has seen it often as a boy, and
He tells of the strange questions the priests there once asked Him,
and how easily He answered every one. He is talking in the peculiar
Arimean dialect, a speech ridiculed in great Jerusalem, as everywhere
else, outside His Galilee. Occasionally, too, He is relating to His
father the beautiful aphorisms from the gentle Hillel.

And who is this wonderful Hillel of whom Testament writers and
teachers say almost nothing at all? Few of the young ever heard of
him. We must ask, for some have even called him another Jesus, he was
so good and great. He was a very princely Jew, this Hillel, this lover
of mankind, this gentle and humane reformer, whose life benefited the
whole age in which he lived. As a poor Babylonian youth, he went over
to Jerusalem to study under the great rabbis of the church. He soon
became very distinguished, and through him Jewish life and religion
were reformed. He is often called the founder of Judaism as taught in
the Talmud. Herod made him president of the great Sanhedrin, with the
title of prince, and the honor descended in his family. His
aphorisms, his maxims, his wise sayings were known to every Jew in
Palestine, and affected all Jewish life. One of his sayings was: "Do
not unto others what thou wouldst not have done unto thyself. This is
the whole law; the rest go and finish." Another: "Do not believe in
thyself till the day of thy death." Again: "If I do not care for my
soul, who will do it for me?" Still one: "Say not I will repent at
leisure. Leisure may never come." And another: "Whosoever is ambitious
of aggrandizing his name will destroy it." Beyond a doubt, many of the
sayings of this great and gentle teacher were as familiar to the young
carpenter working at His bench in little Nazareth as the Galilean's
own sayings are to the youth of to-day.

Hillel was thirty years older than Christ, and survived Him ten years.
Many of the heart-sayings of the Master can be traced to Hillel, to
Philo, the Egyptian, or to Moses. Let us not forget that He was
human--divinely so--and that His mind, like that of any other human
being, was susceptible to the teachings, the sayings, the surroundings
that were nearest. He not only absorbed all, He refined all.

Philo was another of the great philosophers whose works helped to
influence the young Galilean. He, though a Jew, lived all his life in
Egypt. There he wrote maxims worthy of the Master himself. He was
twenty years older than the Galilean. He had studied Plato, and spent
his life in trying to harmonize religious Greek thought with the
thoughts of Moses, the lawgiver of the Jews.

We will hear little in our Testament writers of these two wise men,
who must have had a tremendous influence on the youth at Nazareth.
Indeed, as already said, the Testament anyway tells us not much of the
life at Galilee, or elsewhere. The larger part of the Testament story
relates to the deeds of the passion week, or the last days of the
Master's life. One-third of the book is taken up with that single
week. It has been guessed that had the details of the Galilean's
whole life been written out fully, it would have made a book eighty
times as big as our Bible.

The things that the Galileans heard in the village synagogue, the
things that He read in the old Scriptures, all, all that found its way
to the village from Hillel, from Philo, and other men renowned then,
and forgotten now, were reflected in Him. More, He beautified all,
simplified all, glorified all. Most of all, however, His divine
instinct enlarged itself from scenes in nature. The young carpenter
was a poet. No beauty of the fields, the hills, the brooks, the lovely
lake escaped His eye, or failed to feed His soul. He was an outdoor
man. Scarcely one of His miracles later, but would be performed out of
doors. The wedding at Cana was probably on the green lawn of a
peasant's home. The stilling of the tempest, the feeding of the five
thousand, the transfiguration, the numberless wonders and cures in all
the Galilean villages were nearly always performed out of doors. Half
His parables have to do with things out of doors. To Him God was in
everything--the rocks, the trees, the blue sky of Galilee, the very
desolation of the Dead sea inspired Him. How often the Testament tells
of His flying away from crowds to be alone with nature. Is it not
altogether possible, almost certain, that these long absences were in
the wilderness of the desert? His long stay in solitary places, later,
communing with God at first hand, may they not account for so much of
the silence of history as to much of His life? It need not seem
strange to us at all. In the old Jewish days half a lifetime of
contemplation in the solitude of the desert was regarded by every one
a first step to leadership.

Whoever sought a high religious calling, or sought to be a founder of
a new belief, went through this solitary preparation in the desert.
Even Moses did it, and spent forty years as a shepherd on the plains.
John did it, Jerome did it, Mahomet did it. Why not Jesus? Even great
teachers of modern times locked themselves up in the desert of
cloister cells for years. Savonarola did it--Martin Luther did
it--Assisi did it--so did a thousand other luminaries of the religious
world.

Certainly most of the Galilean's life is a blank to human history,
otherwise not explained. Why should He not have been absent in some
desert solitude, some wilderness, preparing for immortal deeds,
immortal words? There is absolutely no other explanation for these
silent years.

How little the youth at this moment is dreaming of all that future as
He works by His father's side, or goes about the village encouraging
and helping by His gentle smile! He is healing by His strong faith and
His pure soul. The poor love Him, not yet knowing who He is. He
himself does not know. We even wonder if He knows how it is that He
helps so many. He is no magician, no doer of wonders just to make a
show. Perhaps He only knows as yet that goodness and kindness and love
and extreme faith can do everything. Anyway He is the loved of every
one. How easy it all is to be loved. One can be just a carpenter, and
yet by love do everything. Of all things He is a helper of the poor,
the unfortunate. Sometimes the very ignorant adopt the notion that
salvation is for the poor only. They, too, misunderstand and
exaggerate. A little later a sect of the overzealous poor build a
church on the theory that the poor only, go to Heaven. They call
themselves "Ebionites," or "The Poor." Of course, these sects in a few
years ended in religious suicide. They had forgotten that the Galilean
could be no respecter of class or persons.

To-morrow this young carpenter, this village doctor, will again
disappear in the wilderness of the desert; who knows how long? Old
church writings say that He was seven years in the desert of Egypt as
a child. He is used to solitude. Legends tell, too, that He studied
law in these days--by law they meant the books of Moses and the
prophets. Likely enough He took the parchment rolls with Him, and in
the long days there in the desert learned them all by heart. Later He
will tell all the people to go and read the same great Scriptures.

What His life may have been at such times in the desert we can more
than guess. It was a meditation, an inspiration. It is told of John
the Baptist, whose coming birth like that of Christ was announced by
an angel, that he also spent years as a hermit of the desert, and in
its solitude learned a language and received a revelation not
vouchsafed to ordinary man. What then must the great soul of the
Galilean not have absorbed there alone with the voice of the great
creation speaking to Him all the day--the night there with the "floor
of Heaven inlaid with patines of bright gold, and the music of the
spheres sounding in his ears forever." His was a soul to enjoy and to
be inspired with such a scene.

Little as the sacred writings tell of Him, silent as history is in the
Galilean days, we have other glimpses of the times, and of what He was
doing, by reading the old books, now called Apocryphal, that were
discarded from our present Testament in the fourth century. Why all
of them were discarded, is hard to imagine; for, though buried in an
ocean of nonsense and legend, there was still at the bottom of them a
grain of pure gold. Besides, for over three centuries these discarded
books were regarded as part of the sacred writings.



CHAPTER III

     Christ still a Jew. Is the Child's escape at Bethlehem still
     a secret? Performing wonders. A strange age. Rome still in
     the thrall of Heathendom. Augustus dead. Tiberius the Awful.
     Palestine itself half Heathen. A Religious Enthusiast. Jesus
     is ceasing to be a Jew. A church tyranny. Subjects of
     Caesar. Human suffering counted for nothing with the Romans.
     The Jews are longing for the New Time when God might come
     and rule the world in Pity. An age of Superstitions and
     Magic. Laws of Science unknown. Nobody even knew that the
     world was round.


But let us go back there to Galilee and stay yet a while with the
village carpenter. The youth is older now. Perhaps He is going back
and forth between Galilee and the solitude of the wilderness. This
so-called "wilderness" is nothing more than the secret hills beyond
the Jordan, or the mysterious edge of the near-by desert coming up to
them like a speechless sea. At this moment He is again in Nazareth,
and the wondering villagers again see Him at His daily toil. He is
still learning by rote the striking maxims and proverbs of the Jewish
masters. He is yet a Jew. Like all Israel He is counting on the
completion of prophecy; a new world is sure to come soon--and with it
a king from Heaven. It will be a glorious thing, that new world, that
great king. The villagers familiarly call Him Jesus--but they know
nothing of the beautiful tradition of His birth--how an angel had
announced it to Mary, and how His name was fixed in Heaven.

No--Mary had meditated much on the angel's visit and on what the angel
had said to her, but steadily she had kept the great secret in her own
heart. She had not even whispered to the villagers about the shepherds
and the star at Bethlehem, nor the sudden flight of herself and the
child to far-off Egypt. Why, her secrecy is just now hard to guess. Is
it possible that Herod or his successor, who would have slain the
child, is still watching for Him--not knowing even of the return from
Egypt years ago? Even now one indiscreet word from her might cause His
death. We wonder if now, on this day, there in His father's workshop,
the youth dreams that some day He is to be a king, and that of his
kingdom there will be no end? I think not. He is not publicly
preaching now. That, Luke says, will come much later. But what
delightful whisperings go about Galilee concerning Him already.
Possibly these beautiful heart-stories about Himself were as familiar
to the young carpenter then as they now are to every reader of the
sacred book. He may have known of them, thought of them, but He, too,
kept them largely to Himself. It was an age of prophecies, of dreams,
of visions, of fables, and of superstitious tales. Perhaps He was
waiting to see if the angel's words to Mary were to be fulfilled. Two
thousand years have not dimmed the beauty of the wondrous tale told of
Mary and the child. If parts of it were only the longings of a few
persons' imaginations, we may never clearly know, nor is it of the
least importance that we should know. The happenings at the birth of
the world's great ones have little to do with the grandeur of their
lives.

Yes, the young carpenter, with the tender eyes and the radiant face,
may have known of some of these wonderful sayings about Himself. Mary
must have told Him some of them; and Joseph working at His side must
have told Him how, on His account, the little children had been
murdered at Bethlehem, and how narrow His own escape had been when he
and Mary and the child had hurried away to Egypt. We can imagine the
wonderful incidents told by Joseph of that strange flight into a
foreign country. Our Testament barely mentions it. His birth is almost
the only bit of history the Testament gives us of almost twenty-five
years of the Galilean's life. They went to Egypt to escape the wrath
of the tyrant Herod. Old writings tell us of two, even seven, years in
Egypt, and of child-miracles in that far-away land. Of all this our
accepted Testament tells us nothing. Hearing that the tyrant was long
dead, Joseph and Mary and the child secretly returned to the old home
in Galilee.

Are they living there in secret yet--and is the new king at Jerusalem
wondering if they are alive--and does he too want the child's blood in
case He was not killed that night at Bethlehem, and does he wonder
what became of the wise men of the east who saw the child, but dared
not go back to tell it? Does he wonder if they are somewhere in hiding
yet? Does he dream that this youth in Galilee is possibly the child
the shepherds told of that wonderful night? Just now we still see Him
standing by the little carpenter shop, ax in hand, possibly thinking
of what His father has told Him of His youth; or of what Mary hinted
to Him of the bright Angel of the Annunciation? Who knows? We only
guess at the secret, for history, sacred and profane, has left it all
a blank. We only know that it was a feeling of the whole Jewish race
that an aspirant to leadership must, first of all, retire to the
desert and live for years in solitude, just as Elias had done. It has
been said that a retreat to the desert was the condition of and the
prelude to high destinies. The Galilean knew all about these men,
from Moses and Elias down to John, who found their inspiration on the
desert, or in secret places. If He was not much in the desert in these
unknown years, where then was He, that no one tells of Him? Was there
indeed nothing for Matthew, nor Mark, nor Luke, nor John, nor
Josephus, nor anybody else to write about Him? Was it all a blank
these long years? If secrecy from Herod, or from his successor
Archelaus, was needed--that would account for everything, even for the
whole world's silence.

This retreat for meditation would not hinder that at far intervals He
return a little to His home in Galilee, where we see Him now with that
ineffable smile of kindness on His face and tenderness shining in His
eyes. The peasants passing by are uplifted, moved by His tender
compassionate look. They wonder why. They wonder too where He has been
so long, and before they are done wondering He is gone. Sometimes He
disappears so suddenly--it was just as if a spirit had come and gone.
Is He again in His hermit cave now beyond the Jordan? Sometimes when
there at home, as now, He has quietly taught the villagers of truth;
He has blessed the poor; He has healed the sick; He has performed
wonders, and they know not how it is done. Some day He will tell them
all.

It is a strange age He has been living in. Let us look at it for a
little while. This Palestine boy had been just fourteen years old when
the news came that the great Augustus at Rome was dead, and that the
awful and licentious emperor Tiberius was governing the Roman empire.
Just now the Galilean is twenty-six, and other news comes--that
Tiberius has gone to the heavenly little island of Capri in the
Mediterranean sea, and is there holding a court that shall shock the
world. No wonder the youth begins to think, with all His people, that
God must soon send somebody to put an end to the wickedness of kings.
Antipater, the idle and licentious favorite at Rome, still rules over
little Galilee as governor, or king. The Roman empire is still in the
thrall of perfect heathendom. There are half as many Gentiles as Jews
in Palestine itself. All over the land beautiful monuments are erected
by Rome to the heathen gods. The young Nazarene can walk across the
hills to Sidon by the sea any day and hear the people chanting hymns
to Jupiter and Apollo. As for Himself, He is still a Jew, like most of
His countrymen; only now, like Philo and like Hillel, and like John
and others, He is more than a Jew; He is passing out of the old
doctrines of the Jewish church into the broad daylight of truth. He
will yet help to do away with the Mosaic law. In a private way, yet
unheard of outside of little Galilee, He himself is teaching that God
is a spirit, and must be worshiped in spirit and not in form, and not
in heathen idols, nor in the way they are doing it at Jerusalem. God
had already become tired of the burnt offering of rams and of the
blood of beasts. Isaiah had told them that, long ago. This Galilean
will go on repeating it so long as He shall live. Like the great
Hillel, He would teach common justice to man--love for one
another--charity to all. This was to be the great commandment.

We are not sure, but in a vague way this young Galilean already feels
the mantle of a prophet falling about Him. He is saying nothing
exactly new to His Galilean neighbors--but He is saying it in a new
and gracious way, and they listen to Him as He converses in the shop,
or on the street. He sees and feels God in the beautiful nature all
about Him there in Galilee, yet more He feels God in himself.

Man holds in himself tremendous hidden powers. Science is rapidly
unveiling them. They were being unveiled to a degree by the Greeks
even in the time of this young carpenter; but the Jewish people
neither believed in nor heeded a school that gave an explanation of
things marvelous. They were set in their superstition. No book that
described certain fixed laws of nature was, for one moment, to take
the place of Moses and the prophets. Even the Galilean himself is
clinging to these old Bible poems. It is the wrong interpretation of
them, possibly, by Himself sometimes, that is driving Him to a
religious rebellion.

The great church doctors might not like it, were they to hear it--this
young carpenter with the soft words, and the radiance in His face,
slipping back and forth from Galilee to the desert and from the desert
to Galilee, proselyting the peasants, and telling them that God is not
to be worshiped in the semi-heathen manner in which they are doing it
at Jerusalem. Yet, no matter. What care the great religious doctors at
the Sacred City? Who ever heard of this Galilean carpenter anyway, or
of His reforms? Some day, and soon, they will hear of Him. They have
already heard of John, but they are about to settle the score with
John. His extremeness and his violence of speech have attracted the
attention of the king of Galilee, and soon news will come that John's
head on a platter has paid for the lascivious dancing of a girl at
court. Some old writers say it was the king's own daughter who did the
dancing that night in Antipater's palace by the Dead sea. Anyway, the
voice of him who called in the wilderness, is soon to be stilled
forever.

No, the carpenter's name has not yet reached outside His Galilee.
Aside from an occasional journey to Jerusalem when He was younger and
His foot tramps to the solitude by the desert, there is little to tell
that He has been outside the little province where He was born. His
life in His home village, aside from His carpenter work, is that of a
religious enthusiast. Some will call Him even a visionary. He has
heard so much of a coming king and an overturning of everything in the
world that He himself almost begins to look for something
extraordinary. Why not? He is yet a Jew, and the teaching of the
rabbis and of the Old Scriptures has been the coming of some kind of a
king--a great Messiah, who, from out little Palestine, shall rule the
world in an age of gold. The age, perhaps, is taking something out of
the Bible that is not in it. Our own age has done that many times. Is
it doing it to-day? Never in this world did imagination reach so high
a pitch as it did among the Jews in that wonderful time. Nothing was
talked of or thought of, but the coming golden age and the new king,
riding in a chariot of the clouds. It was not only a very expectant,
superstitious age, it had been a troubled one. The world had been full
of disorder, conflict. Everywhere had been war and tyranny.
Especially, the whole Jewish race, the especial people of God, had
known too often only of tyranny and sorrow. Even their own church, and
church was the government with them, had drifted into a religious
tyranny--the worst tyranny of all. It was, too, hemmed in by the
awfullest form and ceremony. No one in this twentieth century who is
not familiar with the Jewish Talmud and the earlier writings, can have
the remotest conception of the thousand formalities, ceremonies,
mummeries even, imposed upon the people of the church in the olden
days. Later, ten volumes of the Talmud will be required to explain, to
interpret, establish, and to write down the manner in which the
commonest things of life might be done. The great Sanhedrin, or
Supreme Court and Senate of the Jews at Jerusalem, together with the
scribes and priests about the temple, seemed banded together to make
religion an awful, unbearable burden, and life a farce.

Though all Palestine was a Roman province the Romans interfered but
little with this religious despotism. The Romans had enough wrongs of
their own to inflict upon the people. The whole race of Jews in their
home government had their own laws, their own Jewish customs, habits,
and religion. The Romans simply made them subjects of Cæsar, and they
rendered unto Cæsar only that which was Cæsar's, as this youth of
Galilee, later, would suggest their doing.

The empire collected taxes, very heavy ones, from the people, and
occasionally forced them into its armies. The Roman eagles and the
Roman soldiers were familiar sights in every town and village of
Palestine. The Romans usually had enough to do at home to disincline
them from bothering themselves too much with the religion of the
Jews. Wars they had had everywhere. But just now, at the time of the
Master's coming, there was a sort of peace in the world--a truce for
breath, as it were. That is to say, the Roman empire that has its foot
on almost the whole earth is resting a little. Rome's untold horrors,
wars, corruptions, its licentiousness, its inhumanity to man, its
blood and outrages have stopped their course at the eternal city for a
little while. It is almost out of victims. Violence has ceased, only
because violence has done its work.

The social conditions at Rome just before Augustus came to the throne
were too terrible to be believed. That some of this outrage and terror
had spread into the provinces of Palestine through governors and petty
kings, appointed by, and tools of Rome, is only too well known. Herod
himself was bloody enough to have served as an example for the worst
the Roman empire, even, could endure. In Palestine, however, the great
Jewish church served somewhat as a little hindering-wall to the
element that had been almost crushing decent humanity out of the
world.

All the states, like Palestine, bordering on the Mediterranean, says a
distinguished historian, simply looked at one another--partakers of a
common misfortune. They were tranquil, but it was the silence of
despair. Man was not being considered as an individual by the Romans
any more; he was only a "thing." Human suffering in the provinces
counted for nothing, if only Rome had some political gain. If
Palestine, or any other province, had some advantage by the presence
of Roman legions, it was purely incidental, and scarcely intended. At
this very moment Palestine is groaning under awful taxes paid to Rome,
one-third of all produced, the writers say. No wonder the Jews were
longing for the new time, the great time, the king, the Old Scriptures
had told about. They are so afflicted, so depressed. The government of
man had been a failure with them. Would not the day soon be at hand
when God himself, through some vicegerent, would come to the world
and rule in pity? Then the wicked would no longer thrive, the just
would live in delight, the very face of the world would be changed,
all would be transformed into love and beauty, and Palestine would be
the heart of the new world, and Jerusalem the capital of a perfected
humanity. The Scriptures had said it. The prophets had said it.

Nursing these lovely and lofty expectations the Jews patiently waited,
bearing with many wrongs. All classes shared alike in the great
delusion, rich and poor, high and low, priest and peasant. That a
mighty king on his chariot was coming in the clouds was the common
belief. The too literal reading of the old-time prophets had led a
whole race into a futile misconception. The world was _not_ coming to
an end at all. The Jews were a people easily mis-led. Their confidence
in the supernatural was overwhelming. It was a quality inherited from
their pagan ancestors. Their very neighbors were heathen and worshiped
mystical gods. Tens of thousands, mostly foreigners, had set up
heathen temples and consulted heathen oracles right there in Galilee.
Every time the young carpenter went to Jerusalem His eyes fell on some
vast edifice dedicated to Jove or Juno, and strange gods were
worshiped almost in the shadow of the great temple. This was not all.
The very books read by the Jewish priests in the synagogue, or village
churches, were filled with superstitious tales, with dreams and
visions. In these books the people were told of times when angels
walked upon the earth--they would walk again was the belief. The
outcome of their wonderful superstitions, teachings, and their
surroundings was an abject belief in marvels and impossibilities. If
the most cultured and thinking persons lost their confidence in the
marvelous, they kept it quiet. It was, besides, a day of jugglers,
sleight of hand performers, and magicians. The peasants, mostly
half-educated, could believe in anything. There was no knowledge of
science available to show them the utter falsehood of things their
eyes seemed to behold. The commonest laws of nature were not
understood. The priests themselves did not know that the world was
round. The common people were sufficiently credulous to accept the
most astounding things. In short, the astounding things were to them
the natural things, the expected. No wonder they misunderstood the old
prophets of the Bible, and the signs of the times. No wonder they were
believing and alarmed when John, hurrying from the wilderness, shouted
to them to be ready, to hurry to the Jordan river, confess, and be
baptized.



CHAPTER IV

     The Fairy Prince. His Home is everywhere. John the Baptist
     is preaching down by Jericho. The young Jesus hears of him
     and goes a hundred miles on foot to see him. A stranger
     steps down to the River to be baptized. Look quick, it is
     the Lamb of God! John is put to death in a palace by the
     Dead Sea. A Woman's Revenge.


The young carpenter in his pretty Galilean village was, in a way, a
witness of these strange things. He heard in the synagogue the report
that the world was coming to an end. He, too, had read the awful
forebodings in the Old Scriptures. He may, too, have believed in the
coming disaster, but it is not likely. Vaguely, He interpreted the Old
Bible to mean something else. Between its lines He saw the shadow
coming of a spiritual, not an earthly king. Who that king should be,
He never dreamed. The voice of John He only heard in the distance--far
down by Jericho, and amidst the desolation of the Dead Sea. The cry of
the Baptist scarcely reached to remote little Galilee.

He had no dreams, this Galilean youth, no visions to tell Him of a
glory coming to Himself. It is to be remarked even that visions and
dreams never came to Him at all as they seem to have come to Daniel,
to Buddha, to Confucius and to Mahomet. Neither by vision nor voice
was He bidden to go to some great work. He was not clothed with
infinite power at the time we are speaking of; He was simply a sweet
and beautiful Galilean youth, with the grace of God upon Him.

In all Palestine now people were not agreed as to what the new kingdom
that was coming to the world would be. Some looked for the earth
suddenly to be crashed to pieces. Some looked simply for a renewal of
the earth. Some said the righteous dead would come out of their graves
and help govern. Some said all nature would be changed, and a wondrous
king would come straight from Heaven. When the simple folks of Galilee
talked to the Carpenter about it, He told them they were all mistaken.
It was the "_Kingdom of Heaven_" that was coming, he said--a
revolution in human hearts, when mankind would be made better, and
every one would do as he would be done by. It is doubtful if they
understood Him. That, they felt, was not what the Scriptures had said;
and doubtless many began to think the wonderful teacher wandering in
His mind. Yet many believed on Him.

For a little while now He goes about His beautiful Galilee like a
fairy prince, despite poverty and despite foes. He is so gentle, so
kindly, so loving to the poor! He is the kind physician, the balm in
Gilead. For a while He is met with hosannas; He has no riches, but
every peasant's house is His welcome home. That transcendent smile,
that low sweet voice, is His password to believing hearts. He must be
the coming king, they think; still, they do not understand. He is so
simple, so all-love. He tells them that they themselves are the
kingdom; and again they do not understand. "Surely Thou art the Son of
God," they cry, and the ground He walks on is sacred. Some call Him
the "Son of God." Yet not _once_ did He call himself the "Son of God."
It was the enthusiasts who called Him that. Often He referred to
himself as the "Son of Man"; but, in his Syriac dialect, the word
signified only man. After all it was only the village carpenter's son
who was saying all these mysterious things!

In the days we are describing at Galilee just now, John the Baptist is
still crying to the people of Jerusalem, and along the Jordan, to
hurry to the river, to repent, and to be baptized. He has a school
down there, and disciples of his own. They are greater extremists in
their teaching than the quiet and lovable Galilean, who, till now, is
hardly a public teacher at all. John is not only prophesying a speedy
coming of a new king to the world, a Messiah, he is threatening an
early destruction of almost everything, save the lives of the baptized
and the repentant. He has alarmed all Palestine. A great moral and
social earthquake is taking place. Nor is he backward about still
condemning the king himself for his unlawful marriage. The court is
becoming disturbed, and the doors of Machero prison in a little while
will open to the great prophet and preacher. The alarm among the
people everywhere continues very great. Thousands confess their sins,
enter the sacred river, are baptized, and now await the coming of the
end of the world.

The young carpenter is just now in Galilee, perhaps for a little while
only, back again from a long absence of solitude in the desert. Louder
and louder, nearer and nearer, comes to the youth at Galilee that cry
of John. Full of interest to see and hear the great reformer, He, and
a few of His friends, start for the Jordan river. It is nearly a
hundred miles away, to where John is, and they go on foot.

Let us also go to the Jordan for a little while. We turn our steps to
Bethabara--a little village up the river from the Dead sea. We see a
great crowd of excited people there. John himself is there. He is
still telling them of the coming king, the Messiah of the world. But
he does not dream from whence that king is to come--from earth, or
from Heaven. Shortly something tells John that a great person, unknown
to him, is there in the crowd, and will ask to be baptized. John
wonders who it can be. In a little while a stranger steps down to the
river bank--goes to the water's edge and asks to be baptized. John
does not know Him at first; but shortly a spirit voice whispers to
him, "It is the man from Galilee." It is the Lord. Watch--and as He
comes out of the river you will see the sign. The Holy Spirit in the
form of a dove will rest upon Him! Overawed by the tremendous
announcement, John at first feared to baptize. "Yes," said the
Galilean, "let it be so," and it was done. As the stranger came up out
of the water, John saw the dove, and, to the amazement of all, the
Heavens opened, and a voice called, "This is my beloved son." The
astonishment of the multitude can never be imagined.

After two thousand years, travelers cross the ocean simply to go and
stand a moment in holy reverence at the spot where believers say God
first spoke to Christ on earth. John at once told some of his
disciples to look--quick--"It is the Lamb of God." Two of these men
followed the mysterious stranger, saying, "Master, where dwellest
Thou?" He answered, "Come and see," and he took them with him for a
day to His temporary lodging place in the village. One of them was
Andrew, who breathlessly hurried to his brother Simon, and told him
the great news. "We have found the Christ, Him of whom Moses wrote."
Other friends quickly gathered in, and as one of them named Nathaniel
approached, the Galilean, without knowing who it was, called him by
his right name. A wonder had been performed. It was enough. "Thou art
the Son of God," cried Nathaniel, and they would have worshiped Him
then and there. "Thou shalt see yet greater things than these," said
the Christ, for it was indeed He, and in a little time He slipped away
to the desert as He had so often done before.

We will not follow Him there, though tradition tells strange and
unexplainable things as to how Satan tried to tempt Him, and how the
temptation was resisted by the Galilean, though the nations of the
world were offered Him.

After forty days He returned and went to His dear, sweet Galilee. We
shall go along, for there are troublous times by Jerusalem and in
Judea. In a little while, too, the king of Galilee has thrown John
into a prison that belongs to his dominions down near the Dead Sea.
John's religious, revolutionary, and semi-political preaching is at
last too much for Herod Antipas. Possibly, it was while he was yet in
the desert that the Master heard of the imprisonment of the prophet.

Very shortly a strange message came from John to the Man of Galilee.
John has heard anew of the Master's triumphs, and two friends are sent
to Him to ask if He is indeed the Christ--"or, do we look for
another?" More proof, it seems, was wanted. John had seen the dove
that day at the river, but John had never seen a miracle; and in that
day wonders and miracles were the only accepted proof. The answer
comes back to the prison by the Dead Sea,--"Go and tell John the
things which you do see and hear; tell him how the blind are made to
see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, even the dead raised to life,
and the gospel preached to the poor." If John got the answer we do not
know. It would be sad to reflect that John died without knowing that
this young carpenter, whom he baptized that day in the Jordan, was the
Messiah he had prophesied. When the two messengers left, it was then
the Galilean turned to the listening crowd and said, "Among them that
are born of women, there has not risen a greater than John the
Baptist." How believing hearts must have swelled when He added, "He
who is least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than John." The
promise rings on these two thousand years, and will ring on forever.

Not long has the Galilean been in His home when news comes of the
awful tragedy back there by the Dead Sea where John is.

On the high and desolate rocks close to the Dead Sea there is a
prison and a palace. Possibly there is not another citadel in the
world built amidst such colossal, such difficult scenery. Dark,
desolate mountains are all about it. It is reached through almost
inaccessible valleys. Near it the angry Jordan, with a roar, tumbles
into the Dead Sea and dies forever. The Dead Sea itself sleeps a
thousand feet below--and beyond the hills, lies the burning desert.
Altogether it is one of the most God-forsaken places in the world. Yet
in the midst of this desolation an old king built the mighty fortress
of "Machero." It was destroyed upon a time, and now Herod Antipas, the
Galilean king, has restored it in tenfold splendor. In the center of
it, and on its highest crest, he has built a gorgeous palace of
Oriental beauty. Far down under the marble floors of the palace is a
prison. Let us for a moment look down that prison corridor. In the
farthest cell there is a familiar face. It is the face of John--John,
who, only the other day we saw baptizing the Lord in the river Jordan.
He, to whom thousands flocked to be baptized and saved from the
coming destruction, is himself in a felon's cell. One wonders at the
daring of it. There are two reasons for it. One--he had railed too
often against the people in power, and the hypocrisy of the times. In
his zeal for truth, in his fearful warnings, in his tremendous
language, it was honestly feared he might create a national
disturbance. The poor, the uneducated, the superstitious, were massing
themselves around him as if he were a god. King Antipas had gone to
Rome upon a time, and, being enamored with his brother Philip's wife,
ran away with her to Galilee. Her name was Herodias. John, bold in
this as in all things, so old writers say, told the adulterous couple
what he thought of them. He even told the king that he had poisoned
his brother to get his widow. The king personally had liked John, and
often listened to him gladly. He knew, too, that John was adored by
the people, whose anger _he_ had reason to fear. But Queen Herodias
had other thoughts. John's accusations had insulted her. She longed
for some fierce revenge. The time has come. It is the birthday of the
king, and, with Herodias, and an hundred courtiers, captains and
generals, he has come to this grand palace and citadel of the
mountains to celebrate it in an Oriental fashion. It is midnight in
the palace, but the gorgeous chambers are ablaze with light. Music and
laughter resound from the open windows, for it is a sultry night of
June. Outside the castle, it is inky darkness. The mountains are
tenfold desolate in their silence to-night--far below the Dead Sea
sleeps in fearful midnight. East of the sea, and beyond the hills, is
the scorched and sandy desert. It too sleeps--and is silent. Here and
there a flash of far lightning crosses the horizon, betokening a
desert storm. All is fearfully lonesome out there in the midnight of
the mountains. How different all within! The gay scene grows gayer
still--the bright lights grow brighter--the banqueters are glad with
wine--a new flush is on every cheek, joy and revelry fill the whole
palace. There seems nothing to add to the appetite of pleasure. But
wait--there is a dance--a beautiful young girl half-clad flies into
the room; the music changes--and in a moment she is executing a
sensuous dance of the Orientals. She is the daughter of the queen, and
she is very beautiful. That she is not a professional dancer--just a
beautiful girl--adds to the sensuous delight. Quickly the dance is
done--and amidst the applause of all the court, and with flushed face,
she passes before the king and bows. Drunken with wine and the
banquet, the king seizes her hand and offers to reward her with
whatever she may wish--if need be, with half his kingdom.

"What shall I ask of him?" she whispers to her mother. Herodias'
chance had come. Revenge is sweet to evil people. In a moment she
thinks of John. He is down there in the prison right below the banquet
hall. He has heard all the night's revelry--he has seen from his cell
window the dancing lights reflected against the gray, dark rocks
outside. Yes, revenge is sweet. "Salome, daughter, tell him to kill
John the Baptist for you--to bring his head up here on a platter."
Heavens! was ever such a wish before! There is a little pause. Again
the fair girl is before the king. She has said it. Unwillingly--but
because of his word, and because of his nobles present--he grants the
request. There is a low, sad whisper from the king to a soldier
present, and in a few moments the cell door in the prison below opens.
Murder is nothing to an Oriental king. The deed is done--and on a
golden charger the bleeding head of one whom Jesus called the greatest
human being in the world is carried into the room. Herodias has had
her revenge. The curtain goes down on one of the awfullest scenes in
human history.



CHAPTER V

     An Oriental Wedding, and the first miracle. Jairus. "Little
     Maid, Arise." The Light of the World. The Poet of the Lord.
     Do we know what a Miracle is?


The blood of John probably strengthened the Master's spirit, for His
immortal deeds now all at once became open and public. The day of his
"miracles" had come.

Very soon now He was asked to a little wedding at the village of Cana.
His mother also was there, and some of His brothers and sisters, and
His disciples. It was to be a more joyful event than the awful thing
He had heard of in the hills by the Dead Sea. The most famous marriage
in all history was being celebrated. The Master's first miracle is to
be witnessed. It is twilight of a delicious summer evening in Galilee.
As was the custom among the Orientals, the bride has been carried in
state to the groom's home. It is a bright and hilarious affair. All
the youths in the village are on horseback riding in the gay
procession. There is music of drums and flutes, and song, and all the
little street is ablaze with torches. In front of all, the bridesmaids
come, laughing, and singing, and carrying flaming lamps. The bride,
garlanded with roses, and covered with flowing veil that envelops her
from head to foot, blushes at her own loveliness. Who that happy girl
might be whose marriage story was to live a thousand years we will
never know. Could she, as in a dream, have read the future, how
extreme her happiness would have been. After two thousand years how
glad we would be only to know her happy name. It is after dark; the
stars are out on blue Galilee now. The scene has changed. The invited
guests are now in the home of the happy groom. The governor of the
feast, or the master of toasts, sits at the head of the banquet table.
At a modest place near the center of the table sits the Nazarene
carpenter. He is loved in Cana, as everywhere in Galilee, for His
gentle kindness to the poor. The story of what happened to this
carpenter at the Jordan river has not reached Galilee--the greatness
of the guest at their side is as yet unknown. But there is one present
who knows mighty things. For thirty years Mary, the mother, has kept
the secret told her by the Angel of the Annunciation. It is ten
o'clock--the feast is almost over--the singing, the dancing, and the
joyousness go on. Suddenly the girls waiting on the banqueters see the
wine is done. What shall they do? One of them by accident, perhaps,
mentions it to Mary. Suddenly her mind is filled with an ambitious, a
glorious, thought. She glances toward the middle of the table where
sits her son. The secret of thirty years is burning in her heart. As
she, too, is waiting on the table, she walks to where her son is
sitting and softly, confidently whispers, "They have no wine." His
time has come. In a few words He tells her to have the girls fill all
the six water jars close by with water--and Mary bids them do as He
has said. "Then," said the Master, "bear it to the governor of the
feast." And when the man at the head of the table tasted it, behold
the water had been turned to wine. It was the first miracle of the
Master's life. Now He was consecrated indeed. His disciples saw what
He had done, and for the first time fully believed on Him, and the
fame of that great deed spread to many people.

He is no longer the simple village carpenter, He is now the Christ,
and in a few days around and about the beautiful blue lake of Galilee,
close by, He will be carrying the glad tidings to all the world.

It was soon after one of these meetings by the waters of Galilee that
He performed another of the most beautiful and striking miracles of
His life. Jairus, a rich man and a high elder in the Jewish church,
came to Him at a feast given by Matthew and begged Him to come and
heal his little daughter who was sick. If only He will lay His hands
on her, she will be well. There was a little delay, for people crowded
all about the Master as He started on the roadside, to hear him talk,
and praying to be healed. One poor sick woman secretly touched just
the hem of His garment, her mighty faith telling her that even this
little act could make her whole. Jesus turned to her, and simply said,
"Daughter, go; thy faith hath saved thee."

The delay is awful for the agonized father, who knows not one moment
is to be lost. Suddenly comes a messenger flying to him to tell him it
is already too late--don't worry the Master--the little girl is dead.
Instantly Jesus turned to the broken-hearted one and in deep
compassion told him to have no fear--only believe. In a few minutes
they are at the rabbi's home. The hired mourners and the flute
players, as is the custom, are already there. They laughed at Him when
He told them the little girl was not dead, but sleeping. Turning the
crowd away, He took the little cold hand in His, and sweetly said,
"Little maid, arise," and she arose and went about the house
rejoicing. The miracle made a tremendous sensation, and multitudes
were touched by it.

Now His home will be Capernaum, almost at the head of the dear lake.
The little carpenter shop in the narrow street at Nazareth is closed
forever; Joseph, the father, has passed away, and sleeps with the sons
of David; Mary, the mother, lives in the town of Cana, where she first
came from; the young carpenter with the soft speech, the tender eyes,
the golden hair, and the radiance on His face goes up, and down
through Galilee--and they call Him "The Light of the World."

Capernaum, with its houses of white marble, reflected in the blue
waters of Galilee, was, in the Master's day, like Nazareth, one of the
delightful spots of Palestine. All was fresh, green, and restful; and
round about the land was called "The Garden of Abundance." And there
too is the little plain so filled with green fields and flowers and
running brooks that men likened it to "A pure emerald." It was in this
little land of loveliness, surrounded by all that was enchanting in
nature, that Jesus was to begin His public teaching. No wonder that He
found in beautiful nature a thousand indices to the majesty and
goodness of the Creator. No wonder that His language was the language
of poetry, and His similitudes the reflection of the fields and the
flowers. He was in the land of idealism--of fancy--and He himself was
the poet of the Lord. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they
grow." "If they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done
in the dry?" "'Tis your Father's good pleasure to give you the
kingdom." "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." "We have piped to
you, and ye have not danced."

The whole race of men there are idealists. There was not a better
place than this Galilee in all the world for Christ to be born in.
This is the spot of all the world for a new religion. These Galilean
peasants are not reasoners, they are simply believers. They are the
children of faith. Sad enough it is that the centuries of time, and
the hands of war, changed all the beautiful scene. Even the climate
lost its loveliness--there is almost nothing left that is lovely in
dear Galilee any more save its enchanting lake. All else is desolate
now. The marble houses of Capernaum are now adobe huts, roofed in
straw; the fields are bare and yellow; the trees are dead these
thousand years. Nothing is green there any more. How changed from the
perfect loveliness of that other time, when the Savior of mankind,
amid the roses of Palestine, and the lilies by the sea, walked and
talked and healed the poor.

It was as a healer of the body, not less than as a healer of the soul,
that the miraculous carpenter now walked from village to village all
over Galilee, followed sometimes by a handful of disciples, sometimes
by a multitude of men, women, and children, though occasionally by
hooting enemies. But what wonderful things He did--and how many poor
He helped! The occasional miracles described in the Testament are
probably not even a fraction of what He did. Why, the evangelist John
says, he does not suppose the world would hold the books telling of
all of them. Of course, this is momentary hyperbole. The people of
the East often exaggerate in telling of what they saw. They are the
greatest tellers of beautiful stories in the world. But were these
things miracles? The world goes on asking this question. Do we know
what a miracle is? "A miracle is an impossibility," say the wise men
of science. "No law of nature yet was ever set aside." Let us not
forget, however, that the Galilean never claimed to set absolute law
aside. By supreme faith in the Almighty, in Himself, He helped the
law, instead of setting it aside.

A people, superstitious and ignorant of every scientific law, wondered
to see Him do what He did. At that hour of His consecration, in the
Jordan river, Providence gave Him a new birth; and in that birth, a
strength to overcome men's minds--a strength to awaken dormant action
in their bodies. Even the poor sick man He met at the roadside should
be getting well, not dying--Nature intended it so--but pain and
misfortune have cost him every resolution. The Christ came by, the
sunlight of His face, the blessing of His words fall upon him, and he
smiles. "Help yourself," says the Master, "you can do it--only think
so. Do you believe me?" "Yes," cries the weary one, "I believe, help
thou my unbelief." The Master smiles and takes him by the hand.
Instantly the encouraged mind acts on the half withered form. His
blood starts, his nerves thrill,--the miracle is done.

No, we do not understand--not quite--neither do we understand how a
drop of rain revives a blade of grass, nor how a night's dew wakens
the roses to an untold beauty. Genius is born. The astronomer opens
his book and without an effort understands the stars. The gift of
stirring thoughts, of lifting human souls, is born. No being in the
world had such anointing from above, such Godsent powers, as He who is
just back from the Jordan. He believed in Himself, and that was half
the battle--the other half had to be fought by the soul asking aid.
One must believe. No faith, no miracle, is a principle. Not once did
an unbeliever receive help from the Master. It was impossible.
Impossible then as now. The strong faith of two beings is needed to
produce a wonder. Only two or three times in His history did Jesus
perform a miracle without some human being's faith--and those two or
three wonders lack a perfect confirmation. It is not in question here
whether God, who made every law of nature, could not suspend them
every one if He wanted to. He would not be God, all powerful, if He
could not. It is unimportant to us whether the Galilean did wonders by
His supreme faith, His control over men's minds (a control given Him
there at the Jordan river), or whether His Father in Heaven reached
forth a hand each time and helped Him.

The peasants of Palestine knew little of any fixed law of nature. They
did not ask as to that. Simply the doing of the unusual was enough for
them. They demanded wonders--and healing of the sick by a word, or a
touch of the hand, was a great wonder,--a miracle. He who could
simply influence mind was the Master. The Galilean was born anointed
with the power. He knew it--and only asked others to believe. The
people of that day asked for wonders. Mere assertions of truth were
not enough. "Give us a clap of thunder, or shake the earth, if You
would have us believe in You. Suddenly cure these sick, and we will
know Your power." He did it, not for a show, but out of pity. And the
healing made adorers for the truths He taught them. One thing is sure,
He never doubted His own beliefs, His God-given powers. In the
solitude of the desert He had reached definite conclusions. All His
assertions were positive. If He said things in parables, it was
because His hearers had no understanding of plain truth. We talk to
children that way when we tell them stories. His wonders, or miracles,
were for the same purpose.



CHAPTER VI

     A wandering Teacher. Lives in a borrowed house at Capernaum.
     The Testament Books, fragments written from memory. The
     whole Law of Life boiled down to Seven Words. He visits Tyre
     by the Ocean. Walking on the Sea. A hard saying, and not
     understood. His friends begin to leave Him. They demand
     Wonders, Miracles. Raffael's great picture.


At this time the wonder-working carpenter had some dear friends in
beautiful Capernaum by the lake. There were two fishermen there,
brothers, Peter and Andrew. Peter was married and his wife and
children joined the two brothers in the earnest welcome to the Master
whenever He returned from His journeys among the lake villages.

How often He went to Jerusalem never will be surely known. Sometimes
He returned to Peter's home right after a long rest in the solitude of
the desert, bordering on the east side of the lake. There was a Greek
country there called Decapolis. Though also a province of Rome, it was
an alliance of ten confederated cities, and all worshiped the heathen
gods. Over into this strange confederacy the Master also went
sometimes, and the welcome His kindly message met was as warm as in
Galilee itself. He also went over to Tyre and Sidon, by the
Mediterranean sea, at times, and learned at first hand the workings of
heathendom as practiced by a cultured people. On every hilltop, as He
went and came, He saw temples to the gods of Greece or Rome. Here, as
elsewhere, He was going and coming to preach to the poor. He was the
poor man's Christ. He himself often had nothing. It has been said that
it was only as a poor wandering teacher, possessed of nothing, not
even a place to lay His head, that He went all about Galilee. In
Capernaum He lived in a borrowed house, or from the hospitality of His
two dear friends.

But right now, rich or poor, He is commencing the teachings and the
wonders that are to make Him the loved and the hated of the world. To
the believing He will show that He is not poor; in fact, that He has a
friend ruling in the clouds of Heaven. The disappointed ones, who,
mistaking the signs, had looked for a real earthly king, persecuted
Him at every roadside. The very orthodox Jews hated Him--called Him a
Sabbath-breaker, a glutton among sinners, and a blasphemer of God.
They seemed incapable of understanding anything He said. He talked by
figures and parables--He told them stories--He talked of His father
God--and His sonship--they would not see the spiritual sense in which
He said all things. They put false words into His mouth, and then
demanded He should prove them true. They listened only to deny, and to
defame. Then again they demanded wonders, miracles--more wonders, more
miracles. It was their only way of proving things. Had there been no
wonders, no miracles, no seeming impossibilities performed, Christ
would have had no followers in Palestine. Asserting things was not
enough. "Prove to us that you are God by doing wonders." As He never
had said that He was God He could not prove it. "I and my father are
one," He told them, but only in the sense that every Christian is one
with the father. They could not, would not, see it, and at times would
have stoned Him from their towns. In His meekness, His gentleness, He
bore it all. Sometimes hundreds, thousands, would hear His words, see
His miracles, and believe. Other thousands, though seeing, believed
not. Some of His own nearest friends, not grasping His meaning, turned
their backs and left Him.

Do not even to-day many feel that He should have spoken plainer, or,
is it that our few fragmentary stories of His life are misconceived,
confused, misinterpreted, mistranslated--and in a sense falsified by
two thousand years of time and change of methods of human thought? No
one knows. The Master did not speak the language of the Bible, not
even the language of the Jews. His was a Syrian dialect called
Arimean. It was the tongue His mother spoke; the same dialect they
talked, and laughed and sang in, that night of the marriage in Cana.
Let us not ask too much of the Testament. Time and circumstances do
strange things with human thought and speech. Despite mystery, and
despite fragments, in the great story, enough is left clear to teach
us the spirit of the Golden Rule. Christ said that was enough. The
people who wrote the books of the Testament wrote wholly from memory,
and some of them were now old men. John was ninety, and was then
almost the last man on earth to have seen Jesus alive. Dates, deeds,
times, places, words, are sometimes much confused in the Testament.
Some things are omitted by one and told by another. Yet the spirit of
each Testament book is the same--and all as authentic as writing from
memory would permit. The Testament books are fragments only--yet
piecing them together what a beautiful whole remains! Sometimes one
wonders that just plain uncultured fishermen could write so
beautifully. It would require a much larger book than this is intended
to be to repeat all the tender stories, the touching words, of the
Master that are portrayed by these inspired fishermen by the sea.
Even they did not tell all. In every village in Galilee, on all the
winding roads, along the dear lake, in every hamlet, synagogue, the
feet of the Master went. Every hour saw miracles of healing, and every
poor peasant heard words of kindness. What delightful little journeys
they were in the beautiful land as the Prince of Peace passed,
scattering blessings. To the happy little communities it must have
sometimes seemed as if the new kingdom, the promised hour, was there
already! Such crowds pressed to Him that time and again He would climb
into a little boat on Galilee lake, ask His friends to push it a
little from the shore, and there, from this improvised altar on the
sea, talk to the crowds on the shore.

And what did He say to the people standing on the shore? "They were
only the needed things," said in a clear, simple, beautiful language.
If He said them in parables often, it was because the people of His
day understood things better said in that way. Things were made
clearer, stronger, if illustrated in stories. The great Lincoln
understood the effectiveness of such an art, and pointed many a
political moral by a human story. If, occasionally, the Master spoke
in terms too mysterious to be comprehended by even His disciples, it
was occasionally only. The needed things the common wayfarer could
understand then, understands them to-day. He boiled down the whole
duty of life into seven words, "Do as you would be done by." This, He
said, was all there is to religion. How simple, how just, how
necessary, if we hope for happiness even in our every-day life.

Once at the dawn of a beautiful summer morning in Galilee, the Master
stood on the edge of a mountain and chose twelve disciples to help Him
teach, and to the whole world delivered the wonderful message known as
"The Sermon on the Mount." Lovelier words were never spoken--so
simple, so true, so direct, so sustaining to human hearts, that they
were to reach through all times and to all men. It ended with the
great promise that "unto him who sought God's kingdom all things
should be added." The promise of that morning in Galilee sustains
mankind forever.

Once He went over to the little city of Tyre by the Mediterranean,
perhaps to teach some there. Possibly it was the only time the Master
ever beheld the ocean. Tyre, with its minarets, its monuments, its
temples, its white sails on the sea, was a heathen city. One can fancy
how profoundly stirred a soul like His, steeped in a love of nature,
must have been at the first sight of the ocean. There were the white
ships going to every known land of the earth--there was a new and
picturesque people; there was heathendom, in luxurious idolatry. The
little journey served Him as material for many a reflection later in
His Galilean home.

His name was not wholly strange in the beautiful heathen city by the
sea--for it is told how a woman, a Greek, met Him, threw herself at
His feet, and beseeched Him to heal her daughter. The persistence, the
faith of this heathen woman, that He could do it, even without seeing
the afflicted daughter, led to a miracle. As in almost all His life
the miracle came only after the absolute show of faith on the part of
the one asking. No faith, no miracle, was a constant teaching.

Only a little time there by the blue sea now, and He is soon off for a
three days' stay in that heathen land--the desert cities beyond the
Jordan. Heathen as they are there, they follow in multitudes and are
astounded at His wonders, for He heals many of the sick.

There, too, almost on the edge of His own country, He feeds another
multitude. It is the five thousand people who have followed Him to a
lonesome place in the country. They are filled, and they glorify His
name. As darkness comes on the vast crowd that He has fed goes home
rejoicing--while the disciples enter a boat, and, despite a coming
storm on the lake of Galilee, start to the other side. Jesus Himself
goes up on a lonesome mountain to pray. The night is utterly dark on
the sea, and the wind howls around the foot of the mountain and over
the tempest-tossed waters. Naturally, the disciples and the boatmen
are alarmed. Their boat is about going down--the wind is more
threatening--midnight is on the sea. Once there is a little rift in
the clouds, and the half-light of a summer moon falls over them; the
sailors glance out onto the waves and behold the form of a man walking
toward them on the billows. It is a spirit. The phantom--as phantom it
surely is--fills them with alarm, but a voice cries out, "Be not
afraid, it is I." It is said, Peter seeing some one walking on the
water tried it himself, and would have drowned had not the strange
spirit taken him by the hand. Then the phantom itself got into the
boat--the winds at once went down--and, as the little ship touched the
shore, the amazed disciples discover the night phantom to be the Lord
Himself.

The weird story instantly is sent to all the neighboring villages, and
again people come in multitudes, some to be healed, some to revile.
They were willing enough to be healed, everybody, yet the unbelieving
also were there in crowds, and, strangely enough, despite wonders,
miracles, and healing, a storm of opposition grows. His Galileans
themselves even are joining His opponents. It is all unexplainable.

To us of the twentieth century it would seem that seeing the miracles
He did, and hearing the Heavenly teaching that fell from His lips, the
whole world would have fallen down and worshiped. Perhaps He said too
many things that they could not understand.

He went up to Capernaum that morning for a little bit, and talked to
the people in the village synagogue. "I am the Bread of Life," he
said, "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood,
ye have no life in you." This was too much for their small
understandings--not a soul knew what He meant. "This is a very hard
saying," His hearers answered. They puzzled their brains over it a
little; loss of faith was seizing on them. Some of them commenced
leaving Him. Then He said something harder still, "If this about the
flesh and blood startles you, what would you say to see me ascending
up where I was?" Now, still, the mystery had deepened; more people
left Him. In a tone of overwhelming sadness He asked His twelve
apostles "if they too would leave Him"? The storm of hatred was
breaking everywhere. Enemies surrounded Him; only a few seemed
absolutely faithful. The rabbis, the scribes, and the big doctrinaires
at Jerusalem had their spies everywhere, watching for His smallest
word to ensnare Him. They surely, earnestly, believed Him a foe to all
their Jewish church. He was teaching people to despise their great
prophet, Moses, and to follow the vagaries of a new, unheard of
religion. He was to them worse than the heathens across the border.

What a change it all was! Even here in His own beautiful Capernaum
they began to deny Him. Pharisees, Sadducees, and every conceivable
enemy of the new faith are concentrating in crowds to traduce Him.
Once more they demand a sign from Heaven--again, a clap of thunder, a
sudden earthquake, or something, if He wants to prove that He is
really the Christ. To their insolent demands He naturally makes no
reply. Then more than ever conspiracy to destroy Him is rapidly being
set on foot everywhere. Shortly He will leave this people by Galilee
and their hypocrisies and falseness forever. Of course, His immediate
friends all around Lake Galilee and His disciples are mostly sticking
to Him, but not all of them--many have gone back on Him.

One day walking on a country road He asked His disciples who the
people really said He was? They answered that some thought Him one of
the old prophets, risen from the dead.

Herod up at Jerusalem believed Him to be John the Baptist, whom he had
murdered to please a dancing girl that night in the castle by the Dead
Sea. Herod was much alarmed about it all, too. "But who do you say
that I am?" the Master asked again--and Peter said, "Thou art the
Christ." "Tell no one this," continued Jesus, and then He explained
to them privately His coming sufferings and death. They were all
astounded. But these sufferings simply "had to be"; likewise His
death. It seemed impossible.

He spoke to them then about life's duties, the futility of riches, of
earthly success, and added, "What shall it profit a man to gain the
whole world and lose his own soul?" There was much thinking now, but
still little believing. In less than a week He took three of His
disciples on to a high mountain to pray, and, while there before them,
He was transfigured for a little while. "And the fashion of his
countenance altered, and his raiment was white and glistening." Not
only that--two angels, or spirits, appeared in glory with Him and
talked about the death that was to come to Him at Jerusalem. Shortly,
as the Master and His disciples went down the mountain side, they met
a crowd gesticulating and shouting over an epileptic boy led by his
agonized father. Some of the Apostles had tried to cure this boy and
failed. The father prayed to Christ for compassion. "If thou only
canst believe," answered Christ, "all things are possible." Weeping,
the father said, "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief"--and the boy
at once was healed. The scene on the mountain and the story gave rise
to that greatest picture in the world, Raffael's painting of the
"Transfiguration." It is in the Vatican at Rome.



CHAPTER VII

     Jesus goes alone and on foot to Jerusalem, to try and prove
     Himself. In six months they will kill Him. The rich Capital
     no place for Socialism. "If thou be Christ, tell us,
     plainly." He is a fugitive from a city mob. The Raising of
     Lazarus. Again the people are following Him. The great
     Sanhedrin is alarmed. "This Man has everybody believing on
     Him! He will create a Revolution yet." Jerusalem is in
     political danger, anyway; so is the Roman Empire. Everything
     seems going to pieces. "This Man has too many Followers; we
     must kill Him." Judas is hired to betray Him.


There is but a little stay in Capernaum now, the great Galilean will
scarcely walk by His beautiful lake again. He is now thirty-two years
old and more.

In a few days His disciples will have gone up to Jerusalem to the
great festival, the feast of the tabernacle. It is said that some of
the nearest relatives of the Galilean did not believe in Him even now.
It was they, however, who told Him to go up to Jerusalem to the
headquarters of the opposition and "prove himself," if He could. "Show
Thyself to the world," they said, "these things are not done in
secret." And so He went alone and on foot.

Six months--and it will be the end. They will kill Him. His meditation
on that lonesome foot journey to Jerusalem, with death and the cross
as its last goal, we will never know.

The great Jerusalem is full of strangers. Tens of thousands are now
beginning to hear of the great Galilean for the first time. There is
great excitement in the city. Most of the newcomers take time to talk
of Him. He is on every tongue. "When does He come, and from whence?"
"Galilee?" "No good can come from there; that is sure." "Where is He
now?" "Why do the people shout?" "What does He look like?" "Will He be
welcomed or stoned?"

Suddenly the sweet face of the Master himself is on the temple porch
in Jerusalem. Look, He is teaching the people. How strange, how
embarrassing the situation. Save for a little coming of believers and
friends, men and women who have come to Him from Galilee, He is
almost without a friend in all that splendid city. If many souls,
hearing, believe in Him, it is dangerous to say so. All such will be
turned out of the synagogue, their houses and their lands taken from
them. Anyway this great, unbelieving city is not the place to preach
humility in, nor love for the lowly, nor the giving away of property,
nor for the reproaching of the rich. That is a kind of socialism
usually wanted by people who have nothing. This splendid city, with
its minarets and domes, its gorgeous temple, and the magnificent
structures built by Roman emperors, is full of rich people, full of
aristocrats; and is governed by proud priests, who look upon the
Galilean reformer and His small following with utter contempt.

One day when He was walking on Solomon's porch of the temple, numbers
of Jews came around Him and tauntingly said, "How long dost Thou make
us to doubt? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." He answered, "I
have already told you, and ye believed not." "The works I do in my
Father's name bear witness of me." Then He happened to say something
very mysterious. "I and my Father are one." That was too much for
them. Not knowing what it meant, they tried to stone Him out of the
city. "I have done many good works," He continued, "for which of those
works do you stone me?" "We stone you for blasphemy," they cried, "and
because being a man Thou makest Thyself God." He had to fly. Another
bitter charge against Him had been His healing the sick on Sunday. Not
even a good deed dare be done on the Sabbath, was a doctrine of these
extreme interpreters of the Mosaic law. Once the Lord restored a blind
man to sight on a Sunday, and the poor man was almost mobbed because
of it.

The wrangling of the scribes and doctors about Him still goes on.
There is not a moment of peace for Him. He is even in constant danger.

On a slope of the Mount of Olives, where He often sits summer evenings
looking down to the city at His feet and lamenting over it, stands
the little hamlet of Bethany. Three good friends of his live there.
Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. Many a time after tiresome
disputes and wranglings with insolent priests and rabbis in the city,
who were only trying to entrap Him, He goes to this quiet little home
among the olive groves for rest.

After a while He leaves the neighborhood of the great city entirely,
and goes over the Jordan near the desert, to the very spot in fact
where John baptized Him two years ago. What strange feelings must have
possessed His soul while there--there where the dove had come down on
Him, and where the great voice had called Him "the beloved Son"! There
His public life commenced. And now He is there again. Not with the
voice of God speaking to Him.--No--He is a fugitive from a city mob.
Yet a great many people from the villages come to Him down there by
the Jordan and believe on Him. Many wonders are again performed. Many
people are healed. A part of this restful time away from Jerusalem is
spent close to Jericho. A lovely plain is there with delightful
plantations and gardens of perfume. "It is a divine country there,"
said Josephus, the historian, but in those days it was all fresh and
green--the climate different from now. Lover of beautiful nature as He
was, this little spot of roses and verdure must have delighted His
soul.

In a few days His dear friends Mary and Martha, back there in Bethany,
send to tell Him that their brother Lazarus, who is very dear to Him,
is sick.

"Let us go back there at once," exclaimed the Master. His disciples
tried to warn Him. "Why,--they stoned you and you had to fly just
now,--will you risk going back?" He reflected a moment in silence, and
then told them, sadly, plainly, that Lazarus was dead. "Let us go."
And some of the disciples said, "Let us also go that we may die with
Him."

It is only some twenty-five miles perhaps, and they have come near to
the village. It seems the friend had been dead four days already. But
the coming back is to be followed by one of the astonishing wonders of
Bible history. Lazarus is to be brought to life. The names of Lazarus,
with Mary and Martha, had been well known in Jerusalem, and numbers of
its good citizens had come out to the village to condole with the
bereaved sisters. Hearing of the Master's approach, Martha hurried out
to the edge of the village and met Him at the door of her dead
brother's tomb, a place cut in the solid rock. "If thou hadst been
here, my brother had not died," cried the sister, weeping. "He will
rise again," the Master answered, simply. "Yes, I know, at the
resurrection," said Martha. Again he spoke. "I am the Resurrection,
whosoever believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? Hast
thou faith?" And she answered, "Yes." Instantly she ran and told her
sister, and she, too, came, believing and worshiping. "Did I not tell
thee," said the Master, "that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst
see the glory of God?" Then He commanded the door of the tomb to be
taken away--and, in a loud voice, bade the dead to rise.

In a moment the living Lazarus walked out of the tomb. Some of the
Jews, seeing it, believed. Some of the higher classes also believed.
However it was done, it had been an astounding wonder, and the
excitement ran like wildfire into the city. The great Sanhedrin and
chief priests, hearing of it, instantly called a secret council.

"What shall we do?" they said. "This man doeth many miracles. If let
alone, all men will believe on him--and the Romans will come and take
our place and nation away from us." There was an ex-high priest named
Annas at this secret meeting. He was a religious tyrant, who had never
lost his power in the Jewish councils. His son-in-law, Caiaphas, was
officially high priest, but only as his tool. Annas was the power
behind the throne. His wishes, his commands, prevailed everywhere. The
murderous strings were pulled by his hands. Annas hated Jesus, hated
the apostles, hated every new doctrine; and possibly, too, he truly
feared that any new religion or excitement might disturb Jewish
politics, might bring on rebellion, might even bring the hatred of
Rome on the Jews. He did not know that the hatred of Rome was already
turned against Palestine; nor that Palestine, Jerusalem, Rome itself,
were all at that moment on the road to destruction, but it is from
causes with which the teaching of the Galilean, whom he is about to
murder, has nothing to do. "It is better to kill this religious
fanatic and disturber and save ourselves," said Annas to the great
council. "We will not do it with our own hands--we will arrest Him,
bring Him before the judges, and incite the mob to do the rest."

And so an order was sent out that the kind Jesus should be arrested
wherever found. The miracle at the tomb, however performed, or however
believed, had proved to be the most important act of the Galilean's
life. Now it was, alas, to be a warrant for His death. "Now," said the
Sanhedrin council, "it is going too far--all the world is running
after Him."

In perhaps a week after this there was a little supper at Martha's
home, in Bethany, only two miles out of the city--and the Master was
there, and the resurrected Lazarus sat at the table with them.
Singularly enough Judas, the coming traitor, was also there, and
complained of Mary's using some precious ointment to bathe the feet of
the Master. Because he was treasurer for the apostles and a thief, he
wanted the money value of the ointment put where he could steal it. He
was now already preparing himself for the great betrayal.

Out of curiosity to see Lazarus, the resurrected one, many went to the
village that night from Jerusalem; some of them also were converted.
The priests, hearing of this, decided it was best to put Lazarus also
to death. The great wonder performed at the tomb had alarmed them. It
had not converted them.

In a few hours, believing people, hearing that the great Galilean was
entering the city again, went out to meet him, swinging palm leaves
and shouting hosannas. Many even threw their mantles down for Him to
ride over and hailed Him king of Israel. Some of the bystanders,
looking on with contempt, even asked Jesus to silence and rebuke His
zealous followers. "No, no," He answered, "were these to hold their
peace, the very stones would cry out." Again all kinds of snares are
set for Him, every word is watched. Though He is again permitted to
talk at the porch of the temple every day, spies are there listening.
He is hated in the great city.

Pretty soon they will call Him a criminal for doing cures on the
Sabbath, for with their laws one scarcely dared eat his dinner on a
Sunday; not this only, they will persecute Him for saying He is a king
when there is no king, save Tiberius at Rome. Sometimes the Galilean's
own talk seems wilder, less comprehensible than it even was to His
native villagers. He has himself become so wholly spiritual, so filled
with a quick coming of the new kingdom, that He hardly realizes the
material life about Him.

Occasionally He climbs up to the top of the Mount of Olives,
overlooking the beautiful city, and sits there for hours, meditating
on its spiritual destruction--a destruction He had come to prevent,
and cannot. Even a material destruction is hanging over Jerusalem. In
thirty-seven years it will be burned to the earth--and where the
gorgeous temple stands, the mosque of Omar will one day lift its head,
type and temple of Mahomet, whose creed would have broken the Master's
heart. It seems the Master in His soul knew all that was about to
happen. Could He not have prevented it? By a miracle could He not have
destroyed all His enemies at a single blow? He did not do it. He only
said, "It is the father's will, these awful things that are about to
happen." He would not shirk them. He regarded Himself foreordained to
suffer. To His mind the Old Scriptures foretold His awful sacrifice.



CHAPTER VIII

     The last supper. Leonardo's great picture. Betrayal. With a
     rope around his neck, the Savior of mankind is dragged
     before a Roman Judge. The scene at Pilate's palace. Pilate's
     wife warns him. The awful murder and the End.


One evening He and His disciples sat together at their evening
meal--it was to be their last on earth. It is doubtful if the
disciples really believed all was to be finished so soon. Yet He had
most earnestly told them of His coming death. It was now in the
Passover week--and the Master and His nearest ones proposed
celebrating one of its festivals in private and alone. "But where?"
asked his disciples. "Well," He had said, "go into Jerusalem, and the
first man you meet carrying a pitcher of water, follow him to the
house where he goes; there tell the owner I am coming, and he will
show you an upper room, all prepared for us." Two of them went as
told, followed the man with the pitcher, and found all in readiness
for the little supper. That evening the Master and His disciples took
a walk together from little Bethany, over the Mount of Olives, to
Jerusalem. It was their last walk together on earth. At this supper
where they now are, the Galilean once more tells His disciples the
fate awaiting Him. He even points out the betrayer; but they do not
seem to know His meaning.

Quietly, and aside, He whispers to Judas to "Do that which you are
going to do quickly." It seems that Judas at once slipped away from
the eleven and went out to hunt up the enemies of one he called
Master. For a trifling sum of silver he had sold his own soul.

This scene, like that of the Transfiguration, has been celebrated by
one of the great pictures of the world. Leonardo da Vinci's picture of
the "Last Supper," in an old church at Milan, Italy, is in itself a
miracle of art. Perhaps no painting on earth has attracted so many
believing pilgrims to see and to sigh over the sorrow of the Master.

That very night when the moon rose over the towers and walls of the
city, Jesus and His disciples left the supper room and secretly went
out across the little brook Cedron and entered an olive orchard,
to-day known as the Garden of Gethsemane. It is close to the city
walls. There in the moonlight the disciples, tired and afraid, and
probably hiding from their enemies, lay down on the grass and slept.
The Master Himself stepped a little into the shade of the olive trees
to pray. He knew the hour had come.

In a little while, it was the midnight hour now, he heard men coming,
with stones and swords and lanterns. Fearlessly He stepped out into
the light of the full moon and asked them whom they were looking for.
They answered, "Jesus, of Nazareth." He said quietly, "I am He." At
the same moment Judas, the betrayer, walked up and kissed Him. This
had been a sign agreed upon between Judas and the priests, as to which
one to capture.

The little handful of friends with the Lord now tried to give battle,
but He would not permit them. He was at once bound, and carried back
into the city. It is past midnight. He is first conducted before
Annas, the church tyrant, who sends Him to Caiaphas, the high priest.
There He is questioned and tortured. By the time it is daylight He is
sent to the judgment hall of Pilate and accused. Pilate is a Roman.
Under the Roman law there still must be some pretense of a charge
against a human being before he can be put to death--some charge of
wrong.

It is now seven in the morning. Priests, scribes, Pharisees, all come
before Pilate in a howling mob, leading the Savior of mankind with a
rope around His neck. They had tortured Him half the night--they have
decided He shall die; they only want permission to kill Him, or have
Him killed by Pilate.

As it is the holy festival time, custom does not permit the mob to
enter the heathen palace of Pilate. So they stand out in the street,
on a place called the "pavement," and howl.

"What is the charge against Him? What has this man done?" demands the
Roman governor, with a show of justice as he steps out to the front of
his palace and looks at the mob. "He says he is Christ, the King,"
some of the accusers answer. Pilate goes back into the great hall,
with the marble floor and the gilded ceilings. He himself has no love
for the Jews. They have no love for Pilate. He knows the Jerusalemites
to be a seditious lot of zealots, quarreling forever among themselves,
and fanatical in their adherence to the laws of Moses. The Jews know
Pilate to be a hater of their creeds and customs. They regard him,
too, a brutal governor; but now they would use this brutality against
one of whom they were a little afraid, for in the villages this
Galilean, whom they were persecuting, had many friends. Would not the
people rise, moved by His wonderful miracles, and at last put an end
to all their religious pretenses? It was the temple-people, the
Sanhedrins, and the Pharisaic priests who stood in front of this mob,
gathered at Pilate's palace on that early morning. They had already
decided their victim must die, and they were inciting all the ignorant
to violence.

Because of the Roman occupation, Pilate's approval was a necessity
before they could quite kill a man. They reckoned, however, that he
would want to please them some, and so lessen his own unpopularity.

In a little time the governor called Jesus into the judgment hall.
Looking at the wronged, the suffering, the persecuted being who stood
before him, the blood falling from His poor body to the floor Pilate
asked Him plainly if He were the king of the Jews? "Do you ask that of
yourself," said the persecuted but heroic prisoner, "or did others
tell it of me?"

Pilate was in fact greatly impressed by the face, serene, even in
suffering, and the mild words of one falsely accused. The Savior
explained that if He was a king it was not of this world. His kingdom
was of the spirit. Pilate did not quite understand that. He himself
was not very spiritual. Jesus added, "I am a witness to the Truth."
"Then what is Truth?" said Pilate. We can only guess the answer given
him. It may have greatly moved the Roman, for he at once went out to
the mob assembled on the pavement and said, "I find no fault in this
man." Some one in the crowd spoke up and accused Jesus of stirring up
the peasants in Galilee.

"If he is a Galilean," said Pilate to himself, "he must be tried by
Antipas, the Galilean governor." Reliable tradition says that they
also shouted at him that this was the very Child Jesus, whom Herod
tried to kill when he massacred the children of Bethlehem. Pilate had
never heard of the flight to Egypt nor of the return. He supposed the
Child Christ dead. Now he is astounded, and alarmed, for where had
Jesus been all these years? Had His origin, His identity been kept a
secret? Does not this tradition and Pilate's alarm add strength to the
supposition that years of His life had passed in the secret of the
desert?

Pilate gladly sent him to Antipas, who that very day happened to be in
Jerusalem at the festival. The Galilean ruler had heard of Christ a
thousand times, and often had longed to see him and talk with him, but
most he was curious to see a miracle performed. Again the Master is
accused, but to the many questions of Antipater He makes no answer
whatever. Neither does He perform some miracle for the curiosity and
sport of the Galilean court. Offended at His silence, and greatly
disappointed, the king mocks Him, and arraying Him in ridiculous
garments sends Him back to Pilate. But he has found no fault in
Him--no act against the laws of Galilee for which he dare punish Him.

Again He is before Pilate, the Roman, again full of pain, and
bleeding, He answers mildly as before, or else is silent, submitting
to outrageous injury. Three times Pilate goes out before the crowd and
tells them that Christ has done nothing worthy of death. "Again I
tell you I find no fault in Him. I sent Him over to Antipas, the king
of Galilee. He also finds no fault worthy of death. Let me chastise
Him and set Him free."

But the crowd yelled the louder for His blood. Once the wife of Pilate
comes and whispers to him to "have nothing to do with that good man, I
have been forewarned in a dream." Again Pilate earnestly strives to
save Him. Again he addresses the mob, "You know it is our custom to
release a prisoner at this festival. I have Barabbas, the robber, here
and Jesus. Let me set Jesus free and hang the robber." "No, no," cry a
hundred voices; "free Barabbas and crucify the heretic." The Roman,
accomplished in killing men, practiced in cruelty as he is, shudders
at the fearful injustice. He knows the Galilean has done no wrong. The
bruised and bleeding body of the Master waits in silence and prayer
there in the hall of the palace. The cries for His murder reach His
ears--they grow louder and louder. Pilate, confused as to the law, as
to his duty, and perhaps alarmed, weakened, in a contemptible moment
of cowardice, yields.

But first he steps to the front, and in a loud voice exclaims, "Look
you, I wash my hands of the blood of this good man." He could do
nothing more.

In a moment the robber is set free, and the Christ, followed by a
multitude, some deriding and some weeping for pity, starts for the
awful place of execution. Once as He goes along the thorny way, He
hears pitying women bewailing and weeping. Turning His face to them,
He cries, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me; but weep for
yourselves and your children."

That weeping, that sorrow, has continued two thousand years. Humanity
will weep forever over the awfulness of what happened. It is hard to
think that God ordained any of this suffering of Jesus. More likely
the Master, in the extremity of His zeal for humanity, believed His
very blood on the cross a needed sacrifice to awaken the world. He
was human. His road from Pilate's palace to the cross has been
followed in tears by millions of people. The awful picture of what
happened there is too dreadful to describe. John, the Evangelist,
himself was present--the only eye witness who has written of it, yet
not even he has the courage to tell the story beyond a dozen verses in
the Testament. The disciples had deserted the Lord, and were in
hiding. They were in fear. They could not drink the cup the Master had
to drink. A few women, including the mother of the Redeemer and her
sister, were present to the very end. To make the anguish as
disgraceful as possible, the Master was nailed to a cross between two
thieves. It was the most agonizing kind of execution known to the
cruel Roman law. Some Roman soldiers put Him to death, as ordered by
their governor, but the blood of it all was on the hands of fanatics
and priests.

Pilate, in mockery of the Jews, whom he despised for this murder,
forced on him, put an inscription over the cross saying, "The King of
the Jews." The mob of murderers wanted him to amend the phrase, and
have it read, "He said He was King of the Jews." Pilate declined, for
Jesus had never said that. Besides, Pilate had had enough of the
horror that, like an earthquake, was to shock the world. He had washed
his hands of it.

The deed done, the anguish over, Joseph, a secret Christian convert,
though a rich member of the Sanhedrin, asked Pilate for the body of
Jesus, and put it in a new tomb of his own, hewn in the solid rock, as
was a custom of the land.

On what is now known as Easter morning, just as the dawn was breaking
over the hills of Jerusalem, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of the
dead Master. It had been opened by angels, as she believed, for, on
looking within, she saw two figures sitting there dressed in white.
Very quickly two of the disciples, whom Mary saw and told, came and
looked into the cave also and saw nothing but the linen clothes of the
Master, and went away. The body was not there. Mary waited a little
yet by herself, when one of the angels asked her why she was weeping.
She answered, "They have taken away my Lord." At that moment she
turned her face a little and saw a spirit standing by her. Thinking at
first it was the gardener, she asked it where the body had been taken
to. To her amazement the spirit spoke and sadly said, "Mary."
Instantly she knew it was the Lord. She would have thrown herself at
His feet, but He bade her not to touch Him, but rather to hasten to
the disciples and tell them He was about to ascend to Heaven.

That day, on a country road, outside Jerusalem, He overtook two of His
disciples, and walked and talked with them all the way to Emmaus,
telling them the great story of the Scriptures, while they walked and
wondered, not knowing it was the spirit of the dead Master. That same
evening, too, that same Spirit of Jesus appeared to the disciples in a
closed room where they were hiding for fear of the Jews. In a little
while the word went round among the followers that the Lord was
risen. For forty days that Spirit, risen from the tomb, was to be seen
by the faithful in Jerusalem and in Galilee.

To His apostles His appearance in the spirit could not have been
surprising, for He had repeatedly told them that He would be
crucified, and would rise again in three days. As to a possibility of
life after death--there was little or no question among the Jews. The
Sadducees only argued against it. The belief of that time and of ages
before was in a resurrection. Even Daniel had told the people
distinctly that the time would come "when many that sleep in the dust
of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame
and contempt."

Indeed, Jews at this very moment were expecting Elias and other
prophets to rise from their graves and rule the world from Palestine.

Whether Christ's physical body also appeared to Mary Magdalene that
morning in the garden we may never know. Lyman Abbott has rightly said
that it is "not even important that we should know." It is sufficient
that the Spirit that never dies was there. His appearance was the
perfect proof of an after life. Pilate and the murderers had killed
only the body, not the soul.

Quite possibly spirits have been momentarily seen in our later times,
but His, seen by thousands, walked about the earth for forty days.

That event was to establish a religion that would reform the world and
live forever. The world now knew there was a second life to strive
for--and the road to that life was in being good to one another.
Millions have walked it, and died in peace. They died, not to an
eternal sleep but to waken with the light of Heaven bursting around
them.


THE END


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's note: Text enclosed by underscores is in italics
(_italics_).

Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.

Variations in spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been retained
except in obvious cases of typographical error.

The transcriber has changed the preface signature "H. S. M. B." to
"S. H. M. B."





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