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11. Jesus answered, Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above *, therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Thou couldst have no power over me, unless it had been given to thee by Divine Providence for important purposes. For had I not known that it was the will of Heaven that I should be delivered up to thee, I could have rescued myself out of thy hands by the exertion of my miraculous powers. The words that follow do not relate to what is said in this verse, but to what is said in the preceding, and the meaning is, therefore, that is, because they have delivered me into the hands of one who has power to put me to death, the chief priests and scribes are so much the more criminal.
This language confirmed Pilate in the opinion which he entertained of the innocence of Jesus, and induced him to make a fresh attempt to save him.
12. Ard from thenceforth, or, rather, “ then,” for this was not the first time of his attempting to do it; 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.
This was the strongest argument that they could einploy: they threaten to accuse him of disaffection to the emperor Tiberias, who was a jealous tyrant and would punish with the utmost severity those who * Wake field would translate, “ from the beginning," and refers to
Acts ji. 23. See his note.
were not careful to preserve his prerogatives, if he did not consent to the crucifixion of Jesus. This argument immediately decided the conduct of the wavering governor.
13. When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down on the judgment seat, in a place that is called the pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
Roman governors and commanders used to pass sentence upon criminals, and to harangue their soldiers, from a throne placed upon a raised pavement of marble in the open air. To such a place, the evangelist tells us, Pilate now resorted, for the purpose of passing sentence upon Jesus.
Such circumstances may appear to some too trivial for notice; but they are of importance, as furnishing a fresh proof that the history is genuine; for genuine histories abound with such particularities of time and place.
14. And it was the preparation of the passover and about the sixth hour.
As the passover was now over, having been celebrated on the preceding evening by Jesus and his disciples, this day could not be the preparation for it. It has therefore been supposed that the word passover in this verse is an interpolation, although it cannot be proved to be so by the authority of manuscripts, and that the evangelist wrote originally the word preparation only, meaning thereby the day before the sabbath, on which the Jews used to prepare for the sabbath *. It is so called by the other evangelists, and in the thirty-first verse of this chapter. Instead of the sixth hour many manuscripts read the third
See Pearce and Mann. Wakefield renders the preparation of the paschal sabbath, which after all is perhaps the best mode of interpretation.
hour*, or nine o'clock of our time, which will better correspond with the account given in the other evangelists.
And he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king
By this language he seems to have tried once more to save him; but it only made his enemies the more violent.
15. But they cried out, Away with hiin! Away with him! Crucify him! Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar.
16. Then delivered he him, therefore, unto them to be crucified; and they took Jesus and led him away.
17. And he bearing his cross, went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha,
18. Where they crucified him and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
Although Jesus was delivered to the Jews, the execution of the sentence was not wholly entrusted to them; but a band of Roman soldiers attended. It was usual, on these occasions, to make the criminal carry his own cross, and John tells us expressly that Jesus bore his cross; but as the other evangelists say that Simon the Cyrenian was compelled to carry it
for him, it is probable that Jesus fainted under the load, weakened as he must be by his previous sufferings, and that then they laid it upon this stranger. The spot where he was crucified was the common place of execution, now usually called Calvary, which signifies the same thing in Latin as Golgothă does in the Syro-Chaldaic language. As the circumstance of his being crucified between two malefactors is mentioned, it was probably intended as an insult, and so ordered by the request of his enemies, to intimate that he was the greatest offender of the three.
1. The passage which we have been reading furnishes us with fresh reasons to admire both the meekness and the dignity of Jesus. Although cruelly scourged and barbarously insulted, while no crime was proved against him, yea, while he was declared to be innocent, we read of no complaint which he uttered or remonstrance which he made against the injustice of such treatment; much less of any miracle which he wrought to punish his enemies. We hear of no angry retorts to the bitter sarcasms of his enemies; but the whole was borne with meek and patient fortitude: hereby he manifested a complete self command and entire resignation to the will of God, whose design it was that he should suffer. So justly did Peter, one of his disciples, say of him that being reviled he reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to him who judgeth righteously.
Difficult as it might be to maintain silence in such circumstances, it was still more difficult in those in which he was next placed; when his enemies were urgent to have him condemned; when his judge appeared reluctant to do it, and his life depended upon the issue. What stronger inducements could he have to speak? Had he then exerted those powers of eloquence which he possessed in so eminent a degree, and which had so often moved the multitudes which fol. lowed him ; had he enlarged upon the innocence of his past life, upon the many beneficent miracles which he had performed, and the many divine communications which he had received; had he dwelt upon the honour of protecting innocence against the designs of malice, and the infamy of condemning the faultless and meritorious character, and attempted hereby to confirm the wavering resolution of the governor; should we say that he had done any more than was natural, and what the love of life compelled him to do? But nothing of this kind do we hear from the lips of Jesus. He says enough, indeed, to show his innocence, but takes no pains to prove or enforce it; much less does he attempt to gain the favour of his judge by flattering compliments. Conscious of the uprightness of his intentions and the blamelessness of his character, he leaves both his friends and his enemies to judge of him, as their consciences or inclinations might direct; in this manifesting the utmost dignity and propriety of behaviour. An eager desire of life, or an anxious concern to vindicate himself, would not have become his exalted character.
2. The conduct of Pilate
present occasion may show us the folly and the danger of yielding to popular clamour. To preserve himself from the imputation of not being Cæsar's friend, he condemns to death an innocent person and most distinguished character. To avoid a little temporary disgrace, from which he would soon have been able to clear himself, he incurs eternal infamy. Such has been the usual fate of those who have preferred their present interest and the applause of men to the rules of justice and the approbation of God. Let us resolve to do whatever conscience may dictate, without regard to the consequences, whether they be favourable to our reputation and interest or otherwise; which is in fact the best