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self, and vindicate this truth, that he has right to the throne of David, and that the government is on his shoulder, to order and to settle it from this time forth and for evermore; and every one who is taught by a God of truth, heareth his voice. They know it, they listen to it; they rejoice because of it, and they follow its guidance.
To this last declaration of our Lord, Pilate replied, “ What is Truth?” He sneered at the very name of truth. What was it to him ? Expediency was the God of that school of false philosophy to which he belonged. What he wished, not what was right, was his study. He deridingly retorts “What is Truth?” Who cares for it, who thinks of it? And without waiting for a reply, he left the judgment-hall. And his going out from the presence of Jesus was emblematic of his carelessness of Truth. He who was before him, was Truth itself, and had Pilate looked to him, with spiritual discernment, he would have needed no verbal reply to his question.
And when he had said that, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, "I find in him no fault at all.” What a remarkable declaration is this, so fully attesting the injustice, which led to the condemnation of Jesus. Pilate certainly had no favour towards his prisoner. He was not so affected by his condition, as to be likely to overlook any just ground of accusation. On the contrary, he was anxious to do the Jews a pleasure, he was fearful of incurring their hatred, and he doubtless would have been glad to give way to their wishes at once, had he been able to detect the least degree of guilt in his prisoner. But he was compelled to say, “I find no fault in him
How singularly does this, and other similar events in
our Lord's life, prove the fulfilment of the word, that “ Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself." Our gracious Master had challenged scrutiny from all: “which of you convinceth me of sin?” The accusations made against him before the High Priest fell to the ground as false. He appealed to the whole people as witnesses of the holiness of his life, and the excellence of his doctrine -neither Herod nor Pontius Pilate, who with the Jews, “set themselves against the Lord, and against his anointed,” could find any fault in him. He was the Lamb of God without blemish and without spot; and his enemies are thus pourtrayed in the page of truth, with the indelible stain of foregoing justice and equity, for the indulgence of their unconquerable hatred against the meek and lowly Jesus.
The Roman governor, however, with the trimming policy of an unjust judge, who feared to incur responsibility by listening to the people on the one hand, and dreaded to incense them by a refusal on the other, bethought him of an expedient by which he hoped to be freed from the difficulty in which he found himself placed. “ Ye bave a custom,” said he, “ that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye then that I release unto
the King of the Jews?” There was choice between two only; Jesus, and Barabbas, an abandoned character, who had stirred up an insurrection, and had been guilty of murder in the sedition. Pilate, little conceiving the height of fury to which the minds of the people had been wrought by the Chief Priests and Scribes, fully expected that Jesus would be released, and the other left for punishment. If he had any anticipations of this kind they were soon destroyed, for “they all cried again, Not this man, but Barabbas."
Blessed Jesus! the cup of his humiliation is not filled up by his unjust condemnation, and the sentence of wicked men ;-a criminal of the very worst description is preferred before him; his own people, to whom he came with the message of reconciliation, spared a murderer, that they might hurry him to execution.
And yet even from this dark and guilty transaction, there breaks forth a ray of blessed encouragement. It seems to intimate to us, that when Christ undertook to suffer in the stead of man, he put himself in the place of the “chiefest of sinners,” and that there is none so guilty but may find refuge under the blood and passion of his cross.
The scene before us seems to declare, that even a Barabbas may be released and forgiven, when Jesus stands in the way to bear the iniquity, and to be made a
And how interesting is it to look on from this transaction to the closing events of Calvary. Here we find one malefactor released, and Jesus left to endure the malefactor's death ; there we find another malefactor, in the agonies of death, with the gates of heaven opening before him through the mercy and love of him who hung beside him on the tree. And thus, while on the one hand we have an intimation of Christ's willingness to suffer for the worst; our spirits are likewise cheered, by the instance of one whose sins were of the deepest dye, experiencing the power of his salvation.
Beloved, while we shrink from the dreadful guilt of those who thrust out the Lord of the vineyard, and preferred a murderer ; let our souls be melted with grief at the cruel insults and indignities thus laid upon our Master. And should we be inclined to indulge in a passionate or indignant emotion against them, let this be driven from our hearts, by the remembrance that Jesus willingly
endured all this for us,—that all this was necessary for the completion of that work, by which alone we can be saved. Let the softest and the tenderest sorrow burst forth from our hearts toward our suffering Master, and let the acuteness of our own knowledge of the guilt within us which needs his pardoning love, lead us to smite upon our breast and cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”
JOHN XIX. 1-18.
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers
platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe. And said, Hail, King of the Jews ! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto 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 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. 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 : 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. Then delivered he