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soner had done nothing amiss, that He was a just Person. He knew that the chief priests had delivered Him for envy. His wife had also warned him, Have thou nothing to do with that Just man ; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him." And therefore when the multitude, crying aloud, began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them; for at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired; Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? But when they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas, a robber and a murderer; Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let Him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath He done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let Him be crucified. As the clamour was so great, and at the same time so unreasonable, Pilate resolved to mark as strongly as possible his horror at their unjust demand. When he 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. This was as much as to say, You shall be answerable for the shedding of innocent blood, if this Just Person be put to
Mark xv. 6—10. 7Matthew xxvii. 19, 22—24. 8 Luke xxiii. 18.
death. Notwithstanding, they were instant with loud voices, requiring that He might be crucified. All the assembled multitude with one voice readily took upon themselves and their posterity the guilt of this atrocious deed. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children! Pilate then wickedly yielded to their clamour; and gave sentence that it should be as they required; and he delivered Jesus to their will. That he might content the people,10 he became contrary to the remonstrances of his own conscience, and to the warnings of his wife, a partaker with them in the guilt of the murder of the Person whom he had pronounced to be innocent. And profane history informs us that he came to a fearful end; that having been banished for his crimes, he slew himself with his own sword; and thus his wickedness was returned upon his own head. And is it not evident from the condition of the Jewish nation ever since, that the blood of Christ has been required of them? When they had rejected the Messiah, they were cast off by God from the enjoyment of the privileges of which they had before been partakers, as His peculiar people; and have been a by-word and a proverb of reproach among all the nations of the earth, where they have been dispersed, unto this day.
Luke xxiii. 23-25.
10 Mark xv. 15.
Of the nature of the imprecation which the Jews uttered on this occasion, or what they intended by it, we have an illustration in the history of Cain and Abel. When Cain had slain his brother, the Lord said unto him, The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground; and now thou art cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand." The Jews knew from this history that the shedding of innocent blood brought down the curse of Almighty God upon those who were guilty of it; and therefore they evidently here professed to be willing that they themselves, and their posterity should endure this dreadful curse, if the Lord Jesus Christ were an innocent person. The Divine vengeance that fell upon that generation, which thus invoked it on themselves, is well known from the writings of Josephus, one of their own historians. The calamities which they suffered are without a parallel in history. And it is remarkable that as a part of the curse denounced upon Cain was, A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth;11 so likewise the Jewish nation have been, from that time to the present, fugitives and wanderers, scattered over the whole world, among all people, aliens in every country; thus showing that the blood of Christ, which
11 Genesis iv. 10-12.
they wickedly shed, has been required of them; and that their imprecation has not been disregarded by Him whose kingdom ruleth over all. But we trust that the time is approaching when they will own the Messiah whom they have so long rejected; when the people will turn to Him that smiteth them; when they will return and seek the Lord their God, and the Son of David their King; and fear the Lord, and His goodness, in the latter days. 12 May the Lord hasten it in His time!
We have seen that it was the influence of the chief priests over the people, which led to the condemnation of our blessed Saviour by Pilate, the Roman governor. They had been greatly enraged against Him. It was with the utmost difficulty that any thing like a capital charge, for which He might be put to death, could be devised and produced against Him before the Jewish council. Many false witnesses were brought forward, but their testimony refuted itself. At last, as the Jews had the highest veneration for their temple, and the greatest jealousy respecting it, two false witnesses came and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days;13 intimating that He must have spoken this with an evil design; and that He must be an impostor who could ascribe to Himself such
12 Hosea iii. 5.
13 Matthew xxvi. 60, 61.
power as this assertion implied. But these witnesses could not agree, any more than the others, in the matter of their testimony. As Jesus held His peace, according to the prediction of the prophet, He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth;15 the high priest, therefore, answered and said unto Him, I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God.1 Jesus, being thus put upon His oath to answer the question directly and unequivocally, a false answer in such a case being deemed perjury, and silence being no longer regarded as a mark of innocence, saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then said they all, Art Thou then the Son of God?
And He said unto Then the high priest
them, Ye say that I am.16 rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy: what think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.1 Then they led Him unto Pilate, and began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cesar,
14 Matthew xxvi. 63-66. 15 Isaiah liii. 7. 16 Luke xxii. 70.