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marvelled greatly.”. Our Lord's conduct on this occasion was truly dignified. When he was called upon to acknowledge what was really true, he gave a direct answer both to the chief priests and to Pilate. He acknow ledged that he was the Christ, the Son of God, the King of the Jews; but false and frivolous, and unjust accusations, he treated as they deserved, with profound and contemptuous silence.
It appears, however, from St. John, that although Jesus declared he was the King of the Jews, yet he explained to Pilate the nature of his kingdom, which he assured him was not of this world. And Pilate, satisfied with this explanation, and seeing clearly that the whole accusation was malicious and groundless, made several efforts to save Jesus. He repeatedly declared to his accusers, that having examined him, he could find no fault in him. This, however, instead of disarming their fury, only inflamed and enereased it. They were the more fierces as St. Luke tells us, saying,'" He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place*.”.
* Luke xxiii. 5. white
The mention of Galilee suggested an idea to Pilate, which he flattered himself might save him the pain of condemning an innocent man. “ When Pilate heard of Galilee," he asked whether the man were a Galileán; and as soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod's juriša diction, he sent him to Herod*. That tyrant, who was delighted to see Jesus, and was probably very well disposed to treat him as he did his precursor, John the Baptist, yet could bring no guilt home to him. He therefore sent him back to Pilate, insulted and derided, but uncondemned. Pilate, not yet discouraged, had recourse to another' expedient, which he hoped might still preserve a plainly guiltless man. It was the custom at the great feast of the passover for the Roman governor to gratify the Jewish people," by par. doning and releasing to them any prisoner whom they chose to select out of those that were condemned to death. Now there happened to be at that time a notorious criminal in prison, named Barabbas, who had been guilty of exciting an insurrection, and committing murder in it. Pilate, thinking it im* Luke xxiii. 6, 7. - p7392
possible that the people could carry their malignant rage against Jesus so far as to desire the pardon of a murderer rather than of him, said unto them, “ Whom will ye that I release unto you, Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?" Had the people been left to their own unbiassed feeling, one would think that they could not have hesitated one moment in their choice. But they were under the influence of leaders (as they generally are) more wicked than themşelves. For we are told, that “ the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus *."
While this was passing an extraordinary incident took place, which must needs have made a deep impression on the mind of Pilate. * When he was sat down upon the judgmentseat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thqu nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." Anxious as Pilate already was to save Jesuș, this singular circumstance coming upon him at the moment, must have
greatly quickened his zeal in such a cause. He sidizen. Matth. xxvii. 20.
therefore therefore redoubled his efforts to carry his point; and again said to the Jews, “Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas, Pilate still persisted, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” that is, the Messiah, the great deliverer whom they expected; thinking this consideration might soften them. But he was mistaken ; they all say unto him, “ Let him be crucified.” Once more he endeavoured to move their compassion, by reminding them of the perfect innocence of Jesus. The governor said unto them, “Why? what evil hath he done?” But even this last affecting remonstrance was all in vain ; they cried out the more, saying, “ Let him be crucified.” When therefore Pilate saw that he could-prevail nothing, but 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 a custom both among the Jews and the Romans, when they wished to exculpate themselves from the guilt of having put to death an innocent man. We nieet with instances of this significant ablution in several classịc
writers *. The Mosaic law itself enjoined it in certain cases of; and it is in allusion to this ceremony that David says in the Psalms, “ I will wash my hands in innocency, O Lord ; (that is, in testimony of my innocence) and so will. I go to thine altar."
This therefore, was at once a visible declaration of the innocence of Jesus, and of Pilate's reluctance in condemning him. To this the Jews made that answer, which must petrify every heart with horror. Then answered all the people, and said, “ His blood be upon us and on our children." Then released he Barabbas unto them. And when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified."
Here let us pause a moment, and look back to the scene we have been contemplating, and the reflections that arise from it. .
: * Sophocles-Ajax, iii. 1. y. 664, and Scholiast in Loco, So Eneas, after having recently slaughtered so many of his enemies at the sacking of Troy by the Greeks, durst not toueh his household gods, till he had washed him, self in the running stream. , .
. Me, bello è tanto digressum et cæde recenti, 13.0) Attrectare nefas ; donec me flumine vivo 2017 Abluero. TÆn, l. ii. v: 718. bielize + Deut. xxi. 6, 7, ...} #Psalm xxvi. 6. io.