While Jesus was teaching in Jerusalem and in the country places near it, John the Baptist was still preaching and baptizing. But already the people were leaving John and going to hear Jesus. Some of the followers of John the Baptist were not pleased as they saw that fewer people came to their master, and that the crowds were seeking Jesus. But John said to them: |I told you that I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. Jesus is the Christ, the king. He must grow greater, while I must grow less; and I am glad that it is so.|
Soon after this, Herod Antipas, the king of the province or land of Galilee, put John in prison. Herod had taken for his wife a woman named Herodias, who had left her husband to live with Herod, which was very wicked. John sent word to Herod, that it was not right for him to have this woman as his wife. These words of John made Herodias very angry. She hated John, and tried to kill him. Herod himself did not hate John so greatly, for he knew that John had spoken the truth. But he was weak, and yielded to his wife Herodias. To please her, he sent John the Baptist to a lonely prison among the mountains east of the Dead Sea; for the land in that region, as well as Galilee, was under Herod's rule. There in prison Herod hoped to keep John safe from the hate of his wife Herodias.
Soon after John the Baptist was thrown into prison, Jesus left the country near Jerusalem with his disciples, and went toward Galilee, the province in the north. Between Judea in the south and Galilee in the north, lay the land of Samaria, where the Samaritans lived, who hated the Jews. They worshipped the Lord as the Jews worshipped him, but they had their own Temple and their own priests. And they had their own Bible, which was only the five books of Moses; for they would not read the other books of the old Testament. The Jews and the Samaritans would scarcely ever speak to each other, so great was the hate between them.
When Jews went from Galilee to Jerusalem, or from Jerusalem to Galilee, they would not pass through Samaria, but went down the mountains to the river Jordan, and walked beside the river, in order to go around Samaria. But Jesus, when he would go from Jerusalem to Galilee, walked over the mountains straight through Samaria. One morning while he was on his journey, he stopped to rest beside an old well at the foot of Mount Gerizim, not far from the city of Shechem, but nearer to a little village that was called Sychar. This well had been dug by Jacob, the great father or ancestor of the Israelites, many hundreds of years before. It was an old well then in the days of Jesus; and it is much older now; for the same well may be seen in that place still. Even now travelers may have a drink from Jacob's well.
It was early in the morning, about sunrise, when Jesus was sitting by Jacob's well. He was very tired, for he had walked a long journey; he was hungry, and his disciples had gone to the village near at hand to buy food. He was thirsty, too; and as he looked into the well he could see the water a hundred feet below, but he had no rope with which to let down a cup or a jar to draw up some water to drink.
Just at this moment a Samaritan woman came to the well, with her water-jar upon her head, and her rope in her hand. Jesus looked at her, and in one glance read her soul, and saw all her life.
He knew that Jews did not often speak to Samaritans, but he said to her:
|Please to give me a drink?|
The woman saw from his looks and his dress that he was a Jew, and she said to him:
|How is it that you, who are a Jew, ask drink of me, a Samaritan woman?|
Jesus answered her:
|If you knew what God's free gift is, and if you knew who it is that says to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would ask him to give you living water, and he would give it to you.|
There was something in the words and the looks of Jesus which made the woman feel that he was not a common man. She said to him: |Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where can you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who drank from this well, and who gave it to us?|
|Whoever drinks of this water,| said Jesus, |shall thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.|
|Sir,| said the woman, |give me some of this water of yours, so that I will not thirst any more, nor come all the way to this well.|
Jesus looked at the woman, and said to her, |Go home, and bring your husband, and come here.|
|I have no husband,| answered the woman.
|Yes,| said Jesus, |you have spoken the truth. You have no husband. But you have had five husbands, and the man whom you now have is not your husband.|
The woman was filled with wonder as she heard this. She saw that here was a man who knew what others could not know. She felt that God had spoken to him, and she said:
|Sir, I see that you are a prophet of God. Tell me whether our people or the Jews are right. Our fathers have worshipped on this mountain. The Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where men should go to worship. Now, which of these is the right place?|
|Woman, believe me,| said Jesus, |there is coming a time when men shall worship God in other places besides on this mountain and in Jerusalem. The time is near; it has even now come, when the true worshippers everywhere shall pray to God in spirit and in truth; for God himself is a Spirit.|
The woman said: |I know that the Anointed one is coming, the Christ. When he comes, he will teach us all things.|
Jesus said to her:
|I that speak to you now am he, the Christ!|
Just at this time the disciples of Jesus came back from the village. They wondered to see Jesus talking with this Samaritan woman, but they said nothing.
The woman had come to draw water, but in her interest in this wonderful stranger, she forgot her errand. Leaving her water-jar, she ran back to her village, and said to the people:
|Come, see a man who told me everything that I have done in all my life! Is not this man the Christ whom we are looking for?|
Soon the woman came back to the well with many of her people. They asked Jesus to come to their town, and to stay there and teach them. He went with them, and stayed there two days, teaching the people, who were Samaritans. And many of the people in that place believed in Jesus, and said:
|We have heard for ourselves; now we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.|
THE STORY OF THE FISHERMEN
When Jesus began to teach the people by the river Jordan, a few young men came to him as followers, or disciples. Some of these men were Andrew and John, Peter and Philip and Nathanael. While Jesus was teaching near Jerusalem and in Samaria, these men stayed with Jesus; but when he came to Galilee, they went to their homes and work, for most of them were fishermen from the Sea of Galilee.
One morning, soon after Jesus came to Capernaum, he went out of the city, by the sea, followed by a great throng of people, who had come together to see him and to hear him. On the shore were lying two fishing boats, one of which belonged to Simon and Andrew, the other to James and John and their father Zebedee. The men themselves were not in the boats, but were washing their nets near by.
Jesus stepped into the boat that belonged to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, and asked them to push it out a little into the lake, so that he could talk to the people from it without being crowded too closely. They pushed it out, and then Jesus sat in the boat, and spoke to the people, as they stood upon the beach. After he had finished speaking to the people, and had sent them away, he said to Simon Peter:
|Put out into the deep water and let down your nets to catch some fish.|
[Illustration: The net caught so many fishes they could not pull it up]
|Master,| said Simon, |we have been fishing all night, and have caught nothing; but if it is your will, I will let down the net again.|
They did as Jesus bade them; and now the net caught so many fishes that Simon and Andrew could not pull it up, and it was in danger of breaking. They made signs to the two brothers, James and John, who were in the other boat, for them to come and help them. They came, and lifted the net, and poured out the fish. There were so many of them that both the boats were filled, and began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he was struck with wonder, and felt that it was by the power of God. He fell down at the feet of Jesus, saying: |Oh Lord, I am full of sin, and am not worthy of all this! Leave me, O Lord.|
But Jesus said to Simon, and to the others, |Fear not; but follow me, and I will make you from this time fishers of men.|
From that time these four men, Simon and Andrew, James and John, gave up their nets and their work, and became disciples of Jesus.
On the Sabbath, after this, Jesus and his disciples went together to the synagogue, and spoke to the people. They listened to him and were surprised at his teaching; for while the scribes always repeated what other scribes had said before, Jesus never spoke of what the men of old time had taught, but spoke in his own name, and by his own power, saying, |I say unto you,| as one who had the right to speak. Men felt that Jesus was speaking to them as the voice of God.
On one Sabbath, while Jesus was preaching, a man came into the synagogue who had in him an evil spirit; for sometimes evil spirits came into men, and lived in them and spoke out from them. The evil spirit in this man cried out, saying:
|Let us alone, thou Jesus of Nazareth! What have we to do with thee? Hast thou come to destroy us? I know thee; and I know who thou art, the Holy one of God!|
Then Jesus spoke to the evil spirit in the man:
|Be still; and come out of this man!|
Then the evil spirit threw the man down, and seemed as if he would tear him apart; but he left the man lying on the ground, without harm.
Then wonder fell upon all the people. They were filled with fear, and said: |What mighty word is this? This man speaks even to the evil spirits, and they obey him!|
After the meeting in the synagogue, Jesus went into the house where Simon Peter lived. There he saw lying upon a bed the mother of Simon's wife, who was very ill with a burning fever. He stood over her, and touched her hand. At once the fever left her; she rose up from her bed and waited upon them.
At sunset, the Sabbath day was over; and then they brought to Jesus from all parts of the city those that were sick, and some that had evil spirits in them. Jesus laid his hands upon the sick, and they became well; he drove out the evil spirits by a word, and would not allow them to speak.
THE STORY OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
Among the Jews there was one class of men hated and despised by the people more than any other. That was |the publicans.| These were the men who took from the people the tax which the Roman rulers had laid upon the land. Many of these publicans were selfish, grasping, and cruel. They robbed the people, taking more than was right. Some of them were honest men, dealing fairly, and taking no more for the tax than was needful; but because so many were wicked, all the publicans were hated alike; and they were called |sinners| by the people.
One day, when Jesus was going out of Capernaum, to the seaside, followed by a great crowd of people, he passed a publican, or tax-gatherer, who was seated at his table taking money from the people who came to pay their taxes. This man was named Matthew, or Levi; for many Jews had two names. Jesus could look into the hearts of men, and he saw that Matthew was one who might help him as one of his disciples. He looked upon Matthew, and said:
At once, the publican rose up from his table, and left it to go with Jesus. All the people wondered, as they saw one of the hated publicans among the disciples, with Peter, and John, and the rest. But Jesus believed that there is good in all kinds of people. Most of the men who followed him were poor fishermen. None of them, so far as we know, was rich. And when he called Matthew he saw a man with a true and loving heart, whose rising up to follow Jesus just as soon as he was called showed what a brave and faithful friend he would be. The first of the four books about Jesus bears Matthew's name.
A little while after Jesus called him, Matthew made a great feast for Jesus at his house; and to the feast he invited many publicans, and others whom the Jews called sinners. The Pharisees saw Jesus sitting among these people, and they said with scorn to his disciples:
|Why does your Master sit at the table with publicans and sinners?|
Jesus heard of what these men had said, and he said:
|Those that are well do not need a doctor to cure them, but those that are sick do need one. I go to these people because they know that they are sinners and need to be saved. I came not to call those who think themselves to be good, but those who wish to be made better.|
One evening Jesus went alone to a mountain not far from Capernaum. A crowd of people and his disciples followed him; but Jesus left them all, and went up to the top of the mountain, where he could be alone. There he stayed all night, praying to God, his Father and our Father. In the morning, out of all his followers, he chose twelve men who should walk with him and listen to his words, so that they might be able to teach others in turn. Some of these men he had called before; but now he called them again, and others with them. They were called |The Twelve,| or |the disciples|; and after Jesus went to heaven, they were called |The Apostles,| a word which means |those who were sent out,| because Jesus sent them out to preach the gospel to the world.
[Illustration: |I came not to call those who think themselves to be good|]
The names of the twelve disciples, or apostles, were these: Simon Peter and his brother Andrew; James and John, the two sons of Zebedee; Philip of Bethsaida, and Nathanael, who was also called Bartholomew, a name which means |the son of Tholmai|; Thomas, who was also called Didymus, a name which means |a twin,| and Matthew the publican, or tax-gatherer; another James, the son of Alpheus, who was called |James the Less,| to keep his name apart from the first James, the brother of John; and Lebbeus, who was also called Thaddeus. Lebbeus was also called Judas, but he was a different man from another Judas, whose name is always given last. The eleventh name was another Simon, who was called |the Cananean| or |Simon Zelotes|; and the last name was Judas Iscariot, who was afterward the traitor. We know very little about most of these men, but some of them in later days did a great work. Simon Peter was a leader among them, but most of them were common sort of men of whom the best we know is that they loved Jesus and followed him to the end. Some died for him, and some served him in distant and dangerous places.
[Illustration: Then, on the mountain, he preached]
Before all the people who had come to hear him, Jesus called these twelve men to stand by his side. Then, on the mountain, he preached to these disciples and to the great company of people. The disciples stood beside him, and the great crowd of people stood in front, while Jesus spoke. What he said on that day is called |The Sermon on the Mount.| Matthew wrote it down, and you can read it in his gospel, in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters. Jesus began with these words to his disciples:
|Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
|Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
|Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
|Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
|Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
|Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
|Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
|Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
|Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
|Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
|Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
|Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.|
It was in this Sermon on the Mount that Jesus told the people how they should pray, and he gave them the prayer which we all know as the Lord's Prayer.
And this was the end of the Sermon:
|Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
|And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.
|And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
|And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.|
THE STORY OF THE MIRACLE WORKER
There was at Capernaum an officer of the Roman army, a man who had under him a company of a hundred men. They called him |a centurion,| a word which means |commanding a hundred|; but we should call him |a captain.| This man was not a Jew, but was what the Jews called |a Gentile,| |a foreigner|; a name which the Jews gave to all people outside their own race. All the world except the Jews themselves were Gentiles.
This Roman centurion was a good man, and he loved the Jews, because through them he had heard of God, and had learned how to worship God. Out of his love for the Jews, he had built for them with his own money a synagogue, which may have been the very synagogue in which Jesus taught on the Sabbath days.
The centurion had a young servant, a boy whom he loved greatly; and this boy was very sick with a palsy, and near to death. The centurion had heard that Jesus could cure those who were sick; and he asked the chief men of the synagogue, who were called its |elders,| to go to Jesus and ask him to come and cure his young servant.
[Illustration: |Speak the word and my servant shall be cured|]
The elders spoke to Jesus, just as he came again to Capernaum, after the Sermon on the Mount. They asked Jesus to go with them to the centurion's house; and they said:
|He is a worthy man, and it is fitting that you should help him, for, though a Gentile, he loves our people, and he has built for us our synagogue.|
Then Jesus said, |I will go and heal him.|
But while he was on his way -- and with him were the elders, and his disciples, and a great crowd of people, who hoped to see the work of healing -- the centurion sent some other friends to Jesus with this message:
|Lord, do not take the trouble to come to my house; for I am not worthy that one so high as you are should come under my roof; and I did not think that I was worthy to go and speak to you. But speak only a word where you are, and my servant shall be made well. For I also am a man under rule, and I have soldiers under me; and I say to one 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it. You, too, have power to speak and to be obeyed. Speak the word, and my servant shall be cured.|
When Jesus heard this, he wondered at this man's faith. He turned to the people following him, and said:
|In truth I say to you, I have not found such faith as this in all Israel!|
Then he spoke to the friends of the centurion who had brought the word from him:
|Go and say to this man, 'As you have believed in me, so shall it be done to you.'|
Then those who had been sent, went again to the centurion's house, and found that in that very hour his servant had been made perfectly well.
On the day after this, Jesus with his disciples and many people went out from Capernaum, and turned southward, and came to a village called Nain. Just as Jesus and his disciples came near to the gate of the city, they were met by a company who were carrying out a dead man to be buried. He was a young man, and the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
When the Lord Jesus saw the mother in her grief, he pitied her, and said, |Do not weep.|
He drew near, and touched the frame on which they were carrying the body, wrapped round and round with long strips of linen. The bearers looked with wonder on this stranger, and set down the frame with its body, and stood still. Standing beside the body, Jesus said:
|Young man, I say to you, Rise up!|
And in a moment the young man sat up and began to speak. Jesus gave him to his mother, who now saw that her son who had been dead, was alive again.
And Jesus went through all that part of Galilee, working miracles and preaching and teaching in all the villages, telling the people everywhere the good news of the kingdom of God.
The children loved to gather around him, and when his disciples would have driven them away he said, |Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.|
[Illustration: The children loved to gather around him]
One Sabbath day, as Jesus and his disciples were walking in Jerusalem, they met a blind man begging. This man in all his life had never seen; for he had been born blind. The disciples said to Jesus as they were passing him: |Master, whose fault was it that this man was born blind? Was it because he has sinned, or did his parents sin?|
For the Jews thought that when any evil came, it was caused by some one's sin. But Jesus said:
|This man was born blind, not because of his parents' sin, nor because of his own, but so that God might show his power in him. We must do God's work while it is day, for the night is coming when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.|
When Jesus had said this, he spat on the ground, and mixed up the spittle with earth, making a little lump of clay. This clay Jesus spread on the eyes of the blind man; and then he said to him: |Go wash in the pool of Siloam.|
The pool of Siloam was a large cistern, or, reservoir, on the southeast of Jerusalem, outside the wall, where the valley of Gihon and the valley of Kedron come together. To go to this pool, the blind man, with two great blotches of mud on his face, must walk through the streets of the city, out of the gate, and into the valley. He went, and felt his way down the steps into the pool of Siloam. There he washed, and then at once his life-long blindness passed away, and he could see.
When the man came back to the part of the city where he lived, his neighbors could scarcely believe that he was the same man. They said: |Is not this the man who used to sit on the street begging?|
|This must be the same man,| said some; but others said: |No, it is some one who looks like him.|
But the man said, |I am the very same man who was blind!|
|Why, how did this come to pass?| they asked. |How were your eyes opened?|
|The man, named Jesus,| he answered, |mixed clay, and put it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash,' and I went and washed, and then I could see.|
|Where is this man?| they asked him.
|I do not know,| said the man.
Some of the Pharisees, the men who made a show of always obeying the law, asked the man how he had been made to see. He said to them, as he had said before:
|A man put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and my sight came to me.|
Some of the Pharisees said:
|The man who did this is not a man of God, because he does not keep the Sabbath. He makes clay, and puts it on men's eyes, working on the Sabbath day. He is a sinner!|
Others said, |How can a man who is a sinner do such wonderful works?|
And thus the people were divided in what they thought of Jesus. They asked the man who had been blind: |What do you think of this man who has opened your eyes?|
|He is a prophet of God,| said the man.
But the leading Jews would not believe that this man had gained his sight, until they had sent for his father and his mother. The Jews asked them:
|Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How is it that he can now see?|
His parents were afraid to tell all they knew; for the Jews had agreed that if any man should say Jesus was the Christ, the Saviour, he should be turned out of the synagogue, and not be allowed to worship any more with the people. So his parents said to the Jews:
|We know that this is our son, and we know that he was born blind. But how he was made to see, we do not know; or who has opened his eyes, we do not know. He is of age; ask him, and let him speak for himself.|
Then again the rulers of the Jews called the man who had been blind; and they said to him:
|Give God the praise for your sight. We know that this man who made clay on the Sabbath day is a sinner.|
|Whether that man is a sinner, or not, I do not know,| answered the man; |but one thing I do know, that once I was blind, and now I see. We know that God does not hear sinners; but God hears only those who worship him, and do his will. Never before has any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could not do such works as these!|
The rulers of the Jews, these Pharisees, then said to the man: |You were born in sin, and do you try to teach us?|
And they turned him out of the synagogue, and would not let any one worship with him. Jesus heard of this; and when Jesus found him, he said to him:
|Do you believe on the Son of God?|
The man said:
|And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?|
|You have seen him,| said Jesus, |and it is he who now talks with you!|
The man said, |Lord, I believe.|
And he fell down before Jesus, and worshipped him.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD AND THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Soon afterward Jesus gave to the people in Jerusalem the parable or story of |The Good Shepherd.|
|Verily, verily (that is, 'in truth, in truth'), I say to you, if any one does not go into the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, it is a sign that he is a thief and a robber. But the one who comes in by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. The porter opens the door to him, and the sheep know him, and listen to his call, for he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out to the pasture-field. And when he has led out his sheep, he goes in front of them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. The sheep will not follow a stranger, for they do not know the stranger's voice.|
The people did not understand what all this meant, and as Jesus explained it to them, he said: |Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door that leads to the sheepfold. If any man comes to the sheep in any other way than through me and in my name, he is a thief and a robber; but those who are the true sheep will not hear such. I am the door; if any man goes into the fold through me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture.
|The thief comes to the fold that he may steal and rob the sheep, and kill them; but I came to the fold that they may have life, and may have all that they need. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd will give up his own life to save his sheep; and I will give up my life that my sheep may be saved.
|I am the good shepherd; and just as a true shepherd knows all the sheep in his fold, so I know my own, and my own know me, even as I know the Father, and the Father knows me; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must lead; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.|
The Jews could not understand these words of Jesus; but they became very angry with him, because he spoke of God as his Father. They took up stones to throw them at him, and tried to seize him, intending to kill him. But Jesus escaped from their hands, and went away to the land beyond Jordan, at the place called |Bethabara,| or |Bethany beyond Jordan,| the same place where he had been baptized by John the Baptist more than two years before. From this place Jesus wished to go out through the land in the east of the Jordan, a land which is called |Perea,| a word that means |beyond.| But before going out through this land, Jesus sent out seventy chosen men from among his followers to go to all the villages, and to make the people ready for his own coming afterward. He gave to these seventy the same commands that he had given to the twelve disciples when he sent them through Galilee, and sent them out in pairs, two men to travel and to preach together. He said:
|I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no bag for food, no shoes except those that you are wearing. Do not stop to talk with people by the way; but go through the towns and villages, healing the sick, and preaching to the people, 'The kingdom of God is coming,' He that hears you, hears me; and he that refuses you, refuses me; and he that will not hear me, will not hear him that sent me.|
And after a time the seventy men came again to Jesus, saying:
|Lord, even the evil spirits obey our words in thy name!|
And Jesus said to them:
|I saw Satan, the king of the evil spirits, falling down like lightning from heaven. I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall harm you. Still, do not rejoice because the evil spirits obey you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.|
And at that time, one of the scribes -- men who wrote copies of the books of the Old Testament, and studied them, and taught them -- came to Jesus and asked him a question, to see what answer he would give. He said: |Master, what shall I do to have everlasting life?|
Jesus said to the scribe: |What is written in the law? You are a reader of God's law; tell me what it says.|
Then the man gave this answer:
|Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.|
Jesus said to the man: |You have answered right; do this, and you shall have everlasting life.|
But the man was not satisfied. He asked another question: |And who is my neighbor?|
To answer this question, Jesus gave the parable or story of |The Good Samaritan.| He said: |A certain man was going down the lonely road from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who stripped him of all that he had and beat him; and then went away, leaving him almost dead. It happened that a certain priest was going down that road; and when he saw the man lying there, he passed by on the other side. And a Levite, also, when he came to the place, and saw the man, he too went by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he was going down, came where this man was; and as soon as he saw him, he felt a pity for him. He came to the man, and dressed his wounds, pouring oil and wine into them. Then he lifted him up, and set him on his own beast of burden, and walked beside him to an inn. There he took care of him all night; and the next morning he took out from his purse two shillings, and gave them to the keeper of the inn, and said: 'Take care of him; and if you need to spend more than this, do so; and when I come again I will pay it to you.'|
[Illustration: Then he lifted him up]
|Which one of these three, do you think, showed himself a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?|
The scribe said: |The one who showed mercy on him.|
Then Jesus said to him: |Go and do thou likewise.|
By this parable, Jesus showed that |our neighbor| is the one who needs the help that we can give him, whoever he may be.
THE STORY OF THE PALM BRANCHES
[Illustration: Came to Bethany where his friends Martha and Mary lived]
From Jericho, Jesus and his disciples went up the mountains, and came to Bethany, where his friends Martha and Mary lived, and where he had raised Lazarus to life. Many people in Jerusalem heard that Jesus was there, and they went out of the city to see him, for Bethany was only two miles from Jerusalem. Some came also to see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead; but the rulers of the Jews said to each other:
|We must not only kill Jesus, but Lazarus, also; because on his account so many of the people are going after Jesus and are believing on him.|
The friends of Jesus in Bethany made a supper for Jesus, at the house of a man named Simon. He was called |Simon the leper|; and perhaps he was one whom Jesus had cured of leprosy. Jesus and his disciples, with Lazarus, leaned upon the couches around the table, as the guests; and Martha was one of those who waited upon them. While they were at the supper, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, came into the room, carrying a sealed jar of very precious perfume. She opened the jar, and poured some of the perfume upon the head of Jesus, and some upon his feet; and she wiped his feet with her long hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of the disciples of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, was not pleased at this. He said: |Why was such a waste of the perfume made? This might have been sold for more than forty-five dollars, and the money given to the poor!|
This he said, but not because he cared for the poor. Judas was the one who kept the bag of money for Jesus and the twelve; and he was a thief, and took away for his own use all the money that he could steal. But Jesus said:
|Let her alone; why do you find fault with the woman? She has done a good work upon me. You have the poor always with you, and whenever you wish, you can give to them. But you will have me with you only a little while. She has done what she could; for she has come to perfume my body for its burial. And truly I say to you, that wherever the gospel shall be preached throughout all the world, what this woman has done shall be told in memory of her.|
[Illustration: She wiped his feet with her hair]
Perhaps Mary knew what others did not believe, that Jesus was soon to die; and she showed her love for him, and her sorrow for his coming death, by this rich gift. But Judas, the disciple who carried the bag, was very angry at Jesus; and from that time he was looking for a chance to betray Jesus, or to give him up to his enemies. He went to the chief priests, and said: |What will you give me, if I will put Jesus in your hands?|
They said, |We will give you thirty pieces of silver.|
And for thirty pieces of silver Judas promised to help them take Jesus, and make him their prisoner.
On the morning after the supper at Bethany, Jesus called two of his disciples, and said to them:
|Go into the next village, and at a place where two roads cross; and there you will find an ass tied, and a colt with it. Loose them, and bring them to me. And if any one says to you, 'Why do you do this?' say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and they will let them go.|
They went to the place and found the ass and the colt, and were loosing them, when the owner said:
|What are you doing, untying the ass?|
And they said, as Jesus had told them to say:
|The Lord has need of it.|
Then the owner gave them the ass and the colt for the use of Jesus. They brought them to Jesus on the Mount of Olives; and they laid some of their own clothes on the colt for a cushion, and set Jesus upon it. Then all the disciples and a very great multitude threw their garments upon the ground for Jesus to ride upon. Others cut down branches from the trees and laid them on the ground. And as Jesus rode over the mountain toward Jerusalem, many walked before him waving branches of palm trees. And they all cried together:
[Illustration: They threw their garments upon the ground for Jesus to ride upon]
|Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!|
These things they said, because they believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed King; and they hoped that he would now set up his throne in Jerusalem. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd, who did not believe in Jesus, said to him:
|Master, stop your disciples!|
But Jesus said:
|I tell you, that if these should be still, the very stones would cry out!|
And when he came into Jerusalem with all this multitude, all the city was filled with wonder. They said: |Who is this?|
And the multitude answered:
|This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee!|
And Jesus went into the Temple, and looked around it; but he did not stay, because the hour was late. He went again to Bethany, and there stayed at night with his friends.
These things took place on Sunday, the first day of the week; and that Sunday in the year is called Palm Sunday, because of the palm branches which the people carried before Jesus.
Many people heard him gladly, but the great city was deaf to his pleadings. |O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,| he cried, |thou that killest the prophets, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!|
[Illustration: The great city was deaf to his pleadings]
THE STORY OF THE BETRAYAL
At the foot of the Mount of Olives, near the path over the hill toward Bethany, there was an orchard of olive trees, called |The Garden of Gethsemane.| The word |Gethsemane| means |oil press.| Jesus often went to this place with his disciples, because of its quiet shade. At this garden he stopped, and outside he left eight of his disciples, saying to them, |Sit here while I go inside and pray.|
He took with him the three chosen ones, Peter, James, and John, and went within the orchard. Jesus knew that in a little while Judas would be there with a band of men to seize him; that in a few hours he would be beaten, and stripped, and led out to die. The thought of what he was to suffer came upon him and filled his soul with grief. He said to Peter and James and John:
|My soul is filled with sorrow, a sorrow that almost kills me. Stay here and watch while I am praying.|
He went a little further among the trees, and flung himself down upon the ground, and cried out:
|O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou willest!|
So earnest was his feeling and so great his suffering that there came out upon his face great drops of sweat like blood, falling upon the ground. After praying for a time, he rose up from the earth and went to his three disciples, and found them all asleep. He awaked them, and said to Peter: |What, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not go into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.|
He left them, and went a second time into the woods, and fell on his face, and prayed again, saying:
|O my Father, if this cup cannot pass away, and I must drink it, then thy will be done.|
He came again to the three disciples, and found them sleeping; but this time he did not awake them. He went once more into the woods, and prayed, using the same words. And an angel from heaven came to him and gave him strength. He was now ready for the fate that was soon to come, and his heart was strong. Once more he went to the three disciples, and said to them: |You may as well sleep on now, and take your rest, for the hour is at hand; and already the Son of man is given by the traitor into the hands of sinners. But rise up and let us be going. See, the traitor is here!|
The disciples awoke; they heard the noise of a crowd, and saw the flashing of torches and the gleaming of swords and spears. In the throng they saw Judas standing, and they knew now that he was the traitor of whom Jesus had spoken the night before. Judas came rushing forward, and kissed Jesus, as though he were glad to see him. This was a signal that he had given beforehand to the band; for the men of the guard did not know Jesus, and Judas had said to them:
|The one that I shall kiss is the man that you are to take; seize him and hold him fast.|
Jesus said to Judas, |Judas, do you betray the Son of man with a kiss?|
Then he turned to the crowd, and said, |Whom do you seek?|
They answered, |Jesus of Nazareth.|
Jesus said, |I am he.|
When Jesus said this, a sudden fear came upon his enemies; they drew back and fell upon the ground.
After a moment, Jesus said again, |Whom do you seek?|
And again they answered, |Jesus of Nazareth.|
And Jesus said, pointing to his disciples, |I told you that I am he. If you are seeking me, let these disciples go their own way.|
[Illustration: PETER DENIES CHRIST -- |And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, 'Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.'| -- (Matt.26:75.)]
But as they came forward to seize Jesus, Peter drew his sword, and struck at one of the men in front, and cut off his right ear. The man was a servant of the high-priest, and his name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter:
|Put up the sword into its sheath; the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it? Do you not know that I could call upon my Father, and he would send to me armies upon armies of angels?|
Then he spoke to the crowd, |Let me do this.| And he touched the place where the ear had been cut off, and it came on again and was well. Jesus said to the rulers and leaders of the armed men:
|Do you come out against me with swords and clubs as though I were a robber? I was with you every day in the Temple, and you did not lift your hands against me. But the words in the scriptures must come to pass; and this is your hour.|
When the disciples of Jesus saw that he would not allow them to fight for him, they did not know what to do. In their sudden alarm they all ran away, and left their Master alone with his enemies. These men laid their hands on Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to the house of the high-priest. There were at that time two men called high-priests by the Jews. One was Annas, who had been high-priest until his office had been taken from him by the Romans, and given to Caiphas, his son-in-law. But Annas still had great power among the people; and they brought Jesus, all bound as he was, first to Annas.
Simon Peter, and John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, had followed after the crowd of those who carried Jesus away; and they came to the door of the high-priest's house. John knew the high-priest and went in; but Peter at first stayed outside, until John went out and brought him in. He came in, but did not dare to go into the room where Jesus stood before the high-priest Annas. In the court-yard of the house, they had made a fire of charcoal, and Peter stood among those who were warming themselves at the fire.
Annas in the inner room asked Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him:
|What I have taught has been open in the synagogues and in the Temple. Why do you ask me? Ask those that heard me; they know what I said.|
Then one of the officers struck Jesus on the mouth, saying to him:
|Is this the way that you answer the high-priest?|
Jesus answered the officer calmly and quietly:
|If I have said anything evil, tell what the evil is; but if I have spoken the truth, why do you strike me?|
While Annas and his men were thus showing their hate toward Jesus, who stood bound and alone among his enemies, Peter was still in the court-yard warming himself at the fire. A woman, who was a serving-maid in the house, looked at Peter sharply, and finally said to him:
|You were one of those men with this Jesus of Nazareth!|
Peter was afraid to tell the truth, and he answered her:
|Woman, I do not know the man; and I do not know what you are talking about.|
And to get away from her, he went out into the porch of the house. There another woman-servant saw him and said: |This man was one of those with Jesus!|
And Peter swore with an oath that he did not know Jesus at all. Soon a man came by, who was of kin to Malchus, whose ear Peter had cut off. He looked at Peter, and heard him speak, and said:
|You are surely one of this man's disciples; for your speech shows that you came from Galilee.|
Then Peter began again to curse and to swear, declaring that he did not know the man.
Just at that moment the loud, shrill crowing of a cock startled Peter; and at the same time he saw Jesus, who was being dragged through the hall from Annas to the council-room of Caiphas, the other high-priest. And the Lord turned as he was passing and looked at Peter.
Then there flashed into Peter's mind what Jesus had said on the evening before!
|Before the cock crows to-morrow morning, you will three times deny that you have ever known me.|
Then Peter went out of the high-priest's house into the street; and he wept bitterly because he had denied his Lord.
THE STORY OF THE EMPTY TOMB
After Jesus was taken before the high-priest where he was ridiculed and the people spat upon him, he was taken before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, who ruled over Judea. He heard their complaints, but did not find any cause for putting him to death. But at last he yielded to their demands, although he declared Jesus was innocent of all wrong.
[Illustration: He heard their complaints]
And so Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, gave command that Jesus should die by the cross. The Roman soldiers then took Jesus and beat him most cruelly; and then led him out of the city to the place of death. This was a place called |Golgotha| in the Jewish language, |Calvary| in that of the Romans; both words meaning |The Skull Place.|
With the soldiers, went out of the city a great crowd of people; some of them enemies of Jesus, glad to see him suffer; others of them friends of Jesus, and the women who had helped him, now weeping as they saw him, all covered with his blood and going out to die. But Jesus turned to them and said:
|Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are coming when they shall count those happy who have no little ones to be slain; when they shall wish that the mountain might fall on them, and the hills might cover them, and hide them from their enemies!|
They had tried to make Jesus bear his own cross, but soon found that he was too weak from his sufferings, and could not carry it. They seized on a man who was coming out of the country into the city, a man named Simon, and they made him carry the cross to its place at Calvary.
It was the custom among the Jews to give to men about to die by the cross some medicine to deaden their feelings, so that they would not suffer so greatly. They offered this to Jesus, but when he had tasted it and found what it was, he would not take it. He knew that he would die, but he wished to have his mind clear, and to understand what was done and what was said, even though his sufferings might be greater.
At the place Calvary, they laid the cross down, and stretched Jesus upon it, and drove nails through his hands and feet to fasten him to the cross; and then they stood it upright with Jesus upon it. While the soldiers were doing this dreadful work, Jesus prayed for them to God, saying: |Father, forgive them; for they know not what they are doing.|
The soldiers also took the clothes that Jesus had worn, giving to each one a garment. But when they came to his undergarment, they found that it was woven and had no seams; so they said, |Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to see who shall have it.| So at the foot of the cross the soldiers threw lots for the garment of Christ.
Two men who had been robbers and had been sentenced to die by the cross, were led out to die at the same time with Jesus. One was placed on a cross at his right side, and the other at his left; and to make Jesus appear as the worst, his cross stood in the middle. Over the head of Jesus on his cross, they placed, by Pilate's order, a sign, on which was written:
|This is Jesus of Nazareth,
The King of the Jews.|
This was written in three languages; in Hebrew, which was the language of the Jews; in Latin, the language of the Romans, and in Greek. Many of the people read this writing; but the chief priests were not pleased with it. They urged Pilate to have it changed from |The King of the Jews| to |He said, I am King of the Jews.| But Pilate would not change it. He said:
|What I have written, I have written.|
And the people who passed by on the road, as they looked at Jesus on the cross, mocked at him. Some called out to him:
|You that would destroy the Temple and build it in three days, save yourself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!|
And the priests and scribes said:
|He saved others, but he cannot save himself. Come down from the cross, and we will believe in you!|
And one of the robbers, who was on his own cross beside that of Jesus, joined in the cry, and said: |If you are the Christ, save yourself and save us!|
But the other robber said to him: |Have you no fear of God, to speak thus, while you are suffering the same fate with this man? And we deserve to die, but this man has done nothing wrong.|
Then this man said to Jesus: |Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!|
And Jesus answered him, as they were both hanging on their crosses: |To-day you shall be with me in heaven.|
Before the cross of Jesus his mother was standing, filled with sorrow for her son, and beside her was one of his disciples, John, the disciple whom he loved best. Other women besides his mother were there -- his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and a woman named Mary Magdalene, out of whom a year before Jesus had sent an evil spirit. Jesus wished to give his mother, now that he was leaving her, into the care of John, and he said to her, as he looked from her to John: |Woman, see your son.|
And then to John he said: |Son, see your mother.|
And on that day John took the mother of Jesus home to his own house, and cared for her as his own mother.
At about noon, a sudden darkness came over the land, and lasted for three hours. And in the middle of the afternoon, when Jesus had been on the cross six hours of terrible pain, he cried out aloud words which meant:
|My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!| words which are the beginning of the twenty-second psalm, a psalm which long before had spoken of many of Christ's sufferings.
After this he spoke again, saying, |I thirst!|
And some one dipped a sponge in a cup of vinegar, and put it upon a reed, and gave him a drink of it. Then Jesus spoke his last words upon the cross:
|It is finished! Father, into thy hands I give my spirit!|
And then Jesus died. And at that moment, the veil in the Temple between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, was torn apart by unseen hands from the top to the bottom. And when the Roman officer, who had charge of the soldiers around the cross, saw what had taken place, and how Jesus died, he said: |Surely this was a righteous man; he was the Son of God.|
After Jesus was dead, one of the soldiers, to be sure that he was no longer living, ran his spear into the side of his dead body; and out of the wound came pouring both water and blood.
There were even among the rulers of the Jews a few who were friends of Jesus, though they did not dare to follow Jesus openly. One of these was Nicodemus, the ruler who came to see Jesus at night. Another was a rich man who came from the town of Arimathea, and was named Joseph. Joseph of Arimathea went boldly in to Pilate, and asked that the body of Jesus might be given to him. Pilate wondered that he had died so soon, for often men lived on the cross two or three days. But when he found that Jesus was really dead, he gave his body to Joseph.
Then Joseph and his friends took down the body of Jesus from the cross, and wrapped it in fine linen. And Nicodemus brought some precious spices, myrrh and aloes, which they wrapped up with the body. Then they placed the body in Joseph's own new tomb, which was a cave dug out of the rock, in a garden near the place of the cross. And before the opening of the cave they rolled a great stone.
And Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, and some other women, saw the tomb, and watched while they laid the body of Jesus in it. On the next morning, some of the rulers of the Jews came to Pilate, and said:
|Sir, we remember that that man Jesus of Nazareth, who deceived the people, said while he was yet alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Give orders that the tomb shall be watched and made sure for three days, or else his disciples may steal his body, and then say, 'He is risen from the dead'; and thus even after his death he may do more harm than he did while he was alive.|
Pilate said to them:
|Set a watch, and make it as sure as you can.|
Then they placed a seal upon the stone, so that no one might break it; and they set a watch of soldiers at the door.
And in the tomb the body of Jesus lay from the evening of Friday, the day when he died on the cross, to the dawn of Sunday, the first day of the week, when he arose from the dead and appeared unto his disciples.
But the brightest day in all the world was this Sunday morning. For on that day the stone was rolled away from the tomb and Jesus came forth from the dead to gladden his disciples. This he had told them he would do. On this Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and another Mary, called Salome, came to the tomb, found the stone rolled away and an angel standing by the open tomb. He told them that Jesus was not there, but had risen.
Afterward Jesus was with his disciples for forty days, after which he was taken up into heaven.