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their contempt sufficiently to make them desist from further demand, or possibly kindle some spark of pity in those ruthless breasts, as he says simply, “Behold the man!” He has no need to say more. The shame, the wounds, the woe of Jesus, were tongues eloquent enough if they had ears to hear. But Pilate's timorous policy failed signally. They only look upon this as the first instalment or earnest of the punishment. The scourging they interpret as but the prelude to crucifixion, as among the Romans it often was. Pilate, disgusted with their lawless clamour, bids them, as before, to take Him; gives them leave, ironically, to act in the face of the finding; to punish, if they will, as guilty, Him whom he once more pronounces faultless. The rulers and doctors of the law,- for these our Evangelist intends by "the Jews,”stung by the just sarcasm, now attempt some defence of their outrageous conduct. We have laws, they seem to say, as well as you. We charge Him with breaking a law, the penalty of which is death. Thus they shift their ground again, from sedition to blasphemy. They bring another charge to bear where the first seems to have failed. That is dismissed, but they have another shaft in their quiver. Nor would these hypocrites have found fault with Him for sedition. So they prefer this equally groundless charge of blasphemy. But if blasphemy were the crime, stoning, not crucifixion, had been the punishment. Yet this point of their law they suppress, quoting only so much as seems to favour their own case. But what care they so long as they can get rid of their victim ? It is remarkable that after Pilate had said, “Behold the man!”—then they proceed to charge Him with claiming to 'be the Son of God. Pilate speaks of His humanity: they unconsciously proclaim His Divinity. Pilate seems to point to His low and miserable estate; while they indicate (howbeit they meant not so) His high and heavenly one. But the very mention of this seems to add to the mysterious terrors which already haunt the mind of this timorous and time
· St. John xviii. 31. The “ye” in life, left Him His innocence.”-South, both cases is cmphatically expressed, Ser. xxxi. as also the “I” here, in the original. 3 The pronoun in the original is
2 “And even Pilate, His unjust emphatically expressed. judge, though He took from Him His
serving judge. He felt the fanaticism behind.
. Now he discovered the real reason of their enmity. He found there was another charge behind when the first was disposed of. It might be too that he had a vague mysterious dread (superstition often consists with scepticism) of what this strange Prisoner might prove.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xix. 8-11.
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid ; and went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou ? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above : therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Pilate, more perplexed than ever, returns from the vain attempt to satisfy the Jews without, to further examine Jesus within the hall of judgment. He would fain see what light the statement of the evidently innocent and honest person within, will throw upon the malicious and tumultuous charge of those without. Yet it seems the question of a man perplexed in his own mind, and scarcely knowing what to say or do. Pilate's duty indeed was clear. There need have been no place for perplexity. But the difficulty was to save his conscience, and yet satisfy the Jews; things incompatible : for “no man can serve two masters,” and “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." This strange Prisoner's silence, while it perplexes Pilate still more, seems also
1 " It is well to learn the divine and yet when revilings were loud force of silence. Remember Christ around Him, and charges multiplied, in the judgment-hall, the very symbol “He held His peace.'”—F. W. Robertand incarnation of spiritual strength; son's Sermons, Third Series.
somewhat to arouse his vice-regal pride. “Speakest thou not unto me,” i the Roman Pro-curator, Cæsar's Vice-gerent? But a greater than Pilate, a greater than Cæsar is here. Vain his thought that this Victim might be moved by the hope of life, by the terror of an ignominious and cruel death. Pilate by his question criminates himself. For he admits that he has power to release his Prisoner; and if, as he also admits, he believes Him to be innocent, why does he then deliver Him to be crucified ? To Pilate's former question it was useless to make answer; but when the Governor challenges Him to speak, the Lord will not keep silence. Pilate had spoken of his power. Our Lord points to another power. He is speaking, it would seem, of “the powers that be,” which are “ordained of God;" for “there is no power but of God.” Yet this power might be abused, as in this case it had been most signally. He seems to have in view the Jewish Council, and Caiaphas in particular, the prime mover in this abuse of power. This power had not been exercised against Jesus by the Roman Governor, unless He had been first delivered up by the Jewish High-priest. Therefore the sin of the one was greater than the sin of the other. Not that
"Since the above was written, the he sinned to please, afterwards apAuthor has come upon the same pealed against him. About three interpretation in Coleridge's Table years after these events he was reTalk :" The meaning of the ex- called to Rome, deprived of his office pression ... ‘from above'... seems of Pro-curator of Judæa, and finally to me to have been generally and banished to Vienne in Gaul, where grossly mistaken. It is commonly he laid violent hands on himself.understood as importing that Pilate Joseph. Antt. xviii. 5.; Euseb. ii. 7. could have no power to deliver Jesus It is remarkable that Vienne should to the Jews unless it had been given have become “ the cradle of Chrishim by God, which no doubt is true; tianity in the West.” The traditions but if that is the meaning, where is now current among the common the force or connection of the follow
people there, in connection with Mont ing clause, “therefore, &c.'? I con- Salomon, Pilate's imaginary prison, ceive the meaning of our Lord to and the Tour de Mauconseil, from have been simply this, that Pilate which he is supposed to have cast would have had no power or juris- himself down, are probably not worth diction. over Him, if it had not
much. Titisee, in the heart of the been given by the Sanhedrim ... Black Forest, has also its traditions and therefore it was that the Jews of Pilate. A writer in one of the had the greater sin."
Public Journals, who has been asto? The subsequent history of Pilate nishing the natives of the Continent is painful enough. The people whom by invading thcir lakes and rivers in
his sin was slight, for it was great; but even in great crimes there may be comparison. Persecution is still persecution, whether it proceeds from ignorance or from knowledge, from hatred or from timidity. In Caiaphas and the Jews we see the will without the deed; in Pilate, the deed, as it were, without the will. His sin was less than theirs only as cowardice is less than malice, selfishness than hostility. Herein too, without extenuating the fault of Pilate,' we may see the superior sinfulness of the Jews, in that they sinned against the light of revelation, he only against the light of nature. They sinned with the Scriptures in their hands, with the recent memory of the Lord's miracles in their minds, with His acts of mercy before their eyes, with the Hosannas of the multitude still sounding in their ears. What then must be their sin who “crucify the Son of God afresh ?” With the increased light of after events, after these centuries of Christianity, in the face all this ever-accumulating experience, the guilt of the unfaithful Christian must be even greater than that of the unbelieving Jew.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xix. 12, 13.
And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him : but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cesar's friend : whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh
a portable canoe, has this mention of that for our sins this most innocent them:-“I had a row on the lake, Lamb was driven to death, we shall which is about three miles long, and have much more cause to , bewail 3,000 feet above the level of the sea. ourselves that we were the cause of The people there protested against His death, than to cry out of the the proceeding, and said that Pontius malice and cruelty of the Jews, Pilate, who it seems is at the bottom which pursued Him to His death. of the lake, would assuredly drag the We did the deeds wherefore He was boat down.”
thus stricken and wounded; they | Acts xiii. 27, 28.
were only the ministers of our wicked“ If we, my friends, consider this, ness.”—Homily for Good Friday.
against Cesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
Hitherto Pilate had felt it to be his duty, now it was really his desire, if only consistent with his own safety, to release our Lord. Some further feeble efforts he seems to have made for this purpose. But this word “Cæsar,” shouted in his ears, was enough to scare him. The leaders in this cruel conspiracy had two distinct charges against their victim; one for Jews, and one for Romans. Their object is to make Him out a dangerous impostor, a seditious person; opposed to Jewish religion, opposed to Roman rule. His offence against the former is that He claimed to be the Son of God; against the latter, that He set Himself up as King in opposition to Cæsar. That indeed was true, and He gave ample proof of it; but this, as the history shows and as Pilate himself admitted, was altogether false. However, blasphemy against God, sedition against Cæsar,—this was the double charge, the two-edged sword, which they had forged against the very Son of God, against Cæsar's Cæsar. To this latter point, the only one that could prevail with Pilate, they now return. This Cæsar was Tiberius, conspicuous for odious vice, for unmanly cruelty, even in the black list of vicious and cruel emperors of Rome; who from his Pandæmonium at Capreæe issued his edicts of death or proscription against all who, as he imagined, might oppose his sway. Little reverence or regard these Jews felt for this Cæsar; but they knew that his name was a terror to Pilate, and so they work upon his dread of human displeasure to quench his instincts of Divine justice. Our Lord, who up to this point had been examined privately within the Prætorium,–Pilate stepping forth from time to time to address the crowd without,-is now once more brought forth publicly into the presence of His accusers. Our Evangelist, having both Jews and Gentiles in view, takes care to explain any strange terms employed. Here he gives both the Greek or Gentile, and the Syriac or Jewish name for that piece of tesselated pavement on which the Romans were always careful to erect their tribunal. So