Monday, 13 June 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 121.

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

As soon as the sentence was pronounced, the guards surrounded Jesus, untied his hands, and tore off the old purple robe. The robe had stuck to his wounds, and when they tore it off, his wounds reopened and bled again. They brought him his own garments, which they had taken off in Caiphas' house; and Jesus with trembling hands put on his linen drawers and his seamless undergarment, which as a priest descending from Aaron's family he always wore. They had to take off his crown of thorns for this, and when he had put on his girdle and outer garments, they replaced the crown on his head, driving the thorns again into his flesh. Then they put on his girdle and his own white woolen under dress. They tied again the leather belt with the iron spikes around his waist, driving the spikes again into his flesh. To this they tied the cords so they could drag him to Calvary.

While this was being done, the servants of the pro curator placed the cross-pieces belonging to their crosses on the shoulders of the two thieves, and tied their hands to the beams. Annas and Caiphas stopped arguing with Pilate, gave back the copies of the sentence written on parchment scrolls, and hurried across the halls of Antonia, into the Temple area, to be present at the sacrifice. Pilate left his seat on the tribune, the soldiers detailed as guards for the condemned filed out from the barracks, vast crowds pass out of the Forum down the wide stair case on their way to Calvary, mocking the prisoners as they pass, while the executioners bring forward the cross which the slaves had prepared.

They threw down the cross in the middle of the Forum and led Jesus to it. Jesus knelt by its side, bent down and kissed it twice, uttering a prayer to his heavenly Father for the work of redemption which he was about to accomplish. It was a custom to embrace a new altar, and Jesus embraced his cross, the altar on which, as Priest and Victim he was to atone for the sins of all mankind. The guards soon made him rise, and taking up the cross they placed it on his right shoulder, and Jesus stood up, with his right hand around the arm of the cross, as the prophet foretold.

"And I will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand, and he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Juda. And I will lay the key of the house of David on his shoulder, and he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I shall fasten him as a peg in a sure place, and he shall be for a throne of glory to the house of his father." (Isaias xxii. 21-23.)

The procession now rapidly formed. Slaves took up the upright middle parts of the crosses for the thieves, soldiers of the guard formed military ranks, and the trumpet sounded. Jesus was praying. One of the Pharisees went up to him and said : " We have had enough of thy fine speeches, start off." The great procession began. The rabble ran shouting, boys started on the run, men and women went down the stairway and the wide street now called the Via Dolorosa, leading down west, which was soon filled with a motley howling crowd of ex cited people. Soldiers formed into ranks and marched along with Roman precision and discipline—all turned their steps toward the street leading down the hill toward Calvary.

Two guards fastened ropes to the foot of the cross, with which to hold it up so it would not become entangled ; others took hold of the ropes fastened to the belt around his waist; a detachment of well-drilled soldiers formed ranks before the pretorium, and there waited till Pilate came. The trumpet sounded as Pilate came out of his palace, clothed from head to foot in shining armor, surrounded by his officers and servants. Be fore the portico were drawn up 300 veteran soldiers from Switzerland. A groom led Pilate's magnificent steed before the stairway leading up to the pretorium.

The Roman custom was for the condemned to carry his cross through the city. " He shall carry the cross through the city, then he is nailed to the cross," say the ancient writers. (Nanui Nanius iii. 183; Plutarch, De Sera Num Vind, sec. 9.)

It was the custom since Moses 1 day to execute all criminals outside the walls of the city, lest the place might be soiled with their blood. (Levit. xxiv. 23.)

The street leading down from the Forum to the upper part of the Tyropceon valley was then called Hoch-Akia-Beg. It is now called the Via Dolorosa, "The Sad Way." The street leading up the hill passing Veronica's house was at that time named Es-Serai. It led out the Judgment Gate into the country where was Calvary, the gate being called Bab-el-Amoud.

According to the Roman law a centurion, " Centurio supplicio præpositus," Seneca Tacitus calls him the Exactor mortis, was the captain of the soldiers detailed to clear the way for the procession and surround the condemned. Beside him marched a herald who blew the trumpet to open a passage. Another officer walked at the side of the centurion carrying the Title to be placed at the top of the cross.

The procession started. A trumpeter at its head at each corner of the streets pronounced the sentence to the great crowds of people attracted by the sight. First went the slaves carrying ropes, nails, hammers, baskets, and the center pieces of the cross for the two thieves, Pharisees on horseback, files of soldiers, Jews, Temple priests, more soldiers, then the guards with the cords tied to the Saviour's belt. Behind him walked the four men who were to nail him to the cross, then the two thieves with their hands tied to the arms of their crosses, more guards, then Pilate on horseback at the end of the procession, surrounded by his officers and body-guard, all in brilliant uniforms.

In the midst of this great procession of people walked Jesus of Nazareth, his cross on his shoulder, grasped by his right hand, his left hand trying to hold up his long garment so it will not trip him. He comes down that wide staircase leading from the Forum to what is now called the Via Dolorosa. He is half fainting from loss of blood, parched with thirst, fever burns his system, his face disfigured, his hair and beard saturated with dried blood, his feet bare and bleeding. The weight of the cross bears down on him. The two guards before try to drag him along, the two behind with the cords pull him back, the iron spikes in the belt in his waist pierce his flesh—and thus they went along.

As Jesus came down the great stairway with the two thieves behind him, a squadron of well drilled soldiers under strict Roman discipline surrounded the prisoners, and Pilate with his body-guard rode up behind, followed by three hundred foot soldiers and a large troop of cavalry. The crowd had begun to disperse from the Forum as soon as they heard the sentence pronounced, and some scattered to different parts of the sacred city to tell their friends the news. But the larger number bent their steps toward Calvary. The flat roofs, with their round domes rising from the center, were filled with people looking down on the sight; the side streets were blocked with crowds filled with curiosity; the soldiers close around the condemned, and thus they came down the Via Dolorosa wending their way toward the west.

About four hundred feet straight west from the palace, they came to a street leading north and south, along the upper Tyropoœn valley called the Cheesemongers' Street. The street was often filled with water, and in the center was a stone on which people stepped in crossing a pool of mud. When the Lord came to this place, he was so exhausted that he could not go any farther, and the guards before dragged him and those behind pushed him, and he slipped on the stone and fell into the mud-puddle. The stones of Jerusalem are of a slippery nature almost like soap, and you must be careful or you will fall.

The whole procession came to a stop. The guardsmen beat and kicked him to make him rise. He reached out his hand, but no one offered to help him. The Pharisees cried out " Lift him up or he will die on our hands." A young man had been carrying the crown of thorns on the top of a high pole, and they now took it and replaced it on his head, driving again the sharp thorns into his flesh. Then they pulled him out of the mud, and as soon as he was on his feet, they replaced the cross on his shoulder. The crown of thorns on his head resting against the arm of the cross, forced him to hold his head to one side all the rest of the way. They now began the march again down the Cheesemongers' Street for they had turned to the left going south.

When his Mother had heard the sentence of crucifixion pronounced on her Son in the Pretorium, she went from one place to another where he had suffered, kissed the places where his blood had trickled down, and the pillar where he was scourged. Then John brought her to a house in this street. A servant had given John permission to stand in the doorway leading out into this street through which the procession was to pass.