THE SHEPHERD OF JERUSALEM AND THE BLACK LAMB IN HIS BOSOM
“On the morning of Wednesday, November 13th, 1878, some time ere it was yet day. I stood under the walls of Jerusalem. The spot was near the ‘Damascus Gate’, which graces the Holy City on ‘the sides of the north’. My tent had been left thus early, in order that I might get my first full view of the once ‘Joy of the whole earth’, from the top of the Mount of Olives under the soft oblique rays of the sun when first breaking over the goodly hills of Gilead and Moab, and causing dome, minaret, tower, and ruins, to cast those long, deep, shadows which are well known to lend a charm to that sacred scene beyond all human expression. A pause occurred in my walk just to allow of a glance at the fine outlines of the stately gate, lighted up by the silver-white moon, which, in the clear air of that Eastern land, shines with strange lustre. Lo, the first sign of life linked by me with the ‘City of the Great King’, on that eventful day, passes before my eye. With slow step there comes out by the Damascus Gate a man, one of lowly rank, clad in a loose, striped garb, of coarsest stuff,Â—in part, most likely, of goat’s hairÂ—his legs bare, on his head a turban, and in his hand a staff. Now and again he speaks a short word in the Arab tongue, and close upon his heels I see a little flock. In perfect silence those sheep tread the track their shepherd takes, which turns off from the broad, dusty, Damascus road and leads away to the right, up a steep bank of ruins toward the slopes of Olivet, beyond the historic brook Kedron.
“The sight was even now full of meaning to a mind taught of God. But the scene was not yet all before me.
“The shepherd and his flock went on. I took the same road, and soon drew near the group as it crept along in search of pasture. A feeble bleat fell upon my ear. It came from some creature close at hand. So weak was the cry that it did not strike me that it came from the flock. But it had so come. For there, lying in the bosom of that Jerusalem shepherd, hidden all but its little head, and wrapped in the folds of his abayeh (the outer garb) was a lambÂ— a black lambÂ—very young and tender! This added touch made the scene too much for my heart. With tears in my eyes I went up to the man and gently took the soft, black face in my hand, as it cheerily peered out into the morning light. The simple Arab kindly smiled at my interest in his tiny, helpless charge. The lamb, too weak to walk, too young to follow in the footsteps of the flock, had been readily lifted up by the Eastern pastor, and with care put in that place of safety, rest, and comfort.
“The scene soon faded from my view, but not, indeed, from my mind. It was too like a strange, lovely, heavenly dream. Deep,
most deep, was the impress made upon my spirit. What had I seen, as in a vision, and yet with my eyes open? All was real, true, tangible! It was of God. By His will it was, I felt, that my first visit to the site of Christ’s redemption victory, to the holy spot where ‘that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant’, sent forth His prisoners ‘out of the pit’, should be marked by an incident whose details were a lively and forcible acting out of ‘the old, old story’. There, in the land, and in the unchanged customs of the land, Jehovah’s care of ‘the flock of slaughter’ was pictured forth to the eye, and to the heart, as vocally as in the inspired parables of the Book. It was as though the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel, the 40th of Isaiah’s Prophecy, the 34th of Ezekiel, and the 78th Psalm lay open before me.”