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
|Caravaggio - Taking of Christ|
From the Corban, the Temple treasury, from which they took the thirty pieces of silver they gave Judas, they took each year the money. It was just before sunset, when that noisy crowd of priests, Temple guards, Levites, Pharisees, and the rabble of the town went out each year, the second night of the Passover. Down they went into the Cedron valley, carrying a basket, ropes and sickle. They went down to the very spot, a little to the north of Gethsemane, where Christ was arrested. There the land is level, and was planted each year with barley. To the owner of the field of grain, they gave the money as they gave the money to Judas for the betrayal.
They waited each year till the sun had set, for they arrested the Saviour during the night. Then they tied the standing barley with the cords, as they tied the hands of the Redeemer in the very same place.
Three times the leader asked, " Has the sun set yet ? " Three times they all replied, " Yes, it has set." Three times the leader asked, " Will I reap ? " and to each question they reply, " Yes." Three times he asks: " With this sickle ? " and to each they reply, " Yes."
Then the leader reaps the standing barley, and still tied, they place the sheaves in the basket and bring it to the chief priests in the city, as later they were to bring Christ tied to the high priests.
In the Temple they laid their hands on the sheaf called the Biccurim, and placed their sins on it as the sins (Exod. xxii. 29 ; xxiii. 19 ; xxxiv. 26 ; Num. xv. 20, 21 ; xviii, 13, 13 ; Deut. 4 ; xxvi. 2, etc.) of mankind were placed on Christ. They raise it up toward heaven, and offer it to the Lord, as they raised up Christ on the cross. Then lowering it a little, they " waved " it to the four points of the compass, making with it a cross, for it typified the future Victim of the cross.
They beat the barley with rods, as the Lord was scourged, till the grain was thrashed. They winnowed it, and separated the grain from the chaff, as the Lord was stripped of his garments. They put the grain in a metal dish with numerous small holes, and held it over the fire till it was roasted, as the Lord was filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, who came down in fire on the Apostles, filling the Lord with the fire of love to die for all mankind.
They ground the barley, breaking all into fine flour, as the Lord's body was broken. They sifted the flour through thirteen sieves, each one of finer mesh than the other, till they had enough to fill an omer—a little more than two quarts. They poured into the mass oil, typifying the Lord anointed by the Holy Ghost to be the Saviour of mankind, and they mixed with it frankincense to show forth his prayers for sinners and his death. A part was burned on the great altar, to tell that the victims immolated there foretold him all these ages before he came. Of the flour they made a dough, with which they rolled an unleaven cake, and they made five holes, foretelling his five wounds, then they anointed it with oil in the form of a cross, or the Hebrew letter Tau. Then they baked the cake and ate it, to foretell Christ eaten in Communion in the Christian Church.
The Machabees established the Temple guards, and they were under an officer called by the same name in the Gospels as the Roman guards. These Temple guards used to bring the Omer, the sheaf of barley, to the high priests in the city each Passover, and they arrested and brought the Lord into the city that night. With Judas at their head they came down through the Sheep Gate, crossed the bridge and returned by that same way, when they brought the God-Man to the priests, for it was across that bridge and through that gate that all the animals were brought into the city to be sacrificed to foretell his death.
"Then Jesus came with them to a country place, which is called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples. Sit you here till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad." (Matthew xxvi, 36-37,)
At the upper or east side of the garden are some rocks, jutting out of the ground, and on these the eight Apostles rested. Later they lay down and went to sleep. Taking with him the three Apostles, he went north, towards where is now the Virgin's tomb. It is about three hundred feet from where he left the eight Apostles. Here he left the three Apostles.
He did not wish the eight Apostles to see his awful agony. Only Peter, James and John were prepared for this terrible sight. For these alone had seen him in the transfiguration on Tabor's heights. ( Matt. xvii, ; Mark ix.) Pharisees, Sadducees and Jewish fanatics had twisted the Law and the Prophecy so the Jewish people could not see Christ their Messiah, whom they had so wonderfully and so clearly foretold. Moses, whom no man saw die,the author of the Law, and Elias the great prophet, who went to heaven on a fiery chariot of the Lord of hosts,—these two came and stood each side of Jesus on Tabor to say that now the Law and the Ceremonial, and all what the great Seers of Israel had pronounced are fulfilled in Christ. The Eternal Father was there in the voice and proclaimed him His Son. The Holy Ghost, the Shekina, in the bright cloud envelops them. The light of Jesus' divinity shines forth till his body becomes as brilliant as the sun, and his garments white as snow. There was the greatest meeting this world ever saw. The Father in the voice, the Holy Spirit in the cloud, the Law in Moses, the Prophets in Elias, the Papacy in Peter, the Episcopacy in James, the Ceremonial in John,—all surrounding Jesus, each Person there so real that Peter with his usual impetuosity wants to make tents for them to dwell in. It was to prepare them for his Agony, his Passion and his death that the vision came. And this meeting of the greatest personages both of the Old and New Testaments, spoke of his " excess," his agony, and the death that he was to suffer in Jerusalem.
Only these who saw his transfiguration could bear to see his agony. He had promised that they should " drink of his chalice," (Matt. xx. 13.) and he now led them under the dark shadows of the olive trees, into the northwest corner of the garden; which was much larger then than now. What he suffered when he entered into that horrible state, no man can ever know or describe. Of this, his agony, the meeting on Tabor spoke during the transfiguration.
"And he taketh Peter, and James and John with him, and he began to fear and to be heavy. And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death, stay you here and watch." (Mark xiv, 33, 34,) "And he was withdrawn from them a stone's cast, and kneeling down he prayed, saying, Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me, nevertheless not my will but thine be done." (Luke xxii. 41, 42,) "He fell flat on the ground, and he prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee, take away this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt." (Mark xiv. 35, 36)
Behold now the real scapegoat, the real Victim to whom all the others sacrificed pointed since the fall of man. Look at him now with the sins of the whole world on him. Every sin is against the Infinite God, a disturbance of the laws governing his creation. Being a rebel lion against his infinite nature, it requires an infinite price to wipe out its guilt. Sin stands ever against the infinite justice of the Eternal Father ruling the two Persons descending from him and regulating all created nature made in his image and likeness, and sin demands an infinite Victim to satisfy his outraged infinite justice.
Why were animals sacrificed ? They only pointed to him, who was to come. What would be the whole earth offered to God ? He made it without an effort. It and all in it are his creatures and they could not repair the justice of God for a single little sin, for creation is finite and bounded, while his justice is infinite and boundless. But here was Christ, both God and man, offering himself for the sins of the whole world.