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He is despised and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief :
and we hid as it were our faces from him ; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation ? for he was cut off out of the land of the living. — Isai. liii. 3-8.
Now the chief priests and elders and all the council sought false witness against Jesus to put him to death, but found none; yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest 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. Jesus 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 the high priest 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.—Matt.xxvi. 59-66.
And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying, that he himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of
the Jews? And he answered him, and said, Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad; for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him: and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. Luke xxiii. 1-11.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. - Matt. xxvii. 3-5.
Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? – Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?—for he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set 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 because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas and destroy Jesus.—Matt. xxvii. 17-20.
And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar. 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, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him ; crucify him! Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King ? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar! -John xix. 12-15.
When Pilate 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. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children !- Matt. xxvii. 24, 25.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE SACRED NARRATIVE. Jesus being now in the possession of his enemies, they that had laid hold on him led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. Their object was, to put Jesus to death ; and for this purpose they sought out for false witnesses, to charge him with a capital crime. To condemn any one to death, their own law required two witnesses ; and it was also necessary for them to produce evidence sufficient to induce the Roman governor to ratify their sentence, without which it was of no avail. There was no difficulty in finding out and suborning false witnesses, disposed to conform to their wishes ; but for a long time none whose evidence could prove against Jesus a capital offence. But at length
came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.” Now to speak disrespectfully, or to prophesy against the temple, was considered by the Jews as blasphemy, and, of course, a capital offence. His answer to the Jews was not as the witnesses stated it, “ I am able to destroy this temple;" but it was, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”—John ii. 19.
The high priest, sensible perhaps that even this evidence would not completely answer his purpose, proceeds to interrogate our Saviour, hoping that he might be drawn by artful questions to condemn himself. He arose, therefore, and said unto Jesus, “ Answerest thou nothing ? What is it that these witness against thee ?” Is it true, or is it false ? — and what have you
say your own defence ? But Jesus held his peace. He disdained to make any answer to such unfounded and contemptible accusations. He saw that his judges were predetermined; that everything he could say would be of no avail; and that the only proper part for him to take was, to observe a dignified silence. The high priest, perceiving this, had recourse
to a measure which he knew must compel our Lord to speak : “I adjure thee,” says he, “ by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ the Son of God.” This calling upon a man to swear by the living God, was called the oath of adjuration, and was the Jewish mode of administering an oath either to a witness or a criminal; and, when so adjured, they were obliged to answer. Jesus now, therefore, conceived himself bound in conscience to break his silence, and said to the high priest, 6. Thou hast said;" that is, thou hast said what is true, — I am the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. But as our Lord's situation and appearance did but ill accord with a character of such high dignity, he proceeds to assure his judges that they should in due time have the fullest proof of it : for, says he, “ hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Sitting at the right hand of power, means sitting at the right hand of God; and coming in the clouds of heaven was, with the Jews, a characteristic mark of the Messiah. “ Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” Then did they spit in his face, and buffetted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, “ Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smote thee !"
Judas, when he saw that he was condemned, repented, &c. There is much of the wisdom and goodness of God to be seen in this part of Judas's conduct. Had our Lord been condemned to death on the evidence of one of his own disciples, it would have furnished infidels with a strong argument against Christ and the Christian religion. But the traitor, being stung with remorse, came and acknowledged his crime, and solemnly declared the innocence of his master, threw back the money which they gave him to induce him to do this villanous act; and, to establish the evidence which he now gave against them and himself, in behalf of the innocence of Christ, hanged
himself, or died through excessive grief and contrition. Thus the character of Christ was rescued from all reproach ; infidelity deprived of the
cry “ Imposture !" and the Jewish rulers overwhelmed with eternal infamy. If it should ever be said, “ One who knew him best delivered him up as an impostor," — to this it may be immediately answered, “ The same person, struck with remorse, came and declared his own guilt and Christ's innocence ; accused and convicted the Jewish rulers, in the open council, of having hired him to do this iniquitous action, threw them back the bribe they had given him, and then hanged himself through distress and despair, concluding his iniquity in this business was too great to be forgiven." Let him who chooses, after this plenary evidence of the innocence of Christ, continue the objection, and cry out Imposture! take heed that he go not and do LIKEWISE: Caiaphas, Pilate, and Judas, have done so already. God is a jealous God, and highly resents everything that is done and said against that eternal truth that came to man through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.
DR. A. CLARKE.
What eyes can but run over, to see the Lord of life dragged through the streets to the house of Annas, thence to the house of Caiaphas, from him to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, from Herod back again to Pilate, from Pilate to his Calvary; while the rabble run after him with shouts and scorns ? The priests and scribes and elders are the first in this bloody scene : they have paid for this head, and now long to see what they shall have for their thirty silverlings. Two witnesses say, “ This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and build it again in three days.” Perjured wretches ! he said, “ Destroy ye:" ye say, “ I am able to destroy.” He said, “ This temple” of his body: ye say, The temple of God." He said, “ I will make up this temple” of my body in three days: ye say, “ I am able in three days to build this ” material “temple of God.”
Caiaphas was not more malicious than crafty: what an accusation could not effect, an adjuration shall; “ I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” He that hath charged us to confess him, cannot but confess himself: “ Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said.” Caiaphas, thou shalt hear more than thou demandest: “ Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Insolent high priest ! that Son of Man whom thou seest, is the Son of God whom thou canst not see: that Son of Man, that Son of God, that God and Man whom thou now seest standing before thy consistorial seat, shalt thou see majestically sitting on the throne of heaven, attended with thousand thousands of angels! Go now, hypocrite, and rend thy garments, while thou art worthy to have thy soul rent for thy spiteful blasphemy against the Son of God! Thy pretence cannot but receive applause from thy compacted crew; “What need nave we of witnesses ? Behold now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think
? And they answered and said, He is guilty of death.” “ And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ and King." o impudent suggestion !
O impudent suggestion! What marvel is it, O Saviour, if thine honest servants be loaded with slander ? Go, ye shameless traducers, and swear that truth is guilty of all falsehood ; and that the sun is the only cause of darkness! Now Pilate startles at the charge. The least whisper of a usurpation is entertained with a jealous
“ Art thou then the King of the Jews ?”. He felt his own freehold now touched: it was time for him to stir. Daniel's weeks were now famously known to be near expiring. Perhaps Pilate supposed some conspiracies on foot, and therefore asks curiously, “ Art thou the King of the Jews ?” Pilate shall know him such a King as all kings ought to acknowledge and adore: “ My kingdom is not of this world.” Pilate's tongue says, “ I find in him no fault at all:" the Jew's tongue in Pilate's mouth says,
6 Let him be crucified.” Conscience and justice being ready to sway Pilate's distracted heart to a just admission, I hear the Jews cry out, “ If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend." There is the word that strikes it dead. In vain