Monday, 6 June 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 115.

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

Clothed thus in the old scarlet robe, they led him up to the rock and made him sit on the low stool, while the crowd hissed, shouted, jeered and mocked him.

The desert produces thorns. Limbs, leaves and buds, wanting water, tend to become sharp thorns. Down in the deserts around Jericho and the Dead Sea, you will find growing a very peculiar shrub which the botanists call the Rhamnus. Every branch and limb is covered with sharp thorns from an inch to two inches long. It was used for hedges in parts of Palestine in Christ's time. Casiodorus says: " This shrub is so bristling with thorns, that it holds fast to anything which touches it, stings the flesh, and then swells in the wound." Crowns of thorns made of this shrub may be seen for sale, in our day, in Jerusalem.

While the soldiers were placing Christ on the stool and mocking him, one of the guards wove for him a crown of thorns, plaiting three branches of Rhamnus, so all the thorns mostly turned in, and then they wove it around Christ's head down to his ears, like a hat. They took a reed and struck him on the head with it. Then they pressed it on the crown driving the thorns deep into the flesh to the bone. Then they put the reed in his right hand and there sat the Victim of the world.

The mocking of the soldiers was not new. Chaldean soldiers and people used to place a fool clothed in royal purple on a throne, and render him the honors due a real king. When the Romans conquered a king, they used to clothe him in his regal robes, place him on a throne, genuflect before him, mock him, and render his fallen greatness, in mockery, the honors due a monarch. When the Romans found a fool, they placed him on a throne and thus made great fun for themselves. (Olivier, La Passion, p. 311) This was why they crowned and mocked Christ.

There sat the Saviour, crowned with thorns, clothed with the worn-out purple robe wet with his blood, Son of the Father saving his race, as foretold by Joseph saving his brethren in Egypt. " Now Israel loved Joseph above all his sons, because he had him in his old age, and he made him a coat of diverse colors . . . And his brethren hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him . . . and when they saw him afar off before he came nigh them, they thought to kill him. Come let us kill him and cast him into some old pit, and we will say some evil beast hath devoured him .... forthwith they stripped him of his outside coat, that was of diverse colors. And cast him into an old pit where there was no water . . . and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver . . . and they took his coat, and dipped into the blood of a kid, which they had killed. Sending some to carry it to his father, and to say. This we have found." (Gen. xxxvii.) Thus was Joseph, type of Christ, treated by his brethren and sold into Egypt, as Christ was sold by Judas. And Joseph saved his brethren as Christ saved the world.

On the altar of incense, typifying Christ, in the Holies of the Temple was a golden crown, and fifty-five times the Old Testament mentions the crown, foretelling the crown of thorns now resting on the head of the Redeemer.

" Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see the King, the Peaceful, (Solomon means the Peaceful in Hebrew.) in the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him, in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the joy of his heart." (Cant of Cant, or Solomon s Song iii 11.) " I am turned in my anguish, whilst the thorn is fastened."  " He will crown thee with a crown of tribulation.' (Isaias xxii. 18)

Many legends have come down to us regarding this crown of thorns. When St. Louis king of France received it from the Orient, he built for it a beautiful chapel near his palace in Paris, which still stands, a most beautiful specimen of architecture. The crown of thorns is said to be still kept in the church of Notre Dame, Paris. At Pisa, Treves and other places are parts of it, but we are not certain that these accounts are authentic.

Now the soldiers take the reed out of his hands and strike him with it on the head, each taking the end of the stick press it down on his head, driving deeper the thorns to the bone. They spit on him, kneel before him, in mockery genuflect to him, and all shout: " Hail King of the Jews." They kick the stool from under him so he falls, they pull him up from the ground, and then they reseat him with every brutality. His sufferings are indescribable. He is in a fever from pain. His mouth is parched. His tongue is swollen from thirst. But he utters not a word during the whole time they mocked and tormented him in the guardhouse.

This was great fun for the menials in the galleries, the soldiers and the mob of Jews. When they tired, they brought him back to Pilate with his crown of thorns on his head, and the old cloak hanging from his shoulders, every particle of skin being torn from his body and his muscles quivering with spasmodic twitchings. (Jer. xxiii. 9.)

Though hardened with the sight of blood and carnage on many a battle-field in the German wars, and in Pontus, even Pilate shuddered from horror and compassion. He had seen many a man dying of wounds of spear and sword strokes. He had witnessed numerous men scourged, executed and killed. But never before had he witnessed such a sight.