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.
Ps. xxii. 12, 13, 16.
♪ Is. liii. 3.



and send Him back as an absurd but harmless pretender to Pilate. Thus is another prophecy unconsciously fulfilled." Pilate had probably encroached on the jurisdiction of Herod in the matter of those Galilæans whose blood he had mingled with their sacrifices. 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?



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

1 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.


clamouring for its privilege, Pilate thinks he may now turn this to account. To this custom then, sometimes undesirable and inconvenient enough, Pilate now refers, not without a touch of scorn. "Ye have a custom, that I should release one unto you at the Passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?" He is a harmless person. You have already made Him your sport. You demand a prisoner. Take then this one. He thus depreciates Him that they may understand that they have no cause for envy. He resolves, if compatible with his own comfort, to release Him; for he is convinced of His innocence. It was not, he felt, because Jesus was criminal, but because the chief-priests were envious and had a grudge3 against Him, that He stood before the judgment-seat. Pilate indeed mentions another, "a notable prisoner," "a murderer;"" adding, "Whom will ye that I release unto you, Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?" As though there could be no question between

the two.



St. Matthew xxvii. 19-23.


When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

A singular interruption now occurs. A message to the Governor from his wife. She has been warned in a painful

St. John xviii. 39.

2 St. Luke xxiii. 11.

3 St. Luke xix. 14; xx. 13, 14; Acts vii. 9.
St. Matt. xxvii. 16.
Acts iii. 14.

dream of the innocence and goodness of the accused. The Romans made much of dreams, especially those after midnight, or in the morning.1 During this lull in the proceedings, the chief-priests and elders are busily employed in going about among the people, canvassing the crowd as in a contested election. So that when Pilate returns after the short interruption, and again proposes his question,—instigated by their leaders, they are ready with the reply, "Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas." Thus they denied Him whom the Judge's wife, and the Judge himself, emphatically pronounced "just," and desired a murderer to be granted unto them. Thus are they unconsciously fulfilling their own Scriptures. Jesus was not to be the scapegoat, as Pilate had proposed, but that on which the Lord's lot fell. Pilate had proposed to dismiss Jesus after some chastisement and indignity, making Him the subject of festal clemency. This offer they had rejected, and preferred that a notorious criminal should rather be set free. He asks now, in despair at their unreasonableness, what it is they would have him do with Jesus. "What will ye then that I shall do unto Him whom ye call the King of the Jews?" It was in derision that they had called Him this. The royal robe in which Herod had arrayed Him in cruel jest, yet bare witness to the truth of that title. Jesus otherwise Christ. This alias is equally His. He is "Christ the King of Israel.” Now is heard for the first time the ominous sound, "Crucify Him." It is too much even for a heathen's natural sense of justice. For the third time he remonstrates against their injustice. Again he proposes his plan of compromise. But "they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify Him." "They were instant with loud voices requiring that He might be crucified."1 They cannot answer Pilate's question, but they will terrify him into compliance.

1 See Hor. Sat. 1. x. 33; Ovid.

Epist. Heronis, 195.

2 St. Luke xxiii. 18.

3 St. Matt. xxvii. 19, 24.

Acts iii. 14.

Lev. xvi. 7-10.

6 St. Mark xv. 12.

7 St. Mark xv. 32; St. Luke xxiii. 35, 42.

St. Luke xxiii. 22. 9 St. Mark xv. 14.

10 St. Luke xxiii. 23.

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