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1 CORINTHIANS XV: 57.
WHO GIVETH US The VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
The contrasts of Passion Week are those of human triumph, of death in agony, and of ETERNAL LIFE.
The week begins with the Sunday of victory,- Palm Sunday, — when the Lord rides in triumph into the city. From day to day the triumph takes different forms, till on Friday the whole changes. His life ends at the hands of treachery and murder. Then comes the last of Jewish Sabbaths, - that Saturday sad beyond words. And then on this first day of the week, He rises : all the chains of earth are broken forever; and, from that moment, man knows he is immortal. Human triumph! Then, death in agony! Then, the unveiling of Eternal Life. These are our contrasts. Hidden in them are
our lessons. Never since has the world needed them as we need them this day !
Of their Sunday of triumph we cannot paint the picture, without recalling their year, as it had gone by. These apostles, who could not understand, could feel and wonder. They had walked up and down through
the cities of Israel. They had proclaimed the new kingdom. They had named the King. Nay, they had heard him sometimes make fit promise of his empire. He had spoken of it as the one thing certain. He had laid down its constitution and laws. At his word thousands had followed. To his word thousands had listened. At his word, again, the multitudes had melted away. The very voice of God had testified that here was God's beloved Son.
Yet there was, till now, no sign of empire ! He would not give a sign. If he fed these thousands, it was that they might leave him. His prophet, John, had been beheaded by a tyrant. His own overtures to the rulers had been rejected with scorn. imagine then the darkness which brooded over even the faithful's faith, till the Sunday of victory came. Then, after such anxiety, all seems changed. They have endured to the end. Surely now they are safe. Hosanna ! hosanna ! Victory! victory! Even the capital has opened its gates to us. Here are coming out its very children, with their palms and their songs. 6. The Son of David! The Son of David! Hosanna ! hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord ! Hosanna in the highest !” Thus the week begins.
Easy to picture such exultant joy, when seen on a background of a year's defeat, anxiety, long-suffering, and gloom.
Nor, as the week goes by, docs their mood change. True, the capital can open its gates but once. There can be but one triumphal entry. When the enemy sur
renders Sunday, he cannot surrender again on Monday. But the weck secms victory! Speculators and brokers are driven, crestfallen, from the temple. The lovers of the nation's enemies follow them, - the Herodians. The lovers of wealth ; they are driven out also, set to scorn,
the Sadducees. The hypocrites who exalt themselves and curse the people, all are rebuked in turn, the Pharisees. • Lord, what shall be the sign of thy coming ?” That question is key-note to the apostles' feeling, when the eve of Friday comes.
And then, victory is changed in a moment into treachery, blood, and death! Of his feelings we can say nothing but what he tells
There is no likeness which we can compare to him. But, his enemies : ah, wicked men and mean men are so common, that we have seen them with these eyes. Whether they deal with the son of God, or whether they work in some mean cabal of their own lust, they are always the same. What the soldiery of Herod could not do ; what the officers of Caiaphas could not compass; what Pilate was not mean enough to descend to, could be wrought out, when that fatal Friday came, by this coward Judas, with his midnight kiss. Of Judas, the world has never known precisely what was his fate, or what his character ; whether he were finished villain, or whether he were fanatic fool. Satan chooses such accomplices.
Such tool served the purpose of crafty Caiaphas; and, by the work of such tool, eren the Lord of Life can be betrayed. They seize him ; they lead him out to Calvary; they kill him, the world's best friend; nay, their best friend, if they
knew it; the only friend in the Universe of God, who, at that hour, was seeking to save them. So that never were words so terribly true as the words of his prayer, " they know not what they do.” From the terrible retribution which came upon them so soon; the retribution in which women drank the blood of their own infants; in which brothers fought brothers to the death, in the ruins of their own temple, he whom that day they slew was the only being who could have saved them. And so, praying for them, he died.
And his mother and his well-beloved crept out from their hiding-places, and wept over him! And they laid him in a tomb, wherein never man lay. And his enemies sealed the stone with such cements as man can devise ; and set over it such sentry police as Roman wit in arms had trained. And then came the Sabbath,
the Jewish Sabbath, the last day of the week; saddest of days till then.
“ Is this the end ?” we can almost hear Nathaniel saying to Philip; “better I had staid brooding under my fig-tree; my poet-dreams, so vague and dim, were yet better than this horrid certainty !” “ Is this the end ?” might Andrew say to Simon Peter;
“ better we had swept the lake, - better traded fish in the marketplace our lives long, than to look on such horror!” “ Is this the end ?” might John, son of Thunder, say to his fierce, brother James. “ Better had we cast in our lot with Theudas, rushed on the Roman spear and shield, and died in fight like men!”
“ Is this the end ?” might Mary mother, whisper ; " better had my child died in his infant innocence, when Herod slew