FROM THE GARDEN TO THE CROSS
A STUDY OF OUR LORD’S PASSION
A. B. CAMERON M.A. D.D.
ISBISTER & COMPANY Limited
15 & 16 Tavistocic Street Covent Garden 1896
Thou who tor me didst feel such pain, Whose precious blood the cross did stain, Let not those agonies be vain! “
This 16 chapter work has a lot of scanning errors, but it is a very good work on the passion of Christ.
Leaving the Upper Room 9
Jesus in Gethsemane… 26
The divine Mystery of the Agony… 43
The Apprehension in the Garden… 63
Jesus before His ecclesiastical Judges… 83
Peter’s Denial 110
Jesus before Pilate 132
Jesus before Herod… 157
Jesus again at Pilate’s judgment bar…181
Jesus at the bar of the People… 199
Pilate washes his hands before the multitude. 221
Jesus scourged and crowned with thorns.. 240
The traitor’s end 262
The Via Dolorosa 284
Simon of Cyrene 302
The Daughters of Jerusalem…318
1. Leaving the Upper Room
- 1. Leaving the Upper Room
- 2. Jesus in Gethsemane
- 3. The divine Mystery of the Agony
- 4. The Apprehension in the Garden
- 5. Jesus before His ecclesiastical Judges
- 6. Peter’s Denial
- 7. Jesus before Pilate
- 8. Jesus before Herod
- 9. Jesus again at Pilate’s judgment bar
- 10. Jesus at the bar of the People
- 11. Pilate washes his hands before the multitude
- 12. Jesus scourged and crowned with thorns
- 13. The traitor’s end
- 14. The Via Dolorosa
- 15. Simon of Cyrene
- 16. The Daughters of Jerusalem
LEAVING THE UPPER ROOM.
The hour was at hand when Jesus as our High Priest and Saviour must go forth on His way of death. It wanted now but this, followed by His rising again, to complete His ministry on earth.
He had lived His perfect life, borne His faithful witness to God’s truth and grace, and wrought His deeds of healing power and love. To crown the whole there was needed only the sacrifice of Himself on the cross, with all that should come of it, for the world’s redemption and His own glory. So now He must enter upon His via dolorosa^ which may be said to begin with the departure from the Upper Room and to end with Calvary.
The company attending Him on setting out
were the eleven. Judas had already parted from B q
FROM THE GARDEN TO THE CROSS
them.^ He had gone out from the Upper Room by himself before they had risen from the table.
He was now mingling with his Master’s foes, and basely bargaining with them for a traitor’s reward. His was to be a dark and lonely pathway through sin and shame down to depths of despair over his crime, bringing him to the most tragical end. The others were still clinging to their Master.
There was not, it is true, a traitor among them, but there was not one who was not before long to prove a deserter. Jesus was really to go forward alone on His pathway to the cross. It was, however, with a song upon His lips that He went.
But whither was the company to go? Where were they to pass the night? It seemed as if in Jerusalem Jesus had not where to lay His head.
On other evenings of this Passion week He had gone out to Bethany, and lodged with His friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. As some tell us, however, it behoved Him on this paschal night not to go beyond the bounds of the holy city.^
^ Keim thinks Judas did not leave till he saw Jesus set out for Gethsemane (Jesus of Nazam, vol. 6:320). Andrews, that he went out on Jesus sayiug to him at the Supper table, * That thou doest do quicldy’ (Life of ow Lord, p. 413). The question whether Judas partoolv of the Supper has often been discussed. There are weighty authorities on both sides.
~ No one could leave the city after the paschal supper till next morning. 15 ut many more were at the feast than Jerusalem could accommodate. Many found shelter and sleep by night in the gardens around, See Andrews’ Life of our Lord, p. 395.
LEAVING THE UPPER ROOM
If SO, the Mount of Olives must have been regarded as lying within these bounds. There He had passed nights in retirement before. Judas, we are told, knew the place, the favourite spot, the garden there in which He was likely to be found.
He had doubtless satisfied himself on that point before he left the Upper Room. To that favourite retreat Jesus directed His way, and His disciples accompanied Him with an indefinite feeling of sadness and foreboding in their hearts, it is true, but little knowing that the garden was to become for ever memorable as the scene of the agony and the arrest.
The eleven went forth with Him into the street and into the night. It was drawing towards midnight; the second watch, which began at ten o’clock, was already well advanced. The moon was at the full. Most probably it was just beginning to throw its silvery light over the city, and the hills around were appearing in sombre majesty and impressiveness. There were crowds abroad, for Jerusalem was full of pilgrims, and there were the temple services to attract them.^
Yet Jesus and His disciples seem to have moved on unchallenged. Quietly they made their way
^ Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. II, 533.
FROM THE GARDEN TO THE CROSS
through the animated streets; they passed through the eastern gate, then down into the valley through which the brook Kedron flowed, and so onward to the enclosed garden on the slope of Olivet called Gethsemane, destined to be for ever sacred in Christian hearts and memories.
But before they left the supper table they joined in singing a hymn.^ We have the means of knowing what they sang. It was the Hallel, the portion of the Psalter which was wont to be sung at the close of the paschal feast — that from the 115th Psalm to the end of the 11 8th.
It was the custom of the Jews for the father of the house or the superior present to start the singing of the Hallel, and the rest then joined in.^
How intensely interesting and touching for us to think of the voice of Jesus blending with the voices of His disciples in the chanting of these Psalms. Think of Him singing in the Upper Room of Himself thus: “ The sorrows of death compassed me about, the pains of hell gat hold upon me. I found trouble and sorrow; “ and then again, ” Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” Or again,
1 Matt. 26:30.
2 IBaring Gould, Passion of Jesus, p. 63,
LEAVINGJJHE IT PER ROOM
“ All nations compassed me about, they compassed me about, they compassed me about hke bees.”
‘* But the Lord is on my side, I will not fear.
What can man do unto me? “ “ The Lord hath chastened me sore. He hath thrust at me that I might fall. But He hath also helped me, and He hath exalted His right hand.” “ The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner.” “ Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord.” “ O, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever.”
Jesus could make those words His own as no other who had ever used them. Li them He could perceive Himself, now as the suffering and again as the triumphant Redeemer. They told of His coming woes, and of the glory in which they were to end. The}^ gave expression to His sublime faith in God. They were wonderfully suited to the lips of Him who saw God directly and personally connected with each one of the experiences through which He had to pass, from the depths of suffering to the heights of joy, from the direst apparent failure and hopelessness to the most glorious triumph. They come with thrilling force from Jesus on His way to Gethsemane and Calvary, not forgetful as He goes of the glory that is to
FROM THE GARDEN TO THE CROSS
follow. In them are expressed for us both the weeping of the night of the Garden and the Cross, and the joy of the Resurrection morning.
When modern Jews are observing this paschal meal, it is their custom that, at its close, they throw open the doors of the place in which they are assembled, and then remain in profound silence for some minutes. They are waiting for the coming of Elijah, the great Forerunner, to announce the expected Messiah and the setting up of His kingdom. The solemn silence is broken by the whole company joining in the singing of the Hallel, to which we have already referred, just as they are about to leave. ^ Never could this interesting Jewish custom have been observed with deeper significance than on this occasion when the Messiah Himself was in the midst of His followers, and when He was on the way to that cross which was to become the throne of His new and everlasting kingdom.
When they had sung the hymn, chanted those Psalms predictive of Jesus’ sufferings and also of His triumph, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Doubtless there was much earnest and tender discourse by the way, like that which had
^ Mill, British Jews, p. 201.
LEAVING THE UP PER ROO.V
been heard at the table of the Supper. How much of what occupies the 14th, 15th, and i6th chapters of John was spoken in the Upper Room, and how much on the way, it would be impossible to say. It may have been the thought of their going forth as men for whom Jerusalem had no home that led Him for His own and their comfort to say, “ In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” ^ Perhaps it was the sight of the moonlit vines growing in the gardens of Olivet before them that suggested the beautiful words He utters on the vine and the branches.^ The calm resting on all nature, as it drew on to the midnight hour, may have led Him to speak of the peace He was to bequeath, which the world could not give and could not take away, and of the untroubled heart that rested on the great love of God.’“ Then the disciples walking by His side— how the approaching crisis would find them, what their future would be — these subjects could not but be touched upon. The prospect of His own woe, awful though it was, did not wholly absorb Him. He had a loving concern for
1 John 14:2.
2 John 15:1,
3 John 14:27.
FROM TEE GARDEN TO THE CROSS
them. The part ihey were to play was as clearly before Him as His own. He could tell them beforehand of the collapse of their faith and courage, which at the first onset was to take place, and of their scattering like a flock of frightened sheep when He their shepherd should be assailed and smitten.^ He had prayed, and He would still pray for their upholding in their greatest hour of trial. He would warn them anew of their imminent peril, and of their urgent need to be specially sustained.^
Some are of opinion that it was on the way to the Kedron Jesus turned aside and offered up His great intercessory pra3′er.^ They think that in some retired spot in the valley near the bridge over the brook — some spot from which the hill Olivet rising up on the other side and the gardens on its slope might be in full view — Jesus might have found the fitting temple of nature, where, under the open firmament of heaven lighted up by the shining moon, and with a solemnizing calm resting on all around. He could pour out His soul in holy intercession as He desired. Such an idea is certainly not out of place, and for some minds it has its attractions.
1 Matt 26:31.
2 Luke 22:32.
‘^ Lange, Gospel of John, p. 291.
LEAVING THE UPFER ROOM
But it is more likely that the Upper Room itself was the place.^ It is more likely that the chamber already consecrated as the scene of the Supper was still further consecrated by being made the Holy of holies into which Jesus entered as the great High Priest, and where He pleaded with the Father for His disciples and the countless multitude that should beheve on Him through their word. It seems most fitting that the place where the Church held her first communion, with her Lord visibly in her midst, should be the place in which He prayed that those might be kept who had been given unto Him, and that they might know Him, abide in His love and fellowship, and behold His glory.-
But while Jesus spoke of coming trial and danger, and prayed for their safeguarding, the disciples did not seem to understand Him. They did not share their Master’s fears and forebodings.
Peter, w^io spoke for them, evidently had no dread of the flock scattering. Self-confidence made him think that he for one was never likely to leave his Lord. He thought he had the love
^ Geikie, Life and Words of Christ, p. GG6. Also Edeisheira (vol.
IL, 513, 528). Westcott thinks it miiy have been the tenii)le, but that would be too crowded and noisy at this Passover time. 8ee his Gospel of St. John, p. 237.
2 Jehu xvii.
FROM TEE GARLEX TO THE CROSS
that was stronger than any. death. Measuring his assurance on this point by the intensity of his feeHngs at the moment he said, “ Though all shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.”^ So strongly did the tide of feeling within him run in this direction of self-assertion, that nothing for the time could arrest or abate it.
Even the gentle but emphatic warning words of his Master, “ Verily, I say unto thee, that this night before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice,” ^ proved unavaiHng.
Peter knew himself, as he thought, better than his Master did. He could measure himself, he vainly imagined, against any danger. He was equal to any possible challenge to the strength or genuineness of his devotion. With his characteristic ardour and energy he said, ‘* Though I should die with Thee yet will I not deny Thee.” ^ And may we not discern just a trace of injured feeling in his mind as he let fall that passionate utterance, as if the Master were not doing justice to the strength of his attachment and the strength of his character, as if the Master were not quite trusting him as he thought he deserved?
1 Matt. 26:33.
^ Matt. 26:34.
3 Matt. 26:35.
LEAVING TEE UPEER ROOM
But Peter did not stand alone in his declarations.
His zeal and ardour proved contagious as they had often done before. “ Likewise, also, said all the disciples.”^ They rightly interpreted their Master’s words as a challenge to their devotion. They were ready to meet it with the warmest protestations on their part; nor were they consciously exaggerating when they said that they could willingly die for Him. The very thought that some great mysterious sorrow was impending over Him, and that He seemed to be asking for their fidelity in His hour of trial, doubtless made their Master dearer to them than ever, and intensified all their feelings towards Him.
It was not usual for Jesus to call for declarations of attachment. He was content that it should reveal itself in everyday words and deeds, in the thing done or said that showed how much He was loved.
His followers were not required to be painfully introspective, to be examining again and again, as they walked with Him, into the state of their hearts, and to be making frequent avowals of their love and of their faith. We question whether Jesus saw any wisdom or virtue in that — a practice so like that of children taking up by the roots
1 Matt. 26:35.
FROM THE GARDEX TO THE CROSS
now and again the things they have planted, that they may satisfy themselves as to how they are growing, with the result that they weaken, if they do not destroy, the life of the plants they are so anxious about. It was enough if the disciples walked with Jesus, and did so with true and honest hearts. Yet times there might be which might specially call for their avowals. Such a time was this when Jesus had His face steadfastly set to go to Gethsemane. In view of all that was to take place there, we can understand Jesus in so many words asking the touching question, “ Will ye also go away? “
It did honour then to the disciples that they should make the avowal which they did, and that they should declare their readiness to die with Him.
But they did not know themselves as their Master knew them. They were still ignorant of what the cross was which was about to come upon Him.
They could not forecast that, as a trial or test of their fidelity, it would be far beyond their strength to face or to abide. They could not believe that there could be any trial great or terrible enough to make them deserters from their Master.^ They could not understand the agony to be endured in
LEAVISG THE UFPER ROOM
the prospect of the cross, and which Gethsemane was to witness. When it revealed itself in its dread reaUty it proved too much for them.
Their faith, their courage first faltered, and then for the time failed altogether.^
But could there have been found men anywhere, in that age or in ours, who as disciples would have done any better than they did? If the trial was so great, so appalling, as to cause Jesus His bloody sweat in the Garden, we ma}’ well suppose that the approach of it, and the possibility of sharing in it, would have been enough to make cowards of the bravest and the most heroic.
Once before, on a memorable occasion, Jesus had sent His disciples forth on a mission fitted to make special demands on their courage and faith.^
That was when they were appointed to go two and two, and preach the coming of the kingdom.
Then He had sent them ^\’ithout scrip, purse, or sword. He had bidden them go even as they were while they stood around Him, without provision for their journey and without defence save that of God, whose work they were to do. It was a trial of their faith. It needed personal fortitude and great loyalty to their Master thus to go at His command
‘ Matt. xxvi. ijtj.
2 Luke 10:1-24, ‘J”he sending forth of the Seventy.
FROM THE GAliDHy TO TEE CROS!^
to be the preachers of His kingdom. They were for the most part humble fishermen, and they were to perform the office of prophets with nothing to accredit them but their commission from the Man of Nazareth, and their power to work certain miracles in His name. They might well have hesitated.
They might well have had their misgivings. They could not know what reception the people would give them, or what perils and sufferings might be before them; and it was trying to have to go, humanly speaking, entirely unprovided for. But they had been equal to that demand upon their faith and their loyalty. They had gone forth, and they had returned ^vith glad tidings to their Master.
They had ” lacked nothing.” “ Even the devils had been subject to them in His name.” ^
It was, however, another and a greater trial that lay before them now. It needed all the preparation they could make for it. To use Jesus’ own words, which doubtless He meant in a figurative sense, they needed purse and scrip and sword. ”Now,”
said He, “ he that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”^ Better without comforts than without the needed weapons
1 Luke 10:17.
2 Lulce 22:35-38.
LEAVING THE UPPER ROOM
and defences for the crisis. Their honour and safety could hardly be bought at too great a price.
That they might be sufficientty equipped and armed, that they might have all their spiritual resources and weapons — their trust in God, their faith in their Alaster and His cause whatever might happen, their steadfastness and loyalty — that they might have all these at command to meet the impending trial, was of paramount importance. All these would be required, and would be well tried, when they should see their Master in the hands of His foes on the way to His cross. When the Shepherd should be smitten it would be hard, nay it was to be found impossible, for the flock to keep from scattering.
It would seem that Peter put too carnal a meaning into his Lord’s words. Two swords were forthcoming after those words were uttered,^ and Peter took possession of one of them. What blundering use he made of it we know. The stroke which cut off Malchus’ ear,- would, but for Jesus’ intervention, have proved fatal to them all. It was quite another kind of armour or defence which the coming crisis called for. It was that which the Master Himself had, and in which He placed all His trust. It
^ Luke 22:3b.
3 John 18:10.
FROM THE GARDEN TO THE CROSS
would have been well had the disciples gone to meet the crisis as He did. It would have been worth their while, “ selling their garments,” parting with all else, to buy such a sword as He carried, a sword which was to beat down Satan under His feet, and to win for Him the victory of redemption.
It is remarkable how Jesus rests His prophetic eye on this victory, even when He is about to enter the scene of His passion, and how He seeks to share with His disciples the comfort which the hope of it gave to Himself. While He places before them the dark picture of His agony and cross He is careful to lighten it for them by the hope of His resurrection. In a way so true to His beautiful and perfect love for them He tells them that so soon as ever He should come back from the grave He would make His way to them, that the old fellowship, broken for a while by death, might be resumed never to be broken again.
“After I am risen again,” He says, “I will go before you into Galilee.”^ In the old loved haunts, in the Galilee where they had walked so long with their Master and seen so much of Him, and which was dear to them as the country of
1 Matt. 26:32; Mark xiv 28.
LEAVING THE UPPER POOM
their birth, their kindred and their toils, they should meet again, and their joy should be full.
With such discourse of trial and victory, of the darkness of the night and the joy of the morning that was to follow it all, Jesus beguiled the way for His disciples till they reached the garden.
There they thought to pass the solemn paschal night just as probably they had passed many another before. It was, however, destined to be the scene of momentous events for which, notwithstanding all that had been or could be said, they were unprepared.