And so all the machinery was set in motion, and the officers of the law were all on the alert to take advantage of the first overt act of Jesus and His followers, and to throw them into prison as enemies of society, religion and of the state. The Roman authorities were agitated at the reports coming to them from the highest Jewish authorities, and were prepared to crush the rebellion at the first sign. The Jewish priests were in solemn convocation and at the instigation of Caiaphas, the high priest of the Jews, they determined that nothing but the death of this false Messiah would put an end to the agitation which threatened to drive them from power and authority. And so the die was cast.
And meanwhile Jesus was resting in Bethany, surrounded by great throngs who were pouring into the place to see Lazarus, and to renew their allegiance to the Master whom they had so basely forsaken. Time-servers ever, the latest miracles had revived their fading interest and waning faith, and they flocked around the Master as noisy, enthusiastic and as full of fulsome praise as ever. And yesterday they had damned Him, and tomorrow they would cry “Crucify Him!” For such is the nature of the multitude of men. Of the multitudes of Jesus’ followers, none remained to acknowledge allegiance in His hour of arrest—even among the chosen twelve, one betrayed Him, one denied Him, and all fled away when He was taken captive. And for such the Son of Man lived and taught and suffered. Surely His life was the greatest miracle of all.
THE EIGHTH LESSON.
THE END OF THE LIFE WORK.
Resting for a short time before His formal entry into Jerusalem, the Master sought the seclusion of the sparsely settled districts near the wilderness. In and around the village of Ephraim, in Perea, in parts of Galilee, He wandered with the Twelve. But even there He continued His work of healing and teaching.
But even this temporary respite from the inevitable lasted but a short time. Jesus determined to march direct to the seat of the ecclesiastical and temporal authority which was arrayed against Him. And so, just before the coming of the Passover time, He gathered together the Twelve and set out on the final stage of the journey. The pilgrims journeying to the capital were burning with curiosity and excitement concerning this journey of the Master to the home of His foes. Rumors were circulated that He intended to gather His forces together and sweep the enemy from its seats of power. It was known that the Sanhedrin intended to attempt to punish Him, and the people asked why should He move on to face His foes unless He contemplated a fight to the finish?
This belief in His determination caused a revulsion of feeling of the people in His favor, and many who had deserted Him now again gathered around Him. They dreamt again of victory, and scented again an unfailing supply of loaves and fishes. They crowded around Him wishing to be among the victorious host. But He encouraged them not—neither spoke He a word to them. He knew them for the time-servers that they were.