The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
Now a priest comes forward, bearing a parchment on which were the curses given in the Book of Numbers, and he recites to her the words of the ceremony. (Numb, v, 12-31.) The priest fills a new earthen vessel with water from the great brass sea beside the altar, throws into it dust from the Temple mixed with a noxious drug, and reads to her the curses written on the vellum, to which she replies, " Amen, Amen, so be it."
Then he washes out the words on the vellum, written with a non-corrosive ink," to blot them out with the bitter water." Another priest seizes the woman by the throat, tears open her garment to the waist, and lets down her hair, for all Hebrew women wore their hair in a net. With a coarse Egyptian rope, he fastens her dress across her bosom, puts on her head a red cap, while the multitude mock and scorn her. They now make her drink the bitter water. If she is innocent no harm will happen to her. If guilty, her eyes become suffused with blood, she will soon die, and she is driven from the Temple amid the curses of the whole population, to wear the red cap and her long hair hanging down, the rest of her life, as a sign of her crime. This was the reason that Mary Magdalen wore long hair with which she wiped her Lord's feet at the banquet. It was formerly the custom to stone such women to death, and that was the reason that they brought her to Christ, when he said, " He that is free from sin let him throw the first stone." (John viii, 7)
Freed from the marriage tie, Mary took up her abode with the soldier Pandira in the half pagan town of Tiberias, Herod had built on the shores of the Lake of Galilee, called after the then reigning emperor Tiberius. It was a little to the south of Magdala, then filled with Romans, Greeks, Gentiles, Jews who had renounced their fathers' religion, and the flunkies who attended Herod's court.
Her brother Lazarus allowed her a third of the revenues of their father's estates, and she began the shameless life of an abandoned woman, carried away by immorality, passion, jealousy, anger, bad desires, revenge, melancholy, —the state of the bad woman or man in every age. The menials of the court paid her well for the price of sin, and she sank lower and seven devils took possession of her, till the Lord drove them out. (Mark xvi. 9.) She was the woman in the city, who was a sinner, (Luke vii. 37, 39.) whom the Scribes and Pharisees caught in adultery. (John viii.) They brought her to Him, and quoted the Law of Moses, according to which she should be stoned to death. But the Saviour, stooping down, wrote on the ground. When these hypocrites, zealous for the Law, looked down, they were astounded. For there before them were the secret sins of each. One saw how he had cheated a poor widow out of her home. Another read that he had committed adultery, another saw the Lord had written his secret sin of murder which he had committed in order to get the victim's money—thus each accuser saw written his hidden crimes, and they all slunk away, leaving Jesus and the woman alone. The Lord, who came to save sinners, did not condemn her, but sent her away with the words : " Go and sin no more." (John viii. 11.)
How sensorious we are. How society turns against a woman whose character has been attacked. Who wants to make his home in the house of a reformed woman ? Yet it is into the home of the reformed sinner that Christ enters, when he came up that long road from Jericho the Friday before. Here he remained Friday night. Here he passed the Sabbath rest. Here he lived, with Mary and Martha waiting on him till Monday, when the Sanhedrin condemned him to death. St. Augustin and the early Fathers see in Mary the type of the religious life, and in Martha the active life of the Christian.
Lazarus was about thirty years of age when he was raised from the dead. He became a disciple of the Lord. But after the resurrection and the ascension, he was a stumbling-block to the Jews. When the first persecution broke out against the Christians, they arrested Lazarus, his two sisters; Longinus, who had opened the Lord's side with a spear; Emelian, the centurion, who was in command of the Roman guard around the tomb, They sent them adrift on the sea in a leaking boat at Joppa, without sails, oars, rudder, or food and drink. But the little band survived till they landed at Marseilles, France.
Lazarus became the first bishop of Marseilles; 1 Martha founded a house for pious virgins; Longinus became bishop of Lyons, and Emelian bishop of Aries. Mary Magdalen retired to a high mountain, where she found a cave, and for thirty years she lived in retirement, doing penance for her sins. The remains of these Saints were found in the thirteenth century, with authentic documents attesting their veracity.
God Incarnate is going to take possession of his Father's house, the great Temple, and fulfil by his death the sacrifices and the ceremonial, which for ages had typified Him. His royal father David, more than 1,100 years before, foretold His wonderful beauty and comeliness. (Psalm xliv.)
Thou art beautiful above the sons of men.
Grace is poured abroad in thy lips,
Therefore hath God blessed thee forever,
Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty,
With thy comeliness and thy beauty,
Set out, proceed prosperously and reign."
How often we have wished to see Him, as the God-Man, appeared in the flesh. He is often pictured by artists, and we have seen Jews in booths in Jerusalem with the very same face, form and features given by Christian painters.
Over the altar of the royal chapel, behind the main altar of the cathedral, Turin, Italy, in a gold-gilt bronze casket, is the winding-sheet with which Nicodemus wrapped the body of the dead Christ. The chemical action of the ointments, spices, etc, with which the body was prepared, according to the custom of the Jews, imprinted on the linen a photograph of his face, body, form and features, which are startling. He was about six feet tall, of spare body, and well formed.
It is the most striking, majestic and remarkable face the writer ever saw. The face is square, the forehead high, the chin large. Intelligence, mind, refinement, gentleness, love, compassion, goodness, virtue, self-control, purity, nobleness—in a word, every virtue man is capable of shine forth from that dead face. The photograph of the winding-sheet brings out traits the eye could not discover. If a person with such face walked our streets to day, crowds would gather to see him, even if he did not speak a word, for he would appear as a most remarkable personage. The priests of the cathedral, Turin, tell us that the winding-sheet is authentic, and much has been written regarding it and its remarkable history.
1 Natalis Alexander, Sec. 1. Bollandists, July T. 5, Traditions of Provence, France, etc.