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self the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard this expression, he was more afraid. * And therefore he entered again into the palace, and said to Jesus, Whence art thou? What is this divine origin which thou art said to claim ? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to him, Dost thou not speak to me? Dost thou not know that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus replied, Thou.couldst have no power at all against me except it were given thee from above.f Therefore he who delivered me to thee (the Jewish high-priest) hath the greater sin. And from this time Pilate endeavoured earnestly to release him. But the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend, for every one that makes himself a king speaks against Cæsar. When Pilate therefore heard that speech, he was alarmed, and brought Jesus out again, and sat down on the tribunal, then erected in a place called in the Greek the Pavement, but in Hebrew Gabbatha, or the high place. And it was then the preparation of the passover, and drawing towards the sixth hour. And he says to the Jews, Behold your king. But they again cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate says to them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar.
Pilate seeing that it signified nothing, but that they rather grew more tumultuous, he took water, and washed his hands in the presence of the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man ; look ye to it. And all the people answered saying, May his blood be on us and on our children! And Pilate, desirous to satisfy the people, pronounced sentence, that what they demanded should be done. And he released to them Barabbas, who was thrown into prison for sec
ion and murder, whom they had desired; and having already scourged Jesus, he delivered him to their will to be crucified. And after they had mocked him, they took the purple robe off from him, and having dressed him in his own garments, they led him away to be crucified.
REFLECTIONS. 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
* For the Romans believed many poetical stories of men begotten by their deities, and thought them demi-gods; who, if injured, engaged their parents in the quarrel.
7 Some think this refers to the situation of the temple, and the flower of that court, on account of what follows,
† MARK has it the third hour. The author adopts this in the fraraphrase, and defends it (with Beza and Erasmus ) as the true reading, on the authority of the Camb. MSS. and of Peter of Alexandria, as well as of common sense... Campbell disparages both these authorites, and thinks Mark and Luke may be reconciled, as it was customary to reckon by the four grand divisions of tire day, 3, 6, 9, and 12, without regarding the interinediate hours, so that the time here intended was between the 3d and the 6th hour : i. e. between 9 and 12,
spitting. 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 degra. ded, thus infamously abused! Shall we, as it were, increase his suf. ferings, and, while we condemn the fury and cruelty of the Jews, shall we crucify him 10 ourselves afresh, and put him to an open shame ? Or shall we overlook him with slight and contempt, and hide our faces from him, who for our sake thus exposed his own ?-Let the caution even of his heathen judge, who feared when he heard [that] 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. Let us in this sense have. noihing 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 givrn them from above.
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, even to this day, have their remarkable and terrible accomplishment in that curse, which has pursued the Jews through seventeen hundred years. Lord, may it at length be averted, and even turned into a blessing! May they look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn, till all the obstinacy of their hearts be subdued; till they bow down in glad submission to that King whom God has set on his holy hill, and thus are brought themselves to reign with him in everlasting honour and joy!
Jesus, being delivered up by Pilate to the people, bears his cross to Calvary,
and is there nailed to it. MATT.xxvii. 32-38. MARK XV. 21-28. LUKE xxiii. 26-34. JOHN xix. 16-18.
ND Pilate having delivered him to the soldiers, they took Jesus
and led him away to the place of cxecution. And there were also two other men who were malefactors, led with him to be executed
* Josephus assures us that Pilate, having slain a considerable number of seditious Samaritans, was deposed from his government by Vitellius, and sent to Tiberius at Rome, who died before he arrived there. And Eusebius tells us that quickly after (having, as others say, been banished to Vienne, in Gaul) he laid violent hands upon himself, falling on his own sword.
at the same time. And carrying his cross, he went out of the city, to a place which was called in Hebrew, Golgotha, or the place of a scull. And as they led him on, they met a native of Cyrene, named Simon (the Father of Alexander and Rufus) who was passing by as he came out of the country ; and they laid hold on him, and compelled him to carry the cross * after Jesus, who was now too faint to bear it. And there followed him r a great multitude of people, and of women who also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the days are coming in which they shall say, Happy are the barren, and the wombs which never bare, and the breasts that never suckled. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in the green wood, what shall be done in the dry?
And when they were come to the place called Golgotha, that is to say the place of a scull, on mount Calvary (it being customary to give criminals wine mingled with spices to cheer their spiriis) they gave hini vinegar mingled with gall; and when he had tasted it he would not drink it. And some of his friends having provided a cordial, they gave him also wine to drink, mingled with myrrh; but he did not receive it. And it was the third hour't of the day when they brought him to Calvary, and there they crucified him. And they crucified with him the two malefactorst, the one on his right-hand, and the other on the left, and Jesus in the midst. And thus the scripture was fulfilled ( Isa. liii. 12.) which saith,“ And he was numbered with the " transgressors."-And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing:
REFLECTIONS. Here let us pause a while, and make a few serious reflections on this amazing story, which the evangelists relate with so much simplicity. Behold the Son of God bearing his cross, fainting under the load of it, and at length extended upon it, and nailed to it! Him they took, and with wicked hands crucified and slew him. Blessed Jesus! was it for this that thou didst honour our nature by a union to thine own, and come from thy throne of glory to visit thése abodes of misery and guilt? Was it for this that so many gracious discourses were delivered, and so many works of love and power performed? For this, that thou mightest be treated as the worst of criminals, and suspended on a cross in the air, as if unworthy of a place on earth even to die upon ? Amazing and lamentable sight! Justly, Osun, mightest thou blush to see it: justly, 0 earth, mightest thou tremble to support it!
* LUKE, “and on him they laid the cross.
† Some critics would read, the sixth hour. The author objects to such a liberty ; but since John says it was towards the sixth hour, when Jesus was broug?t to receive sentence, it may be supposed that it was near that tiine before he was crucified. Nor is it a greater liberty taken here to correct Mark by John, than in the former passage to correct John by Mark.
# Matt. " The two thieves.” D. “Robbers.”
Lord, like these pious women, who had the zeal and fortitude to attend thee, when thine own apostles forsook thee and fled, we would follow thee weeping : yet not for thee, but for ourselves; that our guilt had brought us under a eondemnation, from which we could be redeemed by nothing less than the precious blood of the Son of God: that Lamb without blemish and without spot. We would behold herein the goodness and the severity of God : for while the riches of his goodness are displayed in his providing a ransom for the redemption of lost sinpers, an awful proof is given of the severity of his justice, in his not sparing his own Son, nor exempting him from the sorrows and sufferings due to sin, when he came to put himself in the stead of sinners : and may we not in such a view tremble for fear of him, and be afraid of his judgments? Who can support the weight of his indignation, especially when it shall come aggravated by the abuse of so much love! If these things be done in the green wood, what shall be done in the dry? And if such sufferings be inflicted, where there was not any personal guilt to kindle the flame, on one who only answered for the sins of others; what then will be the end of those who, by their own iniquities, are become as fuel prepared for the fire, and are as vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ?
How shocking is it to behold the vile indignities that were put upon a suffering Jesus, and to reflect upon the cruel treatment that he met with from his insulting enemies! Yet have not we been verily guilty concerning this matter? Are we not chargeable with despising Christ? and have we not crucified the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame? Oh may that apology be heard in our favour, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do! For surely sinners do not know what they do, when they pierce Christ by their sins, and turn away their faces from him. But under all his sufferings, how amazing was his meekness! and how compassionate the concern which he expressed for his most cruel persecutors! May we learn patience, and love to our enemies, from so bright an example of its May we, like him, bless them that curse us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us! Instead of being ingenious to aggravate their faults, and to paint them in the most shocking colours, let us rather seek for the best excuses, which even the worst of causes will fairly bear; influenced by that charity which unconstrained believes no evil, and hopeth all things even against hope.
Gracious Saviour! thy dying prayer, and thy dying blood, were not like water spilt upon the ground : they came up in remembrance bea fore God, when thy gospel began to be preached at Jerusalem: and multitudes, who were now consenting to thy death, gladly received thy word, and were baptized: and they are now in glory, celebrating that grace which has taken out the scarlet and crimson dye of their sins, and turned that blood which they so impiously shed into the balm of their wounds, and the life of their souls.
Christ's garments are divided by lot ; and while he is insulted on the cross,
he shews his mercy to the penitent thief. Matt. xxvii. 35–44. MARK xv.24–32. LUKE xxiii. 34-43. JOHN xix. 19-24.
THEN r the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his
garments, and made four parts of them, assigning to each soldier employed, a part; casting lots upon them, which of the four each man should take. And they also took his vest. Now the 'vest was without any seam, being woven from the top throughout in one piece. They said therefore one to another, Let us not tear it to pieces, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be ; that the scripture spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled which saith (Psal. xxii. 18.) “ They “ divided my garments among them, and cast lots for my vesture. These things therefore the soldiers did; and they sat down and guarded him there.
And (as the usual method was ) they put on the cross over his head, a superscription of his crime: This is JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWs. And Pilate wrote this title, and put it on the
Many of the Jews therefore read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near to the city. And it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin letters, that it might be read by Jews, Romans, and other foreigners.--Now the chief-priests of the Jews said to Pilate, when he drew it up, Do not write, The king of the Jews; but, that he said I am the king of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written.
And the people that stood beholding this sufferer, and they that passed by, blasphemed him, shaking their heads and saying, Ah, thou, that wouldst destroy the temple and build it again in three days, save thyself; and if thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross. And in like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, and the rulers also with them, derided him ; and mocking said to one another, He saved others, but you see, he cannot save himself: If he be the Messiah, the elect of God, the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and save himself, that we may see his power, and then we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him* now, if he will have him, for he said, I am the Son of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar to drink, and saying, If thou art the king of the Jews, save thyself.
And onet of the malefactors also who l:ung on the cross with him, upbraided him with the same, and blasphemed him, saying, If thou art the Messiah, save thyself and us. But the other answered and rebu* A prophane allusion to Pscl. xxii
. 8. † Matthew and Mark use the plural number: the thieves—they that were crucified with him--whence some infer, that he who proved renitent at first, joined in the blasphemy. But if so, Luke, who is so particular, would not have omitted it. (He expressly say's ONE of the male factors.] I therefore conclude this to be what is called an enallage of numbers, of which we have other instances.