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the blessed steps of His most holy life, and they will surely lead us to the land of endless life and light.
• His right arm is o'er us,
He will guide us through ;
Christians, follow you.'
XXXI.-THE BARREN FIG TREE
PALM SUNDAY was over. Our Lord Jesus had passed the night in Bethany, and was going back to Jerusalem on Monday morning, when He worked this miracle. It was His only miracle of wrath. St. Mark relates it in chapter xi. 12-14, and 20. We also find it in St. Matthew, xxi. 17-22.
And on the morrow,
when they were from Bethany, He was hungry: and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find anything thereon: and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.
And His disciples heard it. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
It may seem strange that our Lord should have gone to seek for fruit upon a fig tree when it was not yet the time of figs. But we must remember that in that climate the fig tree is not like other trees, which put forth first leaves, then blossom, and lastly fruit. With the fig tree, leaves and fruit come together. Though it was early for figs, yet when one saw leaves on a fig tree one might look for fruit too. Unless the fruit came with the leaves, there would be none at all. So the tree was a deceiver, a false professor. It put out a show of leaves without the reality of fruit.
Therefore our Lord pronounced a curse upon the tree, as a sign of the curse sooner or later to fall on everyone who makes a pretence of goodness but brings forth no good works. And the next morning, as they passed again from Bethany to Jerusalem, they saw what had come of it. The tree was dried up from the roots, ar Peter said, “Master, behold the fig tree which Thou cursedst is withered away.'
This miracle was a warning to the Jews of that day. It shewed them what was hanging over their own heads. The barren fig tree was the exact image of the Jewish nation in the days of our Lord. There was pretension enough, there was a show of leaves, but no good fruit, no works of righteousness. Therefore the curse was gone out against them, and unless they repented it would fall. They did not repent, and the curse fell. Sixty years afterwards, God sent the Roman armies to destroy their city, and scatter them over the face of the earth.
This miracle is a warning to Every Christian is like a fig tree planted in God's vineyard the Church. Why are we planted there? That we may yield Him fruit. God is very patient, and waits long for this fruit; but He will not be put off with leaves. The day will come when, if He does not find the fruit He wants, the curse will go forth against us also.
1 St. Luke, xiii. 6-9,
XXXII.-THE HEALING OF MALCHUS'
LATE on the evening of Maundy Thursday, after the Agony and Bloody Sweat, Judas, the false Apostle, with a company of soldiers, took our Lord Jesus prisoner. At that moment of human weakness, Christ's Divine power and goodness shone out most gloriously in healing one of His enemies. All the Evangelists tell us how the
was wounded. St. Matt. xxvi. 51; St. Mark, xiv. 47; St. Luke, xxii. 50; St. John, xviii. 10. St. John tells us that his name was Malchus, and that it was St. Peter who struck off his ear; but St. Luke alone relates the miracle of healing
He always loved to tell of his Master's goodness and gentleness. This instance is related in St. Luke, xxii. 49–51.
When they which were about Him saw what would follow, they said unto Him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword ? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right And Jesus answered and said, Suffer
thus far. And He touched his ear, and healed him.
The disciples were taken by surprise at this moment of fear and confusion. They must have longed to defend the Master they loved; but He had been teaching them for three years not to resist evil. So they asked, 'Lord, shall we smite
with the sword ?' Without waiting for an answer, St. Peter, who was always foremost to do and to speak, attacked one of those who came against his Lord, and smote off his right ear. Thus of old, when Moses arose to avenge his people's wrongs, he slew the first Egyptian whom he saw oppressing them. Each made a mistake in his way of doing his work. St. Peter took up the wrong weapons for fighting his Master's battles. He had to learn that His Kingdom was not of this world, that the weapons of His warfare were not carnal. So Christ had to say to him, ' Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels ? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be ?' And again : The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it ?
Then with a touch of His hand He healed the hurt which St. Peter's rash blow had made. Once He had said, 'Do good to them that hate you:' now He acted it. He cured the man who had been foremost against Him, the servant of His bitter enemy, Caiaphas.
XXXIII.—THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT
GOOD FRIDAY and Easter Day were
Exodus, ii. 11, 12,
I am risen again I will go before you into Galilee;' and on Easter morning the angels sent word to them by the holy women that they would see Him there. In chap. xxi. 1-14, St. John tells how He did reveal Himself in Galilee to seven of the disciples.
After these things Jesus shewed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed He Himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of His disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered Him, No. And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship, (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went
i St. Matt. xxvi. 32.