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swered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. 15 'Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 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? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19 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. 20 "But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 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. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Mark xv. 6; Luke xxiii. 17; John xviii. 39. m Mark xv. 11; Luke xxiii. 18; John xviii. 40; Acts iii. 14. n Deut. xxi. 16. o Deut. xix. 10; Josh. ii. 19; 1 Kings ii. 82; 2 Sam. i. 16; Acts v. 28.
Jesus stood before the governor (ver. 11), as the prisoner before the judge. We could not stand before God because of our sins, nor lift up our face in his presence, if Christ had not been thus made sin for us. He was arraigned, that we might be discharged. He thus stood in this judgment, that we might stand in God's judgment. Art thou the King of the Jews? The Jews were now not only under the government, but under the very jealous inspection, of the Roman powers, to which they were in the highest degree disaffected; yet they now pretended a concern for the Roman power-accusing Jesus as an enemy to Cæsar (Luke xxiii. 2), of which they could produce no other proof than that he himself had just owned he was the Christ. Now, they thought that whoever was the Christ, must be the King of the Jews, and must deliver them from the Roman power, and restore to them a temporal dominion, and enable them to trample upon all their neighbours. According to this chimera of their own, they accused our Lord Jesus as making himself king of the Jews, in opposition to the Roman yoke.-Many oppose Christ's holy religion, upon a mistake of the nature of it; they dress it up in false colours, and then fight against it. They assuring the governor that, if he made himself Christ, he made himself king of the Jews, the governor takes it for granted that he goes about to pervert the nation, and subvert the government. Art thou a king? It was plain that he was not so actually; "But dost thou lay any claim to the government, or pretend a right to rule the Jews?"-It has often been the hard fate of Christ's holy religion, unjustly to fall under the suspicions of the civil powers, as if it were hurtful to kings and provinces, whereas it tends mightily to the benefit of both. Jesus said unto him, “Thou sayest." It is as thou sayest, though not as thou meanest." Thus before Pilate he witnessed a good confession, and was not ashamed to own himself a king, though it looked ridiculous, nor afraid, though at this time it was dangerous. He was accused of the chief priests, ver. 12. Pilate found no fault in him. Whatever was said, nothing was proved, and therefore what was wanting in matter they made up in noise and violence, and followed him with repeated accusations, the same as they had given in before; but by the repetition they thought to force a belief from the governor.
He answered nothing, because there was no occasion; nothing was alleged but what carried its own confutation along with it. He was now taken up with the great concern that lay between him and his Father, to whom he was offering up himself a sacrifice, to answer the demands of his justice, which he was so intent upon, that he minded not what they said against him. His hour was come, and he submitted to his Father's will: "Not as I will, but as thou wilt." He knew what his
Father's will was, and therefore silently committed to him that judgeth righteously. We must not thus by our silence throw away our lives, because we are not lords of our lives, as Christ was of his; nor can we know, as he did, when our hour is come. But hence we must leari, not to render railing for railing. 1 Pet. ii. 23. Pilate pressed him to make some reply (ver. 13)-Hearest thu not how many things they witness against thee? What these things were, may be gathered from Luke xxiii. 3, 5, and John xix. 7. Pilate, having no malice at all against him, was desirous he should clear himself, urges him to do it, and believes he could do it,-Hearest thou not? Yes, he did hear; and still he hears all that is witnessed unjustly against his truths and ways; but he keeps silence, because it is the day of his patience, and doth not answer, as he will shortly. Psal. 1. 3. He wondered at his silence; which was not interpreted so much into a contempt of the court, as a contempt of himself; and, therefore, Pilate is not said to be angry at it, but to have marvelled greatly at it, as a thing very unusual. He believed him to be innocent, and had heard, perhaps, that never man spake like him, and therefore he thought it strange that he had not one word to say for himself.
Observe the outrage and violence of the people, in pressing the governor to crucify Christ. The chief priests had a great influence over the people, and they made use of this to incense them against him, and so gained the point which they could not otherwise carry. It seems it was grown into a custom with the Roman governors, for the humouring of the Jews, to grace the feast of the passover with the release of a prisoner, ver. 15. This, they thought, did honour to the feast, and was agreeable to the commemoration of their deliverance; but it was an invention of their own, and no divine institution; though some think that it was ancient, and kept up by the Jewish princes, before they became subject to the empire. However, it was a bad custom, an obstruction to justice, and an encouragement to wickedness. But our Gospel-passover is celebrated with the release of prisoners, by Him who hath power on earth to forgive sins. In accordance with the above mentioned custom, the proposal was made by Pilate the governor (ver. 17),—Whom will ye that I release unto you? It is probable that the judge had the nomination of two, one of which the people were to choose. Pilate proposed to them to have Jesus released. He was convinced of his innocency, and that the prosecution was malicious; yet had not the courage to acquit him, as he ought to have done, by his own power, but would have him released by the people's election, and so he hoped to satisfy his own conscience and also the people. The reason why Pilate laboured thus to get Jesus discharged, was because he knew that for envy the chief priests had delivered him up (ver. 18); that it was not his guilt, but his goodness, at which they were provoked; and for this reason he hoped to bring him off by the people's act, and that they would be for his release. When David was envied by Saul, he was the darling of the people; and any one that heard the hosannas with which Christ was but a few days ago brought into Jerusalem, would have thought that he had been so, and that Pilate might safely have referred this matter to the commonalty, especially when so notorious a criminal as Barabbas was set up as a rival with him for their favours. But it proved otherwise. While Pilate was thus labouring the matter, he was confirmed in his unwillingness to condemn Jesus, by a message sent him from his wife (ver. 19), by way of caution,-Have thou nothing to do with that just man (together with the reason), for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. The special providence of God is to be observed in sending this dream to Pilate's wife. It is not likely that she had heard any thing before concerning Christ, at least not so as to occasion her dreaming of him, but it was immediately from God. Perhaps she was one of the devout and honourable women, and had some sense of religion; yet God revealed himself by dreams to some that had not, as to Nebuchadnezzar. She suffered many things in this dream; whether she dreamed of the cruel usage of an innocent person, or of the judgments that would fall upon those that had any hand in his death, or both, it seems that it was a frightful dream, and her thoughts troubled her, as Dan. ii. 1, iv. 5.-The Father of spirits has many ways of access to the spirits of men, and can seal their instruction in a dream, or vision of the night. Job xxxiii. 15. 16. Yet to those who have the written Word, God more ordinarily speaks by conscience on a waking bed, than by dreams, when deep sleeps falls upon men.
The chief priests and the elders were busy, all this while, to influence the people in favour of Barabbas, ver. 20. They persuaded the multitude, both by their own exertions and those of their emissaries, whom they sent abroad among them, that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus; suggesting that this Jesus was a deceiver, in league with Satan, an enemy to their church and temple; that, if he were let alone, the Romans would come, and take away their place and nation; that Barabbas, though a bad man, yet, having not the interest that Jesus had, could not do so much mischief. Thus they managed the mob, who otherwise were well affected to Jesus, and, if they had not been so under much the control of their priests, would never have done such a preposterous thing as to prefer Barabbas before him. Being thus overruled, at length they made their choice, ver.
21. Whether of the twain (saith Pilate), will ye that I release unto you? He hoped that he had gained his point, to have Jesus released. But, to his great surprise, they said Barabbas; as if his crimes were less, and therefore he less deserved to die; or as if his merits were greater, and therefore he better deserved to live. The cry for Barabbas was universal. This was it that Peter charged so home upon them (Acts iii. 14)—" Ye desired a murderer to be granted unto you." Pilate, being amazed at their choice of Barabbas, was willing to hope that it was rather from a fondness for him than from an enmity to Jesus, and therefore he puts it to them, "What shall I do then with Jesus? Shall I release him likewise, for the greater honour of your feast, or will you leave it to me?" No, they all said, Let him be crucified. That death they desired he might die, because it was looked upon as the most scandalous and ignominious; and they hoped thereby to make his followers ashamed to own him, and their relation to him. It was absurd for them to prescribe to the judge what sentence he should pass; but their malice and rage made them forget all rules of order and decency, and turned a court of justice into a riotous, tumultuous, and seditious assembly. Now was truth fallen in the street, and equity could not enter; where one looked for judgment, behold, oppression; for righteousness, behold, a cry, the worst cry that ever was, Crucify, crucify the Lord of glory. Though they that cried thus, perhaps, were not the same persons that the other day cried Hosanna, yet see what a change was made upon the populace in a little time! When he rode in triumph into Jerusalem, so general were the acclamations of praise, that one would have thought he had no enemies; but now, when he was led in triumph to Pilate's judgment-seat, so general were the outcries of enmity, that one would think he had no friends. Such revolutions are there in this changeable world, through which our way to heaven lies, as our Master's did, " by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report" (2 Cor. vi. 8); that we may not be lifted up by honour, as if, when we were applauded and caressed, we had made our nest among the stars, and should die in that nest; nor yet be dejected or discouraged by dishonour, as if, when we were despised and trampled upon, we were trodden to the lowest hell, from which there is no redemption. The more Pilate appeared inclined to acquit our Lord, they cried out the more, Let him be crucified. They do not go about to show any evil he had done, but, right or wrong, he must be crucified. Quitting all pretensions to the proof of the premises, they resolve to hold the conclusion, and what was wanting in evidence to make up in clamour; this unjust judge was wearied by importunity into an unjust sentence, as he in the parable into a just one (Luke xviii. 4, 5), and the cause carried purely by noise.
I am innocent of the blood of this just person, ver. 24. What a contradiction was this, to condemn him, and yet protest that he was innocent of his blood! For men to protest against a thing, and yet to practise it, is only to proclaim that they sin against their consciences. Though Pilate professed his innocency, God charges him with guilt. Acts iv. 27. Pilate here thinks to justify himself, by pleading that his heart was not in the action; but this is an averment which will never be admitted. In vain does he protest against the deed which at the same time he perpetrates. He casts the guilt upon the priests and people," See ye to it. If it must be done, I cannot help it; do you answer it before God and the world." The priests and the people consented to take the guilt upon themselves; they all said, His blood be on us, and on our children. They saw that it was the dread of guilt that made Pilate hesitate, and that he was getting over this difficulty by a fancy of transferring it; to prevent the return of his hesitation, and to confirm him in that fancy, they, in the heat of their rage, agreed to it, rather than lose the prey they had in their hands, and cried, His blood be upon us. What a desperate imprecation was this, and how little did they think what was the direful import of it, or to what an abyss of misery it would bring them and theirs! Christ had lately told them, that upon them would come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from that of the righteous Abel; but as if that were too little, they here imprecate upon themselves the guilt of that blood which was more precious than all the rest, and the guilt of which would lie heavier. How cruel also they were in their imprecation. They imprecated the punishment of this sin not only upon themselves, but upon their children too, even those that were yet unborn. It was madness to pull it upon themselves, but the height of barbarity to entail it on their posterity. What a dreadful conveyance was this of guilt and wrath to them and their heirs! How righteous God was, in his retribution according to this imprecation. They said, His blood be on us, and on our children; and God said Amen to it-so shall thy doom be; as they loved cursing, so it came upon them. The wretched remains of that abandoned people feel it to this day. From the time they imprecated this blood upon them, they were followed with one judgment after another, till they were quite laid waste, and made an astonishment, a hissing, and a byeword; yet on some of them, and some of theirs, this blood came, not to condemn them, but to save them. Divine mercy, upon their repenting and believing, cut off this entail, and then the promise was again to them, and to their children. God is better to us and ours than we are.
26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and 'put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, king of the Jews! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, "and led him away to crucify him. 32 *And as they came out, 'they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name him they compelled to bear his cross.
p Isa. liii. 5; Mark xv. 15; Luke xxiii. 16, 24, 25; John xix. 1, 16. 9 Mark xv. 16; John xix. 2. Luke xxiii. 11. s Psal. Ixix. 19; Isa. liii. 3. Isa. 1. 6; Chap. xxvi. 67. u Isa. liii. 7. xxi. 13; Acts vii. 58; Heb. xiii. 12. y Mark xv. 21; Luke xxiii. 26.
Or, governor's house. Num. xv. 35; 1 Kings
Barabbas was released, that notorious criminal. If he had not been put in competition with Christ for the favour of the people, it is probable that he had died for his crimes; but that proved the means of his escape, to intimate that Christ was condemned for this purpose, that sinners, even the chief of sinners, might be released.
Scourging was an ignominious, cruel punishment, especially as it was inflicted by the Romans, who were not under the moderation of the Jewish law, which forbade scourgings, above forty stripes. This punishment was most unreasonably inflicted on one that was sentenced to die. The rods were not to introduce the axes, but to supersede them. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled, "The ploughers ploughed upon my back" (exxix. 3), "I gave my back to the smiters" (Isa. 1. 6), and, "By his stripes we are healed" (Isa. liii. 5). He was chastised with whips, that we might not be for ever chastised with scorpions.
After having been scourged, Christ was delivered to be crucified. Though his chastisement was in order to our peace, yet there is no peace made but by the blood of his cross (Col. i. 20); therefore the scourging is not enough, he must be crucified-a kind of death used only among the Romans-the manner of it is such, that it seems to be the result of ingenuity and cruelty in combination, each putting forth itself to the utmost, to make death in the highest degree terrible and miserable. A cross was set up in the ground, to which the hands and feet were nailed, on which nails the weight of the body hung, till it died of the pain. This was the death to which Jesus was condemned, that he might answer the type of the brazen serpent lifted up upon a pole. It was a bloody death—a painful, shameful, cursed death; it was so miserable a death, that merciful princes appointed those who were condemned to it by the law to be strangled first, and then nailed to the cross. Constantine, the first Christian emperor, by an edict abolished the use of that punishment among the Romans.
After they had mocked and abused him, as long as they thought fit, they then took the robe off from him; to signify their divesting him of all the kingly authority they had invested him with, by putting it on him; and they put his own raiment on him, because that was to fall to the soldiers' share that were employed in the execution. They took off the robe, but no mention is made of their taking off the crown of thorns, whence it is commonly supposed (though there is no certainty of it) that he was crucified with that on his head; for as he is a Priest upon his throne, so he was a King upon his cross. Christ was led to be crucified in his own raiment, because he himself was to bear our sins in his own body upon the tree.
Led him away to be crucified, ver. 31. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, as a sacrifice to the altar. We may well imagine how they hurried him on, and dragged him along with all the speed possible, lest any thing should intervene to prevent the glutting of their cruel rage with his precious blood. It is probable that they now loaded him with taunts and reproaches, and treated him as the off-scouring of all things. They compelled Simon of Cyrene to bear his cross, ver. 32. It seems, at first he carried the cross himself, as Isaac carried the wood for the burnt-offering which was to burn him. And this was intended, as other things, both for pain and shame to him. But after a while they took the cross off from him, because they saw it was too great a load for him; or, perhaps it was because he could not, with the cross on his back, go forward so fast as they would have him; or, they were afraid lest he should faint away under the load of his cross, and die, and so prevent what their malice farther intended to do against him. Taking the cross off
from him, they compelled one Simon of Cyrene to bear it, pressing him to the service by the authority of the governor or the priests. It was a reproach, and none would do it but by compulsion. Some think that this Simon was a disciple of Christ, at least a well-wisher to him, and that they knew it, and therefore put this upon him.
33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34¶They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, "They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36 And sitting down they watched him there: 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 'The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. 45 "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour "Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, Pand filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
z Mark xv. 22; Luke xxiii. 33; John xix. 17. a Psal. lxix. 21; see ver. 48. b Mark xv. 24; Luke xxiii. 34; John xix. 24. c Psal. xxii. 18. d Ver. 54. e Mark xv. 26; Luke xxiii. 38; John xix. 19. f Isa. liii. 12: Mark xv. 27; Luke xxiii 32, 33; John xix. 18. g Psal. xxii. 7, cix. 25; Mark xv. 29; Luke xxiii. 35. h Chap. xxvi. 61; John ii. 19. i Chap. xxvi. 63. k Psal. xxii. 8. Mark xv. 32; Luke xxiii. 39. m Amos viii. 9: Mark xv. 33; Luke xxiii. 44. Heb. v. 7. o Psal. xxii. 1. p Psal. Ixix. 21; Mark xv. 36; Luke xxiii. 36; John xix. 29. Golgotha, ver. 33. This is a Hebrew word, signifying the place of a skull. This is the word which in Luke is called Calvary. In the original, there also it is a skull. The word Calvary is a Latin word meaning skull, or a place of skulls. It is not known certainly why this name was given to this place. The most probable opinion is that it was a place of execution; that malefactors were beheaded there, or otherwise put to death, and that their bones remained unburied or unburned. Mount Calvary was a small eminence usually supposed to have been on the north-west of Jerusalem, without the walls of the city, but at a short distance. Jesus was put to death out of the city, because capital punishments were not allowed within the walls. See Num. xv. 35; 1 Kings xxi. 13. This was a law among the Romans, as well as the Jews. He also died there, because the bodies of the beasts slain in sacrifice as typical of him, were burned without the camp. He also, as the antitype, suffered without the gate. Heb. xiii. 11, 12. The place which is shown as Calvary now is within the city, and must also have been within the ancient walls; there is no reason, therefore, to suppose that it is the place where the Saviour was put to death.
They gave him vinegar, &c., ver. 34. Mark says, that "they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh." The two evangelists mean the same thing. Vinegar was made of light wine rendered acid, and was the common drink of the Roman soldiers; and this might be called either vinegar or wine, in common language. Myrrh is a bitter substance produced in Arabia, but is used often to denote any thing bitter. Gall is properly a bitter secretion from the liver; but the