Thursday, 17 March 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 53.

The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920

Lazarus Catholic Church mosaics of Maria, Lazarus and Martha
Bethany, "The House of Dates" today (1905) is a wretched village of about twenty families, all Mohammedans, the houses stretching along the road leading from Jerusalem down to Jericho. In memory of the great miracle the Mohammedans call it El Lazariah, " The Lazarus." The hills around are covered with olives, figs, almonds, pomegranates, oaks, carobs and other trees. In Palestine the land is owned in common, one family cultivating a part one year, and another taking it the next, the allotments being made by the chiefs.

The remains of this house where God's Son dwelled with his three loved friends is still shown. To the west, about a block away, on the side of the hill, rise the remains of the building erected by the crusaders on the site of the home of Simon the leper, where Christ that Sabbath eve attended the feast given in his honor after sundown when the Sabbath ended. There Mary Magdalen anointed his feet and washed them with her long hair. The invited Pharisees found fault, and Judas began to show his true character.

About a block to the north of the site of Lazarus' house, a door, facing Olivet, opens into Lazarus' tomb. You go down twenty-eight steps, and find yourself in a large round cavity about ten feet in diameter, small above and large below. The place was excavated out of the living rock, and bears every mark of extreme antiquity. To the left, towards the east, in the floor, you see four steps leading deeper into the rock. You go down, and stooping low you enter through a narrow door into a small room cut in the rock. To your left is a stone shelf cut out of the solid rock on which lay Lazarus' body, when Christ, who stood in the outer large chamber, said: " Lazarus, come forth." (John xi.)

Let us look around and recall history. To the east stretches a valley with a history running back beyond the days of Abraham. There is one of the deepest clefts in the crust of the earth, a desert, through which flows the Jordan, "the descending," hastening with its yellow flood to lose itself in the salty, bitter waters of the Dead Sea. The whole valley is marked with the terrible punishment of God on the sons of Canaan for the sin of Sodom, which later crept into the Persian and Roman nobility, hastened the fall of these empires, and which would have destroyed the human race,

The view from Bethany to the east is striking. The red mountains of Moab lie far beyond, and there you see the peak of N'ebo where Moses died at God's command. (Deut. xxxiv.) The varied colored rocks, the endless desolation, the dark waters of the " Sea of Death," as the Jews call it, or the " Sea of Lot," as the Arabs name it, recall what you see at Salton, or Death Valley, in our own California. The hundreds of desert valleys, or dried up lakes you find from Oregon to the city of Mexico, recall to you the valley of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. But the latter are more striking. For here history began, here the once chosen people lived, here the Lord and Creator passed by on his way to death.

From Bethany down to Jericho, nearly 4,000 feet be low, only a path led at the time of Christ. But when, in 1900, the emperor of Germany went to Jerusalem, the Turks expected him to visit Jericho and the Jordan valley, and they built for him a fine road, but he did not travel over it.

There are only two houses on the way down from Bethany to Jericho—one near the ruins of the hotel to which the good Samaritan brought the wounded man, who had fallen among thieves, and the other about a mile be low Bethany, at what is called the " Apostles Spring." It is thus named because here Christ and his Apostles rested that Friday afternoon, a week before his death, when they came up from the Jordan valley A spring of water, flowing about a quarter of an inch diameter, still runs out of the rock, and is caught in a stone trough, out of which animals drink.

All Judea seems deserted. The steepest hills are covered with terraces from the bottom to the top. Some of these terraces are no more than six feet wide. With great labor the stone walls were built, the earth thrown in and the crops of grain are still grown on them, so as to save every foot of tillable soil. You see there the labor of more than 4,000 years. But what the prophets had foretold has come to pass. Palestine, a land of wonderful fertility, " the land of milk and honey," is deserted, her government overthrown, her people scattered, strangers walk her streets, Arabs are her conquerors, no people live outside her cities, but the few wretched ones who dwell in the numerous caves, and the " abomination of desolation" rests in holy places, as Daniel and Christ foretold.

Christ had no home, Passing through Jericho he stopped with Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax-collector, and that Thursday night he slept at his house. The next morning they started on their journey up the hill. They could see the tower on the Mount of Olives, from whence the priests announced the rising and setting sun, the stars and moon, for the regulations of the Temple sacrifices and feasts. Jesus knew he was going up to die to save us all.