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(as we read in the last Section) a most graceful and courageous appeal to all who heard him, and yet submitted to the injustice of his persecutors without uttering a single complaint; satisfied that his integrity was so uniform, no just accusation could be brought against him; and that Divine power so far restrained the false witnesses, that they could not effectually injure his character, or brand him with public infamy.
JESUS BROUGHT BEFORE PILATE.
From Matt. Chap. xxvii.—Luke, xxiii.—John, xviii.
WHEN the morning was come all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against JESUS to put him to death.
And the whole multitude of them arose, and when they had bound him, then led they JESUS from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
And it was early, and they themselves went not into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled: but that they might eat the passover.
Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
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 ȧ king.
And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
Then saith 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.
Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.
That the saying of JESUS might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
Then Pilate entered into the judgment-hall again, and called JESUS.
And JESUS stood before the governor; and the go. vernor asked him, saying, Art thou the king of the Jews?
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. And they were the more fierce, saying, IIe stirreth
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 was also at Jerusalem at that time.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Although the Jewish rulers had condemned our LORD to death, they could not put their sentence in execution; for about two years before, the Romans had taken from them the power of inflicting capital punishments; therefore early in the morning another council was held, to consider what measures to pursue, when it was determined to send their prisoner to Pontius Pilate the Roman governor; and in order to secure him more effectually, they bound him faster than before. So hasty were they to effect their malignant design, that they arrived at the Prætorium, or judgment-hall, (a place erected for the Roman magistrate to keep his court) some hours before the Governor usually appeared. The Jews were obliged to go to this court, to procure an order for the execution of JEsUs; and that his punishment might be more severe than the Jewish law inflicted upon blasphemers, they delivered him up as a sedi tious person, and an enemy to Cæsar's authority.
If the Jews had entered into the house of a Gentile, they would have thought themselves polluted, and dis qualified for eating of the sacrifices, which were offered on the first day of unleavened bread, which was regarded as a very considerable part of the passover, of which eating the Paschal Lamb was only the beginning, Pilate, therefore, to comply with their superstitious
scruples, left the Prætorium, and caused his Tribunal or judgment seat to be erected in an open place adjoining to it, as the Roman governors often did.
When Pilate enquired what accusation they brought against JESUS? the Jews answered in a manner which shewed, that they felt a secret indignation at being curbed by a superior power, and that they had still a privilege of inflicting slighter punishments. Pilate saw that this was likely to be a very troublesome affair, and was therefore desirous of shifting it from himself; but the Jews would not suffer him to do so; and when they charged JESUS with refusing to pay tribute to Casar, Pilate was obliged to pay attention to it. In this instance was the foreknowledge of our blessed LORD remarkably exemplified; for he had declared, he should be crucified, which was a Roman and not a Jewish punishment.
With what dignity did CHRIST behave during his examination! Pilate himself was struck with astonishment at the scene before him. He heard the principal men of the Jewish nation accusing JESUS as the vilest of mankind; he beheld him listening to their accusation with silence and perfect composure. An air of meekness, not a consciousness of guilt, appeared in his countenance. Pilate, therefore, resolved to examine him apart from the Jews; and for this purpose, returned into the judgment-hall again, and JESUS was brought before him. When at length he opened his mouth, the words he uttered were suitable to the majesty of a king, doomed for a while to submit to his enemies, but certain of being securely established on a heavenly throne at an appointed time. In his dialogue with Pilate it is observable, that being asked, whether he was the king of the Jews? our LORD answered in
so cautious a manner, as to avoid giving the least sus picion, that he had any design against Cæsar; for though he declared himself to be a King, yet he told Pilate, his kingdom was not of this world: and he gave undeniable proof that it was not, by the restraint he laid upon his followers not to rescue him, as they might have done, by divine aid, if such had been the will of GOD.
Pilate being satisfied that JEsUs laid no claim to his province, nor meant to raise any sedition in Caesar's dominions, was yet surprised to hear a man of his humble appearance own himself to be a King: on which our LORD declared, that the great end of his coming into the world was to testify to all who were willing to hear him, the truth of God's promises. Pilate, for want of knowing the prophecies and our SAVIOUR's doctrine, did not understand what he meant by the truth: and being impatient to dispatch this intricate business, he did not wait for an answer to his question, but returned to the Jews, who were greatly enraged to find he was inclined to acquit JESUS; they, therefore, encreased their clamour against him.
When Pilate was told that JESUS was a Galilean, he gladly seized the opportunity of sending him to Herod, who being himself a Jew, came up to Jerusalem to the passover.
JESUS EXAMINED BY HEROD, AND SENT BACK TO
From Luke, Chap. xxiii.-Matt. xxvii.-Mark, xv.John, xix.
And when Herod saw JESUS, he was exceeding glad! for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because