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had become incarnate and come into the world, that He might be a witness, a martyr, to the truth.1 And He further declares that every sincere seeker after the truth must hear and give heed to His voice. But Pilate with his cynical, bitter jest shows what manner of spirit he was of. The despairing question he asked of Him who is the Truth itself," and would not stay for an answer," shows what manner of man he was; a sceptic; having with most of the philosophers of his day settled it in his mind that it was not to be discovered, and so determined no more to trouble himself about it. A state of mind fatal to all improvement.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. Luke xxiii. 4, 5. St. Matthew xxvii. 12-14.
St. Luke xxiii. 4, 5.-Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
St. Matt. xxvii. 12-14.-And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
1 St. John x. 36; i. 18.
From his conversation with the Prisoner within, Pilate returns to the people without; and when, as the result of the Teacher of it; and the way to learn it is this of my text: for so saith our blessed Lord, If any man will do His will, &c.'"-Jer. Taylor, Via Int.
Hear with interior ears, that is, obey my voice. Aug. in S. Jo. Tr. cxv. 4. St. John x. 3, 4, 27; viii. 39-47; 1 St. John iv. 2-6.
3 St. John xiv. 6.
"If you ask, what is truth? you must not do as Pilate did-ask the question, and then go away from Him that only can give you an answer; for as God is the author of truth, so is He
"For in this case, the further from truth, the further from trouble; since truth shows such an one what he is unwilling to see, and tells him what he hates to hear."-South, Ser. vi. 5 St. John xviii. 38.
his examination, he pronounces, "I find in Him no fault at all," fearing lest they should lose their prey, they renew with greater energy their baseless charge of sedition; accusing Him of many things,' this among others, that He was teaching opinions hostile to the Roman government throughout the country of the Jews, from distant Galilee even to the Capital. Very craftily they introduce this mention of Galilee. Men of Galilee had once before given trouble to the Governor at Jerusalem.2 Our Lord's silence when these charges are made surprises Pilate so much that he urges Him to answer, convinced in his own mind that the Prisoner is innocent and must have an answer. Yet even after this appeal He still remains silent, which increases Pilate's surprise. He wonders that one so evidently innocent should take no pains to prove His innocence; that one who had evidently such power should decline to say a single word. The Lord, who had privately answered the Roman Governor, will say nothing publicly before the people to preserve that life which He was resolved to lay down for their sakes.3
CHRIST BEFORE HEROD.
St. Luke xxiii. 6–12.
When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous 1 St. Mark xv. 3. 2 St. Luke xiii. 1; Acts v. 37. 3 St. John x. 18.
robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
The mention of Galilee, instead of having upon Pilate the effect which the priests had hoped, suggests to him a loophole by which he may escape, so he hopes, out of this difficulty. Galilee was under the government of Herod, and Herod had come up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast. Even ungodly men will sometimes, from motives of policy or of superstition, make a point of observing religious festivals. To Herod therefore Pilate remits Jesus. He hopes to shift his responsibility on to another. The fame of our Lord's miracles had, we know, reached even to the Court of Herod.1 The wife of one of his chief officers had become a follower of Jesus. Herod had at first thought this must be John Baptist risen from the dead. But when his guilty mind had been set at ease on that score, he desired, from no better motive than curiosity it would seem, to see Jesus.3 He desired to see Him, as a voluptuary might desire to see a famous magician. It would be a new sensation to this jaded votary of pleasure. Though he would not go out of his way to consult Him, he was glad when the opportunity came in his way to satisfy his curiosity concerning Him. But to his questions, which were not to any good purpose, Jesus still as before answers nothing. He will do nothing towards His own rescue. Meanwhile His enemies clamour, as beasts of prey, around Him; hoping that Herod would better understand, and have more sympathy with, their accusations than Pilate. Herod however, as the evangelical Prophet had predicted, contents himself with cruel contempt. The Saviour serves for an hour's sport to him and his rough soldiery; with whom he seems to have lived, as tyrants use to do, on terms of boisterous familiarity. The vassal despises the supreme Lord from whom he holds his dominion. In derision of His claim to be the King of the Jews, they dress Him up in some sort of royal robe, ill befitting His forlorn condition,
1 St. Matt. xiv. 1; St. Mark vi. 14, 16.
2 St. Luke viii. 3.
3 St. Luke ix. 9.
and send Him back as an absurd but harmless pretender to Pilate. Thus is another prophecy unconsciously fulfilled.2 Pilate had probably encroached on the jurisdiction of Herod in the matter of those Galilæans whose blood he had mingled with their sacrifices.3 Hence his anxiety now to recognise it. This compliment paves the way for present reconciliation, each waiving his supposed right in favour of the other. How trifling seems this bandying of compliments in the presence of such tremendous issues! But what was Jesus of Nazareth to a Pro-curator of Judæa, or to the Tetrarch of Galilee ?
CHRIST REMITTED TO PILATE.
St. Luke xxiii. 13-16. St. Mark xv. 6-10.
St. Luke xxii. 13-16.—And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: no, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him.
St. Mark xv. 6-10.-Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.
Pilate had sent his Prisoner to Herod, and Herod had remanded Him to Pilate. Finding therefore that he cannot
St. Luke xxiii. 14, 15.
2 Acts iv. 25-27.
3 St. Luke xiii. 1.
thus evade his responsibility, Pilate calls the people together to hear his decision on the case. He summons not only the chief-priests and the rulers, who he knew had for envy delivered Him,' but the people also who he had reason to believe were, if left to themselves, not adverse to Jesus; and who might so, he hoped, side with him in the compromise he was about to propose. He recapitulates the charge, which he pronounces not proved. He fortifies his own opinion by that of Herod, which, as coming from one of their own religion, they might be more disposed to respect, and who would have been the first to resent a rival, if he could have seen one in Jesus. They had accompanied Him to Herod. They had witnessed that his opinion was that nothing deserving of death had been done by Jesus. Pilate therefore proposes to dismiss Him with a comparatively slight punishment, more significant of the contempt they professed to feel for Him, than of the crime of which they accused Him. A weak and unjust compromise. If Jesus were innocent, as both His judges had pronounced, this was a gross injustice, a cruel outrage. But one sin leads to another. Pilate had oppressed the people. There were charges hanging over his head which he feared they might press against him at Rome. He must therefore do something to appease them. The slighter punishment may protect the Prisoner from one more severe; as Reuben proposed to cast Joseph into the pit, to deliver him from death at the hands of his brethren. At all events, to protect himself, something must be done to Jesus. But it shall be as little as possible. This seems to have been the state of Pilate's mind up to this point, when he was determined to let Him go. For a thought had struck him. "At that Feast the Governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner whom they would."5 Public rejoicings in some countries were, and still are, attended by a remission of sentences, and opening of prison-doors. And as the crowd was even now
1 St. Mark xv. 10.
2 The plain rendering is, "Nothing worthy of death has been done by Him," i.e. Jesus.
* See the historical notices in
Pearson, On the Creed, Art. iv. with the notes.
4 Acts iii. 13.
St. Matt. xxvii. 15.
6 Is. lxi. 1.