Palestine Calling
W. M. Christie

Chapter XVII

A Famous Three

Christ made His last journey from Ephraim (John 11:54) to Jerusalem by way of the borders of Galilee, and thence by the route beyond Jordan. The incidents and the points of teaching recorded are all interesting, but none of them more so than the people He "gathered in." As we understand, from the country and the routes, He must have passed down the Valley of Jezreel, and it was there that He encountered the ten lepers [Luke 17:12-19], one of them being a Samaritan. They received healing, and the Samaritan came back to express his gratitude. Christ did not say to him, "Go thy way." He simply said, "Get up, journey." We have the same word "journey" in verse 11, and any Jew reading the passage would link these two verses together, and understand that he was to "journey" with Christ, and this we believe to be the correct interpretation. His gratitude gave him this extra blessing of association and teaching during the next ten days.

Christ and His company would join the Galilean caravan at Bethabara, and thence proceed by easy stages. They reached Jericho on Friday the 31st of March, and there was blind Bartimaeus, who had come to beg from the pilgrims going up to the feast. Who was he? As a name, Timaeus was never used by the Jews. His father was a Greek, and probably had been a resident in one or other of the cities of Decapolis, where his son had heard of the fame of Jesus. And his mother was a Jewess, as we can well understand from the Aramaic word "bar" for son. He was a half Jew, and he, too, got his blessing; his eyes were opened. Then we are told that he followed Christ in the way (Luke 18:43, etc.). But more was done for him. A few minutes later Zacchaeus was declaring to Christ, "The half of my goods I give to the poor" (Luke 19:8). What did that mean to Bartimaeus? His was the first case to be considered. His old castaway beggar's garment would be replaced by a better and a cleaner, and he would be "set upon his feet." How wonderfully "all things work together for good." And here, too, was a companion for the Samaritan leper.

The Sabbath was spent at Jericho, and on the Sunday the caravan proceeded to Jerusalem. And when Bethany was reached, whom did they meet there? Lazarus whom Christ had raised from the dead six weeks before--Lazarus, the pure Jew. Think of that famous meeting--the Samaritan, an undesirable, hated alien in Israel; Bartimaeus, a half-Jew of the lowest grade; and Lazarus, the genuine Jerusalem Jew, representatives in a sense of every kindred, every tongue, all whom Christ came to redeem. And, further, we see the leper, the blind, the dead, all cured. Each was a type of the power of sin, and in each case that power was overcome. Christ was victorious along the whole line. Wonderful trio, wonderful meeting!

Then these three men must have walked in the triumphal procession on the Monday morning (there is no Palm Sunday in the Bible). We can almost hear the echo of their hosannas, and see the waving palms. None more joyful and none more grateful on that great day! Imperial Caesar never had such a "triumph." He might have captive kings chained to his chariot wheels, but there was something grander here. As set forth in three of His chief characteristics, the "prince of this world" is conquered and cast out. Christ is Victor.

But blessings imply service, and these men had service to render too. During the deep, dark hours between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection morn, they must have had a great share in maintaining the faith of the broken doubting disciples. Listen, then. Some one in the burial procession says, "Ah, He was so noble and pure, but now He is dead, unclean, unclean." The Samaritan, however, answered, "So was I. When I first met Him, I was shouting, 'Unclean, unclean,' but He cleansed me. Look and see." Another muttered, "No hope, His eyes are glazed." Bartimaeus intervened, "So were mine, just a week ago I saw as little as He now sees, but He opened my eyes. He will yet open His own." A third said, "Dead, dead; we hoped . . . that it should have been He, but . . . it's all over; dead, dead." "Fear not," said Lazarus, "I was dead. Till the fourth day I lay dead in the rock-cut tomb at Bethany over there; but He raised me. I live, and He, too, will live. Did He not say, 'I will rise again?'" By such service were the trembling, doubting followers of the Lord Jesus prepared for the glorious Resurrection morn.

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