S.D. Gordon.

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had been in His southern audiences many a time and seen His miracles. The
news of His coming up north to their country swiftly spread everywhere.
The throngs are so great that the towns and villages are blockaded, and
Jesus has recourse to the fields, where the people gather in untold

An ominous incident occurs at the very beginning of this Galilean work. It
is a fine touch of character that Jesus at once pays a visit to His home
village. One always thinks more of Him for that. He never forgot the home
folk. The synagogue service on the Sabbath day gathers the villagers
together. Jesus takes the teacher's place, and reads, from Isaiah, a bit
of the prophecy of the coming One. Then with a rare graciousness and
winsomeness that wins all hearts, and fastens every eye upon Himself, He
begins talking of the fulfilment of that word in Himself.

Then there comes a strange, quick revulsion of feeling. Had some
Jerusalem spy gotten in and begun his poisoning work already? Eyes begin
to harden and jaws become set. "Why, that is the man that made our
cattle-yoke." - "Yes, and fixed our kitchen table." - "He - the Messiah!"
Then words of rebuke gently spoken, but with truth's razor edge. Then a
hot burst of passion, and He is hustled out to the jagged edge of the hill
to be thrown over. Then that wondrous presence awing them back, as their
hooked hands lose hold, and their eyes again fasten with wonder, and He
passed quietly on His way undisturbed. Surely that was the best evidence
of the truth of His despised word.

Seven outstanding incidents here reveal the ever-hardening purpose of the
leaders against Jesus. First comes another clash in the temple. Their
ideas of what was proper on the Sabbath day receive a shock because a man
enslaved by disease for years was healed with a word from Jesus' lips.
Could there be a finer use of a Sabbath day! We can either think them
really shocked, or hunting for a religious chance to fight Him. Jesus'
reply seems so to enrage that a passion to kill Him grips them. It is
notable that they had no doubt of the extent of Jesus' claim; "He called
God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." On these two things,
His use of the Sabbath, and His claim of divinity, is based the aggressive
campaign begun that day.

The incident draws from Him the marvellous words preserved by John in his
fifth chapter. In support of His claim He quietly brings forward five
witnesses, John His herald, His own miraculous acts, His Father, the
Scriptures entrusted to their care, and Moses, the founder of the nation.
That was a great line of testimony. This first thought of killing Him
seems to have been a burst of hot, passionate rage, but gradually we shall
find it cooled into a hardened, deliberate purpose.

At once Jesus returns to the northern province. And now they begin to
follow Him up, and spy upon His movements and words. In Capernaum, His
northern headquarters, a man apparently at unrest in soul about his sins,
and palsied in body, is first assured of forgiveness, and then made bodily
whole. Their criticism of His forgiving sins is silenced by the power
evidenced in the bodily healing. But their plan of campaign is now begun
in earnest, and is evident at once. Later criticism of His personal
conduct and habits with the despised classes is mingled with an attempt to
work upon His disciples and undermine their loyalty. The Sabbath question
comes up again through the disciples satisfying their hunger in the grain
fields, and brings from Jesus the keen comment that man wasn't made for
the Sabbath, but to be helped through that day, and then the statement
that must have angered them further that He was "Lord of the Sabbath."

Another Sabbath day in the synagogue they were on hand to see if He would
heal a certain man with a whithered hand whom they had gotten track of,
"that they might accuse Him." They were spying out evidence for the use of
the Jerusalem leaders. To His grief they harden their hearts against His
plea for saving a _man_, a _life_, as against a tradition. And as the man
with full heart and full eyes finds his chance of earning a living
restored, they rush out, and with the fire spitting from their eyes, and
teeth gritting, they plan to get their political enemies, the Herodians,
to help them kill Jesus. A number of these incidents give rise to these
passionate outbursts to kill, which seem to cool off, but to leave the
remnants that hardened into the cool purpose most to be dreaded.

A second time occurs that significant word, "withdrew." Jesus withdrew to
the sea, followed by a remarkable multitude of Galileans, and others from
such distant points as Tyre and Sidon on the north, Idumea on the extreme
south, beyond the Jordan on the east, and from Jerusalem. He was safe with
this sympathizing crowd.

The crowds were so great, and the days so crowded, that Jesus' very eating
was interfered with. His friends remonstrate, and even think Him unduly
swayed by holy enthusiasm. But it is a man come down from Jerusalem who
spread freely among the crowds the ugly charge that He was in league with
the devil, possessed by an _unclean_ spirit, and that that explained His
strange power. No uglier charge could be made. It reveals keenly the
desperate purpose of the Jerusalem leaders. Clearly it was made to
influence the crowds. They were panic-stricken over these crowds. What
could He not do with such a backing, if He chose! Such a rumor would
Spread like wildfire. Jesus shows His leadership. He at once calls the
crowds about Him, speaks openly of the charge, and refutes it, showing the
evident absurdity of it.

Then a strange occurrence takes place. While He is teaching a great crowd
one day, there is an interruption in the midst of His speaking Oddly, it
comes from His mother and her other sons. They send in a message asking
to see Him at once. This seems very strange. It would seem probable from
the narrative that they had access to Him constantly. Why this sudden
desire by the one closest to Him by natural ties to break into His very
speaking for a special interview? Had these Jerusalem men been working
upon the fears of her mother heart for the safety of her Son? She would
use her influence to save Him from possible danger threatening? There is
much in the incident to give color to such a supposition. Perhaps a man of
such fineness as He could be checked back by consideration for His
mother's feelings. They were quite capable of pulling any wire to shut Him
up, however ignorant they showed themselves of the simple sturdiness of
true character. But the same man who so tenderly provides for His mother
in the awful pain of hanging on a cross reminds her now that a divine
errand is not to be hindered by nature's ties; that clear vision of duty
must ever hold the reins of the heart.

Then comes the most terrible, and most significant event, up to this time,
in the whole gospel narrative - the murder of John. This marks the sharpest
crisis yet reached. For a year or so John had been kept shut up in a
prison dungeon, evidence of his own faithfulness, and of the low moral
tone, or absence of moral tone, of the time. Then one night there is a
prolonged, debased debauchery in a magnificent palace; the cunning, cruel
scheme of the woman whose wrong relation to Herod John had honestly
condemned. The dancing young princess, the drunken oath, the terrible
request, the glowing-coal eyes closed, the tongue that held crowds with
its message of sin, and of the coming One stilled, the King's herald
headless - the whole horrible, nightmare story comes with the swiftness of
aroused passion, the suddenness of a lightning flash, the cold cruelty of
indulged lust.

Instantly on getting the news Jesus "_withdrew_" - for the third time
withdrew to a retired desert place. This had tremendous personal meaning
for Him. Nothing has occurred thus far that spells out for Him the coming
tragic close so large, so terribly large, as does this. He stays away from
the Passover Feast occurring at this time, the only one of the four of His
public career He failed to attend.

The Murderous Rejection.

This crisis leads at once into the final stage, _the murderous rejection_.
Jesus is now a fugitive from the province of Judea, because the death plot
has been deliberately settled upon. The southern leaders begin a more
vigorous campaign of harrying Him up in Galilee. A fresh deputation of
Pharisees come up from Jerusalem to press the fighting. They at once bring
a charge against Jesus' disciples of being untrue to the time-honored
traditions of the national religion. Yet it is found to be regarding such
trivial things as washing their hands and arms clear up to the elbows each
time before eating, and of washing of cups and pots and the like. Jesus
sharply calls attention to their hypocrisy and cant, by speaking of their
dishonoring teachings and practices in matters of serious moment. Then He
calls the crowd together and talks on the importance of being clean
_inside_, in the heart and thought. Before all the crowds He calls them
hypocrites. It's a sharp clash and break. Jesus at once "withdrew." It is
the fourth time that significant danger word is used. This time His
withdrawal is clear out of the Jewish territory, far up north to the
vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, on the seacoast, and there He attempts to
remain unknown.

After a bit He returns again, this time by a round-about way, to the Sea
of Galilee. Quickly the crowds find out His presence and come; and again
many a life and many a home are utterly changed by His touch. With the
crowd come the Pharisees, this time in partnership with another group, the
Sadducees, whom they did not love especially. They hypocritically beg a
sign from heaven, as though eager to follow a divinely sent messenger. But
He quickly discerns their purpose to _tempt_ Him into something that can
be used against Him. The sign is refused. Jesus never used His power to
show that He could, but only to help somebody.

The fall of that year found Him boldly returning to the danger zone of
Jerusalem for attendance on the harvest-home festival called by them the
Feast of Tabernacles. It was the most largely attended of the three annual
gatherings, attracting thousands of faithful Jews from all parts of the
world. The one topic of talk among the crowds was Jesus, with varying
opinions expressed; but those favorable to Him were awed by the keen
purpose of the leaders to kill Him. When the festival was in full swing,
one morning, Jesus quietly appears among the temple crowds, and begins
teaching. The leaders tried to arrest Him, but are held back by some
hidden influence, nobody seeming willing to take the lead. Then the clique
of chief priests send officers to arrest Him. But they are so impressed by
His presence and His words, that they come back empty-handed, to the
disgust of their superiors. Great numbers listening believe on Him, but
some of the leaders, mingling in the crowd, stir up discussion so sharp
that with hot passion, and eyes splashing green light, they stoop down and
pick up stones to hurl at Him and end His life at once. It is the first
attempt at personal violence in Jerusalem. But again that strange
restraining power, and Jesus passes out untouched.

As he quietly passes through and out, He stops to give sight to a blind
man. Interestingly enough it occurs on a Sabbath day. Instantly the
leaders seize on this, and have a time of it with the man and his parents
in turn, with this upshot, that the man for his bold confession of faith
in Jesus is shut out from all synagogue privileges, in accordance with a
decision already given out. He becomes an outcast, with all that that
means. It's a fine touch that Jesus hunts up this outcast and gives him a
free entrance into His own circle.

After this feast-visit to Jerusalem, Jesus probably returns to Galilee, as
after previous visits there, and then one day leads His band of disciples
up to the neighborhood of snow-capped Hermon. Here probably occurs the
transfiguration, the purpose of which was to tie up these future leaders
of His, against the events now hurrying on with such swift pace. From this
time begins the preparation of this inner circle for the coming tragedy so
plain to His eyes.

Then begins that memorable last journey from Galilee toward Jerusalem
through the country on the east of the Jordan. With marvellous boldness
and courage He steadfastly set His face toward Jerusalem. The
ever-tightening grip of His purpose is in the set of His face. The fire
burning so intensely within is in His eye as He tramps along the road
alone, with the disciples following, awestruck and filled with wondering
fear. Thirty-five deputations of two each are sent ahead into all the
villages to be visited by Him. What an intense campaigner was Jesus! He
was thoroughly, systematically stumping the whole country for God.

As He approaches nearer to the Jerusalem section the air gets tenser and
hotter. The leaders are constantly harrying His steps, tempting with catch
questions, seeking signs, poisoning the crowds - mosquito warfare! He moves
steadily, calmly on. Some of the keenest things He said flashed out
through the friction of contact with them. A tempting lawyer's question
brings out the beautiful Samaritan parable. The old Sabbath question
provokes a fresh tilt with a synagogue ruler. There is a cunning attempt
by the Pharisees to get Him out of Herod's territory into their own. How
intense the situation grew is graphically told in Luke's words, they
"began to set themselves vehemently against Him, and to provoke Him to
speak many things; laying wait for Him to catch something out of His

Though unmoved by the cunning effort of the Pharisees to get Him over from
Herod's jurisdiction into Judea, despite their threatening attitude, the
winter Feast of Dedication finds Him again in Jerusalem walking in one of
the temple areas. Instantly He is surrounded by a group of these Jerusalem
Jews who, with an air of apparent earnest inquiry, keep prodding Him with
the request to be told plainly if He is really the Christ. His patient
reply brings a storm of stones - almost. Held in check for a while by an
invisible power, or by the power of His presence shown under such
circumstances so often, again they attempt to seize His person, and again
He seems invisibly to hold their hands back, as He quietly passes on His
way out of their midst.

Then comes the stupendous raising of Lazarus, which brings faith in Him to
great numbers, and results in the formal official decision of the national
council to secure His death. He is declared a fugitive with a price set
upon His head. Anybody knowing of His whereabouts must report the fact to
the authorities. This decides Him not to show Himself openly among them.
In a few weeks the pilgrims are crowding Jerusalem for the Passover.
Jesus' name is on every tongue. The rumor that He was over the hills in
Bethany takes a crowd over there, not simply to see Him, but to see the
resurrected Lazarus. Then it was determined to kill Lazarus off, too.

That tremendous last week now begins. Jesus is seen to be the one masterly
figure in the week's events. In comparison with His calm steady movements,
these leaders run scurrying around, here and there, like headless hens.
The week begins with the most public, formal presentation of Himself in a
kingly fashion to the nation. It is their last chance. How wondrously
patient and considerate is this Jesus! And how sublimely heroic! Into the
midst of those men ravenous for His blood He comes. Seated with fine,
unconscious majesty on a kingly beast, surrounded by ever-increasing
multitudes loudly singing and speaking praises to God, over paths
bestrewed with garments and branches of living green, slowly He mounts the
hill road toward the city. At a turn in the road all of a sudden the city
lies spread out before Him. "He saw the city and wept over it."

"He sat upon the ass's colt and rode
Toward Jerusalem. Beside Him walked
Closely and silently the faithful twelve,
And on before Him went a multitude
Shouting hosannas, and with eager hands
Strewing their garments thickly in the way.
Th' unbroken foal beneath Him gently stepped,
Tame as its patient dam; and as the song
Of 'Welcome to the Son of David' burst
Forth from a thousand children, and the leaves
Of the waving branches touched its silken ears,
It turned its wild eye for a moment back,
And then, subdued by an invisible hand,
Meekly trod onward with its slender feet.

"The dew's last sparkle from the grass had gone
As He rode up Mount Olivet. The woods
Threw their cool shadows directly to the west;
And the light foal, with quick and toiling step,
And head bent low, kept up its unslackened way
Till its soft mane was lifted by the wind
Sent o'er the mount from Jordan. As He reached
The summit's breezy pitch, the Saviour raised
His calm blue eye - there stood Jerusalem!
Eagerly He bent forward, and beneath
His mantle's passive folds a bolder line
Than the wont slightness of His perfect limbs
Betrayed the swelling fulness of His heart.
There stood Jerusalem! How fair she looked -
The silver sun on all her palaces,
And her fair daughters 'mid the golden spires
Tending their terrace flowers; and Kedron's stream
Lacing the meadows with its silver band
And wreathing its mist-mantle on the sky
With the morn's exhalation. There she stood,
Jerusalem, the city of His love,
Chosen from all the earth: Jerusalem,
That knew Him not, and had rejected Him;
Jerusalem for whom He came to die!

"The shouts redoubled from a thousand lips
At the fair sight; the children leaped and sang
Louder hosannas; the clear air was filled
With odor from the trampled olive leaves
But 'Jesus wept!' The loved disciple saw
His Master's tear, and closer to His side
He came with yearning looks, and on his neck
The Saviour leaned with heavenly tenderness,
And mourned, 'How oft, Jerusalem! would I
Have gathered you, as gathereth a hen
Her brood beneath her wings - but ye would not!'

"He thought not of the death that He should die -
He thought not of the thorns He knew must pierce
His forehead - of the buffet on the cheek -
The scourge, the mocking homage, the foul scorn!

"Gethsemane stood out beneath His eye
Clear in the morning sun; and there, He knew,
While they who 'could not watch with Him one hour'
Were sleeping, He should sweat great drops of blood,
Praying the cup might pass! And Golgotha
Stood bare and desert by the city wall;
And in its midst, to His prophetic eye
Rose the rough cross, and its keen agonies
Were numbered all - the nails were in His feet -
Th' insulting sponge was pressing on His lips -
The blood and water gushed from His side -
The dizzy faintness swimming in His brain -
And, while His own disciples fled in fear,
A world's death agonies all mixed in His!
Ah! - He forgot all this. He only saw
Jerusalem - the chosen - the loved - the lost!
He only felt that for her sake His life
Was vainly given, and in His pitying love
The sufferings that would clothe the heavens in black
Were quite forgotten.

"Was there ever love,
In earth or heaven, equal to this?"[5]

And so the King entered His capital. It was a royal procession. Mark
keenly the result. Again that utter, ominous, loud silence, that greeted
His ears first, more than three years before. He had come to His own home.
His own kinsfolk received Him not!

Then each day He came to the city, and each night, homeless, slept out in
the open, under the trees of Olivet, and the blue. Now, He rudely shocks
them by clearing the temple areas of the market-place rabble and babble,
and now He is healing the lame and maimed in the temple itself, amid the
reverent praise of the multitude, the songs of the children, and the
scowling, muttered protests of the chief priests. Calmly, day by day, He
moves among them, while their itching fingers vainly clutch for a hold
upon Him, and as surely are held back by some invisible force. By every
subtle device known to cunning, crafty men, they lay question-traps, and
lie in wait to catch His word. He foils them with His marvellous, simple
answers, lashes them with His keen, cutting parables and finally Himself
proposes a question about their own scriptures which they admit themselves
unable to answer, and, utterly defeated, ask no more questions. Then
follows that most terrific arraignment of these leaders, with its
infinitely tender, sad, closing lament over Jerusalem. That is the final

Then occurs that pathetic Greek incident that seems to agitate Jesus so.
This group of earnest seekers, from the outside, non-Jewish world brings
to Jesus a vision of the great hungry heart of the world, and of an
open-mindedness to truth such as was to Him these days as a cool,
refreshing drink to a dusty mouth on a dry hot day. But - no - the Father's
will - simple obedience - only that was right. The harvest can come only
through the grain giving out its life in the cold ground.

Before the final act in the tragedy Jesus retires from sight, probably for
prayer. Some dear friends of Bethany in whose home He had rested many a
time, where He ever found sweet-sympathy, arranged a little home-feast for
Him where a few congenial friends might gather. While seated there in the
quiet atmosphere of love and fellowship so grateful to Him after those
Jerusalem days, one of the friends present, a woman, Mary, takes a box of
exceeding costly ointment, and anoints His head. To the strange protests
made, Jesus quietly explains her thought in the act. She alone understood
what was coming. Alone of all others it was a woman, the simple-hearted
Bethany Mary, who _understood_ Jesus. As none other did she perceive with
her keen love-eyes the coming death, and - more - its meaning.

It is one of the disciples, Judas, who protests indignantly against such
_waste_. This ointment would have brought at least seventy-five dollars,
and how much such a sum would have done for the _poor_! Thoughtless,
improvident woman! Strange the word didn't blister on his canting lips.
John keenly sees that his fingers are clutching the treasure bag as he
speaks the word, and that his thoughts are far from the poor. Jesus gently
rebukes Judas. But Judas is hot tempered, and sullenly watches for the
first chance to withdraw and carry out the damnable purpose that has been
forming within. He hurries over the hill, through the city gate, up to the
palace of the chief priest.

Within there was a company of the inner clique of the leaders, discussing
how to get hold of Jesus most easily. They sit heavily in their seats,
with shut fists, set jaws, and that peculiar yellow-green light spitting
out from under their lowering, knit brows. These bothersome crowds had to
be considered. The feast-day wouldn't do. The crowd would be greatest
then, and hardest to handle. Back and forth they brew their scheme. Then a
knock at the door. Startled, they look alertly up to know who this
intruder may be. The door is opened. In steps a man with a hangdog,
guilty, but determined look. It is one of the men they have seen with
Jesus! What can this mean? He glances furtively from one to another.

Then he speaks: "How much'll you give if I get Jesus into your hands?" Of
all things this was probably the last they had thought might happen. Their
eyes gleam. How much indeed - a good snug sum to get their fingers securely
on his person. But they're shrewd bargainers. That's one of their
specialties. How much did he _want_? Poor Judas! He made a bad bargain
that day. Thirty pieces of silver! He could easily have gotten a thousand.
Judas did love money greedily, and doubtless was a good bargainer too, but
anger was in the saddle now, and drove him hard. Without doubt it was in a
hot fit of temper that he made this proposal. His descendants have been
coining money out of Jesus right along: exchanging Him for gold.

Only a little later, and the Master is closeted with His inner circle in
the upper room of a faithful friend's house in one of the Jerusalem
streets, for the Passover supper. A word from Him and Judas withdraws for
his dark errand. Then those great heart-talks of Jesus, in the upper room,
along the roadway, under the full moon, maybe passing by the massive

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Online LibraryS.D. GordonQuiet Talks about Jesus → online text (page 6 of 16)