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And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy :. and were continually in the temple, blessing God.
MANY OTHER SIGNS THEREFORE DID JESUS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE DISCIPLES, WHICH ARE NOT WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK : BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN, THAT YE MAY BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD; AND THAT BELIEVING YE MAY HAVE LIFE IN HIS NAME.
bis journey—with Stedfast face The life of our Lord was a life of many journeys. It began when Joseph and Mary were on a journey to their ancestral home; it ended with the journey to the Feast of the Passover at Jerusalem. About this last pilgrimage and the days that followed of sojourn in Jerusalem, of travel and sorrow and triumph, gathers an interest belonging to no other period of human history. For centuries it has been the custom of Christian people, whose numbers annually increase, to follow that journey from place to place, and the incidents of that week from day to day, in the profitable effort to follow also, in spirit, the footsteps of our Lord. and his first disciples. The apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians and to us, “For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21). It surely is not by accident, but by intent of the inspired writers, that we are able to arrange the events of these last days and this last journey in an order more certain than that belonging to any other part of the Bible. With multitudes of fellowChristians we follow, in this day-by-day study, the footsteps of Jesus as they climb to the mount of his crucifixion, and the higher mount of his ascension.
As we turn from the Jordan valley, into the steep road that leads to Bethany and Jerusalem, and consider our Lord's lact journey over that rugged and ascending way, three pictures rise in succession before the Christian imagination—the journey toward Jerusalem, the feast at Bethany, and the rich gift of Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Briefly, and in order, we bring these scenes to mind. 1. THE JOURNEY.
No words could surpass in simplicity, beauty, and dramatic power, those in which the evangelists describe that last journey. Jesus “stedfastly set his face” to this journey, against the silent ‘appeal that followed Peter's passionately uttered protest. “Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee,” their mute and sorrowful wonder cried at every step. He went before them, and they were amazed; but they had ceased to forbid. Yet was there dumb pleading and protest in their faces, growing more and more into submission and despair.
“Let us go with him, that we may die with him," cried Thomas, whom, all too cruelly, we remember as the doubter. And they walked, not beside him, for the way was not wide, and he had a path which he must tread alone, but they walked in his steps. They had followed him for months, and faithfully. Let not the memory of their frailties blot out our just recognition of their fidelity. Earth has few more beautiful examples of loyalty than they displayed. Only the true record of the few times they failed holds it in its precious place in the list of human affections, fallible and within the reach of common men, but closely approaching the love they learned from the Lord himself. They followed him while the crowds were growing, and after the multitudes had departed. They followed him when they had hope of crowns and thrones; and after he had told them of the cross and shame. They followed him with expectation of shaiing his glory; and now they were going with him that they might die with him. Now and then their old
faith in his triumph asserted itself, and they grew confident and quarrelsome, so like ourselves were they, but it was not chiefly this that was taking them to Jerusalem. It was a love which Jesus had inspired, which, living or dying, honored or rejected, impelled them to follow him to the end. Let others remember how weak they were; we ourselves shall not be able to forget it: but we will bear no part with those who joy in magnifying the inconsistencies they displayed. Rather will we reverently drop in behind them as they climb, and count it joy that we who are not worthy to loosen the sandals of the least of them, may place our steps in theirs and those of our blessed Lord.
Whatever motives of avarice and ambition had animated them hitherto, they were now in no doubt of the fate that awaited their Lord. He had told theni, and repeated it, and would reiterate it again when there was need, that the Son of man was going up to Jerusalem to his death, and that any man who would come after him must deny himself and take up his cross and follow him. And they followed! Happy are we if with soniething of their imperfect but glorious devotion we fall reverently into the path behind them and their master. “A glorious band, the chosen few,
On whom the Spirit came:
And mocked the cross and flame!
Through peril, toil and pain:
To follow in their train!"
They were not quite alone; those dczen brave men. A little way behind followed a company of women, equally loyal, and less disposed to question. They fill small space in the narrative, but when there is need
of them, they are there. In Galilee they followed and “ministered to him of their substance” (Luke 8:1-3). They drop behind and out of sight, making their journey in their own separate and unobtrusive caravan, but not far away.
When the journey is over, they are with the Lord, “last at the cross, and earliest at the grave.” They, also, followed him. They are our companions in the way. There are Mary, his mother, and Mary of Magdala, whose mind he had restored, the most slandered woman of history, whose insanity has been accounted to her for a sin unproved and in the Gospel unhinted. The mother of James and John was there, and there were others, no matter what their names. They head a procession of faithful women many times longer than the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, following through the ages the footsteps of Jesus, in acts of Christian ministration and reverent love.
The vegetation of the Jordan valley is soon left behind. The road is through the wilderness of Judæa. It is treeless, waterless, lifeless. Beyond and still beyond stretch barren hills from which the rains have washed the last semblance of vegetation, a desolate, · cheerless prospect. And ever the sun's heat increases, and the winding, climbing way grows weary as the day
But the lonely Figure in the road, before and above them all, halts not. He carries a burden whose weight they little know, but he goes before them. Not like a criminal, dragged to his doom, but with the confident tread of a victor, coming to his own, the Lord ascends to the Cross.
Once on this last journey one of these faithful women came to Jesus as the little company rested by the way, and asked a boon for her sons, James and John, that they might be near to Jesus in his kingdom. It was an ambitious request, born of a mother's partial love;