« ElőzőTovább »
dency he had been sent to govern. They answer in their insolent and overbearing way, intimating that having satisfied themselves of the guilt of their Prisoner, all they require of Pilate is to register their sentence. They will not have the tedious formality of a trial, but demand immediate judgment. They are to be the judges, he the executioner of their will. Pilate, disgusted doubtless, and not without a touch of bitter irony and contemptuous sarcasm, bids them take and judge Him according to their law. Here is a memorable instance of the Divine providence, and the fulfilment of another of the Lord's predictions. Had the Jews still possessed the power of inflicting capital punishment for such a crime as that alleged against Jesus, namely blasphemy, the manner of execution would have been by stoning. But now being subject to the Romans, and deprived of this prerogative, they procured the Roman manner of punishment, that is crucifixion; thus all unconsciously, but not the less wilfully and wickedly, fulfilling also in this particular the exact prophecies that went before.3
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xviii. 33-38.
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
We must bear in mind in reading this history, the position of Judæa with respect to Rome. It was a distant province, peopled by a bold and fanatical race, confessedly difficult to deal with; utterly alien, in laws, in religion, in national character, from their conquerors, who were few in number among them-a garrison here, and another there-while they were separated from their sympathies by an almost impassable barrier. This will explain why one governor after another, anxious to conciliate this un
Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
At length they condescend to formulate their charge. "They began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King." They speak as though this was their finding, the result of their examination, the verdict they had arrived at; whereas we know that no such question had been before them. They had condemned Him on the point of supposed blasphemy, not on the point of forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar. This latter charge was, we know also,2 directly in the face of fact. Though they had tried to tempt Him to this, that they might be able to prefer such a charge, He had exposed their hypocrisy, and had expressly said, "Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's." This was therefore sheer falsewitness. But they knew that it was a charge which might prevail with Pilate, while he would make no account of the other. True it was that He claimed to be a King, but, as He presently proceeds to state, His kingdom was not of this world. Nevertheless this word King they knew would in a Roman's ear have a seditious sound. After this first encounter with the turbulent crowd without, the Governor returns into the judgment-hall, where the meek Saviour
1 St. Luke xxiii. 2.
3 V. 36 below. See also St. John vi. 15.
stood the while, and calling Him up before him, he proceeds to interrogate this strange Prisoner. Observe, Pilate does not ask if Jesus claimed to be, but if He were indeed the lawful King of the Jews, had they been yet a free people. It is his first and last act in connection with Jesus to refer to Him as such.1 Our Lord first answers Pilate's question by another. He inquires, in effect, Do you really desire and design to act justly? Is it only information you want? Or do you ask it as prompted by the Jews, prepared to be the instrument of their malice? Fearing now lest he might have made a false step, and compromised the dignity of his office or of his nation, Pilate seems by his second question to disclaim any personal or particular interest in putting the first. What after all is it to me? he seems here to ask. But forasmuch as the heads of Thine own nation 2 have brought Thee before me, I require to know what Thou hast done. Then the Lord proceeds to declare the nature of His kingdom. It is not of a worldly sort. It is not such as the Jews intended. It does not directly interfere with Cæsar. Had He designed to set up such a Kingdom, nothing would have been easier. Then, instead of forbidding His servants, visible or invisible, to fight,3 He would not have suffered Himself to be thus apprehended. Pilate's next question seems somewhat too sarcastic. Art Thou a King then? Thou, a prisoner, and rejected of Thine own people. Pilate in jest here spoke the truth. And the manner of our Lord's answer amounts in the Hebrew to a solemn affirmation of the same. So before Pontius Pilate He witnesses a good confession." Pilate probably partook of those philosophic doubts which, in their ignorance of a revelation, agitated the minds of men. To this state of mind our Lord here addresses Himself, announcing authoritatively that the truth. which men were in doubt about, was one, and that it must be revealed from Heaven; and that for this very purpose He
St. John xix. 14, 15, 19–22. 2 In vv. 35, 36, note the antithesis. Pilate says, "Thine own nation." Our Lord answers, "My Kingdom, my servants."
3 St. Matt. xxvi. 52, 53.
In the original the pronoun is emphatically expressed.
5 St Matt. xxvii. 11.
6 1 Tim. vi. 13.
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.
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. 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.