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King of the Jews - A story of Christ's last days on Earth
by William T. Stead
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The apostles said, "Rabbi, sleep has overpowered us."

Then said Jesus, "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."

The apostles answered, "Yes, Lord, we will watch and pray."

Then said Jesus unto them; "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." So saying he turned from them, and again slowly walked toward the grotto.

Praying he said, "My Father, thy demand is just, thy decrees are holy, thou claimest this sacrifice." Then falling upon his knees, he prayed, saying, "Father, the strife is hot." Falling upon his face he remained silent for a time, then raising himself again he cried, "Yes, Father, if this cup may not pass from me unless I drink it, Father thy will be done." Then standing up he said, "Holy One, it will be completed by me in righteousness."

Then once more he came back to his sleeping disciples; this time he did not rouse them.

"Are also your eyes so heavy that you could not watch?" he said. "Ah, my most trusted ones, even among you I find no consolation."

Then returning over the rocky road which led to the grotto he paused for a moment in sorrow, while a great sorrow overwhelmed him. "Oh, how dark it grows around me; the anguish of death encompasses me! The burden of God's judgment lies upon me! Oh, the sins! Oh, the sins of mankind! They weigh me down. Oh, the fearful burden; oh, the bitterness of this cup!" Then coming to the grotto again, he cried, "My Father!" and falling down he prayed, "If it is not possible that this hour pass away from me, thy will be done! Thy holiest will! Father! Thy son! Hear him!"

Then from out of the darkness a bright and shining angel in white apparel and with radiant wings descended upon him. And out of the silence were heard these words, "O, Son of Man, sanctify the Father's will! Look upon the blessedness which will proceed from thy struggles. The Father has laid it upon thee to become the sacrifice for sinful man. Carry it through to the end. The Father will glorify thee!"

Then said Jesus, "Yes, most Holy Father, I adore thy Providence; I will complete the work—to reconcile—to save, to bless!" Then standing up he cried in a more joyous tone, "Strengthened by thy word, O Father! I go joyfully to meet that to which thou hast called me, as the substitute for sinful man."

With lighter step he returned to the place where the three disciples lay slumbering peacefully. He looked upon them and said, "Sleep now and take your rest."

Peter, hearing his voice, said, "What is it, master?"

Then all three answered, "Behold, we are ready."

Then said Jesus, "The hour is come; the son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going."

Even as he spoke these words the tramp of armed men was heard in the immediate neighborhood of the garden mingled with loud cries of denunciation and vengeance.

"What is that uproar?" said the apostles.

"Come," said Philip, who hurried from behind with the rest of the eight, "Come, let us gather around the master." At that word the disciples hastened forward.

"Behold," said Jesus, "he who betrayeth me is at hand." The disciples looked in the direction which Jesus indicated, and there by the flaring light of the braziers carried by the Temple Watch, they saw Judas advancing at the head of his band.

"What does this multitude want?" said Andrew.

For an answer all the disciples cried as with one voice, "Alas! we are undone!"

"And see," cried John, "Judas is at their head."

Even as he said this, Judas, with long and stealthy steps, sprang forward, looking from side to side as he came, until he stopped immediately behind Jesus; then standing on tiptoe he reached over the shoulder of Jesus and kissed him, saying, "Hail, Master."



Jesus answered, "Friend, wherefore art thou come? Betrayest thou the son of man with a kiss?" Then stepping forward to meet the armed band, he faced them fearlessly and said, "Whom seek ye?"

A loud and angry shout went up from the soldiers: "Jesus of Nazareth!"

Jesus said, "I am he."

As he uttered these word the soldiers fell backward to the ground, crying, "Woe unto us! What is this?"

The disciples exultantly cried, "One single word from him casts them to the ground."

But Jesus said to the soldiers, "Fear not; arise."

As they regained their feet the disciples whispered eagerly to Jesus saying, "Lord, cast them down so that they shall never rise again."

But Jesus a second time asked, "Whom seek ye?"

Again the crowd replied, "Jesus of Nazareth."

Then Jesus said, "I have already told you that I am he; if therefore, ye seek me, let these go their way."

Selpha, the leader of the band, cried, "Seize him!" The soldiers approached Jesus, Malchus and Balbus carrying in their hands a small cord, and grasped him by the wrists in order to bind him.

Peter and Philip asked Jesus, saying, "Lord, shall we smite with the sword?" Before Jesus replied, Peter's sword flashed from its sheath and descended on the head of Malchus. The helmet turned the descending blade, and instead of splitting his skull it only sliced off his ear.

"Alas!" cried Malchus, "I am wounded; my ear is off."

Then said Jesus to the disciples, "Suffer ye thus far," and reaching forward to Malchus he said, "Be not troubled; thou shalt be healed." And touching his ear, that moment it was made whole. Malchus felt his ear with astonishment. His comrades satisfied themselves that the ear was as the other and stood motionless, while Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Put up thy sword into its sheath, for all they who take the sword shall perish with the sword. The cup which the Father hath given, shall I not drink it? Thinkest thou I cannot now pray to my Father, and he would presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?" Then turning to the Pharisees he said, "Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves to take me? I sat daily with ye in the temple teaching, and ye took me not. But this is your hour and the power of darkness. Behold, I am here!"

"Surround him!" cried Selpha; "bind him fast that he escape not."

Then said Nathanael, whose eager zeal to destroy Jesus had led him to join the soldiers, "You are responsible to the council that he does not escape." At Selpha's command Malchus and Balbus had seized Christ, and were busily engaged in tying his hands together with cords. Slowly, one by one, the disciples stole away, leaving Jesus alone in the midst of his captors.

In reply to Nathanael, the soldiers said, "Out of our hands he will not escape."

Then cried with a loud voice the traders, with Dathan at their head, "Now, we will wreak our vengeance." And Dathan added, "Dost thou still remember what thou didst to us in the temple?"

Josaphat said to the other Pharisees, "We will hasten on into the city. The Sanhedrin will be awaiting our arrival with impatience."

The traders replied, "But we will not leave this scoundrel for an instant."

"First," said Nathanael, "we must go to the High Priest Annas. Lead him thither!"

Selpha said, "We follow thee!"

As the band prepared to obey the word of command a trader came up to Judas and said approvingly, "Thou art a man, indeed. Thou knowest how to keep thy word."

Judas complacently answered, "Did I not tell you that he would be in your power today?"

The Pharisees said, "Thou hast placed the whole council under an obligation to thee."

The procession then went off, leading Jesus to the palace of Annas. The Temple Watch formed behind Jesus, who with his hands bound before him, was thrown violently forward by Malchus and Balbus, who held the other ends of the cords which bound him, and marched behind him. They cried, "On with thee! In Jerusalem they will settle your affair!"

Selpha, who marched at the head of his band, cried, "Let us hasten; lead him away carefully."

And all the band shouted, "Ha, run now as thou hast hitherto run to and fro about the land of Judea."

"Spare him not!" said Selpha, "drive him on!"

"Forward," shouted the soldiers, shouting together; "otherwise thou shalt be driven on with staves."

And as they marched away, driving Jesus before them the traders derided him, saying, "Doth Beelzebub, then, aid thee no longer?"

* * * * * *

It was dark night and there was silence in the street before the house of Annas, the high priest, when his door opened and Annas, attended by Esdras, Sidrach and Missel, came upon the balcony. "I can find no rest this night," said Annas, looking impatiently down the street, "until I know that this disturber of the peace is in our hands. Oh, if he were only safe, and in fetters. Full of longing and anxiety I await the arrival of my servants with the joyful news."

Then said Esdras, "They cannot be much longer, for it is a good while since they went away."

"In vain has my troubled gaze looked up and down the street of Kedron. But nothing can I see and nothing hear. Go, my Esdras, go toward the Kedron gate and see."

"I will hasten out," said Esdras, hurrying away as quickly as his short, squat figure would allow.

Annas, walking about impatiently, tormented by misgivings as to the success of the enterprise, began: "It would be a blow to the Sanhedrin if this time the work should not succeed."

Sidrach said, "Do not give away to anxiety, high priest," and Missel added, "There is no doubt of our success."

Annas, heeding not the consolation of his priests, said, "They may have altered their way and returned through the Siola Gate. I must send to see also on that side."

Sidrach said, "If the high priest wishes it I will go to the Siola Gate."

"Yes, do," said Annas, "but first see whether anyone comes through the street of the Sanhedrin."

"I will not loiter, my lord," said Sidrach, as he disappeared in the darkness.

Annas resumed his troubled thoughts. "The night is going by, and still the old uncertainty. Every minute of this weary waiting time is as an hour to me. Hark, I think some one comes running! Yes, he comes. Surely there will be good tidings."

Sidrach, bursting into the presence of the high priest, exclaimed, "My lord, Esdras comes in haste. I saw him just now running down the street with rapid foot."

Then said Annas, "Surely it is joyful news that he brings since he hastens so. Truly, I long for nothing now but the death of this malefactor."

Then came Esdras, breathless with haste, crying, "Hail to the high priest. I have seen the fathers who were sent to Judas. All has gone according to your wish. The Galilean is in bonds. I heard it from their mouth, and hurried as fast as I could to bring the joyful news in haste to thee."

Annas cried, "Oh, heavenly message! Auspicious hour! A stone is lifted from my heart; I feel as if I were born again. Now for the first time can I rejoice to call myself high priest of the chosen people."

Then came in to Annas, Judas and the four Pharisees, who had been sent by the council to accompany him, crying, "Long live our high priest!"

Nathanael exclaimed, "The wish of the council is accomplished."

Annas said, "Oh, I must embrace you for joy. So, then, our plan has succeeded. Judas, thy name shall take an honorable place in our annals. Even before the feast shall the Galilean die."

Judas, whom the Pharisees had brought in with the prisoner, startled by that word, sprang back, repeating incredulously, "Die!"

"His death is declared!" said Annas.

"For his life and blood," cried Judas, "I will not be responsible."

"That is unnecessary," said Annas coolly, "he is in our power."

"But," persisted Judas passionately, "I have not delivered him over to you for that."

"Thou hast delivered him over," said the Pharisees, "and the rest is our business."

Repulsed on every side, Judas, striking his forehead with his hand, cried, "Woe is me; what have I done? Shall he die? No! That I did not wish. That I will not have."

As he hurried into the street the Pharisees laughed at him and said, "Whether thou wilt have it or not, die he must."

Then said the priests to Annas, "High priest, the prisoner is at the threshold."

Annas said, "Let Selpha, with as many of the watch as are necessary, bring him up here, while the rest await him below." Then was Jesus brought before Annas on the balcony in custody with Selpha, the leader of the Temple Watch and the two servants of the temple, Malchus and Balbus, holding the cords by which Jesus was bound. The rest of the watch remained in the street below.

Selpha bowed low as he entered and said, "High priest, in accordance with thy command the prisoner now stands at thy bar."

When Annas saw Jesus he said, "Have you brought him alone as prisoner?"

Balbus answered, "His disciples dispersed like timid sheep."

Selpha said, "We did not find it worth the trouble to arrest them. Nevertheless Malchus almost lost his life."

"How did that happen?" asked Annas.

"One of his followers," said Selpha, "with a drawn sword smote him and cut off his ear."

"How could that be?" said Annas, looking first at one side of Malchus' head and then at the other. "It has left no mark; there is nothing to be seen."

"Oh," said Balbus, mocking, "the magician has conjured it back again."

"What sayest thou to that?" asked Annas. Malchus replied seriously, "I cannot explain it. It is a miracle that has happened to me."

Annas frowned, "Has the deceiver also bewitched thee?" he asked, and then turning to Jesus said to him, "Say, by what power hast thou done this?" Jesus did not answer.

"Speak," said Selpha, "when the high priest asks thee."

"Speak," said Annas. "Give an account of thy disciples and thy teaching, which thou hast spread abroad over the whole land of Judea and with which thou hast corrupted the people."

Then Jesus answered and said unto him, "I spake openly to the world, I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple, and in secret I taught nothing. What askest thou me? Ask them that heard me what I have spoken. Behold, they know what I have said."

Balbus, who was standing on the left hand of Jesus holding one end of the cord by which his hands were bound, struck him over the face a resounding blow, saying, "Answerest thou the high priest so?"

Jesus answered, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if I have spoken well why smitest thou me?"

Then Annas exclaimed, "Wilt thou even now defy us, when thy life and death are in our power? I am weary of this villain!" and gave the signal for Jesus to be removed.

"Oh," said Balbus, as he roughly thrust him forward, "wait a little. Thy obstinacy will vanish."

As Jesus was being led down the steps Annas exclaimed, "I will go in now for a little while to rest, or rather to meditate quietly as to how the work so happily begun may be brought to an end. In any case the summons to the Sanhedrin will reach me at an early hour in the morning." Annas then entered into his own house, leaving Jesus in the street below in the midst of the soldiers. As Selpha appeared bringing Jesus into the street the watch cried out loudly, "Ha, is this business already over?"

Selpha said, "His defense has turned out badly," and Balbus added, "After all it gained him a smart slap over the face."

Selpha said, "Take him now and away with him to the palace of Caiaphas."

"Off with him," cried the soldiers tumultuously.

"Lift up thy feet. Cheer up!" said Balbus, mocking, "Thou wilt have a still better reception from Caiaphas," and the soldiers shouted as they marched, "There will be the raven's croak about thine ears!"

When Jesus was taken from the house of Annas he was led through the streets, the band accompanying him, shouting as they went. On their way to the Sanhedrin they led Jesus down the street which passed Pilate's house, and as they went they cried to him with riotous laughter, "Thou shalt become a laughing stock for the whole nation!"

Balbus said unto him scoffingly, "Make haste! Thy disciples are quite ready to proclaim thee King of Israel."

And the soldiers laughed as they said, "Thou hast often dreamed of this; is it not so?"

Then said Selpha, "Caiaphas will soon explain this dream to him."

And Balbus, seeing that Jesus opened not his mouth, and was silent, shouted in his ear, "Dost thou hear? Caiaphas will announce to thee thy exaltation to a high position!"

A great burst of hoarse laughter from the watch followed, as they shouted, "An exalted position between heaven and earth!"

"Look out, you fellows!" cried Selpha, "there through the hall of Pilate's lies our nearest way to the palace of Caiaphas. There, station yourselves in the courtyard until further orders."

The soldiers answered, "Thy command shall be fully obeyed!"

Hardly had the noisy soldiery passed with their prisoner out of the street than Peter and John appeared before the house of Annas. Then said Peter, "How will it fare here with our good master? Oh, John, how anxious I am about him!"

John answered, "He is certain to have to suffer here scorn and ill treatment. I am very much afraid of approaching the house."

Peter said, "But it is so silent about here."

John replied, "One hears not a sound in the place. Could they have taken him away again?"

As they were talking Esdras came out from the house of Annas and asked, "What do you want at the palace at this time of night?"

John answered, "Forgive us; we saw a number of people from afar come hither from the Kedron Gate, and we came here in order to see what had happened."

Esdras answered, "They have brought in a prisoner, but he has already been sent to Caiaphas."

"To Caiaphas," said the disciples, "then we will go away at once."

"You had better, otherwise I will have you taken, up as night brawlers," said Esdras.

"We will go away quietly and make no disturbance," said Peter, meekly.

As they went the priest, looking after them, said, "Perhaps they are followers of the Galilean. If I only knew. However, they will not escape our people if they go to the palace of Caiaphas. The whole of his following must be destroyed. Otherwise the people will never be brought into obedience." He then returned into the house.



CHAPTER V.

PETER COMMITS PERJURY.

How bleeds my heart! The Holiest stands before the judgement seat. The malice of sinners he must bear, Betrayed and outraged, bound and beaten there. O, sons of men, your faces veil this day!— The scarred form is touched by impious hands, From Annas dragged to Caiaphas away, What's here foreshadowed, see, fulfilled it stands. See Jesus, how in silence he Bears outrage, blows and mockery! O! what a man! Oh, hearts of men who now draw near, Melt with compassion when you see Bowed down in deepest misery! O! what a man!

Caiaphas, in his bed chamber, wearing a dressing gown, surrounded by priests, exulted over the news which had been brought him of the arrest of Jesus.

"This happy capture," said he, "promises us a fortunate realization of our wishes. I thank you, noble members of the Sanhedrin, for zealous and prudent co-operation."

But the priests with one voice cried, "The greatest share of praise belongs to our high priest!"

"Now," said Caiaphas, "let us pursue our path without delay. Everything is ready! The council will immediately be assembled. The necessary witnesses have already been brought along. I shall now without losing a moment, at once begin the trial of the prisoner. Then judgment shall be pronounced and provision made that it shall be executed. The quicker the execution the surer the result!"

Dathan said, "It would be advisable to get everything over before our adversaries recover their senses."

Caiaphas replied, "I have encountered this necessity. Trust me, my friends. I have thought of a plan. I hope to carry it out."

At this Zadok said, "The wisdom of our high priest deserves our fullest confidence," and then cried they all, "the God of our fathers bless all his measures!"

Then Selpha, the leader of the band, brought Jesus into the chamber of Caiaphas, the high priest, Balbus and Malchus holding the cords by which his hands were bound.

"Illustrious High Priest, here is the prisoner," said Selpha.

"Bring him nearer," said Caiaphas, "so that I may look him in the face and question him."

"Step forward," said Selpha, "and show respect here to the head of the Sanhedrin."

Then Caiaphas, having looked into the face of Jesus, said to him disdainfully, "Thou art he then who dreamed of bringing about the destruction of the synagogue, and the law of Moses?" Then assuming a more judicial tone, he said, "Thou art accused that thou hast stirred up the people to disobedience, that thou hast despised the holy traditions of the fathers, that thou hast transgressed the divine command for the keeping of the Sabbath day, and that thou hast even been guilty of many blasphemous speeches and acts. Here," Caiaphas continues, pointing to five Jews who had entered the chamber at the same time as Selpha brought in Jesus, and had taken their stand on the left of the high priest, confronting the accused, "Here stand honorable men who are prepared to prove the truth, of these accusations by their testimony. Hear them and then thou mayest answer if thou canst."

Then stood forth the first witness and spoke, saying, "I can testify before God that this man has stirred up the people by openly denouncing the members of the council and the scribes as hypocrites, ravening wolves in sheeps' clothing, blind leaders of the blind, and has declared that no one shall follow their work." At this the members of the Sanhedrin smiled approvingly one to another.

The second witness said, "I can also testify to this, and can still further declare that he has forbidden the people to pay tribute to Caesar."

"Yes," interrupted the first witness, "at any rate he has dropped words of double meaning about that."

Then Caiaphas turned to Jesus and said, "What sayest thou unto this?" He paused for a reply, but Jesus opened not his mouth. Then said Caiaphas, "Art thou silent? Hast thou nothing to answer?" But Jesus never answered a word.

The third witness took up his testimony. "I have often seen how he with his disciples, in defiance of the law, has eaten with unwashed hands; how he has become accustomed to hold friendly intercourse with publicans and sinners and go into their houses to eat with them."

"That we have also seen," cried the other witnesses together. "I have heard many credible people say that he has even spoken with Samaritans, and indeed has lived with them for days together."

Then the first witness began to speak again: "I was a witness how he has done on the Sabbath what is forbidden by God's law, in that he healed sick and infirm people without fear on that day. He has seduced others to break the Sabbath; he ordered a man to take up his bed and carry it to his house." The second witness joined in, "I also can testify to this."

Again Caiaphas turned to Jesus and said, "What has thou to say against this evidence?" And after a pause, seeing that Jesus still spoke not, he said, "Hast thou nothing to say in reply?" But Jesus spoke not.

Then said the third witness, addressing himself to Jesus, "Thou hast, for I was present, taken upon thyself to forgive sins, which belongs to God alone. Thou hast, therefore, blasphemed God."

Then again spoke the first witness, "Thou hast called God thy Father, and hast dared to declare that thou art one with the Father. Thou hast therefore made thyself equal to God."

The second witness added, "Thou hast exalted thyself above our father Abraham. Thou didst say, 'Before Abraham was, I am.'"

Then spoke the fourth witness, who said, "Thou hast said, 'I can destroy the temple of God, and in three days build it up again.'"

The fifth witness, who had not hitherto spoken, stood forward and said, "I have heard thee say, 'I will destroy this temple which is made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'" This concluded the testimony of the witnesses.

Then Caiaphas, turning to Jesus, spoke to him with indignation: "So thou hast claimed to possess a superhuman divine power? These are serious accusations, and they are legally proved; answer if thou canst." Jesus remaining silent, Caiaphas resumed, "Thou thinkest that by silence thou canst save thyself. Thou darest not to admit before the fathers and judges of the people what thou hast taught before the people. Or dost thou dare?" Then rising to his utmost height, and stretching his hand on high, Caiaphas continued, "Hear, then, I, the high priest, adjure thee by the living God. Say—art thou the Messiah, the Son of the Most High?" and as he uttered the sacred name Caiaphas crossed his arms and dropped his head on his breast.

For a moment there was silence, then Jesus answered and said, "Thou hast said it, and so I am. Nevertheless, I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of God in power and coming in the clouds of heaven."

As Jesus spoke these words, the members of the council started in horror, and Caiaphas rending his robe, exclaimed with a loud voice, "He has blasphemed God! What need have we of any further witnesses? You yourselves have heard the blasphemy. What think ye?"

And all the members of the council cried together, "He is worthy of death."

Then said Caiaphas, "He is thus unanimously declared worthy of death. But not I, not the council, but the law of God pronounces the death sentence upon him. You teachers of the law, I call upon you to answer; what does the holy law say of him who is guilty of disobedience to the authorities appointed by God?" Then stood up Josue, and unrolling the book of the law read therefrom: "The man that will do presumptuously and will not hearken to the priest that standest to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shalt die, and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel."

Then again said Caiaphas, "What does the law decree concerning him who profaneth the Sabbath?"

Then Ezekiel stood up and read, "Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore, for it is holy unto you. Every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein that soul shall be cut off from his people."

Then asked Caiaphas, "How does the law punish the blasphemer?"

Then stood up Nathanael, and unrolling the book of the law, read: "Speak unto the children of Israel saying, whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord he shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him, as well the stranger as him that is born in this land."

"Thus," said Caiaphas, "is the judgment pronounced upon this Jesus of Nazareth—pronounced according to law, and shall be carried out as speedily as possible. Meanwhile I will have the condemned placed under safe guard. Lead him forth, guard him, and by the safe dawn of the morning bring him to the Great Sanhedrin."

"Come, then, Messiah," said Selpha, roughly, "we will show thee thy palace."

"There thou shalt receive due homage," said Balbus, as he placed his hand on the shoulder of Jesus, and marched him out of the chamber.

Then said Caiaphas exultingly, "We are approaching the goal. Now, however, resolute steps are necessary."

The priests and Pharisees cried together, "We will not rest until he is brought to death."

Then said Caiaphas, "With the break of day let us come together again. This must be announced to the High Priest Annas and the rest. Then shall the sentence be confirmed by the whole assembled council, and the prisoner will immediately be brought before Pilate in order that he may confirm it and have it executed."

The priests then departed, crying as they went, "God deliver us soon from our enemy."

When the council had been dismissed and all was still, Judas, moving as one distracted, came down the street in front of the high priest's palace; as he went he muttered to himself: "Fearful forebodings drive me hither and thither. That word of Annas' 'He must die!' Oh, that word pursues me everywhere." Then, as if he remembered all that had happened, Judas cried, "No, it cannot come to that; they will not carry things so far! That would be too terrible if my Master—no!—and I—guilty of it? No! Here in the house of Caiaphas, I will inquire how things stand. Shall I go in? I can no longer bear this uncertainty, and it terrifies me to ascertain the certainty. My heart throbs with terror—surely I shall not have to hear the worst. Yet it must come some time." And thereupon he went into the house of the high priest.

Meanwhile in the hall of Caiaphas the Temple Watch was standing waiting the result of the examination of Jesus before Caiaphas. In the hall were the servant maids, Sarah and Hagar, who seeing the soldiers standing outside, went to the door, and said, "You may come in here." It was Hagar who spoke first, and Sarah added, "It is more comfortable in here."

"True for you, good people," said Melchi, one of the soldiers. Then calling out, "Ho, comrades, come in! It is better for us to lie down in the hall."

Then said a soldier named Arphaxad, "I like this; I wish we had come in long ago; how stupid we are, always standing outside in the open air and shivering. But where is there any fire?"

"Sarah," added another soldier, "go and bring us fire, also wood to lay thereon."

"Willingly," said Hagar.

"That you shall have," said Sarah. They went out together to comply with the soldier's wish.

"Will the trial soon come to an end?" asked several of the soldiers.

"It will last," said Melchi, "until all the witnesses are examined."

"And," added Panther, "the accused will also use all his eloquence to get himself out of the scrape."

"That will help him nothing," said Arphaxad; "he has offended the priests too much." Then returned the serving maids with a brazier in which there was a little fire and some wood, which they placed thereon, making a great smoke.

"Here is your fire," said Hagar, "wood and fire tongs."

Then cried the soldiers together, "Thanks, you good girls."

"Yes," said Panther, stooping down over the brazier, "that is good. Now take care that the fire does not go out." Several of the soldiers stooped over the fire, piled on wood, and Sarah busied herself with bringing in meat and bread.

Peter and John, who had been wandering about the streets seeking for tidings, came to the door, John preceding Peter. Hagar, who saw John standing in the entrance of the door, said, "John, comest thou also hither in the middle of the night? Come in here, then, thou must warm thyself. Could you make a little room for this young man here?" said Hagar addressing the soldiers.

"Yes, indeed," cried the band together.

Then said John, "Good Hagar, I have a companion with me; can he not also come in?"

"Where is he?" said Hagar. "Let him come in; why does he stand out in the cold?"

John went to where Peter was standing, but came back alone.

"Where is he?" said Hagar.

"He stands on the threshold, but does not trust himself to come in," replied John.

Then Hagar went to the door and said, "Come in, good friend; do not be afraid."

All the soldiers cried, "Friend, come also in here to us and warm thyself!" Peter without saying a word timidly drew near to the fire and warmed his hands in the smoke.

The men went on talking round the fire and Arphaxad said, after a pause, "We still see and hear nothing of the prisoner."

Several then asked together, "How much longer must we wait here?"

Then said Panther, "Probably he will come out from the trial as a man condemned to death."

"I wonder," said Arphaxad, "whether his disciples will be sought after?"

Peter trembled as the band with hoarse laughter cried aloud, "That would be a fine piece of work if they all had to be captured!"

Then said Panther, "It would not be worth the trouble. If the Master is once out of the way, then the Galileans will fly and never let themselves be seen again in Jerusalem. But," said Panther, "one at least ought to receive sharp punishment; he who in the garden drew his sword and cut off Malchus' ear."

"Yes, yes," cried the band, laughing, "that should be, as it is said, an ear for an ear!"

"Ha, ha, ha, a good idea!" laughed Panther, "but that rule would here find no application, for Malchus has his ear back again."

During this time, while the soldiers were laughing and talking, Hagar was curiously looking at Peter. Immediately a pause took place, Hagar said to Peter, "I have been observing thee for some time. Now, if I do not mistake, thou art one of the disciples of the Galilean. Yes, yes, thou wert with Jesus of Nazareth."

Peter started up from the fire over which he had been warming his hands and stammered out, "I? No, I am not. Woman, I know him not, neither know I what thou sayest."

When Hagar thus spoke all the soldiers looked at Peter, who fearing his attack on Malchus might be resented, tried to slip through the band and escape unobserved. Passing the fire, he came close to the other waiting maid, Sarah, who, looking him full in the face, said in a shrill voice, "See, this man was also with Jesus of Nazareth."

The attention of the whole band being aroused, they all clustered around Peter, asking, "Art thou also one of the disciples?"

Levi said, "Thou art one of them, quite certainly."

Peter in the midst of armed and violent men, looked confusedly from side to side and declared, "Upon my soul—I am not—I do not know the man."

Even as he spoke the cock crew, but the rattle of the weapons of the soldiers and imminent menace of a violent death left him no leisure to attend to anything but his own safety, for a soldier at the same moment exclaimed, "Look at this man. Of a truth he was also with him."

Then said Peter stoutly, "I know not what ye have to do with me. What does this man matter to me?"

But the soldiers crowding round him said, "Yes, yes, thou art one of them. Thou art also a Galilean; thy speech betrayeth thee."

Then Peter, raising his hands on high, said with a troubled voice, "God be my witness that I do not know the man of whom ye speak;" and the cock crew a second time.

Then Melchi, pressing forward, looked Peter full in the face and said, "Did I not see thee in the garden with him, when my cousin Malchus had his ear cut off?"

At this moment, when the situation was getting very serious for Peter, attention was called off from him by a cry from the soldiers round the fire. "Make ready, they are bringing in the prisoner." Selpha then brought in Jesus bound between Malchus and Balbus.

"Now, how have things gone?" eagerly inquired Arphaxad.

"He is condemned to death," said Selpha.

The soldiers mocking, cried, "Poor king!"

At this moment Jesus met Peter, and looked upon him with a gaze full of sorrow. Peter smote his head with his hand and went out into the night.

"Come," said Arphaxad, "he will help us to pass the time."

"Forward, comrades," said Selpha, "we must guard him till morning." Thereupon they all went out.

Peter, when he had left the hall of the high priest, went out into the street weeping bitterly and suffering anguish of soul. "Oh, my Master," he cried, "how deeply have I fallen! Oh, woe unto me, weak and wretched man! I have three times denied my dearest friend and teacher. I cannot understand how I could so forget myself. A curse upon my shameful faithlessness! How my heart will repent of it—this contemptible cowardice. My dearest Lord, hast thou still grace for me—grace for a faithless, one—oh! send it me! This once more hear the voice of my repentant heart. Alas! the sin is committed. I cannot undo it, but ever, ever, will I weep for it and repent of it—and now nevermore will I leave thee! Oh, thou most loving one! Thou wilt surely not cast me off! Thou wilt not despise my bitter, repentance. No! the gentle pitying look which thou didst cast upon thy deeply fallen disciple promises it—thou wilt forgive me. I have this hope from thee, best of teachers, and the whole love of my heart shall from this moment be given to thee. I will cling closely to thee and nothing, nothing shall ever be able to separate thee from me again!"

And with a face beaming with hope of forgiveness, even for his threefold denial, he went away.

Hardly had he gone, when John entered at the other end of the street, asking anxiously, looking on either side, "Where, then, can Peter have gone? In vain my eyes have sought him in the crowd. Surely nothing evil can have befallen him. Perhaps I still may meet him upon the road. I will now go to Bethany. Dearest mother, if I bring thee the tidings of these terrible things which have happened—the innocent one ill-treated and condemned by sinners, what wilt thy heart feel? O, Judas, Judas, what hast thou done?"

Now it came to pass that the soldiers having taken Jesus into the guardroom of Caiaphas' palace, mocked him and despitefully used him until it was day. They seated him on a stool with a bandage over his eyes, and surrounded him mockingly, saying, "Is not this throne too mean for thee, great king? Hail to thee, thou new-born sovereign! But sit more firmly," said one, seizing Jesus from behind and pressing him down on his chair. "Thou mightest otherwise fall down. Thou art verily also a prophet. So say, O great Elias, say who it is who has struck thee," and with that he dealt Jesus a blow on the face.

Others came in and also struck him, saying, "Was it I?" but Jesus answered nothing.

Then one of the band went up to him and shouted, "Hearest thou nothing?" and shook him violently by the shoulders. "Art thou asleep?" Then turning to his comrades he exclaimed, "He is deaf and dumb; a fine prophet indeed." And thereupon he roughly pushed Jesus forward so that he fell from the stool upon the ground upon his face.

"Alas! alas!" they cried. "Our king has fallen from his throne. What is to be done now? We have no longer any king. Thou art to be pitied, such a great magician and now so weak and weary! Come, help us to put him again upon his throne."

And then they seized him where he lay on the ground with his eyes bandaged and his hands tied, and lifted him again upon his seat. "Raise thyself, O mighty king; receive anew our homage."

As they were kneeling around him in scorn a messenger of Caiaphas entered saying, "How goes it now with the king?" and the band shouted, "He speaks and prophesies not; we can do nothing with him."

"Then," said the messenger, "the high priest and Pilate will soon make him speak. Caiaphas sends me to bring him."

"Up, comrades," said Selpha.

Thereupon, taking Jesus again by the cords which bound his hands, they led him off, saying, "Stand up; thou hast been king long enough." And all shouted, "Away with thee. Thy kingdom has come to an end."



CHAPTER VI.

JUDAS HANGS HIMSELF.

The guilty deed fails not to win its wages, The guiltless blood he sold cries from the ground; Driven to madness by the worm that rages And scourged by furies, Judas ranges round Wildly, and finds no rest From the fire in his breast, Till swept away by bitterest despair He flings away in reckless haste The load of life he can no longer bear.

When Jesus was being mocked and ill-treated by the soldiers in the guardroom of Caiaphas' palace, Judas wandered to and fro in despair. "Now my fearful foreboding has become a terrible certainty. Caiaphas has sentenced the Master to death, and the council has concurred in his sentence. All is over. There is no hope, no way of escape. Had the Master wished to save himself he would have made them feel his might a second time in the garden. As he did not do it then, he will now do so no more. What can I do for him, I, a miserable wretch who have delivered him into their hands? They shall have the money back, that blood money. They must give me my Master back again. I will go at once and make the demand. But, oh, will he be saved by that? Oh, vain, foolish hope. They will mock me, I know it. O cursed synagogue, thou hast tempted me through thy messengers, thou hast hidden from me thy bloody designs until thou hadst him in thy clutches. I will torture thee with bitter reproaches, ye unjust judges. I will have nothing to do with your devilish decision. I will have no share in the blood of this innocent. Oh, what tortures, what pains of hell, tear my inmost soul!" So saying he departed.

Now within the hall of the Sanhedrin were assembled the high priests, the scribes and the leaders. Caiaphas and Annas arrayed in their robes, sat in the high place of the council, and all the seats were filled except those of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Caiaphas spoke, saying, "I thought, fathers, that I could not wait till the morning to send the enemy of the synagogue to death."

And Annas said, "I could not get a moment's rest for eagerness to hear the sentence pronounced."

Then cried they all, "It is pronounced. He shall and must die."

Caiaphas said, "I did not wish to trouble all the members of the Sanhedrin to come hither in the night time. But there was present the necessary number of judges to pronounce as the law prescribes. All as with one mouth declared the accused worthy of death, for all had heard with their own ears how this man blasphemed God in the most terrible way, and was impious enough to call himself the Son of God."

The priests and Pharisees who had previously been present answered, "Yea, we bear witness to it. We have ourselves heard the impious blasphemy from his lips."

"Then," said Caiaphas, "I will have the criminal brought before you once more, so that you may be convinced of his being worthy of death. Then may the whole council pronounce the just sentence."

As he was speaking, Judas, looking haggard and distracted, rushed into the midst of the council, crying wildly, "Is it true? Have you condemned my Master to death?"

Then said the rabbi unto him, "Why dost thou force thyself uncalled for in this assembly? Be off. We will call thee if we have need of thee."

But Judas took no heed. "I must know it," he said. "Have you condemned him?"

Then all in the council cried aloud, "He must die."

"Woe, woe!" said Judas. "I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood. Oh, you blood-thirsty judges, to condemn the innocent blood."

"Peace, peace, Judas," cried the council.

"There will never, never more be peace for me," said Judas, bitterly, "and none for you. The blood of the innocent cries aloud for vengeance."

"What has driven you crazy? Speak, but speak with reverence—thou standest before the Sanhedrin," said Caiaphas.

Then said Judas passionately: "You are determined to deliver him up to death; him who is free from all guilt. You must not do it. I have a protest to make against it. You have made me a traitor. Your accursed pieces of silver!"

Annas interrupted him, saying, "Thou didst propose it thyself and close the bargain."

Then said the priest unto him, "Recollect thyself, Judas, thou hast received what thou didst desire; and if thou behavest thyself decently thou canst still——"

Judas interrupted him. "I will have nothing more. I tear up your shameful bargain. Let the innocent go."

"Be off, madman," said a rabbi angrily.

But Judas, taking no heed, knelt and stretched his hands toward Caiaphas. "I demand the release of the innocent. My hands shall be free from his blood."

"What," said the rabbi, "thou contemptible traitor, wilt thou dictate to the Sanhedrin? Know this, thy Master must die, and thou hast delivered him to death."

And all the priests and Pharisees cried aloud, "He must die."

And Judas, with staring eyes, as one demented, repeated, "Die? Then I am a traitor. I have given him up to death!" He sank down like a man crushed by a blow, and then springing up and breaking out into wild passion, he shouted aloud: "May ten thousand devils from hell tear me in pieces! Let them grind me to powder! Here, ye bloodhounds, take your accursed blood money!" And with that he snatched the bag from his girdle and flung it violently before the seat of the high priest.

"Why didst thou let thyself be made the tool for a transaction which thou didst not weigh beforehand?" said Caiaphas.

"Yes," cried several, "it is your own business."

Then shouted Judas wildly, "May my soul be damned, my body burnt asunder, and ye—"

"Silence and out from here," cried all the priests together.

"And you," shouted Judas, above them all, "you will sink with me into the lowest hell!" He then rushed from the hall.

After a pause, during which the chief priests and rulers looked at each other in silence, the money lay unnoticed on the floor. Caiaphas said, "What a fearful man!"

"I had some foreboding of this," said Annas.

"It is his own fault," remarked a priest.

Then said Caiaphas, "Let him expiate that fault himself. He has betrayed his friend, we pursue our enemy. I remain steadfast by my determination, and if anyone here should be of another opinion, let him stand up."

"No," cried they all with one voice, "what has been resolved upon, let it be carried out."

Then said Caiaphas, "What shall we do with this money? It is blood money; it can no longer be put into the treasury of God."

Annas said, "It might be used for some useful purpose under the sanction of the high council."

All agreed to this, and a priest said, "A burying place for strangers is much wanted. With this money a field may be purchased for that purpose."

"Is there such a one in the market?" asked Caiaphas.

"Yes," said a priest, "a potter in the city has offered a piece of ground for sale at just this price."

"Let Saras conclude the purchase," said Caiaphas. They then picked up the money which had lain untouched on the floor.

"But now we will no longer delay to pronounce the capital sentence upon the prisoner," continued Caiaphas.

Then said a rabbi, "I will have him brought in at once."

"I shall see," said Annas, "whether the scorn which he showed toward me has not yet left him. A real satisfaction will it be to me to share in the sentence. Let him die."

Jesus then was brought in a second time before Caiaphas. Selpha, as before, preceded him, and Balbus and Malchus led him bound by the hands with a cord.

"Stand there," said Selpha, "and show more respect to the council than thou didst before." Then he added, "Venerable fathers, here we bring the prisoner."

Then said Caiaphas, "Lead him into the middle."

Balbus, laying his hand on the shoulder of Jesus, thrust him forward saying, "Step forward."

Then Caiaphas spake unto Jesus, saying, "Jesus of Nazareth, dost thou stand by the words which thou hast pronounced this night before thy judges?"

Annas added, "If thou be the Christ, tell us!"

Then Jesus answered and said, "If I tell you ye will not believe; if I also ask you, ye will not answer me nor let me go. But hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of Almighty God." A shudder ran through the Sanhedrin, and all cried excitedly, "Art thou the Son of God?"

Jesus answered, "Ye say it and so I am."

Annas exclaimed, "It is enough; what need have we of any further witnesses?"

The priests and Pharisees who had not attended the night council, said, "We have now heard it out of his own mouth."

Then said Caiaphas, "Fathers of the people of Israel, it is now your duty to come to a final decision as to the guilt and punishment of this man."

Then cried they all, "He is guilty of blasphemy. He hath deserved death."

Caiaphas said, "We will therefore lead him before the judgment seat of Pilate."

And they all answered and said, "Yes, away with him. Let him die."

"Pilate," said Caiaphas, "must first be informed in order that he may proclaim the sentence before the feast."

A rabbi said, "Could some one be sent from the council in order to give him timely information?"

"Thou thyself," said Caiaphas, "together with Dariabbas and Rabinth shalt go before. We will speedily come after."

When these three had departed Caiaphas said, "This day, then, will save the religion of our fathers, and exalt the honor of the synagogue, so that the echo of our fame shall reach our latest descendants."

All shouted, "Men will speak of us centuries hence!" and Caiaphas resumed, "Lead him away; we follow."

Once more they cried, "Down with the Galilean!" and departed.

The three messengers sent by the Sanhedrin drew near to the house of Pilate, and as they went they spoke among themselves. The rabbi said: "At last we breathe more freely again; we have been insulted long enough."

Dariabbas replied, "It was indeed high time; his following was becoming very large."

"Now," said the rabbi, "there is nothing more to be feared from him. The traders have in these days displayed the most creditable activity, to have gained for us a crowd of determined people. You will see if it comes to anything, they will effectively take the lead. The waverers will concur with them, and the followers of the Nazarene will find it well to be silent, and take themselves off."

Then said Rabinth, seeing they had approached the place of Pilate, "How shall we bring our message to Pilate? We dare not enter the house of the Gentile today, as in that case we should become unclean and could not eat the Passover?"

"We will send a message through one of his own people," said the rabbi, and going up the stairs to the balcony of Pilate's house, he knocked gently at the door.

Standing and listening, he said, "Surely, there is some one there? Yes, there is some one coming," and retired a little way down the steps, so as to avoid any contact with the Gentile.

A servant of Pilate opened it and said, "Welcome, rabbi, will you not come in?"

"The precepts of the law will not allow us so to do today," said the rabbi.

The servant said, "Is that so? Can I carry your message?"

"The high priest sends us to bring a petition to the viceroy of Caesar to ask if he will allow the council to appear before him and to bring before him a malefactor for the confirmation of his sentence."

"I will deliver the message at once to my lord; wait here in the meantime," said the servant, and went into Pilate.

The rabbi returning down the steps joined Dariabbas and Rabinth, who stood below. "It is very sad," said Dariabbas, "that we must knock at the door of a Gentile in order to get the behests of our holy law executed."

"Take courage," said the rabbi, "when once this domestic enemy is removed out of the way, who knows whether we might not soon free ourselves from the foreign foe?"

Rabinth exclaimed, "Oh, may I live to see the day which will bring freedom to the children of Israel!"

Pilate's servant returned and spoke unto them saying, "The governor greets you. You are to inform the high priest that Pilate is ready to receive the petition of the Sanhedrin."

"Accept our thanks for thy kindness," said the rabbi. "Now let us hasten to report to the high priest the result of our errand." The servant then returned and closed the door behind him.

The three messengers then returned. Rabinth remarked anxiously, "Pilate will surely agree to the demand of the council."

"He must," said the rabbi, "how could he resist it when the Sanhedrin and the whole people demand with one voice the death of this man?"

"And besides," said Dariabbas, "what does the governor care about the life of a single Galilean? Were it merely to please the high priest, who is of great importance to him, he would not hesitate to permit the execution."

Now, Judas, being distracted by remorse, found himself, after wandering to and fro, in the potter's field, purchased with the thirty pieces of silver, in the midst of which stood a blasted tree. Then after wildly looking around to see if anyone was near, he said: "Oh, where, where can I go to hide my shame, to escape the torments of conscience? No forest is dark enough! No rocky cavern deep enough! O, earth, open and swallow me up! I can no longer exist. O, my dear Master! Him, best of all men, have I sold, giving him up to ill treatment, to a most painful death of torture. I, detestable betrayer—oh! where is there another man on whom such guilt of blood doth rest? Alas! nevermore can I appear before the face of the brethren. An outcast, hated and abhorred everywhere—branded as a traitor by those who led me astray—I wander about alone with this burning fire in my heart. There is still one left. Oh! might I look on the Master's face once more, I would cling to him as my only anchor. But he lies in prison, has perhaps been already slain by the rage of his enemies, although by my guilt, by my fault. I am the abhorred one who has brought him to prison and to death. Woe to me, the scum of men! There is no hope for me, my crimes can be expiated by no penance. For he is dead—and I, I am his murderer! Thrice unhappy hour in which my mother gave me to the world! Must I still drag on this life of agony and bear these tortures about with me?—as one pest stricken, flee from men, and be despised and shunned by all the world? No! I can bear it no longer! Not one step further! Here, O life accursed, here will I end thee! On these branches let the most disastrous fruit hang!" He untwined his girdle and twined it about his neck. "Ha, ha! come, thou serpent, entwine my neck and strangle the betrayer!"

As Judas spoke the last words he tied with convulsive and feverish agony the long girdle around his neck, fastened it to the branch of the tree, and swung himself off.



CHAPTER VII.

JESUS, PILATE AND HEROD.

Thus before Pilate's judgment seat The council, full of passion's heat, Come to demand Messiah's blood. Oh, what has made them mad and blind? And what has kindled in their mind Of fury such a fiery flood?

'Tis envy which no mercy knows In which hell's flame most fiercely glows— Lights this devouring fire, All's sacrificed unto its lust— Nothing too sacred, good or just To fall to its desire. Oh, woe to those whom passion sweeps Helpless and bound into the deeps.

Then went the high priests and the scribes, together with the rulers and traders of the temple, and the witnesses, to the house of Pilate. Jesus was led forth in front of them by Balbus and Malchus as before, Selpha being in command of the band of soldiers. As they went the soldiers shouted aloud, "Away with thee to death, thou false prophet! Ha! doth it dismay thee that thou wilt not go forward?"

"Drive him on," said Selpha. But Jesus being weary walked with slow footsteps.

Then the soldiers thrust him forward, crying, "Shall we have to carry thee in our arms? Go on! Thou hast not far to go, only to Calvary; there upon the cross thou canst rest in comfort."

By this time they had approached the precincts of Pilate's house. Then said Caiaphas to the soldiers, "Be still; we have to announce our coming." And they were still.

The rabbi said, "Go to the door and knock."

It was done, and Quintus came out, saying, "What does this crowd of people want here?"

The rabbi replied that the council had assembled there. Quintus promised to announce them at once, and the rabbi turning to the members of the Sanhedrin, said, "Do you hear? He will announce our presence without delay."

Caiaphas addressed those who were following him: "Ye members of the Sanhedrin, if you have at heart the holy traditions, our honor, the tranquility of the whole land, then consider well this moment. It decides between us and that deceiver. If you are men in whom flows the blood of your fathers, then listen to us. An imperishable monument you will set up for yourselves. Be firm in your resolve."

Then cried the priests, "Our fathers forever; death to the enemy of the nation!"

"Do not rest, then," said Caiaphas, "until he is blotted out of the number of the living!"

And they cried again, "We will not rest, we demand his death, his blood."

Then the soldiers turned to Jesus and said, "Hearest thou that, O king and prophet?"

Then came Pilate out with his attendants upon the balcony of the house; two spearmen on either side advanced to the foot of the steps of the balcony, and stood spear in hand whilst the audience listed. Then Caiaphas stepped forward in front of the crowd, and, bowing low, thus began, "Governor and representative of the great Caesar, health and blessing to thee." Then Caiaphas continued: "We have brought here before thy judgment seat a man of the name of Jesus that thou mayest consent to the execution of the death sentence pronounced against him by the Sanhedrin."

Pilate answered, "Bring him forth," and the soldiers led Jesus, out before Pilate so that he stood on the right hand of the balcony. Pilate having looked upon him asked, "What accusations have you to bring against this man?"



Caiaphas, speaking with some surprise, said, "If he were not a great malefactor we would not have delivered him over to thee, but have dealt with him ourselves according to the direction of our holy law."

"Well, of what evil deeds has he been guilty?" asked Pilate.

Caiaphas answered, "He has in many ways grievously offended against the holy law of Israel."

Pilate answered, "Then take him away and judge him according to your law."

Then said Annas, "He has already been judged by the Sanhedrin and has been declared to be worthy of death."

Then all the priests cried aloud, "For according to our law he has deserved death."

But Caiaphas explained: "It is not lawful for us to execute the sentence of death upon any one; therefore we bring the application for the execution of the sentence to the representative of Caesar."

Then Pilate having looked upon Jesus and upon Caiaphas asked, with indignation, "How can I deliver a man over to death unless I know the crime, and before I have satisfied myself that his crime is worthy of death? What has he done?"

Then said the rabbi, "The sentence of the council upon this man was unanimously pronounced, and grounded upon a careful investigation into his crimes. It seems therefore unnecessary that the illustrious governor should take upon himself the trouble of a second investigation.

"What," said Pilate, hotly, "do you dare to suggest to me, the representative of Caesar, that I should be a blind instrument for the execution of your orders? Be that far from me! I must know what law he has broken, and in what way."

Caiaphas, Annas and the members of the Sanhedrin waxed wroth and spoke warmly among themselves on hearing the words of Pilate. Caiaphas answered and said, "We have a law and by our law he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God," while all the people shouted, "We all have heard the blasphemy from his own lips," and Annas added, "And upon that account we must insist that he suffers the legal punishment."

Then Pilate said scornfully unto them, "On account of such a speech, which at the most is only the outcome of an enthusiastic imagination, a Roman can find no one guilty of death. Who knows also," he added, with a glance at Jesus, "whether this man may not be the son of some god! If you have no other crime to lay to his charge you need not think that I will fulfil your desires."

Caiaphas answered and said, "Not only against our holy law, but also against Caesar himself has this man been guilty of serious offences. We have found him to be an insurgent and deceiver of the people."

Then cried all the priests and Pharisees together tumultuously, "He is an agitator and a rebel."

Pilate answered, "I have heard of one Jesus who was said to go about the country and teach and do extraordinary works, but I have never heard of any sedition stirred up by him. Were anything of that kind to happen I should have heard of it before you, who am appointed for the maintenance of peace in the land, and am perfectly well informed concerning the words and deeds of the Jews. But tell me, when and where has he stirred up any commotion?"

Then Nathanael stood forward and said unto Pilate, "He brings together multitudes by thousands around him and he has quite recently, surrounded by such a crowd, made a solemn entry into Jerusalem itself."

"O I know that," said Pilate contemptuously, "but nothing took place on that occasion to disturb the public peace."

By this time Caiaphas and the priests were in a state of indignation which they did not care to conceal, and Caiaphas asked angrily, "Is it not sedition if he forbid the people to pay tribute to Caesar?"

Pilate asked, "Where have you proof of that?"

"Proof enough," retorted Caiaphas, "for he gives himself out as the Messiah, the king of Israel. Is not that to challenge the imperial authority?"

Pilate replied, sarcastically, "I admire your suddenly awakened zeal for the authority of Caesar."

Then turning to Jesus, who had stood silent during the altercation, he asked him, saying, "Hearest thou what serious accusations these bring against thee? What answerest thou?" Jesus remained silent.

"See," said Caiaphas, eagerly, "He cannot deny it. His silence is an admission of his crime."

Then cried all the multitude, stretching out their hands toward Pilate, "Sentence him then!"

"Patience," said Pilate, "there is time enough for that. I will take him apart for a private hearing."

Pilate, speaking to his attendants, said, "Perhaps when he is no longer confused by the crowd and the fury of his accusers he will answer me." Then, speaking to his servants he said, "Lead him into the court." And turning to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, he said, "Go! my guard shall take charge of him, but do you examine the justice or injustice of your complaints, and be careful to investigate whether they do not perhaps come from a polluted source. Then let me know the result of your reflections."

At this Caiaphas turned his back upon Pilate and looked with indignation upon his followers, who showed the liveliest manifestations of disgust. Josue said, "Everything has been well considered and examined already. The law pronounces him worthy of death." The Jews, turning to go, angrily discussed this reverse.

"This is a troublesome delay," said the rabbi.

But Caiaphas encouraged them, saying, "Do not lose heart, victory belongs to the steadfast."

Then was Jesus brought before Pilate's judgment seat, and Pilate said unto him, "Thou hast heard the complaint of the council against thee. Give me an answer thereto. Thou hast, they say, called thyself a Son of God. Whence art thou?" But Jesus made no answer. Then Pilate said unto him with some surprise, "Dost thou not speak even unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee and to release thee?"

Then Jesus turned to him and said, "Thou couldst have no power at all against me except it were given unto thee from above. Therefore he that delivereth me unto thee hath the greater sin."

"Frankly spoken," said Pilate, aside. Then, speaking to Jesus he said, "Art thou the king of the Jews?"

Jesus answered, "Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or only because others have told it to thee?"

Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me. They accuse thee that thou hast desired to be the king of Israel. What ground is there for this?"

Then answered Jesus and said unto him, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, so that I should not be delivered unto the hands of the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence."

Then said Pilate, "Art thou a king then?"

Jesus answered, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world, that I might bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice."

When Pilate heard this he said, "What is truth?"

Hardly had he asked this question when the servant Quintus entered hastily from the door behind. "Lord, thy servant Claudius is here; he has to bring thee a pressing message from thy wife."

Pilate said, "Let him come in. Lead the man hence for a moment into the hall." The attendants having led Jesus out, Claudius entered. Pilate asked him, "What bringest thou from my dear spouse?"

"My lord," said Claudius, "thy wife greeteth thee and prays thee from her heart, for thine own sake and for hers, that thou wouldst have nothing to do with this just man who has been accused before the judgment seat. She has suffered anguish and terror on his account last night, owing to a fearful dream."

Pilate answered, "Go back and tell her that she need not disturb herself. I will have nothing to do with the proposals of the Jews, but do all that I can to save him." Saluting Pilate, the messenger departed.

Pilate then said to his attendants, "Would that I had nothing to do with this business! What do you think, my friends, of the complaint of the Jewish priests?"

Then said the courtier Mela, "It seems to me that they are only inspired by envy and jealousy. The most passionate hatred appears in their words and countenances."

And the courtier Sylvius added, "The hypocrites pretend that they have the authority of Caesar at heart, whereas the matter concerns only their own authority, which they believe endangered by this famous teacher of the people."

Pilate answered, "I agree with you. I cannot believe that this man entertains any criminal schemes in his mind. There is so much that is noble in his features and in his demeanor. His speech displays so noble a candor and such high natural gifts that he seemed much more to be a very wise man, perhaps only too wise for these gloomy fanatics to be able to bear the light of his countenance. And then the dream which troubled my wife on his account! If he were really of higher origin? No," said Pilate decidedly, arriving at a resolution, "I will not let myself be induced to comply with the wishes of the priests." Then he ordered his servants, saying, "Let the chief priests appear here again, and let the accused be led out again from the judgment hall."

Then came Caiaphas, Annas and the chief priests, and the scribes and rulers of the people once more before Pilate to receive his decision. Then Pilate spoke unto them as follows: "Here you have your prisoner again; he is without guilt." Consternation and fury were displayed on the faces of all the Jews.

Then Annas said, "We have Caesar's word that our law shall be upheld. How can he be without guilt who treads this very law beneath his feet?"

Then cried all the council, saying, "He is worthy of death!"

Caiaphas, who stood before the council, asked, "Is he not punishable by Caesar when he maliciously injures that which Caesar's will has guaranteed us?"

Pilate said, "I have told you already, if he hath done anything against your law, then punish him according to your law, in so far as you are authorized so to do. I cannot pronounce the death sentence upon him, because I find nothing in him which according to the laws upon which I have to act is deserving of death."

Then were the Jews vexed beyond measure and muttered among themselves in hot displeasure, but Caiaphas replied, "If any one proclaims himself as king, is he not a rebel? Does he not deserve the death punishment of high treason?"

"If," said Pilate, "this man has called himself a king it seems to me that so ambiguous a word is not sufficient to condemn him. For it is openly taught among the Romans that every wise man is a king. But you have brought forward no facts to prove that he has usurped kingly authority."

Then said Nathanael, "Is it not a sufficient fact that through him the whole people are stirred up; that he fills the whole of Judea with his teaching, beginning from Galilee, where he first attracted followers to himself, until here in Jerusalem?"

Then asked Pilate in surprise, "Has he come out of Galilee?"

Then cried they all, "Yes, he is a Galilean," and the rabbi added, "His home is in Nazareth, in the jurisdiction of King Herod."

"If that be so, then am I relieved of the jurisdiction. Herod, King of Galilee, has come hither for the feast; he can now judge his own subject. Take him away and bring him unto his own king. He shall be conducted thither by my body guard." Then Pilate with his attendants left the judgment hall.

Caiaphas exclaimed, "Off, then, to Herod! With Herod, who professeth the faith of our fathers, we shall find better protection for our holy law."

Annas said, "And if a thousand hindrances were to oppose themselves, the criminal must meet with the deserved punishment."

Then they cried to Christ, as they went off to the palace of Herod, "One hour sooner or later, what matters it? Thou must come to die, and this very day!"

* * * * * *

King Herod stood beside his throne, arrayed in scarlet robes, wearing a golden crown upon his head, and holding a golden scepter in his hand. On either side were his courtiers. He said unto them, "What! have they the famous man from Nazareth? And are they bringing him a prisoner here to me?"

"Yes, my Lord," said Zabulon, "I saw him and recognized him at the first glance."

Then said Herod, "I have for a long time desired to see this man, with whose wondrous works the whole land rings, to whom, as if by magic, people run in crowds. Can he be John, risen from the dead?"

"Oh, no," said Naason, "John worked no miracles; whereas they relate deeds done by this man which in truth are wonderful if they are not exaggerated."

"As I have," said Herod, "so unexpected an opportunity of seeing him, I am impatient to put his magic skill to the proof."

"He will be very willing," said Manasses, "to oblige you in that respect in order to obtain your favor and protection."

Then said Herod, who had seated himself, to Zabulon: "Tell the priesthood they may bring their prisoner in."

"They are probably coming with complaints against this man," said Manasses, "as they are forsaken by all the people."

Herod replied, "Let them do that before Pilate—here I have nothing to do—no judgment to pronounce."

Manasses remarked: "Perhaps they have met with a refusal from the governor and are now siding another way."

Herod replied, "I do not enter into their pious quarrels. I will see him for myself and test his alleged miraculous powers."

Then came into the presence of Herod, Caiaphas, Annas, the rabbi, Nathanael and four priests, bringing Jesus with them led by the soldiers of Herod. Caiaphas bowed before King Herod, saying "Most mighty king," and all the priests cried, "Prosperity and blessing upon thee from the Almighty!"

Then said Caiaphas, "A criminal is brought before thee here from the Sanhedrin, that thou mayest execute on him the judgment of the law."

"The law," said Nathanael, "decrees his death;" and Annas added, "May it please the king to confirm the sentence of the synagogue."

"But," said Herod, "how can I be a judge in a foreign territory? Go to your own governor; he will do justice."

Then said Caiaphas. "Pilate sent him hither, because being a Galilean he is thy subject."

"Then this man belongeth to my jurisdiction? Who is he?"

The priests said, "Jesus of Nazareth."

Caiaphas added, "Pilate himself said, 'Go to King Herod; let him pronounce sentence upon his own subject.'"

"Did Pilate say that? Wonderful!" said Herod. And turning to his courtiers he remarked, "Pilate sends him to me! Allows me to act as judge in his own province!"

A courtier replied, "It seems as if he wished to make approaches to thee again."

Herod replied, "I will accept it as a proof of his friendly feeling."

Then turning to Jesus Herod said, "I have heard very much of thee by common report and have longed to see the man that has created such a sensation in this country."

"He is a deceiver," said the rabbi; "an enemy of the holy law."

"I have heard," said Herod, taking no notice of the interruption, "that thou canst interpret all mysteries and achieve feats which set at defiance the laws of nature. Let us have an example of thy skill and mighty power; then we will honor thee like the people and believe in thee."

"O king," said Zadok, "do not let him lead thee astray, for he is in league with Beelzebub."

"That is all the same to me," said Herod. Then, addressing Jesus, he said, "I had last night a wonderful dream. If thou canst tell me what I have dreamed of I will esteem thee as a first-class reader of hearts."

Herod paused, but Christ remained motionless and silent. "Thou canst not do so much as that," continued Herod, "but perhaps thou understandest how to explain the dream if I tell thee what it was. I dreamt I stood upon the battlements of my palace at Herodium and saw the sun go down. There stood suddenly a man who stretched out his hand and pointed to the setting sun and said, 'See there, there is Hesperia in thy bedchamber.' Hardly had he said this when his form melted into mist. I started and woke up. If thou desirest to be like Joseph when he stood before the King of Egypt interpret to thy king this dream." Christ remained silent, looking sadly at Herod.

"Art thou not experienced in this branch of the business? Well, then, show some of thy famous magic art. Cause it suddenly to become dark in this hall, or raise thyself and depart from us without touching the ground, or convert the roll on which thy death sentence is written into a snake. Thou wilt not, or thou canst not? Any of these things ought to be easy to thee; they relate much more wondrous miracles of thine." Then turning to the courtiers Herod said, "He does not stir. Ah, I see well that what has made him so notorious was only idle tittle-tattle. He knows nothing and can do nothing."

"It is easy," said Naason, "to make believe before the foolish mob; it is another thing to stand before a wise and powerful king."

Then said Manasses to Jesus, "Why should you not display your wisdom here? Why should your power vanish before the eyes of the king, even as a soap bubble?"

Then said Herod scornfully, "There is nothing remarkable about him. He is a conceited fellow whom the applause of the people hath made crazy. Let him go. It is not worth while making so much trouble on his account."

"O, King," said Caiaphas, "do not trust this sly and crafty rogue. Indeed, he only makes himself out to be a fool in order to obtain a milder sentence from thee."

Annas said, "If he be put away, then would the peace of the kingdom also stand in danger, for he has presumed to exalt himself to be king."

"What!" said Herod, "to be a king! To be a king of fools, that is more credible. As such he deserves to receive homage, therefore will I give him as a present a king's mantle, and do formally install him as the king of all fools."

Then cried the priests aloud, "Not this; he has deserved death."

Caiaphas said, "O, King, protector of our holy law, remember thy duty to punish the transgressor as the law ordains."

Then said Herod, "What have you really against him?"

"He hath profaned the Sabbath," said the rabbi.

Nathanael added, "He is a blasphemer."

And all the priests cried, "And as such the law declares him worthy of death."

Then said Ezekiel, "He has also spoken contemptuously of the Temple, which thy father so gloriously rebuilt; he has declared that he would rebuild a more beautiful one in three days."

Then Herod laughed and said, "Now that proves indeed that he is a king of fools."

Then said Jonas, "He has also spoken insultingly of thee. He has presumed to call thee, his lord and king, a fox."

"Then he has attributed to me a quality which he cannot certainly claim himself," replied Herod. "Clothe him—wrapped in this splendid robe he will play his part well before the people."

Then came in a servant bringing a white robe, which he put on the shoulders of Jesus, and after Jesus had been robed, Zabulon said to him, "Now for the first time thou wilt create a real sensation, thou great wonder-worker."

The priests cried, "He must die!"

Herod said, "No, I will not be guilty of the blood of so exalted a king; rather lead him forth before the people in this his proper apparel, that they may admire him to their heart's content."

Then said the first soldier to Jesus, "Come, thou miraculous king, and allow us to accompany thee!"

The second soldier said, "What good luck for me to walk by the side of so illustrious a lord!" And so saying, they led away Jesus, wearing the white robe which Herod had put on him.

Then said Caiaphas, "Thou hast convinced thyself that his alleged great works were nothing but lies and deceit, whereby the people were defrauded by him. Give, then, thy sentence!"

And all the priests cried, "Pronounce the sentence of death upon him, as the law demands!"

Herod replied, "My opinion is, he is a simple fellow and not capable of the crime of which you accuse him. If he has perchance done or spoken anything against the law it is to be attributed to his simplicity."

"O, King," said Caiaphas, "take care that thou dost not err!"

"I fear," said Annas, "thou wilt repent if thou allowest him to escape punishment."

"I fear nothing of the kind," said Herod. "A fool one must treat as a fool. He has already suffered by his follies and will avoid them in the future. With that the trial is at an end."

Then said the rabbi, "Then it is all over with our law, our religion, Moses and the prophets!"

Herod said, "I abide by my decision. I am weary and will not concern myself further about this affair. Pilate may decide according to his official duty. Offer to him duty and friendship from King Herod."

Then went the priests out, sorely dissatisfied with the decision of the king. Then Herod rose from his seat and said, "This time the result has not corresponded to our expectations. I expected to find a great wonder-worker and eloquent orator, and behold, there is only quite an ordinary man with never a word to say for himself."

"Ah," said Manasses, "how lying rumor exaggerates that which, when more closely examined, is shown to be nothing."

"Friends," said Herod, "that is not John. John at least spoke, and spoke with wisdom, and an eloquence which one must esteem, but this one is as dumb as a fish. I am less than ever purposed to put him out of the way, now that I have seen him for myself. Pilate would not have sent him to me if he had been found guilty of any serious crime against the state. To revenge oneself on such a man would be the greatest folly. We have occupied ourselves about this wearisome business long enough. Let us now go and make up for lost time by seeking more agreeable amusement."



CHAPTER VIII.

"JESUS OR BARABBAS."

See! what form of woe standeth the Saviour there! Even Pilate himself's touched with compassion now Foolish people and blinded, Have you no hearts to pity him?

No, for seized with madness they cry, "To the cross with him!" Cry for torture and death upon the holiest. For Barabbas, the murderer, Pardon asking, and liberty.

Oh, how otherwise once 'fore the Egyptian folk Joseph! Around him shouts echoed, and songs of joy As the Savior of Egypt He was solemnly shown to them.

But round the world's deliverer rages a nation in wrath, Blinded, maddened with hate, no man among them will rest Till the judge all unwilling Says, "Then take ye and crucify him."

* * * * * *

Ah, see the king that's crowned in scorn, What monarch such a crown has worn Or scepter borne, and he so great? Ye see him decked with purple shreds, They laugh and jeer and shake their heads, Is this the royal robe of state? Ah! what a man! Where is the trace of deity? Ah! what a man— The sport of the rude hangman he.

Caiaphas and Annas and the chief priests and rulers, and the council and the traders of the temple, and the witnesses accompanied the soldiers, who once more led Jesus to Pilate's house. Then said Caiaphas, "Now Pilate must be challenged more imperiously; and if he does not do according to our will then shall the authority of Caesar extort the sentence from him."

"Shall I now," said Annas, "in my gray old age see the synagogue overthrown? No! with stammering tongue I will cry for the blood and death of this criminal, and then descend to the bosom of my fathers, when I have seen this evil-doer die upon the cross."

"We would sooner," cried the rabbi, speaking with great animation, "be buried in the ruins of the temple than to go back upon our resolution. We shall never leave off until he is dead."

Then proclaimed Caiaphas, "Whosoever goes back on this decision, let him be cast out of the synagogue."

And Annas added, "Let the cross of the fathers fall upon him."

Then said Caiaphas, "Time presses, the day is advancing; now we must employ all the means at our disposal in order to carry out our will before the feast." At this time the Jews and the soldiers leading Jesus stood once more before the house of Pilate.

Pilate, attended by his servants, soon appeared on the balcony.

"We bring the prisoner once more before thee and earnestly desire his death," said Caiaphas.

All the priests cried aloud, "We insist upon it, he must die."

Then said Pilate, "Ye brought me this man as an agitator and see, I have heard your complaints, and I have myself examined him, and have not found anything in him touching those things whereof you accuse him."

Then said Caiaphas angrily, "We abide by our accusation; he is a criminal worthy of death."

And the priests cried, clamorously, "He is an offender against our law and against Caesar."

Then said Pilate, "I have sent him because he is a Galilean to Herod. Have you brought forward your complaints before him?"

"Yes," said Caiaphas, "but Herod would not judge the case because thou art in authority here."

Then said Pilate, "He, too, has found nothing in the man that deserves death, but in order to meet your desire I will have this man scourged and let him go."

But Annas said, "That sufficeth not," and Caiaphas said, "The law prescribes for such a criminal not the punishment of scourging, but the punishment of death."

The priests cried again, "To death with him."

Then Pilate, hearing the clamor of the Jews and seeing how bitter they were against Jesus, said unto them, "Is your hate so deep and bitter unto the man that it cannot be satisfied by the blood from his wounds? You compel me to tell you frankly what I think. Driven by ignoble passion ye persecute him because the people are more devoted to him than they are to you. I have heard enough of your hateful accusations. I will now hear the voice of the people. An innumerable number will now assemble here in order to demand, according to old custom, the release of one prisoner at the Passover festival. Then it will be seen whether your complaint is the outcome of popular sentiment or only of your personal revenge."

Caiaphas, smiling to himself, bowed low before Pilate and said, "The result will show, O governor, that thou thinkest evil of us unjustly."

Then the priests cried, "It is not vengeance, but zeal for the holy law of God which compels us to demand his death."

Pilate said, "You know of the murderer, Barabbas, who lies in chains, and of his evil deeds. Between him and Jesus of Nazareth I will let the people choose. The one whom they ask for, him will I release."

Then cried all with one voice, "Release Barabbas and to the cross with the other."

"You are not the people," said Pilate haughtily, "the people will speak for themselves. Meanwhile I will have this one scourged." Then speaking to his servants, he said, "The soldiers will lead him hence and scourge him according to the Roman law." Then turning to his courtiers, he said, "Whatever he has done amiss will be sufficiently atoned for and perhaps the spectacle of the scourging may soften the blind wrath of his enemies."

When Pilate quitted the balcony and entered his house Caiaphas addressed a stirring speech to the Jews. His opportunity had come. "Pilate," said Caiaphas, "appeals to the voice of the people. All right; we appeal to it also. Now," said he, turning to the traders and witnesses, "now, true-hearted Israelites, your opportunity has arrived. Go hence into the streets of Jerusalem, summon your friends to come hither, unite them in masses, kindle in them the most glowing hatred against the enemy of Moses. The waverers seek to win by the strength of your words and by promises, but terrify the followers of the Galilean by an overwhelming outcry against them, by insult and mockery, by threats, and if necessary by ill-treatment, so that none of them may dare to let himself be seen here, much less to open his mouth."

Then cried the traders and witnesses together, "We will go hence and soon return again, everyone at the head of an excited mob."

Caiaphas said, "Let us all meet in the street of the Sanhedrin."

The traders bowed, and as they went the priests cried after them, "Hail to you, faithful disciples of Moses."

Then said Caiaphas, "Let us not lose a single moment. Let us go together to the crowds to encourage them, to inflame them."

Annas added, "From all the streets of Jerusalem will we lead the exasperated people before the judgment seat."

The rabbi said complacently, "If Pilate wishes to hear the voice of the people, let him hear it!"

"Let him hear," said Caiaphas, "the unanimous cry of the nation; release Barabbas; the Galilean to the cross!"

Then all the Jews cried aloud, with an exceeding loud voice, "Release Barabbas; the Galilean to the cross!"

Then the soldiers led Jesus away to the Pretorium and took off his robe and tied his hands to a low pillar and scourged him. When they were weary with scourging they said, "He has had enough, he is all running down with blood."

"Thou pitiable king of the Jews," said one of the soldiers as they knelt and mockingly did homage to him, "what kind of a king can this be? He has no scepter in his hand, no crown upon his head. That can be mended. I will at once bring the insignia of the Jewish sovereignty." And then going out he brought a scarlet mantle, a crown of thorns and a reed. They were laid upon a cushion, and together with them were laid iron gloves, so that they might handle the crown of thorns without suffering therefrom.

"Here," cried they, "this is certainly the most lovely attire for a king of the Jews. Is it not true that thou hast never expected such an honor? Come, let us hang this purple robe about thee. But sit down, a king should not stand. Here is a beautiful pointed crown." And a soldier, taking the crown of thorns with the iron gloves, placed it upon the head of Jesus.

"Let us look at you." Then they laughed aloud for joy.

"But," said one, "if it is not to fall off your head then must we set it in firmly. Come, brothers, help me." Then four of the soldiers seized in their hands two staves, and, crossing them over his head, pressed the crown heavily down upon the brow of Jesus. Jesus shuddered in agony.

"Here," cried the soldiers, "is the scepter." And taking the reed they placed it in his hands. "Now nothing more is wanted. What a king!"

Then all knelt before him crying, "Hail to thee, most mighty king of the Jews!" When they were mocking him a servant entered from Pilate, saying that the prisoner mast be brought immediately into the judgment hall.

Then said the soldiers, "Thou comest at the wrong time. Thou hast disturbed us in the middle of our demonstrations of reverence."

Then they said to Jesus, "Stand up, we will lead thee about as a spectacle. There will be rejoicing among the Jewish people when their king appears before them in full splendor!"

* * * * * *

Then was Jerusalem in an uproar; the traders and the priests ran everywhere hither and thither, stirring up the people against Jesus. On all sides the crowds were mustered, and directed by the priests to assemble in the streets of the Sanhedrin, and from this to proceed to Pilate's house to demand the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus; from four sides the tumultuous mobs came pouring down to the place of assembly. Their hoarse cries of "To the cross with him! To the cross with him!" were heard in the distance before the foremost leaders came in sight. At the head of one mob came Nathanael, fervently exhorting the multitude to demand the death of Jesus.

"Moses, your prophet," said he, "calls upon you. His holy law demands you should avenge it."

And the multitude cried together, "We belong to Moses. We are and remain followers of Moses and of his teaching. We hold fast by our priests and teachers. Away with him who would rise against them." Another multitude poured down from the right into the central thoroughfare. Caiaphas was leading them proudly, exulting in the manifestations of their zeal.

Into the same central place came a third band led by Annas, whose followers shouted aloud, "Ye are our fathers, and we will answer for your honor!"

Annas answered, "Come, children, throw yourselves into the arms of the holy Sanhedrin. It will save you." While the clamorous multitudes from these three quarters were pouring down confusedly into the main street, the shouting of a fourth mob was heard down Pilate's street.

Ezekiel marched at the head of this new company crying, "Shake it off; the yoke of the deceiver!" and they cried in answer, "We will have nothing more to do with him; we follow you!" As the four contingents of the populace collected thus in the open space it could be seen how successfully they had been organized. Each of the four divisions was led by a ruler of the people and had in its ranks a number of the traders of the temple, the witnesses and the priests, whose violent zeal gave movement and direction to the whole crowd. Various cries burst forth from the multitude and each section as it saw the strength of the others exulted and greeted their leaders with shouts of joy. "The whole people applauds you!" cried one part of the multitude.

"We will be free from that false teacher, the Nazarene!" answered another section of the crowd.

Then Caiaphas, Annas, Nathanael and Ezekiel, meeting together, cried with a loud voice, "Your fathers' God will receive you again! You are again to him a holy people!"

The crowd now massed together in the main street cried, "You are our true friends. Long live the great Sanhedrin! Long live our teachers and priests!" and Annas answered, "Death to the Galilean!"

"Up," said Caiaphas, "let us now hasten to Pilate," and Nathanael and Ezekiel added, "Let us demand his death, his blood."

Then all the people answered, "On to Pilate; the Nazarene shall die!"

As they came tripping forward their leaders addressed them from time to time to incite their zeal.

"He hath falsified the law," cried the leaders. "He has contemned Moses and the prophets!" "He hath blasphemed God!"

Then all the people cried again, "To death with the false prophet!"

The section led by Ezekiel shouted, "Death by the cross!" and the other sections took it up, "Pilate must let him be crucified!"

Then said the leaders, "On the cross he shall atone for his crimes!"

"We will not rest," cried the crowd, "until his sentence is pronounced." The whole multitude was now moving rapidly toward the judgment seat of Pilate.

Caiaphas, who lorded it over the whole assemblage with look and gesture, thus addressed them, "Hail to you, children of Israel! You are indeed still true descendants of your father Abraham! Oh, rejoice that you have escaped the nameless destruction which this deceiver would bring upon you and your children!"

"Only," said Annas, "by the untiring efforts of your fathers has this nation escaped the abyss."

Then cried the people, "Long live the council! Death to the Nazarene!" and the priests and Pharisees cried out, "Curse him who does not vote for his death!"

The people responded, "We demand his death!"

Then for some time there was nothing heard but a confused clamor, but the voice of Caiaphas rang out notwithstanding, while the people responded to his appeals. It sounded from afar in this wise: Caiaphas: "Let him be cast out from the heritage of our fathers," and all the people cried, "Let him be cast out."

Caiaphas said, "The governor will give you the choice between this blasphemer and Barabbas. Let us insist upon the release of Barabbas."

Then the people cried, "Let Barabbas go free, and down with the Nazarene."

Then said Annas, "Let the fathers be praised who have heard our wishes."

Then all cried out, "Pilate must consent, the whole nation demands it of him."

Caiaphas walked backward and forward with excited mien, but proud and triumphant step, and said, "Oh, most glorious day of the people of Israel. Children, be steadfast!"

The priests and Pharisees: "This day brings back honor to the synagogue and freedom to the people."

"Now," said Caiaphas, as they approached the house of Pilate, "let us demand the sentence with uproar and threaten him with universal revolt!"

Then cried the whole multitude tumultuously, "We demand the blood of our enemy!"

So loud was the cry, so savage the emphasis, that two servants of Pilate started out of the house and looking down on the turbulent throng cried out, "Uproar! Insurrection!"

And the people answered, "The Nazarene shall die!"

Caiaphas, hastening hither and thither in the crowd to excite them to still further violence, said, "Show courage. Stand out undismayed. A righteous cause defends us."

Then the people called out clamorously; "Pilate—pronounce the sentence of death!"

Pilate's servant from the balcony said, "Silence! be quiet!" but the crowd shouted at him louder than before, "No, we will not be quiet until Pilate consents."

Then said the servant, "Pilate will come out immediately."

Then cried all once more, "We demand the death of the Nazarene."

And Caiaphas, listening to the shouts of the people, said to the priests, "Now let Pilate, as he wished, learn the opinion of the people."

Then came Pilate with his followers out upon the balcony, and with them came Jesus, led by two soldiers, with the crown of thorns upon his head and the scarlet robe about him. The crowd instead of shouting, "Hail, all hail," as before, shouted violently, "Give judgment! Pass sentence upon him!"

Then Pilate spoke, pointing to Jesus, who, with bound hands and the scarlet robe upon his bleeding shoulders, stood between the soldiers, "Behold the man!"

The priests and Pharisees answered, "To the cross with him."

Pilate pleaded, "Cannot even this pitiful sight awake any compassion in your hearts?"

But the multitude answered, "Let him die! To the cross with him!"

Then Pilate said, "Take him and crucify him at your own risk—I will have nothing to do with it, for I find no fault in him."

Then Caiaphas said with a loud voice, "Hear, O governor, the voice of the people. It concurs in our complaint and demands his death."

"Yes," shouted the crowd again, "we demand his death."

Then said Pilate to his soldiers, "Lead him down and let Barabbas be brought out of prison. The jailer must at once deliver him up to the chief lictor."

When Annas heard Pilate's commands he cried, "Let Barabbas live. Pronounce the death sentence on the Nazarene!"

Then the people cried, "To death with the Nazarene!"

Then said Pilate, "I do not understand this, people. Only a few days ago with rejoicing and joyful clamor you accompanied this man through the streets of Jerusalem. Is it possible that the same people this day call for death and destruction upon him? That is indeed contemptible fickleness."

"The good people," said Caiaphas, "have at last learned that they have been deceived by an adventurer who pretended to be the Messiah, the king of Israel!"

"And now," said Nathanael, "the eyes of this people are fully opened, and they see that he cannot help himself—he who promised to bring freedom and blessing to the nation."

"Israel," said Ezekiel, "will recognize no Messiah who allows himself to be taken and bound and treated with scorn."

"Let him die, the false Messiah, the deceiver," cried the crowd.

Then Pilate spoke unto the people and said: "Men of Judea, it is customary that I liberate to you a prisoner at the feast. Look upon these two. One with mild countenance and dignified demeanor, the ideal of a wise teacher, whom you have long honored as such, convicted of no single evil deed and already humiliated by the severest chastisement. The other, a vicious, savage man, convicted of robbery and murder, a horrible image of a perfect scoundrel. I appeal to your reason, to your human feelings—choose! Which will ye that I shall release unto you, Barabbas or Jesus, who is called the Christ?"

Then the priests and people cried out together, "Let Barabbas go free."

"Will ye not that I release unto you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate.

Then the priests and people cried, "Away with him, release unto us, Barabbas."

Then said Caiaphas, "Thou hast promised to release him whom the people demand."

Pilate answered shortly to Caiaphas, "I am accustomed to keep my promise without needing a reminder." Then said he to the people, "What shall I do with the king of the Jews?"

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