Apr 162017




RT. REV. MSGR. JOHN B. GEHL St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
139 South Madison Street
Green Bay, WisconsinApril, 1966
GOOD FRIDAY – Delivered in Church
12:00 – 1:00 P.M.


The text which follows was presented to the people of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay, as part of the Good Friday service in April of 1966.
No effort was made to revise the transcription of the talk.
It is presented here as it was delivered on that day.
It is being sent to the priests of the diocese of Green Bay
to share with them the insights gained by a brother priest through many years of study of the Scriptures, especially those parts which deal with the Passion of Our Lord.
May this work bring all of us closer to our Savior, Jesus
Christ, and closer to each other.
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My dear people, I would like to give you a resume’ of the historical events that led to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. The events that I speak about took place in about the time of 24 hours and begins actually with Our Lord telling Peter and John to go the city and prepare a place for Him and his apostles to celebrate the Passover feast. There were things moving in the city, in the quiet rooms, back rooms of the high priest, who had determined upon the death of Christ definitely, when Christ had worked the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. The second time they were confirmed in it was when He restored sight to the man born blind; and particu­larly because from all over the known world at that time, every pious Jew came to the city of Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, in Jerusalem particularly since the rumor had gone forth that the Messiah was actually among the people and also about the great miracles that He had worked. The High Priest definitely made up the coterie ofthose in power, and they had made up their mind to do away with Christ. He had to be, as we would say, “railroaded.” They had to get hold of Him quietly; the court sessions had to be done very quickly; the death sentence had to be pronounced very rapidly; and everything had to be finished before the people realized what was happening. And so they cast about how they would capture Jesus because He had come this time to the city of Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. He had been with them on Palm Sunday before; He had cleansed the temple with a rope with which He had driven out the cattle, turned over the tables of the money changers, because that was part of the racket that the high priests had going in the temple precincts. The high priest
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had to buy his office. It was formerly by father to son; but he
had to buy his office from the Romans, and it demanded a high price. And to get his returns, he had his, let us say, “rapid gain” on due profits from the pious people who came to the temple. The People had to pay the shekel which was a yearly offering to the temple; foreigners came there with their foreign money and they were traded. They would trade foreign money for the temple money and always, of course, with a big profit which went to the high priest. Christ had determined to do away with these money changers. They watched with their spies, and they noticed a man among the followers of Christ; his name was Judan, Judas of Iscariot. Tradition says that he was the overseer of the big lands and estates of Mary Magdalene, who was a very wealthy woman. Her estate was north of Tiberias. There must have been something good about the man, otherwise Christ would have never invited him to be one of his followers. Christ noticed in him a passion for possession, a passion for greed, and so had the purse whenever they entered the city. Some of the cities of that time had to pay a poll tax, a yearly tax, or perhaps they had to bring some food or some wine for their meals. Pious people, good people would make an offering to Christ and Judas took care of that. But instead of curing him by giving alms to poor people, he got worse in this and particularly the time when Mary Magdalene, his mistress, had wept over the feet of Christ for their sins and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair and anointed them with very expensive perfume; it was Judas who rebelled at that as he called that waste. He said that he could have sold that for 300 denarius, 300 shekels and given it to the poor. The scripture writer said he was not interested in the poor, but he carried the purse and he was greedy.
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Chances are he was secretly taking coins from the common purse; and here, all of a sudden, he saw a chance to make himself some money. The spies must have approached him and finally talked to him, and he said yes. He would tell them where Christ would be that particular night. They had to arrest Him at night time, He would tell them where He would be. He would watch, he would listen and Judas figured that he had a good thing going because he noticed the times when they wanted to capture Jesus or throw stones at Him, Jesus walked right through the midst. Nobody could touch Him. Secretly, he dickered for 30 pieces of silver, most likely shekels. Several shekels weighed about 224 Grains of apothecaries’ weight which would be accordingly about like our 50 cent piece. So strictly speaking, he betrayed Christ for about an amount of 16 to 17 dollars. That was the amount, and I’m sure they didn’t pay it to him until he delivered. But it was all arranged now, so Christ on this Holy Thursday, commissioned John and Peter to go and prepare for the Feast of the Passover. Every pious Jew and every family maintained this feast for hundreds of years since the days they left Egypt to celebrate the leaving of Egypt, the redemption from slavery, the symbolical redemption of sin, through the blood of the Lamb they were saved. Remember the story in Egypt about the plagues. The final one was when God let Moses go when the first born of every one from the king to the lowest slave was killed. However, the Jews were told to take the blood of a male lamb one year old without blemish and smear it on the door post. Then with unleaven bread, roast this lamb whole, not breaking a bone of it, and eat it with their hands. Now every pious family of Jews since the day they left Egypt cele­brate this ceremony. And Our Lord did the same and intended to do
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the same with His Apostles.So He commissioned Peter and John to go and find a place and go up town where they would find a man carrying a water pot on his head. Follow him and when he comes to his house, tell him the Master has need of his room. It was an upper chamber somewhere, as tradition tells us, near the Bethlehem gate and the master said, “yes, you may have it. And so then they prepared it, I suppose, with couches und tables with dishes and with knives and then went downtown first of all to the temple to buy the lamb. This lamb, of course, was butchered by the Levites and was skinned. The Levite had his pay for slaying it; the hide of the lamb was his.
They had it roasted and bought the unleaven bread and wine, white wine, prepared water, prepared tables and everything was ready about sundown. Christ and His apostles came to this upper chamber, and then they celebrate. First of all they repeat the story of the leav­ing of the plague in Egypt. They tell the story about the final plague and how they were redeemed and led from Egypt into their own promised land. They eat of the roasted lamb, but the entrails are out, and drink wine and eat wild lettuce and unleaven bread. And Christ, according to the gospel of St. John, before He started, washed their feet to give them an example of how they must be ser­ vants of the people, not lord over them, but be servants. Also, Christ foretells that one of them will betray Him that night; and they are all sad. One by one asks Him, “Is it I?,”and Christ answers to those next to them, “Him, whom I should take a morsel of bread and dip it into the cup of wine and hand it to, that’s the one” And then Peter said, “Well, Lord, if everybody is going to leave you, I surely won’t leave you!” Then Christ tells Judas whatever you
have in mind to do, go and do now. In other words, Christ knew that
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he was to go to the high priest; he had learned where He was to spend the night. He could now give him the information. They would get their mob ready in the Garden of Gethsemane and he would tell them who He was because the temple guard didn’t know Christ and to make sure they had the right person. We can’t tell from the gospel records whether Judas left before the institution of the Holy Eucharist, or after.Let’s hope he went before. Christ celebrated the Holy Eucharist so that we could repeat the Last Supper and His crucifix­ ion until the end of time, that His priesthood would be shared by the priests of His Church, the same power that He had, the same sacrifice, because Christ entered once into the Holy of Holies, there is only one sacrifice, there is only one priesthood, there is only
one sacrament and that will continue on in the Church until the end of time. Then they sang a hymn of praise. That hymn of praise, my dear people, you will hear at the high mass; it’s the preface, right before the Sanctus. They went down east of that upper chamber, north of the temple grounds, out to the Steven gate and they go down hill. Now at the bottom of the hill is the Kedron Brook. There is a stone bridge over it and then immediately on the rise of the hill to the left is a grove of ancient olive trees and there Christ takes with Him Peter, James, and John, and there Christ goes into a bloody sweat.
My dear people, it isn’t fear. He knew what was in store for Himself. It wasn’t the scourging. It wasn’t the crucifixion, which was a most horrible death! It was this thought: He, being the Son of God with His most pure soul, had to take our sins upon Himself. Understand, He had to take the whole mass of our sins upon Himself as though He Himself had committed them. And these sins, He would carry to the tree of the cross and there expiate. Every sin from the time of Adam
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that man would commit to the end of the world He took upon His most pure soul. I was reading from a gospel writer that the sweat broke out like drops of blood. It is surely physiologically possible; and it happened, undoubtedly. An angel from heaven comes to strengthen Him, and He prays to His heavenly Father that, “if it would be possible, pass this cup away from me that I don’t have to take these sins” but this is a plan of God; the divine justice must be fulfilled, and the divine wisdom and the infinite charity of God. This is the way it was to be done, and Christ, “Not mine, but your will be done.” He goes to the apostles once, looking for comfort, asking them to pray with him and finds them asleep. He goes a second time and a third time. It is near midnight. He said now take your rest because the hour is at hand. And coming through the trees is seen a mob with torches, looking back and forth, searching. Finally, they recognize people and they come up to Christ, and Judan recognizes Christ and he gives them the signal–this is the man, arrest him. He goes up to Him and says, “here, Rabbi,” and he kisses him. There is a conversation between Him and Judas.There is also Peter, who all of a sudden remembers now he is going to defend Christ. Peter takes his sword and swings wildly round about, and he cuts off the ear of Malthus, the servant of the high priest. And Christ tells him that’s enough, put away your sword. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. He touched the ear and healed it. Now, He said, if you’re looking for me, you take me. He said, if I want, I could have ten legions of angels, if I needed anyone to protect me; but this is your hour, and the plan of God. So then the apostles flee. They grab for St. John; he finally has just one garment on. They grab for that, and he runs through the woods, naked, running away. Now they take
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Christ. The minute they have Him captured, they send word to the High Priest. He immediately calls in session the Senedrin, which is the high court of the Jews, the supreme court. This court was com­posed of three classes of people, actually in all 69. It was com­posed of priests who represented religion. There were 23 scribes who represented the writing, the legal part. There were the same number of the elders from the people. Now that was the court with two presiding priests, who were the president and the vice-president including three secretaries who will take a recording. Now then, regarding this senedrin – the Greek words mean, “to sit together.” It’s convocation, actually, where they sit together to consult one another. Now, my dear people, the Jewish law was very advanced in humanity. The law of the Jews was based on the law of Moses; and the Pentateuch, undoubtedly, copied from the Egyptians and copied from Hamarabi and then from the Samariat, which is the eighth most ancient record of law that we have. It was just and it was fair. Now then regarding criminal law, the death sentence was for murder, or secondly for apostasy. The punishment was beheading. The Jews did not have crucifixion. The Romans learned crucifixion when they conquered the city of Carthage in northern Africa. They learned it from them; and when they finally conquered them, it was the death sentence for anyone not a Roman. The death sentence for Romans was beheading, so also the Jews had this sentence for anyone who was guilty of murder or guilty of apostasy. They had another form of killing, a punishing with death – strangling. That was done for adultery, kidnapping, false prophecy, for abusing your parents, for prophesying in the name of a pagan deity or for grave mal administration in a public office.
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They would bury a man in soft dirt, or mud, up to his neck, and, then, wrap a cloth around his neck until he choked to death. Then there was the one for burning; though strictly speaking, was not burning of the entire body, They buried him up to the neck and then two strong men held him and when they opened his mouth, they put a lighted taper into it. Then, finally, they stoned him to death. Remember, we read at one time that they picked up stones to throw at Christ. In fact, the people of Nazareth, his home town, what they wanted to do was stone him to death. They took him to their city built on a high ledge, and there is a big precipice for anyone to throw him down.
That was the method of stoning. They would take a man and strip him of all his clothes and throw him down this precipice. If he wasn’t dead yet, they would take big stones and throw them at him or drop them on him until he was dead. Now also the death penalty for false witness. The man accusing anyone of a grave crime, which merited death, and proving to be a false witness, suffered the same death that the person would have, had he been guilty of the crime he was accused of. And, then, as far as the imprisonment was concerned, they had no such thing as imprisonment. The crucifixion was done by the Romans who were occupying the country at the time of Christ. They learned that from the Carthagians, and they carried it through­ out the entire colonies to anyone who was not a Roman citizen. Now as far as slavery was concerned, for debt, if a man stole something he was sold into slavery for six years. Now then, various forms of punishment … you have strangling, you have burning, you have stoning; and those are the methods known. The body of anyone con­ victed of a public crime and whose life was taken, was not permitted to be buried in the family graveyard or family vault. He was buried
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among strangers. Now then, as far as the organization of this high court was concerned … throughout the land they had lesser courts, smaller courts, generally composed of three judges. The days that these courts would generally sit would be Mondays and Thursdays be­ cause those were the days that all country people came to the city to do their bargaining and buying and selling. Now the qualifica­tions of a judge on this high court were very severe. First of all, he had to be a Hebrew by direct descent. Secondly, he had to be learned in the law. Thirdly, he had to have judicial experience. In other words, he had to come up into the high court through the lower courts. He had to have a thorough knowledge of scientific questions and he had to be a linguist. He had to know his own lan­ guage and had to know all the languages of the people who lived around the Holy Land. He had to be a modest man, a popular man with no haughtiness. He had to be a pious, strong and courageous man. He had to be successful in trade. No man who was not successful in making a living for himself would ever be a judge. He had to be successful in trade because they received no pay at the time of Christ for serving on this high court. It was the greatest honor they could have, so it was done free. Even with a personal murder, as far as capital punishment was concerned, when a man would lose his life, then a judge who had sat in that court had to have children of his own so that he would have the pity of a father and mother having children and losing the children. He was not allowed to be
a gambler or a dice player or a slave dealer or one who raced pigeons or one who lent out his money at interest and so forth. Or, if he dealt in the fruits of the jubilee years, he would never be a judge. See, every 70 years, they would let their land lie fallow. There was
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no seeding done; but they could harvest whatever grew by itself, normally and naturally. He may not have been interested in any court case. He may not have been a relative nor heir of the accused. For example in a case where a man would lose his life and the judge would be the heir, he could not be a proper judge, and neither could a king. Now then, this was how actually the court was composed and that was the law. They had no such thing as a lawyer. They had no lawyers in the Jewish court. In fact, Ferdinand of Spain took a leaf out of the book of the Jews when the New World was discovered. He forbade all lawyers to leave Spain for the New World. He said the people in the New World have trouble enough without having lawyers. Now the Jews mention that lawyers are like a plague preying upon the people. I mention this with all due reverence to Mr. Planert, who is monitor­ ing the broadcast. Well, they had no lawyers amongst them. If any­ one committed a crime, the witness had to come and make the accusa­ tion. So the court was composed of the 69 men, 3 secretaries, and
the 2 presiding officers. The witness came and they made the accusations. He made an accusation which he had to prove. Besides his accusation, there had to be two other witnesses. Now these witnesses, my dear people, were questioned. All right, you say this man committed this crime. Was this the year of the jubilee? Was this an ordinary year? What month was it that this man committed this crime? What day of the month? What hour of the day? What place was it? And do you recognize or identify the man whom you arc accusing? Do you know him? And these witnesses were brought in one by one. Now, unless the witnesses agreed in all of these things, the man was auto­matically free. The man was never asked a question to incriminate himself. That was done so that a man, perhaps not intelligent enough
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would not say things that would incriminate himself; but he could defend himself. But the presiding judge, or anyone of the judges, was not allowed to ask him any questions of any kind that would in­criminate him. Remember, also, if a witness contradicted in any one of these things, then automatically the prisoner was free. Now that was the Jewish law. With the death sentence, they had to have two court sessions. These sessions had to be during the daytime, after the morning sacrifice, up to sundown. If in one day, they held a session, listened to the witnesses, and witnesses agreed, there had to be a majority of 37, more than half, for condemnation. If it was equal, the accused man was acquitted. In taking the vote, it was never a live voice. One by one, they had to get up and state their reasons and state their vote from the youngest on to the oldest. They did that so that the younger judges would not be influenced by the opinion of some older judge who was well respected or looked upon, highly regarded. He might vote like the older judge, and that’s why the younger ones had to vote first. If it was by acclamation, automatically, the man was free.
Now, then, how did this work. They arrested Christ at midnight.
They immediately called the Senedrin in session. They brought in the witnesses. The witnesses had contradicted. There were judges amongst them, like Joseph of Aramathca and Nicodemus. They were with Christ. They rebelled against this. They were murmuring about this. According to the law, He was supposed to be freed. The witnesses were contradicting each other. And then they saw they were losing this thing. So then what did they do … they got up and said, “now here you are accused of blasphemy; you say you are the Son of God. Are you the Son of God? Are you truly God’s Son?” He knew
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Christ would answer. He said, “Yes, you say so; I am the Son of God.” Then Caiphus tore his garments as a sign of great sorrow. He said, “what do you think; you heard this blasphemy,” and they said he is guilty of death.” They had to keep some form of order, so Christ was put into prison. I was in that jail, not as a prisoner; but I visited the place, and it’s just a hole down in the rock. I’d say the hole was about 8 feet square, about 15 feet deep. They put a ladder down for the prisoner to go down then they pulled the ladder up. There was no prison in those days. You could see the hand holes where they were tied. No sanitation. There Christ was kept until early
in the morning. Then He was pulled out and He had the second trial. Now at the second trial, there was, at the palace of Caiphus, the house of cut stones as they called it, of stone where the blocks were beautifully squared.John must have been a relative of the high priest because he had access to the palace of the high priest. And who went with him, was Peter. Peter was ashamed of himself. And so Peter goes along and is sitting there watching this thing. They have braziers as contractors use in our climate with charcoal burn­ing to keep the frost out of the building. There Peter was warming himself in this fire, watching this thing. A girl comes up to him and says “you’re one of those men from Galilee.” “Oh no”, Peter says,
“I don’t know Him at all.” So he continued watching, looking around. Finally, the girl comes a second time. “We’re sure you are from Galilee. You can tell it from your speech; you’re Galilean. You can tell from your accent.” Oh, he knew nothing about it. Finally, he was accused by another one, and he swore that he never knew the Man. Never saw Him. Christ was led in at that moment and just looked at him. We read that Peter went out and wept bitterly, ashamed of
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himself with a contrite heart, surely. A humble man now, where be­ fore he was impetuous, now he was humble. There is a tradition that says in Rome when he was condemned to death and his death, of course, was crucifixion, he begged the sheriff saying, I am not worthy to die as my Lord and Master. So they nailed him to the cross and tip­ ped the cross upside down. Of course, he hanged there for days since it’s just through exhaustion that they die and then he would continue to preach the love of God. They say that there were regular furrows in his checks. I’m just relating the tradition, the story. Maybe only a story about the furrows in his cheeks from the tears that he shed from his denial of Christ. Christ then is at the second meet­ing, automatically guilty of death. Now, Israel had lost its inde­ pendence to Rome. They could condemn a man to death, but they couldn’t execute him. That the Romans wouldn’t stand for. They were the law and order. Any to be condemned were brought before their courts, and they decided the case. And so then, they brought Christ over to Pilate, according to Roman law, which our law here in the U.S. is based on, the common law of the ancient Germanic law and in Roman law. You can accuse any citizen. You can get a warrant from the judge, etc. You’ve got to prove your case. They brought Him to Pilate, the procurator. The procurator was the most powerful man in this country in that area. In other words, he could control the army; and he could control the government, both military and civilian.
Rome kept four legions, the third, the sixth, the tenth, the twelfth, and based them at Ceasaria. They had more trouble in that country, and the Roman emperors complained that that country cost much more to administer than they get revenue from. And they claimed that they had their best soldiers there. They were from the Balgi part of the present Belgium, Flanders. They were the best soldiers. And those
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were the soldiers that were kept there. So they actually say that
it was the Belgians that crucified Christ as a duty and in obedience, my dear people. So, they brought him before Pilate and Pilate does the right thing. As a prisoner, what is the accusation. How clever the high priest was. Remember, this was not the common people. This was maybe six or seven in the morning; they knew nothing about this. They don’t say He is the Son of God; Pilate would have laughed at that. Pilate was a career man, originated in Spain, had a good name, married the niece of Caesar Augustus. He stood high in the estimation of the Emperor. He was given that particular post, pro­ curator, and had control of both the military and civilian government. He knew Roman law, and Roman law was a good law. That’s the reason Rome endured as long as it did. The fact that the laws were so good was the reason western Europe practically based all of their laws upon Roman law. They had a talent for that. We’ll see how, by Jewish law, Christ was innocently and unjustly condemned to death, against all proper court procedure. So, Pilate listened to the accusation. They don’t say to him, He is the Son of God. Pilate would laugh at that. Oh, no, they say, listen. Here is a man going around saying you shouldn’t pay your taxes. Don’t you pay your taxes to Caesar. He’s stirring up the people in rebellion. He’s got a big bunch of followers. Well, that was the charge that he had to look into. So he took Christ into an inner room and questioned Him. Well, what about this. Christ told him, If I ever started a rebellion, don’t you think I’d have followers. Do you think that they would permit me to be manhandled the way these men are manhandling me? And He explained, my kingdom is not of this world. He questioned Christ very Closely, and Pilate was afraid. His own wife had sent him a
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a ring and she said to him this man that you have in court this morning, have nothing to do with Him, He’s a just man. She said, I was much disturbed in my dreams. Maybe she had a nightmare, etc. So, he sent the ring back, listened to Christ, and he said all right, I know you are innocent. He argued back and forth. Christ talks to him. He brings Christ out before them and says, I find no case in this man in the accusations that you make that he is stirring up the people. He has no followers, does not say you shouldn’t pay your taxes, and He said to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. His empire is not of this world. Pilate was afraid of Him for this reason. He was in trouble twice. Once in order to build a viaduct to bring water to the city of Jerusalem. He was increasing a viaduct from Bethlehem. He took money out of the treasury of the temple to
do it, and was in trouble when he touched the high priest’s money. Second, the Roman soldiers always brought the standards of the emperor shield of the empire, into the temple precincts. That was bringing into the temple precincts the graven image. There was a rebellion and a riot, and he put it down hard. But he was afraid of them be­cause those reports always went to Rome. He had to write letters and justify himself. He was always in trouble with the state depart­ ment, I suppose. So, he was afraid of them. So, they accused Him. Well, he found out that Christ was from Galilee. Ah, here’s a way out! He knew that Herod, who was part Jewish from Galilee, was in the city for the great Feast of the Passover. All right, since he’s a Galilean, he has to, strictly speaking, belong to that territory; whereas, he, himself, was the procurator over the entire area; but the man would have jurisdiction. So, he sends a soldier to take this man over to Herod. They take him over to Herod’s house. He
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maintained a palace in the city. Herod, I think, when you read his life, was about the worst man that ever lived. Murdered his own wives, murdered his own children. And one time a wealthy Roman came to visit him, and Herod showed him his house in Galilee.He saw the pig stable and said, when he came back, that he would rather be one of Herod’s pigs than one of his sons! This was Herod. There was no law for him. So, his soldiers then mocked Christ. They blindfolded Him and struck Him. Tell us who struck you; you’re a prophet; you know everything. Christ didn’t answer a word – never said a thing in
the presence of that man. They mocked Him. He says He is king, so they put on Him a purple robe. They planted a crown and put it on His head. They put a reed in His hand. He’s a king. They bowed down before Him. They spit at Him, and Christ said nothing! Finally, Herod shrugged his shoulders and sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate despised Herod. They were enemies; but, because it was sort of a gesture of goodwill, from that time they became friends.So Pilate had Him back in his hands. He knew He was innocent. He didn’t want to condemn Him. He represented Roman law, justice; but they were yelling and shouting, and rioting, rioting, rioting. What he should have done was clear out the courtyards with his soldiers. He didn’t do it. Well, he said, now listen. You have a custom that at the
great Feast of the Passover, you give a criminal, condemned to death, his life as a gift at this time. Now he says, I have a man here who was picked up for robbery, and murder. He said, I’ll give you the choice. You can have Barabbas, or free Christ. They wanted Barabbas. They didn’t want Christ free. The high priest didn’t want to be crossed by Pilate. He had power, too; and the high priest knew, and Pilate knew that it was jealousy on the part of the high priest.
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So it was really a contest between these two with Christ in the middle. An so they got the populous, the gang, they had with them to yell they want Barabbas. They want Barabbas. They want Barabbas. Rioting, rioting, rioting. Finally, Pilate, in order to have peace, said, all right. He brought Barabbas. Well, he said, what will Ido with this man? Three times he told them that that man was innocent, according to Roman Law. He said, if He were innocent, we wouldn’t have brought Him to you. He said He’s no friend of Caesar; and you are no friend of Caesar, if you let Him go. Then they threatened him. We’ll get your job if you don’t condemn Him. That’s what we’re going to do. He was a weak man, and so he took Christ in and had his soldiers scourge Him. And, my dear people, of all the physical suffering, I think that was the most horrible. If you were
a Roman citizen, you could have a scourging sentence of 40 lashes. But the sheriff was always careful of giving you 39, because if he gave you more than 40, you could sue the sheriff. It was 39. There was no limit to it. Until He sank practically into unconsciousness they scourged Him. The muscles on Him back were literally torn from His bones, from His ribs to His backbone. That’s the reason Christ stumbled so on His way to Calvary.He was a healthy, powerful man. Pilate, was moved to pity. He brought Him before the mob, bleeding and torn; and he said to them, “Ecce Home.” Behold the man! Aren’t you satisfied now? Look at the way He was scourged. They said to him If He were innocent, as you said, why did you have Him scourged? That’s you’re fault; you did the scourging. He said, what”ll I do with Him? They yelled, “Crucify Him!” So he went into the chamber, sat down, got a piece of paper and wrote out the death sentence. Who was He – Jesus; where is He from – Nazareth; what’s the charge –
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King of the Jews. They were looking over his back watching him write. They said don’t write that He is the King of the Jews. Write that He said He was the King of the Jews. Pilate was angry and said, what I have written, I have written. He called Longinus the Capt in, handed him the death sentence, and said take this man and crucify Him. So it began. From his courtyard to the top of Calvary is about the distance, I would say, from in front the church up to the Northland Hotel. That’s about the distance; it isn’t too long. The streets were uneven. They were paved with round cobble stones, slippery and wet. So Christ was given His cross to carry. Now it wasn’t a full cross. On this regular place of execution there stood the regular upright with a tenon joint. What Christ carried on His shoulder was the patibulum. The Latin word patibulum actually means .•• well, you see, doors barred, a garage door, or barn door, where they have hooks in the door posts and you have a big bar to drop into those hooks in order to bar the door. That was a patibulum–to lock a door with a bar. This patibulum was about the same size and weight as a railroad tie. so Christ had to carry it. They took two equivalents with Him. Dismas, and they say, the other was, Gustas. They formed this procession to the Mount. Each one of them was carrying his patibulum – his cross on his back, slipping and sliding. Christ couldn’t. The muscles were torn on his back. He didn’t have the strength to do it. He stumbled, and he stumbled, and he stumbled. That’s the reason for the man from Cyrene which is a northeastern province of Africa. He was on a visit, most likely to the Holy Land for the Passover with his son and Alexander and Rufus. (Tradition says they became bishops.) You can just imagine a bunch of soldiers grubbing a man from the mob and here those two little boys with him,
(page 19)
for the whole garment woven in one piece as the prophet said they would. Then they nailed Christ to this patibulum. The nail went through the wrist, not the hand.The hand would have torn out. And then Christ was lifted up. There was a mortise hole in this pati- bulum. Then His feet were nailed to the cross. This was 9:00 in the morning. Christ hanged there for three hours. At noon there wasid care to tie a piece of cloth around His loins. You see that in this beautiful painting here. You see on the right hand side the soldiers there throwing dice. It was the outer cloak; they tore that into pieces. Each soldier got a piece. So they were shooting dice for the whole garment woven in one piece as the prophet said they would. Then they nailed Christ to this patibulum. The nail went through the wrist, not the hand. The hand would have torn out. And then Christ was lifted up. There was a mortise hole in this pati- bulum. Then His feet were nailed to the cross. This was 9:00 in the morning. Christ hanged there for three hours. At noon there was an earthquake, darkness on the face of the earth. The Scribes and the Pharisees came out and mocked Him. If you are the son of God, prove it now. Now come down, then we will believe you. Mocking Him continually. The only dear people who followed Him were St. John, in his quiet way, with the Blessed Mother and the holy women. They stood far off watching this thing. Finally, Christ spoke seven times. “I thirst.” “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Dismas and Gustus are having an argument about Him. Gustas said if you are the Son o£ God, come and free us too, They are suffering what we got coming, but this man is innocent. He then said to Christ, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom, The man had faith and Christ told him, truly today you will be with
(page 20)
Me in Paradise. Finally, Christ breaks out in that horrible cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken He?” It was at that time, my dear people, that the heart of Christ broke. Remember, Christ had taken our sins upon Himself, as though He had committed them. That foul mass of sins! The pure God! And because He was a man fouled with sin, His heavenly Father abandoned Him, was through with His love for Him, was through with His recognition of Him. He was aban­ doned by His heavenly Father! That’s the reason He shouts out with
a heart-broken cry, “Eli, Eli ” Right after that He bowed His head and said, “It is finished!” Longinus, the Captain, standing
with a spear, guarding, looked up. Imagine him taking off his helmet, bowing his head and saying, as he did say, “Truly, this is the Son of God.” There were two courageous men of the court, Nicodemus and Joseph of Aramathea. They went back to Pilate and said give us the body. Normally, the body would be thrown out and the dogs would eat it up. And he was astonished that He was already dead. Normally, they would live for days. The only reason they die, actually, is that they can’t breathe any more for this horrible suffering. They haven’t the strength to lift themselves up to breathe, and they die by strangulation, eventually. But Christ had died, and so he called all and said, is this man dead? Yes, Pilate, He is dead. I’ve
seen many a man die and killed many a man in battle. That man is dead. He said, you go out and take your spear and push it through the side. You make sure that He is dead. When you’re sure, give Him to Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus. So Longinus came out and pushed the sword through the side of Christ, pulled it out and blood and water flowed out. And he said, now you can take the body. The high priest went to the court of Pilate in order to have the other
(page 21)
two legs broken, because this was the night of the Passover, the great Sabbath was coming up. They didn’t want these fellows on the cross yelling, and shouting, on the main highway there. And so the soldiers broke the bones. They just took a big iron bar and smashed the leg bones of those two. Naturally, they sank down and couldn’t breathe anymore. They choked. They died. Christ didn’t need this because He was already dead. Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus lift­ ed the patibulum off that Tenon, laid it down, pulled out the nails, washed the body, folded the linen cloth over Him, carried Him down to a grave that He had prepared for Himself. He came from a little village north of Jerusalem. No one had ever been buried in this grave before. This was available. So in the evening, at sundown, they carried Christ into this tomb and laid Him on one of the shelves’ cut into the rock. There is a big stone, a round stone running in a groove. They rolled that stone over and sealed it with iron bands. Then they went to Pilate and said, now listen, you say you made a mistake. You sure did make a mistake. You send soldiers out there to guard that grave because he said, you kill me and in three days I’m going to get up again. If that happens, That mistake would be worse than the first. Pilate was angry and said, now listen, you too are paying, you pay for it. So they took soldiers and set them out at the tomb to stand guard. They went home. The apostles had dispersed wondering what had happened. There was Judas. When he saw that Christ was condemned to death, he took his 30 shekels (30 half-dollars), went to the temple, and said to the priest, take your money, come on, I don’t want it. He’s innocent. He’s innocent. Now you take your money back! Oh, he said, that’ your business. So he was angry and he took it and threw it on the floor of the temple.
(page 22)
Well, they scrambled for it, picked it up. He said, what will we
do with this money? We can’t put it in the treasury of the church. It’s blood money. So they bought a burial place, a plot of ground from a man who makes pots and pottery. They bought his field for a cemetery for strangers and poor Judas found a donkey. He took the rope off the donkey’s neck, to tie around his own neck, and Judas hanged himself. The apostles had gone into hiding. Peter had gone into hiding. The entire committee that was so enthusiastic that it shouted so for Christ, for the Messiah, now was quiet, now was silent…

Mar 042015

I was looking over a small booklet entitled;

Cyril & Rose Gehl family reunion July 2, 2000 1:00 pm Hilbert Civic Park

It looks like it was put together by Carol Vollmer Gehl.  A few pages in there was a page dated 1992 with the name Carol hand written.  The title of the page is Some interesting general information I got from Uncle Joe Gehl.

One of the entries listed was this simple line;

Emma Drake was Andrew Gehl’s cousin from Indiana

I started digging around and found an Emma Gehl, born in 1864 in Indiana, who married William Drake in 1893.  After searching a little more I found her parents were Nicholas and Mary Heitz Gehl.  Nicholas was born 17 Jun 1831 in Rehlingen, Germany.

Nicholas is the older brother of Johann Gehl (Andrew Gehl’s dad) from Germany!  Uncle Joe was right – Emma Drake was Andrew Gehl’s first cousin! Furthermore, Nicholas is buried in Jefferson County, Indiana.  His headstone can be seen here…



Feb 232015

I recently came across this nice photo of Joe and Emily Gehl’s family.  They are;

(back) Delores Gehl Farrell, Charls Gehl, Jo Ann Gehl Wall, Gerome Gehl
(front) Emily Jacobs Gehl, Eugene Gehl, Joe Gehl


Oct 092014

I’ve been researching the original owners of the Luke Gehl farm in the Brillion township just Northeast of Hilbert, Wisconsin.  It is believed to have been built in the 1880s.

  • 1874 Owned by P. Culling, possibly be P. Colling
  • 1880 US Census shows no family living there with the last name Culling or Tiedjens.
  • 1885 Wisconsin Census shows Henry Tiedjens living there with 3 males, 2 females.  3 born in US, 2 born in Germany.
  • 1893 plat map shows owner to be Henry Tiedjens.
    • Henry was born in Germany in 1851 and came to America in 1852.
    • Henry is listed in the 1870 US Census as living in New Holstein with his parents Claus and Margaretha Tiedjens. Many of Henry’s siblings lived in the New Holstein area.
    • Henry married W. Catherine Severin on 11 Oct 1872 in New Holstein.
    • Henry has yet to be found in the 1880 US Census but there is a Catherine Tiedjens in the Rantoul Township.  This is not the Luke Gehl farm. She is listed as being born in 1852 in Wisconsin (Henry’s wife Catherine was born in Germany).  She is listed as a widow and has two children; John and Dora.  This may or may not be Henry’s family, but it looks promising.  Henry did have three children – John, Dora and Herman.
  • 1895 Wisconsin Census shows the owner is Gustave Plate
  • 1900, 1910 US Census shows the owner is Gustave Plate
  • 1920 Plat Map shows owner to be Gustave Plate
  • 1920, 1930, and 1940 US Census shows the owner is Gustave Plate, the son
  • 1959 Sold by the Lester Plate family to Cyril Gehl
Jun 172014

Thanks to Uncle Matt Gehl and Anne Reneir (who’s grandmother Anna Gehl was the oldest child of Mathias and Josephine Britten Gehl) we’ve added a handful of photos in the Gehl album.

Jan 282014

SwampGehl is back online.  We’ll be working over the next couple weeks to get all of the pictures back in place.

If you’re looking for the Genealogy Site, click here.

This site uses the software WordPress and the Genealogy site uses the genealogy software  TNG.  There are many people working to get TNG smoothly integrated into a page on a WordPress site.  I’ve tried several versions, but it still needs work.  Hopefully someday soon….

Jan 262014

JeanetteClanAlthough we reunited under sad circumstances, we had a blast with our cousins in Louisiana.

(from left to right) Ernie Jr, Johnny, Janet, Shirley, Linda, Andy, Jean, Mikey Mortimer (Shirley’s), Mike, Steve, Luke Jr, Patti and Curt.