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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Mat. 27:2. Mark 15:1. Luke 23:1. John 18:28]

THE great council of the Jews, called the Sanhedrim, could not pronounce the final sentence of death without the permission of the Roman governor. Therefore the chief priests and the ancients of the people led Jesus before Pontius Pilate, who then governed Judæa for the Roman emperor. Pilate went out to the excited crowd, and asked: “What accusation bring you against this Man?” They answered: “We have found Him perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that He is Christ the King.”

Hearing this, Pilate went into the hall where Jesus was, and asked Him: “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Then Pilate went out again to the Jews, and said that he found no cause for condemning the person whom they had brought before him.

But they insisted that Jesus was guilty of sedition, stirring up the people from Galilee even to Jerusalem. To this charge Jesus made no answer. Then Pilate, seeing that He remained silent, asked Him: “Answerest Thou nothing? Behold in how many things they accuse Thee!” Still Jesus was silent, and His silence surprised the governor exceedingly.

But as soon as Galilee was mentioned, Pilate asked if the accused were a Galilean, and being told that He was, he remembered that Herod, king of Galilee, was then in Jerusalem. Now, Pilate wished to rid himself of a case, in which he was obliged either to go against his conscience or to displease the Jews. He, therefore, sent our Saviour to Herod, that Herod might set Jesus free or condemn Him.

Herod was glad to see Jesus, of whom he had heard many wonderful things. He hoped to witness some great miracle. When Jesus was brought before him he asked many questions, prompted by idle curiosity. But our Lord, knowing his motive, made no answer to any of his questions. Then Herod and his court mocked Jesus, and treated Him as a fool, and, clothing Him in a white garment, sent Him back to Pilate. And “Herod and Pilate were made friends that same day, for before they were enemies one to another.”

The Love of Jesus. Contemplate Jesus led about from one judgment-seat to the other, from Annas to Caiphas, from Caiphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate; how much He suffered from false accusations, scoffs, mockery and ill-treatment, and then remember that He suffered all this for love of you, and to make satisfaction for your sins, whereby you have despised and offended God.

Jesus suffered patiently, and has taught us by His example that we too should be ready patiently to suffer scorn and persecution for His sake, for faith and for virtue.

Jesus suffered undeservedly. The traitor Judas was not the only one to affirm his Lord’s innocence. The Roman governor openly declared: “I find no cause in this Man”; neither could Herod discover any guilt in Jesus, although the chief priests and scribes “earnestly accused Him”; and not being able to condemn Him, he treated Him with frivolous contempt and “set Him at nought” as a harmless fool! The Eternal Father suffered His only-begotten Son to be ill-treated and insulted, but He did not suffer even a shadow of guilt to rest on the Most Holy.

God turns even evil to His glory. The chief priests and scribes were obeying the dictates of hatred when they demanded that our Blessed Lord should be crucified. But while they thought to gratify their evil passions, they were unwillingly and unwittingly carrying out the decrees of God, and were the instruments of His compassionate and divine love. It was the eternal counsel of the Most Holy Trinity that the Incarnate Son of God should die on the Cross to work for us “a plentiful Redemption”; and not only the prophets, but our Blessed Lord Himself foretold distinctly that this was to be (see chapter XV and LV). Thus, while His enemies desired to obtain at any price that Jesus should be condemned to the ignominious death of the Cross, believing that they would thereby destroy His work for good and all, they in reality helped to complete it, and to fulfil the prophecies.

The kingdom and royal dignity of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the humbled and suffering captive, spoke truly when He said to the representative of the emperor of world-wide Rome: “I am a king!” His kingdom is a priestly kingdom, of which He is both Priest and King, and which He governs by offering Himself up, and conquering the hearts of men. He who had not where to rest His Head declared: “I have a kingdom, but it is not of this world!” This kingdom of Jesus Christ is His holy Church. She is in the world, and for the world, but not of the world; she comes from heaven, and is the kingdom of divine truth and grace. When our Lord Jesus Christ stood before Pilate this kingdom was very small, but, since then, He has conquered to Himself lands and nations over the whole face of the earth, not by force of arms, but by the power of the Cross, on which the God-Man offered Himself, and which is the sceptre with which He, as King, rules over His Church. Still the Church is a kingdom not of this world, for her object is no worldly or natural one, but one entirely supernatural, namely the salvation and sanctification of souls.

The hypocrisy of the Pharisees. The chief priests and ancients pretended that it was against their conscience to enter the house of the Gentile governor, but it did not give their false consciences even a qualm to accuse Jesus wrongfully, or to demand the death of One who was innocent. They guarded against any exterior defilement, but it never occurred to them to cleanse their hearts from hatred, envy and bloodthirstiness. We see how just was our Lord’s denunciation of the Pharisees: “Woe to you. who leave judgment and mercy and faith.” Those Christians who are outwardly pious, but who nurse hatred and enmity in their hearts, are very like the Pharisees!

APPLICATION. See how patiently your Saviour suffered! He was falsely accused, but He answered not a word! He was mocked at and scoffed, but yet He was silent! And yet you are impatient and angry the moment anything disagreeable is said or done to you! Imitate your Lord for the future, and do not return evil for evil. Whenever you feel moved to anger, or impatience, keep silence and say to yourself: “O Jesus, I will bear this for love of Thee!”








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