Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Book I: The Carpenter
 Book II: The Prophet
 Book III: Victim and Victor
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Group Title: wonderful life
Title: The wonderful life
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027917/00001
 Material Information
Title: The wonderful life
Physical Description: viii, 251, 8 p. : col. ill, col. map ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Stretton, Hesba, 1832-1911
Weller, Edwin J ( Printer )
Henry S. King (Publisher) ( Publisher )
Caxton Printing Works ( Printer )
Publisher: Henry S. King & Co.
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Caxton Printing Works
Publication Date: 1875
Copyright Date: 1875
Subject: Publishers' catalogues -- 1875   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1875
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
England -- Beccles
General Note: Frontispiece and maps printed in colors.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
General Note: Map printed by Edw. Weller.
Statement of Responsibility: by Hesba Stretton.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027917
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: notis - ALH8610
oclc - 35868794
alephbibnum - 002238115

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
    Book I: The Carpenter
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
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    Book II: The Prophet
        Page 41
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        Page 158
    Book III: Victim and Victor
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
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        Page A-1
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    Back Matter
        Back Matter 1
        Back Matter 2
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

1-,i` 7 1m,
* e *, .* A .e..W em

The Baldwin ibray

S tTUS. thic vr, t-,u.ht of Tlic
With sweetncz, tills in, .rca.t :
Buit s'.ecter fihr Thiv l- to tce.
And in 'I hy prc l,_n,.e r t.

Nor ..i':c can Iin-. nor heart can ranme,
Nr r can the memory find,
.-\ sw. t.r so:un,[ than Yh\ Lbtcst name,.
vi,_,ur o" mankind.

(0) hop,,: ..!f .ry omtrnt, heart,
(. jy of all the mn k.
To tl-,:.,Ie %%.ho fall, how knnd Thou art:
I{Aw good to those who e ck '

But thost who find T'hm lind a bliss
N,-.r tongue nor [..en can -how:
"1i love ul Jc'. I:. l .at it 4,
NNonc but H is lo-:cd on-s know.

.. .<







Isaiah ix. 6.




(All rights reserved.)


THE following slight and brief sketch is merely the story
of the life and death of our Lord. It has been written for
those who have not the leisure, or the books, needed
for threading together the fragmentary and scattered in-
cidents recorded in the Four Gospels. Of late years these
records have been searched diligently for the smallest
links, which might serve to complete the chain of those
years passed amongst us by One who called Himself
the Son of Man, and did not refuse to be called the Son
of God. This little book is intended only to present
the result of these close investigations, made by many
learned men, in a plain continuous narrative, suitable for
unlearned readers. There is nothing new in it. It would
be difficult to write anything new of that Life, which has
been studied and sifted for nearly nineteen hundred years.

vi Preface.

The great mystery that surrounds Christ is left un-
touched. Neither love nor thought of ours can reach
the heart of it, whilst still we see Him as through a glass
darkly. When we behold Him as He is, face to face,
then, and only then, shall we know fully what He was,
and what He did for us. Whilst we strain our eyes to
catch the mysterious vision, but dimly visible, we are in
danger of becoming blind to that human, simple, homely
life, spent amongst us as the pattern of our days. "If
any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth
nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love
- God, the same is known of Him." Happy they who are
content with being known of God.

Christmas, 1874.


I. THE HOLY LAND ... ... ... ... 3
III. IN THE TEMPLE ... ... ... ... 16
IV. THE WISE MEN ... .. ... ... 21
V. NAZARETH ... ... ... ... ... 27
VI. THE FIRST PASSOVER ... ... ... 33


I. JOHN THE BAPTIST ... ... ... ... 43
II. CANA OF GALILEE ... ... ... 48
III. THE FIRST SUMMER ... ... ... ... 54
IV. SAMARIA ... ... ... ... ... 61
VL His OLD HOME ... ... ....... 73
VII. CAPERNAUM ... .. ... ... 78

"viii Contents.

IX. AT NAIN ... ... ... ... ... 96
X. MIGHTY WORKS ... ... .. ... 100
XI. A HOLIDAY IN GALILEE ... ... ... 108
XII. IN THE NORTH ... ... ... ... 116
XIII. AT HOME ONCE MORE ... ... ... 124
XIV. THE LAST AUTUMN ... ... ... 133
XV. LAZARUS ... ... ... ... ... 145
XVI. THE LAST SABBATH ... ... .. 152


I. THE SON OF DAVID ... ... ... 161
II. THE TRAITOR ... ... ... 172
III. THE PASCHAL SUPPER ... ... ... 117
IV. GETHSEMANE ... ... ... ... 186
"V. THE HIGH PRIEST'S PALACE ... ... ... 192
VII. CALVARY ... ... ... ... ... 206
VIII. IN THE GRAVE .. ... ... ... 212
IX. THE SEPULCHRE ... ... ... ... 218
X. EMMAUS ... .. ... ... 229
XI. IT IS THE LORD ... .. ... ... 235
XII. His FRIENDS ... ... ... ... 241
XIII. His FOES .. ... ... ... ... 246



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VERY far away from our own country lies the land
where Jesus Christ was born. More than two thousand
miles stretch between us and it, and those who wish to
visit it must journey over sea and land to reach its
shores. It rests in the very heart and centre of the
Old World, with Asia, Europe, and Africa encircling it.
A little land it is, only half the length of England, and
but fifty miles broad from the Great Sea, or the Mediter-
ranean, on the west, to the river Jordan, on the east.
But its hills and valleys, its dusty roads, and green
pastures, its vineyards and oliveyards, and its village-
streets have been trodden by the feet of our Lord; and
for us, as well as for the Jews, to whom God gave it, it is
the Holy Land.
The country lies high, and forms a table-land, on
which there are mountains of considerable height. Moses
describes it as 'a good land, a land of brooks of water, of

4 The Wonderful Life.

fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;
a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and
pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land
wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness. A land
which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord
thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the
year, even unto the end of the year.' The sky is cloud-
less, except in the end of autumn and in winter, and no
moisture collects but in the form of dew. In former
times vineyards and orchards climbed up the slopes of
every hill, and the plains were covered with wheat and
barley. It was densely peopled, far more so than our
own country is now, and over all the land villages and
towns were built, with farm-houses scattered between
them. Herds of sheep and goats were pastured in
the valleys, and on the barren mountains, where the
vines and olives could not grow.
There are two lakes in Palestine, one in the north-
west, the other south-west, with the river Jordan flowing
between them, through a deep valley, sixty miles long.
The southern lake is the Dead Sea, or Sea of Death.
No living creature can exist in its salt waters. The
palm-trees carried down by the floods of Jordan are cast
up again by the waves on the marshy shore, and lie
strewn about it, bare and bleached, and crusted over
with salt. Naked rocks close in the sea, with no verdure
upon them; rarely is a bird seen to fly across it, whilst
at the southern end, where there is a mountain, and

The Holy Land. 5

pillars of rock-salt, white as snow, there always hangs a
veil of mist, like smoke ascending up for ever and ever
into the blue sky above. As the brown and rapid stream
of Jordan flows into it on the north, the waters will not
mingle, but the salt waves foam against the fresh, sweet
current of the river, as if to oppose its effort to bring
some life into its desolate and barren depths.
The northern lake is called the Sea of Galilee. Like
the Dead Sea, it lies in a deep basin, surrounded by
hills; but this depth gives to it so warm and fertilizing
a climate, that the shores are covered with a thick jungle
of shrubs, 'especially of the oleander, with its rose-
coloured blossoms. Grassy slopes here and there lead
up to the feet of the mountains. .The deep blue waters
are sweet, clear, and transparent, and in some places the
waves ebb and flow over beds of flowers, which have
crept down to the very margin of the lake. Flocks of
birds build among the jungle, and water-fowl skim across
the surface of the lake in myriads, for the water teems
with fish. All the early hours of the morning the lark
sings there merrily, and throughout the live-long day
the moaning of the dove is heard. In former times,
when the shores of the lake were crowded with villages,
hundreds of boats and little ships with white sails sailed
upon it, and all sorts of fruit and corn were cultivated
on the western plain.
The Holy Land, in the time of our Lord, was divided
into three provinces, almost into three countries, as

6 The Wonderful Lzfe.

distinct as England, Scotland, and Wales. In the south
was Judea, with the capital, Jerusalem, the Holy City,
where the Temple of the Jews was built, and where their
king dwelt. The people of Judea were more courtly
and polished, and, perhaps, more educated than the other
Jews, for they lived nearer Jerusalem, where all the
greatest and wisest men of the nation had their homes.
Up in the north lay Galilee, inhabited by stronger and
rougher men, whose work was harder and whose speech
was harsher than their southern brethren, but whose spirit
was more independent, and more ready to rebel against
tyranny. Between those two districts, occupied by Jews,
lay an unfriendly country, called Samaria, whose people
were of a mixed race, descended from a colony of
heathen who had been settled in the country seven
hundred years before, and who had so largely inter-
married with the Jews that they had often sought to
become united with them as one nation. The Jews had
steadily resisted this union, and now a feeling of bitter
enmity existed between them, so that Galilee was shut off
from Judea by an alien country.
The great prosperity of the Jewish nation had passed
away long before our Lord was born. An unpopular king,
Herod, who did not belong to the royal house of David,
was reigning; but he held his throne only upon sufferance
from the great emperor of Rome, whose people had then
subdued all the known world. As yet there were no
Roman tax-gatherers in the land, but Herod paid tribute

The Holy Land. 7

to Augustus, and this was raised by heavy taxes upon the
people. All the country was full of murmuring, and
discontent, and dread. But a secret hope was running
deep down in every Jewish heart, helping them to bear
their present burdens. The time was well-nigh fulfilled
when, according to the prophets, a King of the House of
David, greater than David in battle, and more glorious
than Solomon in all his glory, should be born to the
nation. Far away in Galilee, in the little villages among
the hills, and the busy towns by the lake, and down in
southern Judea, in the beautiful capital, Jerusalem, and in
the sacred cities of the priests, a whisper passed from one
drooping spirit to another, 'Patience! the kingdom of
Messiah is at hand.'
As the land of our Lord lies many hundreds of miles
from us, so His life on this earth was passed hundreds of
years ago. There are innumerable questions we long to
ask, but there is no one to answer. Four little books,
each one called a Gospel, or the good tidings of Jesus
Christ, are all we have to tell us of that most beautiful
and most wondrous life. But whenever we name the
date of the present year we are counting from the time
when He was born. In reality, He was born three or
four years earlier, and though the date is not exactly
known, it is now most likely 1877, instead of 1874, years
since Mary laid Him, a new-born babe, in His lowly
cradle of a manger in Bethlehem.

8 The Wonderful Life.


JERUSALEM was a city beautiful for situation, built on two
ridges of rocky ground, with a deep valley between them.
It was full of splendid palaces and towers, with aqueducts
and bridges, and massive walls, the stones of which are
still a marvel for their size. Upon the ridge of Mount
Zion stood the marble palaces of the king, his noblemen,
and the high priest; on the opposite and lower hill rose
the Temple, built of snow-white marble, with cedar roofs,
and parapets of gold, which, glistening in the bright
sunshine and pure moonlight, could be seen from afar off
in the clear, dry atmosphere of that eastern land. From
ridge to ridge a magnificent viaduct was built, connecting
the Temple Mount with Mount Zion and its streets of
Every Jew had a far more fervent and loyal affection
for the Temple than for the palace of the king. It was,
in fact, the palace of their true King, Jehovah. Three
times a year their law ordained a solemn feast to be held

7erusalem and Bethlehem. 9

there, grander than the festivities of any earthly king.
Troops of Jews came up to them from all parts of the
country, even from northern Galilee, which was three or
four days' journey distant, and from foreign lands, where
emigrants had settled. It was a joyous crowd, and they
were joyous times. Friends who had been long parted
met once more together, and went up in glad companies
to the house of their God. It has been reckoned that at
the great feast, that of the Passover, nearly three millions
of Jews thronged the streets and suburbs of the Holy
City, most of whom had offerings and sacrifices to present
in the Temple; for nowhere else under the blue sky
could any sacrifice be offered to the true God.
Even a beloved king held no place in the heart of
the Jews beside their Temple. But Herod, who was
then reigning, was hateful to the people, though he had
rebuilt the Temple for them with extraordinary splen-
dour. He was cruel, revengeful, and cowardly, terribly
jealous, and suspicious of all about him, so far as to have
put to death his own wife and three of his sons. The
crowds who came to the feasts carried the story of his
tyranny to the remotest corners of his kingdom. He
even offended his patron, the emperor of Rome; and
the emperor had written to him a very sharp letter,
saying that he had hitherto treated him as a friend, but
now he should deal with him as an enemy. Augustus
ordered that a tax should be levied on the Jews, as
in other conquered countries, and required from Herod

Io The Wonderful Life.

a return of all his subjects who would be liable to the
This command of the Roman emperor threw the
whole nation into disturbance. The return was allowed
to be made by Herod, not by the Romans themselves,
and he proceeded to do it in the usual Jewish fashion.
The registers of the Jews were carefully kept in the cities
of their families, but the people were scattered throughout
the country. It was therefore necessary to order every
man to go to the city of his own family, there to answer
to the register of his name and age, and to give in an
account of the property he possessed. Besides this, he
was required to take an oath to Cesar and the king;
a bitter trial to the Jews, who boasted, years afterwards,
under a Roman governor, We are a free people, and were
never in bondage to any man.' There must have been
so much natural discontent felt at this requirement that it
is not likely the winter season would be chosen for carry-
ing it out. The best, because the least busy time of the
year, would be after the olives and grapes were gathered,
and before the season for sowing the corn came, which
was in November. The Feast of Tabernacles was held
at the close of the vintage, and fell about the end of
September or beginning of October. It was the most
joyous of all the feasts, and as the great national Day of
Atonement immediately preceded it, it was probably very
largely attended by the nation; and perhaps the gladness
of the season might in some measure tend to counteract
the discontent of the people.

Yerusalem and Bethlehem. 1

But whether at the Feast of Tabernacles, or later in
the year, the whole Jewish nation was astir, marching to
and fro to the cities of their families. At this very time
a singular event befell a company of shepherds, who
were watching their flocks by night in the open plain
stretching some miles eastward from Bethlehem, a small
village about six miles from Jerusalem. Bethlehem was
the city of the house of David, .nd all the descendants
of that beloved king were assembled to answer to their
names on the register, and to be enrolled as Roman
subjects. The shepherds had not yet brought in their
flocks for the winter, and they were watching them with
more than usual care, it may be, because of the unsettled
state of the country, and the gathering together of so
many strangers, not for a religious, but for a political
purpose, which would include the lowest classes of the
people, as well as the law-loving and law-abiding Jews.
No doubt this threatened taxing and compulsory oath
of subjection had intensified the desire of the nation for
the coming of the Messiah. Every man desires to be
delivered from degradation and taxes, if he cares nothing
about being saved from his sins. It was not safe to
speak openly of the expected Messiah: but out on the
wide plains, with the darkness shutting them in, the
shepherds could while away the long, chilly hours with
talking of the events of the passing times, and of that
promised king whom, so their teachers said in secret,
was soon, very soon to appear to crush their enemies.

12 The Wonderful Life.

But as the night wore on, when some of them were
growing drowsy, and the talk had fallen into a few slow
sentences spoken from time to time, a light, above the
brightness of the sun, which had sunk below the horizon
hours ago, shone all about them with a strange splendour.
As soon as their dazzled eyes could bear the light, they
saw within it a form as of an angel. Sore afraid they
were as they caught sight of each other's faces in this
terrible, unknown glory. But quickly the angel spoke to
them, lest their terror should grow too great for them
to hear aright.
Fear not,' he said, 'for, behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For
unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto
you : Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger.'
Suddenly, as the angel ended his message, the shep-
herds saw, standing with him in the glorious light, a great
multitude of the blessed hosts that people heaven, who
were singing a new song under the silent stars, which
shone dimly in the far-off sky. Once before the morn-
ing stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted
for joy' because God had created a world. Now, at
the birth of a child, in the little village close by, where
many an angry Jew had lain down to a troubled sleep,
they sang, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men.'

7erusalem and Bethlehem. 13

The sign given to the shepherds served as a guide to
them. They were to find the new-born babe cradled in a
manger, with no softer bed than the fodder of the cattle.
Surely, the poorest mother in the humblest home in Beth-
lehem could provide better for her child. They must,
then, seek the Messiah, just proclaimed to them, among
the strangers who were sleeping in the village inn. All
day long had parties of travellers been crossing the plain,
and the shepherds would know very well that the little
inn, which was built at the eastern part of the village,
merely as a shelter for such chance passers-by, would be
quite full. It was not a large building; for Bethlehem
was too near to Jerusalem for many persons to tarry there
for the night, instead of pressing forward to the Holy
City. It was only on such an occasion as this that the
inn was likely to be over full.
But as the shepherds drew near the eastern gate, they
probably saw the glimmering of a lamp near the inn. It
is a very old tradition that our Lord was born in a cave;
and this is quite probable. If the inn were built near to
a cave, it would naturally be used by the travellers for
storing away their food from the heavy night dews, al-
though their mules and asses might stay out in the open air.
A light in the cave would attract the shepherds to it, and
there they found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying
in a manger. A plain working man, like themselves, his
wife, and a helpless new-born child; how strangely this
sight must have struck them, after the glory and mystery

14 The Wonderful Life.

of the vision of angels they had just witnessed How
different was Mary's low, hushed voice as she pointed
out the child born since the sun went down, from that
chorus of glad song, when all the heavenly host sang
praises to God.
A strange story they had to tell Mary of the vision
they had just seen. She was feeling the first great glad-
ness and joy of every mother over her child born into the
world, but in Mary's case this joy was brightened beyond
that of all other women, yet shadowed by the mystery of
being the chosen mother of the Messiah. The shep-
herds' statement increased her gladness, and lifted her
above the natural feeling of dishonour done to her child
by the poor and lowly circumstances of his birth; whilst
they, satisfied with the testimony of their own senses,
having seen and heard for themselves, went away, and
made known these singular and mysterious events. All
who heard these things wondered at them; but as the
shepherds were men of no account, and Joseph and
Mary were poor strangers in" the place, we may be sure
there would be few to care about such a babe, in those
days of vexation and tumult. Had the Messiah been
born in a palace, and the vision of the heavenly host
been witnessed by a company of the priests, the whole
nation would have centred their hopes and expectations
upon the child; and unless a whole series of miracles
had been worked for his preservation the Roman con-
querors would have destroyed both Him and them. No

7erusalem and Bethlehem. 15

miracle was wrought for the infant Christ, save that
constant ministry of angels, sent forth to minister unto
Him who was the Captain of salvation, even as they are
sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of

16 The Wonderful Life.



JOSEPH and Mary did not remain in the cave longer than
could be helped. As soon as the unusual crowd of
strangers was gone, they found some other dwelling-
place, though not in the inn, which was intended for no
more than a shelter for passing travellers. They had
forty days to wait before Mary could go up to the Temple
to offer her sacrifice after the birth of her child, when
also Joseph would present him to the Lord, according to
the ancient law that every first-born child, which was
a son, belonged especially to God. Joseph could not
afford to live in idleness for six weeks; and as he had
known beforehand that they must be detained in Beth-
lehem so long, he probably had carried with him his
carpenter's tools, and now set about looking for work. It
is likely that both he and Mary thought it best to bring
up Jesus in Bethlehem, where He was born; for they
must have known the prophecy that out of Bethlehem
should come the Messiah. It was near to Jerusalem,
and from His earliest years the child would become

In the Temple. 1 7

familiar with the Temple, and its services and priests.
It was not far from the hill country, where Zacharias and
Elizabeth were living, whose son, born in their old age,
was still only an infant of six months, but whose future
mission was to be the forerunner of the Messiah. For
every reason it would seem best to return no more to
Nazareth, the obscure village in Galilee, but to settle in
Bethlehem itself.
At the end of forty days, Mary went up to Jerusalem
to offer her sacrifice, and Joseph to present the child, and
pay the ransom of five shekels for Him, without which
the priests might claim Him as a servant to do the menial
work of the Temple. They must have passed by the
tomb of Rachel, who so many centuries before had died
in giving birth to her son; and Mary, whose heart
pondered over such things, may have whispered to herself,
as she clasped her child closer to her, 'In Rama was a
voice heard; lamentation and weeping, and great mourn-
ing; Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be
comforted, because they are not.' She did not know the
full meaning of those words yet; but, amid her own
wonderful happiness, she would sigh over Rachel's sorrow,
little thinking that the prophecy linked it with the baby
she was carrying in her arms.
At this time the Temple was being rebuilt by Herod,
in the most costly and magnificent manner, but we will
keep the description of it until twelve years later, when
Jesus came to His first passover. Mary's offering of two

18 The Wonderful Life.

turtle-doves, instead of a lamb and a turtle-dove, proves
the poverty of Joseph, for only poor persons were allowed
to substitute another turtle-dove or young pigeon for a
lamb. These birds abound in the Holy Land, and were
consequently of very small value. After she had made
her offering, and before Joseph presented the child to the
Lord, an old man, dwelling in Jerusalem, came into the
Temple. It had been revealed to him that he should
not see death before his eyes had beheld the blessed
vision of the Lord's Christ, for whom he had waited
through many long years. Now, seeing this little child,
he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, saying,
' Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for
mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.' Whilst Joseph and
Mary wondered at these words, Simeon blessed them,
and speaking to Mary alone, he continued: 'Behold,
this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in
Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
(yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,)
that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'
This was the first word of sorrow that had fallen upon
Mary's ears since the angel had appeared to her, more
than ten months before, in her lowly home in Nazareth.
Hitherto, the great mystery that set her apart from all
other women had been full of rapture only. Her song
had been one of triumphant gladness, with not a single
note of sorrow mingling with it. Her soul had magnified
the Lord, because He had regarded her low estate; she

In the Temple. 19

was hungry, and He had filled her with good things. She
had heard through the countless ages of the future all
generations calling her blessed. A new, mysterious
tender life had been breathed through her, and she had
been overshadowed by the Highest, whose shadow is
brighter than all earthly joys and glories. Now, for forty
days she had nursed the Holy Child, and no dimness had
come across her rapture. Yet, when she brings the child
to His Father's house, the first word of sorrow is spoken,
and the first faint thrill of a mother's ready fears crept
coldly into her heart.
So as they walked home in the cool of the day to
Bethlehem, and passed again the tomb of Rachel, Mary
would probably be pondering over the words of Simeon,
and wondering what the sword was that would pierce her
own soul. The first prick of that sharp anguish was soon
to make itself felt.
Besides Simeon, Anna, a very aged prophetess, had
seen the child, and both spoke of Him to them that
looked for redemption or deliverance in Jerusalem.
Quietly, and in trusted circles, would this event be
spoken of; for all knew the extreme danger of calling the
attention of Herod to such a matter. They were too
familiar with the cowardice and cruelty of their king to
let any rumour reach him of the birth of the Messiah. It
does not appear, moreover, that either Simeon or Anna
knew where He was to be found. But a remarkable
circumstance, which came to pass soon after, exposed

20 The Wonderful Life.

the child of Bethlehem to the very peril they pru-
dently sought to shield Him from, and destroyed the
hopes of those who did not know that He escaped the

( 21 )



AMONG the many travellers who visited Jerusalem
which was the most magnificent city of the East, there
came at this time a party of distinguished strangers who
had journeyed from the far East. They were soon known
to be both wise and wealthy ; men who had given up
their lives to learned and scientific studies, especially
that of astronomy. They said they had seen, in their
close and ceaseless scrutiny of the sky, a new star, which,
for some reason not known to us, they connected with
the distant land of Judea, and called it the star of the
King of the Jews.
There was an idea spread throughout all countries at
that time, that a personage of vast wisdom and power, a
Deliverer, was about to be born among the Jews. These
wise men at once set off for the capital of Judea; for
where else could the King of the Jews be born? Pos-
sibly they may have expected to find all the city astir
with rejoicings; but they could not even get an answer
to their question, Where is He ?' Those who had heard

22 The Wonderful Life.

of Him had kept the secret faithfully. But before long
Herod was told of these extraordinary strangers, and
their search for a new-born King, who was no child of his.
He was an old man, nearly seventy, and in a wretched
state, both of body and mind; tormented by his con-
science, yet not guided by it, and ready for any measure
of cunning and cruelty. All Jerusalem was troubled with
him, for not the shrewdest man in Jerusalem could guess
what Herod would do, in any moment of rage.
Herod immediately sent for all the chief priests and
scribes, who came together in much fear and consterna-
tion, and demanded of them where the Messiah should
be born. They did not attempt to hesitate, or conceal
the birth-place. If any of them had heard of the child of
Bethlehem, and Simeon's and Anna's statement concerning
Him, their dread of Herod was too powerful for them to
risk their own lives in an attempt to shield Him. In
Bethlehem,' they answered promptly. Right glad would
they be when Herod, satisfied with this information,
dismissed them, and they went their way safe and sound
to their houses. Thus at the outset the chief priests and
scribes proved themselves unwilling to suffer anything for
the Messiah, whose office it was to bring to them glory
and dominion.
Privately, but courteously, Herod then sent for the wise
men, and inquired of them diligently how long it was
since the star appeared; and bade them seek the child in
Bethlehem, and when they had found Him to bring him

The Wise Men. 23

word, that he might go and do homage to Him also.
There was nothing in the king's manner or words to
arouse their suspicions of his real purpose, and no doubt
they set out for Bethlehem with the intention of returning
to Jerusalem.
Still it appeared likely that there would be some diffi-
culty in discovering the child, of whom they knew nothing
certainly, except that they were to search, and to search
diligently, for Him in Bethlehem. They rejoiced with
exceeding great joy, therefore, when, as they left the walls
of Jerusalem behind them in the evening dusk, they saw
the star again hanging in the southern sky, and going
before them on their way. No need now for guides, no
need to wander up and down the streets, asking for the
new-born King. The star, or meteor, stood over the
humble house where the young child was, and, entering
in, they saw Him, with Mary, His mother, and fell down,
doing Him homage as the King whose star was even now
shining above the lowly roof that sheltered Him. There
was no palace, no train of servants, no guard, save the
poor carpenter, whose day's work was done, and who was
watching over the young child; but they could not be mis-
taken. The future glorious King of the Jews was here.
They had not come from their distant country to seek
a king empty-handed. Royal presents they had prepared
and brought with them; and now they opened their
treasures, and offered costly gifts to Him, gold, and
frankincense, and myrrh, such as they would have

24 The Wonderful Life.

presented, had they found the child in Herod's own
palace in Jerusalem. Then, taking their leave, they
were about to return to Herod, when a warning dream
which they could not mistake or misinterpret, directed
them to depart into their country another way.
The hour was at hand when the costly gifts of the
wise men would be necessary for the preservation of
the poor little family, not yet settled and at home in
its new quarters. Even as a babe the Son of Man had
not where to lay His head; and no spot on earth was a
resting-place for Him. After the wise men were gone,
the angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream, saying,
'Arise, take the young child and his mother, and flee
into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word:
for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him.'
Mary's chilly fears then were being realized, and she
felt the first prick of the sword that should pierce her
soul. The visit of the wise men from the far East had
been another hour of exultation and another testimony to
the claims of her son. Possibly they may have told her
that the king himself wished to come down from Jerusa-
lem, and worship Him; and dreams of splendour, of
kingly and priestly protection for the infant Messiah,
might well fill her mind. But now she learned that
Herod was seeking the child's life, to destroy Him. They
could not escape too quickly; there was no time to be
lost. The angel's words were urgent, 'Arise, at once.'
It was night; a winter's night, but there must be no

The Wise Men. 25

delay. At daybreak the villagers would be astir, and
they could not get away unseen. Before the grey streak
of light was dawning in the east, they ought to be some
miles on the road. Mary must carry the child, shielding
Him as best she could from the chilly dampness of the
night; and Joseph must load himself with the wise men's
gifts. Little had she thought, when those rich foreigners
were falling down before her child in homage, that only a
night or two later she would be stealing with Him through
the dark and silent streets, as if she was a criminal, not
the happy mother of the glorious Messiah. And they
were to flee out of the Holy Land itself, into Egypt, the
old land of bondage !
Unseen, unnoticed, the flight from Bethlehem was
made. They were but strangers there; and very few, if
any, of the inhabitants would miss the strangers from
Nazareth, who had settled among them so lately, and
who had now gone away again with as little observation
as they came.
Herod very soon came to the conclusion that the
wise men, for some reason or other unknown to him, did
not intend to obey his orders. They could very well
have made the journey to Bethlehem in a day, and when
he found that they did not return to him, he was exceed-
ing wroth; for kings do not often meet with those who
disregard their invitations. He quickly made up his
mind what to do. If the wise men had brought him
word where the child was, he would have been content to

26 The Wondefful Lzfe.

slay only Him; now he must destroy all the infants
under two years of age, to make sure of crushing that life,
which threatened his crown. There was ample margin in
the two years for any mistake on his own part, or that of
the wise men. The child must perish if he put to death
all the little ones of the unhappy village.
We wonder if the news reached Mary in her place of
refuge and safety in Egypt. Whilst she went about the
streets of Bethlehem she must have seen many of those
little children in their mothers' arms: their laughter and
their cries had rung in her ears; and with her newly-
opened mother's eyes, she had compared them with her
own blessed child, and loved them dearly for His sake.
Now she would know the dire meaning of these words,
'In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and
weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her
children, and would not be comforted, because they are
not." A mystery of grief began to mingle itself with the
mystery of her Son's life. In her heart, which was for ever
pondering over the strange events that had already be-
fallen Him and herself, there must always have been a
very sad memory of the children who had perished on
His account; and it may be that one of the first stories
her lips uttered to the little Son at her knee was the story
of their winter's flight into Egypt, and the slaying of all
the children under two years of age who lived in Beth-
lehem, the place where He was born,




HEROD died a shocking death, after terrible suffering
both of mind and body. Once even, in his extreme misery,
he attempted to put an end to himself, but was prevented
by his attendants. A few days only before he died he
put to death his son Antipater, and appointed his son
Archelaus to succeed him as king in Judea; but he
separated Galilee from the kingdom, and left it to another
son, Herod Antipas. He was in his seventieth year
when he died, after reigning thirty-seven years; one of
the most wicked and most wretched of kings.
It was now safe for Joseph and Mary to bring the
child back to their native land. They seem to have had
the idea of settling in Judea again, instead of taking
Jesus to the despised province of Galilee ; but when they
reached Judea they heard that Archelaus reigned in the
room of his father Herod, and that during the Passover
week he had ordered his guards to march into the
Temple amid the throng of worshippers, where they had
massacred three thousand of the Jews. Such news
naturally filled them with terror, and they might have

28 The Wonderful Life.

sought safety again in Egypt; but Joseph was warned in
a dream to go on into the land of Galilee. He was left
to choose the exact place where he would settle down,
and he returned to Nazareth, his and Mary's early home,
where their kinsfolk lived. There was every reason why
they should go back to Nazareth, since Jesus could not
be brought up in his own city, the mournful little village of
Bethlehem, where no child of his own age was now alive.
Here, in Nazareth, they were at home again; and
long years of the most quiet blessedness lay before the
mother of Jesus, though the trifling daily cares of life may
have fretted it a little from too perfect a bliss for this
world. The little child who played about her feet, who
prattled beside her as she went down to the fountain for
water, who listened with uplifted eyes to every word she
spoke, never gave her a moment's pain, or made her heart
ache by one careless or unkind word. Never once had
the mother's voice to change its tone of tenderness into
one of anger. Never had a frown to come across her
loving and peaceful face when it was turned towards
Him. As He grew in wisdom and favour with God and
man, she could rest upon that wisdom and grace, never
to be disappointed, never to be thrown back upon herself.
The most blessed years ever lived by woman were those
of Mary, in the humble home in Nazareth.
It lay in the heart of the mountains, at the end of a
little valley hardly a mile long, and not more than half a
mile broad, with the barren slopes of hills shutting it in

Nazareth. 29

on every side. The valley was as green and fertile as a
garden; and the village clung to the side of one of the
mountains, half nestling at its foot. From the brow of
the hills rising behind the village a splendid landscape
was to be seen, westward to the glistening waters of the
Mediterranean, with Mount Carmel stretching into them;
northward as far as the snowy peaks of Hermon; and
southward over the great plain of Jezreel, rich in corn-
fields; all the country being dotted over with villages
and towns. The landscape is there still, and the deep
blue sky hanging over all, and the clear atmosphere
through which distant objects seem near, and the sighing
of the wind across the plains, and the hum of insects,
and the songs of birds ; all is as it was when Jesus Christ
climbed the mountains, as He loved to do, and sat on
the summit, with a heart and spirit in full harmony with
the loveliness around Him, and with no secret sadness
of the conscience to make Him feel that He was not
worthy to be there.
It was no lonely life that Jesus led. We read again
and again of His brethren and sisters; and though it is
not generally thought that these could have been Mary's
children," but the children of her sister, they were so

I agree in this opinion, chiefly for the reason that when Jesus
died he committed Mary to the care of His young disciple John,
which would seem unnatural to any tender-hearted, good mother,
who had at least four other sons and two daughters living. Our
Lord would hardly throw so much discredit upon such relation-

30 The Wonderful Life.

associated with Him that all His life long they acted as
His own brethren and sisters. With them He would
go to school, and learn to read and write, for all Jews
were carefully educated in these two branches. The
books He had to study we know and possess in the Old
Testament. Very probably He would own one of them,
though they would be so costly as to be almost beyond
His means, or those of His supposed father. We should
like to know that He had the Book of Psalms, those
Psalms which Mary knew so well and had sung to Him
so often; or the prophecy of Isaiah, in which His young,
undimmed eyes, that had hardly looked upon sorrow yet,
and had never smarted with tears of penitence, would
read and read again the warning words of the Messiah's
sufferings, 'a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief.'
When He was alone yonder on the breezy summit of the
mountain, did He ever sing, The Lord is my Shepherd'?
And did He never whisper to Himself the awful words,
'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me ?'
Besides His cousins there were His neighbours all
about Him, quite commonplace people, who could not
see how innocent and beautiful His life was. They were
a passionate, rough race, notorious throughout the country,
so that it had become almost a proverb, Can any good
thing come out of Nazareth ?' Jesus dwelt amongst them
as one of them; Joseph the carpenter's son. He could
not yet heal the sick ; but is there no help and comfort in
tender compassion for those who suffer? The widow's

Nazareth. 3

son at Nain was not the first He had seen carried out
for burial. The man born blind was not the only one
groping about in darkness, who felt His hand, and heard
the pitying tones of His troubled voice. We may be sure
that amongst His neighbours in Nazareth Jesus saw many
a form of suffering, and His heart always echoed to a cry,
if it were but the cry of an animal in pain.
In one other way Jesus shared the common lot of
boys. He had to take to a trade which was not likely to
have been His choice. Whether as the eldest son of a
large family, or the only son of a woman left a widow,
He had to learn the trade of His supposed father. The
little workshop, where neighbours could always drop in
with their trifling gossip, or at work in their own houses,
where they could grumble and find fault; this must have
been irksome to Him. The long, monotonous hours, the
insignificant labour, the ceaseless buzz of chattering about
Him; we can understand how weary and worn His
spirit must have felt as well as His body. If He could
have been a shepherd, like Moses, the great lawgiver,
and David, his only kingly ancestor, how far more fitting
that would have seemed How His courage and tender-
ness towards His flock would have been a type of what
He would be in after life! The solitude would have been
sweet to Him, and the changing aspects of the seasons
from year to year. In after life He often compared
Himself to a shepherd, but never once is there any
reference to His uncongenial calling in the hot workshop

32 The Wonderful Life.

of Nazareth, where the only advantage was that it did
not separate Him from His mother.
Does a blameless life win favour among any people?
There was one man in Galilee, one only in the wide
world, who never needed to go up to Jerusalem to offer
any sacrifice for sin. Neither sin-offering nor trespass-
offering had this man to bring to the altar of God. The
peace-offering He could eat in the courts of the Temple
as a type of happy communion with the unseen God,
and of a complete surrender of Himself to His will.
But, let the people scan His conduct as closely as village
neighbours can do, not one among them could say that
Jesus, the son of Joseph, had need to carry up to
Jerusalem an offering for any trespass. Did they love
Him the better for this? Did He find honour among
them? Nay, not even in His father's house.

( 33 )



THERE is one incident, and only one, given to us of the
early life of our Lord.
It was the custom of His parents to go up to
Jerusalem once a year, to the feast of the passover. For
the Jews living in Galilee it was a long journey; but the
feast came at the finest time of the year for travelling,
after the rains of winter, and before the dry heat of
summer. It was a great yearly pilgrimage, in which
troops from every village and town on the road came to
swell the numbers as the pilgrims marched southward.
Past the corn-fields, where the grain was already forming
in the ear; under the mountain slopes, clothed with
silvery olive trees and the young green of the vines;
across the babbling brooks, not yet dried by heat; through
groves of sycamores and oak trees fresh in leaf, the long
procession passed from town to town; sleeping safely in
the open air by night, and journeying by pleasant stages
in the day, until they reached Judea; and, weary with

34 The Wonderful Life.

the dusty road from Jericho to Jerusalem, shouted with
joy when they turned a curve of the Mount of Olives,
and saw the Holy City lying before them.
Jesus was twelve years old when, probably, He first
made this long yet joyous march up to Jerusalem. We
can fancy the eager boy 'going on before them,' as He
did many years later when He went up to His last
passover; hastening forward for that first glorious view of
Jerusalem, which met His eye from Olivet, the mount
which was to be so closely associated with His after life.
There stood the Holy City, with its marble palaces
crowning the heights of Zion; and the still more mag-
nificent Temple on its own mount, bathed in the brilliant
light of the spring sunshine. The white wondrous
beauty of His Father's house, with the trembling columns
of smoke ever rising from its altars through the clear air
to the blue heavens above, rose opposite to Him. We
know the hymn that His tremulous, joyous lips would
sing, and that would be echoed by the procession follow-
ing Him as they too caught sight of the house of God,
' How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of
the Lord : my heart and my flesh cry out for the living
God!' Thousands upon thousands of pilgrims had
chanted that psalm before Him; but never one like that
boy of twelve, when His Father's house was first seen by
His happy eyes.
Perhaps there was no hour of perfect happiness like

The First Passover. 35

that to Jesus again. Joseph was still alive, caring for
Him and protecting Him. His mother, who could not
but recall the strange events that had accompanied His.
birth, kept Him at her side as they entered the Temple,
pointing out to Him the splendour and the sacred sym-
bols of the place. The silvery music of the Temple
service; the thunder of the Amens of the vast congre-
gations; the faint scent of incense wafted towards Him;
all fell upon the vivid, delicate senses of youth. And
below these visible signs there was breaking upon Him
their deep, invisible, spiritual meaning; though not yet
darkened with the shadow of that awful burden to be
laid upon Himself, when He, as the Lamb of God, was
to take away the sins of the world. This was the time,
perhaps, when He was anointed with the oil of gladness
above His fellows' more than at any other season of
His life.
The Temple had been rebuilt by Herod in the vain
hope of winning popularity among his people. The
outer walls formed a square of a thousand feet, with
double or treble rows of aisles between ranks of marble
pillars. These colonnades surrounded the first court, that
of the Gentiles, into which foreigners might enter, though
they were forbidden to go further upon pain of death. A
flight of fifteen steps led from this court into that of the
women, a large space where the whole congregation of
worshippers assembled, but beyond which women were
not allowed to go, unless they had a sacrifice to offer.

36 The Wonderful Lie.

The next court had a small space railed off, called the
Court of Israel; but the whole bore the name of the
Court of the Priests, in which stood a great altar of un-
hewn stones forty-eight feet square, upon which three
fires were kept burning continually, for the purpose of
consuming the sacrifices. Beyond these courts stood the
actual Temple, containing the Holy Place, which was
entered by none but a few priests, who were chosen by
lot daily; and the Holiest of Holies, open only to the
High Priest himself, and to him but once a year, on the
great Day of Atonement.
It was here, in the Temple, that Jesus loved to be
during His sojourn in Jerusalem; but the feast was soon
ended, and His parents started homewards with the re-
turning band of pilgrims. Probably Jesus set off with them
from the place where they had lodged; and they, sup-
posing Him to be with some of His young companions,
with His cousins perhaps, went a day's journey from
Jerusalem. But when the night fell, and they sought
Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance, He was
nowhere to be found. A terrible night would that be for
both of them, but especially for Mary, whose fears for
Him had been slumbering during the quiet years at
Nazareth, but were not dead. Was it possible that any
one could have discovered their cherished secret, that this
was the child whom the wise men had come so far to
see, and for whom Herod had slain so many infants in
Bethlehem? They turned back to Jerusalem seeking

The First Passover. 37

Him in sorrow. It was the third day before they found
Him. Where He lived those three days we do not
know. Why not 'where the sparrow hath found a house,
and the swallow a nest for herself'? It was in the
Temple that Joseph and Mary found Him; in one of
the public rooms or halls opening out of the court
of the Gentiles, where the Rabbis and those learned
in the law were wont to assemble for teaching or
argument. Jesus was in the midst of them asking ques-
tions, and answering those put to Him by the astonished
Rabbis, who had not expected much understanding from
this boy from Galilee. His parents themselves were
amazed when they saw Him there; and Mary, who
seems to have had no difficulty in approaching Him,
spoke to Him chidingly.
'Son,' she said, 'why hast Thou dealt thus with us ?
behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.'
The question fell upon Him as the first dimness upon
the glory and gladness of His sojourn in the Temple.
The poor home at Nazareth, His father Joseph, the car-
penter's shop, the daily work, pressed back upon Him
in the place of the Temple music, the prayer, the daily
sacrifice. There they stood, His supposed father, weary
with the long search, and His mother looking at Him
with sorrowful, reproaching eyes. He was ready to go
back with them, but He could not go without a pang.
How is it that ye sought me?' He asked, sadly;
'did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?'

38 The Wonderful Life.

But He had not come to this earth to dwell in His
father's house; and He must leave it now, only to revisit
it from time to time. He went down with them, and
came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but His
mother kept all these sayings in her heart.'
Eighteen more years, years of monotonous labour,
did Jesus live in Nazareth. Changes came to His home
as well as to others. Joseph died, and left His mother
altogether dependent upon Him. Galilee was still go-
verned by Herod Antipas; but in Judea the King Arche-
laus had been dethroned, and the country was made a
province of Rome, under Roman governors. This had
happened whilst Jesus was a boy, and a rebellion had
been attempted under a leader called Judas of Galilee,
which had caused great excitement. Though it had
been put down by the Romans, there still remained a
party, secretly popular, who used every effort to free their
country from the Roman yoke. So strong had grown the
longing for the Messiah, that a number of the people
were ready to embrace the cause of any leader, who
would claim that title, and lead them against their
enemies and masters:
There was a numerous class of His fellow-countrymen
to whom Jesus must have been naturally drawn during
His youth, and to whom He may have attached Himself
for a time. This was the sect of the Pharisees, noble
and patriotic as our Puritans were, in the beginning; and
at all times living a frugal and devout life, in fair contrast

The First Passover. 39

with the Sadducees, who were wealthy, luxurious, and
indifferent. The Pharisees were mostly of the middle
classes; and their ceaseless devotion to religion gave
them great authority among the common people. To
the child Jesus they must have appeared nearer to God
than any other class. There were among them two
parties: one following a Rabbi of the name of Hillel,
who was a gentle, cautious, tolerant man, averse to
making enemies, and of a most merciful and forgiving
disposition. Some say that he began to teach only thirty
years before the birth of Christ; and it is certainly
amongst his disciples that Jesus found some friends and
followers. The second party was that of Shammai, who
differed from the other in numberless ways. They were
well known for their fierceness and jealousy, for stirring
up the people against any one they hated, and for shrink-
ing from no bloodshed in furthering their religious views.
They were scrupulous about the fulfilment of the most
trivial laws which had come down to them through tradi-
tion. These had grown so numerous through the lapse
of centuries, that it was scarcely possible to live for an
hour without breaking some commandment.
Yet among the Pharisees there were many right-
minded and noble men, to whom Jesus must have been
attracted. 'The only true Pharisee,' said the Talmud,
that collection of traditions which they held to be of
equal authority with the Scriptures-' the only true
Pharisee is he who does the will of his Father which is

40 The Wonderful Life.

in heaven because he loves Him.' Such Pharisees, when
He met with them, as He did meet with them, won His
love and approbation. It was the 'Scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites,' whom He hated.



(43 )



JESUs was about thirty years of age when a rumour
reached Nazareth of a prophet who had appeared in
Judea. It was more than four hundred years since a
prophet had arisen; but it was well known that Elias
must come before Messiah as His forerunner. Such a
prophet was now baptizing in Jordan; and all Judea and
Jerusalem itself were sending multitudes to be baptized
by him. Before long his name was known: it was John,
the son of Elisabeth, Mary's cousin, whose birth had
taken place six months before that of Jesus.
We have no reason to suppose that any person living
at this time, except Mary, knew Jesus to be the Son of
God. Those who had known it were Joseph, Zacharias,
and Elisabeth; and all these were dead. John, to whom
we might suppose his parents would tell the mysterious
secret, says expressly that he did not know Him to be
the Messiah until it was revealed to him from heaven.
He was familiar with his cousin Jesus, and felt himself,
with all his stern, rigid life in the wilderness, to be

44 The Wonderful Life.

unworthy to stoop down and unloose the latchet of His
sandals; although he was a priest, who was known
throughout the land as a prophet, and Jesus was merely
a village carpenter, whose life had been a common life
of toil amidst His comrades. Mary, alone knew her son
to be the promised Messiah; and though the long years
may somewhat have dulled her hopes, they flamed up
again suddenly when the news came that John the fore-
runner had begun to preach The kingdom of God is at
hand,' and that multitudes, even of the Pharisees, were
flocking to his baptism, so to enlist themselves as subjects
of the new kingdom.
But this news did not make any change in our Lord.
There was not less tenderness and pity in His heart when
He lived among His neighbours in Nazareth than when
He healed the sick who came to Him from every quarter.
Neither was there any more ambition in His spirit when
He passed from town to town, amid a throng of followers,
than when He climbed up into the loneliness of the
mountains about His village home. How could He be
touched by any earthly ambition, who knew Himself to
be not only a Son of God, but the only-begotten Son of
the Father? He had been waiting through these quiet,
homely years for the call to come, and now He was
ready to quit all, with the words in His heart, 'Lo, I
come : in the volume of the book it is written of me, I
delight to do Thy will, 0 my God !'
It may well be that Mary went with Him a little way

7ohn the Baptist. 45

on His road towards Jordan, on that wintry morning,
when He quitted His workshop, and the familiar streets
of Nazareth, to dwell in them no more. There was no
surprise to her in what had come to pass; but there must
have been a thrill of exultation mingled with fear. He
had been her son all these years, but now He was to
belong, not to her, but to the nation. What sorrow and
triumph must have been in her heart when at last He
bade her farewell, and she watched Him as long as He
was in sight, clad in the robe she had woven for Him
without seam, like the robe of a priest. Was He not a
priest and a king already to her?
It was winter, and though not cold in the valley of the
Jordan, the heavy and continuous rains must have dis-
persed the multitudes that had gone out to John, leaving
him almost in solitude once more. There could have
been no crowd of spectators when Jesus was baptized.
Yet even in January there are mild and sunny days when
He and John might have gone down into the river for the
significant rite which was to mark the beginning of His
new career. But John would not at first consent to
baptize his cousin Jesus, declaring that it would be more
fit for himself to be baptized by one whose life had been
holier and happier than his own. The rich and powerful
and pious Pharisees John had sent away with rebukes,
yet when Jesus came from Galilee, he forbade Him.
But Jesus would not take his refusal. For some months
John had been waiting for a sign promised to him from

46 The Wonderful Life.

heaven, which should point out to him the true Messiah;
and the people of the land looked to him to show them
the Christ, whose kingdom he was proclaiming. Now, after
he had baptized his cousin in the waters of the Jordan,
already troubled with the rains from the mountains, and
they were coming up again out of the river, he saw the
pale, wintry sky above them opening, and the Spirit of
God descending, visible to his eyes in the form of a dove,
which lighted upon Jesus, whilst a voice came from
heaven, speaking to him, and saying, This is My beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased.' What passed between
them further, the Messiah and His forerunner, we are not
told. Jesus did not stay with John the Baptist, for
immediately He left him, and the place where He had
been baptized, and went away into the wilderness, far
from the busy haunts of ordinary men, such as He had
dwelt among until now. His commonplace, everyday
life was ended, and had fallen from Him for ever: A
dense cloud of mystery which no one has been able to
pierce through surrounds the forty days in which He was
alone in the wilderness, suffering the first pangs of the
grief with which He was bruised and smitten for our
iniquities, being fiercely assailed of the devil, that He
might Himself suffer being tempted, and so able to suc-
cour all those who are tempted. The compassion and
fellow-feeling He had before had for sufferers He was
henceforth to feel for sinners. There was to be no gulf
between Him and the sinners He was about to call to

7ohn the Baptist. 47

repentance; He was to be their friend, their companion,
and it was His part to know the stress and strain of
temptation which had overcome them. Sinners were to
feel, when they drew near to Him, that He knew all
about them and their sins, and needed not that any man
should tell Him. He had been in all points tempted as
they had been.

48 Thhe Wonderful Life.



WHEN Jesus returned to Jordan the short winter of
Palestine was over, and already an eager crowd had
gathered again about John. On the day of His return, a
deputation from the Pharisees had come from Jerusalem
to question John as to his authority for thus baptizing
the people. They were the religious rulers of the nation,
and felt themselves bound to inquire into any new
religious rite, and to ask for the credentials of any would-
be prophet. These priests who had come to see John
knew him to be a priest, and were, probably, inclined to
take his part, if they could do so in safety. They asked
him, eagerly, Art thou Christ ?' Art thou Elias ?' Art
thou that prophet ?' And when he answered, No,' they
ask again, Who art thou ? What sayest thou of thyself?'
The crowd was listening, and Jesus, standing amongst
them, was also listening for his reply. 'I am a voice,' he
said, the voice spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, crying
in the wilderness, Prepare ye the ways of the Lord.' The

Cana of Galilee. 49

priests were disappointed with this answer, and asked,
' Why baptizest thou then ?' They had not given him
authority to appear as a prophet, yet here he was draw
ing great multitudes about him, and publicly reproving
the most religious sect of the nation, calling them a
generation of vipers, and bidding them bring forth fruits
worthy of repentance. From that time they began to
throw discredit upon the preaching of John the Baptist,
and spoke despitefully against him, saying, 'He hath a
devil.' Nothing is easier than to fling a bad name at
those who are not of our own way of thinking.
Two days after this, John the Baptist pointed out
Jesus to two of his disciples as the Messiah whose coming
he had foretold. These two, Andrew and a young man
named John, immediately followed Jesus, and being
invited by Him to the place where He was staying, they
remained the rest of the day with Him; probably took
their first meal with Him, their hearts burning within
them as He opened the Scriptures to their understanding.
The next morning Andrew met with his brother Simon,
and said, We have found the Messiah,' and brought him
to Jesus. The day following, Jesus was about to start
home again to Galilee, and seeing Philip, who already
knew Him, He said to him, 'Follow Me !' Simon and
Andrew, who were Philip's townsmen, were at that time
with Jesus; Philip was ready to obey, but he first found
Nathanael, and said to him, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the
son of Joseph, is He of whom Moses and the prophets

50 The Wonderful Life.

did write !' 'Can any good thing come out of Nazareth ?'
cried Nathanael, doubtingly; but he went to Jesus and
was so satisfied by the few words He spoke to him, that
he exclaimed, 'Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou
art the King of Israel I'
With these five followers Jesus turned His steps home-
wards, after an absence of nearly two months. All of
them lived in Galilee; and Simon Peter and Andrew,
who had a house in Capernaum, at the head of the Lake
of Galilee, appear to have turned off and left the little
company, at the point where their nearest way home
crossed the route taken by the others. Jesus went on
with the other three : Philip, whom He had distinctly
called to follow Him; Nathanael, whose home in Cana of
Galilee lay directly north of Nazareth; and John, who was
hardly more than a youth, and as yet free from the ties
and duties of manhood. A pleasant march must that
have been along the valleys lying south of Mount Tabor,
with the spring sun shining overhead, and all the green
sward bedecked with flowers, and the birds singing in
the cool, fragrant air of morning and evening.
But they did not find Mary at Nazareth. She was
gone with the cousins of Jesus to a marriage at Cana in
Galilee, the town of Nathanael, where he had a home, to
which he gladly urged his new-found Rabbi to go. He
could not have foreseen this pleasure; but now, as they
went on northward to Cana, the Messiah was his guest,
and, with Philip and John, was to enter into his house.

Cana of Galilee. 51

But no sooner was it known that they were come into the
village than Jesus was called with His friends, one of
whom was an old neighbour of the bridegroom, to join
the marriage feast.
There was very much that Mary longed to hear from
her son after this long absence; but the circumstances
could not have been favourable for it. In His beloved
face, worn and pale with His forty days of temptation
and fasting in the wilderness, her eyes saw a change
which told plainly that His new life had begun in suffer-
ing. He looked as if He had passed through a trial which
set Him apart. Perhaps He found time to tell her of
His hunger in the desert, and the temptation which came
to Him to use His miraculous powers in order to turn
stones into bread for Himself. It seems that, in some
way or other, she knew that, like Elijah and Elisha, the
great prophets of olden times, He could, and would,
work miracles as a sign to the people that He came
from God; and she felt all a mother's eagerness that He
should at once manifest His glory.
So when there was no more wine she turned to Him,
hoping for some open proof to the friends about her that
He possessed this wonder-working power. Besides, she
had been accustomed to turn to him in every trouble, in
any trifling, household difficulty; casting all her cares
upon Him, because she knew He cared for her. So she
said to Him, quietly, yet significantly, 'They have no
wine.' Some of Elisha's miracles had been even more

52 The Wonderful Life.

homely; he had made the poisoned pottage fit for food,
and had fed a company of people with but a scanty
supply of barley-cakes. Why should not Jesus gladden
the feast and save His friends from shame, by making
the wine last out to the end?
A few days before our Lord had been in the desert,
amid the wild beasts, with the devil tempting Him. Now
He, who was to be in all things one with us, was
sitting at a marriage feast among His friends; His
mother and kinsfolk there, with His new followers;
every face about Him glad and happy. It was not
the first marriage He had been at, for His sisters, no
doubt, were married, and living at Nazareth; and He
knew what the mortification would be if the social mirth
came too suddenly to an end. He cared for these little
pleasures and little innocent enjoyments, and would
not have them spoiled. The miracle He refused to
work to satisfy His own severe hunger He wrought for
the innocent pleasure of the friends who were rejoicing
around Him. There were six water-pots of stone standing
by for the use of the guests in washing their hands before
sitting down to the table, and He bade the servants first
to fill them up again with water to the brim, and then to
draw out, and bear to the ruler of the feast. Upon
tasting it he cried out to the bridegroom, Every man
at the beginning doth set forth good wine; but thou
hast kept the good wine until now.'
So Christ changes water into wine, tears into gladness,

Cana of Galilee. 53

the waves and floods of sorrow into a crystal sea, whereon
the harpers stand, having the harps of God. But He can
work this miracle only for His friends; none but those
who loved Him drank of that wine. It was no grand
miracle of giving sight to eyes born blind, or raising to life
a widow's son. Yet there is a special fitness in it. He
had long known what poverty, and straitness, and house-
hold cares were, and He must show that these common
troubles were not beneath His notice; no, nor the
little secret pangs of anxiety and disappointment which
we so often hide from those about us. We are not all
called to bear extraordinary sorrows, but most of us
know what trifling cares are; and it was one of these
small, household difficulties the Son of Man met by
His first miracle.
After this, Jesus, with His mother, and brethren, and
disciples, went down to Capernaum for a few days, until
it was time to go on their yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem,
to the feast of the passover, which was near at hand.
Peter and Andrew were living there, and might join
them in their journey to Judea; though they do not
seem to have stayed with our Lord, but probably re-
turned after the passover to their own home until He
considered it a fit time to call them to leave all and
follow Him.

54 The Wonderful Life.



FOR the first time Jesus went up to Jerusalem with His
little band of followers, who knew Him to be the
Messiah; and His cousins, who did not yet believe in
Him, but were apparently willing to do so if He would
act as they expected the Messiah to act If He
would repeat His miracle on a large scale, and so con-
vince the mass of the people, they were ready enough
to proclaim Him as the Messiah.
Would not John the Baptist be there too ? He as a
priest, and as a prophet, would no doubt be looked for,
as Jesus afterwards was, at the feast of the passover. He
must have had a strong impetuous yearning to see Him,
who had been pointed out to him as the Lamb of God
that should take away the sin of the world. Maybe He
ate the Paschal Supper with Jesus and His disciples. We
fancy we see him, the well-known hermit-prophet from
the wilderness, in his robe of camel's hair, with its
leather girdle, and his long, shaggy hair, and weather-

The First Summer. 55

beaten face, following closely the steps of Jesus, through
the streets, and about the courts of the Temple, listening
to His words with thirsty ears, and calling himself 'The
friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth
Him, rejoicing greatly because of the bridegroom's voice.'
It was the last passover John the Baptist would ever
celebrate; though that he could not know.
Upon going up into the Temple, Jesus found the
court of the Gentiles thronged with sheep, and oxen, and
doves, animals needed for the sacrifices, but disturbing
the congregation, which assembled in the court of the
women, by their incessant lowing and cooing. Money-
changers were sitting there also; for Roman coins were
now in common use instead of the Jewish money, which
alone was lawful for payment in the Temple. No doubt
there was a good deal of loud and angry debate round
the tables of the money-changers; and a disgraceful con-
fusion and disorder prevailed. Jesus took up a scourge
of small cords, and drove out of the Temple the noisy
oxen and sheep, bidding the sellers of the doves to carry
them away. The tables of the money-changers He
overturned; and no one opposed Him, but conscious of
the scandal they had brought upon the Temple they
retreated before Him. 'Make not My Father's house
a house of merchandise,' He said. To Him it was
always His 'Father's house;' and before He could
manifest forth His glory, His Father must first be glori-
fied. The disciples, looking upon His face, remembered

56 The Wonderful Life.

that it had been written, The zeal of thine house hath
eaten me up.'
But the priests and Levites of the Temple, to whom
this traffic brought much profit, were not so easily con-
science-pricked as the merchants had been. They could
not defend the wrong practices, but they came together
to question the authority of this young stranger from
Galilee. If John the Baptist had done it, probably they
would not have ventured to speak, for all the people
counted him a prophet But this was a new man from
Galilee The Jews held the Galileans in scorn, as only
little better than the Samaritans. 'What sign shewest
Thou,' they ask, 'seeing that Thou doest such things?'
The things were signs themselves; the mighty, prevailing
anger of the Lord, and the smitten consciences of the
merchants, if they had not been too blind to see them.
Jesus gave them a mysterious answer, which none could
understand. 'Destroy this temple,' He said, 'and in
three days I will raise it up.' What were they to pull
down all they most prided in, and trusted in: their
Temple, which had been forty and six years in build-
ing They left Him, but they treasured up His words
in their memories. The disciples also remembered
them, and believed them, when the mysterious sign was
But Jesus did not seek to convince the people without
signs, and signs which they could understand. He
worked certain miracles in Jerusalem during the week of

The First Summer. 57

the feast, which won a degree of faith from many. But
their faith was not strong and true enough for Him to
trust to it, and He held Himself aloof from them. What
they looked for was an earthly king, who should plot and
conspire for the throne; and the Roman soldiers, who
garrisoned the strong fortress which overlooked the
Temple, would not have borne the rumour of such a king.
There was at all times great danger of these expectations
reaching the ears of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor,
who was not a man to shrink from needless bloodshed.
For the sake of the people themselves Jesus did not
commit Himself unto them.
SAmongst those who heard of the miracles He had
wrought was one of the Pharisees, a member of the great
religious committee among them called the Sanhedrim.
His name was Nicodemus, and he came to our Lord by
night, to inquire more particularly what He was teaching.
Jesus told him more distinctly than He had yet done
what His new message to the Jews and to the whole
world was: 'For God so loved the world, that He gave
His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish, but have everlasting life.' Nicodemus
went away strongly impressed with the new doctrine,
though not prepared to give up all for its sake, and not
yet called upon to do so. But from that time Jesus had a
firm friend in the very midst of the Pharisees, who used his
powerful influence to protect Him; and the feast passed
by without any further jealous interference from the priests.

58 The Wonderful Life.

But it was not quite safe or suitable to remain in
Jerusalem; and after the greater number of their friends
and kinsmen had returned home, Jesus, with two or
three of His disciples, sought the banks of the Jordan,
whither John the Baptist had already returned. The
harvest was beginning, for it was near the end of April,
and bands of harvesters passed to and fro from up-
lands to lowlands until all the corn was gathered in by
the end of June. Down in the valley of the Jordan the
summer is very hot; and the wants of life are few. They
could sleep in the open air, or in some hut of branches
rudely woven together; and their food, like John the
Baptist's, cost little or nothing. There was to be no
settled home henceforth for any one of them. The
disciples had left all to follow the Son of Man, and He
had not where to lay His head.
Crowds of eager and curious followers came to Jesus,
as the year before they had flocked to John the Baptist,
who had now moved some miles farther up the river, and
was still preaching 'The kingdom of God is at hand.'
But John did no miracle, and the crowds that followed
Jesus were greater than those who followed him. In the
eyes of the Pharisees it must have seemed that the two
prophets were in rivalry; and many a jest and a sneer
would be heard in the Temple courts and in the streets of
Jerusalem as they talked of those 'two fanatics' on the
banks of the Jordan. Even John the Baptist's disciples
fancied that a wrong was done their Rabbi by this new

The First Summer. 59

teacher, who had been with him for a while, and so
learned his manner of arousing and teaching the people.
They went to John, and said, Rabbi, He that was with
thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness,
behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come unto
Now was John's opportunity to manifest a wonderful
humility and devotion. I am of the earth, earthy, and
speak of the earth,' he said; 'He that cometh from
heaven is above all. The Father loveth the Son, and
hath given all things into His hands. I am but the
friend of the bridegroom; I stand and hear Him, and
rejoice greatly because of His voice. This my joy there-
fore is fulfilled.'
Did he hear that voice often, and rejoice in it?
There were not many miles separating them, and both of
them were hardy, and used to long marches. It may
well be that during those summer months they met often
on the banks of the river--the happiest season of John's
life. For he had been a lonely, unloved man, living a
wild life in the wilderness, strange to social and homelike
ways; his father and mother long since dead, with neither
brother nor sister, he would find in Jesus all the missing
relationships, and pour out to Him the richest treasures
of a heart that no loving trust had opened until now.
So the summer passed away, and the autumn with its
vintage; then the rainy months drew near. Bands of
harvestmen and bands of pilgrims had gone by, tarrying

60 The Wonderfud Life.

for a few hours to learn truths they had never heard
before, even in the Temple. Many of them were baptized
by the disciples, though Jesus baptized not. The new
prophet had become more popular than the old prophet,
and John's words were fulfilled, He must increase, but
I must decrease.'

( 6 )



THERE were several reasons why our Lord should leave
the banks of the Jordan, besides that of the rainy season
coming on. The Pharisees were beginning to take more
special notice of Him, having heard that He had made
more disciples even than John, whom they barely
tolerated. Moreover, this friend and forerunner of His
had been seized by Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, and
cast into a dreary prison on the east of the Dead Sea.
This violent measure was likely to excite a disturbance
among the people; and Jesus, whose aim was in no way
to come into collision with the government, could not
prudently remain in a neighbourhood too near the fortress
where John was imprisoned. He therefore withdrew from
the Jordan, in the month of December or January,
having been in Judea since the feast of the passover in
the spring.
One way to His old home, the place where His
relatives were still living, lay through Samaria, a country

62 The Wonderful Life.

IIe had probably never crossed, as the inhabitants were
uncivil and churlish towards all Jewish travellers,
especially if their faces were towards Jerusalem. But
Jesus was journeying to Galilee, and did not expect them
to be actively hostile to Him and His little band of com-
panions. It was an interesting road, and led Him
through Shechem, one of the oldest cities in the world,
lying between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, in a
vale so narrow at the eastern end, that when the priests
stood on these mountains to pronounce the blessings and
the curses in the ears of all the children of Israel, there
was no difficulty for the people standing in the valley to
hear distinctly. Two miles away was a very deep well,
the waters of which were cool in the hottest summer;
a well dug by the patriarch Jacob upon the same parcel
of a field where he built his first altar to the God of Israel.
Here too were buried the bones of Joseph, which had
been carried for forty years through the wilderness to the
land his father Jacob had given to him and to his children
specially. Shiloh also lay along the route; and Jesus,
who possessed every innocent and refined taste, must
have enjoyed passing through these ancient places, so
intimately connected with the early history of His nation.
Shechem lay about eighteen or twenty miles distant
from the fords of Jordan, near which we suppose Jesus to
have been dwelling. By the time He and His disciples
reached Jacob's well, after this long morning's march, it
was noon-day, and He was wearied, more wearied than

Samaria. 63

the rest, who appear always to have been stronger than
He was. They left Him sitting by the side of the well,
whilst they went on into the city to buy food for their
mid-day meal. Their Master was thirsty, but the well
was deep, and they had nothing to draw up the water.
They hastened on, therefore, eager to return with food for
Him whom they loved to minister to.
Not long after a Samaritan woman came to draw
water, and was much astonished when this Jew asked her
to give Him some to drink. She was probably less
churlish than a man would have been, though she was
barely civil. But as Jesus spoke with her she made the
discovery that He was a prophet; and immediately re-
ferred to Him the most vexing question which separated
the Jews from the Samaritans. The latter had a temple
upon Mount Gerizim, which had been rebuilt by Herod,
as the Temple at Jerusalem had been; and she asked
which is the place where men ought to worship ? Here,
or at Jerusalem ? She could only expect one answer
from a Jew; an answer to excuse her anger, and send
her away from the well without satisfying His thirst. But
Jesus had now forgotten both thirst and weariness. He
knew that many a sorrowful heart had prayed to God as
truly from Mount Gerizim as from the Temple at Jeru-
salem. There is no special place, He answered, for in
every place men may worship the Father; the true wor-
shippers worship Him in spirit and in truth, for God is a
Spirit. This was no such answer as the woman looked

64 The Wonderful Life.

for; and her next words were spoken in a different
temper. We are looking for the Messiah, as well as the
Jews,' she said, and when He is come, He will tell us
all things that we do not yet know.' Jesus had already
told her the circumstances of her own life, and she was
looking at Him wistfully, with this thought of the Messiah
in her mind, when He said to her more plainly, more
distinctly, perhaps, than He had ever done before to any
one, 'I that speak to thee am He.'

By this time the disciples had come back, and were
much astonished to find Him talking to the woman. If
they heard these last words they would marvel still more,
for Jesus generally left men to discover His claims to the
Messiahship. The wrong impression prevailing among
the Jews concerning the Messiah was not shared by the
Samaritans. The latter kept closely to the plain and
simple law of Moses, without receiving the traditions
which the Pharisees held of equal importance with the
law, and were thus more ready to understand the claims
and work of Christ. The woman therefore hurried back
to the city, leaving her water-pot, and called together the
men of the place to come out and see if this man were
not the Christ. They besought Him to stay with them
in their ancient city under the Mount of Blessing; and,
no doubt very much to the amazement of His disciples,
He consented, and abode there two days, spending the
time in teaching them His doctrine, the very inner

Samaria. 65

meaning of which He had already laid open to the
woman. 'God is a Spirit; He is the Father, whom
every true worshipper may worship in the recesses of his
own spirit.' Many of them believed, and said to the
woman, 'We have heard Him ourselves, and know that
this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.'
Wonderful words, which filled the heart of Christ with
rejoicing. Not His own nation, not His own disciples,
not even His own kinsmen, had learned so much of His
mission as these Samaritans; ever afterwards He spoke
of them with tenderness, and when He would take a
type of Himself in the parable of the man fallen among
thieves, He chose not a Jew, but a despised Samaritan.
From Sychar Jesus passed through one of the long
deep valleys which lead to the plain of Esdraelon, where
He was once more in Galilee. It was winter, and the
snow was glistening on the lower mountains, as well as
upon the distant range of Lebanon. The heavy rains
had swollen the brooks into floods; and all the great
plain before Him, which in four months' time would be
ripe for harvest, a sea of golden grain, scarcely rippled by
a gust of wind, was now lying in wintry brownness and
desolation, and swept by the storms of hail and rain. He
seems to have passed by Nazareth, staying, if He stayed
at all, for a few hours only, and to have gone on with
Nathanael to his home in Cana, where Jesus had many
friends, especially the bridegroom whose marriage-feast in
the spring He had made glad with no common gladness.

66 The Wonderful Life.

He had not been long in Cana before the streets of
the little village witnessed the arrival of a great nobleman
from Capernaum, who had heard of the fame of Jesus in
Judea, and the miracles He had wrought there. Until
now, with the exception of Nicodemus, it would seem
that none but people of His owr class had sought Him,
or brought their' sick to be healed by Him. But this
nobleman had a son, whose life all the skill of the Jewish
physicians could not save; and his last hope lay with
Jesus. His faith could not grasp more than the idea
that if Jesus came, like any other physician, to see and
touch the child, He would have the power to heal him.
'Sir, come down,' he cried, before my son is dead.'
'Go thy way,' Jesus answered; 'thy son liveth.' What
was there in His voice and glance which filled the father's
heart with perfect trust and peace ? The nobleman did
not hurry away, though there was time for him to reach
home before nightfall. But the next day, as he was
going down to Capernaum, he met his servants, who had
been sent after him with the good news that the fever
-had left his son yesterday at the seventh hour; that same
hour when Jesus had said to him, 'Thy son liveth.'
Now He had a friend and disciple amongst the
wealthiest and highest classes in Capernaum, as He had
one amongst the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem. Both protected
Him as much as it lay in their power; and it is supposed
by many that the mother of the child thus healed was
the same as Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward,

Samaria. 67

who, with other women, attended our Lord during the last
year of His life, and ministered to Him of their substance.
Thus, on every hand, Jesus was making friends and
enemies. A year had scarcely passed since He quitted
his humble home in Nazareth; but His name was already
known throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria; and
everywhere people were ranging themselves into two
parties, for and against Him. Amongst the common
people He had few enemies; amongst the wealthy and
religious classes He had few friends. He felt the peculiar
difficulty these latter classes had in following Him; and
expressed it in two sayings, 'I came not to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance,' and 'It is easier for
a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a
rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.'

68 The Wonderful Life.



AFTER staying a short time in Cana, Jesus went once
more to Jerusalem, about the middle of March, a month
or so before the passover. At this time there was a
feast of the Jews, not a religious, but rather a national
feast, in celebration of the deliverance of their race in the
days of Esther. It drew together many of the poorer
and lower classes, among whom our Lord's work specially
lay, and so offered to Him, perhaps, unusual oppor-
tunities for mingling with the common people living near
Jerusalem. For we do not suppose that the Galileans
went up to this feast; onlythe country-folks dwelling in
Judea, within a few miles of their chief city, who could
make a holiday at that time of the year. Either upon the
feast-day itself, or the Sabbath-day nearest to it, Jesus
walked down to the sheep-gate of the city, near which was
a pool, possessing the singular property, so it was believed,
of healing the first person who could get into it after there
had been seen a certain troubling of the water. A great

The First Sabbath-Miracle. 69

crowd of impotent folk, of halt, blind, and withered, lay
about waiting for this movement of the surface of the
pool. There was no spot in Jerusalem where we could
sooner expect to find our Lord, with His wondrous power
of healing all manner of diseases. Not even His Father's
house was more likely to be trodden by His feet than
this Bethesda, or house of mercy. Probably there was a
greater throng than usual, because of the feast, which
would offer an opportunity to many to come out of the
country. Jesus passed by until He singled out one man,
apparently because He knew he had now been crippled
for thirty-eight years, and had been so friendless that
during all that time he had no man to help him to get
down first to the water. The cripple was hopeless, but
still lingered there, as if to watch others win the blessing
which he could never reach.
Upon this miserable man Jesus looked down with
His pitying eyes, and said, as though speaking to one
who would not hesitate to obey Him, Rise, take up thy
bed, and walk.'
It seems as though Jesus passed on, and was lost in
the crowd; but the cripple felt a strange strength throb-
bing through his withered limbs. He was made whole,
and he took up his bed, to return home, if he had any
home, or at least to escape from that suffering multitude.
Then did the Pharisees behold the terrible spectacle of a
man carrying his bed through the streets of Jerusalem on
the Sabbath-day They cried to him hastily, 'It is not law-

70 The Wonderful Life.

ful for thee to carry thy bed on the Sabbath-day.' He
answered them by telling the story of his miraculous cure,
though he did not know who the stranger was, for Jesus
was gone away. No doubt he put his burden down at
the bidding of the Pharisees, but he did not lose the new
strength that had given him power to take it up.
The same day Jesus found him in the Temple,
whither he had gone in his gladness. Once more those
pitying, searching eyes were fixed upon him, and the
voice that had spoken to him in the morning sounded
again in his ears. Behold,' said Jesus, thou art made
whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.'
The man departed and told the Pharisees who it was that
had made him whole, thinking, no doubt, to bring praise
and glory to his deliverer.
Possibly until now the presence of Jesus at this feast
had not been known to the Pharisees. The last time He
was in Jerusalem He had solemnly and emphatically
claimed the Temple as His Father's house, and had
indirectly reproved them by assuming the authority to rid
it of the scandals they had allowed to creep into it. Now
they found Him deliberately setting aside one of their
most binding rules for keeping the Sabbath. John the
Baptist, though both priest and prophet, had never
ventured so far. Their religion of rites and ceremonies,
of traditions, of shows and shams, was in danger. With
their religion, they firmly believed their place and nation
would go, and Jerusalem and Judea would become like

The First Sabbath-Miracle. 71

the heathen cities and countries about them. It was
time to put a stop to it John the Baptist was in prison.
What if Jesus of Nazareth could be slain quietly, so as
not to disturb the common people, who heard Him
gladly ?
Jesus then, forewarned, it may be, by a friend, found
Himself compelled to quit Jerusalem hastily, instead of
sojourning there till the coming passover. He was now
too well known in the streets of the city to escape notice.
More than this, if He stayed until the Galileans came up
to the feast there would be constant danger of His
followers coming into collision with the Pharisees. Riots
in Jerusalem at the time of the feasts were not un-
common, and often ended in bloodshed. Not long
before, Pilate had slain eighteen Galileans in some tumnult
in the Temple courts; and there was every probability
that some such calamity might occur again should any
provocation arise.
Jesus therefore retreated from Jerusalem with the few
friends who were with Him. He had not yet chosen
His band of twelve apostles, but John, the youngest
and dearest of them all, was with Him, for it is he
alone who has given us this record of the first year of
our Lord's ministry. Philip 'also we suppose to have
been His disciple from the first, in obedience to the call,
' Follow Me;' for Jesus seems to have been particularly
grieved with his dulness of mind, when He says to him,
" Have I been so long time with you, Philip, and yet hast

72 The Wonderful Life.

thou not known Me ?' Moreover, when Jesus was next
at Jerusalem for the passover, those Greeks who wished to
see Him came and spoke to Philip as being best known
as the attendant of our Lord. Whether there were other
disciples with Him, or who they were, we do not know.
It was a little company that had lived together through
eleven months, most of which had been spent on the
banks of the Jordan, in a peaceful and happy seclusion,
save for the multitudes that came to be taught the new
doctrine, or to be healed of their afflictions. Now they
were to be persecuted, to have spies lurking about them,
to be asked treacherous questions, to have perjured
witnesses ready to swear anything against them, and to
feel from day to day that their enemies were powerful and
irreconcilable. With a sad foresight of what must be
the end, our Lord left Jerusalem and returned into

( 73 )



JEsus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.
His aunt, Mary Cleophas, was still living there with her
children, if His mother was not. The old familiar home
was the same, and the steep, narrow streets of the village,
in which He had played and worked. Coming down to
it from the unfriendly city of Jerusalem, it seemed like a
little nest of safety, lying amongst its pleasant hills.
Here, at least, so His disciples might think, they would
find repose and friendship; and the soreness of heart
that must have followed the knowledge that the Jews
sought to slay their Master would here be healed and
The Sabbath had come round again; a week since He
had given strength to the cripple. It was His custom to
go to the synagogue on the Sabbath; and the congrega-
tion which met there had been familiar with Him from
His childhood, when He went with His supposed father
Joseph. The Rabbi, or ruler, could not but have known

74 The Wonderful Life.

Him well. These rulers of the synagogue had a certain
power of both trying and scourging heretics in the place
itself. They could also excommunicate them, and lay a
curse upon them ; and Jesus knew that they would not
be averse to exercising their power. But now He went to
His accustomed place, looking round with a tender yearn-
ing of His heart towards them all; from those who sat
conspicuously in the chief seats; to the hesitating inquisi-
tive villager, seldom seen in the congregation, who crept
in at the door to see what was going on.
For all the people of Nazareth must have been filled
with curiosity that day. Their townsman had become
famous; and they longed to see Him, and to witness
some miracle wrought by Him. Almost all had spoken
to Him at one time or another; many had been brought
up with Him, and had been taught by the same school-
master. They had never thought of Him as being
different from themselves, except perhaps that no man
could bring an evil word against Him: a stupendous
difference indeed, but not one that would win Him much
favour. Yet here He was among them again, after a
year's absence or so, and throughout all the land, even
in Jerusalem itself, He was everywhere known as the
Prophet of Nazareth.
When the time came for the Scriptures to be read,
Jesus, either called by the minister or rising of His own
accord, stood up to read. It must have been what all
the congregation wished for. The low platform near the

H/is Old Home. 75

middle of the building was the best place for all to see
Him; their eyes were fastened upon Him, and their
satisfaction was still greater when He sat down to teach
them from the words He had just read. They were
astonished at the graciousness of His words and manner,
and before He could say more than, 'This day is this
Scripture fulfilled,' they began whispering to one another,
' Is not this Joseph's son ?'
There is nothing strange or unnatural in this conduct,
nor indeed anything very blameable. It is precisely
what would take place among ourselves now under the
same circumstances. Jesus was grieved, though we can-
not suppose Him to have been disappointed. He knew
they wanted to see Him do something like what He had
done in Capernaum. His sinless life had been neither a
sign nor a wonder to them; so blind were they, and so
hard of heart. But if He would do some astonishing work
they would believe in Him. 'No prophet is accepted in
his own country,' He said, and leaving the verses He was
about to explain to them, He went on to remind them
that both Elijah and Elisha, their wonder-working
prophets of olden times, had passed over Jewish suf-
ferers to bestow their help upon Gentiles. They could
not miss seeing the application. If they rejected Him,
He would turn to the Gentiles.
A sudden and violent fury seized upon all who were
in the synagogue. This threat came from the carpenter's
son They rose up with one accord to thrust Him out

76 The Wonderful Life.

of the village. As they passed along the streets the whole
population would join them, and their madness growing
stronger, they hurried Him towards a precipice near the
town, that they might cast Him down headlong. But
His brethren and disciples were there, and surely among
the people of Nazareth He had some friends who would
protect Him from so shocking a death at the hands of His
townsmen. He passed through the angry crowd, and
went His way over the green hills, which not long before
had seemed to promise Him rest and shelter from His
bitter foes. He had been accused of breaking the
Sabbath seven days ago; who was breaking the Sabbath
now? The full time was come for all this formalism of
worship to be swept away, and for Christ to proclaim
Himself Lord also of the Sabbath. Did Jesus linger on
the brow of that eastern hill looking down upon the
village which nestled at the foot of the cliff ? So quiet it
lay there, as if no tumult could ever enter into it. The
little valley, green and fresh in the cool spring-time, was
bright with flowers, like a garden amid the mountains.
He had loved this narrow glen as only children can love
the spot where they first grow conscious of the beauty of
the world around them. Here His small hands had
plucked His first lilies, more gorgeously appareled than
Solomon in all his glory. Here he had seen for the first
time the red flush in the morning sky, and the rain-
clouds rising out of the west, and had felt the south wind
blow upon His face. Upon yonder housetops he had

His Old Home. 77

watched the sparrows building; and upon these moun-
tains He had considered the ravens. The difference
between now and then pressed heavily upon Him; and
as He wept over Jerusalem, He may have wept over
Nazareth. No place on earth could be the same to Him;
and when he lost sight of it behind the brow of the
hill, He went on sadly and sorrowfully towards Caper-

7. The Wonderful Life.



THOUGH Galilee was somewhat larger than Judea, it was
in reality but a small province, not more than seventy
miles in length, or thirty in breadth. This again was
divided into Upper and Lower Galilee; the latter called
Galilee of the Gentiles. The district in which Jesus
worked most of His miracles, and went preaching from
town to town, was very small indeed, a circuit of a few
miles tending south and west of Capernaum, which for a
short time now became His home. This part of Galilee
is a lovely country, abounding in flowers and birds; and
at His time it was thickly populated, with small towns
or villages lying near one another, and farm-houses
ccupying every favourable situation. The Lake or Sea
of Galilee is about thirteen miles long, six broad, and
all the western shore was fringed with villages and
hamlets. Nowhere could Jesus have met with a more
busy stir of life. Not only Jews dwelt in this region, but
many Gentiles of all nations, especially the Roman and

Capernaumn. 79

Greek. His ministry in Judea, if the Pharisees had suf-
fered Him to remain in Judea, would not have been so
widely beneficial as in this province, where the people
were less in bondage to Jewish customs and ritualism.
It is at this point that Matthew, Mark, and Luke alike
begin the history of our Lord's work. What we have so
far read has been recorded for us in John's Gospel alone,
with the exception of the visit to Nazareth, which we learn
from Luke. Jesus had already some friends and believers
in Capernaum. There was the nobleman whose son He
had healed several weeks before. There were Andrew
and Peter, to whom He had been pointed out by John
the Baptist as the Lamb of God. It was quickly noised
abroad that Jesus of Nazareth was come to the town,
and multitudes flocked together, though it was no holy
day, to hear the words He had to teach them from God.
They found Him upon the shore of the lake, and in order
that all might see and hear Him, He entered into a boat
belonging to Peter, and asked him to push out a little
from the bank. It was early in the morning of the day
after He had been thrust out of His own village; and
now, sitting in the boat with a great multitude of eager
listeners pressing down to the water's edge, He spoke to
them the gracious words which the people of Nazareth
would not hear.
The sermon was soon over, for the listeners were work-
ing men, and had their trades to follow. Jesus then bade
Peter to put out into the deep waters, and let down his

80 The Wonderful Life.

net for a draught. Peter, who must have heard of the
miracles Jesus wrought, though he had never seen one,
seems to have obeyed without expecting much success.
But the net enclosed so many fishes that it began to
break, and his own boat, as well as that belonging to his
partners, John and James, became dangerously full. No
sooner had Peter reached the shore, where Jesus was still
standing, than, terrified at His supernatural power, he fell
at His feet, crying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful
man, O Lord.' 'Follow Me,' answered Jesus, 'and I
will make you fishers of men.' Andrew and Peter im-
mediately forsook all to attach themselves closely to
Jesus; and the same morning John and James left their
father Zebedee for the same purpose.
The next Sabbath day, which was probably not a
weekly but a legal Sabbath, coming earlier than the end
of the week, Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum
with His band of followers, four of whom were well
known in the town. The synagogue here was a much
larger and more imposing place than the one at Nazareth;
and no doubt it would be filled with a congregation as
crowded and attentive. Whilst Jesus was teaching them
an unlooked-for interruption came, not this time from the
fury.of His listeners, but from the outcry of a poor man
possessed of a devil, who had come in with the congre-
gation. Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, and the man was
cast down in the midst of the synagogue in convulsions,
with the people crowding round to help. But when the

Capernaum. 81

devil had come out of him the man himself was uninjured
and in his right mind. Such a miracle, in such a place,
spread far and wide, and with great swiftness, for all who
had seen it wrought would be eager to speak of it.
At noon Jesus went with Peter to his house for the
usual mid-day meal. Here He healed the mother of
Peter's wife of a great fever so thoroughly that, feeling
neither languor nor weakness, she arose and waited upon
them. In the afternoon probably He went to the syna-
gogue service again, to be listened to more eagerly than
We can imagine the stir there would be throughout
Capernaum that afternoon. Fevers were very prevalent
in the spring and autumn, and it is not likely that Peter's
mother was the only sufferer. There was no one there as
yet to cavil at miracles being worked on the Sabbath-day;
still the people waited until the sun was set, and then in
the brief twilight a long procession threaded the streets
to the house where Jesus was known to be, until all the
city was gathered about the door. And as the light
faded in the clear sky, a number of little twinkling lamps
would be kindled in the narrow street, lighting up the
pale sickly faces of the patients who were waiting for the
great physician to come by. We see Him passing from
one group to another, missing not one of the sufferers,
and surely saying some words of comfort or warning to
each one on whom He laid His healing hand-words
that would dwell in their memories for ever. All had

82 The Wonderful Life.

faith in Him, and all were cured of whatsoever disease
they had.
It must have been late before this was over, and the
crowd dispersed to their homes. It seems as though our
Lord, after this busy day of active ministry and untiring
sympathy, was unable to sleep; for, rising a great while
before the dawn, He sought the freshness of the cool night
air and the quiet of a lonely place, where He could pray,
or rather speak to His Father unseen and unheard. He
trode softly through the silent streets, lately so full of stir,
and made His way to some quiet spot on the shore of
the lake, pondering, it may be, over the strange contrasts
in His life, His rejection by the Nazarenes, and the
enthusiastic reception of Him by the city of Capernaum.
As soon as it was day, however, the grateful people,
discovering that He was not in Peter's house, urged His
disciples to lead them to the place where He had found
a brief repose. The disciples would probably require
little urging, for this was the homage they expected their
Master to receive. They came in multitudes, beseeching
Him to tarry with them; for, like Nicodemus, they knew
Him to be a teacher from God, by the miracles He had
done. This host of friends crowding about Him to
prevent Him from departing from them must have given
Him a moment of great gladness. But He could not
stay with them, for He must go to preach the kingdom of
God in other cities also, and if He found faith there to
perform the same wonderful and tender miracles He had
wrought in Capernaum.

Capernzaum. 83

For the next few days Jesus, with five or six disciples,
passed from village to village on the western coast of the
lake, and in the plain of Gennesaret, a lovely and fertile
tract of land, six or seven miles long, and five wide,
surrounded by the mountains which fall back from the
shore of the lake to encircle it. It was thickly covered
with small towns and villages, lying so near to one
another that the rumour of His arrival brought the in-
habitants of all the cities to any central point where they
heard that He was staying. Herod had built a city at the
south of the plain and called it Tiberias, after the Roman
emperor; but probably our Lord never entered its streets,
though all who desired to see and hear Him could readily
find an opportunity in the neighboring villages. It was
in one of these places that a leper, hopeless as his case
seemed, determined to cast himself upon the compassion
of this mighty prophet. No leper had been healed since
the days of Naaman the Syrian; yet so wonderful were
the miracles wrought by Jesus, so well known, and so
well authenticated, that the man did not doubt His
power. 'If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean,' he
cried. He soon discovered that Christ's tenderness was
as great as His power. He touched him; and imme-
diately the sufferer was cleansed. The leper noised it
abroad so much, that Jesus was compelled to hold Him-
self somewhat aloof from the town, and keep nearer to
the wild and barren mountains, where the plain was less
densely peopled, until a day or two before the Sabbath

84 The Wondeiful Life.

He returned to Capernaum, at the northern extremity of
the plain. During those few days His journeyings had
been confined to a very limited space, the beautiful but
small plain of Gennesaret, with its thick population and
numerous villages, where He could teach many people,
and perform many miracles with no loss of time in taking
long journeys.
During the week Capernaum had been in a fever of
excitement. It was quite practicable for many of the
inhabitants to go out three or four miles to the spot
where Jesus was, for the day, and return at night with the
story of what He was doing. The excitement had not
been lessened by the arrival of a party of Pharisees from
Jerusalem itself, who were openly unfriendly to the Galilean
prophet and His new doctrines. The Galileans naturally
looked up to the priesthood at Jerusalem, especially to
the Sanhedrim, as the great authorities upon religious
points. There were, moreover, plenty of Pharisees in
Capernaum, as in every Jewish town, who readily took up
the opinions of these Pharisees from Judea, and joined
them eagerly in forming a party against Jesus and His
innovations. No doubt they discussed the miracle
wrought in their own synagogue on the first Sabbath
day that Jesus was there; and were the more zealous to
condemn Him, because none of them had seen the sin of
it before it was pointed out by their keener and more
orthodox brethren from Jerusalem.
No sooner, then, was Jesus known to be in the house at

CapernauZm. 85

Capernaum than there collected such a crowd that there
was no room to receive them; no, not so much as about
the door. But some of the Pharisees had made good
their entrance, and were sitting by cavilling and criticising
in the midst of His disciples. At this time the friends of
a paralytic man who were not able to bring him into the
presence of Jesus carried him to the flat roof of a neigh-
bouring house, and so reaching the place where He sat
to teach all who could get within hearing, they took up
the loose boards of the roof and let down their friend
before Him. Jesus, pausing in His discourse, said first
to him, 'Thy sins are forgiven thee !' words that filled
the Pharisees with horror, yet with secret satisfaction.
'Who is this?' they say to one another; 'who can forgive
sins but God alone ?' You cannot see that his sins are
forgiven,' answered Jesus, 'but I will give you a sign
which you can see. It is easy to say, Thy sins be
forgiven; but I say unto thee, O man, arise, and take up
thy couch, and go into thine house.' Even the Pharisees,
the less bitter Pharisees of Galilee at least, were silenced
by this, and were for once touched with fear of this
Son of Man, who had power on earth to forgive sins.
They glorified God, saying, 'We have seen strange things
But the day was not ended. Jesus, as His custom
was, went down to the shore, where He could teach
greater numbers than in the narrow streets. As He
was passing along He saw a tax-collector sitting in his

86 The Wonderful Lifc.

booth gathering tolls for the hated Roman conquerors.
Such a person was singularly offensive to all Jews, but
especially so to the Pharisees, who looked upon publicans
as the most vicious and degraded of men. Mark tells us
this man was the son of Alpheus, or Cleophas, the uncle
of Jesus by his marriage with Mary, his mother's sister.
If so, he was a reprobate son, probably disowned by all
his family, to whom he was a sorrow and disgrace. The
presence of Jesus and his brethren in Capernaum must
have been a trial to him, bringing back to mind the days
of their happy boyhood together in Nazareth, and making
him feel keenly the misery and ignominy of the present.
But now Jesus stands opposite his booth, looks him in the
face, not angrily but tenderly, and he hears Him say,
'Levi, follow Me !' And immediately he arose, left all,
and followed Him.
The same evening Levi, or Matthew as he was after-
wards called, gave a supper at his own house to Jesus
and His disciples; and, no doubt with our Lord's per-
mission, invited many publicans like himself to come and
meet Him and hear His teaching. The Pharisees could
not let such a circumstance pass uncriticised. For their
part, their religion forbade them eating even with the
common people, and here was the Prophet eating, with
publicans and sinners. This was a fresh offence; and
Jesus answered only by saying, 'They that are whole
need not a physician, but they that are sick. I came not
to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' No

Capernaum. 87

defence was offered, and no excuse made. But there was
a sad sarcasm in His reply which must have stung the
consciences of some of them. Were they the righteous,
whom He could not call into the kingdom of God?

88 The Wonderful Life.



As spectators at Matthew's feast were two of John's
disciples, who had been sent by their master with a strange
question, Art thou He that should come, or look we for
another ? John had now been imprisoned for some time
in a gloomy dungeon on the dei-.l'ie shores of the Dead
Sea. His di. Iple;. who were inclined to be somewhat
jealous of the younger prophet, had brought him word of
the miracles wrought by Jesus, but wrought upon the
Sabbath day in direct antagonism to the Pharisees, and,
as it seemed, to the law of Moses. The very first miracle
at Cana of Galilee was altogether opposed to the austere
habits of John, who had never tasted wine. There was
something perplexing and painful to him in these reports;
and he had nothing else to do in his prison than brood
over them. Was it possible that he could have made any
mistake-could have fallen under any delusion in pro-
"claiming his cousin Jesus as the promised Messiah?
Had he truly heard a voice from heaven? Could this

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