Monday, 21 March 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 56.

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

James Tissot, Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod
IN the gates of the city, kings, judges and rulers sat, held court and administered justice. The Talmud has one digest of law called, Baba Kama, "The First Gate." This code relates to stealing, robbery, etc. Baba Metzia, " The Middle Gate," gives laws relating to articles, animals, frauds, etc., and the Baba Bathia: "The Third Gate," has the statutes regarding persons, real estate, etc. The gate was the symbol of government, power, and this was the reason Christ said of his Church: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against her."

The Turkish government is called the Sublime Porte: "The High Gate."

Ezechiel had foretold how Christ would enter by this gate as the Messiah, Prince of Peace. Lest the foretold Conqueror might come and capture the city, the Turks walled up this gate on the outside, and thus it is closed to fulfil the prophecy. But from the Temple area you can enter the gate from the inside and see the large court rooms, fluted columns and spaces where they used to hold the court.

Now the Father's Eternal Son mounts the wide stone steps leading up from the gate into the Temple area, and there a striking scene appears before Him. More than 3,000,000 people had gathered in Jerusalem from all parts of the world to celebrate the greatest of the Hebrew feasts, the Passover.

There were seen Jews from every country of the world into which they had emigrated since the Babylonian Captivity. You might, if you were there, see the poor farmer from the south of Judea, others from along the borders of the waterless plains, from far beyond Hebron, from the deserts around and to the east of the Dead Sea; the Jew from the plains of northern Africa where was raised the grain Which almost supported Rome; others dressed like Bedouins from the hills beyond the Jordan, who had brought wheat on camels for sale in the Holy City ; men appointed by wealthy Israelites of Assyria and Babylonia to carry their offerings to the Temple ; rich merchants from the Celtic village of Lutitia, now Paris, and the cities of Gaul, now France; men who came from the forest villages of Germany, from the cities of Asia Minor, from the rich lands the Nile rescues from the Sahara, from Italy, Greece, from the shores of the Bosphorus, from the city of Byzantium, later called Constantinople—in a word, from all the nations, the Jew had come up to celebrate the feast.

Along the tesselated pavements of the cloisters, in the great space between them and the Choi, in every spot of that vast Temple area, were bands of men talking, gesticulating, arguing, disputing about the Torah, the prophets, the feasts, the Temple ceremonial, the state of trade, the hated Roman occupation, the crime of Pilate taking money from the Temple treasury to fix the aqueduct, his orders to bring the Roman standards into the temple with the brazen eagles over the flag with its S. P. Q. R.: " The Senate and the Roman People," the crimes of the Herods, the paying of tribute, the hope of freedom from Caesar's dominion, the shekel of the sanctuary, the animals brought for the sacrifices, and a thousand other topics of the day.

But the most interesting items of news related to a new prophet, who had appeared in Judea and who claimed to be the long looked for Messiah, but they were not all sure of his mission. They had been deceived so many times. False prophets had arisen and had led them to death, but this one had done wonders. He had healed the sick, made the deaf hear, and even raised the dead. Did not their great prophet say : " God himself will come and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped. Then shall the lame leap as the hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free," (Isaias xxxv. 4-6) and this new prophet has done all these things, he has done more. Eleazar, whom the Greeks call Lazarus of Bethany, he raised from the grave even after he had been four days dead, and he is here amongst us.

Such were the questions heard on every side among the strangers who had come to the feast, and they were the talk of the men who kept booths for the sale of animals, etc. for the sacrifices. They disputed while they weighed out the flour for the Mazzoth, the dough from which the Passover cakes were made, and while they sold the turtle-doves for the purification after childbirth. Men talked about him as they pointed out how there was not a blemish on the lambs they sold for the Passover to be held Thursday eve, and it was the continual conversation of little groups of people on every side.

Like wildfire the news now spread all over the city, passed from one to another that he had come, and excitement seen only among the Orientals rose to fever heat. " And when he was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved saying: 'Who is this?' And the people said, This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee." (Matt xxi 1o,11)

When the people heard that Christ had come up to the great feast, they crowded around him, " And the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple and he healed them," (Matt xxi 14) while the people praised him crying out," Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," " Hosanna in the highest," " HalleluJah," etc. The scene must have been wonderful. The prophet foresaw it hundreds of years before. "And I will move all nations, and the desired of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts." (Ag ii 8)

The whole Temple areas within the arcades or cloisters were filled with crowds of people. Along the walks of the area open to the sky, where the Gentiles alone could come, were booths for the sale of the animals used in the sacrifices. Men had stands covered with large yellow cakes made of unbolted flour more than a foot in diameter sold for food. Oranges from Joppa, figs and tropical fruits from around Jericho, dates from Olivet, costly rugs from Persia, cloth from Egypt, copies of the Scriptures, rolls of the Law, wine in skins with head and feet seeming ready to burst—it was a sight to see that day. Tourists can see a scene like this behind the great Mosque on the way to the Citadel of Cairo each Saturday, and the same on a small scale may be found in Jerusalem in our time.

But the money-changers, not content with the places they had rented for ages from Temple priests, had invaded the Court of the Women, and had placed their booths on all sides where the worshipers passed back and forth to the services, and even in the Court of Israel they plied their trade, shouting the discounts they would give, disturbing the worshipers, and even interfering with the stately Temple Liturgy. Avarice, which still lingers around Jerusalem, was in the air, and the easy going Sadducee priests said nothing, for they received a percentage on every shekel given for the money of foreign countries. For no money but the regular half-shekel could be put in the great " Trumpets" as the money-chests were called.

The Rabbis were forbidden to preach or gather disciples around them till they were thirty years of age, when they were ordained with the laying on the hands of the elders of the synagogue. If one began to preach before that age, no one would listen to him, and he would be come a laughing-stock. That was the reason Jesus remained till He was in his thirtieth year before beginning his public life. We can imagine the excitement the news caused that the famous prophet of Galilee, with his disciples, had come to the Temple.