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
|The Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers.|
"The Lord hath prepared his holy arm ; in the sight of all the Gentiles.
"Depart ye, go out from thence, touch no unclean thing.
"Go out of the midst of her, be ye clean you that carry the vessels of Jehovah.
"For Jehovah shall go before you, and the Lord God of Israel will gather you together. (Isaias lii. 10.)
"For the Lord hath chosen Sion. He hath chosen it for his dwelling place.
"This is my rest forever and ever. Here will I dwell. For I have chosen it. I will clothe her priests with salvation, etc." (Psalm cxxxi. 9,13,14.)
The God-Man is going to found his Church, not on the Hebrew priesthood, which was but for a time, and was to pass away, but on the priesthood and Passover service of the patriarchs, on the very spot where Melchisedech had offered bread and wine. But he did not tell this to his Apostles, and they turned to him and asked :
"Whither wilt thou that we go and prepare for to eat the Pasch ? (Mark xiv. 12.) And he sent Peter and John saying: Go and prepare us the Pasch, that we may eat. But they said: Whither wilt thou that we prepare ? And he said to them: Behold as you go into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him into the house, which he entereth into. And you shall say to the master of the house, The Master saith to thee: Where is the guest-chamber, where I may eat the Pasch with my disciples? (Luke xxii. 11) And he will show you a large dining-room furnished, and there prepare ye for us. And his disciples went their way, and came into the city and they found as he had told them, and they prepared the pasch. (Mark xiv, 16.)
A little south of Sion's summit, on the very spot where Melchisedech built his palace, still stands the Cenacle. When David took the citadel, on the site he built his palace. There the Prophet-King lived, died and was buried. There resided Solomon and all the kings of Juda, while David's dynasty reigned, till the destruction of the city by the Babylonians.
Herod had rebuilt the edifice as a reparation for entering the tombs of the sleeping kings. (Josephus, Antiq. B. xiii., C. viii., 4; B. xvi., 1; Wars, i., ii. 5.) Writers hold different ideas regarding the ownership of the place in Christ's time, they divided on the question why the Cenacle was given him. But they do not seem to remember that it belonged to David's family, and as a Prince of the House of David, Christ had a right to its use. That is why it was given him. At that time it was the finest of the four hundred and eighty synagogues in Jerusalem. There gathered in fear and trembling the followers of the Crucified, while his body lay in the tomb during these terrible forty hours. There they were when the Holy Spirit came down on them in form of the Shekina with fiery tongues. There the Christians of Jerusalem worshiped under the guidance of St. James, their first bishop. There Simeon, their second bishop, told them to flee to Pella, when the Roman army was marching down from the north under Titus for the investment of the doomed city. The Lord had warned them of the awful scenes of the great siege, and they knew it was coining. The terrible fighting and slaughter took place in and around the Antonia tower and the Temple. The Romans knew nothing about the little band of Christians, who worshiped in the Cenacle, and it was spared. The crusaders repaired it and it stands to-day substantially the same as in the days of Christ.
By outside stone steps you ascend to the room where the Last Supper was held. You walk over the roof of an abutting building, and enter a large room, thirty by fifty feet, with two pillars in the middle sustaining the vaulted roof. It is still called by the Mohammedans,—Bab Neby Daud, " The House of the Prophet David." It is but one of a number of buildings on the site of David's palace. To the east of this room you ascend another stone stairway to a smaller room where you see a silken covered catafalque over the place where deep down in the rock room rest the remains of Judah's famous kings and the prophetess Huldah.
When a person tried to go down to the tombs of the kings, they stopped him. But others have bribed the guardians and seen the sarcophagi of the dead.
Peter and John went on before as the Lord told them, and entering the door said the usual: " Peace be with this house." The master of the house replied, "May your heart be enlarged." This was the Marahaba of the Hebrews when they met, the Alaic of the Talmud, the Shelama of the Orient, the greeting of friends. The people gather around, for on the eve of the Passover, the stranger was more honored than the master of the household. To the latter the disciples gave the message of the Prince of David's family. No one ever refused his house for the celebration of the Passover, and the Cenacle was given them.
Since ten A. M. the women of the household had been preparing for the feast. The night before, for the last time, they had eaten the leavened bread, and after that they could eat only a few herbs, for it was the custom to come fasting and with appetites to the great feast of the delivery of their fathers from Egyptian slavery. As Philo of Alexandria tells us : " The Jews, from their swaddling clothes, even before being taught the sacred laws, or the unwritten customs, are trained by their parents, teachers and instructors to recognize God as Father, and the Maker of the world; having been taught the knowledge of the laws from earliest youth, they bore in their souls the image of the commandments." (Philo Legat ad Cajum, Sec. 16. 35.)
In the days of our Lord, nearly every house was given up to strangers for the celebration of the Passover. No one ever refused his house for the memorial of the delivery of his fathers from Egypt. Writers tell us that in the time of Christ there were four hundred and eighty places in the sacred city where the feast was celebrated and synagogue services held. This " upper chamber " in David's palace—named in Hebrew, Aliyah, in Greek, Anageon, both words meaning " High," or " Beautiful,— was the largest and most beautiful chamber in the city outside the Temple. This was why Christ chose it for the celebration of the first Mass.
Leading his little band of Apostles Jesus came to the Cenacle, and gave the lamb's skin to the keeper or master of the house, for that was the custom, although formerly they used to leave it in the Temple to be sold to buy gold for the decorating of the Holy of Holies.
They drove a pomegranate stick through the body of the lamb, and down through the tendons of his hind feet. They opened out the fore-feet and inserted another pomegranate stick through the tendons next the hoofs, the two sticks forming a cross like Christ stretched out on his cross, dead for man. Justin Martyr, born at Flavia, Neapolis, describes this cross.
Then they placed the lamb, now called " the body of the lamb," in an oven to roast. He is placed so he rests entirely on his cross, for the dead body of Christ hung completely on his cross. If any part of the flesh touched the oven it was cut off as being unclean. If the fat fell on anything and then on the lamb that part was unclean. The priests, but not the laity, could eat the lamb basted with the consecrated oil of the Temple heave-offering.
The Talmud says that the lamb could not be roasted on an iron or metal cross, only on a pomegranate stick, for Christ was crucified on a wooden cross. If the larger part of the band or the lamb became unclean it was to be burned on the sixteenth of the moon. The bones, sinews and remains were always burned on this day, except when it fell on a Sabbath, when they were burned on the seventeenth. This was to foretell how Christ's body was buried the day he died. The leavings of the lamb defiled those who touch them (Exod. xii. 10.) for those who put Christ to death were guilty of his murder. Women eat with their families, and at Jerusalem on Sion, where they celebrated the Passover, three women sat at the table with the men; one of the women placed a glass of wine on the doorstep, towards the end of the ceremony, for Elias (John the Baptist), whom they look for to come and prepare the way for the still expected Messiah.
When roasted the lamb is placed on the table still bearing his cross. The roasted lamb looked remarkably like the body of the dead Christ, his skin all torn off with scourging and covered with the yellow serum, which oozed out all over his body because of the scourging. The fire which roasted the lamb was a striking type of the fire of the Holy Ghost, which filled Christ with the love of man kind to die for our salvation, and came on Pentecost.
Not less than ten nor more than twenty persons, type of the congregation could eat the lamb, and it was forbidden to sacrifice it for one person. All this foretold the eating of Christ in Communion. No one but a Hebrew free from every blemish, could eat the Passover, as no one in mortal sin should partake of Communion. The person in whose house leavened bread, the figure of mortal sin, was found could not assist at the service. But there was another Passover a month later for all these at which to fulfil the law, for those in sin can con fess later and fulfill the law regarding the Easter duty. The Jew who had given up the Hebrew religion, the ex communicated, the uncircumcised, the servant, the lodger, the unclean could not eat the Passover, because no one outside the Church should receive. These were the laws God Himself had laid down. (Exod. xii.) Now all these things happened to them in figure (I Cor. x. 11) of the time to come, when their Messiah would come and established the Church.