Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 106.

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

Herod thus continued to question our Lord in a rapid manner. But Jesus did not reply to this murderer of John the Baptist who still lived in adultery with Herodias. Herod got mad because Jesus would not reply, and Caiphas and Annas took advantage of his anger, and they began again their charges, saying that Jesus had called Herod a fox; that his aim for many years was the overthrowing of Herod's family; that he wanted to establish a new religion, and that he had not celebrated the Pass over at the proper time.

Herod was incensed at Jesus for not answering him, but he experienced a secret fear in his presence ; he was sorry he had put John the Baptist to death he hated the priests who would not let him sacrifice in the Temple because of his adulterous union with Herodias ; he wanted to further his own political ends by keeping Pilate's friend ship, through whom he hoped to gain favors from Rome, and he spoke in the most insulting manner to Jesus. Then turning to the two hundred guards around the Prisoner he said: " Take away this fool, and pay him that honor which is his due. He is mad rather than guilty of any crime."

The guards then took our Lord into a large court between the wings of the palace, where they heaped every kind of indignity on him. Herod came out and stood on the piazza, where he could see him ill-treated. Caiphas and Annas came and stood by his side, and asked him to condemn the Prisoner, But Herod replied in words heard by the Roman soldiers: " No, I will not. I should act very wrongly if I condemned him." He meant that it would not be courtesy to Piiate, to condemn a prisoner the latter had pronounced innocent.

When the high priests and the leading Jews heard that Herod would not condemn Jesus, they sent to all the Pharisees, who lived mostly in the Acra quarter of the city, saying that they must assemble, and bring all the rabble, and bribe them to come to Pilate's palace, and stir up a tumult before Pilate, and demand his death. They also sent word that divine vengeance would fall on the people if they did not insist on his execution; that otherwise Jesus, if let live, would go over to the Romans, and aid them in the extinction of the Jews; that Herod had condemned him ; that it was necessary for the people to insist that Jesus was going to raise an insurrection on the feast next day, which was the Sabbath within the Passover. Some gave money to the soldiers asking them to ill-treat Jesus, so as to cause his death, if Pilate should acquit him.

While these things are being done by the priests, the Scribes, Pharisees, and the soldiers were treating Jesus in the most shameful manner. They dragged him into the court, and one procured a large white sack, which had been fllled with cotton, and with his sword he cut a hole in the lower end and threw it over Jesus' head, while the crowd burst out in loud laughter. Another soldier brought an old worn-out scarlet cloak like a cope, and tied it around his neck, while the soldiers and the rabble bent their knees before him, calling him king; shoved him back and forth, spat on him, abused him, struck him on the cheek, mocked him, threw mud on him, seized him by the waist and tried to make him dance.

They threw him down in the gutter, so his head struck against the column and sides of the wall, and then they raised him up and continued the horrible treatment. Every one tried to invent some new way of torturing him, and shouts of laughter, insults, and shrieks of joy rent the air. Many struck him on the head and body with sticks. They seemed possessed. All humanity, w r as extinguished in them and it seemed that hell spurred them on. The Orientals have little feeling. The sufferings of an enemy intoxicate them, and every outrage and refined cruelty was visited on the Victim. Three times he was struck down. The blood streamed from his wounds.

While these things are taking place, let us see what Judas is doing. When Christ was arrested in the garden, he ran away down the Cedron valley, between Absalom's tomb and the high walls of the Temple inclosure, down below what is now called the Virgin's Spring ; down he continued by the Mount of Offense, and came up the Hinnom valley on the west of the sacred city. Entering in by a gate on the west of Sion, he went to the high priest's house, and mingled with the crowd out side, while Jesus was on trial. No one knew him, and he asked what they were going to do with the Prisoner, and they told him, " They will take him before Pilate in the morning." " He will be condemned to death."

According to the custom still followed in Palestine he had the thirty pieces of silver rolled up in the folds of his girdle. He went away and wandered around the streets filled with people. In the morning he joined the noisy crowd taking Jesus to Pilate's palace. As Judas went along he heard these comments on his actions: " They are taking him before Pilate "; " They will have him put to death ! " " He has already been dreadfully treated." " His patience is wonderful! " " He answers not a word!" " His only words are that he is the Messiah, and that he will sit at the right hand of God." " They will crucify him on account of these words." " If he had not said these words he would not be condemned to death." " The wretch who sold him was one of his disciples, and this night had eaten the Paschal lamb with him." " I would not for worlds do such a thing." " However guilty the Galilean may have been, he has not sold his friend for money!" " Such an infamous character as this man is infinitely more guilty of death." etc.

When he heard these words, Judas began to realize his crime. He was filled with remorse, fear and anguish. But the devil in him, who had taken possession of him the moment of his unworthy Communion, inspired him with despair. He did not turn to God and ask for forgiveness, but filled with desperation he ran as fast as he could, not towards his Master but to the Temple. The weight of the silver coin striking against his limbs at every step reminded him of his awful crime.

Many of the priests belonging to the " course " of that week had returned to the Temple to keep the Passover watch, and they had been joined by numerous Scribes and Pharisees. As they saw Judas running in, they looked at each other in astonishment, and with an ironic smile they turned to Judas, who with the money in his girdle came running up to them, shouting :

"Take back your silver, that silver with which you bribed me to betray this just man. Take back your silver. Release Jesus, our agreement is at an end, I have sinned grievously, I have betrayed innocent blood."

With supreme contempt in their tones, they refused to touch the money, as though fearful of becoming unclean by touching blood money. They replied:

"What have we to do with thy sin ? If thou thinkest thou hast sold innocent blood it is thine own affair. We know what we have paid for, and we have judged him guilty of death. Thou hast thy money, say no more."

They rose at once and walked away. Their words and actions filled Judas with a frantic rage and despair. He cut and tore his girdle, and taking the money he threw it down on the floor of the Temple near the Corban, the money-chest, as the prophet foresaw. " And the Lord said to me. Cast it to the statuary, a handsome price that I was priced at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and I cast them into the house of the Lord to the statuary." (Zech. xi. 13.)" For what is the hope of the hypocrite, if through covetousness he take by violence, and God deliver not his soul ? Will God hear his cry when distress shall come upon him ? " (Job xxvii. 8. 9.)

With a cry of anguish Judas ran out of the Temple. Through the Golden Gate he passed down into the Cedron valley, down by Gethsemane's walls, down by Topheth, where was burned the garbage of the city. He remembered that for twenty pieces of silver his brethren had sold Joseph who, carried into Egypt, saved his brethren from famine. (Gen, xxxvii. 28.) The words rose in his mind : "Cain, where is thy brother Abel ? what hast thou done ? Thy brother's blood cries to heaven for vengeance." (Gen. iv. 10.) It was here that David crossed the Cedron, when fleeing from his son Absalom. (Kings xv. ) " Here is where I betrayed Jesus with a kiss," and he repeated the words of David's Psalm, foretelling his betrayal: " May the devil stand at his right hand, when he is judged let him go out condemned," (Psalm cviii. 6, 7.) The words burned into his very soul.

Filled with the horrors of hell, he ran down the valley, down below the Virgin's Spring, passed the road leading down the Hinnom valley and mounted the hill on the opposite side. Over against him that morning was the Mount of Defiance, where Solomon had built pagan temples and worshiped his wives gods, which was the cause of Israel's downfall. In his despair he ascended the hill, which is about sixty to seventy-five feet high. The edge is very steep there, and many olive and fig trees grew on the hill. A fig tree grew on the edge ; Judas, tilled with anguish and with the horrors of the wild thoughts the demon aroused in his mind, tore off his girdle,, tied one end to an overhanging limb, tied the other end around his neck and swung oft' the brow of the hill. His girdle was weakened by the rent he made in it, when he tore out the money in the Temple, and it broke with his weight, and his body fell down the precipice, sixty feet down, and when it struck the ground below he died, his bowels gushed out, and the wild dogs of the valley ate his flesh. (See III. Kings xxi.33; Acts i. 16-20)