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 SORROWS, SUFFERINGS, AND DEATH OF CHRIST.
How God the Son so loved the world as to be made man, drink to the depths the chalice of all human sorrows, sufferings—even death; Priest and Victim offering these to his Father for forgiveness of the sins of all the members of our race, now will be our theme.
St. John says if all He did were written, the world would not hold the books, (John xxi. 25.) seeming to hint that we may look elsewhere than in the Gospels for the details of his Passion.
Accounts of Calvary's Tragedy we find in Temple types and figures, in tabernacle ceremonies, in acts and words of patriarchs and prophets, in sayings of sibyls and sages, in ancient histories, in early Fathers' works, in Saints' revelations—and these we now weave in one continued story. But you must not take them as equal to the Gospels of those who saw Him die. Let them serve as pious meditations.
Too terrible seems the story. But hundreds of years before, speaking through the prophets, the Holy Spirit revealed His history—else the world would not have known Him, received Him, or understood the Mystery of Calvary. Frequently will we quote their words, and end each chapter with a long prophecy relating to the incidents described.
THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN AND THE ARREST.
Three times during the Last Supper Christ told them one of them would betray him : " Amen I say to you that one of you is about to betray me." (Matt, xxvi, 21.) "But woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for that man if he had not been born." (Matt.xxvi, 24) This last sentence is taken from the Book of Enoch, a work held then in much esteem by the Jews.
"And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray him to them. And they hearing it promised to give him money." (Mark xiv, 10. 11)
Joseph's Narrative says a robber plundered the Temple, taking money from the treasury, the scroll of the Law, stripped Sarah, Caiphas' daughter, and carried away the mysterious deposit Solomon placed there. This threw the priests into a tumult. Later it was found the robber was Demas, the thief crucified with Christ.
Sarah accused Christ of the crime, that spurred on the priests, who sent for Judas. He was Caiaphas nephew, never a sincere disciple, but for the last three and a half years had acted as a spy, reporting to the Temple priests Christ's every act. Their intention was to arrest Christ after the Passover week, which closed on the twenty-first of the month, but the robbery of the Temple brought things to a crisis.
"Sunday, Judas said to the Jews, * Come let us hold a council, for perhaps it was not the robber that stole the Law, but Jesus himself, and I accuse him.' And when these words had been spoken, Nicodemus, who kept the keys of the sanctuary came to us, and said to all, Do not do such a deed.' For Nicodemus was true, more than all the multitude of the Jews. And the daughter of Caiphas, Sarah by name, cried out and said, ' He himself said before all against this holy place, I am able to destroy this temple and in three days raise it.' And the Jews say to her, Thou hast credit with all of us.' For they regarded her as a prophetess."
The Scroll of the Law was copied out with much labor, and a manuscript of the Torah was very valuable in that time, before printing had been invented. The Jews could not hold the Passover without it, and they were so much incensed against Sarah, who was its guardian, that they wanted to burn her, and she said to them, " Wait, my children, and let us destroy this Jesus, and the Law will be found and the holy feast will be celebrated,"
"And secretly Annas and Caiphas gave considerable money to Judas Iscariot, saying, Say as thou saidest to us before, ' I know that the law has been stolen by Jesus, that the accusation may be turned against him, and not against this maiden, who is free from blame.' And Judas having received this command said to them, Let not all the multitude know that I have been instructed by you to do this against Jesus.' " (Narrative of Joseph, Cap. 11.)
"And Judas going into the sanctuary at the dawn of the fifth day (Thursday), says, "What will you give up to you the overthrower of the law, and the plunderer of the prophets ?'.... And as evening was coming on, Judas says to the Jews, ' Give me the aid of soldiers, with swords and staves, and I will give him up to you.' They therefore gave him officers for the purpose of seizing him. And as they were going along, Judas says to them, ' Lay hold of the man whom I shall kiss, for he has stolen the Law and the prophets." (Narrative of Joseph, C. 11)
Judas, whose father's name was Simon, the only apostle of the tribe of Juda, was born at Iscariot, meaning, " the man of murder " or " of extermination," thus his crime was in the name of his birthplace, mentioned only once in the Old Testament. (Josue 15. 25) Iscariot was a little village of Juda near Hebron, now called by the Arabs, Kuryetein, in the valley of Arabes Djekalin on the borders of Edumea. There Jesus had passed seeking converts, many of the people believed in him, Judas being among them. (Mark iii, 8)
The thirty pieces of silver he had been promised for his treachery was the price of a slave. (Exod. xxi, 32) It was not a Roman coin, but of the sanctuary, the piece placed in the Corban, the temple treasury, the money with which they always bought the victims for the sacrifice, and with this very kind of coin, they bought of Judas the Victim the animals foretold. Each coin had on one side an olive branch, the symbol of peace, and on the other in Hebrew, "JERUSALEM THE HOLY. The shekel of Israel." These coins were first struck by Simon Maccabeus. The Jews used Roman and Greek coin in business and to pay the taxes, but only these silver coins could be put in the Temple treasury (Deut, xxiii, 18) and used to buy victims for the altar. The law forbade putting the price of sin into the Corban or Temple treasury, and that is why the priests debated what to do with the silver when Judas brought it back.
Every Israelite, each convert or proselyte and freeman of twenty years or over had to put a half shekel into the treasury once a year. Women, minors and slaves were exempt, but if they wished they could contribute. The coin was equal to the Sela mentioned in the Mishna, which Maimonides says weighed 192 grains of barley, a small silver coin, called in Greek, Colobus, being added to make the value of the shekel sure. The Drachm was a Persian coin (II. Esdras, vii. 70-72.) equal to two selas, half a shekel. Long regulations relating to the offering called the Shekalim are given in the Talmud.
On the first of the month Adar, warnings were sent from Jerusalem concerning the Kelayim, "plowing," with an ox and ass, mixing seeds, etc. On the 15th of Adar country roads were fixed, market-places cleaned, graves and tombs whitewashed, and the Holy City prepared for the great multitudes, who were to assemble for the great Easter feast of the Passover. On the 25th of that month the money-changers sat in the Court of the Temple changing money into the shekel, and, took pledges from parties who came late. The priests were exempt from paying the shekel as beneath their dignity. The law said they should have paid, but they got around the law.
The thirteen money-boxes, trumpets, or curved chests, into which the worshipers put their offerings, were marked as follows:
1, The old Sheklim ; 2, New Sheklim ; (Sheklim is the Hebrew plural of Shekel, the coin of the Sanctuary,) 3, Bird-offering ; 4, Doves for Whole-offering ; 5, Wood ; 6, Incense; 7, Gold for cover of walls, roof, etc., of Holy of Holies; 8, Marked offerings in general; 9, Remainder of Sin-offering ; 10, Remainder of Guilt-offering; 11, Remainder of Bird-offering; 12, Nazarite offering, and 13 offerings of those afflicted with sores.
Into these money-chests all the coin offerings of the people were placed. It was drawn out three times a year with great ceremony, two weeks before the Pass over, Pentecost, and Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, dates when the cattle were tithed, that is the tenths part given the Temple.