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the people as our Lord Jesus Himself; and not only for this nation for Christ died for all (2 Cor. v.), and for each of us; so that each can say truly, He loved me, and delivered Himself up for me (Galat. ii. 20). He wishes all men to be saved (1 Timothy ii.). And all will be saved by His plentiful redemption, and gathered together in one, as children of God, except those who deliberately and perseveringly reject Him, and join in the cry, Away with Him.

While these Priests and Rulers are met together against the Lord and against His Christ (Psalm ii.), His most compassionate Heart is saying to their hard hearts, My people, what have I done to Thee, and in what have I molested thee? (Micheas vi.).


From that day, therefore, they devised to put Him to death (v. 53).

Here we see that there was reason to say in the Introduction to this work that the raising of Lazarus is "the beginning of the end". Jesus is now doomed. Some writers think that what was called the Greater Excommunication was at this meeting pronounced against Him; but others consider it more probable that this Greater Excommunication was not pronounced against Him till the day before the Crucifixion, and that till then He was only subject to the Lesser Excommunication, which forbade Him to teach in the Temple, or Synagogue. These writers think that in obedience to the sentence of Lesser Excommunication Jesus taught in His latter days only in the portico of the Temple. But this seems more than doubtful. The Gospels speak not only of His teaching in the Temple, but exercising full authority there as the Lord of the Temple.

The Greater Excommunication was pronounced very solemnly at the gate of the Temple, and at the door of every synagogue.

All through our Lord's life, and especially during His Sacred Passion, we may notice how He combines charitable prudence and meekness with the utmost fortitude and fearlessness. The bruised reed He shall not break, and smoking flax He shall not extinguish (St. Matt. xii.). No harsh word from Him will ever break the frail reed already bruised; nor will He ever, through impatience, get rid of the oppressive odour by quenching the smoking flax. But when His Father's honour, or the salvation of His little ones requires it, He braves all the rage of His enemies.

We find Him, therefore, sometimes hiding Himself in order to remove the occasion of more sin, and sometimes showing

Himself most publicly in presence of all His persecutors.

Meekness and humility of heart at times seem like weakness, but in reality they are the greatest strength, and are sure to conquer. The meek shall possess the land (St. Matt. v.).





Wherefore Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews, but He went into the desert into a city that is called Ephrem. There He abode with His disciples (St. John xi. 54).

Our Lord, when tarrying beyond Jordan, was with His allseeing eye watching Lazarus as he died in his chamber in Bethany. And now, after the great miracle, as He goes from the grave to the house of Lazarus, He sees and hears Annas and Caiphas and their accomplices meditating vain things against the Lord and against His Christ. As, therefore, His hour is not yet come, in order to prevent sin He leaves Bethany at once, probably on the day of the miracle, and retires to Ephrem, a town about sixteen miles to the north of Jerusalem, on the borders of the wilderness, or desert. In the mountainous districts of Judea, wild and lonely places called the wilderness, were common. As He foreknew that His enemies would also be full of malice against Lazarus, it seems probable that He counselled him and Mary and Martha to come with Him to Ephrem. The providence of God easily arranged that His journey should escape notice, and thus once more He baffles the counsels of the Rulers; for we find soon after the Priests and Ancients issuing an order that if any man knew where He was, he should tell, that they might apprehend Him (St. John_xi.). But till He Himself chooses, no one can prevail against Him. So too are His servants always safe under His protection (Psalm xc.). It is in memory of this retirement of our Saviour that the images and crucifixes are veiled in our churches during Passiontide.

A. Observe how our Lord, though He has all power, yet uses the ordinary precautions dictated by prudence. St. Ignatius of Loyola, we are told, used to say, "Pray as earnestly as if Heaven was to do all but work as diligently as if no help could come from Heaven".

B. There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Eccles. iii.). Our Lord, in His wisdom, knows when to

Sometimes in our

hide Himself, and when to appear. souls He reveals Himself, and all is sunshine. Sometimes He hides His face, and all is like dark winter. Are we to forsake Him in these dark hours? Lord, to whom shall we go? (St. John vi.) St. Peter wisely said. If we abandon Thee, what other friend have we to whom we can flee ? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

But has He not, some one says, abandoned me? No, He hides Himself, but is still with us; and more watchful over us now than during the sunshine. "Where wert thou, O Lord?" St. Antony cried out in anguish, when our Saviour appeared to him after a night of great desolation and temptation. "I was in the very centre of thy heart, Antony," our Blessed Saviour answered, "otherwise thou wouldst not have fought so well." I am with him in tribulation (Psalm xc.), is His promise to the afflicted soul. Therefore we must adhere to the counsel of the Holy Spirit, Make not haste in the time of clouds (Ecclus. ii.). God gives the sunshine; God gives the cloud. If we have received good things from the hands of God, why not the evil? (Job ii.).

This would be, perhaps, the place to discuss at length the question, how long our Lord abode at Ephrem ; but a few words may suffice. In the beginning of chapter i. it was stated that some have adopted the theory of a modern English commentator, who has drawn out a very elaborate argument to prove that our Blessed Saviour raised Lazarus to life at the end of our January, and then from Ephrem went north through Samaria to Galilee, and after visiting all the places where He had preached, or where His disciples had preached, returned south along the east bank of the Jordan, and crossed that river in the neighbourhood of Jericho, early in Passion Week.

Even if this theory were true, it would be quite out of keeping with the scope of this work to follow our Blessed Saviour through those two months of His progress.

The other view is more convenient for our purpose; and also, very probably, the more correct one. It will be enough to offer one or two reasons for this opinion.

In the first place, it seems to fit in better with the narrative of St. John.

St. John, as is known, wrote his Gospel many years after the

other Evangelists had written. He had their narratives before him, and one of his objects was to supply some omissions, and to render some difficult passages more clear. As a rule he carefully abstains from repeating what the others had narrated, and so does not even record so important an event as the institution of the Blessed Eucharist.

If, then, one of his objects was to put facts in order and make the narrative and the chronology more clear, the theory which harmonises better with his narrative is probably the true one. Now it will perhaps be readily admitted that his story agrees better with the common opinion that our Saviour raised Lazarus to life shortly before Mid-Lent Sunday, and retired at once to Ephrem; abode there eight or ten days; and then, on Passion Sunday, or thereabouts, proceeded from Ephrem to Jericho, and from Jericho, by slow stages, to Bethany, arriving there about Friday in Passion Week.

This seems to be the view which would suggest itself to one who was guiding himself simply by St. John's narrative. His text is as follows:

Wherefore Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews, but He went into a country near the desert, into a city that is called Ephrem, and there He abode with His disciples. And the Pasch of the Jews was at hand; and many from the country went up to Jerusalem before the Pasch, to purify themselves. They sought, therefore, for Jesus: and they discoursed one with another, standing in the Temple: What think you, that He is not come to the festival-day? And the Chief Priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment that if any man knew where He was, he should tell, that they might apprehend Him.

This narrative seems to hang together very well, if we suppose, according to the more general opinion, that the events here recorded all took place in about a fortnight.

According to the other view, about two months are supposed to elapse between the words, there abode with His disciples, and the words immediately following, And the Pasch of the Jews was at hand. We do, no doubt, in the Gospels find intervals of time passed over in this way; but unless clear proof is brought that there was such a lapse of time between the two sentences, we may be allowed to read according to what appears on the surface, and consider the account of St. John as a consecutive story. Besides this argument drawn from St. John's narrative in favour of the common view, there is also the other to which allusion was made in the first chapter, that those who hold the opposite opinion are obliged to say, that when St. Luke tells us in chapter ix. that Jesus steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, He was all the while going away from Jerusalem to the north. This seems a hard saying.

We may assume, then, that our Blessed Saviour, after raising Lazarus, went to Ephrem and abode there till the beginning of Passion Week, and then set out on His last journey to Jerusalem, through Jericho.






They were on the way going up to Jerusalem. And Jesus went before them, and they were astonished; and following were afraid (St. Mark x. 32).

According to the chronology which we are following, this sentence records what happened on Passion Sunday or thereabouts.

Since the raising of Lazarus, our Blessed Saviour has been in retirement at Ephrem, and now has begun His last journey to Jerusalem. He is not going thither by the straightest and shortest road, but is going southward near the banks of the Jordan, towards Jericho.

There are words in St. Matthew's Gospel, and also in St. Mark's, which might lead us to suppose that our Saviour on leaving Ephrem crossed the Jordan, and walked southward down the eastern bank, and recrossed the river into Judea somewhere in the neighbourhood of Jericho.

The words in St. Mark's Gospel are: Rising up from thence, He cometh into the coasts of Judea beyond the Jordan (St. Mark x. 1). St. Matthew's words are like to these: and, at first sight, they seem to refer to this present journey.

We need not stop here to discuss the meaning of the words, the coasts of Judea beyond the Jordan, about which opinions are divided. For our purpose it is sufficient to note that in this passage St. Mark and St. Matthew are not speaking of the journey which we are considering, but of an earlier journey in the month of August or September, when, after the Transfiguration, our Lord left Galilee and went to Jerusalem. This is clear from St. Matthew: It came to pass when Jesus had ended these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan. On that occasion He started from Galilee.

Now He is, according to our supposition, on the road from Ephrem to Jericho.

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