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less of the charge brought against him. The proof He gives that His kingdom was not of this world, and therefore in no way interfered with the Roman empire, was one which to the Goverpor was perfectly clear and sufficient, "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews." He had been followed by thousands, who, at a word of His, would have maintained His cause by the sword; but Pilate, as governor, knew that the peace had never been broken, and that He had at once given Himself up to those who had been sent to take Him. Still, for Pilate's own sake, for the sake of all who while the world lasts, shall hear and ponder over the particulars of this wondrous trial in which the judge of heaven and earth stood before a heathen for judgment, Jesus hides not the truth, that He is Lord of a kingdom, which as it depends not upon any help that man can give, never can interfere with the interests of any government, yet shall one day pervade them all, even as the leaven hid in three measures of meal, shall "leaven the whole lump," therefore, he adds, “now is my kingdom not from hence," to which Pilate replies,
Verse 37. “ Art thou a king then?” The answer of Jesus at once confines the idea of his kingdom to its true meaning.
Verse 37. “ Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”
The one great need of the human heart, which shows itself in a perpetual craving, is the desire it feels for some real truth to rest upon. The eye of the youngest child will light up with sudden and eager interest, if while he listens he discovers that your
tale is true—and miserable is the man who, rejecting one truth after another, learns to disbelieve Scripture itself, and is
tossed from wave to wave through seas of doubt and dissatisfaction. He can rest on nothing.
This yearning after truth belongs to our very nature, for man at the first-“ became a living soul,” because God had breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” * The darkness of sin has hidden from us our Father's face. We know not even that we are His : but there is a lingering of His nature within us, and unless we find Him, we restlessly seek for-we know not what. There are some among us in whose hearts the voice of the truth thrills like the tones of a parent's voice unheard since infancy, yet known again. “Every one,” saith the Saviour, “who is of the truth heareth my voice.” +
There are others whose hearts have been deadened by the destroying nature of indulged sin. On these the voice of truth falls as on the deaf, or on the dead. It awakes within them no answering tone, they heed it not, yet still they are wretched. They feel that they are orphans and bomeless, for the assurance of God's eternal truth is the abiding home of the soul, but they believe not that they have any Father, therefore orphans they must remain. The whole heathen world was in this wretched state when Christ came.
Pilate's reply to the words of Jesus, expresses the comfortless void within his soul. I
Verse 38. “ Pilate saith unto him, What is truth ? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews.” As if he had hopelessly said, “Is there any truth ?”
Unhappy Pilate! Thou hast been alone with Him who is
* Genesis ii. 7.
+ John X. 14. * One century after this, it was written by a celebrated heathen, who searched after truth by the light of nature only:1 'There is nothing certain except that nothing is certain ; neither is there any thing so miserable or so proud as man.' Does not this saying well describe the wound the Saviour came to heal ?
Pliny the elder.
“the way, and the truth, and the life," yet hast thou not found Him !
Thou hast been within reach of “the anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, which entereth in within the veil (that veil which hides from our bodily eyes, the realities of eternal life,) yet must thou remain adrift, because thou hast no heart to lay hold of it. Lord, give unto us, in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come, life everlasting.'
‘Nought is true; but Thou, O Lord !
From other words to Thine-
From truth's unfathomable mine.
Pilate's Palace was that which had been the Palace of King Herod, a large and splendid building. In one part of this building, just outside, at the gate, stood the judgment-seat on which Pilate sat when he administered justice among the Jews. Within the entrance there was a court in which was stationed a band of Roman soldiers. The Priests and Elders remained outside, standing round the judgment-seat, and when Pilate desired to speak with Jesus in private, he ordered him to be led through the Court into the judgment-hall within the Palace. When Pilate had ended the private examination
John Xviii. 38. “ He went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.”
Thus was Jesus acquitted, declared completely innocent of every charge brought against him.
LUKE xxiii. 5. " And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place."
They meant to accuse the Lord Jesus of sedition to the end that the Roman Governor might be forced to condemn Him, though from his own words he could discover no fault in Him. It was true that he had taught throughout all Jewry, but how had he stirred up the people ? Had he raised up the spirit of rebellion in them against their Roman rulers ? No, but he stirred up in their hearts a desire after something more real, more comforting than the outside observances of their Priests. He awoke within them the hope that the God of Israel was indeed their Father who had sent unto them His Son, " and they heard him gladly." This was the true crime of Jesus in the eyes of the Priests, who felt that their bypocrisy and avarice was continually exposed by the spiritual teaching of Jesus, but they wished Pilate to understand their accusation in quite a different sense. How fearful is that lie which makes truth itself support a lie!
MARK xv. 3." And the chief priests accused him of many things ; but he answered nothing."
MATTHEW xxvii. 13, 14. “Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.”
He had declared Jesus to be innocent, why did he not immediately set him free? He had the power to do so, and it clearly was his duty.
Let no man pass from the history of the conduct of Pilate without learning from it a lesson greatly needed; for self-interest, and the fear of consequences hinder us too often from following the plain path of duty : but right and wrong are so eternally different, that if we would but separate the voice of men who clamour round us, from the voice of God that speaks within us, we should not be suffered to act, as Pilate acted, against his conscience and even against his will. He was a heathen, yet we find him defending the Messiab King against the fury of those who should have been his own people.* He was the ruler of a nation whom he despised, and towards whom he had often been tyrannical and cruel, yet we find him hesitating to do justice, because of their fury against the prisoner he had declared to be innocent, and whom therefore it was his clear duty to set free. Why was this ? He knew that the murmurs of the Jews against his government had already reached the Court of Rome, and he feared to excite them still more against him. He had never been just, and he was afraid to be so now. Had he but feared God, he would have dared all things rather than fall into deeper sin. Heathen though he was, a voice spoke within him requiring him to release Jesus. Why did he not listen to it ? He did, but with that want of resolution which prevents all who have no fixed principle from doing right when it is dangerous to do so. He bethought himself of an expedient which would at least take from him the responsibility of deciding.
In their accusation, the Chief Priests had said, that Jesus had taught the people, beginning at Galilee. If He were a Galilean, Pilate might shift this cause from himself. Herod the Tetrarch, or governor of Galilee, was at Jerusalem for the feast of the passover-he might send Jesus to him. It was probable he might defend his own countryman from the fury of the rest of the Jews, who it was well-known despised the Galileans. It is written,