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round him, the blessed Jesus standing near. How much had he already suffered! betrayed, deserted, given up into the hands of his enemies who thirsted for his blood, reviled, stricken, and spit upon ; set at naught and mocked even by those who sought not his life, there he stood arrayed in the mockery of that gorgeous robe, waiting the doom that was hastening on,-waiting the doom that was to save the world; for “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Well had Isaiah described his silent patience, when hundreds of years before, he spoke that wondrous prophecy which is indeed the best history of all that was now fulfilling. "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before ber shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth ; Isaiah liji. 7. And standing there, He is the turning-point of the world's history; for it was the hope of his coming that saved from despair the parents of mankind, when driven from their lost Paradise. It was the promise of his birth in Abraham's chosen line, that led the Patriarch from his father's house to sojourn in a land he knew not of, and upheld him in all his trials. All the saints of old had seen him afar off, and were comforted. “These all had died in faith, not having received the promises.” And who were they who now surrounded the blessed Jesus? The actors in his death, which was that sacrifice for the sins of the world that had been pictured in every bleeding lamb since Abel's first accepted sacrifice. Let us give carnest heed to each, even to the smallest circumstance of the solemn scene, and we shall see fulfilled to the letter, each type and symbol of the Jewish Church which had been all appointed by God the Father to shadow forth the sacrifice of His wellbeloved Son, that great event which is the assurance of salvation to all who believe in Him, and which stretches on from glory to glory, till thought itself is lost in the endeavour to comprehend the blessedness that He has by His sufferings won for his redeemed.*
* See book of Revelations,
Before Him, tosses to and fro the excited crowd. Among them there must be some of those whose sorrows He bas soothed, wbrose diseases he has healed, but their voices are not heard, for lo ! the chief priests and elders forget their dignity, and move about among the people, to persuade them, that it is better to ask the release of Barabbas, the robber and murderer, rather than of Him whom they represent as a deceiver, as one who would degrade rather than exalt their nation, who pretending to be the Messiah of the Jews, would raise the accursed Gentile to an equality with the chosen seed of Abraham. It is written,
MARK xv. 11. “But the chief priests moved the people and (MATTHEW xxvii. 20.) persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.”
Meanwhile, the perplexities of Pilate are greatly increased ; for, as he takes his seat to wait the people's choice, a servant from his palace draws near to him, and delivers a message from one he never could have expected to interfere in such a question.
MATTHEW xxvii. 19:“When he was sat 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, concerning him.”
It is most probable this warning was sent to him in writing; but, however that may be, we may imagine how Pilate's brow would become yet more troubled, when the voice of his wife from her secret chamber, was thus added to the whispers of his conscience. We know nothing more of her from Scripture ; and all that has been handed down of her by tradition is, that she was a Roman lady, and that her name was Claudia Procula. Dwelling with her husband in Jerusalem during the three years of the Saviour's ministry in Judea, when the land was filled with the fame of his miracles, she doubtless had heard much
may even have seen him. She may have been
acquainted with some of the pious women who ministered to him of their substance, one of whom must have been nearly of her own rank in life, for Joanna was the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward; from them or from others, she had no doubt heard of the purity of his doctrines and of his life ; but it does not appear that she had as yet received faith to believe him to be “the Son of God,” for she calls him “that just man.”
No doubt she had early heard of the tumult among the people, and of its cause,—that Jesus had been betrayed by one of his own apostles, and after having been condemned by the Chief Priests, who she must have known, hated Him,—that He had been dragged before her husband for judgment; and no doubt, her mind was filled with alarm by the thought that on her husband's decision depended the life or death of Jesus. All things are in the bands of God, and since the beginning He has often made, through dreams, deep impressions on the minds of men.
I speak not here of those prophetic visions by which His will has been imparted to the prophets of old, nor of those dream-visions, which, when interpreted, made known the future to Pharaoh, and to Nebuchadnezzar; but of those solemn impressions which are on the mind of man, whether waking or asleep, to warn him from the dangers of sin,--such were the restless thoughts by night of Darius, when he had thrown Daniel to the lions, such the sleeplessness of Ahasuerus which saved the lives of Mordecai and of all his countrymen, who dwelt in the king's dominions,*-and such the dream of Claudia Procula the wife of Pilate, when she suffered many things concerning Jesus, who was then standing before her husband's judgment-seat. Filled with fear she sent a solemn warning. Alas! Pilate already knew his duty. He lacked the courage to perform it. O God, deliver us from the weakness of fear. Give us to see our duty clearly, and when we see it, to feel that there is but one necessity,-. to do it.
# Esther vi.
Pilate the governor then said unto the people,
MATTHEW xxvii. 21. “ Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.”
MARK xv. 12–14. “And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him, whom ye call the King of the Jews ? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate saith unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.”
And this was the same people whose voices had so lately welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem, as the Blessed One who came in the name of the Lord. The Messiah King of Israel.
Now, like wolves thirsting for the Lamb's blood, they were howling round Him, “ Crucify Him, crucify Him,"
LUKE xxiii. 22. “ Then saith Pilate unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him : I will therefore chastise him, and let him
Three times had the Roman governor solemnly and publicly declared that sentence of death could not be passed upon a man against whom, no crime worthy of death could be proved. Punishment by scourging he would order. This might atone for the offence He had, whether willingly or unwillingly, given to the Priests and Elders, and ought to satisfy them, for it was a torture which was only inflicted upon slaves,* and condemned criminals.
John xix. 1. “ Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged
It is probable that Pilate withdrew while this cruel punishment was going on. He knew it to be unjust, he knew that he had ordered it, in a cowardly fear of dismissing the prisoner, whom he had declared to be innocent, without giving some satisfaction to the wild fury of the multitude. It is not therefore likely that he should stay to witness it; and it seems altogether impossible that the scene of frantic cruelty and insult which followed, could have taken place in his presence. It is therefore probable, that, while the soldiers scourged Jesus in the court, Pilate retired into his palace. In his absence, the soldiers could give loose to their savage natures in mocking bim who had been delivered up to them, and without knowing what they did, they invested the Redeemer with symbols of the deepest meaning. Having called together the whole band, when they had scourged Him,
* Acts xxii. 25.
MARK xv. 17. “They clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,
MATTHEW xxvii. 29–30. “And a reed in his right hand, and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying Hail! King of the Jews. And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him upon the head."
Their rude and brutal natures made no account of the holy dignity which shone forth from Christ the Lord, and had so deeply impressed the governor. They had but one care, to shew their scorn and contempt for the pretended king; and no doubt, in heaping insult upon insult on one who, they imagined was taking to Himself a portion of the dignity which belonged to their emperor, they meant to outrage the feelings of the conquered nation, delighting, by their very mockery, to insult them also, by hailing their victim King of the Jews, spitting upon Him, and striking Him, while they pretended to salute Him.
What Pilate's feelings were, who shall say, when he beheld Jesus thus, crowned with thorns, bleeding from the torturing scourge, afflicted and oppressed. He led Him forth once more. It has been said that this time he took Him into a balcony