Unknown.

Jesus Christ: His person--His authority--His work (Volume 3) online

. (page 4 of 13)
Online LibraryUnknownJesus Christ: His person--His authority--His work (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


positive and appear to be entirely authentic.
In fact, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for
the Feast very late, though the custom
was to arrive early, in order to perform
the purifications. His enemies, not see-
ing him come, believed that he was again
escaping them. 2

1 See note on page 11. 2 John xi. 56.



60 THE DEATH AND

Why this delay? Precisely because he
was arranging the details of his triumphal
entry, because he wished it to be at this
very moment and none other, that it might
be as solemn as possible.

He had halted at Bethany, where, as has
been said, there were two houses open to
him, — that of Martha and Mary, and that
of Simon, called the Leper. He chose the
latter. 1 Martha served, and Mary, draw-
ing near to the triclinium on which Jesus
reclined, poured over his feet the contents
of a vase of perfume and wiped them with
her long hair.

Of this Jesus said, "She is anointing
my body beforehand for burial." He was
then still occupied with the thought of his
approaching death. If he was to perish by
public execution his body would not be
embalmed; funeral honors were not given
to those who were put to death, least of
all to those who died by stoning. But
this woman had embalmed his body before-
hand. He thus predicted that his death
would shortly occur; this woman had
herself thus foretold it.

And yet on the morrow he left this

1 John xii. 1-11 ; Mark xiv. 3-9 ; Matt. xxvi. 6-13.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 61

Bethany retreat to attempt a triumphal
entrance. All the time he had this double
thought: "I am to die, and yet I still
hope."

He had foreseen everything, and pre-
pared for it with equal care and prudence.
It is very noteworthy that Jesus arranged
this manifestation by himself alone, and
without speaking of it beforehand to any
of his apostles, even to those dearest to
him. He desired to keep it secret to the
last moment, and himself arranged its
smallest details all unknown to his friends.

He had friends in Jerusalem who are
still unknown to us, with whom, perhaps
from motives of prudence, he had not
even made his disciples acquainted. He
had arranged with some of these that on
the first day of the week, at a certain hour,
an ass with her colt by her side should
be fastened before a door at a certain
cross way, in the hamlet of Bethphage, at
the foot of the Temple wall. The place
was visible at some distance from the top
of the Mount of Olives, and when Jesus
sent two of his disciples thither he could
point out from afar the place where they
would find the beasts. A signal had been



62 THE DEATH AND

agreed upon, and the unknown friends
who were to lend them to him were to let
them go at the words "Tlue Master hath
need of them." This was in some sort a
password which was to make them know
that they were in presence of Jesus'
messengers.

The two disciples did as they had been
bid. They repeated the words and were
able to carry out their mission. Jesus,
who had awaited their return on the
Mount of Olives, seated himself upon the
animal and following the road that leads
to the city, solemnly entered it. The
Galileans, his disciples who had come to
the feast, followed him with acclamations.
Some had put their garments on the ass,
as a sort of trappings, others had spread
them upon the road; they carried palms
and strewed them in the way, crying,
" Hosanna ! Blessed is he that cometh in
the name of the Lord!" They expected
thus to inaugurate the kingdom. Jesus
permitted them to name him the national
king, the King of Israel. ^

A year ago he had rejected this title;
now he accepts it, because the hour is

1 Luke xix. 38.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 63

come. The time is come to strike a great
blow; it is at last time that his people
come to a decision. If they welcome
him, the kingdom will come, and his
death will not be necessary.

Thus Jesus gave all possible publicity
to this entrance into Jerusalem. It was
an invitation to the multitude to recognize
him, to welcome him, — some as the Mes-
siah, others as the precursor of and pre-
parer for the kingdom.

The Galileans, that is to say, his friends,
those whom he had already gained, alone
responded. They were enthusiastic, and
the entrance of Jesus was certainly a
triumph. But the procession included
only these. Not one of the inhabitants of
Jerusalem joined them.

According to the Fourth Gospel,^ some
of the Jerusalemites came out to meet
Jesus ; but they came only out of curios-
ity, and with no conception of what it
was all about, for they asked, "Who is
he?'"'^ And the Galileans, and only
they, replied, "It is Jesus, the prophet
of Galilee."

Such was the scene.

1 John xii. 18. 2 Matt. xxi. 10.



64 THE DEATH AND

Let us insist upon the profound signifi-
cance of this solemn act of Jesus.

On his part, the entrance into Jerusalem
was a supreme attempt to be welcomed
as the national Messiah, to convert the
people, who might have chosen him as
their head, in order to prepare them for
the coming of the kingdom. We can only
repeat here what we have several times
said: up to his last hour, even in Geth-
semane, Jesus believed that he might be
recognized by his people as the Messiah
whom they were awaiting, and hoped that
thus a violent death might be avoided.
The scene in Gethsemane, as we already
pointed out in our first volume,^ has no
reasonable meaning if it is not to be thus ex-
plained. His sympathy with his people's
hopes explains his attitude on Palm Sun-
day; he believed in a national messianic
kingdom, and approved of his disciples
believing in it. He might have checked
that manifestation, might have hidden
himself, as he had done the year before,
on the lake side.'-^ He not only did not do
so, but it was he who had desired this man-

1 See "Jesus Christ Before his Ministry," p. 153.

2 John vi. 15.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 65

ifestation, had arranged it, and prepared
for it by himself alone, with the help of no
one, not even of one of his apostles.

We know, then, what at this time was
his whole thought as to the kingdom of
God, and all that was said in the fore-
going chapter concerning his final notion
of the kingdom is fully confirmed.

Let it be clearly observed that Jesus
never opposed the belief of his apostles in
the speedy coming of a visible, external
kingdom, that he never even rejected the
idea of an external messianic domination.
At the temptation he rejected a worldly
domination which might be obtained only
by homage to Satan ; but he did not reject
it in itself considered.

If Jesus accepted, without the slightest
resistance, the ovations of his people, if he
even sought them, it is because he accepted
the idea of a national messianic kingdom ;
for he perfectly well knew that this was
what those expected and proclaimed who
sang "Hosanna!" and he accepted and
approved of their homage. He had desired
it, sought it; as clearly as possible he had
invited the people to render homage to
him. There was therefore no misunder-



66 THE DEATH AND

standing between himself and those who
welcomed him.

His conduct proves without question
that he shared the hopes of his people,
and looked upon himself as the king of a
national messianic kingdom. The hom-
age paid him and accepted by him were
paid to the Jewish Messiah. To argue
the contrary is to say — without a shadow
of proof — that Jesus was playing a comedy
of accommodation, — a comedy which he
had himself planned and arranged!

In spite, then, of all his sinister pre-
monitions of a possible and nearly approach-
ing death, Jesus was still hoping that a
kingdom might be established, purely
religious and such as the prophets had
described. He would found it by pacific
means. A miracle from the Father would
no doubt hasten its coming; as for him,
it was in order to arouse a national sen-
timent that he acted as he did that day.
He was a patriot, and he desired his
country's glory.

Yes, I well know that death, a horrible
death, was present to his mind; he had
spoken of it to Mary the day before, at the
feast in Bethany. The idea of it haunted



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 67

him; he had already thought that in it
might lie the salvation of his people and of
the world ; for this salvation depended on
his obedience, and his obedience would go
as far as his Father willed that it should go.
To renounce, to serve, to give himself, to
give himself every day, even to the last
sacrifice, if necessary, — this was his work,
because the coming of the kingdom was
on this condition ; if he died, — well, life
would come out of his death, as the wheat
comes out of the seed after it has fallen
into the ground and died ; and in the soul
of Jesus the thought of the approaching
end, the dread, the almost certainty of
death, and the opposing hope, hope invin-
cible, hope against hope, dwelt side by
side. It would all be as the Father willed.
He must at this time have repeated and
applied to himself the words he had for-
merly said : " Sufficient unto the day is the
evil thereof ; the morrow will take care for
itself."!

In any case the kingdom, the true, final
kingdom, was always in the future. Jesus
no more founded it by entering Jerusalem
riding on an ass, escorted by an enthu-

1 Matt. vi. 34.



68 THE DEATH AND

siastic crowd, than he had founded it
before that time. He was preparing for
its coming, and that is all.

On that day Jesus failed. He at once
perceived it. Hardly had he set out for
the city; while yet upon the Mount of
Olives, at the moment when the Holy City
first came into view, he had a clear view
of Avhat awaited him, and he shed tears.
They were forced from him by grief for
the incredulity of his people; at that
moment he had a very clear perception
that his hope would be snatched away
from him. And yet he would go forward,
he would permit the acclamations, he
would make his appeal to the Jews; he
would go on to the end, even while de-
claring that they would neither hear nor
understand him.^ This attitude is thor-
oughly human and easy to be understood.
He was attempting a triumph, and at the
very moment when he tasted of it he felt
it escaping him. It was one more teach-
ing added to so many others; he must
die.

In fact his want of success was com-
plete. In the enormous afflux of people

1 Luke xix. 41 f.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 69

in these clays of festal preparation the
little procession of Galileans passed almost
unperceived. The people of Jerusalem
did not in the least understand it, and did
not even know who this triumphant hero
was, or what was expected of him ; Jeru-
salem had no love for provincials, least of
all for those who came with a degree of
local renown. The burghers of the city-
were thoroughly impregnated with the
Sadducean spirit. Cold, prudent, circum-
spect, they were unwilling to be excited;
they asked who was this Jesus, and the
answer they received made them smile.
A prophet, — from Nazareth, in Galilee.
" No good thing could come out of Naza-
reth;"^ and the little company was, so to
speak, lost in the crowd which was throng-
ing the streets and gateways.

All the Galilean lack of success was as
nothing compared with this; Jesus had
only succeeded in irritating his enemies
the more. The Pharisees, as furious as
the Sadducees, allied themselves with
them against him; these irreconcilable
enemies forgot their bitter hatred in the
union of a common danger. They would

1 John i. 47.



70 THE DEATH AND

face it together, and take up their quarrels
again after it was over. The deatli of
Jesus had already been resolved upon as a
principle, and noAv his attempt upon Jeru-
salem, his would-be triumph, was the last
drop in a cup already over full : the matter
must be carried through without delay.

On Wednesday a council was held in
the palace of Joseph Caiaphas;^ it was
decided to arrest him.

To bring him to trial was to put him to
death, for the law against sacrilege was
excessively strict; death was its only pos-
sible penalty. The Sadducees felt no
hesitation, being alarmed for themselves
and their privileges. They were deter-
mined to push the matter to extremity, not
merely because, as sceptics and aristocrats,
any popular movement was displeasing to
them, but because they felt their power
threatened.

The power of the Sadducees, absolutely
nothing in the country, was still very real
in the Temple circles; the company of
priests could be recruited only among
them, and the priests were extremely use-
ful personages. The priests, the Temple,

1 Matt. xxvi. 1-5; Mark xiv. 1, 2; Luke xxii. 1, 2.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 71

were a never-failing source of revenue for
the city ; the pilgrims who came thither in
throngs brought with them much money.
It was necessary then to get rid of this man.

The only preoccupation of the members
of the council held at the High Priest's
palace was to avoid all disturbance, all
popular excitement. They therefore ad-
opted a plan which from their point of
view was very wise, — to postpone the
execution of the warrant of arrest until
after the Feast. The delay would be of
only ten days at most, and it seemed
imprudent to proceed earlier. They could
not tell precisely how many partisans
Jesus had in the city. They thought he
had many. In this they were in error ; but
in any case the pilgrims from Galilee were
for him, and to arrest him in the midst of
the Feast would be to provoke an uprising.

As for Jesus, his faith in his work, in
his Father, in himself, did not waver for a
second. But he was forced to form a new
plan.

First of all he would withdraw and con-
ceal himself. He had said, " If they per-
secute you in one city, flee into another."^

1 Matt. X. 23.



72 THE DEATH AND

At a later time he would resume his min-
istry with his twelve apostles ; for the time
being it was his duty to evade his enemies,
and with this he must first concern him-
self.

The very day of the triumphal entry,
the first day of the week, he left the city
as soon as evening closed in,^ this time on
foot, and went to pass the night in the
beloved village Bethany. The next day
he returned early to the city, and showed
himself openly in the Temple, continu-
ing his discourses and conversations, well
knowing that no one would dare to arrest
him in the porticos of the Temple in broad
daylight. He was still hoping, and he
persevered in his work; he would neither
hasten the hour of the Father, nor hinder
it from striking when it had arrived.

Jesus offers us the sublime and touching
spectacle of perfect submission, the full
obedience of each day, each minute. At
the same time he was sad, sorrowful in
this waiting and uncertainty; his presenti-
ments were becoming ever more clearly

1 I have shown that the purification of the Temple
on that day is inadmissible. See "Jesus Christ During
his Ministry," p. 130.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 73

defined, and yet they were only presenti-
ments; lie passed through moments of
dread, of agitation, of anguish. One day
he was heard to cry, " My soul is troubled ;
Father, save me from this hourl''^ He
was still hoping, then; he said, "Save
me ! " He still believed that his death might
be avoided; he asked this of his Father.
Never was he more divine than in these
hours of complete and real humanity.

1 John xii. 27.



74 THE DEATH AND



CHAPTER V



THE LAST DAYS



JESUS came into Jerusalem, then, on
each one of the four days following
his triumphal entry. He was proposing
to keep the Passover there, as was his
custom; he had the most vivid desire for
this,^ and the fact comes out with the
clearest evidence that he was taken una-
wares by the events that followed. He
had no suspicion, he could have had none,
of the incredible rapidity with which they
were rushing to a crisis.

How much did he know of the plots that
were being formed against him? It is
easy to conjecture. As we have said, it
was on Wednesday that the decision to
arrest and put him to death was defini-
tively taken ; but at the same time every-
thing was postponed until after the Feast.

1 Luke xxii. 15.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 75

It was not merely an uprising of the people
that the Sanhedrin feared, but also, per-
haps, complications with the Roman power.
Pilate was there, and it would be wise to
wait until he was gone,^ and the city had
resumed its usual quiet and returned to
its normal number of inhabitants.

It was then absolutely settled by the
Sanhedrin that for the time being Jesus
was not to be disturbed; he was to be
arrested, with as little publicity as pos-
sible, as soon as the Feast days were over,
the bulk of the pilgrims gone, especially
the pilgrims from Galilee, and Pilate
returned to Csesarea. Then his trial
should proceed according to the usual
forms, which were very long and minute.
All should be done with strict legality;
Jesus should be condemned to death, and
should die by stoning. All this had been
intelligently ordered. It was thought, with
reason, that to arrest Jesus when the city
was crowded with strangers would be
most imprudent; and as, on the other

1 Pilate resided at Caesarea, and came to Jerusalem
only at times of the great feasts, precisely in order to
keep down the disturbances whicli might occur on these
occasions. Josephus, Ant. Jud. 18, 5, 3.



76 THE DEATH AND

hand, it was forbidden to leave Jerusalem
and return home before the Feast was
entirely completed, ^ the Sanhedrin were
nearly certain that their prey would not
escape them.

Were all these plans and decisions of
the assembly reported to Jesus ? Since he
had friends and acquaintances in Jerusa-
lem, since he had secret disciples in the
Sanhedrin itself, — Joseph of Arimathea,
Nicodemus,^ — it is very possible, even
probable, that one of them had warned
him that very Wednesday of all that had
just been plotted.

This, then, was what Jesus therefore
resolved: to remain quietly in Jerusalem
as long as the Feast lasted, for it had
been formally said, " Not during the feast
days ; " ^ to hasten away as soon as the days
of unleavened bread were accomplished,
and disappear for a time. He thought,
perhaps, of hiding himself even from the
Twelve, and as we shall presently see



^ See "Palestine in the Time of Jesus Christ,"
p. 446.

2 Mark xv. 43; Luke xxiii. 50; John iii. 1 ff., vii.
50 ff.

3 Matt. xxvi. 5 ; Mark xiv. 2.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 77

some reason for conjecturing, appointing a
place of meeting them in Galilee at a later
time. This plan might have been carried
out but for the treachery of Judas. It
was the Iscariot, the man of Kerioth, who
brought about the arrest by the San-
hedrin during the Feast, and thus fixed
the day of Jesus' death. We shall shortly
see how.

Did Jesus know, as early as Wednesday,
that one of his disciples had been seen in
secret conference with certain members of
the Sanhedrin? It is quite possible. He
certainly had his suspicions ; the very next
day he said, " One of you shall betray
me,"^ but he had no material proof such
as would permit him openly to point out
the traitor.

Meanwhile, with much prudence and
wisdom, he took the most minute precau-
tions for his personal safety during the
last days of his life ; and it seems entirely
probable that but for the infamous conduct
of Judas he might have escaped his ene-
mies. His measures were so well taken
that nothing less than the treachery of one

1 Matt. xxvi. 21; Mark xiv. 18; Luke xxii. 21;
Jolm xiii. 21.



78 THE DEATH AND

of the Twelve themselves was needed for
his apprehension.

He never passed a night in Jerusalem.
A surprise while he and his disciples were
sleeping in the common chamber of some
unnamed friend would have been easy
enough. Therefore he quitted the city
every evening, and slept in some suburban
farm. It is probable that he often changed
his shelter, and never mentioned before-
hand which one he would choose.

However this may have been, there was
one whither he went, if not every evening,
at least somewhat often, ^ no doubt because
it appeared to him to be particularly safe.
It was an orchard belonging to a farm
devoted to the production of olive oil.
An oil press was one of its dependencies,
and near the oil press was a pleasure
house, a sort of villa. ^ The property be-
longed to a friend of Jesus, a secret dis-
ciple, of whom there were many around
him in his last days.

In this orchard Jesus often passed the
early hours of the night with his disciples.

1 Luke xxii. 39 ; John xviii. 2.

2 This is the meaning of x'^P^o^- Matt. xxvi. 36;
Mark xiv. 32.



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 79

It was a refuge where lie could collect his
thoughts and pray in all security ; for the
TAvelve alone knew of this retreat, and
thus far none of them had inspired the
slightest distrust.

Later in the evening he would climb the
closely wooded, thickly peopled Mount,
on which several houses offered him a
secure shelter. The fig-trees, the palms,
the olive-trees gave their names to these
villages, farmsteads, suburbs of the city,
— Bethphage, Gethsemane, Bethany.

At the top of the Mount was the country-
house of the famous Annas; he also had
bazaars there, — four shops placed under
two great cedars.^ Jesus knew well all
these environs of the city, and could easily
conceal himself among them.

But the safest of all these retreats was
that of Gat-Chamena^ (Gethsemane), of
which mention has already been made, for
it was probably the only one which was
know^n only to the Twelve and the friend
who owned it. It is possible that Jesus

1 Jerus. Taanith, 4, 8.

2 Gat, press, chamena, oil. Now Dschesmanye (Matt,
xxvi. 36 ; Mark xiv. 32) ; Gethsemanei in the Greek of
the Gospels.



80 THE DEATH AND

and the apostles sometimes passed the
whole night there, either wrapped in their
mantles, under the trees, or in the house
itself.

By day Jesus feared nothing; he was
convinced, as we have said, that during
the Feast he would surel}^ not be arrested
in open day in the publicity of the Temple.
That he did not at once return to Galilee
was because he greatly desired to keep the
Passover at Jerusalem. It would have
been the first time that he had failed to
observe this touching custom of his people,
and he could all the less bring himself to
give it up, since he was in comparative
security during all the days of unleavened
bread.

Therefore, but for Judas, nothing would
have happened, at least at this time.

What manner of man was this Judas?
How could one of the apostles, one who
had believed, one whom Jesus had chosen,
upon whom he had counted, one who
certainly had his good qualities, or Jesus
would not have designed him for the
apostolate, — how could he have fallen to
this last infamy, to betray Jesus? The
atrocity of his act is so great as to seem at



RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST 81

first incomprehensible. A truly terrible
change must have been going on in his
mind, especially during the first days of
this week, or at least on the Thursday,
when he made his horrible resolve.

The attempt has been made to find
special motives for the betrayal ; the Fourth
Gospel speaks of his avarice, and even
says that he was a thief. He may have
been cheating Jesus for some time past,
appropriating to himself a portion of the
gifts made to the common purse; and
thus, little by little, he may have been led
away by avarice. Being the cashier of the
community, he may have desired to have
more money than he could possess while
remaining a member of it. This is no
doubt a possible explanation, but after all
there is a long distance between the most
shameless cupidity and the betrayal of
one's master, the betrayal of Jesus.

It has been supposed that, seeing in
Jesus the national Messiah, and dissatisfied
because he did not make some splendid
manifestation of himself, Judas had thought
to force him to declare himself by giving
him up to the Sanhedrin, thus hemming
him in a corner from which he would find
6



82 THE DEATH AND

a way of escape by a brilliant miracle.
The supposition is charitable but inad-
missible.

What! Judas could have still been a
believer! He could have betrayed Jesus
by reason of a sort of unbalanced faith in
him! The supposition is wholly absurd,
for if he had still believed Jesus to be the
true Messiah he would have left him to
carry out his own plans, and would not
have dreamed of constraining him. No;
when Judas betrayed Jesus he no longer
considered him to be the true Messiah, he


1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryUnknownJesus Christ: His person--His authority--His work (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 13)