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and Jesus met it kindly, but firmly. Not in this spirit, he told the mother and her sons, were men to strive against each other, each for the foremost place in his kingdom. To follow him, he explained, was to drink of a bitter cup, and be baptized with a baptism of sorrow; were they able to share this experience with him? Little knowing how much they promised, they answered confidently and loyally. Both the sons and their mother followed Jesus, and drank of his cup. The answer of Jesus did not deter them; they followed him.
The places at the right hand and the left of Jesus in his kingdom are still open to those who can drink his cup and be baptized with his baptism. No two disciples, ancient or modern, have a perpetual monopoly of those positions of access to Jesus. Who knows but that those for whom these places wait may now be living, and that the honor may now be available, not to the exclusion of others, but to closest association with Jesus in knowledge and faith in his Kingdom? “We can,” said the disciples: “Ye shall,” answered the Master. The thing we are able to do for him we shall have opportunity of doing.
Before many days had passed two men had found those coveted positions at the right hand of Jesus and his left. They were not James and John, but the two robbers who were crucified with him. Some drops of his cup these two disciples drank; but the full cup they were not able to drink; and the honor they strove for with unholy ambition went to men whom they despised. 2. THE FEAST.
It rejoices our hearts to remember the welcome which our Lord received when the sunset brought them to Bethany. The guest-room was ready; there was water to bathe their tired and dusty feet; and there
was cooled water in the porous jars of Palestine for them to drink. There were greetings, prolonged after the manner of the Orient, and warm with unfeigned affection. In the arbors of Bethany, noted for its grapes, they rested in the cool of the day, and the dust and weariness lay behind and below them in the sunset which ushered in the Sabbath. Some neighboring home was ready for the mother of Jesus and her friends, perhaps among her relatives. The curtains whose opening indicated that there still was room for guests were drawn in.
If the journey from Jericho occurred on Friday, and was completed before its sunset, our Lord spent a Sabbath in Bethany. he
may have attended the local synagogue, “as his custom was,” and taught the people. But his teaching produced no tumult; Jesus was among his friends, tried and true, and bound to him by cords of tenderest gratitude. The hours sped happily, and brought companionship, sympathy and rest.
But as the Sabbath sun went down, the friends of Jesus gathered in the home of a neighbor where a feast was made ready for him. Perhaps Simon, once known as the leper, had his own reason for gratitude to Jesus; and he and Lazarus vied with each other in their love that night. Lazarus, the wonder of his unuttered discoveries of the life beyond illumining his soul, was one of those who sat at meat with Jesus. There have been feasts which princes spread, and banquets where victors feasted, and some of them are known to history and to fame; but never was a feast on earth like that at Bethany, where Jesus rejoiced. He left below him the slights and privations of his months of homeless wandering, and on this summit of his earthly experience of true friendship, among his disciples and those who held him in grateful honor, Jesus was happy among his friends.
3. THE ALABASTER Box.
Martha served; Martha was always serving. It is the lot of some good women; and who shall say their love is less than that of those who have more time to listen? But if all good women were Marthas, the world were poorer and sadder. Another was there, who had her own form of service. Martha might not have thought of it, but Martha did not restrain her sister when she brought her generous gift. A year's wages had gone into the making of her ointment; it was an extravagant gift. It is the nature of love to be extravagant; that is why love is beautiful.
She did not know that Jesus was to die, but love is prophetic. Intuitively she felt, what she could not have justified by reason nor defined as a conviction, that something was to happen to Jesus; she knew not what; she only knew that this was love's opportunity. Thank God for the love that, not knowing what the morrow may bring forth, provides the alabaster box, and does not keep it too long!
Be not too severe in your condemnation of the complaint of Judas. Suppose the record read that Jesus refused the gift, and commanded the ointment to be sold, and the money given to the poor; would you not have been one of those who approved? Who but Mary, with her unbounded love that could not express itself in commonplace offerings, would have supposed that Jesus would accept the gift? And who but Jesus would have done so, and made it minister, not to selfishness, but to philanthropy, and an illustration of the worth of the Gospel? The complaint of Judas has found a million echoes, many of them uttered, but mistakenly, in the name of the Lord. Great love demands unique expression. Love is inventive of beautiful ways of revealing itself. She whose brother Jesus had brought from the dead, should she give him a girdle or a pair of sandals? These were the expressions of a commonplace affection. But Mary's love was deep as the grave from which her brother had come forth, pure as the alabaster of her vase, and fragrant as, the ointment she poured on Jesus' head.
But even this does not account for those words of Jesus, “Wheresoever the Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, there also that which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.' These words can mean nothing less than that Mary's gift had in it somet ng akin to his own; something that made it fit to be told with the story of his own gift of himself for men. He, too, was breaking an alabaster box. He, too, was pouring out the fragrant offering of unmeasured love. Passing all human computation was his gift, yet Mary had discovered the principle. Love does not stint itself. Love gives its best. Love does not wait. Love rises above the sordid reckonings of bread and cloth in values of the soul.
So ended the journey of Jesus toward Jerusalem, with a night of royal festivity, and unrestrained affection. Out from the home of Simon he passed, with his hosts and his disciples, back to the guestchamber on the roof of the home of Lazarus and Mary and Martha. The Jericho road lay in sight in the bright moonlight, but Jerusalem was hidden by the shoulder of Olivet. The climb of yesterday was a retrospect whose contrast added satisfaction to his present peace; and he who had said to his disciples, “Be not anxious for the morrow," looked down upon the winding road and thanked his Father that amid all the wilderness of 'earth's inhospitality and hate, there stood at the top of the Jericho road a home with friends and love, and a welcome for the Lord.
Palm Sunday—Triumpb and Tears The sun rose over the hills of Judæa on the morning after the feast at Bethany and lighted the village a little space before Jerusalem awoke; for Bethany perches on the curve of the hill fronting the south and east; and the hill on which Jerusalem stands, though no mean elevation, is somewhat lower than the Mount of Olives, which rises between it and the sunrise. There was echo of happy footsteps along Bethany's narrow street; there were signs of preparation where the village fronts the highway. The festive day had come with the passing of the Sabbath, and nearly the whole population of the little suburb would be pouring itself into Jerusalem for the day, especially now that it was known that Jesus was to enter the city that morning. People who had their own plans for spending the day in the city hastened a little, or waited, as the case might be, that they might accompany him. In addition to the throng of villagers, was the company, now considerably augmented, of his immediate friends, who had gathered about him in Bethany.
There was a slight delay in the starting of Jesus for his entry into the city. He sent his disciples to procure him a beast to ride upon. He had walked all the way from Jericho, and the much longer distance beyond from Galilee; he had rested in Bethany, and was well able to walk to Jerusalem; but he chose to ride.
It was not for weariness but for greater impressiveness that he chose this method of travel. Swiftly and with overflowing joy the disciples understood the reason; this was the way the prophet had foretold the coming of the King
Three scenes successively present themselves before