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them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him; for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgmenthall, 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. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar. 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. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour.
Let us now, by a lively act of faith, bring forth the blessed Jesus to our imagination, as Pilate brought him forth to the people. Let us with affectionate sympathy survey the indignities, which were offered him, when he gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; and hid not his face from shame and spitting. (Isaiah 1. 6.) Behold the man, wearing his purple robe and thorny crown, and bearing the reed which smote him in his right hand for a sceptre ! Behold, not merely the man, but the Son of God, thus vilely degraded, thus infamously abused! Shall we, as it were, in
crease his sufferings, and, while we condemn the fury and cruelty of the Jews, shall we crucify him to ourselves afresh, and put him to an open shame? (Heb. vi. 6.) Or shall we overlook him with slight and contempt, and hide our faces from him, who for our sake thus exposed his own? (Isa. liii. 3.)
Let the caution even of this heathen judge, who feared, when he heard he so much as pretended to be the Son of God, engage us to reverence him, especially considering in how powerful a manner he has since been declared to be so. (Rom. i. 4.) Let us in this sense have nothing to do with the blood of this Just Person. Let his example teach us patiently to submit to those sufferings which God shall appoint for us, remembering that no enemies, and no calamities we meet with, could have any power against us, except it were given them from above.
MARK XV. 2-5. LUKE XXIII. 2-16. JOHN XIX. 15.
MATT. XXVII. 11-14.
AND 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. And Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.
And the chief priests and elders accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered him to never a word; insomuch that Pilate the governor marvelled greatly.
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 stirred up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. 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 in 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 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. And he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar.
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.
But in the midst of all, the blessed Jesus stands collected in himself. Firm as a rock he bears the violence of the storm, and is not moved by all the furious waves that beat upon him; and when he saw a robber and a murderer preferred before him, and a sentence of the most cruel death clamorously called for and demanded against him, he silently commits himself to him that judgeth righteously, who ere long brought forth his righteousness as brightness, and his salvation as c lamp that burneth. (Compare 1 Peter ii. 23, and Isaiah Ixii. 1.)
Lord, if thou callest us out to share in thy sufferings, may the Spirit of God and of glory thus rest on us! And may neither the scorn nor the rage of our enemies separate us from thee, who did so courageously bear all this for us; nor may they ever sink us into any weakness of behaviour unworthy of those who have the honour to call themselves thy followers!
MATT. XXVII. 15-26. MARK XV. 6-15. LUKE XXIII. 17-25. JOHN XIX. 16.
Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called 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, (for of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast). Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas or Jesus which is called Christ? will ye that I release unto you the king of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.
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? And they cried out all at once, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas. Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, answered and said again to them, saying, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? him whom ye call the king of the Jews? And they all cried out again, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And Pilate said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they cried out the more exceedingly, they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; and took Jesus and scourged him. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required, and he delivered Jesus to their will to be crucified.
How wisely was it ordered by Divine Providence that Pilate should be obliged thus to acquit Christ, even while he condemned him; and to speak of him as a righteous person, in the same breath with which he doomed him to the death of the most flagitious malefactor! And how lamentably does the power of worldly interest over conscience appear, when, after all the convictions of his own mind, as well as the admonitions of his wife, he yet gave him up to popular fury. O Pilate, how gloriously hadst thou fallen in the defence of the Son of God! and how justly did God afterwards leave thee to perish by the resentment of that people whom thou wast now so studious to oblige.
Who can without trembling read that dreadful imprecation, May his blood be on us, and on our children! Words which,