A Short Life of Our Lord
By The Most Rev. Alban Goodier, S.J.
Australian Catholic Truth Society No. 863 (1967).
Whatever other writers may have added to or subtracted from the life of Our Lord, the real evidence, both for Jesus Christ Himself and for the life He lived, is contained in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Scholars of the present day, even non-Christian scholars, have acknowledged their authenticity as historical documents; they have gone so far as to say that anyone who does not acknowledge them as authentic puts himself outside the range of true scholarship. Therefore, in putting together a Life of Christ we must rely on these four authors, knowing well that when we deviate from them we are tending to invent a Christ of our own instead of the Christ Who actually lived and died upon this earth.
St. Matthew's gospel was written for the Hellenistic Jews of Jerusalem, who were unwilling to accept the new faith. On that account we find him with his eyes dwelling constantly on the Old Law and the Old Testament, making it clear that Christ Our Lord fulfilled in Himself the Law and the Prophets and was the Founder of the new Law and a new Dispensation. His Gospel, as we now have it, must have been written before the year 70, though it may be that our present Gospel was preceded by an earlier original in the Aramaic language spoken by the Jews of this time.
The Gospel of St. Mark may well be called the Gospel of St. Peter, for it is assumed by scholars to be little else but the Gospel as preached by St. Peter and taken down by his secretary, St. Mark. Its date seems certainly before the year 60; it is more brief than the Gospel of St. Matthew; but more vivid, and is characterized by allusions to Simon Peter.
The Gospel of St. Luke was evidently written before the Acts of the Apostles were completed, not latter than the year 60. St. Luke writes, as he tells us himself, more as an historian than any of the other three. He has gone in search of original evidence for what he has to say, and much of his Gospel gives proof that he made use of original sources.
The Gospel of St. John stands altogether apart front the other three. The Apostle wrote in his old age between the years 90 and 100. He does not attempt a life, even in the limited sense in which St. Matthew and St. Luke attempt it. He relates only a certain number of important incidents; but for the rest he is occupied with the greater controversies, especially those which occurred in Jerusalem. The three first Evangelists describe for the most part the life in Galilee; St. John is more concerned with Judaea; the three first run more or less parallel, and recount often the same events; St. John usually, though not always, has his own narrative to relate.
Since none of the Evangelists intended to write a life like a biography in our modern sense of the word, and since they wrote independently of each other, even though it is evident that they used the same documents and, perhaps, even each other's work, it is not always easy to be sure in what order the events they relate took place. Nevertheless, after much study, there is a common agreement amongst scholars about by far the greater part of Our Lord's life; for the rest, the doubt that exists is of very little importance. For, after all, it is not the mere history of Christ our Lord that we look for in the Gospels, but the portrait of the Person Himself, and this we believe to be consistent and clear and living to anyone who approaches the Gospels with sympathy and understanding.
In the little book here written, while an attempt is made to keep to historic facts and order, nevertheless, it is hoped still more that Our Lord Himself will be revealed in them.
IT is almost impossible to understand the life of Christ our Lord without having some idea of all that went before it. When man fell and was punished for his fall, he was also promised a Redeemer, and the hope engendered by that promise never perished from the memory of succeeding ages. Not only did it live amongst the Jews themselves, but pagan nations, as we call them, kept it alive, however distorted and corrupted the tradition became amongst them.
THE CHOSEN PEOPLE
But while the rest of men were suffered to wander according to their own devices, one people were chosen and protected by God so that it never lost the idea of the One True God, Creator of the world, or the living hope in the Redeemer that was to come. This people was set apart; its history stands alone among the histories of the nations around it; however it failed politically and spiritually, nevertheless, by means of a power obviously outside it, it was preserved and kept, the holder of the great expectation. God sent to this people prophets one after another to defend it from the idolatry around it; to remind it of the Messiah Who was to come; to give it even more distinct signs by which that Messiah would be known when He did come. As time went on, this promise became more and more ingrained in the people who inherited it, so that one might say their whole religious life was built up upon their faith in its future fulfilment. When Christ our Lord came into the world the atmosphere, so to speak, of Judaea was thick with the expectation of the Saviour of the world, Who would soon appear in the midst of the Jewish people.
This people had a long and strange history. Two thousand years or so before it had sprung from a Chaldean called Abraham; at least twelve hundred years before it had been rescued from exile in Egypt by its great prophet, Moses. After this time it had occupied and settled in Palestine, and a thousand years or more before a kingdom had been founded in the royal house of David and his son, Solomon. After that time it had broken in two, the kingdom of Israel in the North and the kingdom of Judah in the South; and these in their turn had succumbed to invasion from the North. The mass of the people had been carried off into exile, and one might have thought that in this way the nation had utterly perished as others had done before it. But even close on a hundred years of exile failed to destroy the consciousness of its message to the world, which it had inherited from its forefathers. In course of time two tribes were permitted to return to their ancient land, and from them the nation of the Jews again began to revive. Prophets came back to them, and in the course of centuries the Jewish race regained once more a distinct national identity of its own, which was sealed and made permanent under the government of the Machabees. This was some time before the birth of Christ. (163 B.C.) In course of time Palestine, like the rest of the known world, was absorbed by the Roman Empire, and when Our Lord came into the world it was ruled under appointment from Rome by an Idumaean King named Herod.
During these centuries of political success and failure, destruction and revival, the one untiring and life-giving force was the unswerving belief, first in the One God as opposed to all the multitudinous beliefs around them, and, second, in the Messiah that was to come, and come from themselves. He was to be of the House of David the King; He was to be born in the city of David, Bethlehem; He was to inherit the Kingdom of David; He was to be the Lord, in some way, of all the world. But though this conviction never died, it was not always preserved in its simplicity, and though this belief was the source of union, national unity was preserved by the fulfilment of the law of Moses. Thus it came about that, first, the promised Messiah began to be looked upon as a material King, Who would one day lead the armies of Judah to the conquest of the world; on the other hand, the law of Moses became more important than the spirit of the Messiah which underlay it. Hence, there arose amongst the Jews certain sects and divisions which were prominent in the lifetime of Christ our Lord, and which, therefore, need to be distinguished one from another.
For instance, there were the Pharisees: these were extreme Nationalists, they were enemies of all foreigners; they made of the Jewish religion a matter of excessive ceremonial and ritual. If these ceremonials were strictly carried out according to their instructions, that was the sign of a good and faithful Jew, whatever else might be said against him; if they were not, it was a sign that the man was no true son of Abraham.
Next we hear of the Scribes; these, for the most part, were also Pharisees. Their official position was to interpret the law of Moses, and under this pretext they became, as it were, the spiritual directors of the nation, telling the people what they might do and what they might not do, not so much with regard to the commandments as with regard to the fulfilment of the law.
There were also Sadducees, of whom, for instance, the High Priest Annas was one. This sect was the opposite to the Pharisees, and might also be called their enemy. Many of the Priests and the Jewish aristocracy belonged to it; indeed, they considered themselves a kind of high caste amongst the Jewish people. They were far more pliant to the rule of the foreigner; they were inclined to believe in nothing; they interpreted the law according to the letter, and would go no further; they had no belief in another world; altogether, one might consider them the agnostics of their generation.
Fourthly, there were the Herodians, of whom we hear most in Galilee. These, as far as we can see, were the political partisans of the House of Herod.
Among all these different sects it is to be remembered that the coming of the Messiah was a fervent belief. However variously they interpreted it, nevertheless, they did not deny it, and it is to be noticed in the life of Our Lord, as given by the four Evangelists, that it is not so much the fact of His claim to which they object as to the fact that His claim implied a different Messiah from the one they had expected.
THE FIRST PHASE: FOUNDATIONS
1 To the Beginning of the Public Life.
In a short life such as the present, it is not necessary to dwell upon the hidden life of Jesus.
THE HIDDEN LIFE
We know of the Annunciation, made to the espoused Virgin Mary at Nazareth, after which followed the Incarnation of the Son of God; of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and of all that happened there; of the census ordered by the Roman Caesar, (Tiberius), which compelled Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem, a five days’ journey from Nazareth, and the birth of Jesus there; of the Presentation in the Temple, and the prophecy of Simeon; of the coming of the Wise Men from the East, and the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. We know that when Herod, the King of Palestine, was dead the Family was ordered to return; that its steps were directed back to Nazareth and there it took up its abode; that for close on thirty years Jesus lived there, the reputed son of the village carpenter or blacksmith, and Himself following the trade. Only once was there an interruption in the long silence; when the boy was twelve years of age, the age when a Jewish boy became “a son of the Law,” the family went up to Jerusalem, and He remained there, and for three days was lost to His Mother and Joseph, being “about His Father's business.” It was the year when a boy chose his career in life, and this was the choice of Jesus.
JOHN THE BAPTIST
Let us rather pass on to the more public career of Our Lord as the Gospels have told it to us. It begins with John the Baptist, the son of Elizabeth, and therefore closely related to Jesus, though there is no evidence they met in their youth. On the contrary, John, from his earlier days, had lived the life of a hermit, in the desert places not far from Jerusalem. On a sudden, when he was about thirty years of age, he changed his whole life. He came out of the desert; he stood on the highroad that led across the Jordan, along which all the traffic of the East had to pass. He began to preach to all the passers-by; that a new kingdom was about to be founded, and a King was coming to found it; that he was the herald sent to announce the King; that in preparation for His coming there was need for penance and purity of life. That those who heard him might also show they responded to his call, he instituted the ceremony of baptism in the Jordan, by whose banks he preached; and many came, of all classes and conditions, believing in this strange man sent by God, and preparing for the advent of the King whom he announced.
One day, when he was preaching as usual, there stood on the edge of the crowd a young Galilean from Nazareth. When the sermon was over, crowds went into the water to be baptized, and this young Man followed, the last of them all. As soon as he stood before the Baptist, John recognized Him; he protested against baptizing such a One, but the young man insisted; as soon as He came out of the water, and began to pray, a dove was seen by John to hover over His head, and a voice was heard: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It was the sign for which John had been waiting; now he knew that the King had come, and his mission was not only to foretell Him, but to show Him to others. One day, about six weeks later, [Footnote: These six weeks Jesus had spent in the desert, where He fasted forty days and was tempted by the devil.] when the young man from Nazareth was seen walking alone down the bank of the river, John pointed to Him, and said to a few of his followers who stood around him: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world.” (see John 1:29)
This he did a second time, when Jesus, for the Young Man from Nazareth was He, was again walking alone along the river bank.
THE FIRST DISCIPLES
This time three of the followers of John, curious to know more about Him Whom their master so praised, crossed the river and followed Him. Jesus let them come; after a while He turned round and asked them: “Whom are you seeking?” In reply, having nothing else to say, they asked Him where He lived. He invited them to “Come and see”; and the Gospel adds: “They came and they saw, and they stayed with Him all that day.” Not only that; they went away full of their discovery. They told some of their companions that they had “found the Messiah,” so impressed had they been by Him in that first conversation. They brought some of their companions back with them to judge for themselves; in a very short time Jesus had six followers, taken from the followers of the Baptist. These were: Andrew and Simon, James and John, Philip and Nathaniel. (John 1)
With these companions He returned to His native Galilee, for these men also were all Galileans. They came to Cana where, because of His Mother, they were invited to be present at a marriage feast. There, at His Mother's instigation, and, as He said, before the time of miracles had yet come, to relieve the company of anxiety He turned water into wine. Thence He went and found a home for His Mother and Himself in Capernaum, a busy little market town on the Lake of Galilee. But He did not stop there long, nor as yet did He seem inclined to set about the work which He had come to do. Instead, we hear of Him next in Jerusalem, at the feast of the Passover, when His indignation was aroused by the trafficking in the Temple Court, and with a piece of string for a whip He drove out the buyers and sellers from the Temple. He was challenged by the authorities - the Scribes and the Pharisees - for doing what He did; He replied with the memorable sentence, His hand upon His breast: “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will build it up again.” They were words never to be forgotten; one day His enemies would quote them against Him, when He was on trial for His life; His friends would ever recall them as one great prophecy whose fulfilment proved that indeed He was the Son of God.
Still at this time, and for some weeks, perhaps months, later, Jesus did comparatively little. He continued to bide His time. With a few companions He returned to the Jordan River, where John had been before; and, while John went higher up the river to the border of Galilee, the companions of Jesus carried on His work in the old spot. Thus, He continued, so long as John the Baptist was on the scene; He preferred to let people come to Him, led by John's teaching, than, as yet, to draw them to Himself. But, in the course of a few months, John was taken away; he incurred the hatred of Herod Antipas, Governor of those parts, and his wife, and was seized and put into prison, never again to be released. At once Jesus began to act. He left the Jordan and Judaea; He passed with a few companions through Samaria! He worked another striking miracle in Cana in Galilee, and began to preach the Kingdom. St. Mark (1: 14-15) tells us:
“After all that, John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying: ‘The time is accomplished, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the Gospel.’ " It was an advance on the teaching of John: John had said the Kingdom was coming, Jesus now declared that it had come.
2 The First Preaching: Galilee.
While these preparations were going on a greater part of a year passed by. Thus far Jesus had done little or nothing. But now He began in real earnest, and the next year is one of the greatest activity. He went down to Capernaum once more, making this city His headquarters and base for all His future work; and there He began to preach in the synagogue on the Sabbath Day. Then He gathered again a few followers about Him; with these he went abroad; to others parts of Galilee, preaching the Kingdom, and at last confirming His preaching by miracles. These were poured out in great abundance, till the people followed Him with enthusiasm, even though they little understood what it was that He really wished them to learn. Lastly, when both followers and people had been sufficiently prepared, He made His work permanent by choosing His twelve apostles, and with them about Him He gave to the people the famous sermon on the Mount.
Still, even in this first year of preaching, and although the crowds gathered about Him and followed Him wherever He went, it was not by any means all success. Already He had roused opposition from the Scribes and Pharisees by what He had done in the Temple in Jerusalem; while he stayed in Judaea, the suspicions roused against John the Baptist began to concentrate on Him. These were aggravated in the city when again, at this time, He went there and worked a striking miracle, healing a crippled beggar on the Sabbath day; His defence of Himself on that occasion so angered His rivals that already we hear that “they sought to kill Him.” When He returned to Galilee they followed Him. In Nazareth itself, on His first visit there, another attempt was made upon His life. They followed Him about, spying upon Him, looking for something that would prove Him to be not a good Jew; when later, but before the Sermon on the Mount, He healed a man's withered hand before their eyes, we are told that “they were filled with madness: and they talked with one another what they might do to Jesus”; that “the Pharisees going out immediately made a consultation with the Herodians against Him, how they mighty destroy Him.” So dangerous did this conspiracy become that Jesus was compelled to “retire with His disciples to the sea.” (see Mark 3)
Meanwhile, in spite of His enemies, it is during this time that the main lines of His teaching appear. It was something which followed on what had already been heard from John the Baptist, but it was something altogether different from the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees. His method was the simplest, such as the poorest and least educated could understand; He drew His illustrations from their ordinary lives, He drove His lessons home by the events of every day. He began by speaking to congregations gathered in the synagogues on the Sabbath day; once His mission had really begun, we find Him speaking almost everywhere, in private houses, where a group had come together to hear Him, far more often in the open air, now to casual gatherings, standing curiously about Him, now to vast crowds that began to come to Him from far distant places, as from Capernaum itself. “And a great multitude followed Him, from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond the Jordan. And they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, hearing the things which He did, came to Him.” (see Luke 6:17)
And the content of His teaching at this time is easily traced. First He spoke of God the Father; of God His Own Father, the Father of men, “Your Father,” whom they could call in prayer, “Our Father,” and whom they could safely trust as any good father is trusted by any good son. The Father was one whom they should serve, not as slaves, but as sons; one whose great breadth, including love for all, both good and bad, made for them a nobler ideal than anything that had been taught by any man before. “I say to you: Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that calumniate and persecute you: that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who makes His sun to shine on the good and the bad, and rains on the just and the unjust.”
Next He spoke of the Father's Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, into which all were invited to enter. He drew what might be called a character sketch of a perfect member of the Kingdom, beginning with: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”; and ending with: “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs, too, is the Kingdom of Heaven.” By many illustrations from this time onwards, He showed what that Kingdom was; by many allusions He told His hearers how it was to be entered, how life was to be lived in it, what the joy and reward, in this world and in the next, awaiting those who were faithful members of it. It was something altogether new, and yet in another sense it was not new. It was old in so far as it did but renew the two Commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,” “you shall love your neighbours as yourself”; it was new in so far as it placed before men a new ideal, in poverty, in meekness, in suffering, in purity of heart. (see Mt 5)
Thirdly, but more by insinuation than by actual teaching, He drew men to discover who He was in Himself. Though He spoke of Himself always as “the Son of Man,” for He would not force Himself on anyone, still He allowed others to give Him nobler titles, “the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,” “the King of Israel,” “the Messiah,” “the Son of David,” “the Great Prophet,” “the Prophet that was to come into the world.” He spoke of God explicitly as “My Father”; at the very first controversy in Jerusalem He was condemned because “He made Himself equal to God.” In the Sermon on the Mount He claimed to supersede Moses: “I say to you,” He repeated continually, giving His audience to understand that the New Law He was promulgating superseded all that had gone before. He was the Judge of men, though He had not come to condemn, but to save them; He was the Model of men, the Way and the Truth and the Life, which He would give to any who would come to Him. Nothing like this had ever been heard in the world before, nothing like it has ever been heard since; and in proof that He spoke “as one having authority” to say these things, He appealed to the perfect life He lived, so perfect that none could “accuse Him of sin” of any kind.
1 To the Confession of Peter.
In this way, for about a year, till the Second Feast of Passover, Jesus seemed to the ordinary onlooker to pass from victory to victory. At first, after the choice of the Twelve and the Sermon on the Mount, He seemed only to redouble His favours. It is now that we hear not merely of the ordinary miracles of healing, but of greater powers: the healing of the Centurion's servant, the Raising to Life of the Widow's Son at Naim, the Conquest of the Woman who was a Sinner at Magdala, the instantaneous relieving of more than one demoniac. And yet, strangely enough, it is just at this point that may be noticed the beginning of failure, even among the people. One day, when He had freed a man possessed by a devil, it was insinuated that He did it “by Beelzebub, the prince of devils,” and He was stirred to indignation as He never was before. That same day He began a totally new way of teaching. Hitherto, as in the Great Sermon, He had always spoken plainly, so that the simplest and most ignorant could understand; now He began to speak in “parables,” so that only those who were enlightened could interpret Him. He poured Himself out no less generously than before, and crowds continued to gather round Him; but “He knew what was in man,” and He said very plainly that all this enthusiasm led to nothing.
But if He relied little on the crowds that followed Him, He concentrated more on His chosen Twelve. From the day that He selected them, definitely called them “Apostles”, he kept them always with Him, and took them as His companions wherever He went. They were the witnesses of all His greatest miracles. He allowed their accumulating evidence to tell on them more than on anyone else. He lived with them, ate with them, slept with them; they were allowed to see for themselves the utter perfection of His life, His intimacy with His Father in prayer, the Something more that was in Him which was not in other men. Though to others He spoke in parables, to them He continued to speak plainly, and took them aside, and explained to them what the parables contained, that they, in their turn, might explain them to others. To strengthen them in their faith and devotion, He even worked for them special miracles. Before, on the lake over against Bethsaida, He had stood in Simon's boat, and had given to him and his companions an overwhelming catch of fish; now, about this time, He allowed the Twelve to be caught in a storm in the same boat, and with a word and a gesture saved them. “Who is this?” they asked of one another, “for He commands the winds and the water, and they obey Him.” It was another grace given specially to the Twelve and accepted.
In this way matters developed during the second year of Our Lord's teaching. On the one side the insinuations of the Scribes and Pharisees were beginning to tell: that He broke the Sabbath, that He associated with publicans and sinners, that He worked miracles by means of the Devil. On the other hand, almost defiantly, Jesus began to act more boldly still. Not that He gave up His work for and among the people; it is at this time that we receive the description of St. Matthew: “And Jesus went about all the cities and towns, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. And seeing the multitudes He had compassion on them; because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples: ‘The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray you all therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He send forth labourers into His harvest’.” And as if to emphasize His words, and to show the lengths to which He would go, it is also at this time that He sent out His Twelve, untrained as they were, to make their first apostolic journey. He did it in a manner worthy of Himself. He gave them His own power of working miracles; power, even, to cast out devils and to raise the dead. They were to preach the Kingdom in His name; they were to be His representatives; then, in His Name, they should do what He Himself had done. It is worth noticing that this mission coincided with the death of John the Baptist; Herod put to death His one herald, Jesus responded by sending out twelve others across Herod's own territory of Galilee.
A GREAT MIRACLE
But matters were fast coming to a head, and Jesus prepared for it. It was near the Paschal season once more, exactly a year before He Himself would be put to death, and there was much yet to be done. He had taught them many things. He had drawn them more and more to believe in Him; He had one thing more to offer them, which would at the same time be a supreme test of their faith. With His usual consideration and sympathy, He prepared His followers for it. He let them gather around Him, an immense multitude of more than five thousand people, on the green plain to the north of Galilee. There, in the evening, He fed them all, with a few loaves and fishes, and when they were all fully satisfied there were gathered up fragments more than there were at the beginning. No miracle that He had wrought struck the people more than this. They began to cry, “This is indeed the Prophet that is to come into the world,” and rushed forward to proclaim Him their national King. It was the highest point of His earthly career.
But if it was the highest point it was also the most disappointing. He had done so much for them, and this was all their return. He had preached the Kingdom of God, and they could only think of a kingdom of this world. He had tried to draw them to a spiritual understanding, and they remained merely natural, seekers only of loaves and fishes. He would make one last effort. After He had dismissed the crowd, that same night He walked on the waters to the Twelve, and bade Simon walk on them with Him, thus giving them one more miracle, again of quite a new kind, to strengthen their faith before the ordeal of the next day. When, in the morning, their ship put in above Tiberias, they made their way back to Capernaum through the plain of Genesareth; and never before had He shown Himself so lavish in miracles. The people gathered their sick from all the surrounding neighbourhood and laid them in rows along the road; as He came along He healed them every one.
THE BREAD OF LIFE
Then followed the great ordeal. (see John chapter 6) When He arrived at Capernaum He went into the synagogue and the crowd of admirers followed Him. He spoke to them of the bread with which He had fed them the day before, He told them that this was nothing to the bread He had yet to give them: They asked Him for this other bread, and He said that it was no other than Himself; He Himself was the bread of life. They began to wonder what he meant; He replied by asking them to believe, as they said they did, and all would be well. But He did not retract or explain away what He had said. On the contrary, He became more emphatic than ever. The bread that He would give was Himself; the bread that He would give was His own flesh; His flesh would be meat indeed, and His blood would be drink indeed; the man that ate of that flesh would live forever. The people heard, and understood, and asked each other how He could do this thing. They murmured that this was a hard saying; they said they could not accept it; and the evangelist adds: “After this many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him.” It was the parting of the ways. Never again from this day do we hear of the dense crowds following Him as they had done before.
Indeed, this day was the beginning of worse trouble. The Scribes and Pharisees, all this time, had never been idle; now, with this disillusioned crowd they had a golden opportunity and they made good use of it. Soon it became impossible for Jesus and His Twelve to remain in Capernaum; soon even Galilee was too dangerous. We hear of Him now leaving His native country and going into exile; we find Him along the coast of Tyre and Sidon, then wandering across the country to the north till He reached Decapolis, then once more in the valley that led towards the pagan city of Caesarea Phillipi. For several months, from the Paschal season in April till October, He spent His time wandering in those strange lands. There is no record of preaching of any kind; a miracle here and there, where He rewarded the faith that He found even among these pagan peoples, but nothing more. Only He kept His Twelve with Him, and with them, as is evident from several instances, He devoted Himself to solitude and prayer.
Then came the second climax, the most momentous in His active life. They had come up the valley and were not far from Caesarea. It was early morning; the Twelve had come to look for Jesus and, as usual, they had found Him in prayer.
THE CONFESSION OF PETER
As soon as they had come near He turned to them. He asked them: “Whom do men say the Son of Man is?” They gave Him various answers, but evidently these answers interested Him very little. He was leading up to something else. “But whom do you say I am?” He asked them. At once “Simon Peter answered and said: ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God’.” It was the first time a man on earth had given to Jesus the full honour that was His due, the first time that He had been called truly God in the full sense of the word: it was the one moment of triumph. If the people had failed Him, the Twelve had not; if all the rest had murmured and gone away, these at least had been faithful and had learnt the truth. Jesus showed what this confession meant to Him by the lavishness of His reward. “I say to you: You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt 16)
2 From Galilee to Judaea.
With the confession of Simon Peter, Jesus had received the one thing for which He had so long waited, and for which he had worked all the time. John the Baptist had at the beginning pointed Him out as the “Lamb of God”, but that was not enough. He Himself had worked miracle after miracle, giving proof even of His power over death itself, but all He had received from the people had been: “A great prophet has risen up amongst us, and God has visited His people.” He had worked more wonders, He had taught “as one having authority, and not as the Scribes”, and He had succeeded only in winning men to say that He was “the Prophet”, and therefore the King that was to be. Jesus had left all that aside. He had taken His Twelve with Him into exile, and had given them time to reflect on all they had seen and heard, to let their love influence their reflections, and to draw a conclusion which others had not reached. Simon had drawn it; at least one man had made the great act of faith. Jesus did not seem now to mind about the rest; upon that man and upon that act of faith He would build up all the future, let His enemies say or do what they chose.
At once His whole method and course of action were changed. He came back to Galilee, no matter what plots were prepared to catch Him.
First, to confirm His disciples in their belief, and to reward them for their act of faith, He took three of them up into a mountain and there revealed to them something of that Godhead in Him which they had confessed. This was the meaning of that mysterious revelation of Himself in the Transfiguration, when “His face did shine as the sun; and His garments became white as snow. . . . And behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and lo, a voice out of the cloud saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear, all of you, and listen to Him.”
Next, to prepare for the testing of that faith which would come to them before six months were over, He began to warn them of the Passion and Death that awaited Him, in marked contrast to what they had just seen. His teaching, too, now took on an altogether different aspect. Much more did He confine Himself to the training of the Twelve, telling them that if they would use all the power that He gave them they must be men of prayer and fervour, if they would rise high they must become as little children, if they would be true masters in the Kingdom they must learn, not to condemn, but to forgive, and that not seven times but seventy times seven.
So much does the very character of His teaching change. He speaks almost entirely to His Twelve. And for these, He no longer needs to draw them: He concentrates now on their up-building. But He changes also His plan of campaign. Hitherto we have seen Him almost entirely in Galilee and the north country; now He leaves that province altogether. It was the feast of the Tabernacles, past the middle of October, when many went up to Jerusalem. Suddenly He appeared in the Temple Court. His manner was all different; He was no longer the gentle Friend of the poor, who had been seen continually in the country lanes of Galilee: He was the Herald of God, Whose message it behoved the great men of the city to hear before it was too late. He did not avoid them as He had done before; He came into their very midst. He defied their every attempt to silence Him; edicts were issued for His capture, but they were of no avail.
At first one might have thought it was another Jesus that was revealing himself in Jerusalem, but events soon showed that He was always the same; circumstances only had changed, and He changed with them. It is at this time we hear of His saving from death the poor creature taken in adultery; now there occurred the healing of the man born blind, which caused so great a sensation in the city. But all the time He speaks with far more exactness of Himself and His mission than He had ever done before. “I am the Light of the world; he that follows Me walks not in darkness; but shall have the light of life.” “I am from above, I am not of this world.” “When you shall have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall you know that I am He.” “I speak that which I have seen with My Father.” “Which of you shall convince Me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me?” “Amen, Amen, I say to you: If any man keep My word, he shall not taste of death forever.” “Amen, Amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.” “I am the door of the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” In language such as this, unlike what He had used before, and yet the same, He knocked at the door of the hardened hearts that would not receive Him in Jerusalem.
But it was of no avail. If the rough people of Galilee had failed Him, the more enlightened rulers of the Temple went further; they hated Him with the hatred that grew more intense the more He pressed His claim home. Again and again they sought His life, even in the courts of the Temple; and though He always brought their attempts to nothing, yet prudence made Him take natural care. When the festival was over, though He did not return to Galilee, He left Jerusalem and settled for a while in the lower part of Judaea and in the country across the Jordan. It is at this time, in the winter and early spring before His death, that we hear of Him sending disciples before Him to preach, that we find Him resting in the house of Martha and Mary at Bethania (or Bethany), that he tells the story. of the Good Samaritan, choosing for His scene the high road that led from Jerusalem to Jericho and the Jordan River. (see Luke 10) He had come back to the district where He had begun, and where John the Baptist had evangelized before Him; but always His eyes were turned towards the Holy City beyond Olivet, as He made, as it were, this last fight for it before He died.
For that He would die was clear. Even the Twelve, as they watched the machinations of the Scribes and Pharisees, had begun to fear, not indeed for His death, for they had persuaded themselves that it could not be, but for the cause for which He stood. In Galilee everything had collapsed; in Jerusalem the Pharisees had decided to be rid of Him, and made no secret of it. Two deliberate attempts had been made on His life in the last two months, orders had been given to take Him prisoner; when Jesus showed a desire to return to the city, they could not but express their alarm. In the midst of all this He told them many times that He would go to Jerusalem, that He would perish; still not even His assurance that in the end all would be well could relieve them of their anxiety. If they could not believe that He would die, but would yet found His Kingdom, neither could they understand what He meant when He said He would rise again.
So long as He remained in the districts about the Jordan they were comparatively safe; the people of those parts were still devoted to the memory of John the Baptist, and Jesus came under the protecting shadow of John.
THE LAST LESSONS
It was still three or four months before the end, and Jesus made use of the time to give His last lessons, especially to the Twelve, whom He kept always with Him. They found Him again one morning in prayer, and they seized the occasion to draw from Him a lesson on the way to pray. The Pharisees still followed Him, but they were more deferential here than in any other part of Palestine. They suggested their complaints, but when He retorted and proved them to be wrong, they showed themselves far less eager to take revenge. It was here that two blind men on the roadside could boldly cry out to Him: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us”; here, too, that a woman could call down a blessing on the mother that brought Him into the world. Pharisees invited Him to dine with them and He went; during the meal He might rebuke them for their ways and they could only keep silence.
During all this period two things deserve to be noted, for they emphasize the character of Jesus in a special way. On the one hand, as we have seen, He had become far more emphatic in His warnings and denunciations. In the early days in Galilee, and even in Judaea, we heard comparatively little of these; now the time was shortening, and since the people of Jerusalem would not accept His invitation, He must needs tell them what would be the consequence. He would go away and they would seek Him in vain. They were not true sons of Abraham, they would die in their sin. Their calumnies would revert upon themselves, their hypocrisies would one day be revealed. They had been offered the Kingdom of Heaven and they had refused it; the offer would be taken from them and would be given to others whom the King would invite to His banquet. They prided themselves on their prayer; the prayer of the humble and sinful publican would be found more acceptable.
On the other hand, while warnings such as these became almost incessant, it is remarkable how the tender side of Jesus seems only to come out all the more. We have seen His treatment of the woman taken in adultery; at the same time He described Himself as the Good Shepherd, and dwelt on all the good things, all the peace and security that would come to His flock through Himself. Immediately after He told the story of the Good Samaritan; later, in the Judaean countryside He followed this up with more winning stories than He had ever spoken before -of the Lost Sheep, and what the Shepherd would do to save it; of the Lost Groat (a valuable decorative dowry coin-heirloom), and the woman's joy at finding it; of the Prodigal Son, and the Father's jubilation when at last He is able to welcome him home. It would almost seem that the more He was obliged to warn and condemn, the more His tenderness of heart was touched; He Who had taught Simon Peter to forgive seventy times seven times was prepared to forgive, even at this eleventh hour, Jerusalem and everyone in it if they would accept Him. This period closes with a symbolic parable, as if He would give a lesson in deeds, when He came back to Bethany from across the Jordan and raised His dead friend, Lazarus, to life.
1 The Last Tour.
In this way Jesus spent the last few months after His coming to Jerusalem in the last October. It was, as one would judge, in the two months before the Pasch, which fell in April, that He came back to Bethany and raised Lazarus to life. The news of this quickly spread to Jerusalem, and only confirmed the enemies of Jesus in their determination to have His life at all costs; they even decided that Lazarus, too, must die. But their hour was not yet come and Jesus would not suffer Himself to perish before He willed it. To restore quiet, He retired again from Bethany; He hid away in Ephraim, a town some miles distant across a desert country, high up on a mountainside; there He remained with His Twelve, making His first preparation for the ordeal that was now soon to come.
But at last the hour was about to strike, and we can almost follow Jesus day by day for three weeks or a month before it.
A FAREWELL TOUR
We are told expressly that He left Ephraim, and began to make His way to Jerusalem; yet, along that way He went through Samaria and Galilee, and Peraea. In other words, He made a circular farewell tour, taking a last look, as it were, of all the spots where He had spent the last two years of hard labour. On the border between Samaria and Galilee, just before He came into the Valley of Esdraelon, He was accosted by a band of ten lepers outside a town, and He sent them away healed. On the way He continued His preaching and warning, telling His hearers that the Son of Man would one day come in a very different role from that in which He appeared then among them. He cautioned the Galileans against too great trust in themselves, when the Pharisees met Him, and set Him riddles about marriage and divorce, He answered them with a firmness and a clearness that seemed to border upon irony.
Still, this was not the note of His farewell. Though it was possible at this time, when He was passing through Galilee, that he pronounced woe on Corozain and Bethsaida and Capernaum because of their rejection of Him, still the mark of expansive, all-inducing love is never more apparent than now. Once, when He was replying to the Pharisees, some women brought their children to Him for a blessing. The Twelve rebuked them for their importunity, but He would have none of it: “Whom, when Jesus saw, He was much displeased and said to them: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the Kingdom of God. Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall not. enter into it.’ And, embracing them, He blessed them.” A little later, along the same road, a rich young landowner of Peraea met Him, and offered to come into His service; we are told that Jesus “looked on” (or ‘gazed steadily at’) that young man and “loved him”. He crossed the Jordan for the last time and came to Jericho; His final visit there was marked by the healing of two blind men, by the characteristic parable of the Talents, delivered to this essentially money-making city, and by the welcome He gave to the convert publican, Zaccheus.
At length the procession arrived at His favourite halting-place, Bethany. It was not only Martha and Mary and Lazarus that gave Him a welcome there whenever He appeared; there seems always to have been a kindly feeling for Him in this distant suburb of Jerusalem.
He was always safe in Bethany; He could come there to rest when He pleased. On this occasion the little town was still astir by the raising of Lazarus from the tomb a month before; and when Jesus arrived all were anxious to pay Him reverence. A rich man of the place, called Simon, gave a banquet in His honour; at the banquet, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, came into the room and poured her richest spikenard (precious oils) upon Him; we are told that Judas protested against the waste, but Jesus defended the woman's generosity. “But Jesus said: ‘Let her alone, why do you molest her? She has wrought a good work upon Me. For the poor you have always with you, and when you will you may do them good: but Me you have not always. What she had in her power to do, she has done; she is come beforehand to anoint My body for the burial. Amen I say to you, wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she has done shall be told in memory of her’. "
It was now just a week before the end. In seven days would be the Pasch, and pilgrims were already gathering from all parts in and around the Holy City. Between Bethany and Jerusalem, rather more than half-an-hour's walk, rose Mount Olivet; and, on its western slope, looking over the city, many had begun to pitch their tents in preparation for the festival. On the Sabbath day Jesus remained quiet in Bethany; early next morning His old spirit of command came upon Him. He sent for an ass that was tethered down the lane; He mounted it, and began to ride up the hillside towards Jerusalem. At once some kind of enthusiasm seized upon the disciples. They saw in the act of Jesus something they had never seen before; here in the midst of the enemy country He was riding towards the city as if in triumph. They began to cry hosannas around Him; they cut down branches from the palm trees around, and spread them on the ground before Him. Others about caught the infection; as the procession went along they, too, joined, in spite of the murmurs of the Pharisees, whom He passed near enough for them to complain to Him. The people bore Him through the very gate of the Temple and into its square, singing as they went: “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” And when men asked what was the meaning of all this din, they only replied: “This is Jesus the Prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus returned to Bethany that day, but He did not remain there. He had begun the week with a deliberate demonstration, proving that He could be Master of Jerusalem if He would; for the next two days He maintained that supremacy.
THE LAST DAYS
On the Monday He came again into the Temple fasting, and once more, as He had done in His earliest days, He drove the buyers and sellers out of its court. The priests and Pharisees protested, but He did not mind them; instead, He sat down and taught as He had always done, and the people gathered around Him. In the evening He retired once more to Bethany; we have no record that He ever spent a night in Jerusalem itself. On the Tuesday morning He was again at His post; and that day it is evident that His enemies were determined, if they could, to weaken His authority with the people. For “they feared the people”. Much as they hated Him, much as they were determined to have His life if they were able, in the midst of such enthusiasm they were afraid to touch Him. Instead, they came upon Him and plied Him with subtle questions. By this means they hoped, either that they would set Him a problem He could not solve, or He would give them an answer which they could turn against Him.
But Jesus met them all. He gave them replies which only turned their questions against themselves; in turn He asked them questions which compelled them to silence. He added parable after parable, every one of which told them plainly, if they were willing to hear, how grievously they were rejecting the grace that was being offered, and how terrible, in consequence, would be the retribution. Last of all, when nothing that He said could move them, He turned upon them with that tremendous invective: “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,” and walked out of the gate. It was the last word He had to say; on the Tuesday afternoon He left the Temple court, never to return to it again. St. John concludes the events of those two days with these words: “These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. And whereas He had done so many miracles before them, they believed not in Him; that the saying of Isaiah the Prophet might be fulfilled which he said: ‘Lord, who has believed our hearing? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore, they could not believe because Isaiah says again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes nor understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I should heal them.’ These things Isaiah said, for when Isaiah saw His glory he spoke of Him. However, many of the chief priests also believed in Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, that they might not be cast out of the synagogue. For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.”
2 The Passion and Death.
Jesus retired again to Bethany on that Tuesday afternoon. On the way, as they rested on the side of Mount Olivet, and looked down on the beautiful city beneath them, the Twelve could not refrain from expressing their admiration. Jesus only told them that the time was not far off when it would all be destroyed; it had rejected Him, and it in turn would be rejected. He went further; He told them that the day would come when the Son of Man would return to the world, not, as now, as a pleading friend, but as a judge, and that all the world would come before Him to receive its due reward: either, “Come, all you blessed of My Father”, or “Depart from Me, all you cursed”. After that we hear no more of Him till the Thursday afternoon. He had always prepared for great events by prayer; for this greatest event in the world's history He prepared Himself by two days of retirement.
Meanwhile, in the city, the determination to get rid of Jesus grew stronger than ever. On the evening of the Tuesday, after He had left, a special meeting was held to plot His capture, though how it was to be carried out they were by no means sure. He had always escaped them before; He might escape them again, no matter how they secured Him.
Suddenly, in the midst of their consultations, a bright and unexpected hope appeared. It would seem to have been next morning that a man presented himself before them, offering to betray Jesus into their hands. On examination he proved to be one of the well-known followers of Jesus, one of the intimate Twelve. At first they were suspicious; they could not believe, not even they, that so base an act of treachery was possible. But they were reassured. “What will you give me,” the man asked, “and I will betray Him to you?” He was out for gain; he was willing to sell his Master for money: when they discovered this they had no further fear, and an agreement was made.
It is not possible here to follow the story of the Passion in any great detail; to this only we would draw attention, from beginning to end Jesus was always Master of the scene. He had said long before that He had the power to lay down His life and to take it up again; He had often repeated that He would die nowhere but in Jerusalem. He had defied His enemies, telling them that their hour had not yet come, and that it would not come until all that the Father had willed was done. Now that will had been fulfilled, and He marched out to His death. But first He must have a parting ceremony; “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” He chose two of His Twelve, Simon Peter and John. With the authority of an overlord, He sent them into the city, to a house in the noblest quarter, bidding the master lend Him a well-fitted room for His final Supper. Never before has He been seen choosing for Himself the houses of the great, but for what He was about to do that night no place was too magnificent.
In the evening, though the enemy was on the watch to take Him, He came into the city, contrary to His custom.
THE LAST SUPPER
He sat down with the Twelve at the supper-table; suddenly, to the surprise of them all, He rose from the table and took water and washed their feet. He would allow no protest; He would have His own way; He would be alike their Master and their Servant. He would do more. He took bread in His hands, and broke it in pieces, and handed it round to them, saying: “Take this all of you and eat of this, for this is My Body.” He took a cup of wine. “Drink you all of this. This is My Blood, of the New Testament, which is to be poured out for many.” He gave them His Body and Blood; He gave them the power to distribute that same Body and Blood to others, to the end of time. The sign was given at last; the sign of “the priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek”, the sign of the bread from heaven, the sign of which the feeding of the five thousand on the border of Galilee had been but a symbol.
Many other things Jesus said and did on that last Supper night. It was indeed “His hour” in which He displayed Himself, His deep love and His expression of that love in giving, as He had never done before. But it was also the end. Even as He spoke, almost at the very door of the house in which the supper was being held, a traitor was plotting with His enemies to take Him, forces were being gathered, every precaution was being thought out so that this time He should not escape. It was at last “their hour and the power of darkness”; and, since it was the Father's will, He would surrender to them and let them have their way. Still, not here, in the house consecrated by the Last Supper. He left the city at His leisure; on the road He allowed His Twelve, now reduced to Eleven, to see something of the weight of sorrow that oppressed Him; He entered a garden, and there on His knees, with all the truth of a human heart, He asked His Father that, if it might be, the Chalice be allowed to pass from Him.
It was not to be; and now we see Him rise from the ground more Master of men than ever, submitting to them and their brutality, yet all the time directing them, judging them, permitting them to do what they they did and no more.
They came to the garden to seize Him; before they touched Him He first compelled them to fall to the ground in front of Him. They would gladly have taken His companions; He saw to it that not one of them should fall into their hands. They bound Him and brought Him to Annas; when Annas cross-examined Him, since he was not a lawful judge, Jesus referred him to others for his information. From Annas they took Him to Caiphas, the lawful high-priest, who had already decreed that Jesus must die; when Caiphas challenged Him to say who He was, then, for the first time, He declared His claim in terms He had never used before. “And the high-priest said to Him: I adjure You, by the living God, that You tell us if You be the Christ the Son of God. Jesus said to him: You have said it. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
For making that declaration Jesus was condemned to death. He was pronounced a blasphemer, which alone shows that His judges knew full well what the words and their claim implied. According to the law, one condemned for blasphemy ought to have been stoned; but that did not suit the ideas of these masters of hatred. He must suffer the death of the meanest criminal. His very name must be rendered accursed for all time; He must die, not at their own hands only, but by the authority of the highest court in the world. They took Him to Pilate, the Roman Governor; again and again Pilate was compelled to declare Him innocent of any crime whatsoever; when he challenged Jesus with His title of Kingship, again, with the same commanding dignity with which He had spoken to Caiphas, He replied: “It is you who say that I am King. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony of the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears My voice.”
Throughout the story of the Passion two things stand out conspicuously; flagrant injustice on one side, dignity of innocence on the other. In the Jewish court, with all their witnesses, Jesus was condemned without a word against Him. He stood there before it, declaring His true title. In the court of Pilate He was declared not guilty; therefore He was scourged, therefore He was crowned with thorns, therefore in the end He was given up to be crucified. Yet, all this time, whenever Pilate brought Him before his tribunal, he found Him one who could speak to him as an equal, could question him even as He himself was questioned, could even turn the tables and speak as the judge: “Therefore, he that has delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” In the court of Herod, a court which had no right whatsoever in Jerusalem, Jesus “answered him nothing”; in that court it was easy to see which of the two was the master, which the accuser of the other.
But for reasons other than those of the high priests and the Roman Governor, it was the Will of the Father, and the deliberate choice of the Son, that He should “die for the people”, and Jesus was condemned to death.
He carried His own Cross to Calvary; a foreign visitor was conscripted to give Him aid; on the way He spoke still “as one having authority, and not as the Scribes”; when nailed to the Cross He proved that His love for mankind had not been diminished, that even yet He could “love His enemies”, when His first words of prayer were for them: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He hung there for three hours; during that time He won to Himself yet another sinner; He saw to it that His Mother should have comfort; He was careful that every detail of the prophecies should be fulfilled. Then, and not till then, He allowed Himself to die; He died “because He willed it” - “Afterwards, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, . . . crying with a loud voice, said: Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit. And saying this, He gave up the ghost.”
3 The Resurrection.
It was, indeed, the end; Jesus of Nazareth was dead, and His enemies at last had had their way. But scarcely had the crime been committed than they grew restless. Jesus of Nazareth was dead, but what of the Son of God? They had proved that the Man could die, in spite of the fact that many times before He had passed through their hands unscathed; but what of His statement that He had the “power to lay down His life and to take it up again?” What of His declaration that when they had destroyed Him, He would come to life again? He had saved others, that they had confessed; Himself, so they tauntingly flung at Him, he could not save. Still, He had said that, when He was lifted up, He would draw all things to Himself, and the prophets of old had warned them of dead bones that might come to life again. He Who had raised up Lazarus from the tomb, was it certain that He could not raise Himself? With all their victory, the enemies of Jesus returned from Calvary restless, anxious, almost wishing that they had not so played into the hands of the Son of God.
And on the third day strange things occurred. Before the eyes of the soldiers sent to guard the tomb, by an unseen hand the stone at its entrance was rolled away. The tomb itself was examined, and the body was found to be gone.
“HE IS RISEN”
Friends of Jesus came to the garden round the tomb, and declared with a conviction that could not be denied that they had seen Him standing alive before them. He was seen by others, by Simon Peter, by two outside the city, at last by the Eleven gathered together. He had come to them Himself; He had spoken to them; above all, He had shown Himself to be the same Jesus Christ He had always been. For those who had the will to believe there could be no doubt that indeed He had risen from the dead, and was alive once more among them; as for the rest, had He not once said: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe if one rise again from the dead.”
So the camps were divided, and so they have remained divided till this day. For one who is willing to trust the word of God, who knows that love of God, and what He has done to win in return the love of man, the story of Jesus, its beginning and its end and its renewal, is easy to believe. He who could choose to become Man incarnate, Who could live the life of man and die his death, could also command His own death, as He could command His own life; as He could be the Child of Mary, so He could rise again from the grave. Jesus was born, Jesus lived, Jesus died; Jesus rose again; Jesus, after forty days, ascended into heaven, to “live for ever to make intercession for us”. Before He died He came Himself to His own, to live with them always on this earth; Jesus, living in heaven, lives with us still, with us “all days, even to the consummation of the world”. The more intimately we know the life story of Jesus, the more consistently true it becomes, Simon Peter had discovered “the Christ, the Son of the living God”. The Centurion on Calvary, pagan as he was, yet confessed that “Indeed this was the Son of God”. And through the ages since, in spite of every opposition and set-back, the song has steadily grown: “Tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.” “You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ.”
Nihil obstat: BERNARD O'CONNOR, Diocesan Censor. Imprimatur:
- ARTHUR F. FOX, Auxiliary Bishop, Melbourne. 28 June 1967.