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have appeared in the pomp of an earthly prince, and finding it to be quite otherwise in our Saviour, they look upon him as a deceiver and impostor, and accordingly treat him as a mock-king, with all the marks of derision and scorn: for first they put a crown upon his head, but a very ignominious and painful one; a crown of thorns. They put a sceptre in his hand, but it was that of a reed ; a robe of scarlet or purple upon his body; and then bowed their knees unto him, as they were wont to do before their princes, crying, Hail, King! Thus were all the marks of scorn imaginable put upon our dear Redeemer: yet what they did in jest, God permitted to be done in earnest; for all these things were ensigns and marks of sovereignty, and Almighty God caused the royal dignity of his Son to shine forth, even in the midst of his greatest abasement . Whence was all this jeering and sport, but to flout majesty? And why did the Son of God undergo all this ignominy, disgrace, and shame, but to show what was due unto us for our sins; as also to give us an example, to bear all the scorn, reproach, and shame imaginable, for the sake of him, who, for the joy that was set before him, despised the shame, as well as endured the cross? Verily, nothing was omitted that either the malice of men, or the rage of devils could possibly invent, either to torment or reproach him. But with what a lamb-like meekness, with what an astonishing patience, did he undergo all these trials, both for our good and in our stead!
4 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. 5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! 6 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.
Observe here, 1. The great variety of our Saviour's sufferings: he is made the foot-ball of all cruelty and scorn; his sacred body is stript of his garments, and his back disguised with purple robes j his ten
der temples wounded with a thorny crown; his face spit upon, his cheeks buffeted, his head smitten, his hand sceptred with a reed. By his wearing a crown of thorns, he took away the hitterness of that curse which our sins brought upon the earth, Gen. iii. IS. Thorns and briars shall it briny; forth. Christ by his hitter and bloody suffering, has turned all the curses of his people into crowns and blessings. Observe, 2. The noble testimony given of Christ's innocency, by the moath of Pilate: I find in him no fault at all. He doth not say, I find him not guilty of what is laid to his charge; but gives an universal testimony of our Lord's innocency: I find no fault at all in him. In spite of all malice, innocency shall find some friends and abettors. Rather than Christ shall want witnesses, Pilate's mouth was opened for his justification: how fain would he have freed Jesus, whom be found faultless! Our Lord found more compassion from Pilate, a heathen, than he did from them of his own nation. Pilate would have saved him, but they cry out for his blood. Hypocrites within the visible church may be guilty of such monstrous acts of wickedness, as the consciences of heathens without the church may boggle at, and protest against . Pilate, a pagan, pronounces Christ innocent; whilst the hypocritical Jews, who had heard his doctrine and seen bo miracles, do condemn him. Observe, 3. Who influenced the main body of the Jews to desire Pilate to put Jesus to death; it was the chief priests and elders: Thry persuaded the multitude. Woe be to trie common people, when their guides and leaders are corrupt; and woe be unto them much more, if they follow their wicked and pernicious counsels. The Jews here followed their guides, the chief priests; but it was their own destruction, as well as their leaders: When the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch.
7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. 8 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.
Observe here, 1. How amhitious the chief priests were that Chiist should die under a colour of law: We have a law, and by our law lie ought to die. The law which they allude to, is the law for putting false prophets and blasphemers to death; of which number they conclude Christ to be, because be made himself the Son of God; whereas he did not make himself so, or only pretend to be so, but really and indeed was so; to wit, the eternal Son of God. Such as are indeed blasphemers, and do arrogate to themselves what is proper to God only, by the law of God they ought to be put to death: but Christ was not guilty of the violation of that law; for he was indeed the Son of God, and did not make himself so. Observe, 2 How full of fear the conscience of Pilate was, when the Jews told him that Jesus made himself the Son of Gcd: he was afraid to condemn hini, not knowing but that be might be some divine and extraordinary person, and consequently might draw down divine vengeance on his own head. Learn hence, That serious thoughts of a deity will strike terror even into a natural conscience, especially when the sinner is following a course which his own judgment cannot approve; when Pilate heard of Christ's being the Son of God, he was afraid, knowing what he had done to him was against his own conscience. Observe, 3. The question Pilate puts to Christ upon this occasion, Whence art thou .* that is, What is thy original or parentage? Art thou a divine person or not? Out blessed Saviour being unwilling to obstruct his own sufferings, or to discover any thing that might hinder Pilate from proceeding against him, would give him no answer, having before made a reasonable and sufficient defence. O how ready Christ was to lay down his life for sinners, and how willing to pay that ransom for his people, which the justice of God required!
10 Then saitli Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered ine unto thee bath the greater sin.
Observe here, 1. How offended Pilate was at Christ's silence, and how unreason
ably he boasts of his power and authority: Have not I power to crucify thee, and power to release thee .* It is the great sin and snare of men in power, to forget from whom they derive their power, and to think that they may employ their power as they please. Observe, 2. The piety and meekness of our Saviour's answer: Thou couldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above. That is, Thou hast no power over me, nor couldest thou inflict any punishment upon ine, were it not that my Father hath in his great wisdom, divine counsel, and for glorious ends, permitted it so to be. Learn, That Christ's being under the power of any man, how great and eminent soever, did flow from the peculiar dispensation of God, who in h>s wise and wonderful counsel so ordered it, and ordained it for the redemption and salvation of his people; he was above all human power as God, and no ways obnoxious to Pilate's power, being a perfect innocent man. Observe, 3. How Christ charges his death more upon Judas and the Jews, than upon Pilate and the Gentiles: He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. Not that Pilate was excused from sin, in delivering Christ to be crucified: he sinned heinously in abusing his power j but Judas sinned more in delivering him up to the chief priests, and the chief priests in delivering him up to Pilate, than Pilate himself, whom they made a tool to serve their malice and revenge: they had better means of knowledge than he; and so sinned against more light than he; and consequently their guilt was greater, and their condemnation heavier, than his. Learn thence, that the greater means of light and knowledge persons sin against, the more aggravated is their guilt, and the more heightened will be their condemnation: He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cesar. 13 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, Gabhatha.
Still observe, bow unwilling Pilate was to put Christ to death; conscience hids him spare, popularity hids him kill: how frequently and how fervently did he contend with the Jews, till they make it a state case, and tacitly accuse him for a traitor to the Roman emperor, if he released him: If thou let thisftnan go, thou art not Cesar's friend. When Pilate heard that, he delivers up the innocent Jesus to be crucified. Hence learn. That the natural consciences of men, and the innate notions of good and evil, may carry' men on a great way in opposing that which is bare-faced iniquity; but at last, either fear or shame will overrule, if there be not a superior and more noble principle. Though Pilate's conscience acquitted Christ, and his mouth had declared that he had found no fault at alt in him, yet fear of Cesar's displeasure causes him to deliver to death the holiest and best of men, against his judgment and his conscience: When Pilate heard that, he brought Jesus forth unto them.
14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with Aim, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall 1 crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cesar. 16 Then delivered he him, therefore, unto them to be crucified.—
Observe here, How careful the Holy Ghost is to record and set down the time when Pilate gave sentence against Christ. In general, it was on the day of the preparation for the passover; that is, the day immediately before it, when they prepared every thing needful for the solemnization: and, in particular, it was about the sixth hour of that day. St. Mark calls it the third hour, St. John the sixth; but this is easily reconciled thus: the Jews divided the day into four quarters, which they called hours; the first was called the third hour, which answers to our ninth; the second, called the sixth hour, answering to our twelfth: the third, called the ninth hour, answering our three in the afternoon: the fourth, called the twelfth hour, which was the time of their retirement from labour, and beginning of the first night watch. Now the whole time from the third hour
to the sixth, that is, from nine to twelve, was called the third hour; and the whole intervening time from the sixth to the ninth, that is, from twelve to three, b called the sixth hour; and so of the rest. Now when St. John says, it was about the sixth boor when Christ was condemned by Pilate, and led away to be crucified, and St. Mark says it was the third hour, we are to understand, that St. Mark takes in the whole time of the third hour, from nine to twelve; and St. John saying it was about the sixth hour, implies that it was near twelve; so that between the hours of nine and twelve oar Lord was sentenced, and led away to ha cross; about twelve, fastened to h is t upon which he hung till the that is, till about three in the during which time there was such an eclipse of the sun, as did occasion darkness over all the earth. Learn hence, The great love and condescension of Christ, m stooping so low, to have his sudermgs lengthened out upon our accounts, to expiate our guilt, which deserveth eternal sufterings: that he might, by his example, warn us to prepare for trials of long continuance, and sanctify a state of continual affliction to us. Behold the Son of God harassed all night before he suffered, hurried from place to place, posted backward and forward, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod to Pilate, wearied, scourged, buffeted, crowned with thorns, at last nailed to his cross, and hanging thereupon from about twelve to three, in exquisite torture of body, and under the sense of his Father's wrath in his soul. O Lord! thy kindness towards us is matchless and inimitable; never was love like thine.
—And they took Jesus, and led Aim away. 17 And he, bearing his cross, went forth into a place called the place of a scull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha; 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
Observe here, 1. That it was a custom among the Romans to cause the person condemned to crucifying, to carry bo own cross; accordingly our Saviour bare his own cross part of the way, till fainting under the burden of it, they laid it upon another, not out of mercy, but malice, reserving him for a more public death; they ! loath he should go away in a fainting But why could not Christ bear his own ho was able to bear the sins of the whole world, when hanging upon the cross? Answer, 1. Probably, the Jews' malice provided him a cross of an extraordinary greatness, proportionable to the crimes they charged him with. 2. He was much dehilitated and weakened with his long watching and sweating the night before. 3. The sharp edges of the cross grating his late whipped and galled shoulders, might occasion the fresh bleeding of his wounds, and his weakening thereby. 4. Hereby he gave the world a demonstration of the truth of his humanity, that he was in all things like unto us, with respect to his human nature and the common infirmities of that nature. Herein, like Isaac, Christ cheerfully carried the wood on which he was to be offered up a sacrifice to divine justice. Observe, 2. The infamous company which our holy Lord suffered with, two thieves; on either side one, and himself in the midst: it had been a sufficient disparagement to our blessed Redeemer, to be sorted with the best of men; but to be numbered with the ■cum of mankind, is such an indignity as confounds our thoughts. This was designed by the Jews to dishonour and disgrace our Saviour the more, and to persuade the world that he was the greatest of offenders. But God overruled this, for fulfilling an ancient prophecy concerning the Messias, Isa. liii. ult. And he -was numbered with the transgressors.
19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. 21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. 22 Pilate answered, What 1 have written, I have written.
Observe here, 1. The inscription wrote by Pilate over our suffering Saviour: This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. It was the manner of the Romans, when they crucified a malefactor, to pub
lish the cause of his death in capital letters over his head, that so the equity of their proceedings might more clearly appear to the people. Now it is observable how wonderfully the wisdom of God overruled the heart and pen of Pilate to draw this title, which was truly honourable, and fix it to his cross. Pilate, who before was his judge, and pronounced him innocent, is now his herald to proclaim his glory. Learn hence, That the regal dignity of Christ was openly proclaimed by an enemy, and that in the time of his greatest reproaches and sufferings. Pilate, without his own knowledge, did our Saviour an eminent piece of service; he did that for Christ, which none of his own disciples durst do; not designedly, but from the special overruling providence of God. No thanks to Pilate for all this; because the highest services performed to Christ undesignedly, shall neither be accepted nor rewarded by God. Observe, 2. How the Jews endeavour to alter this: Write not, The king of the Jews: but that he said, I am king of the Jews. The Jews thought it would be a disgrace to them, that Christ should be reported abroad to have been their king, therefore they desire an alteration of the writing. But Pilate, that wrote in honour of Christ, stiffly defends what he had done: to all their importunity he returns this resolute answer, What I have written, I have written. Surely the constancy of Pilate, at this time, must be attributed to special divine providence. How wonderful was it, that he who before was as inconstant as a reed, should now be fixed as a pillar of brass! Whence is this, but from the God of spirits moving upon his spirit to write, and to defend what was written? The providence of God hath a prospect beyond the understanding of all creatures.
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout: 24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
Here we have recorded our Saviour's sufferings from the soldiers; they stript him of his garments, before they fastened hiinto his cross, and divided tliose garments which could be parted amongst them, and cast lots on his woven coat which could not be divided. Little did these vile soldiers think that they were now fulfilling a scripture prophecy; yet so it was, this action of theirs being foretold, Psalm xxii. 18. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. Net that the prophecy made them do it, but was fulfilled by their doing of it. From hence we may gather, that Christ suffered naked upon the cross, as naked, say some, as he came into the world. We had made ourselves naked to our shame, and Christ became naked to cover our shame. If, sensible of our own nakedness and shame, we flee unto him by faith, we shall be clothed with robes of righteousness, and garments of everlasting praise.
2o Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
These words contain our Saviour's affectionate recommendation of his distressed mother to the care of a dear disciple. It was an argument of Christ's wonderful love to her, that when he was nailed to the cross, and ready to die, he was more concerned for his mother's sorrows than for his own sufferings. Now was Simeon's prophecy fulfilled, Luke ii. 35. A sword shall pass through thine «rwn soul also. Her soul was pierced for him, both as his natural mother, and also as a mystical member of him her head; therefore Christ applies these comfortable words as a salve to her wounds, even whilst his own were bleeding unto death. Woman, behold thy son. Where note, He calls her Woman, and not mother: he doth not say, Mother, behold thy son; but, Woman, behold him. Not that Christ was ashamed of, or unwilling to own her as his mother; but either, 1.
Fearing that calling her by that name should augment and increase Iter grief and trouble. Or else, 2. To intimate his change of state and condition, that being ready to die and return to his Father m heaven, he was above all earthly relations, and knew no one after the flesh, no, not his very mother; yet, sec at the same time, when he was above her, and about to leave her, how his care manifested itself for her, when his soul and body were full of anguish to the very brim; yet all this makes him not in the least unmindful of so dear a relation. Thence learn, That Christ's tender care of his mother, even in the time of his greatest duress, is an excellent pattern for all children to imitate and follow to the rod of the world. St. John here obeyed Christ's command, and imitated his example: he took her to his own home; that is, he treated her with all that dutiful regard which a tender and indulgent mother challenges from a pious and obedient son. No personal trial or trouble upon ourselves doth exempt us from the performance of our duty towards others, especially towards our near and dear relations; Christ, in the extremity of his sufferings, accounted it ha duty to take care of and provide for his dear mother; teaching us by his example that children ought to evidence that they honour their parents, by taking care of them in their decayed and desolate condition. Again, inasmuch as St . John took care of the holy mother after her dear son's death; that disciple took her to his own home; we learn, That the Lord never removes one comfort, and takes away the means of subsistence from his people, but he raises up another in the room of it. It is very probable that Joseph her husband was before this time dead, and Jesus her son was now dying; but still God provides; he raises up St. John to take care of her; he takes her to his own home, and looks upon her as one of his family. But how comes St . John above the rest to have this honourable service put upon him, and this high trust reposed in him? Answer, the text tells us, hc-was thedisciple whom Jesus loved: that is, in a more particular manner, treating him with greater freedom and familiarity than the rest; he also evidenced more love unto, and more courage and resolution for, Christ, than the rest of the disciples, he standing by the cross, when they got afar off, Mark xv. 50. Thence we learn, That such as are beloved of Christ, as do keep close unto him, and express most zeal and resolution