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
When celebrating the Passover and the other feasts of Israel, the one who did not wish to drink of the chalice as it passed around the table said, " Let this chalice pass from me." In the figurative language of the Orientals, chalice meant suffering, pain or death. In this sense it is found many times in the Psalms, and here it means his Passion, sufferings and death, and Christ appeals in this language of figures to his Father, asking him to let this suffering and Passion pass by him, for as a man he feared death.
Although he was God, with all the perfections of the Godhead, in God mind and will are not faculties as in creatures, but in God mind and will are God Himself reasoning and willing. Yet as a man, like the rest of us, Christ feared pain, sufferings and death, which are the instincts of the preservation of the individual.
As God, he saw all things, and now he had to come the hour of his death. And what a death! In all the histories of wars, of savage peoples, of stories of pain and death, we find nothing to be compared to the terrible, atrocious sufferings and death he was about to undergo. But there was the eternal decree of his Father's justice to be atoned for by an infinite Person, whose sufferings were alone of infinite value. He was a perfect man, with all man's faculties, feelings, sentiments, instinct and inclinations, and his whole nature revolted against the terrible pains, and the death he was about to suffer; as any other man would, he a shrank from them.
He was freely about to offer himself up to death to save his race. No human mind can understand his work. All other men's works are shadows beside his. Men have saved their country from wars, dangers, invasions, destruction,—millions have died on battlefields, statesmen have founded governments, wise men have guided the ship of State. But these were of the world worldly. But who has ever resisted the wiles of Satan ? who lived without sin ? who was born without the sin of Adam ? who was born of a Virgin ? who has had the Holy Ghost burning in him with all his sevenfold gifts from his conception ? who resisted temptations so the demons gained no victory over him?
In the history of religion we find that every one who does a great work must first pass through terrible mental sufferings, and in the lives of the Saints the greater their work the greater their sufferings. Mental sufferings are inconceivably more acute, more painful, more terrific than any pains the body can feel. Jesus Christ as a man had to pass through all these. But he passed through mental torture so far beyond those felt by any other one who ever lived, that no one will ever be able to understand it. For the law is, that the work is in proportion to the suffering, and the redemption of the whole human race and the founding of the Christian religion is so far beyond the work done by any other man, that it cannot be compared to the founding of states or the establishment of any human accomplishment.
The Saints have told us of their mental trials, the anguish of their souls, the days when it seemed God had deserted them; their lives reveal the intense indescribable mental tortures they passed through. The trials burned up all their human feelings, that, for their work they might be purified so as by fire. At the same time they felt the Spirit of God in them, filling them with spiritual delights and leading them on.
So in Jesus Christ, the Saint of Saints, were the gifts of the Holy Spirit, while the powers of darkness closed around him.
All the fires of hell, all the powers of Satan were let loose upon him. The demons had enslaved with sin every other child of Adam. When he was weak with fasting on the Quarantine Mount, the demon had tempted him, had even carried him in his foul hands to the Temple tower, and quoting Scripture, asked him to commit suicide, by casting himself down hundreds of feet below, into Cedron valley. And now, when he was weakened with this terrible desolation of soul, this demoniac enemy of man, who did not know his miraculous birth, who could not understand why he could not make him sin all these thirty-three years, with his hosts of fallen spirits he swept down upon him. For the demons knew that men were to take their places in heaven, and that this man claimed to be the Redeemer sent to save them; and filled with jealous hate against all men, especially they hated this man, who had cast them out of men and beasts, who had preached a doctrine which would drive them out of all the world of paganism, where for centuries they had received divine worship.
Before him they put the question : Is it worth all the sorrows, and the sufferings of his coming Passion and death ? Man was so ungrateful. How many would reject him ? His very own nation was then getting ready for his death, led by one of his closest friends, an apostle whom that night he ordained to his priesthood and gave Communion. What millions would refuse to believe in him. How many would reject his teachings. What millions of bad Christians would die without his salvation. What sins would be committed, what scandals would destroy the works of his followers. What divisions of Christendom would follow from pride, rebellion, sin, ignorance, presumption. What a poisoned stream was immortality, once a holy instinct which would engulf millions in hell! A thousand thoughts like these surged up in the mind of Jesus Christ, along with the fear of sufferings, and the revolt of nature against death,—above all the death of the cross.
In imagination he saw the world before him, the ancient religion of Adam broken up into paganism by Nimrod's rebellion, and the world worshiping the forces of nature. He saw men bowing down before the images of their.forefathers as idols, adoring the stars of heaven—the twinkling suns and wandering planets—as their fathers whom they imagined had gone to heaven. There was Babylon where the corruption began, where every woman had to worship Beltis once in her life by adultery; Egypt where Osiris, Isis and beasts were adored in vast temples with striking ceremonial; Rome where Jupiter was enthroned in place of Jehovah; Greece where Athena, Hercules and heroes, received the homage due the Deity; France, Spain and the British Isles where Druidism prevailed ; the North where Thor, Woden and Friga claimed to reign in human conscience; India dominated by the adoration of learning as Brahminism, and worldliness as Buddhism ; China where the life beyond the grave was hardly known. But above all had spread the worship of Astarte, or Beltis, as Venus the goddess of impure love, who was worshiped every Friday with adultery. Even Media and Persia had dethroned the Almighty, whom their fathers Madai and Elam told them of, and in Zoroastrianism they held that Ormuzd, " The Good God," was no more powerful than Ahriman, " the Bad Mind," the devil. Even the Aztecs each year offered thousands of human victims to their god of war, and the tribes of America were warring with each other so as to annihilate themselves, The human race would have died out if they were not redeemed, and he was the only one who could open heaven to them.
He saw the debt of sin paid, the injury to Divine justice repaired, the establishment of the Church, the millions of martyrs, the countless Saints, the vacant seats of Angels filled, and he himself surrounded with them in the realms of bliss, in the glories he had with his Father before the world was.
He saw all the men who lived from Adam down to the last child who will be born. With all their sins they pressed down on him, the scapegoat loaded with the wickedness of them all. As God he knew all, as man suffered all for all the wickedness of all his race. The world's wickedness rolled in upon him, murders, adulteries, swindles, lies, hypocrisies, pride, rebellions, evil desires, hate, anger, drunkenness, debauchery,—every sin man is capable of, everything every man did or will do, all are there on him, he is saturated with them. He, the divine Son, the God of holiness, feels them in him. The repugnance to them is frightful, the loathings of his soul are indescribable. But he, the God of sanctity, must bear them all as though he himself had committed them. Who can describe his terrible sufferings as he plunged down into this whirlpool of wickedness?